HC Deb 09 June 1875 vol 224 cc1562-614

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: * The Bill, Sir, which I am now about to invite the House to read a second time is the same as the one which I brought forward last year. The principle of the Bill is the enforcement of compulsory attendance of children at elementary schools, and the machinery by which I propose that attendance should be enforced is that of school boards. Now, Sir, of course I regret that my Bill should last year have been thrown out by so large a majority; but I believe that the main, if not the only cause, of that was the objection widely felt—especially by hon. Members on the other side of the House—to school boards. I therefore, immediately after the debate, set myself to consider whether it were possible that any other machinery could be discovered which should be equally powerful for the object in view, and which, at the same time, should not arouse opposition. I could not of course accept, as an alternative machinery, indirect compulsion, because indirect compulsion only refers, or mainly refers, to children between the ages of 10 and 13, whereas my Bill for direct compulsion would have influence mainly upon children below that age, and outside, to a great extent, of the operation of the Factory Acts. I could not, either, accept as an alternative scheme the machinery of the Boards of Guardians, because the Boards of Guardians had, in various parts of the country, expressed a great disinclination to be charged with this duty of enforcing compulsory attendance. Neither could I accept the scheme which existed, I believe, in a few minds—but a very few—and which has never been brought before this House. I mean a scheme which would give to voluntary managers of schools the enforcement of attendance; because I consider that this scheme was so objectionable that it was not worthy to be brought before the House of Commons. But there was another machinery which did strike me as being well worthy of consideration, and that was a machinery that might be adopted by the Department itself. Accordingly, I consulted a very high authority upon this point—namely, Mr. Fitch, one of the best known of the School Commissioners. Mr. Fitch considered my views with great care, and came to the conclusion that this machinery would not be advisable, and he gave me very excellent reasons against it. On further consideration, I myself came to the conclusion that it would not be advisable to entrust such a duty to a Department. I mention this in order to show that about that time I approached the consideration of this question with an open mind, and with a desire to ascertain whether any scheme could be proposed to the House which would be better than my own. After that, I determined that I would go into the country districts, and seek there as much information as possible on the question. In order that I might ascertain what the views entertained there were, and also collect a number of facts bearing upon the whole question, I issued a number of printed circulars to the clerks of the school boards in the rural districts—and I take this public opportunity of thanking those gentlemen for the numerous and admirable answers which were sent to these printed circulars. I also engaged the services of a gentleman very well fitted by his previous training and by his admirable moral qualities for the purpose, to visit all those rural agricultural counties where I thought the information I sought would be most likely to be gained. It is upon the information thus collected—and after very mature consideration of the whole question—that I have now come to the conclusion that it is not possible to propose to the House of Commons any machinery which shall be better adapted for the purpose of enforcing compulsory attendance than the machinery of school boards. I say, Sir, that the debate of last year was unsatisfactory to me so far as an expression of opinion of Gentlemen on the other side of the House with reference to the school boards was concerned; but as regards the principle of compulsion itself, I thought at the time that the discussion which took place was eminently satisfactory. It is true there were two hon. Members on the other side who, in the most striking manner, opposed even the principle of compulsion; but as one of the morning papers said on the following day, those hon. Members were "the champions of lost causes," and therefore their opposition was hardly to be considered as important. I thought, too, that the feeling of the country was very well described by The Times newspaper when it said that a new era had arrived with reference to this question, and that the controversy upon the principle of compulsion might be said to be closed. That was what the leading organ said at that time; and now I should like to direct the attention of the House to the information which has reached me, showing what the progress of public opinion has been upon this vital question of compulsory attendance in the agricultural districts. I will invite the House to consider what is the opinion of the parents of these children, of the teachers of the children, of the voluntary managers of the schools to which they are in the habit of going, and, lastly, the opinion of the school boards which have had experience of compulsion. With regard to the agricultural labourers, we know that they have lately acquired a habit which is new to them of attending public meetings. At three of these meetings that lately took place in Dorsetshire and Somersetshire, Petitions were carried which were afterwards presented to this House. The concluding paragraph of these Petitions is worthy of attention. These Petitioners pray for the establishment of school boards— So that the disgrace of so many men and women being unable to read or write, and believing in witchcraft, ghosts, and fairies, may not continue in this so-called Christian country. At none of these meetings has there ever been any expression of opinion adverse either to the establishment of school boards or to the principle of direct compulsion. At the annual meeting of delegates of agricultural labourers, which assembled in Birmingham a month ago, there were present a large number of these delegates, representing over 50,000 of the most intelligent, or, at least, the most active of the agriculcultural labourers in England; and at this meeting a resolution was unanimously passed, amidst loud applause, in favour of direct compulsion. Well, Sir, there was another meeting, which took place in York some weeks previously, also of a national union, but that was a National Union of Elementary Teachers. They unanimously passed a resolution to which I specially invite the attention of the House. It was a resolution in favour of direct compulsion up to the age of 10, and requiring that from the age of 10 to the age of 13 the principle of the Factory Act should be applied to all classes of children in this country; and lastly—which is perhaps the most important part—that in the event of any child having reached the age of 10 without being able to pass the Third Standard, that that child should not be allowed a certificate to enable it to go to work; while in the event of a child not reaching a higher standard in each succeeding year, the labour certificate should be withdrawn. This opinion of the National Union of Elementary Teachers I believe to indicate accurately the opinions of the great majority of the teachers in elementary schools throughout the country. Opportunity was given for conversation upon this point with some 300 teachers of Dorsetshire and Wiltshire, and the opinion of the conference was confirmed by the verdict of these 300 teachers. Well, then, Sir, I think I may say safely that the Church of England will adequately and fully represent the opinions of the voluntary managers of our schools. A short time ago a rector in Dorsetshire made this remark to a friend of mine—"That he was the last in the Diocesan Synod to oppose the principle of direct compulsion, and that he did so on account of his sympathy with the small farmers; but that since he had seen the operation of direct compulsion under the school board system he had entirely changed his opinion, and was now a strong advocate for the universal application of direct compulsion." At a meeting of the Diocesan Synod of Salisbury, a resolution was carried a short time ago in favour of a Petition against my Bill, but both the mover and seconder of that resolution took care to express their opinion in favour of direct compulsion. I presume, therefore, that the Synod really meant that their Petition should be directed against school boards, and not against direct compulsion. If there be any organ of the Church which is entitled to respect on this question it must surely be the National Society, and in the Monthly Paper of May last of the National Society are these very remarkable words— The power to compel attendance appears to he the one thing lacking in our educational system. The disinclination of the Government to deal with this question is incomprehensible. What do the school boards say upon this question? I went last year at some length into figures to show that the result of compulsion by school boards had been eminently satisfactory. Since that time in my own borough, there has been a still further and larger increase in the average attendance—namely, from 30,339 to 35,000, or an increase of 15 per cent; and in giving me these figures the clerk of the Board makes this remark— Whenever I take away from his duty the compulsory attendance officer, immediately there is a falling off in the attendance in that district. We all remember that Sir Charles Reed said, not long ago, at a public meeting, that since the formation of the London School Board there had been an increase in the school attendance, or in the number on the rolls, to the extent of 100,000, of which 40,000 were in voluntary schools. And the Bishop of London has himself declared that the Church schools have not suffered by the action of the School Board. Since the establishment of school boards the increase in London and in 10 large towns has been on an average 53 per cent. That is an enormous fact. In Birmingham the increase has been 94 per cent; in Hull, 99; and in Sheffield, 104 per cent. [Mr. MUNDELLA: 120.] The hon. Member for Sheffield says it amounts to 120 per cent. That is the increase which has taken place in the large towns. How is it in the country? In the circulars which I addressed to the clerks of rural boards I put this question—and I may take this opportunity of saying that I tried to put all the questions to these clerks in such a manner as to leave them perfectly open in their answers. I asked— Has your board enforced compulsory bylaws; and, if so, with what result upon attendance at school? I received answers on that point from 101 clerks, of whom 35 said their boards had been established too recently for any results to be possible. In 11 cases the answer was that the effect had been slight or nothing; but in 55 cases the answers varied from "satisfactory" to "marked," and "attendance doubled or trebled." Well, Sir, amidst this chorus, as I think I may call it, of approbation from all parts of the country and from all classes of the community, of the principle of compulsion, there has been only one voice raised, but that a powerful one—I do not say against the principle of compulsion—but in favour of delay. In the month of March last, upon the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), calling attention to the educational condition of children in the rural districts, the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council stated that, in his opinion, it was not advisable to push compulsion further at present. And the reasons which the noble Lord urged in favour of that opinion were, mainly, that the earnings of the children could be ill-spared by their parents, and the fact that in the rural districts education was at least equal if not superior to that in the towns. But this argument with reference to the earnings of the children cannot with propriety be addressed to my Bill. It may be, and has been, addressed to the principle of the Factory Acts, because the principle of those Acts is, that no child shall be allowed to labour unless he is in attendance at school, and that no child shall be allowed to labour at all until he has reached the ages of 8, 9, or 10. But my Bill is a supplementary Bill to that, and what it proposes is this—that up to the age of 8, 9, or 10—that is, up to the age when labour is considered to be desirable, and when the children are doing nothing and are idle—they shall be by the operation of direct compulsion forced into schools. But that argument comes ill, I must say, from a Member of the Conservative Party, because, if I understand rightly, one of the great boasts and glories of the Conservative Party, is that they are in favour of the principle of the Factory Acts, and have been the means of enforcing them throughout the manufacturing districts; and that now they are coming forward voluntarily to apply them to the agricultural districts. I will now advert to the other point which was advanced by the noble Lord—namely, that the education in the agricultural districts is at least equal, if not superior, to that in the towns. The first observation I will make upon that is that, assuming it to be correct—and it is no part of my argument to dispute it—is there not this enormous difference between the towns and the country? In the towns there is a frank and full confession that the state of education is not satisfactory; but in the country we do not find that to be the case. In the towns we find that they admit the necessity for greater education. They have instituted school boards, and they are tasking themselves to provide not only full school accommodation, but a higher class of education in those schools; and, further, they are enforcing direct compulsion, so as to make the means of education which they provide applicable to the children. But how about the country? All we ask is that the country should imitate the towns. If they do what we are doing we shall be content. But, Sir, the statement that the education in the country is equal to that in the towns is a challenge thrown down to us, and I am now about to make some comments upon the position of education in the agricultural districts, based upon most carefully collected information. In many of the small towns and villages, I admit at once that the condition of education is better than in the average of the large towns. And why is that? Many hon. Members on the opposite side and on this side also, understand the reason perfectly well. Wherever there is a squire or a clergyman, or where there are several public-spirited individuals in a small town who have the means to provide the necessary education, and are interested in the work, there education, according to our present standard, flourishes; and it is to the credit of many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, and to thousands of clergymen in this country, that the condition of these small towns and villages is what I have described it to be—better than the average in the large towns. But many hon. Gentlemen make the mistake of thinking that all villages are like their own. The fact is, that although there may be thousands of villages in the condition I have referred to, there are thousands of others that are very backward indeed, and far below the average of our towns. The reason of that state of things is that the clergyman and the squire are not able, or from absence they may be unwilling, to devote their means and their time to education. Wherever this is the case, education is backward, and it is on behalf of these backward districts mainly that we appeal to the House of Commons to pass a Bill which shall enable compulsory attendance to be enforced by means of school boards. In Dorsetshire and Wiltshire a very careful examination has been made of places comprising some 200 schools, and opportunity was given for forming a tolerably accurate opinion of a majority of these schools. Sixty out of the 200 were found to be in such a condition that it would have been a great blessing to the district if there had been a school board. The buildings were inferior and unsuitable, the teaching apparatus was most inadequate; and the teachers were not merely uncer-tificated—that means little—but were incompetent. The pupil-teachers were insufficient in number, and the monitors were of the most inferior order. How could all this be remedied? It is, as I have said before, not by means of those individuals who may or may not be there, and who in these cases are not there, and who, if they were there today, may not be there to-morrow; but it is by the establishment of school boards which can take charge of the education of the children, and will also take care that out of the rates all the necessary means of education shall be for ever provided in that district. In Norfolk the same thing has been felt to a considerable extent, and there it has gone so far that in some districts they have been obliged to close the schools because they were unable to pay for their teachers. In one case where the school had been closed in consequence of want of means, the clergyman assisted in the formation of a school board, and what was the result? He said—"In my opinion, if you offer in your advertisement to the teachers a salary of £60 a-year, half the Government grant, and the whole of the children's pence, you will be able to secure the services of an adequate teacher." No answer was received to the advertisement offering these terms. They increased the salary £20. Now, that increase of salary could not have taken place in any other way than by the operation of a school board; and what was the eon-sequence? A competent teacher was got for the school, and that school is so good that the sons of the clergyman himself and of the principal farmers in the neighbour hood attend the school, and, I believe, all are satisfied with it. I will make one or two contrasts. In Dorsetshire and Wiltshire there are 12 small towns and villages, some of them purely rural, with an aggregate population of 11,454. Here the education of the children has been well cared for, and the average attendance is 1 in 6 of the population. That is a very large attendance, and we shall be a long time before we reach it in the towns. In the immediate neighbourhood of these 12 towns and villages there are 27 parishes, with an aggregate population of 20,570, where the average attendance is only 1 in 15. Now, why is there this contrast? Simply, because these 27 unfortunate parishes are not blessed with the happy accident of an able and suitable squire or clergyman, or other similar public-spirited individuals. In the parish of Piddleton there is a population of 1,249, and out of that there are, or ought to be, 80 children between the ages of 11 and 13 years. In the school, there are 40 of those children in attendance. That is eminently satisfactory. But in the six small adjoining parishes, with a population of 1,038, where there ought to be about 70 of these children between 11 and 13. there are actually only two. Why in the same neighbourhood should education be so satisfactory in one place, and so eminently unsatisfactory in another? The reason is that which I have already mentioned. In Maiden Newton, with a population of 856, there is a school with a large first class in which children are being prepared to pass the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Standards, but not one of those children is an agricultural labourer. It is found that where there are only agricultural labourers it is rare for children to pass the Third Standard. In 12 parishes with these agricultural schools, there were only found five children above the Third Standard. Why should the agricultural labourers be thus neglected, and allowed to be satisfied with Standards I., II., or III., if they get any education at all, when it is shown that in the neighbouring villages and small towns the children of mechanics and others can be carried up to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Standards? I think that is unsatisfactory, and I point to compulsion by school boards as the only remedy. There are two towns of about equal population in Somerset-shire—Taunton and Bridgewater. In Taunton, the Church has held sway for a long time, and has done all it can do in favour of education, and the educational condition of Taunton is, according to the old lines, satisfactory. In Bridge-water the reverse was the case—the condition of education was unsatisfactory. It has a seafaring population, which is always a disadvantage in that respect. In Taunton no school board has been established, and there is no compulsory attendance. In Bridgewater a school board has been established, and compulsory attendance has been enforced; and whilst in Taunton the increase of average attendance is proceeding very slowly, in Bridgewater the increase has been so great that the clerk of the board estimates it at three times what it was before the board was established. At the present moment in Taunton the average attendance in schools is 1 in 12 of the population, whereas in that once backward and unfortunate town of Bridgewater, by means of a school board and compulsion, the average attendance is now 1 in 9. I may say that I have many more similar illustrations, all going to show that where the clergyman, or some public-spirited individual, has undertaken the duty of providing education, it flourishes; but in thousands of districts this has not been done, and there the only remedy is the enforcement of compulsory attendance. I recently visited a large rural district, and I found that in the opinion of all the authorities there the existence of a school board meant necessarily the formation of a board school. It means nothing of the kind. The inference in such cases is that people are not in favour of school boards, because they suppose they involve the establishment of board schools. That is a point on which my Bill has been much misunderstood, and, with the permission of the House, I will explain how the matter stands, for the Bill is, in fact, a very simple one. According to the Act of 1870, as hon. Members very well know, there were a great many permissive things, but there was one thing that was compulsory—namely, that wherever there was a deficiency of school accommodation there a school board should be formed. Let it be clearly understood that, in all those districts where there is a sufficiency of school accommodation, my Bill will have no operation except to enforce compulsion. I only ask that, in addition to what is at present insisted upon by the Act of 1870, school boards shall be formed in those districts where there is already a sufficiency of school accommodation—that is, where voluntary schools, which are mainly Church schools, cover the ground, and where, therefore, a board school will not be required. I was surprised to read lately, in the Monthly Paper issued by the National Society, the following remark;— The Bill," speaking of my Bill, "is sufficient to sweep off every voluntary school from the face of the country……the boards may compel every child to attend one of their schools. Now, Sir, how can this be true? How can it be true that this Bill will compel every child to attend a board school, when, as I have shown, there need not be one single board school in any district to which this Bill is applied? How can it be true, also, that this Bill would sweep off every voluntary school in the country, when we all know that the boards have no power of entering voluntary schools, or of controlling them in any way whatsoever? When a statement of that kind is made by the organ of a great party and of a great Church—a Church dominant in education—it is clear that they misunderstand the plan of this simple Bill. What I find in going through the country is this—and I do not hesitate to assert it in this House—that the main reasons why the provisions of my Bill are so violently assailed is that they are utterly misunderstood. This is an extremely moderate Bill. I would ask all Churchmen, who are my principal opponents, to consider what body outside the Church is nearest to them? The nearest to them, both in respect to religious and political feeling, they will answer, is the great and powerful body of Wesleyan Methodists. Well, the Wesleyans have passed a resolution to the effect not only that there should be a school board in every parish, but that there should be within reach of every child a board school. I do not ask so much as that. There is another party besides, and behind the, Wesleyans. There is a party springing up in this country, and increasing in power—a party which is of opinion that wherever the Government grant is given, there should be the management of the representatives of the ratepayers: and who hereafter, unless something is done, will be prepared to say that the annual grant shall be withdrawn in the cases of all schools which are not controlled by the ratepayers. If my Bill were thoroughly understood, it would be found to be so moderate that, in my opinion, it would be accepted—and gladly accepted—by the Church of England. Let me remind the House that the Bishop of Manchester said a short time ago, that a large number of Church schools were inefficient, and that wherever a Church school was inefficient it would be much better that it should be transferred to a school board. What are the objections to this Bill? It would take me far too long to enumerate and answer them all; but there are one or two of them to which I will for a moment advert. I would first of all state one of the questions contained in the circular which I issued to the clerks of the rural school boards. The question was— Now that your board is formed and considerable experience has been gained of its working, does the opposition to it (if any) increase or diminish? I desired to know what was really the experience of school boards in rural districts. I obtained answers to this question from 210 clerks: 24 said that there had been no change of feeling with reference to the school board, which, of course, I take to be favourable. The answer in 81 cases was that there never had been any objection to the school board and that there was none now. In 91 cases the answer was that the objections had decreased, it having been found on experience that those raised were imaginary. In only 14 cases—that is one in 15—did I get the answer that the objections had increased, and it was stated that the increase was mainly on the ground of what they termed the unnecessary cost. Now, Sir, there is one objection to school boards which I should not have noticed if it had not been urged by the high authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In a well-known speech the Archbishop commented on the character of those who would be called upon to assume office as members of the school boards, and would therefore be the superiors of the village schoolmasters. Upon that point I addressed the following question to the clerks of the rural school boards:— It has often been an objection raised against the establishment of school boards in country parishes, that they would be constituted of men taken entirely from the same class as the Guardians, and with probably very little interest in educational matters. Has this been the case in your district? To that question I received 240 answers. The answers conveyed this information—that though the members of the school boards were men taken from all classes of society, they were almost without exception men who had taken a great interest in educational matters. They stated that they were frequently men who would not be elected, or would not serve in the office of Guardian—as, for instance, clergymen, gentry, and working men. Lastly, they stated that farmers were often elected as members of school boards, and sometimes as chairmen, and that they were always farmers who had taken the greatest interest in education, and were almost always in favour of it. Let us hear no more of this objection even with respect to the most ignorant school boards. In some instances, school boards composed of the most uneducated classes have been, if not the most successful, yet eminently successful. There was a case in Northamptonshire of a parish of 2,500 inhabitants, where there were a great many manufacturers of boots and shoes, and where the school board was composed of a majority of working men. The board at once proceeded, as in a great many other cases in Northamptonshire, to erect a new school. The school was the ornament and pride of the village, and their gatherings and soirées took place in the school room. The result was, that immediately every child in the village appeared on the roll of the school book, and the average attendance was enormous—448: there having been no more than 235 prior to the formation of the board. In a neighbouring village, where the board was composed of a nobleman, a squire, and three wealthy farmers, their feeling was—"We are in no hurry; we can wait and see what is done by the board where there are so many working men." That shows that working men may often be better members of a school board than others in aristocratic positions. Noblemen are much influenced by the feeling expressed by Earl Derby, who, in speaking on this question to his friends in the country, said—" Don't be in a hurry; wait and see what other people do, and you will learn by their experience." If noblemen are learning from the experience of working men, do not let the Archbishop of Canterbury come forward and try to decry these humble and obscure members of school boards, who are performing their duty to their fellow creatures, and doing it successfully. There is another reason which I would touch slightly upon, and that is a reason which I know has been a good deal dwelt upon by certain individuals. There is a natural desire on the part of the clergy to retain control over the schools. I do not wish for one moment to cast any censure upon that desire on their part. A great many of the clergy are also strongly desirous of retaining this control, because they think that if the school were to become a board school the operation of the Cowper-Temple clause would prevent the right kind of religion being taught in that school. What I would point out to these gentlemen is, that the operation of my Bill need not affect them at, all, because they will not be obliged to transfer their schools to the school board. If the school was a good school—as in the majority of these cases I doubt not it would be—in such a case not only might they retain the control of the school, and resist any temptation to hand it over to the school board, but there would be no temptation offered, because the board would not wish to interfere with the school, and increase the expense of the ratepayers in an unnecessary manner. I think, therefore, that the objections upon this ground to the Bill, if really understood, would at once fall to the ground. There is no doubt that the great objection to the establishment of school boards is the item of cost. There is a general feeling that a school board is a costly engine. The chairman of a school board in Norfolk said—" Do away with the unnecessary costs of the election of boards, and there will be a school board in every district in Norfolk." I am inclined to agree with him, and to say that it is advisable that we should do away with all unnecessary cost. I should be sorry if it should be thought that either I or my Friends were advocates of anything but rigid economy; but we think that a school board properly carried on is the greatest of all economies. Only a few days ago there was a very important deputation to the Education Department, which was got up by the chairman of a school board in Devonshire, Mr. Huxtable, who had during the last 12 months collected a great deal of information on the subject. This large deputation waited upon the President and Vice President of the Committee of the Council on Education, and they laid their case with reference to these unnecessary costs before the heads of the Department. I attended, with many others, because I sympathized with the object of the deputation. But I should like to see it clearly understood what is the real meaning of the figures presented to the Department by that deputation. The meaning is, that in some cases the cost of the election of school boards was excessive, and that was proved by the fact that in certain cases it was double, treble, and even ton times as much as in others where the circumstances appeared to be the same. It was very natural that those districts where the cost was so excessive should seek relief from the Department, and I hope the Department will be able to give them relief. I think that they can do it, and I have no doubt that they will try to do it. But the cases here referred to are exceptional. I enquired what was the actual average cost of the cases that were brought before the Department. Mr. Huxtable received full information from 175 school boards, and I presume that the school boards who answered his questions in this full manner were the boards who most felt the grievance. What is the total cost in those 175 parishes? I find that the total cost of the election of school boards in these 175 cases averaged one halfpenny in the pound. If you spread that over three years, it means that the average cost per annum is one-sixth of a penny in the pound. I would ask the House to consider this. The question is not whether these gentlemen have or have not made out a case for the interference of the Department as regards certain particular school boards; but whether, taken as a whole, this complaint about the cost of the election of school boards is of sufficient magnitude—when it is thus described as being one-sixth of a penny in the pound—to be a valid reason for resisting the spread of school boards. In the circular which I issued I addressed the following question to the clerks of school boards:— The expense of boards is frequently urged as a fatal objection to their universal establishment. Assuming that in your parish there are no hoard schools, what rate in the pound will suffice to enforce attendance and to carry on the ordinary operations of the hoard efficiently? That would be the case in all districts affected by this Bill—that is, a district where there are no board schools, but where a board is elected for the purpose of carrying out compulsory attendance. The replies I received to that question were not so numerous as the others. It involves questions of figures, and it is difficult in many cases to analyze them, and to divide the expenses of compulsion and the general expenses of the board. I received answers from 68 clerks, and what I found was this—that in 19 cases the expenses of the board for the en forcement of the bye-laws was ½d. in the pound; in 9 cases it was ¾d.; in 21 it was 1d.; in 17 it was between 1 d. and 2d.; and in 2 cases it was above 2d. The average of these 68 boards was 1d. in the pound. It should, therefore, be clearly understood that when this question of cost is brought forward as a popular objection to my Bill, it would not involve an expenditure of more than one penny in the pound on the average—which expenditure, by means of this deputation and the good will of the Department may be reduced; in return for which expenditure of one penny in the pound we should have compulsory attendance enforced throughout the whole of the rural districts. The question of rating in the agricultural districts was beset formerly with this difficulty—that the farmers and the country gentlemen objected to the incidence of rating. Now, under the present Government—a Government friendly to the removal of that grievance—I hope that that objection has fallen to the ground. After all, the total cost of education in this country is but small if we compare our selves with a State like the Canton of Geneva, which is poor; or one of our own Colonies, like Victoria. We shall find that in these poor and new districts the amount spent in the cause of education is at least double what it is in this enormously rich country, full as it is of churches and chapels. Before I sit down, let me give a very short summary of the advantages that would arise from the establishment of school boards. In the first place, lot the House recollect that school boards are already a machinery adopted successfully throughout the whole of Scotland and throughout more than one-half of England. If, therefore, any other machinery should be adopted, we should be under the obvious disadvantage of carrying out compulsion by two different systems. In the second place, it must be admitted that school boards are the most purely and fully representative bodies that can be devised. When you are enforcing compulsory bye-laws, you are enforcing something that is new, difficult, and almost penal in its character, and it is very important that you should have a body that has the confidence of the parents of the children, and nobody can possess that confidence more fully than a popularly-elected school board. In the third place, I would make this remark. You are in want of a machinery for enforcing the Agricultural Children Act. We are told, and very properly told, by the Government that to flood the agricultural districts with Inspectors would be an expensive, and in some respects an objectionable, mode of procedure; but the school boards would be a machinery ready at hand, and a machinery of the most perfect description. I would also ask the House to remember another thing, and it is this. In the agricultural districts, as in many parts of our towns, the great difficulty you have to contend with is the apathy which prevails amongst the poor and amongst the upper classes on the subject of education, and which it is exceedingly difficult to remove. If you establish a school board—even if it be in some respects an objectionable school board—you have the attention of the community turned to the question of education, you select four, or five, or a dozen men in the locality who are the greatest friends of education, and you give them power to carry out such measures as may be required for the promotion of education. That stimulates the public interest in the subject, and wherever a school board is established I have found from experience that the interest in education is infinitely greater than in any district which is presided over by the most munificent squire and the most popular clergyman. Then I must also say—though perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite will not agree with me in this—that by adopting the compulsory machinery which I propose, there would be this great advantage—that you would have school boards already formed which could receive transfers of those schools which from want of funds were unable to carry on their work satisfactorily to themselves. The Bishop of Manchester has expressed the opinion that the tendency of these voluntary schools to merge themselves into board schools will be so strong that in the course of 25 years the voluntary schools will probably be rare in the country. My Bill would make the advent of board schools gradual and easy. I think it would be wise policy in Her Majesty's Government to accept my Bill, and give me every facility for passing it. It seems to me that the art of statesmanship is to understand the signs of the times; and I think that the power, as well as the wisdom of a strong Government, such as we now have, would be best displayed by anticipating and providing for the inevitable, for that which I sincerely believe to be the desire of the country—an efficient system of education. I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Dixon.)


, in moving, as an Amendment, That the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, that when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) brought forward a similar Bill in a former Session, it was rejected on a division by a majority of 164 in a House of 476 Members, and it would be his (Mr. Hamond's) duty to see whether there was any, and, if so, what additional light had been thrown upon the subject, and then to ask the House whether education should be made compulsory through the medium of the school boards. It was no doubt the right and duty of Parliament to inquire into the operation of any Act which it passed, particularly when it expended so large a sum of money as it voted for Education—namely, £1,000,000; but it was also the duty of Parliament to guard itself against inflicting injustice upon the local ratepayers of the country. He contended that if anything were done to compel attendance, it should be done by the Government, and not through a Bill introduced by a private Member. The Bill had two objects—the compulsory attendance of children, and the compulsory establishment of school boards, whether they were required or not in some districts; and, in dealing with the first of these objects, he wished to draw attention to a Return which had recently been presented to the House, and in which a comparison was drawn between the attendance at the elementary schools inspected in England and Wales in 1869, the year before the passing of the Act, and the year ending August, 1874, the last year named in the Return. He found that in 1869 there were 7,845 schools, which provided accommodation for 1,765,000, the average attendance being 1,062,000. Now, in 1874, instead of 7,845, there were 12,167 schools, 838 of which were school-board schools. Accommodation in these 12,167 schools was provided for 2,871,000—the 838 school-board schools providing accommodation for only 245,000, the average attendance being 1,678,000, while as far as the school-board schools were concerned, it was only 131,000, although they had the power of making compulsory bye-laws. Judging from those figures, he did not think that the Bill was needful at present. Looking at the action of the school boards it was opposed to the existence of schools carried on on the voluntary system; and here he might state that the supporters of the voluntary system had great reason to complain of the course taken by Her Majesty's Government in reference to the interests of that system. He found, in looking through the Act of 1873, that for the attendance of every pauper child one farthing a-day was allowed; but the poor working man, who had children to educate, was not so favoured, and had to pay more than he could well afford to the school boards for the education of his children. It was never intended that school-board schools should, by reducing their own fees, undermine and take away the children from voluntary schools. He thought the Government ought to give earnest attention to this grievance, so that the voluntary system, which was generally growing, should at least have a fair field and no favour. The school-board system depended chiefly for its maintenance upon the rates, and any deficiency had to be made up from the rates, and thus the supporters of the voluntary system were doubly taxed. The Factory Acts schools were working beneficially, and the Agricultural Acts were also working well and satisfactorily. With regard to the tenant-farmers, he would not allow them to have a feeling on their minds that their interests were not fairly considered. The hon. Member for Birmingham said there was a chorus of approbation throughout the country in favour of compulsory education; but where were the proofs of its existence? His (Mr. Hamond's) opinion was, that the "chorus of approbation" in favour of compulsory attendance of children at the board schools was entirely in the hon. Member's own imagination. Not a single Petition had been presented in favour of the principle, and, in fact, compulsion had always been distasteful to Englishmen, and it would become still more so if it were exercised as they had recently seen it done. He might here mention an instance of the manner in which the school board officials were apt to act in the exercise of their authority in trying to force compulsory attendance of children at the board schools. The case was a very recent one, and was reported in the newspapers. It appears that a man was seen by a poor woman treating a boy very roughly, and forcing him along the streets. She addressed the man, and asked him how he could ill-treat the boy, and further asked the man who and what he was. He did not tell who he was, and answered the poor woman in very coarse terms. She, however, ascertained who and what he was, and took out a summons against him; and the magistrate, having hoard the conduct of the school board official detailed, fined him. That conduct was an instance of what might be expected from the exercise of such compulsory powers as the hon. Member for Birmingham sought to induce the House to arm the school board officials with, and it was pleasing to find that the magistrate had fined the man. Now he (Mr. Hamond) did say to the hon. Member for Birmingham, "do not be in a hurry; let those Acts which are now in operation have a fair trial, and leave well alone." When they found that upwards of 1,000,000 children had been attending the schools since 1870, under the provisions of the different Acts, he thought it was their duty to do so. He (Mr. Hamond) had read a speech recently delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), and in that speech the right hon. Gentleman considered that it was not advisable to force the formation of school boards, unless there was a deficiency of educational facilities in the neighbourhood, and he (Mr. Hamond) would say to the hon. Member for Birmingham, do not force the establishment of school boards in neighbourhoods, unless where there was a deficiency of schools. How could school boards exist, unless there were children in the neighbourhood sufficient to make schools? Then, with regard to rates for the maintenance of school boards, there was no necessity for them in places where there were no schools. The whole scope of the Act of 1870 was simply to supply any deficiency which might be found to exist by appointing school boards to build schools, and there was no power to appoint a school board without schools. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Oh, yes!] Well, then, would the hon. Member who said "Oh, yes," and to whom he begged very respectfully to say "Oh, no," be good enough to point to any clause of the Act authorizing school boards to be elected without supplying a deficiency of school accommodation? It was quite true that on the representation of a town council the Privy Council sometimes ordered a school board to be formed; but that was merely to save themselves the trouble of a preliminary inquiry. In strict point of law, it was only with the view of supplying a deficiency of school accommodation that school boards could be established. The school board rate was intended to supply the deficiency in the school fund, and that fund, according to the Act, was to consist of fees received from the children, any money voted by Parliament, and any loans ordered by the Privy Council. To say, therefore that a school board could levy a rate where no schools existed was to flatly go against the provisions of the Act. Board schools, in a word, were not to supplant, but to supplement the voluntary system, and the House should bear in mind what had been said by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council (Viscount Sandon)—namely, that the average attendance in rural districts was equal to that of towns, and as to the passing of Standards the rural districts had been found to beat the towns. Notwithstanding that, an attempt was being made to force school boards upon them; but the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) had let the cat out of the bag. The hon. Member admitted that his party were determined to have school boards, because they were hoping by slow but sure degrees to sap and soak up all the voluntary schools. But he (Mr. Hamond) strongly objected to the adoption of such a course. With regard to the course taken by the hon. Member for Hackney on this question, he (Mr. Hamond) was prepared to support him, and with regard to the course taken by the hon. Member for Birmingham in asking the House to pass a Bill which would force every district throughout England and Wales to contribute rates which in their aggregate might amount to a shilling in the pound, he hoped the House would not give its assent to such a measure. [Mr. DIXON: The hon. Member is mistaken. I said one penny in the pound.] That was the hon. Member's imagination. He hoped the hon. Member would not press the Bill, and that the Government would, in time, if they saw that it was necessary to legislate on the subject, bring in a Bill to make the attendance of children at schools more compulsory than at present. With regard to the denominational system of imparting to every child a religious education such as the parents professed, all parties, however much opposed in views on political and other grounds, were agreed, and hence the great additional increase in the attendance of children at schools—an increase, as he had said, exceeding 1,000,000. It would be a gross injustice to those who had established schools on the voluntary principle to hand over those voluntary schools to school boards upon such a principle as that which the hon. Member for Birmingham advocated, and he therefore hoped the House would support him in the Amendment he would now move for the rejection of the Bill.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, there were two questions now before them, as set forth in the Bill of the hon. Member for Birmingham; one being compulsory attendance of children at board schools, and the other compulsory formation of school boards. He was one of those who, when this subject was first brought forward, was opposed to compulsory attendance of children at the schools, and experience had tended to confirm him in his views. It, however, seemed to him that compulsory education had become popular in some quarters, judging it by the heavy cost which the public paid for it. Inspectors, for instance, received £80 or £100 a-year for their services. But it was all right, in their opinion. He remembered Mr. Dowse—now Mr. Justice Dowse—whom they were all formerly glad to see amongst them in this House, repeating to him a remark which had been once made to him—"Well, after all, there is a good deal of human nature in a man," and so he (Mr. Scourfield) thought, in relation to the action of school boards, and his impression upon the subject of compulsion was strengthened by the decision of a learned Judge in reference to a man who, it would be recollected, had refused to call in a medical man to attend his child when sick. The child died, and the father was proceeded against for neglecting to call in medical aid. Now, with regard to the medical profession he (Mr. Scourfield) knew that the members of it constituted a very useful and most respectable faculty; but whatever might be their opinions with regard to the man who neglected to call in a medical man to his child, the case against him was dismissed. Again, the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would compel people to drink water. Pindar commenced his odes by singing the praise of water, and the hon. Baronet was the modern Pindar; but in comparing the advantages with the disadvantages of a system of interference, the balance of evil was so great that the country would have nothing to do with the proposal. The late Professor Simpson, too, to whom the world was so much indebted for the reduction of human suffering by the administration of chloroform, once proposed to deal with smallpox on a system of compulsory isolation; but the proposal involved such a violation of public liberty, that even when such a benefit as the stamping out of that pestilence was to be the result, it could not be adopted. In fact, compulsion was un-English, and had been protested against both by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford and by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, both of whom condemned it as a means for the extension of education. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil condemned the dragging of children to school against the will of their parents as "intolerable tyranny;" while the right hon. Member for Bradford said that— However anxious they might be to compel parents to send their children to school, there "was no doubt it was an interference with liberty respecting which they ought to be cautious. The hon. Member for Birmingham had stated that school boards worked satisfactorily in Scotland; but he could not have heard the recent debate on the subject, or he would have known that a chorus of disapprobation was raised against them. School boards, in fact, afforded a good illustration of the maxim that it was easy to be generous with other people's money, and when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham spoke of their economy, all he stated was at variance with what they every day heard. There was in Hertfordshire a district the gross rental of which was about £2,288 per annum, and upon that rental the local school board had levied £200, not a penny of which had, as yet, produced any visible result. It must, however, have gone somewhere, into the pockets of some parties connected with the board, and therefore it was not to be wondered at that some parties favoured school boards. The Factory Acts had been referred to as furnishing a precedent for compulsory education; but those who, like himself, had heard the debates on the subject, would remember it was not the improvement of the education, but the improvement of the health, of the factory operatives which Parliament sought to effect. It was the sufferings of the children which carried the feeling of the House. On the subject of local taxation, the Government were pledged to afford the country some relief, and the most effectual way in which this could be accomplished was to repress all unnecessary expenditure, such as the cost of school boards in many cases would be. The Education Department in this country had never been able to make itself popular, and education itself would soon become as unpopular as the Department, if it was to be clogged with compulsory conditions. Much might be done by the clergymen and ministers of religion using their influence in order to induce parents to send their children to school, but no practical good could result from employing policemen and school board Inspectors to compel the attendance of children in the schools. He thoroughly opposed the Bill.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Hamond.)


denied the allegation of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Hamond) that school boards could not be elected except when there was a deficiency in school education. School boards existed where there was no deficiency of school education, as, for instance, in nearly all the large towns of Lancashire, in some of which not a single board school had been erected.


said, that what he had stated was that, under the Education Act of 1870, when a deficiency of schools existed in a town a school board was elected to supply the deficiency.


said, that there had hardly been a movement of progress in that House which had not in the first instance been defeated by large majorities, and he thought that their opponents had, on this occasion, taken up the last line of defence. He believed that the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council (Viscount Sandon) had no sympathy with the cause that hon. Gentlemen opposite had taken up, and he thought that Members of the Government would have to educate their party on the Education question as they had been educated before, with the result that before very long the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham would become the law of the land. Nothing short of compulsory attendance could possibly create a perfect educational system, for the operation of the Factory Acts had not been such as to secure the results hoped for, though they had been applied for 30 years. As to an increase of powers, it had been sometimes said that clergymen were making a commercial profit of their schools, and what would be said if the clergyman were made an officer to compel attendance at school? There was no chance, under the present system, of obtaining a thorough education for the children. Antecedent to the passing of the measure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), Stockport had framed probably the best educational machinery of any town in England; but even there, the proper proportion of children could not be secured, and now double the number of children were educated there that could be secured before the Act of 1870 was brought into operation. It had been proposed that Boards of Guardians should have the power of compelling attendance. Could anything be more odious than to associate education with pauperism? Neither should the clergyman or the squire be the persons selected to enforce attendance except as elected persons. When the London School Board was called into existence it had to deal with 100,000 children not at school. They had thoroughly sifted the matter, and made vigorous efforts for the removal of the evil, and they had inquired into the case of 4,000 of the most wretched members of the juvenile population. The results produced had been most important in their character, upon an average expenditure of 1.29d. on the rates. Was it worth while considering an expenditure so minute when they reflected upon the vast importance of the work that had been done? Let them look at the class of Representatives returned to that Board; such men as Lord Lawrence, Sir Charles Reed—than whom no man had ever resigned his seat in that House for a nobler purpose—the noble Lord the Vice President of the Education Board (Viscount Sandon), and the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), who had done 10 times more good as members of the School Board than they could do as Members of that House. He would next take the case of a provincial board, and would instance the town of Sheffield, where all sections of religious opinion found themselves represented on the board. The first result of the formation of a board was to increase the attendance at the voluntary schools by 9,000. With reference, however, to this particular case, which was the complaint made by one who was a Churchman and a sound Conservative, his objection was, that they ought to use the word "may" in the Act, instead of "shall." Preston, he (Mr. Mundella) believed, was the only important town in Lancashire that had not a school board. Why should the people of Oldham, Stockport, and Blackburn have such opportunity of sending their children to school, and not the people of Preston? He would refer to the case of Sutton-in-Ashfield, near Mansfield, where there was a mixed agricultural and manufacturing population. A noble Duke in the neighbourhood tried to prevent a school board being formed there, and even promised to erect schools if the inhabitants would not form a board. But they refused the bribe, and replied that they might get the schools, but followed this up with the inquiry how they were to be filled. The working people had taken up the movement with zeal, because they knew the importance of education for their children. He would say, let the Act be made absolute instead of permissive. There was no substitute but to secure school boards, and give them the power of compulsion. What was the condition of things at this moment? There ought to be 3,000,000 of children in attendance at school, but the average number was 1,700,000. There was an increase last year of 200,000, and the increase was especially large in those boroughs where compulsion was employed, while of 860,000 children presented for examination 702,000 passed in the lowest three standards. This was a very unsatisfactory result when compared with what had been attained in Switzerland and Germany. Switzerland, with only one-eleventh of the population, had turned out twice as many pupils in the year in the Sixth Standard as the whole of England and Wales, which, though possessing good teachers and zealous school Inspectors, and provided with splendid buildings, could only show an average attendance of 1,700,000 annually. At the conclusion of the war between Austria and Germany and France and Germany, the Austrian and French Governments respectively appointed Commissions, which reported that the superiority of the Germans was very greatly to be attributed to their admirable education, and France had now adopted the compulsory system, and had ordered that no recruit should be entered for the Army unless he had attained a certain proficiency. It was marvellous to observe how the Germans were competing in various parts of the world to get commerce into their hands, and how successful they had been; and here was another great result of the thorough system of education adopted in Germany, especially with reference to the acquisition of languages. Most of them would never live to see the fruits of their labours in education, because it was a matter necessarily of slow growth. This should instigate them to complete their work as soon as possible, especially as the people had now an extended power of voting. Let them, however, go on and strive together to create an intelligent population, and the beneficial results would become manifest sooner or later. He appealed to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House to devote their attention to that important object. Let the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government complete this noble work, and if he resolved that every child in England should have the best education that in the circumstances could be given, however much he (Mr. Mundella) might differ from the right hon. Gentleman on other questions, he should honour him for the rest of his life.


The House, Sir, has just listened to an eloquent and a characteristic, but very discursive speech from the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) in which he endeavoured to reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Hamond), who relied upon the facts which he very ably stated, and which prove that the Elementary Education Act of 1870 has been most successful for extending education throughout this country. Some Speakers are much disquieted by facts, when they come into collision with their preconceived theories, and I never knew an instance where this was more fully illustrated than in the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, which we have just heard. He is one of those speakers in listening to whom it is extremely necessary to watch for what may be their premisses. What were the premisses of the hon. Member for Sheffield? He endeavoured to evade the fact that it was the principle of competition in education upon which the success of the Act of 1870 was founded, and not merely upon the establishment of school boards; because that Act provided that it was in such localities only where accommodation for education was found to be deficient, that school boards should be required, that with all its expensive machinery, the power to establish school boards is used in the Act of 1870 as a means of compulsion; but these school board schools were to be subsidiary to the principle of voluntary education, which the Act of 1870 was intended to extend, and has extended. The hon. Member for Sheffield throughout his speech endeavoured to convey to the House, that all the success that has been obtained in the extension, and in the improvement of the quality of education, rests solely upon the school boards, although these school boards educate only a small minority of the children; and cannot justly be credited with the success due to the whole tenour and provisions of the Act that has really produced such great results. The hon. Member's speech marks a change in the whole political tone of the school to which he and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) belong. The hon. Member for Sheffield tells us that we are to meet the commercial difficulty which competition has brought before us, by providing compulsory education, for proofs of the success of which we are to look 30 years hence. The school to which the hon. Member belongs seems to have lost all faith in competition; they have, I think, had too much of it. They must know, and ought to acknowledge, that it is to competition, under the Act of 1870, that the extension of elementary education is to be traced; it is to competition between the voluntary schools and the school board schools that this great result is really due. But so tired of competition is this school of politicians, that it has come down to sheer compulsion as an alternative. It relies now, not upon competition, but upon compulsion. Not satisfied with the fruits of competition, it recommends sheer compulsion to be exercised upon both parents and children. I should have thought that we might have been satisfied with the experiment of 1870; but no, the fanaticism which is represented by the hon. Member for Birmingham insists, and compels him to ask the House to attempt to forestall the complete success of that Act, for Sheffield seems to delight in school boards? School boards are perfectly invaluable in his judgment, and one point he dwelt upon was the delightful irresponsibility which they exercised over the public. He told us that no clergyman, no country gentleman, could venture to exercise over the education of their neighbour's children the compulsion that would be quite natural to school boards. He inferred that school boards, as elected bodies, were perfectly irresponsible during the period for which they were elected. But where is the respect for the individual freedom of the parents, which was once a characteristic of the school to which the hon. Member belongs? I will state a case which occurred close to Birmingham—in the Aston Union—to show that compulsion is already exercised in cases where it can reach the children of the poor, is exercised in a manner which, if extended to other classes, will raise an opposition to education that seems not to be contemplated by the hon. Member for Sheffield or the hon. Member for Birmingham. I do not desire that more compulsory powers should be conferred. If I saw any let, any hindrance, any stop to the progress of elementary education, I might be governed by that; but seeing that the additional compulsion, now asked, is to operate only upon the labouring classes, and that we have no proposal before the House to adopt the German system and extend compulsion to all classes—a system that may be justified, that may be required by national emergencies, that can under such circumstances be justified; I say, that seeing that is a proposal that compulsion is to be applied to the labouring classes only, and lower middle classes only, to the exclusion of other classes, I appeal to the House whilst contemplating its own success under the Act of 1870, which has been produced through the influence of competition and persuasion; and I trust that the House will not be induced hastily to adopt further compulsory powers with respect to the education of the children of the labouring classes. This is the case to which I have alluded. I have been requested by the guardians of the Aston Union to submit this case to the consideration of the House. There is a poor widow of the name of Sarah Anne McHugh, who is resident in Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield. Her husband had not long since died of small-pox in the Union. This woman in order to maintain her three children goes out to labour. These children are respectively of the ages of 11, 5, and 2 years. The guardians allow the mother 2s. and three loaves per week for the eldest and youngest child—the second child being from home in a Roman Catholic school, this being a Roman Catholic family—conditionally that her eldest child, Sarah Anne, should attend some elementary school. The guardians had received a certificate from a medical gentleman in Sutton Coldfield, that the youngest child is now ill and under his care, and as its mother was obliged to go out daily to work it was necessary that the elder girl should remain at home to take charge of her sick sister. The guardians, therefore, under the circumstances, continued the relief to Mrs. McHugh as usual for a short period, and forwarded to the Local Government Board a copy of the medical gentleman's certificate, and asked whether under the circumstances such was a reasonable excuse for the child's absence from school, and legally justified the guardians continuing the full relief to Mrs. McHugh during the illness of her younger child. The answer of the Local Government Board is that, as at present advised, they thought that the younger child of Mrs. McHugh would be best relieved in the workhouse, and, if necessary, in the infirmary. As regarded the elder child, so far as the Board could form an opinion upon the facts stated, they did not think that there was any reasonable excuse, within the meaning of the Act, for her non-attendance at school. Now, I think that this is a case of compulsion of sufficient severity to satisfy the hon. Member for Sheffield and the hon. Member for Birmingham. The Local Government Board thought it better that the sick child, and probably the whole family, should be sent to the union work house rather than that the sister of 11 years old should not regularly attend school. The hon. Member for Birmingham, and the hon. Member for Sheffield, however, wish for greater compulsion than this; and this Bill, which is now before the House, would render such cases as this, which, I am happy to say, are now the exception, the rule. I have known Birmingham and Aston longer than the hon. Member for Birmingham, and I venture to tell him, that a repetition of such cases as this will produce a discontent among that manly population, which he will not find it easy to meet even when wielded with all the irresponsibility of a school board. I have no intention of prolonging the debate; but when the hon. Member for Sheffield cites the effect of education in Germany upon it commerce and its army; when he cites the effect of education in Switzerland, not throughout Switzerland, but in the Protestant cantons only, I beg him to remember that he is citing the success of a compulsory system not applied to the labouring population only, not to the wage-earning population of those countries only, but a system of compulsory education extending from the poorest of their inhabitants to the Crown Prince that is next the Throne. There may be merits in that system. If ever we find in England that the youth of our aristocracy are becoming as frivolous as the aristocracy of Prance was at the close of the last century; if we find that they are merely devoted to their pleasures—useless, in fact—it will then be time to apply throughout the German principle, for the sake of accomplishing the resurrection of the country. One would think that the hon. Member for Sheffield must have contemplated some such state of national decay as existing in this country, or he would have shrunk from the arbitrary measures which he has suggested.


, in supporting the Bill, said, he could not yield to the appeal which had been made to him by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Hamond) to oppose this Bill on the ground that it would increase local taxes. In voting for the Bill, however, he desired it should not be understood that he was pledging himself to the opinion that school boards in the rural districts were the best machinery, or the only machinery which could be adopted for securing attendance at schools. This country had been put to the expense of providing school accommodation for every child of school age, and Parliament had affirmed the principle that no child employed in any branch of industry under a certain age should be permitted to work unless it attended school so many hours a week, and he thought the time had come when we should cease to make any distinction in favour of children who were not at work as distinguished from those who were at hard work. The same rule ought to be applied in the case of children who were not at work as in the case of children who were at work. School boards at the present moment were the only available means of securing the attendance of children at school. If the Government would promise to introduce next Session a Bill based on the principle that every child of school age should attend school, whether at work or not, and that through the agency of school boards or some other agency that principle should be carried out, he thought it would be expedient on the part of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham to give the Government time to prepare a measure on this subject. Some hon. Members on the opposite side of the House thought that the supporters of this Bill desired covertly to strike a blow at voluntary schools, but that opinion was unjust. So far as he was concerned, he was not aware that he had ever done anything that was hostile to the voluntary schools, and if he had done so, he deeply regretted it. Let him have an opportunity of deciding as to the efficiency of the education in the voluntary as compared with the board schools, and if he found the education of the former was the better of the two, he should say let the parent send his child to a voluntary school. What he believed would take place was this—that the voluntary schools and the board schools would work side by side in a spirit of useful rivalry, and that the common-sense people of England would ultimately come to send their children to those schools where they thought that they could obtain the best education for them, and that with those schools the victory would ultimately rest. He hoped, after this avowal, he should not be accused of wishing to deal a secret or indirect blow at the voluntary system. With regard to compulsion, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) and the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Hamond) had spoken against the infliction of a compulsory system of education in this country; but the truth was, that the feeling of the public at the present moment was not that compulsory education was an infliction, but that it was a great agency placed in their hands for raising the moral and social condition of the country. There was nothing in the Elementary Education Act to compel the school boards to adopt compulsory education. The Education Office had not the power to compel a single school board in England to adopt compulsory education; and yet what had been the result? At present seven-eighths of the entire borough population of this country were under school boards; and out of that population under school boards as many as 98 per cent had, by their spontaneous action, adopted the system of compulsory education. It was almost absurd, therefore, to speak of compulsory education as an infliction. In no single instance in which a school board had adopted compulsion at the first election, had that decision been reversed at the second election. The present Government and those who supported them had undoubtedly made themselves parties to an important extension of the principle of compulsory education in regard to industry; and he would, therefore, appeal to the Government, if it was thought right that if a child employed in a factory should attend school so many hours a week, how they could possibly maintain the justice of the policy of saying that if a child was not employed but running to ruin in the streets, no obligation should be imposed to force its attendance at school. He disliked compulsion as much as the hon. Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Scourfield); but, although he asserted that as a general principle, he thought there was nothing in politics so mischievous and so misleading as to trust to general principles. It was necessary to decide each case on its merits, and if it could be proved that the children of this country could be educated without compulsion, he should be the strongest opponent of compulsion. It had been proved, however, that without compulsion the children could not be educated, and therefore he supported its reasonable and legitimate extension. With respect to a challenge which the hon. Member for Newcastle had thrown down to himself (Mr. Fawcett) in regard to local taxation, the present debate afforded the strongest argument in support of his proposition, that as long as the questions of local taxation and local government remained unsettled they must form a very serious impediment to the social and economical code of the country. He admitted that under the present system an injustice was very often inflicted on the occupier as distinguished from the owner by the establishment of school boards. But if the Government refused to adjust that inequality, it was impossible for them to let people remain in ignorance because that question of local taxation was not settled. It was the fault of the Government if it was not settled, and they must bear the responsibility. He wished it to be understood that the supporters of the Bill did not pledge themselves to the principle of school boards as the best or only means of carrying out the object in view; and if the Government would only say that they would take up the question next Session, although they might propose other machinery for compulsory education, he, at all events, should not show any dogged preference for school boards.


, as a member of the London School Board, said, that in the district he represented there was much difficulty in enforcing the compulsory bye-laws, but by the exercise of strictness tempered with mercy, and by adopting uniformly the plan of never sending a case to a magistrate which could be dealt with otherwise, it was quite possible to carry the rules into execution. At first he was not himself much in favour of compulsion, but the experience of a year and a-half on the London School Board had convinced him that in towns it would be useless for school boards to expend the money of the ratepayers in the building of schools, if they had not compulsory powers. As to the charge of harshness in carrying out the bye-laws, he could only say that the officers of the Board endeavoured to bring children to school, and in doing so, he considered they had discharged their duties with humanity and civility. But the House would be labouring under a delusion to suppose that the difficulties of the situation could be disposed of by the magic word "compulsion." What had been the effect of compulsion in the metropolis during the half-years ending respectively December, 1873, and December, 1874? Allusion had been made to the number of children on the roll and the number in actual average attendance. Well, he found that in the half-year ending December, 1873, there were 315,826 children on the roll in the schools in London, and that that number had increased for the half-year ending December, 1874, to 368,968, being an increase of 53,142 children on the roll. But then take the actual average attendance, which for the half-year ending December, 1873, was 236,143, as against 271,258 for the half-year ending December, 1874, showing an increase of 35,115 only in attendances, or an actual falling off of nearly 1 per cent in the proportion of actual attendances to the members on the roll. It was evident from these figures that we had not found the right way to work our system of compulsion, since that was the result after the London School Board had spent more than £1,000,000 in building 70 to 80 additional schools to accommodate 70,000 additional children. While, however, they could not by the present mode of executing the compulsory bye-laws really attain the result which some enthusiasts who were in favour of the system expected, yet it could not be denied that by their operation a large number of additional children had been brought into the London schools. But when it was proposed to universalize school boards in the rural districts, they were dealing with an entirely different condition of things. If the hon. Member for Birmingham, who had introduced the subject in a very moderate speech, wanted to make education stink in the nostrils of the poorer classes he had only to persevere with his Bill. Complaints had been made that the working of the school boards was not fair to the voluntary schools in regard to the high salaries given to the teachers of the board schools, and he regretted that the school boards had adopted so extravagant a scale, but they were only carrying out the behests of the Education Department. On the whole, believing that it would endanger the principle of so framing our system of Elementary Education as to draw forth the largest possible amount of local and personal effort, he could not conscientiously support the Bill.


said, that after the discussion they had listened to in regard to the measure before the House, he considered that he should best study their convenience by making only a few brief remarks, principally in reference to the working of the Scotch Education Act. Allusion had been made during the debate by the hon Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Scourfield) to some remarks made quite recently in the House on the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Perthshire (Sir William Stirling-Maxwell), when that hon. Baronet brought forward the question of the Scotch Education Act, and pointed out that some defects were to be found in that measure; and the hon. Member seemed to deprecate the idea that the House should entertain any experience derived from Scotland in consequence of the chorus of opinion against the Scotch Act, which had arisen from the great expense that the working of the Act had caused to the ratepayers of that country. He (Mr. Ramsay) wished to remove from the minds of the House the opinion that in seconding the Motion of the hon. Member for Perthshire, he had any object in view but that of perfecting the Scotch Education Act. He pointed out some of the defects of that measure, and he had then suggested a way by which the ratepayers might he relieved with advantage both to them and to the cause of education. But the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pembrokeshire was very much mistaken, if he considered that the people of Scotland were not sensible of the merits of the Act of 1872. He himself did not consider that Act perfect; but he believed that the promoters of it would be handed down to posterity as benefactors of their country, and as the authors of one of the greatest blessings which the Legislature had conferred upon the people of Scotland during the present century. When they supplanted a system that had been in existence for centuries, by which a school was provided in every parish, it was not to be expected that such a measure would be found at first to be quite perfect. Prior to 1872, they had in Scotland about 980 parish schools, and the Act had not only to supersede this system, but to establish a system by which something like 6,000 schools were to be provided in Scotland. He thought, therefore, that the framers of that measure might be forgiven if they overlooked some matters, and left some defects in their work. In Scotland it had not been left to school boards to frame bye-laws; but the Legislature had provided for the people of Scotland the rules in relation to attendance, and which compelled and enforced the attendance of all children at school. He believed that hon. Members on both sides of the House were of opinion that the whole of the children of the United Kingdom should be thoroughly educated, and he considered that the object of hon. Members in this House should be to raise the standard of education—not to rest satisfied with reading, writing, and arithmetic, but to provide a higher education than the Sixth Standard of the English Code. He trusted that the day was not far distant when the education standard would be raised in the manner he had indicated. What were the provisions of the Scotch law? He would refer to four sections of the Act of 1872 as embodying all those parts of the Act which enabled school boards to enforce the attendance of children at schools. The 69th section provided that all children between the ages of 5 and 13 years should receive elementary education. The 70th section stated that it should be the duty of every school board to appoint officers who should ascertain and report what parents had failed to perform the duty of providing such elementary education; while the 72nd section enacted that any person employing a child under 13 years of age who had not attended a school for three years between the ages of 5 and 13, and who was not able to read and write, should be liable to fine and imprisonment; and the 73rd section provided for the punishment of the parents of such child. He had read these provisions, because some misapprehension existed regarding them. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council stated recently, in answer to an inquiry, that the Government were justified in determining that reading and writing should be sufficient for children in England, on the plea that the Scotch Act made such a provision; but the sections just read to the House furnished no ground for such a view. It was the duty of the parent to provide elementary education, and he remained liable to prosecution if he failed to provide it in the three branches of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The only means by which a child could be relieved from that obligation to attend school was stated in the Act, and it was that he should have passed a satisfactory examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He had already taken part in discussing the defects of the Scotch Education Act, but he challenged any hon. Member of that House to say that he had ever heard the compulsory clauses quoted as an objection to the Act, or as being otherwise than a blessing to the nation. He had heard it said, on the contrary, that if the Act did nothing more than to provide school boards for the purpose of enforcing the attendance at school of the children of the whole population, it would be a very great blessing indeed. He had furnished himself with some statistics with regard to the working of the Act, and he found that so harmoniously and with so much consideration and discretion for the circumstances of the parents had the Act been worked, that although in the year ending 31st December, 1874, 6,339 summonses had been issued in the whole of Scotland for parents to appear before school boards for neglecting to secure the attendance of their children at school, there were only 155 prosecutions in the Courts during that period, and of these only 109 resulted in a conviction. The result was that the school attendance had been very largely increased—so largely, indeed, that the school boards would think that they were appointed to do work which they had not the means of performing, but for the compulsory powers to which he had alluded. He would now tell the House the cost of these prosecutions under the Act during the whole year. He found that the prosecutions of those 155 parents had cost £262, which was somewhat less than the three-hundredth part of a penny on the total amount of the whole rental of Scotland. It might be supposed by some that these remarks referred to the large towns only; but he saw that in a rural parish in the county of Haddington, 29 summonses from the school board were issued to parents who were defaulters in respect of not enforcing the attendance of their children, but no prosecution had been necessary in any one case, the remonstrances of the visiting officers having been found sufficient not only in that but in most other parishes in Scotland to secure the attendance of the children at school. He did not wish to take up much of the time of the House, but wished to quote a few figures with regard to Glasgow, which conveyed some important information with regard to that town. From the Report of the Scotch Board of Education for 1873, he saw that when the school board for Glasgow entered on its duties it found 1,400 children in the Calton district who were not under instruction, and now, through the effects of remonstrances and warnings, 1,090 of them had been sent to school. Eighty-six parents had been summoned before the school board, and only in six cases had they found a resort to legal proceedings necessary. It could not, therefore, be said that the board enforced their powers harshly, and without regard to the circumstances of the parents. He thought that was a fair argument for extending the system to England. In 1874 the officers of the Glasgow school board visited 4,560 cases, served notices upon 3,330, by which 2,095 were sent to school, so that only 375 children were left who were not in attendance or sent to school. He would trouble the House with just one other case, and that was the parish of Govan near Glasgow, which had a large general and manufacturing population. The school board of Govan stated that in May, 1873, the number of children on the roll in all the schools of the parish amounted to 7,198, while in May, 1874, it amounted to 9,438, or an increase of 2,240. The average attendance in all the schools was in May, 1873, 6,072, and in May, 1874, 7,843, an increase of 1,771. When the board took office 2,640 children were not under instruction, but in the course of a year, through the influence of visits and the serving of notices and summonses to appear before the board, 1,989 of those were sent to school, and the number of defaulters had been reduced to less than a quarter. Within the last two months they have served notices on 284 parents, representing 510 children, of whom 273 had been sent to school, leaving only 237 to be dealt with instead of 2,640, which was the number of defaulters only 27 months ago. With such facts as these before it, he thought the House could hardly hesitate to adopt compulsory attendance. He did not care by what name the body might be called, so long as some tribunal was found which should secure compulsory attendance, and he would impress upon the House the urgency of immediately doing something in this matter. By these means, and these means only, could they hope to keep their place in the race among nations. He trusted that the day was not distant when they would see some higher instruction attempted, and that the people of England might be induced to take a different view of what constituted education than they had had placed before them by those who would stop at the Third and Fourth Standards of the English Code.


said, he thought the House would agree with him that the discussion had been a useful and interesting one, but he would not attempt to follow in detail the points which had been raised; and with regard to the statements of the last speaker (Mr. Ram-say) as to the working of the Act in Scotland, he would merely say that these changes must be tested by a longer experience before any safe deduction could be made from the facts. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Hamond) in his able speech had started a novel and, at the same time, a new point—that it was illegal for the Education Department to order the establishment of school boards, whether on the application of a majority of the ratepayers, or of the town council, merely for the purpose of compulsion, where there was no deficiency of school supply. His hon. Friend was a high authority in legal matters, and he (Viscount Sandon) would therefore not venture to place his legal opinion against that of his hon. Friend. He would only say that ever since the Education Act was passed the Department had acted upon the belief that it had the power of ordering the formation of school boards even when there was no deficiency of school supply. The hon. Member for Sheffield had apparently scanned the whole of the educational horizon, and would lead the House to suppose that this country was in a more deplorable condition as regarded education than almost any other nation in Europe. Now, he declined to enter into any comparison with other countries; but, at any rate, he must say that they had been making very surprising and rapid progress in the last four years, during which time the average attendance had been increased from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000, while in efficient schools passed by the Education Department school accommodation had been provided for 1,100,000 children, a state of things which evinced a considerable amount of zeal on the part of the country in matters of education. Nor was that result obtained merely by compulsion and by "squeezing the rates," as the phrase went, for to a great extent it was brought about by means of an enormous expenditure of private funds and voluntary effort. During the last four years, therefore, he was warranted in saying that great zeal had been shown in promoting education, both by the voluntary supporters of schools, by parents, and by the State. The hon. Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Scourfield) objected to the expenditure upon education; but he (Viscount Sandon) must tell the hon. Member that he believed it was not the wish of either side of the House to stint that expenditure. At the same time, he should feel it to be his duty to resist as strenuously as any one wanton outlay merely for the sake of encouraging contention between one denomination and the other or between one party and another in towns; but he should be very slow to check what appeared to him the natural impulse of the country—namely, that not only should children be taught in good schools, but that they should have the best kind of instruction when they got there. With regard to the Bill, the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) started by saying that its principle was compulsory attendance of children at school. He (Viscount Sandon) always had a suspicion that that was not the great object of the Bill, and that the main object of it was the formation of school boards; and he observed immediately after the hon. Member said that compulsion in attendance was the principle of the Bill, that he altered his position as compared with the one he took up last year. He said last year he did not care by what method children were brought to school so long as they were brought there, whether by school boards or by voluntary means. This was an important admission; but now, after objecting to indirect compulsion, or compulsion through Boards of Guardians, through voluntary managers, or through the Department at Whitehall, the hon. Member came to the conclusion that there was no way of enforcing compulsion except by means of universal school boards. That change from the position which the hon. Member adopted last year confirmed him in the opinion he had always held, that the principal object of the Bill was to get school boards by all means: school boards first, and the attendance of children afterwards, as a secondary consideration. Well, had the hon. Member proved that the feeling of the country was with him in his proposal to make this sweeping change? He had cited the opinion of certain delegates of agricultural labourers who met recently in Birmingham; but when these men found themselves in a town where the most enlightened Liberalism was supposed, to exist, it was not surprising to find them yielding to the blandishments of gentlemen who told them there ought to be universal school boards. Next, the hon. Member had written to the clerks of school boards asking them what they thought of their masters, and as to the general feeling of the districts respecting school boards. The answer given was, that public feeling was becoming more and more favourable to school boards, and a most flattering description was also given of the members of those boards. But would not even a short experience of human nature lead most people to expect these reports as a matter of course? The hon. Member added that the tone even of dignitaries of the Church and managers of voluntary schools was gradually changing. Very probably, for the pressure upon the rates now made it more difficult for the managers of voluntary schools to obtain subscriptions, and as their school fees would increase in case of compulsion, they would be the better able to keep things going, and thus every religious denomination which owned schools had a direct pecuniary interest in compulsion. The speech of the hon. Member was founded largely upon theory and a great number of assumptions. Apply, instead, the test of stern facts as to whether the feeling of the country really favoured this great change. Out of 224 boroughs and 14,080 civil parishes, only 1,214 school boards had been formed, and out of those 1,214 only 734 had been formed voluntarily. Surely, if the feeling of the country was such as the hon. Member described it to be, more than 734 school boards would have been voluntarily formed. That fact alone must make the House pause before it came to the conclusion that so great a Resolution would either be acceptable to the country or would promote the cause of education. Here was another fact—From May, 1874, to May, 1875, 515 school boards had been formed. It was matter of surprise to the Department that so few large school boards had been obliged to be formed, and that voluntary effort had come forward in such a way; but out of these 515 school boards only 10 had passed bye-laws for the compulsory attendance of children. Even early that Session, hon. Gentlemen of great educational experience—like the right hon. Members for Bradford, Chester, and South Hants—demurred very much to the notion that school boards should be the solution of the acknowledged difficulty of procuring a good attendance at school. That fact, again, must make the House hesitate to admit that the feeling of the country was setting in in favour of universal school boards. What would the hon. Member do? He would force to have school boards 12,800 places which hitherto had shown no desire to have them. He would also force 843 school boards which had not passed compulsory bye-laws to have those bye-laws. Those figures put the case shortly, and he would ask some of the hon. Members opposite who had spoken so strongly on the subject, were they aware that school boards were indissoluble, and were they prepared to give to the ratepayers who voted for the adoption of school boards, the option of saying whether they wished them to continue or not? Unless they did that, they had no right to assume that all those places were charmed with school boards. A great deal had been said as to the manner in which compulsion had been accepted by the country. Had it never occurred to the hon. Member that in these cases the principle of compulsion had been adopted by the locality, only when the local representatives, freely represented by ballot, had determined on compulsion? There was a great difference between compulsion adopted in this way and compulsion forced on localities by missives from a Department. Moreover, it was rather rash to say that no objections had been taken to school boards where they already existed. There were some towns that they knew would not part with their school boards, but there were many that they knew nothing about, except by means of short official communications that passed through the hands of the Education Department. He again asked, would the hon. Member give to ratepayers the option of getting rid of school boards if dissatisfied with them? He (Viscount Sandon) was supporting school boards which were discharging the duty devolving upon them; but, he could not shut his eyes to the fact that an uneasy feeling existed at the burdens they imposed on ratepayers, and at the election expenses they entailed. If the best men did not come to the front, the election was left in the hands of inferior men; if they did come forward, they were mulcted by the expenses of the contest. Triennial elections were also becoming less and less acceptable through the bickerings and ill-feeling they created. It must not be supposed that he was against school boards, when they were necessary; but, when the House was told that there was a growing feeling in favour of universal school boards, he could not help calling attention to certain things which were passing around us, and was surprised that these things had escaped the notice of an hon. Member who was "watching the signs of the times." As to the position of the Government in these matters, he did not wish it to be supposed that the Government were unaware of the serious question of securing the regular attendance of children at school, and of maintaining that regularity. He knew, also, the efforts which were being made by land owners and others, by persuasion and even sometimes by threats, to secure the same end. The hon. Member said, with truth—and, in doing so, had evinced great fairness—that wherever there was a resident squire and a good clergyman, the school would be found in a satisfactory state, and the statement of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) that the landowners were not doing their duty was without justification. On the contrary, the Papers in the Education Department showed extraordinary liberality on the part of landowners in supplying sites, and in promoting education in other ways. Then, were the Government doing their duty? One answer to this question was, that a Commission was now inquiring into the operation of the whole of the labour laws respecting education, and the Government would obtain accurate Reports as to the working of the Agricultural Children Act. Through the Code, too, the Government were striving to raise the character of the education, for they believed that if there were thoroughly good schools, it would be easier to get children into them. How would the Bill work, if it passed? School boards would be forced upon unwilling places, and unwilling members of unwilling school boards would be forced to pass bye-laws for compulsory attendance of children, when everything showed that the localities were not ready for direct compulsion. How could any man of sense expect school boards to work satisfactorily under such circumstances? As the homely proverb said, it was easy to take a horse to the water, but it was not easy to make him drink. Sometimes—as the experience of the Education Department proved—when a school board was elected, it was not elected to do the work it was supposed to have to do; and if there were more unwilling school boards, the work of education, instead of being promoted, would be retarded. Therefore, with a view of preventing a strong feeling going forth to the country against their educational legislation—but at the same time expressing the earnest determination of the Government not to lose sight of the importance of getting children into the schools—he asked the House to reject that Bill, having for its object the establishment of universal school boards, a course of proceeding which he believed, in the long run, would destroy, instead of creating a feeling which they wished to exist in the country in favour of a higher and better education.


said, he did not think the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council had been quite fair to the hon. Member for Birmingham as to the chief object of his Bill. He had declared it to be the securing of the attendance of the children by compulsion, if necessary, and experience had proved that it was necessary. He (Mr. Forster) had so often expressed his opinions on the subject that it would not be necessary for him to address the House at any length. He should vote for the Bill this Session as he did last Session, because he believed it was now absolutely necessary to try to secure that the attendance of children at school throughout the Kingdom should be not partial, but general. He did not deny, at the same time that he was still doubtful whether, in the present temper of the country, the universal establishment of school boards was the best machinery for securing this object. But what was the position of those who thought the object one which ought at once to be secured? His noble Friend, who could not do his work day by day without coming to the same conclusion, did not come forward with any alternative measure. If a better measure than that now before the House could be suggested, let the Government submit it. The Bill would secure the general attendance of children, though with some disadvantages; and he warned those who cared for education, but disliked school boards, that every year's delay strengthened the argument in favour of school boards as the only practical plan of attaining this end. Most people now agreed that it was the duty of a parent to provide his child with some education; that if he could perform this duty it was criminal on his part to neglect it; that it was the business of the State to see that he did not neglect it, and to enable him to perform the duty for him if he were unable to pay for it himself; and that if education were not generally enforced by the State, we should be afflicted with a weak, a vicious, and possibly a criminal population. Districts had accordingly been compelled to provide school accommodation, but day after day the representatives of the ratepayers, who had been forced to build schools, said—"It is unreasonable not to give us some means of getting children into them." How much longer were they to go on, making it a crime in one district for a parent not to perform this necessary duty, while in an adjacent district it was no crime? Was it fair to children in agricultural districts that their parents should not have the same legal inducement to perform their duty as existed in the case of the parents of town children? Was it fair to a clergyman in a country parish who had perhaps spent much of his income in providing school accommodation that he should be deprived of this help in securing the attendance of the children? Parliament could not stop with the principle of permissive compulsion. The experiment of compulsion had entirely succeeded, and he called upon the Government to say whether they would not take advantage of that success and apply the system to the whole country. The school Inspectors concurred in reporting in favour of a general measure of compulsion; and as to the 515 school boards established since May, 1874, they had hardly had time to send up compulsory bye-laws. There were certain towns in which compulsion did not exist; but, taking population into account, his hon. Friend (Mr. Dixon) was justified in saying that public opinion favoured the establishment of school boards, for seven-eighths of the population had placed themselves under school boards, and 98 per cent of this town population had adopted compulsory bye-laws. If country parishes had not generally done so, it was because it was not easy for them, in the present state of the law, to pass compulsory bye-laws, especially in the very small parishes, where within a limited district, it might be a crime not to send a child to school on one side of a hedge and no crime on the other. That argument showed the necessity of a general law. He hoped his noble Friend would study the whole question, and, being perfectly aware of the evil, would soon be ready with a remedy. His noble Friend had taken steps with regard to the Winchester school board, which would be questioned in that House on a future occasion, for he had refused the appointment of a board there, notwithstanding the two resolutions passed in favour of a board by a majority of the town council. He hoped his noble Friend would satisfy the expectation which was entertained, even by the opponents of the school board in that city, that the Government would produce the necessary machinery for carrying out compulsion without a school board. As regarded that Commission of Inquiry into the Factory Laws, the terms of the Commission had not to do directly with agricultural children, as the noble Lord appeared to suppose.[Viscount SANDON dissented.] In conclusion, he called upon the House generally, and especially upon the Members for rural districts, to ask themselves why they should not try to get as much legal provision for the education of the children of the labourers on their estates as they had for the children of artizans in towns.


, in reply, denied that it was his object by the Bill in any way to vex or annoy the voluntary schools. As the Government, after a delay of 12 months, had proposed no alternative measure, and had held out no prospect of one, he was entitled to say that they were unable to find any other machinery than that of school boards to carry out the principle of compulsion.


said, he did not wish to give a silent vote on the question, as he did last year. He was in favour of compulsory education, but he looked upon the Bill as a misnomer, inasmuch as it was a Bill not for the compulsory attendance of children at school, but for the compulsory creation of school boards throughout the country. He saw no necessity for such a measure, and should therefore vote for the Amendment. The Education Act was working well; wherever school boards were required they had been established; and it was easy to compel the attendance of children without compelling the creation of school boards.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 255: Majority 91.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put off for three months.

Acland, Sir T. D. Gladstone, W. H.
Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Goldsmid, J.
Allen, W. S. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Anderson, G. Gourley, E. T.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Backhouse, E. Grieve, J. J.
Balfour, Sir G. Harrison, J. F.
Barclay, A. C. Havelock, Sir H.
Barclay, J. W. Hayter, A. D.
Bass, A. Herschell, F.
Bass, M. T. Hill, T. R.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Hodgson, K. D.
Bazley, Sir T. Holland, S.
Beaumont, W. B. Holms, J.
Biddulph, M. Holms, W.
Brassey, H. A. Hopwood, C. H.
Brassey, T. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Briggs, W. E. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Hughes, W. B.
Bristowe, S. B. Ingram, W. J.
Brogden, A. Jackson, H. M.
Brown, A. H. James, W. H.
Burt, T. Jenkins, D. J.
Cameron, C. Jenkins, E.
Campbell, Sir G. Johnstone, Sir H.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Kensington, Lord
Carter, R. M. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Cartwright, W. C. Knatchbull-Hugessen, rt. hon. E.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Laing, S.
Cholmeley, Sir H. Laverton, A.
Clarke, J. C. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Clifford, C. C. Lawson, Sir W.
Olive, G. Leatham, E. A.
Colman, J. J. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Cotes, C. C. Leith, J. F.
Cowan, J. Lloyd, M.
Cowen, J. Locke, J.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Lorne, Marquess of
Cross, J. K. Lush, Dr.
Crossley, J. Lusk, Sir A.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Macdonald, A.
Davies, D. Macduff, Viscount
Davies, R. Macgregor, D.
Dickson, T. A. Mackintosh, C. F.
Dilke, Sir C. W. M'Arthur, W.
Dillwyn, L. L. M'Comhie, W.
Dodds, J. M'Lagan, P.
Duff, M. E. G. M'Laren, D.
Dundas, J. C. Maitland, J.
Earp, T. Maitland, W. F.
Egerton, Adm. hon. F. Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.
Ellice, E. Marling, S. S.
Evans, T. W. Martin, P. W.
Eyton, P. E. Monck, Sir A. E.
Fawcett, H. Morgan, G. O.
Fletcher, I. Morley, S.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Muntz, P. H.
Fordyce, W. D. Mure, Colonel
Forster, Sir C. Noel, E.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Palmer, C. M.
Pease, J. W. Stevenson, J. C.
Peel, A. W. Stuart, Colonel
Pennington, F. Swanston, A.
Perkins, Sir F. Taylor, D.
Philips, R. N. Taylor, P. A.
Playfair, rt. hon. L. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury
Plimsoll, S. Trevelyan, G. O.
Potter, T. B. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Price, W. E. Vivian, A. P.
Ralli, P. Waddy, S. D.
Ramsay, J. Walter, J.
Rathbone, W. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Richard, H. Watkin, Sir E. W.
Roebuck, J. A. Weguelin, T. M.
Rothschild, N. M. de Whitwell, J.
Russell, Lord A. Whitworth, B.
St. Aubyn, Sir J. Williams, W.
Shaw, R. Wilson, C.
Sheridan, H. B. Young, A. W.
Sherriff, A. C. TELLERS.
Simon, Mr. Serjeant Dixon, G.
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T. Mundella, A. J.
Smith, E.
Smyth, R.
Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C. Charley, W. T.
Agnew, R. V. Christie, W. L.
Alexander, Colonel Clive, hon. Col. G. W.
Allen, Major Close, M. C.
Arkwright, A. P. Cobbett, J. M.
Arkwright, F. Cobbold, J. P.
Arkwright, R. Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B.
Ashbury, J. L. Cole, Col. hon. H. A.
Baggallay, Sir R. Collins, E.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Conolly, T.
Baring, T. C. Conyngham, Lord F.
Barrington, Viscount Coope, O. E.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Corbett, Colonel
Bates, E. Cordes, T.
Bateson, Sir T. Corry, hon. H. W. L.
Bathurst, A. A. Corry, J. P.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Crichton, Viscount
Beach, W. W. B. Cross, rt. hon. R. A.
Bective, Earl of Cubitt, G.
Benett-Stanford, V. F. Cuninghame, Sir W.
Bentinck, G. C. Dalkeith, Earl of
Bcntinck, G. W. P. Dalrymple, C.
Beresford, Colonel M. Davenport, W. B.
Birley, H. Deakin, J. H.
Boord, T. W. Dease, E.
Booth, Sir R. G. Dick, F.
Bourke, hon. R. Dickson, Major A. G.
Bourne, Colonel Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bousfield, Major Douglas, Sir G.
Bulwer, J. R. Drax, J. S. W. S. E.
Campbell, C. Dunbar, J.
Bowyer, Sir G. Dyott, Colonel R.
Bright, R. Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.
Brise, Colonel R. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Broadley, W. H. H. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Bruen, H. Elliot, G.
Buckley, Sir E. Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.
Buckley, J. R.
Cartwright, F. Emlyn, Viscount
Cave, rt. hon. S. Errington, G.
Cawley, C. E. Eslington, Lord
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Ewing, A. O.
Chaine, J. Fellowes, E.
Chambers, Sir T. Finch, G. H.
Chaplin, Colonel E. Floyer, J.
Chapman, J.
Folkestone, Viscount Maxwell, Sir W. S.
Forester, C. T. W. Mellor, T. W.
Forsyth, W. Mills, A.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Mills, Sir C. H.
Gardner, R. Richardson Monckton, hon. G.
Garnier, J. C. Monk, C. J.
Gibson, E. Montgomerie, R.
Goddard, A. L. Morgan, hon. F.
Goldney, G. Morris, G.
Gordon, rt. hon. E. S. Murphy, N. D.
Gordon, W. Nevill, C. W.
Gore, J. R. O. Newdegate, C. N.
Gorst, J. E. Noel, rt, hon. G. J.
Grantham, W. North, Colonel
Greenall, G. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Gregory, G. B. O'Clery, K.
Guinness, Sir A. O'Conor, D. M.
Halsey, T. F. O'Gorman, P.
Hamilton, Lord G. O'Neill, hon. E.
Hamilton, Marquess of Paget, R. H.
Hamond, C. F. Palk, Sir L.
Hanbury, R. W. Parker, Lt.-Col. W.
Hardcastle, E. Pateshall, E.
Hardy, rt. hon. G. Pell, A.
Hardy, J. S. Pelly, Sir H. C.
Hay, rt. hon. Sir J. C. D. Pemberton, E. L.
Heath, R. Peploe, Major
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Phipps, P.
Hermon, E. Pim, Captain B.
Hervey, Lord F. Plunket, hon. D. R.
Heygate, W. U. Plunkett, hon. R.
Hick, J. Power, R.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Praed, H. B.
Hill, A. S. Price, Captain
Hodgson, W. N. Raikes, H. C.
Hogg, Sir J. M. Read, C. S.
Holker, Sir J. Repton, G. W.
Holland, Sir H. T. Ridley, M. W.
Holt, J. M. Ripley, H. W.
Home, Captain Ritchie, C. T.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Round, J.
Hubbard, rt. hon. J. Ryder, G. R.
Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Sackville, S. G. S.
Isaac, S. Salt, T.
Johnson, J. G. Sanderson, T. K.
Jones, J. Sandford, G. M. W.
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Sandon, Viscount
Kennard, Colonel Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Scott, Lord H.
Knight, F. W. Scott, M. D.
Knowles, T. Scourfield, J. H.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Learmonth, A. Shaw, W.
Lee, Major V. Shirley, S. E.
Legard, Sir C. Shute, General
Leigh, Lt.-Col. E. Sidebottom, T. H.
Lewis, O. Simonds, W. B.
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Smith, A.
Lloyd, S. Smith, F. C.
Lloyd, T. E. Smith, S. G.
Lopes, H. C. Smith, W. H.
Lopes, Sir M. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Lowther, hon. W. Spinks, Mr. Serjeant
Macartney, J. W. E. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Stanley, hon. F.
Majendie, L. A. Starkey, L. R.
Mahon, Viscount Starkie, J. P. C.
Mejendie, L. A. Steere, L.
Makins, Colonel Stewart, M. J.
Malcolm, J. W. Storer, G.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Talbot, C. R. M.
March, Earl of
Marten, A. G.
Talbot, J. G. Wells, E.
Taylor, rt. hon. Col. Whalley, G. H.
Temple, rt. hon. W. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Cowper-Tennant, R. Whitelaw, A.
Tollemache, W. F. Williams, Sir F. M.
Torr, J. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill Wolff, Sir H. D.
Turnor, E. Woodd, B. T.
Wait, W. K. Yeaman, J.
Wallace, Sir R. Yorke, J. R.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. TELLERS.
Watney, J. Dyke, W. H.
Welby, W. E. Winn, R.