§ MR. FAWCETT,
in rising to call attention to the present unsatisfactory condition of Education in the Rural Districts, and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is undesirable that a less amount of school attendance should be secured to children employed in agriculture than to children employed in other branches of industry,said, the present appeared to be an appropriate time for bringing this important subject forward, because there seemed to be some danger that the general question of national education would not receive the attention it deserved. He believed that almost all Members of that House, on both sides of it, would agree with him in the proposition that education was just as important for persons living in rural dis- 1055 tricts as for those who dwelt in towns. If possible, ignorance was a greater misfortune to the former than it was to the latter. The activity of town life might, at least to some extent, supply the wants of early defective education; but if the early education of a rural labourer was neglected, there was nothing to relieve the dull monotony of his existence. If unable to read, leisure time became a burden to him. But, viewing the question simply from a labour point, he held that there was no greater fallacy than to suppose that an agricultural labourer did not require intelligence, but simply needed a knowledge of rough and unskilled labour. The very processes of agriculture—at any rate, many of them—required more intelligence on the part of the labourer than did many of the monotonous employments of workmen in manufacturing districts. Looking at the subject in that point of view—first of the labourer and next of industry—the House, he thought, would accept the proposition that it was as important that the rural labourer should be educated as that education should be secured to the artizan, the operative, or the miner. It was absolutely impossible to separate the education of rural districts and the education of towns. There was at present a constant emigration from the country to the towns, and no inconsiderable portion of the town labourers had passed their childhood in the country; and if education in country districts was neglected, the effect, sooner or later, must be felt in towns. The interests of town and of country were in this, as in so many other respects, so inextricably intertwined, that it was impossible to separate them. He had sometimes dwelt on this matter, because the question had been occasionally asked—"Why do you borough Members trouble yourselves about the country, and not leave the country to take care of itself?" He hoped, for one, that such recriminations would never receive the sanction of that House. They all of them had to look to their constituents; but they were also bound to render what assistance they could to improve the condition of their fellow-countrymen wherever they resided, whether in towns or in the country, or whatever their occupation might be. Starting from the proposition, then, that education was as important to the rural labourer as to 1056 the inhabitant of towns, it followed that education in the rural districts was just as worthy the solicitude of the House as education in the towns. Let them, however, contrast the position of elementary education in the towns and in the country. So far as the provision of schools was concerned, it was unnecessary to point out that there was no distinction made between town and country. By the Elementary Education Act passed in 1870, and mainly through the assistance of the Party who now sat on the Ministerial side, not only every town, but every village was required to provide schools sufficient for the accommodation of all children between the ages of 5 and 13. He was not anxious to revive old disputes on the subject of his Motion. Whatever might have been the former opinion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), he was ready to admit that he was as anxious as possible to secure the attendance of children at school. When his right hon. Friend took a step in the direction of compulsion he was afraid—and he did not say that his right hon. Friend was wrong in fearing—that if he at that time attempted to go further in that direction a reaction might be the result. It was impossible at that time to foresee to what extent compulsion would be adopted by the town population. At the present moment every town with more than 100,000 inhabitants had adopted the principle of compulsory education; and he believed he was correct in saying that every town with 20,000 inhabitants and upwards which had a school board had embodied that principle in its bye-laws. Although it was said in the discussion of the Elementary Education Act that the principle of compulsory education was un-English, yet without the slightest influence from the Government it had been adopted in all the most important towns of this country. The borough population of England and Wales was already 9,800,000, and out of that number no less than seven-eighths were under school boards. But what was still more remarkable was this—that out of the whole number under school boards, though it was not obligatory to adopt compulsory education, 98 per cent of the population under school boards had adopted compulsory education. It might be said that this adoption of the compulsory principle was 1057 a sudden freak, and that there would one day be a reaction. There was no sign of reaction, and every fact which could be observed tended exactly in an opposite direction. If compulsion had worked with hardship on the people, nothing was so easy as to revert to the former state of things. He was told that if a Motion were now made antagonistic to the principle of compulsion it would not have a single supporter in the school boards of London, Manchester, Birmingham, or any other large town. But in the country districts, there were only a few school boards, and only a small number of these school boards had adopted compulsion. In the county of Wiltshire, with which he was intimately acquainted, there were only five school boards in rural districts, and only one had adopted compulsion. In Dorsetshire, 12 country parishes had established school boards, and only three had adopted the principle of compulsion; there was not a single municipal borough which had a school board; there was only one Parliamentary borough—Wareham—which had a school board, and that had not adopted compulsion. In Shropshire, an extensive county, there were only four school boards, and only one had adopted compulsion. In some counties he was aware there were a greater number of school boards; but even there they were not very numerous, and only a few had adopted compulsion. In Suffolk there were 31 school boards, and only three had adopted compulsion. In Essex there were 35 school boards, and only six had adopted compulsion. In Leicestershire there were 16 school boards, and only three had adopted compulsion; therefore, summarizing the contrast between the town and country districts, it came to this—that in the towns nearly the entire population were at the present moment under compulsory education; whereas of the rural districts only a small proportion had school boards, and only a small fraction of these had adopted compulsion. He wished the House to understand in the clearest manner that while making these remarks he was not advocating the establishment of universal school boards. All that he contended for was that at the present moment school boards were the only agency by which children could be got to school, and until some other agency was provided by those 1058 who were responsible for the education of the country steps should be taken to procure the attendance of children by that agency. He thought it was quite possible that there might be discovered some better way of getting children to school, and that the aid of the school Inspector might be most judiciously employed. But whatever might be the opinions of hon. Members upon that point no one could doubt that school boards in the country districts were extremely unpopular. He was not going to justify that position; but he would explain the reason. In the first place, it was supposed that school boards were expensive, and involved a heavy charge on the rates, and that they would interfere with voluntary denominational schools. With regard to the last objection, he had always been one of those who deemed it of primary importance to get children to school, and who thought it a secondary consideration whether they went to denominational or undenominational schools; but he thought that both extremes were equally to blame. He thought those were to blame who had resisted school boards where they were the only moans of getting children to school, because it would slightly interfere with some denominational school; and as much to blame were those who held extreme opinions on the other side, and who would rather see a child grow up in ignorance, and have its prospects sacrificed for life, than allow it to spend an hour or two in a denominational school. Perhaps it might be urged that although compulsion was all very well for the towns, it was altogether unsuited for the rural districts. Now, what evidence was there on this point? If the opinion he had just referred to were held, it ought to have been proclaimed when the Elementary Education Act was passed; but he could quote authorities which could not be disputed, to show that it was impossible to expect education in the rural districts to be put into a satisfactory state without compulsion. Having already referred to Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, he would mention the remarkable fact that at a mooting hold four or five years ago in the palace of the Bishop of Salisbury a resolution was passed affirming, in the strongest possible terms, that compulsion was necessary in order to put education in the rural districts in a 1059 satisfactory condition. If asked why compulsion had not been more generally adopted, he would reply that it was one thing to approve compulsion as a general measure, and it was another for a country gentleman or a clergyman to incur the responsibility of using his influence to get compulsion in one village when there was no similar provision in the surrounding districts. The Act passed last Session to extend the Factory Acts provided that no child should be employed in a textile factory until he was 10 years of age. It was a great error to suppose that all factories were in towns. Lancashire and Yorkshire were dotted all over with factories, and if they were not going to do something to complete that legislation it would be a positive misfortune; for previously, under the half-time system, children between the ages of 8 and 10 received a certain amount of education. Again, another Act, passed with the support of the Conservative Party, laid down the important principle that no person should receive out-door parochial relief unless he sent his children to school; and this, unless supplemented by further legislation, would result in the anomaly that the child of an honest hard-working parent might have its education neglected while another child would be having its education attended to because it happened to belong to a drunken parent who was a pauper. The Agricultural Children Act, with all its shortcomings, supplied an unanswerable argument in favour of the extension of compulsion. In that Act they said that a parent should not send his child to work until he had reached a certain age, and unless he had attended school so many times a year. If they interfered with children at work, what possible reason could there be for non-interference with children who were not at work? If the question was put to the great Tory Party what legislation it was they most prided themselves on, they would probably say that for 30 years they had been consistent supporters of the Factory Acts. Formerly it might, perhaps, have been urged with some plausibility that the educational restrictions of those measures had simply grown out of sanitary legislation as an indirect and a collateral consequence; but the cogency of such an argument had been utterly destroyed by the passing of the 1060 Factory Act of last year, which, without any reference to questions of health, provided that if children employed in a textile factory had not at the age of 13 attained a certain standard of education they should be compelled to go to school till they were 14 years of age. With regard to the Agricultural Children Act, it seemed at first sight to secure a certain amount of protection to the children up to the age of 12, though he thought he could show that at the age of 10 years and four months a child might be quite beyond the operation of the Act. It enacted that a child between 9 and 10 years old might be employed in agriculture, if in the previous year he had made 250 attendances at school, and that between 10 and 11 years of age he might be employed if he had made 150 school attendances, or, in other words, been four months at school and eight months at work; but between 11 and 12 years of age he might be employed if he had made 150 attendances, or had been at school four months in the preceding year. Now, under this Act, a child who had attained the age of 10 years and four months might slip out of it altogether. He might give the 75 days' attendance after he had attained the 10 years of age, and thus might pass out of the operation of the Act. He asked if this was not a mockery of educational legislation? Under the present system it was not the children who were neglected, it was the educational efficiency of the schools, and nothing could be more fatal to a school manager. Moreover, in thus allowing education to be lumped together in one portion of the year you were acting in defiance of all principle. The same system was adopted in the Print Works Act, of which the late Mr. Leonard Horner, one of our most experienced Factory Inspectors, said it was a mockery as an educational measure. This opinion was endorsed by Inspector after Inspector, who stated that, as an educational measure, it was altogether useless. Under the Factory Acts, children could not go to work till they were 10 years old, and must attend school till they were 14 unless they reached a certain Standard. In the rural districts children might go to school at 8 and leave altogether at the age of 10 years and four months, while no Standard of education was enforced in their case, and they might leave school 1061 though unable to read and write. Nor was this the only point of difference. The Factory and the Mines Acts were enforced under strict inspection; but no one was responsible for carrying out the Agricultural Children Act, which must therefore inevitably become a dead letter. How could you expect clergymen, farmers, and country gentlemen to turn common informers against their neighbours and friends? From all parts of the country he had received communications to the effect that without inspection the Act was hardly worth the paper on which it was printed. Perhaps it might be replied that this point was met in the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). Now, he considered it a very strange Amendment. It was not an opposition to his (Mr. Fawcett's) Motion. So far as the Amendment went he accepted it. He understood it to imply not only more school attendance, but that it should be secured by adequate inspection. Although he accepted the principle of the Amendment, he was not certain that Her Majesty's Inspectors would be the best parties to look after rural education. The Inspectors of Factories had other duties to perform—to look after the education of children was only one of many duties devolving on them. Possibly it might be better to say that the advantages of inspection should be secured in the case of rural schools through the school Inspectors. He wished particularly to direct the attention of the Home Secretary to what he was now about to say. The other night, in granting a Commission to inquire into the operation of the Factory Acts, the right hon. Gentleman admitted the injustice and impolicy of having different legislation with regard to juvenile labour affecting different competing branches of industry. If there was different legislation, what was the inevitable result? It naturally followed that labour was disturbed, and that produced an unfortunate effect on industry. Mr. Tufnell said, that nothing could be more unfair than to apply different legislation to trades competing in the same branches of art. Mr. Norris said there ought to be free trade in juvenile labour, adding that the Factory Inspectors were unanimous as to the educational advantages of the half-time system; but thought serious harm would be done by a large amount of juvenile 1062 labour leaving the restricted industries for industries which were less restricted. As far as possible, therefore, legislation ought to be harmonious, so that one industry should enjoy no advantage over another. There was no infallible barrier between town and country labour. There was a free interchange between them at present, and if a difference were made in town and country in the restrictions upon juvenile labour, manufactures and agriculture would not get their natural proportion. It was said that agricultural labourers were too poor; that it might be desirable to educate their children; but that they could not afford to sacrifice even a portion of their children's earnings. Now, he entreated the House to consider what that argument amounted to. It amounted to this—that in spite of all that they heard about agricultural improvements, and in spite of the kind things done by the clergyman, the country gentleman, and the farmer, the labourers in the most important of all industries were in a condition of such deplorable poverty that the minds of their children must be sacrificed to premature toil, and that intellect blighted which was the noblest work of God. That argument condemned the whole system of agricultural polity, and he would show beyond the possibility of dispute that there was no occasion to do injustice to the cause which hon. Gentlemen opposite advocated when they pressed such an argument. It was a mistake to suppose that all the agricultural districts were in the same position. There was one county in England—Northumberland—where the children were seldom set to agricultural work until they were 11 or 12, and not often until they were 13 or 14 years of age. What was the result of that state of things? Would any one acquainted with that county say that the sending of children to school until they were 12 years of age inflicted any hardship on the parents? Mr. Henley, son of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, was an Assistant Commissioner appointed by the Government, to inquire into the condition of women and children employed in agriculture, and his Report showed a very different state of things in Northumberland. Speaking of one of the largest unions in Northumberland, Mr. Henley said that in that union children were not set to 1063 work until they were 10 or 11 years of age, and that in the summer months; and that they were often not set to work until they were 13 or 14 years of age—that there was no county in England in which agricultural labourers were so prosperous, and no county in which wages were so high; and that he found the cottages comfortable, and heard no complaints. Mr. Henley added that parents there looked upon their children's education as a great duty; that the farmers were great friends of education; that they urged that the children should be sent to school, and supported the schools themselves, because they recognized the simple but important truth that the most efficient and productive labour was intelligent labour. Another Commissioner said that, comparing Northumberland labourers with those in the South, if the Northumberland population had got into this happy position, why should not these advantages be secured to the labourers in the Southern, Eastern, and Western counties? To show that this premature employment of children did no good either to the employer or employed, he begged to direct attention to the words of another gentleman, who would doubtless be regarded as a high authority by hon. Members opposite. Mr. Stanhope was another of the Assistant Commissioners—he could refer to him now as the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. That hon. Gentleman, who visited Dorsetshire, said that in no other county was there such an excessive amount of boy labour—that boys went to work at 8 years of age; and he made this very significant remark—that to this excessive employment of juvenile labour, and the insufficiency of food, he attributed the stunted growth and early decrepitude of the Dorsetshire labourers. Now, in arguing that something more must be done for the promotion of education in the rural districts, he admitted that this could not be done without producing some hardship. But it should be remembered that the restriction of juvenile labour tended to increase the value of adult labour. Did Gentlemen who supported the Factory Acts suppose they could restrict the labour of children in factories without bringing a bitter pinch to many a poor widow who depended on her children's labour? No great reform could be effected without cases of indi- 1064 vidual hardship; but that did not deter hon. Gentlemen opposite from carrying out alterations which they believed in the long run would be productive of magnificent results for the entire population. And though the extension of education in the rural districts might occasion individual suffering, still he would appeal to hon. Members opposite to say that, in their opinion, the welfare of the rural population was not less worthy of their solicitude than that of those who dwelt in towns. In conclusion, he would remark that the present Government had a great opportunity which might not occur again. Supported, as no Conservative Administration had been for the last 25 years, by the agricultural interest, they were naturally anxious to prove their desire to do something for their supporters. They accordingly promised to reduce the rates, to improve the administration of turnpikes, to give to tenants compensation for unexhausted improvements. But surely the Government and Parliament would not be so ungenerous and unwise as to give ground for the suspicion that they were anxious to do all these things for those who had votes, but nothing for those who had none. To reduce the rates, to compensate for unexhausted improvements, to administer turnpikes well—these were all advantages which could at once be understood; but it behoved our statesmen responsible for the Government of the Kingdom to recognize this truth—that the best guarantee for the welfare of the country and for the permanent prosperity of its industry, was to secure that those intellectual and moral faculties should be developed which enabled a man to take an intelligent part in the industrial economy of the country, and worthily to occupy his position as a citizen of a free State.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH,
in rising to second the Motion, said, that nothing could be more anomalous than the state of society as shown in the West Riding of Yorkshire and Lancashire. The children in the towns were educated up to the age of 14, but if they lived outside the limits they were only educated up to the age of eight. He ventured to think that such an anomaly was most unjust, because the child who would enter upon the work of life uneducated had a heavy burden to carry. If that was the case when a large pro- 1065 portion of our population was uneducated, it was still more so now. Uneducated children now would be in much the same position as the smaller towns which our railway system had missed—their condition would be worse than they were before. With respect to the Resolution of his hon. Friend, he could scarcely imagine what objections could be urged against it. It might be said it was only an abstract Resolution, which, if carried, would do but little good. To that objection he would refer later on. Another objection was that it was unnecessary; and a further objection was that it was futile, because it was impossible to secure what was asked for. It was needless for him to enter at any great length on the consideration of these points. His right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had provided the means of education for the agricultural child as well as for the factory hand—there were good and efficient schools for both. In that respect they stood on an equality; but what was their actual position? The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council, in moving the Education Vote last year, had stated it in those words—Thus, out of 2,200,000 on the books (of inspected schools) 900,000 had not attended for even half-a-year. If the attendance was so bad in the inspected schools, what was it likely to be in the non-inspected schools?.… This irregular attendance of the children was the most important fact in the educational survey of the country, and it explained the poor results that were obtained from our immense expenditure on the children. What was wanted was both early and regular attendance."—[3 Hansard, ccxix. 1640.]What were the means taken to enforce attendance at school in the agricultural districts? No direct means whatever were taken. It was true that there were some parishes which had school boards, and in many of these probably compulsory bye-laws had been enacted, but these parishes were generally towns with a considerable population; and there were about 14,000 other parishes without school boards, and consequently without any provision for the compulsory attendance of children. Even the indirect compulsion which only provided for a scattered attendance of the children was very different from what was required from factory hands. He thought they might, in this respect, fairly hope for some improvements. Last year they had raised 1066 the ago at which a child could work in a factory from 8 to 10, and he hoped the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) would amend his Act by also raising the ago at which children should engage in agriculture from 8 to 10 years. But he had a still more serious fault to find with the present system—it was, in fact, a dead letter. No moans were taken to enforce it. Who was to act as informer in case of the violation of the Act, and who was to prosecute? He hoped to-night to hear an answer to those questions. With respect to direct compulsion, what reason could be urged against extending that to the country districts which already prevailed in the towns? It might be argued that it was a very good thing to talk about, but that it had very little effect—that it was contrary to English nature, and people could not be compelled. If that argument were used he should answer it by the statement of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, when he said that in London, Hull, Sunderland, and other towns, the school attendance, when made compulsory, had been improved 30 per cent. If that had been the result in the town's, why should they not have equally good results in the agricultural districts? In country districts the difficulties in enforcing the compulsory bye-laws would be much less than in town. He believed that in almost every such district, numbers of people would be found ready to pay the school fees for those children whoso parents were unable to pay them, and therefore there would be no difficulty on the ground of poverty. Again, in town, owing to the transitory nature of the population to be dealt with, there was often difficulty in obtaining the ages of the children, but in the country, where everybody knew everybody, this difficulty would not exist. If it were objected that this was a mere abstract Resolution, his answer was that they wished to have a fair discussion of the principle apart from any question of mere machinery, and to know the reason, if any, why this great boon of education should not be extended throughout the country. Last year, in the discussion on the Bill of the hon. Member for Birmingham, the Government insisted, in spite of all that was urged, in regarding the measure 1067 solely as one for the universal establishment of school boards, and in disregarding its real object—namely, the universal application of the principle of compulsory attendance. They had been told by the noble Lord, in reply to his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, that as soon as the Government had decided to deal with the question they would make known their intention to the House. They might be certain, therefore, that the Government had not yet made up their minds to deal with the question; and yet he thought he might appeal to them. They called themselves the representatives of the agricultural interests, and he gave them the full credit of that honourable position; but he presumed that they would claim to be the representatives not only of the farmer and the landowner, but also of the agricultural labourer, and he trusted they would show at least equal care for labourers engaged in agriculture as for those engaged in factory labour. They had also told their constituents on the hustings that they were the only true friends of religious education. He was not prepared to yield to any body of Gentlemen in that House the sole credit of being devoted friends of religion; and he would appeal to hon. Members opposite not to allow, by their neglect of this great question, the idea to be sanctioned that the vital interests of education were neglected from some misplaced fear of injury to the religious character of our schools. He begged to second the Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, it is undesirable that a less amount of school attendance should he secured to children employed in agriculture than to children employed in other branches of industry."—(Mr. Fawcett.)
§ MR. PELL,
in rising to move, as an Amendment, to leave out all after "undesirable," and insert—To withhold from children employed in agriculture the advantages secured to children employed in other branches of industry by the services of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories,said, that the views held by Representatives of urban districts on this subject were very much the same as those entertained by Members connected with rural districts. A good deal of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Hackney 1068 (Mr. Fawcett), therefore, met with a response on that side of the House; but the course he had taken was open to this objection—that he had proposed an abstract Resolution, and had imparted very little information to the House to assist it in handling the question. The hon. Member had told them that, as regarded education, there were no signs of reaction. That was, no doubt, true. Certainly, there was no reaction on the part of the Government. If any evidence were wanted to prove that, it was to be found in the new Code which had been issued that morning. Nor was there, he maintained, any sign of reaction in his Amendment, which he hoped would recommend itself to the House on the ground of its being practical, and calculated to bring many children employed in agricultural pursuits into school in cases in which, under other circumstances, they would probably remain away. The hon. Member for Hackney said, he was not an advocate for the universal establishment of school boards. What, then, was he an advocate for, which would come between school boards and the enforcement of the Agricultural Children Act? He had not sketched out any other way by which these children might be brought into the schools. He had said that individual responsibility could not stand in the place of school boards—which meant that in this country, with all our desire to see the children educated, very few people could be found to put the law into force where it was likely to give offence. He (Mr. Pell) regretted that there was so little feeling of individual responsibility in the country; but, as it had failed, it must be replaced by something else, and that something else had better be to apply the machinery we already possessed. The attendance of children at school was required under the Agricultural Children Act, but competent evidence had been quoted to the effect that the Act was useless, and that no one was responsible for its administration. Now, it was because he felt that to be so that he had placed upon the Paper the Amendment which he was about to move. He might be twitted with having said in previous debates that no inspection would be necessary, and that the Act would work by itself if left to the clergymen, the farmers, and the country squires. From 1069 the inquiries he had made throughout the country, right and left, he found that that had not been the case. Letters which he had received proved to him that it was now, above all times, desirable that some provision should be made on the part of the Government for securing the observance of the Act, for parents who were last year unselfish enough—and it required a great deal of unselfishness on their part—to give up the earnings of their children with a view to their going to school, now found that they were objects of ridicule to their neighbours when they saw the Act was not enforced. It was not well, in his opinion, that such a state of things should be allowed to continue any longer; but, at the same time, it was quite clear, he thought, that the feeling of the country was not in favour of direct compulsion in the rural districts. From the Minute of the Education Department for January, 1875, he found that the metropolis, with 3,266,000 inhabitants, was under direct compulsion; that 203 municipal boroughs, with an aggregate population of 6,500,000, were also under school boards, but not under compulsion; and that 13,000 separate parishes, with 1,000,000 of inhabitants, did not come under compulsion in any way. That showed that the feeling of the country was distinctly against compulsion. If that were the case, would it be wise in any Government to attempt to enforce compulsion? There was a great deal of beating about the bush as to the effect on the agricultural labourer of sending his children to school. It was believed that he was under the disadvantage of not being in a position to do so; but it should not be forgotten that agriculture had been to a great extent abandoned by women, and that little girls were not permitted by their parents to go out to work. Of course, the labourer found it very hard to make up the income thus lost to him, but it was partly done by means of the higher wages, and partly by means of some industry carried on in his house. The employment of young boys, he might add, was not much sought after by the better class of farmers. The machinery employed had become too heavy for them to work, while greater rapidity was demanded. Besides, there was a high sense of duty on the part of the majority of farmers as to what was 1070 owed to a child, and they began to see that it was not well he should work too young. He had some figures on the subject which were conclusive on the point. It appeared from the last Census that there were of children between the ages of 5 and 10 employed in agriculture only 3,400, and between 10 and 15 there were 94,000. Of girls, on the other hand, between the ages of 5 and 10, there were only 220, and only 4,500 between the ages of 10 and 15. He had in these numbers included girls who were employed inside as well as outside houses. It had been remarked that, in the first instance, children were not educated under the Factory Acts. He did not find that to be the case. He had looked at the very earliest Acts on the subject, and he found the title of the first one to be "Factory Health and Morals Act." And how did that Act provide for morals? In a rather extraordinary way. It was enacted that education was only to be given on Sundays, and that apprentices in Scotland between the years of 14 and 18 were to be carried to the parish church. Then, again, the Act of 1833 dealt with education as well as health, as also did all the Factory Acts in succession. Having said so much, he would give some of his reasons for pressing his Amendment. He did so, first of all, because he believed that the Agricultural Children Act, passed by the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), was a very reasonable measure. It did all it was possible to do at present for agricultural children. It made a very great change in the previous law, by declaring that children between the ages of 8 and 10 should not be employed in gangs. That being the ease, having such an Act in operation—an Act that was almost universal, indeed, in its operation—he thought it ought to receive a fair trial, and that it ought not to be too hastily or heedlessly disturbed. Well, then, if they passed some such Amendment as he proposed, he thought they would be going a very great way to prepare the rural part of the country ultimately to accept something stronger in the shape of legislation than they were prepared for at present. Again, with respect to inspection, the Elementary Education Amendment Act enforced certain powers of inspection; but the Agricultural Children Act exempted pauper children from the 1071 operation of the former Act who were of a certain age. Coming more directly to his own proposal, he might say that there were something like a million of persons who came under the jurisdiction of the Factory Inspectors, and altogether about 42 officers were employed in seeing to the observance of the different Factory Acts. On the other hand, the number of children between 8 and 12 employed in agriculture was about 60,000, and it was believed that eight Inspectors would do all the additional work required, at a cost of something like £2,400. In this calculation it was not the number of children that had to be taken into account, but the number of inspection centres, because children employed in workshops or factories and agricultural children were often to be found living side by side in the same village. Under these circumstances, it frequently happened that children who would have benefited by the Factory Acts were put to agricultural work, in which there was no inspection in the interests of education, and in this respect the establishment of an uniform system for both descriptions of labour was desirable. Some misapprehension appeared to exist with reference to the way in which these Inspectors would work. It was supposed that they would go into every field, farm, and school, ask for the children's certificates, and harass them for supposed infringements of the law. That was an entirely fancy picture; the Inspectors would not work in that way at all. Their main duty would be to explain the law, and to point out to employers what the consequence would be if it was not complied with. By this means he believed the education of children employed in agriculture would be improved, without any vexatious action whatever being resorted to. He trusted the Government would give the House some assurance that these Acts would not be allowed to fall into desuetude, but that steps would be taken to enforce their observance, not only with the object of promoting health and education, but also of insuring respect for the law of the land generally. He also expressed the hope that hon. Members who represented urban districts would disabuse their minds of the belief or suspicion that there existed on the part of the owners or occupiers of land any disinclination whatever to 1072 see agricultural children educated side by side with the children of towns. Owners and occupiers knew well enough that the country was committed to the question of education. Nay, more, they recognized the principle that if the children were to have education at all, it could not be of too good a kind. Let it be as good and as thorough as it could possibly bo. Above all things, lot them impress upon the agricultural population that good education was not meant to fit them to become bad servants; that it was not meant to have the effect of driving or tempting them away from their villages under the vague and shadowy hope that they would be better elsewhere, but that it was meant to fit them all the more for their own proper work. Let their farm labourers know that it would be well for them to bring all the information they might derive from education to bear upon the industry to which they belonged; and that well-educated ploughmen, and even well-educated herdsmen, would, if they only worked patiently and waited patiently, in the long run have their reward. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "undesirable" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "to withhold from children employed in agriculture the advantages secured to children employed in other branches of industry by the services of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories,"—(Mr. Pell,)
§ —instead thereof.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
I think it right, considering that the supporters, both of the Motion and the Amendment now before the House, have so often referred to the office I have the honour to hold, that I should thus early in the evening very shortly state the views which the Government entertain upon the question. And, first of all, I may say that I very naturally object to dealing with such a question as this in the form of an abstract Resolution. Taking into view how long and how often this question has been debated in the House, the Motion must be held to savour rather of the politico-economical view of the matter than of a view dealing with practical details, and giving us 1073 something upon which we could positively work. I look upon it rather as holding up a universal panacea for all the evils that may exist in our educational system, than as an attempt manfully and boldly to grapple with all the different and varying conditions of the trades and industries of the country, and to show how all these differences can best be dealt with in a practical manner in connection with factories, workshops, and agriculture. One point in particular, passed over by the Mover of the Resolution, is the danger that might arise, were children to be suddenly withdrawn from agricultural labour and sent to school, of their places being supplied by women. I do not believe that such a practice would ever be allowed to become so common as it formerly was in this country, but you would run a great danger if you suddenly took away the children employed in this branch of industry of their places being supplied as I have said. Having said that, I should like to call attention to the practical nature both of the Motion and the Amendment. The Motion calls upon the House to express its opinion that—It is undesirable that a less amount of school attendance should he secured to children employed in agriculture than to children employed in other branches of industry.I should like to know what "other branches of industry" the hon. Member had in his mind when he framed his Motion. There are upon the Statute Book numberless Acts relating to different branches of industry. Does the Mover of the Resolution mean to say that the children of agricultural labourers are at once to be placed on precisely the same footing with the children employed in factories, under the highest educational standard applicable to such cases? If he does, then I am afraid he would find that such a measure introduced all at once would be extremely distasteful to the country and difficult to work. Or does he mean to say that the branches of industry to which he refers are the workshops? If he does, then I am quite sure that, upon reflection, he will feel that a great deal still will have to be done with the workshops in order to bring them into a proper state for such an arrangement. It will not do simply to say that the children employed in agriculture should be placed 1074 on the same footing as those employed in the workshops. I say that the Motion is not one that the House can assent to, because it proposes nothing definite. Nor, with all deference to the hon. Member its Mover, can it be said that he threw much light upon the real difficulty. Considering that school boards are in operation carrying out their work all over the country, and that they have not put their compulsory powers into force in the rural districts, it seems, at all events, that they do not think that compulsion would meet the wishes of those with whom they have to deal. I come now to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). That is very different from the Motion. The Amendment proposes that we should not alter the Act, but that we should appoint an army of Factory Inspectors. ["No, no!"] Well, a small army. [Mr. Pell: Only eight.] Then a very small army. I do not agree that that would be the wisest thing to do under present circumstances; but while doing so, I entirely repudiate the notion that we are not interested in the education of children employed in agriculture. On both sides, of late years, the House has shown the greatest possible interest in matters of education, and in the education of agricultural children. In 1867, the Liberal Government appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the condition of the agricultural labourers. In the same year an Act was passed prohibiting children under the ago of 8 years—now extended to 10—being employed in agricultural gangs. In 1873, after the Report of the Commission to which I have just referred had been issued, the Agricultural Children Act was passed. It is only by proceeding step by step that factory legislation has advanced to the stage it has now reached. Public opinion, it is true, has greatly grown in favour of such legislation; but this result has only been achieved by gradual and progressive legislation. I am not even certain whether the Act of 1874 is thoroughly accepted by the country as far as its educational clauses are concerned. Some people, indeed, are inclined to think that it goes too far. No doubt, the factory legislation does compel a much more regular attendance at school than the Agricultural Children Act. But when we come to the Factory Acts, we find 240 attendances for 700 hours; we have the 1075 Workshops Acts with 192 attendances for 480 hours; and we have the Agricultural Children Act, as regards children under 10 years of age, with 250 attendances, making 725 hours; and as regards children above 10 years, 150 attendances, making 432 hours. With reference to the actual hours of attendance, therefore, a considerable stride has been made in the education of agricultural children. What I want to put before the House is this. The Act was passed in 1873, but it only came into operation on the 1st of January, 1875. It is quite true, for all practical purposes, that it did come into operation the year before its actual date, otherwise a great number of children would not have been able to go to work on the 1st of January of the present year, if they had not complied with certain educational conditions which they were bound to comply with. The result has been, undoubtedly, that a very largo number of children have gone to school under the operation of this Act, preparatory to the Act coming into force on the 1st of January. The Act having come into operation on the 1st of January, we are asked on the 2nd of March in the same year to have fresh legislation on the subject. I do not think that is wise. I think that when an Act of this kind has been passed—and with the best intentions, as certainly it has been—you would be disturbing the mind of the country from one end of it to the other if you were to repeal that law and immediately pass another. You are asked to adopt that course only for this reason, because my hon. Friend says he is afraid it will not work. I wish he would wait a little, and see if it does work. If then he thinks it does not, by all means alter it; but before repealing the Act now in force, let us see how far it works. I now come to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. What my hon. Friend wants to do is, not to alter the Act itself, but to order an army of Inspectors. [Mr. PELL: NO.] A small army. [Mr. PELL again dissented.] Well, then, a very small army, and not a largo army of Inspectors. I do not agree with my hon. Friend that that would be the wisest course to adopt in the present state of things. Here is an Act of Parliament which, certainly in a very great part of the country, is looked upon as a very strong measure; 1076 and there is very great discontent in some parts with regard to it. I firmly believe, for my own part, that public opinion upon this matter will change gradually. I believe it has very greatly changed already; but I am quite certain that, if you have got an Act which is distasteful, and if you, at all events, put it at once into full force and vigour, you may run this risk—that instead of fostering public opinion in your favour for the purposes of education, you are likely to set public opinion against you. When this Act was put into force, there was a Letter issued by my predecessor at the Home Office to the Factory Acts Inspectors, calling upon them to inquire how it was working, so far as they could do so; and the answer which the Inspectors very properly gave to the Letter was that they would do all they could to make inquiries into the matter. But time had not yet been allowed them really to show how the Act was working, and I intend to issue fresh instructions to those Inspectors—without the additional army of eight proposed by my hon. Friend, for the present number is quite sufficient—to report very shortly to me how the Act is working; where it is found to pinch too hardly, and whether any and what alterations can be made in it by way of improving its operations; and I hope to be able in the course of a little time to communicate to the House much more information than they possess at present. There is another point which I think I am bound to lay before the House. The agricultural labourer must of necessity be very much mixed up with the labourer employed in the workshops, more especially when you take into consideration the lower classes of workshops, such as brickfields, that are scattered up and down the country. There you find some children first going to one and then to the other, and there is no doubt that at the present moment they are not under the same law. The Government have, as the House is aware, recommended to Her Majesty to issue a Royal Commission for the purpose of inquiring into all those particular workshops in order to see how far they can be brought into harmony with each other, and to ascertain what Amendments are wanted to arrive at the desired result. Of necessity the Commissioners will have to inquire into the condition of the children employed, and the Government and the 1077 House will have the benefit of their advice. "We shall then be better able to approach the subject, and to see how far the condition of the agricultural labourers differ from that of persons employed in workshops. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that before we stir further in the matter it will be wise to have before us the Reports of the Inspectors of Factories, and also the Report of the Royal Commissioners, in order that we may work safely as well as surely. I believe the object of every person in this House is to do what he can for the purpose of education; but I am sure it is not the wish of anyone who has that at heart to do anything which would raise public feeling against him and check instead of encourage the progress of education.
§ MR. DIXON
said, the professions of the right hon. Gentleman were admirable, but his performances were distant, and would, he feared, be of the smallest possible value. The hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Poll) had reminded the House that he had taken part with the present Secretary to the Local Government Board in the introduction of the Agricultural Children Act, and that he had stated that if that Act were not found in its operation to carry out their intentions they were prepared to ask the House to strengthen its provisions. Well, the Act, according to the hon. Member (Mr. Pell), had failed to meet the hopes of those who introduced it, and the time, according to the hon. Member, had come when it should be amended and strengthened. That, however, was not the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. He had caused investigations to be made within the last few days in a district containing 20 parishes, not far from the estate of the hon. Member for Norfolk. There was no school board in these parishes, and the average attendance was about 900 children. If the proportions were the same there between the numbers in and out of school as in other places, there would be 900 outside the schools. He would admit, however, that education was advanced in this district, and he would suppose that the number outside the schools was only 500. Children of school age were in other cases those between 5 and 13, but the Agricultural Children Act only applied to those between 8 and 12 years of age. There 1078 would therefore remain only 250, and he would take the number as between 100 and 250. Now, a gentleman who had made personal inquiry found that in 11 of these parishes there had been no increase of attendance in consequence of the introduction of the Act, and that in the other nine parishes the total increase of attendance could not be placed higher than 30. It was not even certain that more than six attended in consequence of the Act. Now, if the Agricultural Children Act might be expected to work well and satisfactorily, it would be in the district in question. These inquiries corroborated the assertion of the hon. Member (Mr. Pell) that the Act was a proved failure; that there had been ample time to test its provisions; and that something ought to be done to remedy its defects. One reason for the failure of the Act was that it was neither known nor understood. One schoolmistress living within a few miles of the hon. Gentleman's estate said that she had never heard either of the Act or its author. Another reason was that, in exactly the same proportion that the Act was known and understood, it was discovered that it was so weak as to be utterly ineffectual and to be disregarded with impunity. Many children between 8 and 12 were employed by farmers; and it was known that this was illegal; yet no effort was made to bring those farmers to justice. At the time those inquiries were made farm-work was slack, and it was stated that there would be an increased number of these children employed later on, yet there was no intention to put the Act in force. In many parts of the country, no doubt, children between these ages were sent to school; but if it were found that no action was taken and that no penalties were enforced for breaches of the Act, the attendance would diminish and would in time entirely cease. Would not the Government, then, do something to improve an Act which their own friends told them did not and could not work? He was, like his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett), in favour of direct compulsion in education. Now, he would assume that the time had arrived when the Government had inquired into the operation of and had strengthened the Act so as to make it a real working Factory Act in the agricultural districts. The children between 8 and 12 would then be sent to school 1079 for half their time—say for 250 attendances—and their families would be to that extent deprived of their earnings. But it was between 8 and 12 that they were able to begin work, and up to the age of 8 it was rare for children to be employed in farm labour. The House would then be told that it was wise and proper to deprive children between 8 and 12 of half their earnings in order that they should be educated, but that it would not be proper to send those children to school, who were under the age of 8, and who were not able to work at all. The early education of children was of the utmost importance, and though up to the age of 8, children could not learn much, they ought to be able to learn to read and write, and they might also acquire habits of order and obedience and aptitude for learning. They would be far better able to take advantage of the half-time system between the ages of 8 and 12, if they went to school before 8, than they would be if they had not been to school previously. Yet it was said we should continue to deprive children between 8 and 12 of half their earnings, and send them to school for half their time, but that up to the age of 8, when they were of no use to anyone, we should refrain from exercising any power of compulsion at all, and leave them to run about and waste their time, doing no good to any one, and infinite harm to themselves. In the county of Norfolk, where the children were well cared for, the introduction of school boards had increased the demand for certificated male teachers, whose salaries had risen, and school managers found themselves driven to employ mistresses young, timid, and inexperienced, who had not sufficient control over rough boys of 10, 11, and 12. Instances had occurred in which mistresses had been turned out of school by the boys, and had had to call in the assistance of managers to enforce discipline. These things showed the importance of getting children to school early. It was said the Resolution was vague, and such criticisms were usual; but, at all events, it served the purpose of those Bills which the Prime Minister defended the other day as useful in forming opinion, though not intended to pass. He believed the Resolution was definite enough, for it said we ought to have a perfect instead of an imperfect factory system, and that 1080 it ought to be supplemented by direct compulsion. He hoped the factory age would soon be 10 instead of 8, and he would say that up to that age there should be everywhere direct compulsion, which should secure that all children who were not at work should be at school. He was glad to hear the hon. Member for Leicestershire say that the cost of education was not a difficulty in agricultural districts, and, if that were so, why should it not be made imperative to send children to school? For children above 10 the Agricultural Children Act should be as stringent as the Factory Acts were in towns, and both should be as stringent as possible. It was once said the people would rise up against compulsion, but they had not done so in the large towns, where they could have resisted it most easily; and in rural districts, where the influence of the farmer, the parson, and the squire was irresistible, he could not but think that compulsion would work as beneficially as it had done in the towns. He knew of one small agricultural town in which there had been a Church school and a British school, stimulated by mutual rivalry, and the average attendance in the two did not exceed 200. A school board was formed, and a board school built, and in an incredibly short time the average attendance in the town was doubled. He knew of two other places in which the attendance had been doubled or trebled by the establishment of a school board. He was glad there were some country gentlemen who admitted that the present education in rural districts was unsatisfactory, and he hoped that both sides of the House would endeavour to remove the great disgrace which they all admitted.
§ MR. FLOYER
cordially united with the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) in hoping that the country Gentlemen on the Ministerial side would join with the Members on the opposite side of the House in promoting a really good education for the children of agricultural labourers, and, indeed, for the children in all parts of the Kingdom. But he hoped the hon. Gentleman would forgive him for not accepting his invitation to join with him in attempting to entirely alter, so soon after it had been enacted, the legislation with regard to education in this country. He thought the argument of the Home Se- 1081 cretary on the point was conclusive. Why did not the hon. Member for Birmingham state the deficiencies of the Agricultural Children Act when it was under the consideration of the House? [Mr. DIXON: I did.] He knew the hon. Member did take exceptions to it; but he did not remember that the hon. Gentleman proposed that the Factory Inspectors' services should be called for to enforce the Act. Upon an array of facts which for the most part were hypothetical, the hon. Gentleman invited the House after the Act had been in force only a few months to take a course which would affect almost every household in the country. The hon. Member said the country gentlemen showed a laudable anxiety that the children of persons employed in agriculture should be educated from the ages of 8 to 12, but that they were utterly regardless whether they received education or not before the age of 8. Such a statement was purely imaginary, and he was surprised that it should have been made by a Gentleman of the position and experience of the hon. Member for Birmingham. Long as he (Mr. Floyer) had sat in that House he did not think he had ever heard in it a statement so groundless as that. But there was some excuse for the hon. Gentleman's statement. The hon. Gentleman's life, as far as he (Mr. Floyer) knew, had been passed almost wholly in large towns. What, then, did he know about children in country districts? If he lived in a country parish he would know that there was every disposition in almost all parents to send their children to school at an early age. The hon. Member for Birmingham objected to the allegation of the Home Secretary that the Resolution proposed by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) was vague. He (Mr. Floyer) thought it was a vague Resolution. It proposed that all the Acts with regard to the education of children employed in factories should be applicable to children employed in agriculture. It did not define in plain language what the hon. Member for Hackney meant, but sent the House back to previous Acts for his meaning. He (Mr. Floyer) did not carry Acts of Parliament in his head, and it was impossible for the House to know what the hon. Member really asked. The occupation of the agricultural labourer was not 1082 one which tended to produce any deterioration of mind; and, indeed, it was one in which he could learn, perhaps, quite as much as in some schools. In the field of nature, at all events, a man could learn to apply what he had been taught at school. He quite admitted that boys should not be employed in agriculture at too early an age; and there was among farmers a growing feeling in favour of such a proposition as this. Ten years, for commencing work, was perhaps a reasonable age. The education of a boy did not consist simply in that which he learned at school; education was that which would fit him for his future course of life, and show him how to earn his livelihood. It was a popular thing at some meetings to declaim about a miserable boy following the plough through a winter day; but it was very doubtful whether he would always be willing to exchange his occupation even for superior employments. A boy would never become a good agricultural labourer or manager of horses unless he began early. For his own part, he in no way undervalued the education imparted in the schoolroom; but he thought a system which carried on both educations pari passû was most likely to make the best men in that particular department of life to which most of them would be called. Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum. Every boy, indeed, had the means of raising himself; but nevertheless we must legislate, not for the very few, but for the large proportion who would not be able to raise themselves above the position in which they were born. The hon. Member for Hackney had quoted from a Report made by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope); but he must be allowed to say that his hon. Friend's acquaintance with Dorsetshire was hardly sufficient to justify him in making so broad a statement as he had done. His hon. Friend was in Dorsetshire for a few days. [Mr. E. STANHOPE: Weeks.] Well, his hon. Friend no doubt used his time with great care and zeal; he visited many of the cottages, and saw the people at home; but his visits were generally made in the daytime, when most of the labourers were away from homo. Of course his hon. Friend saw some of them, but still the House would hardly be warranted in relying on his information. He (Mr. 1083 Floyer) could assure his hon. Friend that for some things Dorsetshire was celebrated. He believed, for instance, that they thatched better than any other county, while the fact that their land was unusually well tilled—which, of course, depended upon the ploughmen—showed that they were not so much behind other counties as his hon. Friend seemed to imagine. As he had stated before, he believed that the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary were conclusive, because there was no doubt that if they wanted to improve the education of this country they should try and carry the people with them; it was no use to attempt to drive them, because they would not be driven. Nothing could be more painful than to have to send to prison any parents under compulsory powers; and though these compulsory powers might exist in the towns, the question was how far they were carried out there, and what discretion was used in applying them. He cordially supported the view of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in thinking that both these Resolutions were, at the present time, uncalled for.
said, he was glad the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) had, through his agents, been taking a tour through the southern counties, because the experience thus acquired had shown that the condition of the villages was better than the hon. Gentleman expected, and that the attendance at the schools was in the average good. If the hon. Member had made the tour 50 years ago he would have found a deficiency of school accommodation in each succeeding village, and that it was an exception to the rule to find a school in any of the country villages well cared for. But now throughout the length and breadth of the land there was in almost every village a school which was declared by Government Inspectors to be sufficient in point of the education given and in point of accommodation. In those schools where religious education was given it was not given at the expense of the State, but at the expense of private individuals; and, therefore, all who desired civil and religious liberty would find it provided for so far as education went in those schools. In a great majority of cases the schools had been raised by the efforts of the members of the Church of England and were sus- 1084 tained by their contributions; and, so far as he could understand the advantages of education, taking into consideration the requirements of the different localities, it was as good in the villages as it was in the towns. He agreed with the hon. Member for Birmingham that every child ought to be educated, and that eventually compulsion must be employed. He believed it was no use going on building board schools unless there was a power of compulsory attendance. He could not agree with the hon. Member, however, that even where there was an efficient school a duplicate should be erected to do the same work. The Education Act of 1870 was one of the most important and beneficial measures connected with education that had ever been passed, and he looked upon it as the work, not of one Party, but of the whole House. If that Act were carefully administered and compulsion enforced it would be found to work well. He also considered the Agricultural Children Act to be a stop in the right direction, and it would be wise before setting it aside to give it a fair trial. On every side he had seen a good desire, especially on the part of the farmers and the clergy, to do all in their power to make that Act a complete success. The great defect in the measure was that it did not give powers of compulsion to any particular person. It would be unfair to throw on the clergyman the task of enforcing the Act. That would be to put him in the invidious position of a kind of public prosecutor. A proper officer ought to be appointed for the purpose, and no fitter person could be named than the Inspector of Nuisances, for the simple reason that no greater nuisance could exist in the community than an uneducated child.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
said, he would like to give a little Scotch experience as to the subject under discussion. The Resolution had been described as vague, abstract, and indefinite. It might deserve all these epithets; but he did not think any hon. Member who had spoken had denied, nor did he think it could be denied, that the assertion made in it was true—namely, that it was undesirable that children in rural districts should receive a worse education than children in towns. He agreed warmly with the proposition. He agreed also with the Amendment, if such it could be called, 1085 He did not think that it was opposed to the Motion at all; but, on the contrary, he regarded it merely as a suggestion thrown out by the hon. Member to enable the proposition contained in the Motion to be carried out. He had heard it stated by several hon. Members—and amongst others by the Mover of the Amendment (Mr. Pell)—that the education of the agricultural population of England was not in an unsatisfactory condition. He was surprised to hear that; for, on reading the Report of the Royal Commission, which inquired into the employment of women and children in agricultural labour, he found it stated that the agricultural education of England was in a most unsatisfactory condition. It might be that since that Report was issued, it had improved to such an extent as to have entirely changed its character, and coming as the statement did from so high an authority as the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) he was bound to believe that now, at all events, it was in a satisfactory condition. The Commissioners also stated another fact, which had been denied to be a fact in the course of the debate—namely, that one of the causes of this unsatisfactory state of education was the low wages of the labourers. He had heard it stated that the agricultural labourers of England were quite able to educate their children, and that it was a mistake to suppose that they required to keep their children from school and send them to work in order to eke out their resources. He had been surprised to hear that any one supposed a worse education was required for an agricultural labourer than was required for workmen who lived in town. The machinery now used in agricultural pursuits was of such a kind as to require great skill and no little insight on the part of those who had charge of it, and necessarily exercised their mental faculties to no inconsiderable extent. Without detracting from the skill and enterprise of the Scotch farmers, who had raised the agriculture of their country to its present superiority, he ventured to say that they could not have accomplished what they had done, had it not been that they had the agricultural labourers of Scotland to execute their orders, who received a first-rate education at their parochial schools. It would further be found by those interested in 1086 the subject, that in those districts where they had the highest education, there also they had the highest wages, and, notwithstanding that, the cost of labour per acre was less, because that labour was directed by the education and intelligence of the labourer. The cost of labour, he said, was less per acre there than it was in those districts where the labourer was ill-educated and badly paid. But the rural population might be called on to perform other duties besides those connected with agriculture. For instance, the rural population of England, Scotland, and Ireland, was the great nursery of our Army, and as more attention was being paid to the education of our soldiers, it was absolutely necessary that the rural population should be educated up to the position which would qualify men for military service. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), moreover, had referred to the great emigration there was going on from the country districts to towns, and if those who came from the country were to have any chance of holding their own with town labourers, it was perfectly obvious that they must be put on an educational level. Since the Commissioners had proved—though it was denied in that House—that the education of agricultural labourers was in an unsatisfactory condition, it was for them sitting in Parliament to consider what was the remedy. The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Bead) had shown that the Commissioners were correct in their statement by introducing the Agricultural Children Bill three years ago. That Bill embodied a mild form of compulsory education. He was sorry to hear that the Bill had not come up to the expectations of its promoters, which fact was quoted as a reason for further legislation. The question they had to consider was whether they should not go further than they did then, and provide a complete system of compulsory education. The Home Secretary had spoken strongly on the subject, and said that compulsory education was so repugnant to the feelings of the people, that it would not do to force it upon them. Speaking from experience of Scotland, he ventured to say that objection had no force at all. Since compulsory education had been introduced there in 1878, there had been no child of school age who was not sent to school, and this applied not only to 1087 children in towns, but also to children in agricultural districts and in the Highlands. Let the Government but introduce a simple clause into the English Act, providing for compulsory education, and they would have as great a success as that which had attended the introduction of the system in Scotland. In the City of Glasgow there was an immense number of children attending no school whatever; but immediately after the Act came into operation, and the people became aware that an officer had been appointed who would insist upon the children being sent to school, the number of children on the roll rose from 52,000 to 59,000; so that 7,000 children yielded to the pressure of the compulsory clause inserted in the Scotch Education Act. Again, only six months ago, in a mining hamlet, the industry was stopped, and the people were sent away. On the revival of trade, the people came back to the hamlet, but the school remained closed. The school officer in the parish visited the hamlet, and insisted that the people should send their children to school. Without any greater compulsion being exercised, the people went to their employers, and asked them to reopen the school, as otherwise they would be obliged to send their children two or three miles to school. They were as anxious to have their children at school as the district officer himself could be. He had thought it proper to mention these facts to the House—and possibly other Scotch Members might have similar facts to adduce—because it appeared to him that they were in need of the adoption of some compulsory system of education in England. With respect to the Education Act as it affected pauper children, of whom they had heard much that night, he trusted that the Government, who were giving so much attention to all social subjects, would not limit the education of those children to the Third Standard, but would extend it to the Fifth, at which it previously stood. If there was any class of the community whose children required looking after, it was the pauper class; and at the present time these children were thrust upon the agricultural population only half educated, which arose from no fault of their own or of the population, but from the legislation of that House, which ought to be remedied. He trusted that the few observations which he had made 1088 on the subject of the system of compulsory education would be considered by the Government, and that they would, before this discussion closed, give the House an intimation that they were prepared, at all events, to improve the existing Act in the direction that had been pointed out.
§ COLONEL BRISE
said, the debate had made clear two points. First, they had testimony from both sides of the House that they would never again hear the inadequate or insufficient earnings of the agricultural labourer pleaded as an excuse for his not being able to afford to send his children to school. Secondly, that there was not anything like the opposition in the country to compulsory education that there was a few years ago. He was one of those who never expected very much from the Agricultural Children Act of 1873, and thought it both insufficient and incomplete, and a patchwork piece of legislation, that it was going in the right direction, but not in the right way, harassing employers of labour without any adequate security that the object wished for would be attained, inflicting pains and penalties which might not after all have the effect of sending the child to school. He looked upon the parents, in the first place, as the responsible persons for the education of their children, though he admitted a certain amount of responsibility rested upon everyone who cared for the welfare of their fellowmen; but there was nothing in the Act to make a parent send the child to school, if not allowed to work, and a parent might make use of his services until he was 12 years old, when he would be free. He thought the Bill would be inoperative; but he was bound to say it had proved quite as useful as he anticipated, and give it time to work, it might do good; but it was monstrous now to say it had failed after a trial of only eight weeks, and therefore they must again legislate to provide a public officer to proceed against all delinquents. Next year or the year after, if no direct compulsion could be brought to bear, then would be time enough to consider what further legislation was required. It was often said that the employers of labour in agricultural districts were opposed to education; if that be so, if they were going to harass them by these persecutions, it would make them very much more so, 1089 but he denied that such was the ease; if it was so in former times it was not so now. It was the late Bishop of Winchester who once said to a clergyman who complained to him that the farmers would not subscribe to his schools: "You must remember that the farmer only makes his money by sixpences at a time, and therefore you can hardly expect him to pull out his sovereigns for education as freely as the man who makes his money with much more rapidity." It was not surprising that there was a strong feeling against school boards in the country. He knew two adjoining parishes in his own county in which he was interested; in both of them education was carried out to its fullest requirements; in the one there was a school board, in the other the voluntary system; in the one there was a rate required of 1s. in the pound, in the other a voluntary gift by the large proportion of occupiers of 10s. for every 100 acres. The education was of as good a quality in one as in the other; but in the school board parish the farmer might be called upon for £6 or £7 for every 100 acres of land. No wonder he did not like a school board. Certainly the school board parish had this advantage, that it could secure the attendance of every child at its school—the compulsory clauses of the Act had been put in force, and one or two parents summoned before the magistrates at the commencement of the system, and a nominal fine of 6d. inflicted upon them had been quite sufficient to show them that the law must be enforced. But why should they not have direct compulsion without school boards? Why not have an elected body in every parish? He knew there were difficulties to be got over, and magistrates, not being elected, were not the proper persons to do this work; but they had an elected body of men in every parish in the persons of the Poor Law Guardians. Why not entrust them with this matter—not, perhaps, as individuals, but as a board—they had already gone a great way in that direction. Under the Elementary Education Act they had given them power to enforce the attendance at school of pauper children. They were carrying out that work very well and with satisfaction to the country; they had in their employment an officer—the relieving officer—much better qualified to assist them in that matter 1090 than any other public officer they could lay their hands on. He believed they—the guardians—might safely be entrusted with this work; but one thing was very clear, that if they were to accede to the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), and send a little army of Factory Inspectors to lay informations and to worry and harass the employers of labour, they would have the whole country against them, and do more to injure the cause of education in the rural districts than anything that could be conceived. On those grounds, he should certainly vote against the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire, and he should also vote against the Resolution of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), because he did not understand by his abstract Resolution how far he meant to go.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he was in hopes that the hon. Member was going to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). The House had had three views upon the question put before them—namely, that of the Member for Hackney, that of the Member for Leicestershire, and that of the Government. He had heard with regret from the Home Secretary that the question was to be indefinitely shelved to wait for the Report of a Commission which he believed had not yet been appointed. Now, last year, the Home Secretary passed through Parliament an extension of the Factory Acts, and therefore his right hon. Friend could not feel any surprise that there should be a desire to extend some of the advantages of that Act to the agricultural districts. The Home Secretary asked, were the agricultural districts to be suddenly put on the same legislative level with manufacturing districts which had been gradually accustomed to such legislation. But the Resolution of his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) dealt simply with attendance at school. In allusion to that his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary asked the House—though he could hardly have been serious in doing so—to consider that if children were forced into the schools there would be a return to the employment of female labourers in the fields. He thought that every one must feel that there was not the slightest danger of 1091 that. It was urged that the Act of 1873 had been only two months in operation; but it was from the 1st of January, 1874, that the children had to be brought into the schools in order not to be disqualified from employment on the 1st of January last; and if the Act had proved inoperative thus far, it was not likely that it would prove less so hereafter. The Home Secretary objected to the Amendment that it was too practical, and to the Resolution of his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney that it was abstract. He (Mr. Dodson) saw no harm in passing such a Resolution. For himself, he had not that contempt for abstract Resolutions which was often professed, especially by Members of a Government, because he had seen many important results flow from abstract Resolutions. This Resolution might cause the Commission about to be appointed to consider in what way effect could be best given to compulsory attendance in agricultural district schools. He had not expected any very great or immediate result from the passing of the Act of 1873, for it was no one's business to see that it was put into operation. He had rather looked upon that Act as an abstract Resolution, affirming a principle. He denied that agricultural labourers, as a rule, were not anxious to have their children educated. Though ignorant themselves, they knew how valuable education was, and they could distinguish good from bad or indifferent schools, and would make efforts to send their children to the best in their districts. Children in the agricultural districts could, however, earn from 2s. 6d. to 6s. a-week; that was not a contemptible addition to the family income, and so long as attendance at school was not general throughout the parish it was hard to expect that some labourers should send their children to school while their neighbours sent theirs into the fields, and profited by their earnings. If all children were sent regularly to school the wages of labourers might rise, and that would be some compensation for the loss of their children's earnings. As to the farmers, they had been threatened with strikes, wages had risen, and labourers had emigrated; it could not, therefore, be expected that they would be very anxious to send all the children to school, and to raise the price of labour against themselves. It was justly said that high- 1092 priced labour was, generally speaking, good labour. That, in the long run, it was not dearer than low-priced labour; was an economical principle which had been singularly illustrated in the book on the life of the late Mr. Brassey, who knew the valued price of labour in all countries. Educated agricultural labour would no doubt, though dearer, prove better labour. For a while, however, the effect of compulsion might be to make labour dearer without its being better. There were three difficulties which had to be overcome in seeking to educate the masses of the people. First, sufficient school accommodation had to be provided; secondly, a sufficiency of good teachers had to be got; and thirdly, good attendance had to be secured. Adequate school accommodation, if not already obtained, was in course of being provided, so that the first problem might be looked upon as solved. For the necessary number of teachers we must wait, but they would come in time. The important and pressing difficulty was the bad attendance of the children, especially in the agricultural districts. The complaint was repeated and re-echoed throughout the Reports of the Inspectors. There was only one remedy—namely, compulsion. It was an ugly word, and expressed a foreign idea; but it was wonderful how much the idea had become acclimatized among us. For his part, he accepted it as a temporary evil; because he believed that when a new generation of parents and employers should have grown up, the necessity of sending children to school would be so recognized, that compulsion would only have to be applied to the waifs and strays of society. In connection with almost all the branches of industry in the country, we had practically, although indirectly, adopted compulsion. Indirect compulsion seemed to him weak in two respects. First, it prevented a child working until he had been to school, but it did not prevent him from idling in the streets and lanes; secondly, it seized upon a child who was just coming of working age and sent him to school, while during those earlier and more valuable years for education, when he was not capable of work, it did not send him into a school. For that reason, he (Mr. Dodson) most distinctly preferred direct to indirect compulsion, for it secured education better than indirect 1093 compulsion, whilst it did not interfere with work one single bit more. Then arose the question, to whom should the compulsory powers be entrusted? He thought there was a general agreement that neither the guardians, who had charge of paupers, nor the magistrates, who had to deal with criminals, should be chosen for this purpose. Another suggestion had been made—namely, that the authority should be given to the Inspectors of Nuisances; but it was hardly likely to meet with much favour. As to the school boards, he knew they were looked upon by some Gentlemen as the embodiment of all human wisdom; but while admitting that there were a great many which were doing excellent educational work, and that they might be suitable enough, as a whole, for large towns, he thought it would be inexpedient to force suddenly the same machinery upon the rural districts. Unfortunately, there were considerable facilities for men of one idea—in other words, men who were antagonistic to every one else—becoming connected with these boards, and it sometimes happened that the members acted pretty much in the style of the Kilkenny cats. But there were other objections to the general establishment of school boards—namely, that it would be multiplying elections, that it would be adding another local body to those already existing, and would increase the confusion and chaos which at present impaired all efforts to promote wholesome local administration. He wondered sometimes what would be the state of England a few years hence if they continued to legislate in the present theoretical manner. Everybody would be examined, everything would be analyzed, and every day and every hour would be engaged in electing somebody or some board. A main difficulty in the way of establishing a proper system of education throughout the agricultural districts, as of many other improvements, was the want of municipal institutions in our counties and rural districts equivalent to those which had been set up in the United States and in our Australian Colonies. He was not in favour, in the meantime, of indefinitely delaying the practical enforcement of education in agricultural districts, and he thought the Amendment gave some practical assistance towards obtaining that object. He was prepared to support 1094 both the original Resolution and the Amendment. Like Captain Macheath, he could be happy with either, if only the other were away, and he should be glad to see them embodied into one substantive proposition.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, he was extremely sorry the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) had allowed his little squad of eight Inspectors to interfere with the consideration of the more important proposal of the hon. Member for Hackney. The varied interpretations which had been given by that proposal showed its extremely wide and indefinite scope. Seeing that the Act could have been enforced only in 1875, and therefore that practically it had only come into operation during the present year, he regretted that any attempt should have been made to interfere with it before it had had a trial of more than eight weeks. Had the Resolution of the hon. Member for Hackney merely gone to the extent of affirming the necessity for the attendance of children at school in agricultural districts, as had been asserted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Dodson), he should have had much pleasure in going into the same lobby with him; but, unfortunately, the hon. Member's Resolution, if carried, would establish a much more dangerous principle—namely, that the employers of labour in agricultural districts should be placed under exactly the same restrictions as to children's labour as the employers of labour in factories were. But surely the hon. Member would scarcely contend that the employers of in-door were in exactly the same position as the employers of out-door labour were? The factory owner could get his work done at all times of the year, and at every hour of the day and night equally; but the farmer's work was entirely dependent upon the weather or the season, and if not done at a particular season, might not be done at all. The restrictions imposed by the Factory and similar Acts were a compromise between different claims, and in the case of farm labour the compromise was between school and work; but in the factory a third claim came in, that of health. It appeared to him that the proposition of the hon. Member was based upon what the Bishop of Manchester had recently termed "an entirely mistaken analogy," 1095 He ventured to submit that these two propositions had been established by indisputable evidence—first, that there was a necessity in certain parts of the country and at certain seasons, for the employment of boys' labour in agriculture; and, secondly, that advantage, both mentally and physically, accrued to the boys from such employment. He believed that he might make out a very strong case in support of his first proposition, from the circumstances of the county which he had the honour to represent (Mid Lincolnshire). In that county employers felt very strongly the necessity for the employment of boys' labour not being too much restricted, inasmuch as without such labour it would be impossible for them to carry on their business. He, however, did not rest his case upon the claims of the employers; he also rested it mainlyupon the claims of the children. In the second Report to the House of the Commissioners on this subject, one of the most able of that body, Mr. Tremenheere, stated that while, on the one hand, there were no reasons upon physical grounds for excluding boys from farm labour, there were, on the other, the very strongest reasons why they should be allowed to work at a reasonable age, and it would be a very serious thing to take away the earnings which they carried home to their parents. The Report of the Education Commission of 1861, which was signed by men of undoubted educational reputation, and which was marked by moderation and good sense, very strongly expressed the opinion that when the children arrived at an age when their labour became really important to their parents, it would be impossible for Parliament to resist the claim of the latter that their boys should be permitted to contribute towards the expenses of the household by means of their labour. The hon. Member for Hackney had warned him against resting his argument on the ground that the parents of agricultural children were unable to pay the school fees; but it was not merely the school fees that were in question, there was also the amount that the boys might earn to be taken into consideration, and it was the latter that occasioned the main difficulty in dealing with the case. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Floyer) referred to a Report of 1096 his (Mr. Stanhope's) relating to that county; but it was surprising that the hon. Member, having paid so much attention to the subject, had allowed six years to pass before calling attention to it. This was not the time to dwell upon that subject, but in reference to a passage in his Report which had been quoted by the hon. Member for Hackney in support of his argument, he might explain that it had been written with the object of showing that the practice of sending boys out with horses all the year round was to be deprecated, and might easily be put an end to by requiring the boys to be sent to school at certain periods of the year. In the manufacturing parts of the country great difficulty had been experienced in obtaining proper technical training for our labourers, and fears had been expressed that, unless we succeeded in giving them such training, we should lose our superiority among nations. But in agriculture that difficulty was not felt, and it was to the skill of our agricultural labourers, as well as to the ability and capital of their employers, that our success was in a large measure due. Had the House forgotten the old workhouse schools? In these an excellent education was given to boys up to the age of 13, but they were then found to be useless for any practical purpose, and to show no disposition to earn an independent livelihood. He yielded to no man in the desire to give to these children, a real, practical, sound training, and he was glad that this question had been brought forward, because it was always useful that the weak points of a system should be exposed. There were, however, two objections he had to the proposal of the hon. Member for Hackney—first, that he was endeavouring to go a little faster than the country was yet prepared for; and, secondly, that the present machinery had yet hardly been tested. He was not now referring to the Agricultural Children Act alone, but to the Education Act of 1870. We had not yet tried all the means at our disposal under that Act for getting young children into the country schools, and, in his opinion, the first great necessity of the day was that of getting all children under the age of labour to school. What would be the result if they could be brought into those schools? The Bishop of Manchester said it was quite possible to teach 1097 a child soundly and thoroughly all it was necessary he should know by the time he was 10 years old. In this opinion, he (Mr. Stanhope) could hardly agree, believing that if a child were left alone after he was 10 there was great danger of his forgetting all he had learnt before. But this House had gone beyond that. They had, by means of the Agricultural Children Act, shown their intention to keep children partially at school till 12 or 13. And as to that Act, on the whole there was a desire in the rural districts to carry it out in the spirit in which the House had passed it. Some prosecutions had already been instituted under it; but unless a little time was allowed to the farmers and others in those districts we should run the risk of losing their co-operation altogether. He did not believe in a whole army of Inspectors. You could not carry out such a system unless you carried the people of the country to a considerable extent with you. As was said on one occasion by the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), he preferred in these matters steady progress to a great rush, because by taking the latter course they ran a risk of creating reactionary feeling which would defeat the object they had in view; and he feared that if the hon. Member (Mr. Fawcett) stirred up this question so soon he would be like those statesmen of whom it had been said that they pulled up the plant every morning to see how it was growing. The danger pointed out by the Home Secretary was a real danger. If too great restrictions were imposed upon boy labour, we might run the risk of re-introducing female labour. Hon. Gentlemen might reply that if the people were only educated we need not be afraid of female labour in the future. But the fact was, that in Scotland and Northumberland, where the labouring population were the best educated, female labour most prevailed. If he were called upon to choose between the moderate employment of boys and female labour, he must choose that which would the best secure domestic training. He thought, too, that the moral duty which every boy ought to feel of endeavouring to earn an independence and help his parents in maintaining the home was, at least, as essential to real education as any more book learning. Be- 1098 lieving that the Motion would alienate employers without conciliating parents, that it would undermine independence, and tend to destroy skilled labour in agriculture, he should certainly vote against it.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had seen with some alarm the hon. Gentleman rise to oppose the Motion, thinking that as he had already shown such ability and had studied this question so closely he would probably produce some strong arguments in support of his views. It did not appear to him, however, that the hon. Member had in the least degree weakened the case made out for the Motion. Indeed, the hon. Member seemed to mistake the object and purport of the Motion. He said we ought not to do anything to interfere with the moderate employment of the children of farm labourers after they were 10 years old. It was not the object of those who supported the Motion to do anything of the kind. What the hon. Member for Hackney looked forward to was the combination of work and schooling after 10 years of age. It was desirable that there should be a moderate amount of employment; but it was also desirable that there should be a reasonable amount of education. Two objections had been taken to the Resolution—one to its form, and the other to its object. The Home Secretary and other hon. Members had stated that it was unadvisable to deal with matters of this kind by an abstract Resolution; and, quite independently of the form, they thought that for the present there had been enough legislation for the agricultural districts with regard to education, and that it was premature to attempt to do more. His hon. Friend (Mr. Dixon) said truly, that whenever a grievance which it was desirable to remedy was condemned by a Resolution the Government of the day—and probably the Government to which he had belonged was equally liable to the reproach—generally pronounced such a Resolution inexpedient. But in submitting this Motion his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) was only following out the hints given by the Government themselves last year. His hon. Friend (Mr. Dixon) then submitted no abstract Resolution, but a Bill carefully framed to meet this difficulty in what he believed to be the best way. The Vice President 1099 of the Council met him not by complaining of compulsory education, but of the machinery by which it was obtained. The supporters of the Motion did not want to hoar the same objection this year. They admitted that the machinery was of great importance, and that it would be better for the Government to frame it than for a private Member to do so; and they therefore now very naturally laid down merely the general principles on which they thought the evil should be remedied. As to the object of the Resolution, his hon. Friend had boon charged with what he was neither attempting nor desiring to do—the application of the Factory Acts, as they stood, to the education of children employed in agriculture. Now, his hon. Friend had no such absurd idea as to take hold of the agricultural child and say that the same regulations should apply to him as to the factory child. But he did say that, somehow or other, we should secure to the agricultural child as much education as was already secured to the child of the factory worker. Was that an unreasonable demand? Surely county Members should be as anxious to fulfil it as borough Members were, and Members on both sides should unite in bringing about such a result. He could not help thinking that hon. Members opposite were hardly aware of the great difference between the legal position of the agricultural child and the child of factory workers as regarded education. He did not think they could be aware how very much more the law neglected the farm labourer's child, and how very much more it interfered with the master manufacturer and employer of almost every description of artizan. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. E. Stanhope) said how unfair it was to compare factory work, where the mills were going day and night, with farm labour, which was subject to the variations of the weather. Now, the fact was that under the Factory Acts since 1844 no child could be employed at night. The Home Secretary had not quite the acquaintance with the subject which he should have expected; but, of course, having been under the operation of the Acts ever since he was 22 or 23 years of age, he (Mr. W. E. Forster) ought to know something of it. The right hon. Gentleman, however, conveyed the impression 1100 that it was only recently, and step by step, that the law had interfered with factory employers as regarded the education of children. It was true that the Act had been improved last year. But when he (Mr. W. E. Forster) first began business as a manufacturer 30 years ago or more, he found an Act in existence which compelled him to secure the education of all children he employed up to 13 years of age, and to see that in any week before a child was so employed, he she should have received 12 hours' or schooling. Let the House look at the position of the master manufacturers at the present moment. Under the Act which applied to them they would be unable in a year or two to employ any child under 10, though at present the Act only prevented the employment of children under 8. Between the ages of 10 and 13 the employers must secure for every child an attendance every morning or afternoon except Saturday, and that would go on, indeed, unless a certain Standard was attained, until the child was 14 years of age. But what was the case as regarded the farmer? He might employ any child, without any interference whatever, after 12. He would, indeed, comply with the provisions of the Act if the child went to school from the time he was 10 years old to the time he was 10 and a quarter. The Home Secretary told the House that this had been a strong measure for the agricultural districts—so strong, indeed, that the House had better let it alone, and must take care not to go too fast for the country. But if the House had attempted to secure the education of the factory children in this manner it would have been neglected up to the present moment. He could not admit that the difficulties in the way of agriculture were greater than those in the way of the children employed in manufactures. The House had been told to-night that children were not wanted in farm labour until the age of 10, and that 8 might be very well replaced by 10 in the Act. The way education had been obtained for factory children was, that factory employers were made to go a little faster than they wished. The House would not listen to the arguments of the factory employers, and what he desired to see was the same kind of pressure applied to the farmers. Last year his Colleague in the representation of Bradford (Mr. 1101 Ripley) appealed to the Home Secretary to change the age at which children might be employed under the new Factory Act from 10 to 9. The House, however, refused to listen to that appeal, and the House did quite right. His Colleague told the House, and no doubt correctly, that it did not know the exact circumstances of the trade of Bradford. It was very probable that those who supported this Motion did not know the exact circumstances of the farmer or the farm labourer. But special knowledge was very often special pleading, and there would have been very little reform if the House had listened to the arguments of the interests specially affected. It happened that the question of factory labour was the first upon which he spoke in public. He was one of the supporters of Lord Shaftesbury; and he felt at that time that if it depended solely upon the employers in the factory districts whether there should be compulsory education for the factory children or not, they would never get it, and that their only chance of over obtaining compulsory education was in the assistance of the country party, who certainly did not know so much about the matter as the employers, but who had more sympathy with the children. The supporters of the present Motion had perhaps the same knowledge of the agricultural children as Lord Shaftesbury had of the factory children; but whether they knew the exact position of farmers and agricultural children or not, they at all events knew that the farm labourer's children were growing up without the same amount of education as the artizan's children, and that they ought to get it in order to enable them to fight the battle of life. At all events, the matter should not be left where it was. The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Read) said, when he brought this question forward that in fixing the age at 8, he simply did so because it was the age at that time fixed by the Factory Act; and the hon. Member for Leicestershire, when his Colleague at Bradford was arguing against "10," said that the age of 10 would be a good age for the farm children too. Why did not the hon. Member say this while the Agricultural Children Act was being passed? For himself, he admitted that he was glad to get that Act, even weak as it was; and he acknowledged his obligation to 1102 the hon. Members for South Norfolk and Leicestershire for that Act, but simply because it introduced and established the principle that work and school should go on together in the agricultural districts. Those hon. Members might now claim from the borough Members the same assistance which was so creditably given in former days by the country Members to Lord Shaftesbury and the advocates of the Factory Acts. Those who supported this Motion had a right to claim the assistance of the Homo Secretary, with the tone and purport of whose speech that night, however, he confessed he was disappointed. He did not expect that the right hon. Gentleman would so completely adopt the laissez faire position and argument. When the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms) the other night showed the inconsistencies in the different Workshop and Factories Acts, and how unfair it was to the children that they should be less cared for in one case than in another, the right hon. Gentleman at the close of his speech said that—He was determined that all children employed in manufactures should, as soon as possible, have the benefit of such education as legislation could secure them.He did not know when he had felt more delighted, and he jumped up to express his gratification at the words which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. He could not, however, for a moment suppose that the right hon. Gentleman did not refer to all the children in the Kingdom, whether engaged in agriculture or manufactures. The Home Secretary could not have conceived that legislation had done all that could be effected by what had been called the patched-up work of the Agricultural Children Act. Whose vocation was it to look after the interests of the agricultural population? If ever there was a Government formed of the country or county party it was the present. Of the six Members of the present Cabinet in this House, four were county Members, and not one a borough Member; and he could not but suppose that the Members of the present Cabinet were anxious to promote the interests of their future constituents. It might be that the parents were not their constituents yet; but they were always anxious to let it be understood that non-electors as well as electors were their constituents; and scarcely anyone had 1103 any doubt that when a child who was now 12 or 13 came to be of age he would in all probability have a vote. Whatever the Government might say to-night, he could not imagine they were satisfied with the Agricultural Children Act. It was not by any improvement of it or by any other plan of indirect compulsion alone we could hope to secure to the child of the farm labourer as much education as was given to the child of the artizan in the town. He wished to "take stock" of our educational position compared with what it was four or five years ago. As regarded school accommodation our gain was great. The Education Report of 1869 stated that there was school accommodation in Government schools for less than half the number of children of school age. In towns at least that deficiency had been largely met, or was in process of being met. The average attendance in the quarter ending August, 18G9, was a little over 1,000,000; in the year ending August, 1873, it was a little under 1,500,000, and he should be much surprised if the Vice President had not this year to propose Estimates for an average attendance of at least 2,000,000. We were making rapid progress—a progress exceeding the growth of the population; but we must not rejoice over much, for we had a great deal to do. Hon. Members were apt to forget what an enormous gap remained unfilled. While in 1869 there were on the registers a little over 1,500,000, and in 1873 a little under 2,250,000, the last Report of the Department stated that the number of children of school age in the country who ought to be at school was 4,000,000, exclusive of the children of the upper classes. The difference between 2,250,000 and 4,000,000 of children who ought to have been at elementary schools represented an enormous number of children who were untaught and who were in inefficient schools. In other words, the number of children on the school register was 57 per cent of the total number, as against 43 per cent. or 7 per cent more than half as against 7 per cent less than half. In 1869 he moved for an Educational Estimate for Great Britain of £850,000; in 1874 his successor moved an Estimate for England and Scotland of £1,600,000; and he should be very much surprised if the Estimate of 1869 had not to be doubled 1104 this year. The amount was large, but the inhabitants of the country as distinct from the towns were not getting their fair share of it, because their children did not go to school as the children in the towns did. The Act of 1870 brought into operation two influences—the provision for new schools and the making endeavours to get children to attend them. The first influence had almost exhausted itself, and we had now to look to the second, in respect of which the towns were beating the country. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Floyer) seemed to imagine that compulsion did not exist because school boards were not actively putting bye-laws into force; but he really was quite mistaken, for bye-laws had been put into force most stringently. In Leeds the average attendance in August, 1869, was about 14,000, while now it was 28,000; and in regard to the number on the books in Leeds, there were on the register of the Government schools 44,000, and that, with a population of 260,000 in 1871, would, according to the usual calculation of one-sixth, make out that there were 100 per cent in Leeds on the register of the schools. The fact was that in Leeds they had really almost solved the problem by getting all the children to attend. In Sheffield, according to the last Report, there was an average attendance of 23,000—an increase of about 14,000 since the enforcement of the bye-laws; and upon the rolls there were about 40,000, which would also, in the usual calculation, give 100 per cent of the total number of children of school age. At Stockport they had not found it necessary to build fresh schools, but they had gone about securing the attendance of the children in the most systematic and successful manner, and, by almost house-to-house visitation, they had increased the average attendance until there was less than 2½ per cent of the children between 5 and 13 who were not at school, and some of these were excusable on account of mental or physical disability. These towns by making use of the power of direct compulsion, had nearly accounted for all their children. He hoped the Home Secretary would remember that fact when he endeavoured to obtain for agricultural children all the education legislation could provide them. It was not merely in the large towns that direct compulsion had succeeded, as was 1105 shown by the hon. Member for East Essex (Colonel Brise), whose speech, really a strong one in favour of the Resolution, had stated how effectively a school board had secured attendance in a country district. What was compulsion by law? It was merely a declaration by the State that it was the duty of a parent to see that his children had the merest elementary education. It was not denied that we had a right to compel a father to feed and clothe his child; and surely we had now arrived at a point of civilization at which we could declare that it was his duty to see this amount of education given. The sole meaning of compulsion was, that that was the duty of the parent, and then that it was the duty of the State to see that he fulfilled that duty, and, if he was unable from poverty, to help him either through the rates or from Imperial funds. If it was essential to declare that to be the duty of the parent in a large town, was it not equally essential to declare it to be the duty of the parent in the agricultural village? Was it not the duty of the parent in Norfolk and Dorsetshire as well as any where else? As a native of Dorsetshire himself, and born in one of its thatched cottages, he would ask what was there in the position of the Dorsetshire cottager which made it less his duty to send his child to school than it was the duty of any of the persons whom he employed at Bradford? How could we go on declaring it was crime in the town parent not to send his child to school, and not a crime in the villager? Surely that which was a crime in the crowded city was a crime in the hamlet, and what was a crime on one side of the ditch should be a crime on the other. In Scotland they had compulsion all over the kingdom, and yet no parent complained in that country. But he might be told that he must wait for public opinion. Well, public opinion had declared itself, for almost every town that was able to do so had put the compulsory system in force. If, then, hon. Gentlemen opposite were to show anything like the same courage in stimulating public opinion through out the country districts that had been already shown in stimulating it in towns, they would find that they would have little difficulty in the matter. He wished the clergy were asked to give their experience on the subject, for he was sure they would say that public opinion was ripe and ready 1106 for the Act. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were to ask their own wives and daughters they would, he had no doubt, be led by them to the same conclusion. There was another argument in favour of direct compulsion which had hardly been alluded to in the course of the discussion that evening, and that was, that without it the country could not get the value of the grant which it gave for education. A good deal of that money was wasted because it was given to children who attended irregularly, and who had, therefore, little or no chance of obtaining an education which was really worth having. But the fact was that the arguments in favour of direct compulsion were almost overwhelming; and he did not think there had been any attempt in reality to answer them, except a mere statement that so much were hon. Gentlemen opposite afraid of the farmers that because they did not at the present moment like it, we must wait until they did. He might be asked why, with so strong a feeling in favour of compulsion, when he was in the Educational Department, he did not bring in a Bill on the subject? Now, it was, he believed, well known that he was prepared to bring in such a measure; but at the end of last Session the strength of those who sat on this side of the House was more apparent than real. There were, he must acknowledge, two grounds on which he regretted leaving the Education Office. He had hoped to have stayed there long enough to raise the standard of education as it had been done in Scotland; and, in the next place, to secure, by a general law, the attendance of as many children throughout the Kingdom at school as had been done by bye-laws in the case of the large towns. His successor in office enjoyed great advantages for the attainment of both those objects, and he hoped he would, notwithstanding the speech of the Secretary for the Home Department, endeavour to achieve them. As to the first object, his noble Friend had shown in the Paper which hon. Members had received that morning, how anxious he was to secure it, and he could not help envying him the production of his Code, although he could not, of course, pledge himself to every item which it contained. But, generally speaking, it seemed to him that it was a most wise and judicious endeavour to raise the standard 1107 of education, and to have children instructed not only in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in such knowledge as during the period of their attendance at school they could acquire. But it had been asked why, if he was so anxious to secure the attendance of children at school, he did not produce a Bill to give effect to that desire. Well, if he thought it would be any service to the Government to take that course, he should not hesitate to do so; but he believed he would, in adopting it, be rather embarrassing than helping them. Whenever a plan was brought forward, as he hoped one would be at an early day, to secure the attendance of children at school throughout the country, great difficulties would, no doubt, be involved in connection with the machinery; and he felt that any independent Member, in attempting to elaborate the details of a Bill on the subject, might prejudice any machinery which his noble Friend might hereafter propose. That remark applied especially to the machinery for enforcing attendances in the rural districts. School boards had been alluded to; but while there was no doubt a willing school board was the best tool to be used, an unwilling or reluctant one might be the worst. He wished, however, those who were opposed to the extension of school boards throughout the country to remember this fact that every year that the Government put off bringing in any measure for compulsory attendance was making the argument in favour of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon's) Bill all the stronger, because if they could only have compulsion with school boards, whatever might be their disadvantages, it would be better than no compulsion at all. And now he might observe that, although he was not prepared with an exact plan for compulsory attendance throughout the country, he thought there were certain principles which might be aimed at, which he should be glad to be allowed to state. They were the result of close study while he was at the Education Office, and he had since reflected upon them. He was of opinion, in the first place, that to abide by the principle of indirect compulsion without direct was not only likely to be inefficient, but very often likely to do harm. Again, they really must see that indirect compulsion ought to be applied to all trades and employments. It was unfair to the em- 1108 ployer and unjust to the child in one trade that it should be interfered with, while another trade was left untouched. They had also arrived at a time when they might say not only that they would allow work and school to go on together, but that, if a child did not go to work it must yet go to school. All these points involved compulsion up to a certain ago—he hoped the House would decide upon 10, but, at any rate, 9—until which time there should be school, but no work. Then, after that time, up to 13 or 14, unless a certain degree of proficiency were attained, work and school ought to go on together. What was wanted in order to attain these objects was not a mere improvement of the Agricultural Children Act or the consolidation of the Factory Acts, but also a general law for direct compulsory attendance throughout the Kingdom. He could not fail to be aware of the desire felt by his noble Friend to carry out the work of education. He now enjoyed great power for the purpose, for he had the confidence of those who represented the agricultural party. There were, at the same time, great difficulties in the way of working the matter out. It was, however, the business of his noble Friend to try and meet those difficulties. The honour to him would be great if he succeeded in doing so, and he felt assured his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), as well as himself, was prepared to give him every assistance in his power in achieving that object.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
thanked his right hon. Friend who had just sat down for the handsome way in which he had spoken of the Code that he had been able to lay upon the Table, and assured the House that he fully appreciated the approval of so high an authority. With respect to the compulsory attendance of children at school up to a certain age, that was a much more serious question. With regard to it, he might say he believed such was the feeling entertained by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that they had all an equal desire to secure that the children should spend a proper time at school. The point of difference was how that school attendance was to be secured. He would not enter into the many large questions which had been opened up by his right hon. Friend in the course of his speech, because they related rather to the question of general 1109 education than to that which had been raised by the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett). The question before the House had, in his opinion, been reduced to a very narrow point. Hon. Members representing counties—such as Dorsetshire, Mid Lincolnshire, and Essex, and other parts of the country, had strongly expressed their desire to got the children of the agricultural population into the schools, and had thrown out many valuable suggestions as to how that end should be attained. The opinion of the Government had been sketched with great accuracy by the Home Secretary. The fact was, they could not shut their eyes to the circumstance that the Agricultural Children Act had really only been in operation for eight weeks, although certain provisions of it came into force last year; and only that short period had been allowed them to judge as to the bearing of the Act upon the education of the children whom the Act was intended to benefit. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had alluded to his long experience of the operation of the Factory Acts, and then referred to the circumstance that the Legislature had only touched the agricultural population during the last two years. Surely that statement of itself furnished a sufficient reason why they should not be over hasty in pressing changes upon a great interest like the agricultural interest, as to which the experience was so short compared with that in connection with the manufacturing interest in towns. The legislation with regard to the latter interest began 20 or 30 years ago, and it had been worked up gradually, first touching one branch of it and then another, until it had reached its present condition. That, he thought, was a good argument in favour of more time than eight short weeks being devoted to the experience of an Act before venturing to amend it. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had proposed "to call attention to the unsatisfactory state of education in the rural districts;" but he bad refrained from alluding to the quality of the education there supplied. In point of fact, the education afforded in the rural districts showed results fully as good as that given in towns, as was proved by official Returns. For the year ending the 31st of August, 1870, the rate of grant given per head in in- 1110 spected schools in England was as follows:—Rural districts, 9s. 7½d.; in town districts, 9s. 7d.; mixed districts, 9s.6¾d. It thus appeared that the somewhat despised rural districts were able by their intellectual exertions, to earn more than the towns, where the education was assumed to be so much superior. In Scotland the results were even more remarkable, the grant per head in that part of the Kingdom being 9s. 7d. for rural districts, 8s. 5¼d. for town districts, and 9s. 5d. for districts mixed. He thought the hon. Member for Hackney must have had no inkling of the facts, otherwise he would not have passed over the state of rural education so lightly. Last summer he (Viscount Sandon) selected 60 rural and an equal number of urban schools at haphazard, in order to ascertain the proportion of scholars who passed the upper Standards in each division. He found that in the rural districts more than one-fourth of the full timers and more than one-half of the half timers passed the upper Standards; while in the urban districts only one-sixth of the full timers and one-sixth of the half timers attained the same grade. With regard to attendance, he had only to point out that the whole matter as yet rested on assumption, and that the rural districts had certainly not been proved to be so deplorably backward. Before further action was taken on this subject he hoped hon. Gentlemen would study carefully the Reports of the Commission which inquired into the employment of women and children in agriculture some years ago. The Commissioners in question, Messrs. Tremenheere and Tufnell, inquired particularly how far the provisions of the Factory Acts could with propriety be applied to the rural districts, and after hearing a vast deal of evidence extending over three years, they came to totally different conclusions—a fact which proved the difficulty of forming a correct judgment on the subject. The more those Reports were studied the more serious appeared the difficulties in the way of carrying out the scheme before the House. One of the chief difficulties arose from the different character of agricultural occupations in various parts of the country. In one part children were employed in the winter and not in the summer; in other parts during the summer and not in the winter; in another they were employed from 7 to 1111 10 years of age, and in a different district from 10 to 12; while in another part of the country they were not wanted until the age of 14 years. That variety was an element which must be considered in regard to this question. Another point of serious difficulty was that a large number of small freeholders and occupiers of land would be unable to spare the labour of their children. Then again the wages of children might be thought to be a trivial affair; but when cases had to be dealt with in which children earned 4s. or 5s. a-week, while their parents themselves only earned 12s., it would be seen that the subject was one which ought not to be hastily treated. The opinion of the agricultural labourers as a class was fast turning in favour of education, and it would be a misfortune to arrest it by any inconsiderate action on the part of the Legislature. The feeling of the country itself was also a matter worthy of attention. Of the 1,039 school boards that had been formed only 335 had passed laws in favour of compulsion; while in 1874 out of 408 there were 91 that had passed such laws. His own belief was that on this question the feeling of the country was in a state of poise; and under these circumstances, the most advisable policy in his view was not to push compulsion further at present, but to retain the support of the country in carrying out the great work of giving all children a good education. It might be asked, what was the Government doing in the matter?—and, in reply, he would say that, in the first instance, they were watching—as they were bound to watch—the working of the Agricultural Children Act. Before the hon. Member for Hackney gave his Notice, instructions were given to the officials in the Education Department to watch the working of the Act very carefully, so that by the end of the year they might be in possession of trustworthy reports, from which to judge of its working in an educational point of view. A similar instruction issued from the Home Office, in order that the operation of the Act might be judged from the Factory Inspectors' point of view; and in the meantime the Education Department was closing up the supply of efficient schools for every part of the land. By the end of another year he hoped this great work would be completed; and in the meantime, in order 1112 to put within the reach of every child a thoroughly good school as soon as the school buildings were completed, the Department had revised the Code. By this means, they hoped to infuse fresh life and spirit into every school in the land. The new Code provided for rather extended teaching, and also made certain provisions to meet the eases of very small schools where they could not have school boards, and which could not get good teachers without additional aid. Here, again, the Government was assisting in the work of providing good schools for agricultural children. He quite acknowledged—looking to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, that the difficulty of finding a proper solution to this great question was not slight. Still, he had no doubt that they would in time succeed in achieving the great object they had in view. Whether it would be obtained by direct or indirect compulsion he could not pretend to say, nor did he feel himself called upon at the present time to express any personal opinion on the matter. He saw on all sides the most hopeful symptoms. Public opinion in the country was more active than ever upon the question. This was shown by the enormous voluntary contributions which were pouring in for the assistance of schools, by the zeal of the school boards, by the Reports of the Inspectors of Schools, and by the unanimity which existed upon both sides of the House, which showed that whether hon. Members represented rural or urban constituencies, they were alike determined to push forward the great work of the general education of the country. In the meantime, Her Majesty's Government would give no opinion as to the proper course of action necessary to be pursued hereafter. A year's trial of the Agricultural Children Act would afford them considerable information, and they would watch very closely the progress of education generally in the country. Of one thing he was quite clear; neither the House nor the Government must at the present moment be bound by any Resolution whatever, whether abstract or concrete. The Government must throw themselves upon the confidence of the House with regard to the subject. They had, as a Party, given great pledges in the matter. They had steadily supported 1113 the Factory Acts from the very beginning. A Royal Commission appointed by the late Lord Derby investigated to its very depth the whole question of the condition of agriculture. As a Party, they passed the Agricultural Children Act, and as short a time ago as last Session they passed a law affecting factory education. They had every right, therefore, to claim the confidence of the House upon this question. It would be impossible for them to belie the whole former career of the Party, strengthened as it was by a support of the Education Act of 1870. Theirs would be the very last hands to check the rising aspirations of the agricultural labourers—aspirations daily growing in strength—that they should be placed on a par in the matter of education with their brethren of the operative classes throughout the land. This was a great aim to be kept in view; but in order to its accomplishment, caution was positively necessary—a caution which would be guided by the experience which every day would give them of the working of the great Acts now in operation.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, no one on that side of the House would wish to deny to the noble Lord and his Party credit for the part they had taken in promoting the cause of education, or the proposition that they were anxious to see the education of the agricultural classes improved. What was wanted of them was that they would show the same energy and zeal in reference to the last-named branch of education that had marked their conduct in relation to the education of dwellers in towns. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary objected to the proposal of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) on the ground that it was an abstract Resolution. He had noticed that the feelings of hon. Members in that House on the question of abstract Resolutions differed very much in accordance with the side of the House on which they happened to sit. Hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches entertained no very great horror of abstract Resolutions when they sat in Opposition. It must be admitted, as a general rule, that the discussion of a question was not very much advanced by the passing of abstract Resolutions; and although a most useful discussion had been raised by the proposal of the hon. Member for 1114 Hackney, he might have been tempted to request the hon. Member to re-consider his intention to divide the House, if they had received from the Government anything like a definite assurance that they were seriously considering the question, and that they had any intention of proposing to the House a measure which would in any manner meet the views and intentions of those who had supported the hon. Member. No such assurance had been given. All they had done had been to promise that they would watch the working of the Agricultural Children Act of two years ago. If there was anything which the Members of a Government liked in an adverse ratio to their dislike of abstract Resolutions, it was the Reports of Royal Commissions; but the right hon. Gentleman not being able to appoint another Royal Commission to consider a subject which had been very carefully considered already by one such body, had announced his intention to await the Report of a further Commission, which had yet to be appointed to inquire into another matter. It was not very difficult to foretell the result of the working of the Act which the Government had announced their intention to watch with so much care. The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell)—himself one of the fathers of the measure, and therefore not unlikely to take a sanguine view of the case—had that evening expressed his opinion that the Act in its present form was quite certain to prove a failure. Supposing, however, the Government were to find the working of the Act satisfactory, he would like to know whether they would regard the fact as satisfying either their own aspirations or the aspirations of the country. If the Government had answered this question in the negative, he might have been disposed not to defend the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney; but the Government had told them nothing of the sort. From all that had been said, the House might fairly assume that in the opinion of the Government, a satisfactory working of the Agricultural Children Employment Act would be a satisfactory solution of the question; and that although they were the authors of a measure which fixed 14 as the age up to which the children in manufacturing districts should be educated, they thought 10¼ years a suffi- 1115 cient limit for the children in agricultural districts. The Government had said that they must not go faster than public opinion, which, in the agricultural district, was not in favour of direct compulsion. He would like to know on this question the nature of the steps they had taken in order to ascertain the exact direction in which public opinion tended? It was not, perhaps, to be expected that public opinion would, in the first place, be favourable to compulsion. As had been candidly acknowledged by his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster), public opinion in the manufacturing districts was against the principles of the Factory Acts when they were first introduced, but now they admitted the wisdom of the legislation. The noble Lord had stated that public opinion on this question was in a state of poise. If that was so, let steps be taken to ascertain the direction in which the balance of opinion tended. If the Government were not prepared to assent to the abstract Resolution of the hon. Member for Hackney, why did they not, at any rate, say that they would not be satisfied until education was provided as amply for agricultural children as for children in manufacturing districts? But they had said nothing of the kind. The House might be told in a few years after the working of the Agricultural Children Act had been carefully watched, that it was in fair operation; that the intentions of the Legislature had been executed; and that nothing more remained to be done. After the unsatisfactory declaration of the Government, he should not feel justified in asking his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney to withdraw his Resolution, and he trusted that he would divide the House upon it.
§ MR. FAWCETT,
in replying, said, he had brought forward an abstract Resolution with the object of raising a debate upon direct compulsion, and, if possible, of extracting from the Government some plain and positive declaration that they could understand. Last year an attempt was made with a Bill, but they studiously avoided any declaration upon the principle. Of all places in the world from which complaints could come of abstract Resolutions, the strangest certainly was Her Majesty's Government. A year or two ago the Prime Minister tried to turn out a Ministry by supporting an abstract Reso- 1116 lution on the subject of economy. Had they forgotten the abstract Resolution on local taxation, moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes)? Why, they lived upon it for two years; they gained county seat after county seat by it, and he fancied all that the farmers would get out of that abstract Resolution were the few words which it contained. With regard to the Amendment, he was not opposed to it as far as it went, but it only touched one of the three essential points which were dealt with by the original Resolution. If, however, his Resolution should not be carried, he would accept the Amendment.
§ MR. W. EGERTON
said, that in the event of the hon. Member for Leicestershire's Amendment being put as a substantive Motion, he should move a further Amendment declaring the undesirability of further legislation at the present time.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 149; Noes 229: Majority 80.1119
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Davies, P.|
|Adam, rt. hon. W. P.||Dickson, T. A.|
|Amory, Sir J. H.||Dilke, Sir C. W.|
|Anderson, Gr.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Backhouse, E.||Dundas, J. C.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Edwards, H.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Egerton, Adm. hon. F.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Ellice, E.|
|Bass, A.||Errington, G.|
|Bassett, F.||Evans, T. W.|
|Beaumont, Major P.||Eyton, P. E.|
|Biddulph, M.||Fawcett, H.|
|Brassey, T.||Ferguson, R.|
|Brooks, M.||Fitzmaurice, Lord E.|
|Brown, A. H.||Fletcher, I.|
|Cameron, C.||Fordyce, W. D.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Carington, hn. Col. W.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Carter, R. M.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Gower, hon. E. F. L.|
|Cave, T.||Grieve, J. J.|
|Chadwick, D.||Hankey, T.|
|Childers, rt. hon. H.||Harrison, C.|
|Cholmeley, Sir H.||Harrison, J. F.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Collins, E.||Havelock, Sir H.|
|Conyngham, Lord F.||Hayter, A. D.|
|Corbett, J.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Cowan, J.||Hill, T. R.|
|Cowen, J.||Holland, S.|
|Cross, J. K.||Holms, J.|
|Hopwood, C. H.||Palmer, C. M.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Peel, A. W.|
|Ingram, W. J.||Pennington, F.|
|Jackson, H. M.||Perkins, Sir F.|
|James, Sir H.||Playfair, rt. hon. L.|
|James, W. H.||Plimsoll, S.|
|Jenkins, D. J.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Jenkins, E.||Price, W. E.|
|Johnstone, Sir H.||Ramsay, J.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J.||Rashleigh, Sir C.|
|Kensington, Lord||Reed, E. J.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Richard, H.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Robertson, H.|
|Laverton, A.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|Leeman, G.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Samuelson, B.|
|Leith, J. F.||Seely, C.|
|Locke, J.||Shaw, R.|
|Lorne, Marquis of||Sherlock, Mr. Serjeant|
|Lush, Dr.||Sherriff, A. C.|
|Macduff, Viscount||Simon, Mr. Serjeant|
|Macgregor, D.||Smith, E.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Smyth, P. J.|
|M'Arthur, W.||Stacpoole, W.|
|M'Combie, W.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Stanton, A. J.|
|Maitland, J.||Temple, rt. hon. W. Cowper-|
|Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.|
|Meldon, C. H.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|Monck, Sir A. E.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Monk, C. J.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Morley, S.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Muntz, P. H.||Walter, J.|
|Mure, Colonel||Whitbread, S.|
|Nevill, C. W.||Whitwell, J.|
|Noel, E.||Whitworth, W.|
|Norwood, C. M.||Williams, W.|
|O'Byrne, W. R.||Yeaman, J.|
|O'Gorman, P.||Young, A. W.|
|O'Reilly, M. W.||TELLERS.|
|O'Shaughnessy, P.||Cavendish, Lord F. G|
|O'Sullivan, W. H.||Dixon, G.|
|Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C.||Bourke, hon. R.|
|Agnew, R. V.||Bourne, Colonel|
|Allen, Major||Brise, Colonel R.|
|Allsopp, S. C.||Broadley, W. H. H.|
|Anstruther, Sir W.||Buckley, Sir E.|
|Arkwright, A. P.||Burrell, Sir P.|
|Arkwright, F.||Buxton, Sir R. J.|
|Arkwright, R.||Callender, W. R.|
|Ashbury, J. L.||Cameron, D.|
|Assheton, R.||Campbell, C.|
|Astley, Sir J. D.||Cartwright, F.|
|Baggallay, Sir R.||Cave, rt. hon. S.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Chaine, J.|
|Bates, E.||Chaplin, H.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Chapman, J.|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.||Charley, W. T.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Christie, W. L.|
|Benett-Stanford, V. F.||Clifton, T. H.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||Clive, Col. hon. G. W.|
|Beresford, Colonel M.||Close, M. C.|
|Birley, H.||Cobbett, J. M.|
|Boord, T. W.||Coope, O. E.|
|Corbett, Colonel||Jolliffe, hon. S.|
|Cordes, T.||Kavanagh, A. MacM.|
|Corry, hon. H. W. L.||Kenealy, Dr.|
|Corry, J. P.||Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Cross, rt. hon. R. A.||Knight, F. W.|
|Cuninghame, Sir W.||Knowles, T.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lacon, Sir E. H. K.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Learmonth, A.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Legh, W. J.|
|Denison, C. B.||Leigh, Lt.-Col. E.|
|Denison, W. E.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Leslie, J.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Lewis, C. E.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Lindsay, Col. R. L.|
|Edmonstone, Adm. Sir W.||Lloyd, S.|
|Lloyd, T. E.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Lowther, hon. W.|
|Elliot, G.||Lowther, J.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.||Macartney, J. W. E.|
|Emlyn, Viscount||MacIver, D.|
|Ewing, A. O.||Mahon, Viscount|
|Fielden, J.||Majendie, L. A.|
|Fellowes, E.||Makins, Colonel|
|FitzGerald, rt. hn. Sir S.||Malcolm, J. W.|
|Floyer, J.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Folkestone, Viscount||March, Earl of|
|Fraser, Sir W. A.||Marten, A. G.|
|Gardner, J. T. Agg-||Mellor, T. W.|
|Gardner, R. Richardson-||Mills, A.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.|
|Garnier, J. C.||Montgomerie, R.|
|Gibson, E.||Montgomery, Sir G. G.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Mowbray, rt. hn. J. R.|
|Goldney, G.||Mulholland, J.|
|Gordon, W.||Muncaster, Lord|
|Gorst, J. E.||Naghten, A. R.|
|Grantham, W.||Neville-Grenville, R.|
|Greenall, G.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Greene, E.||Newport, Viscount|
|Gregory, G. B.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H|
|Hall, A. W.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Onslow, D.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Paget, R. H.|
|Hamilton, T. T.||Palk, Sir L.|
|Hamilton, Lord G.||Pell, A.|
|Hamilton, Marq. of||Pelly, Sir H. C.|
|Hamond, C. F.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Peploe, Major|
|Hardcastle, E.||Percy, Earl|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Phipps, P.|
|Hardy, J. S.||Pim, Captain B.|
|Harvey, Sir R. B.||Plunket, hon. D. R.|
|Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.||Plunkett, hon. R.|
|Heath, R.||Polhill-Turner, Capt.|
|Hermon, E.||Powell, W.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Price, Captain|
|Hogg, Sir J. M.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Holford, J. P. G.||Raikes, H. C.|
|Holker, Sir J.||Read, C. S.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||Repton, G. W.|
|Holt, J. M.||Ridley, M. W.|
|Home, Captain||Ritchie, C. T.|
|Hood, Capt. hn. A. W. A. N.||Rodwell, B. B. H.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Ryder, G. R.|
|Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.||Salt, T.|
|Isaac, S.||Sanderson, T. K.|
|Jenkinson, Sir G. S.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Johnson, J. G.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Johnstone, H.||Scott, M. D.|
|Johnstone, Sir F.||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Shirley, S. E.||Turnor, E.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.||Walsh, hon. A.|
|Simonds, W. B.||Watney, J.|
|Smith, A.||Welby, W. E.|
|Smith, S. G.||Wellesley, Captain|
|Smith, W. H.||Wells, E.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Wethered, T. O.|
|Somerset, Lord H. R. C.||Wheelhouse, W. S. J|
|Stanhope, hon. E.||Whitelaw, A.|
|Stanhope, W. T. W. S.||Wilmot, Sir H.|
|Stanley, hon. E.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Starkey, L. R.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Steere, L.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Stewart, M. J.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Storer, G.||Yarmouth, Earl of|
|Sturt, H. G.||Yorke, hon. E.|
|Talbot, J. G.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Thynne, Lord H. F.||TELLERS.|
|Tollemache, W. F.||Dyke, W. H.|
|Torr, J.||Winn, B.|
That the words to withhold from children employed in agriculture the advantages secured to children employed in other branches of industry by the services of Her Majesty's Inspector of Factories,' be added, instead thereof.
expressed a hope that his hon. Friend (Mr. Pell) would allow his Amendment to be negatived, as there then would be a clear issue before the House.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
expressed a hope that the hon. Member would allow the Amendment to be negatived.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the Motion, if carried, would inflict upon the country districts an inspection for which no reason had been made out. He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Member for Leicestershire would not press it to a division.
§ MR. W. EGERTON
said, he hoped that the Motion would not be proceeded with. If it was pressed he should move, as an Amendment, that, considering the limited experience of the working of the Agricultural Children Act, it was undesirable to legislate further on the subject at the present time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Walsh.)
§ Question put, and negatived.
Question again proposed,
That the words 'to withhold from the children employed in agriculture the advantages secured to children employed in other branches of industry by the services of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories,' be added, instead thereof.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that as he had already spoken, he must place the Amendment in some other Member's hands.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the Motion was merely to add words to a Resolution in order to enable it to be put, because at present the Question before the House was simply "That, in the opinion of this House, it is undesirable." He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Member would press his Motion, because it was simply intended to provide some machinery to put the Act in operation. He would remind the House that the "Workshops Acts were not properly carried out until after the appointment of Government Inspectors.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he thought the best thing that could be done was for the words to be added, so that there might be a substantive Motion before the House, and then that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cheshire (Mr. W. Egerton) might be moved, so that the House might not be put in a false position. The Government were quite as anxious as hon. Gentlemen opposite that agricultural children should receive a good education; but what they said was, that an Act with reference to the subject had only been passed last year, after due consideration, and therefore it was not expedient to re-open the question so soon. They objected to being forced to deal with an Act in a way they disapproved of.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that if the words proposed by the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) were added to the original Question, no Amendment could be proposed except in the form of an addition to those words. Now would be the time to amend the Motion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the sentence proposed was not an Amendment—it was a substitution. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicestershire were negatived, it would be competent to the hon. Baronet to submit his Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 150; Noes 226: Majority 76.
After the word "undesirable," to add the words "considering the limited experience of the working of the Agricultural Children Act, to legislate further on that subject at the present time."—(Mr. Wilbraham Egerton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Locke.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
begged the House to consider to what it would be committing itself if it agreed to the Motion of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. W. Egerton). It would be to this—that whereas the Government were anxious to improve the present provisions for the education of children not in agricultural employment, those provisions being very much stronger than any which applied to agricultural children, nevertheless, the House pledge itself not to legislate further for the latter. He did not see how the Government could support this Amendment, seeing that they had asked that they might not be fettered as to their future conduct.
§ Mr. J. G. TALBOT
said, that having supported his hon. Friend (Mr. Pell) in the Amendment which had been negatived, he wished to explain his views on the subject. He was quite ready to vote for this proposal (Mr. Egerton's), as he did not want more legislation on the question, but merely wished the existing 1122 Acts to be carried into effect. There was no necessity for an adjournment, because the matter had been fully discussed.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 227: Majority 83.
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Macgregor.)
§ MR. DISRAELI
The House has had such a quiet Session that I was unwilling to throw any difficulties in the way this evening, which has turned out to possess a character of a less tranquil kind. The hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke), who first introduced these tactics to-night, and whose grave humour I always recognize on these occasions, has received considerable attention from us. We have divided on his Motion. With regard to the now Motion which is now made for the adjournment of the House, I am not disinclined towards that Motion. I think one of the best things the House could do at present would be to adjourn. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) has brought forward a question upon which the House has given a grave decision—a decision by a largo majority. We have now got into this situation—that we are wasting our energies, and in no degree advancing any public policy. The business for which the House met to-night has been amply discussed and decidedly treated, and I do not think there is an hon. Member present who can ascribe to these frequent divisions that character of gravity which ought to belong to our proceedings. Therefore, Sir, I will not oppose this Motion.
objected to that Motion because, if carried, it would preclude the bringing on of a Motion that stood lower on the Paper, to which the Irish Members attached importance—namely, for the production of a document on which would depend the qualification of Mr. John Mitchel, and it was essential that that point should be decided, if possible, before the nomination at Tipperary on Thursday. He might be out-voted; but he would certainly 1123 divide the House against the present Motion for its adjournment if they were to be prevented from moving for the Return to which he referred.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 224; Noes 41: Majority 183.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.