HC Deb 10 July 1876 vol 230 cc1186-271

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Viscount Sandon.)


in rising to move— That, in the opinion of this House, the principle of universal compulsion in education cannot be applied without great injustice unless provision be made for placing public elementary schools under public management, said: It is with perfect sincerity that I say it gives me no pleasure to appear here as an objector to the Bill. I came down to the House on the day when the noble Lord was to introduce and expound his measure with as earnest a wish as man ever cherished that it might be of such a nature as to absolve me, at least, from the necessity of offering to it any serious opposition. The cause of popular education is one very near to my heart, and I have been an humble but earnest labourer in the cause for 35 years. Thirty years ago I took an active part in the establishment of a school for boys, girls, and infants in one of the populous districts of the metropolis, through which schools I believe up to the present time some 15,000 or 16,000 children have passed. In the year 1845 I had the pleasure of starting a movement in favour of day school education in Wales, which has led to the formation of the first Normal school ever established there, and of many scores, if not hundreds, of day schools in various parts of Wales. After that I had the honour of being honorary secretary of the Voluntary School Society, which established normal schools in London, and largely aided by means of grants of money the maintenance of voluntary schools in various parts of the country. I hope that the House will excuse this little bit of egotism, as I wish it to be understood that I am not an objector to, and an obstructor of, education, but an active worker in that great cause. It would have been a great satisfaction to me if a Bill had been introduced by the Government which would have allowed all of us, without distinction of sect or party, on equal terms cordially to co-operate in promoting the work of national education; but, unhappily, this is a Bill for promoting, not national, but sectarian education. The object of the Bill is obviously, I may say avowedly, to discourage the formation of school boards, and all that more liberal and unsectarian class of schools that spring from school boards, and to strengthen and extend to the utmost possible extent the denominational schools. The speeches of the Vice President of the Council (Viscount Sandon) and of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) left no doubt upon this point, and we may consider, therefore, this was the dominant idea that presided over the preparation of the Bill. And then we must consider the denominational schools and the immense majority they are in. Out of 14,000 parishes outside the boroughs only 1,749 have school boards, leaving 12,000 or more, where, if there be any schools at all, they must be denominational schools. And now let us see what you do by this Bill for denominational schools. First of all, you subsidize them largely with pecuniary aid; and you do this in three ways. First, by Clause 12, which says, if any parent is unable to pay a fee of 3d. a-week for his child it may be paid for him by the guardians of the poor. Next, by Clause 13, you provide that in poor districts a grant may be given to the school to the amount of twice the income of the school from every source. And, thirdly, you give power to the local authorities to force all children in the district, whether they be Roman Catholics, or Nonconformists, or Jews, or whatever they may be, into the denominational schools, and thereby add largely to the income of those schools by their pence. But this is not all. Compulsory bye-laws may be expensive in the working, and the cost of this machinery is to be defrayed, not from the income of the schools that are to profit by them, but from the rates;—so that Dissenters and Roman Catholics will be taxed for the machinery that is to fill Church schools by forcing their own children into them. And if any sturdy Dissenter or Roman Catholic upon grounds of conscience refuses to send his child to the school, you give power to the court of summary jurisdiction, which may be the very clergyman who is the manager of the voluntary school, to fine him 5s., and if he persevere in his refusal, to take his child away from home and send it to an industrial school until he is 14 or 16 years of age, and compel the parent to pay for his keep. Now, I object to this Bill on various grounds. I object to it first on account of its thoroughly unconstitutional character. Is it not one of the principles of our administration that public money is not to be handed over to be spent under the direction and at the discretion of persons who are not in any way responsible to the nation? The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), in an able speech on the Prisons Bill, made the remark that looking at the subject as a question of principle, he thought that local control ought to be exercised over the expenditure of money raised by local rates. But here there is local taxation in the form of the payment of the fees of the children by the guardians, and in defraying the expenses of the compulsory machinery, without any pre- tence of local management or local control over expenditure. Then I object to the Bill as tending to check, as much as possible, the growth of that part of our educational system which has about it something of national character. Whatever may be the objections alleged against school boards it will be admitted at least that they have this advantage—that they call in the whole nation without distinction of class, or creed, or condition, unitedly to bear a part in what deserves to be called national work, if ever any work merited that designation. But you take the work out of the hands of the nation in order to consign it to the hands of a sect. I believe there is a provision in the Bill by which localities may still have school boards under this Bill; but then we have the belief that the administration of the Educational Department is hostile to school boards, and the presumption is that it will checkmate the desire expressed by localities for the establishment of school boards. A very singular illustration of the animus that actuates the Department in respect of this point has come lately to my knowledge in connection with the case of Winchester. When, 12 months ago, the town council of that city passed a resolution requesting the Lords of the Committee of Council to make an order for the establishment of a school board in that town, the denominational party called a meeting and petitioned against the board, and the Department listened to them rather than to the town council, and refused the order, and have continued to refuse it to this day. Well, there is another objection which many persons feel very strongly indeed against this Bill, and that is its tendency to throw the education of the people more and more into clerical hands. It is well known that in country parishes the clergyman is virtually the sole manager of the schools, and he moulds and fashions them according to his own will; if in thousands of parishes all the children are thrown into the hands of the local clergymen with no effectual check upon the authority they wield, the influence they exercise will be enormous. Now, this is not purely a Nonconformist objection; there are tens of thousands of working men who object to have their children consigned to clerical hands. I was very much struck by a passage in a pamphlet by a gentleman who is known to many gentlemen here, I mean Mr. Henry Dunn, formerly secretary to the British and Foreign School Society. He says— The religious denominations, however numerous or well organized, do not when combined represent the people of England. Outside of them all may be found a large and growing multitude who, although far from destitute of regard for religion, decidedly object to the education of the country being handed over to ecclesiastical bodies of any kind. They regard such a course as the evasion of a great national duty, and they feel that more than enough has already been done to encourage our abounding sectarianism. Many among the working classes share in these views, and no good reason whatever can be given why the opinions of these men should be altogether disregarded. My own conviction is, that to entrust the education of the people to clerical hands will tend to prolong and embitter our religious and social divisions, and to interfere with the unity of our national life. No man can accuse me of having any special prejudice against the clerical profession. The principle I go upon is, that national education should be national work, and therefore should be as free, as broad, and as exempt from sectional influences as the nation itself. This can never be while education is in the hands of the clergy of any denomination whatever. It is a very curious thing that at the very time when by this Bill we propose to enormously extend the power of the clergy in connection with education, in almost every other civilized country of the world, the State—especially the Liberal Party in the State—are showing a disposition to transfer the education of the people from the hands of the clergy to the hands of the State. This is the case in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, the United States, and the British Colonies. It is surely not without grave significance for us to find all civilized countries going in that direction, and it ought to be an instruction and a warning to ourselves. There are especial reasons at this time which in the estimation of many intensify their objections to delivering over the children of this country into the hands of the clergy, and that is the character of the teaching of a large and growing section of the clergy. I do not wish to wound the religious susceptibilities of the Members from Ireland who may be present, and I hope they will not deem me very intolerant if I express my own strong conviction that the freedom and the greatness of this country are bound up with the maintenance of its Protestant faith. Mr. Burke on one occasion stated that Nonconformity is the Protestantism of the Protestant religion. I have no particular objection to the definition; but if that be so, the House will easily understand what we, as Protestant Dissenters, feel when we see what is going on at this moment in the Church of England. What is now going on? A society has been established on purpose to arrest the progress of the doctrines and practices to which I advert, at the head of which are Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Ebury. In their address they say— That the so-called Anglo-Catholics in the Established Church can count on a perfect impunity has lately been evinced by the startling fact that '480 priests' have signed and presented a petition to Convocation in the Province of Canterbury, asking for the selection and licensing of duly qualified confessors. Already the practice of auricular confession is encouraged in a good many churches; public notice is given of the days and hours when the priest will attend to relieve the consciences of penitents; and there is indication of an intense desire to restore the confessional as an essential religious institution. It is notorious that other practices of the same school are spreading rapidly. The Lord's Table gives place to the Altar; the observance of the Lord's Supper is changed into a celebration of Mass; and the blessed Eucharist is reserved as in Roman Catholic churches; prayers are invited for the repose of the dead; and children are being educated (in some degree at the public expense) in familiarity with tenets, hymns, and ceremonies, which are subversive at once of Christ's Gospel and of the English Reformation. But I can call a witness on this point whose testimony will be of more value than that of any other man in this House—the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council himself. In the year 1874 he made a very able and earnest speech in this House on the Public Worship Regulation Bill, and on that occasion he said there was great danger lest the compact between the Church and State, and which rested upon the maintenance on the part of the Church of the doctrines and usages of the Reformation, should be broken. The noble Lord continued— That the danger was real was evident from the reply of the two highest authorities in the land, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who last year, in reply to a memorial presented to them, said—'There can be no doubt that the danger you apprehend of a considerable minority both of clergy and laity among us desiring to subvert the principles of the Reformation is real.…..We feel justified in appealing to all reasonable men to consider whether the very existence of our national institutions for the maintenance of religion is not imperilled by the evils of which you complain.' "—[3 Hansard, ccxxi. 52.] Then the noble Lord went on to say— Could anything be more serious or more alarming than such an acknowledgment and such an appeal from the two much-respected and discreet heads of the Church?"—[Ibid.] Then he proceeded to justify the alarm which he felt in regard to the progress of this party in the Church by quoting some passages from their journals and writings in order to illustrate the extremes to which they went. Among them was the following passage from The Church Times, the only one with which I shall trouble the House:— We are contending, as our adversaries know full well, for the extirpation of Protestant opinions and practice, not merely within the Church itself, but throughout all England. I have seen lately in the same paper another passage in which they boast of their rapid progress, and show the great efforts they are making in regard to choral services, public choirs, saints days, dedication festivals, vestments, and floral decorations, and he estimates that the Extreme Right, as he calls them, possess one-fifth of all the working churches of the metropolis, and a good half of the communicants. It is not in the metropolis merely, but this thing is spreading throughout the whole country. How does this bear upon the question before us? Most intimately and vitally, because the noble Lord proposes by means of compulsion to sweep the education of the people of this country into the hands of the clergy, in thousands of parishes, into the hands of the very men, some of whom, at least according to his own admission, and the acknowledgments of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, are trying to subvert the principles of the Reformation, and are bringing into peril the very existence of our national institutions for the maintenance of religion. I will call another witness on this point, a nobleman held in honour and esteem by all parties in this country. Whatever differences may exist between any of us and Lord Shaftesbury in regard to ecclesiastical and theological matters, we all honour and reverence him for his unbounded philanthropy and devotion to the interests of humanity. Speaking in May last at the annual meeting of the Church Pastoral Aid Society, he made these remarks— I say that notwithstanding the new court of law, Ritualism is more rife and more active and more insolent than ever it was before. He goes on to speak of the frequent advocacy of the views of this party in the pulpit, and then he proceeds— But there is a darker side of the picture than that. The kind of preaching to which I allude is for the most part addressed to adults, and I believe that the minds of the greater portion of the adults revolt from the doctrines which they are constantly hearing from the pulpit. I feel much greater apprehension in reference to the character of the teaching which is given in many of the schools connected with the Church of England; and I say, without fear of contradiction, that in a large proportion of these schools doctrines are inculcated in the minds of children which must eventuate in full-blown Romanism. You need not wonder, therefore, that there are multitudes of persons in this country who look with great alarm on this Bill, because its tendency, whatever its design, is to consign to the hands of the clergy the education of the people of this country.

But I will now come to objections that are especially urged by one class of the community in this country—I mean the Nonconformists; for whom, I am afraid, there is not much sympathy felt in this House, although probably there are few Gentlemen on this side who come from England and Wales, who do not in a great part owe their seats here to the influence and exertions of the Nonconformists. But however distasteful it may be to many here, I must ask the kind attention of the House, for I am speaking on behalf and in the name of many millions of my countrymen, who are, I believe, not the worst part of the population of this country, who are as good citizens, as good subjects, as loyal to the Crown, as faithful to the Constitution, as obedient to the laws, as exemplary in the discharge of all their social and civic duties, as any class of the community whatever, and they are equal sharers in the great work of Christian civilization going on in the midst of us. As I stated on a former occasion, they have built and maintained at their own cost 28,000 places of worship in which to carry on the spiritual education of the people of this country, together with all the vast machinery—educational, religious, and charitable—connected with these places. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hardy), in the speech he made the other evening, and in a slightly sarcastic spirit as I thought, spoke of the Nonconformists as devoting their money to building chapels and Sunday-schools, and not building day-schools but using those provided by the Church. I may be allowed to say in a parenthesis that if they have used the schools they have had to pay for them; nobody ever heard of the Church offering its education gratuitously. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to state that the Church maintained these schools without any unfair influence being exerted on the children sent there. He spoke with entire sincerity, as no one of us can have any doubt, but still he was not entirely accurate. In the first place, it must be observed that popular education in this country began with the Nonconformists. Joseph Lancaster and those that gathered round him were Nonconformists, although in that number was also included many Liberal Churchmen like the Duke of Bedford, and all the House of Russell. The starting of a similar work by the Church, which has since grown to such large and honourable proportions, owing mainly to the noble self-sacrifice of the clergy, which I am never weary of admiring, was due to the jealousy and alarm felt at what the Dissenters were doing. [A laugh.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh; I will give them evidence which they will hardly dispute, for I will give them the evidence of Dr. Bell himself, who was the founder of the National School system. Writing to Dr. Barton, chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, under date March 30, 1807, he says— It cannot be dissembled that thousands in various parts of the kingdom are drawn from the Church by the superior attention paid to education out of the Church. The tide is setting fast in one direction, and if not speedily stemmed it may run faster and faster. Writing again to Mrs. Trimmer, a great light of the Church in those days, and who, so far from trimming, was a most violent and bigoted Churchwoman, he said— What you say of preventing the spread of this scheme against the Church (that is the Lancasterian schools) is what some years ago occurred to me, and I then said, what I shall never cease to repeat, that I know of but one way effectually to check these efforts, and it is by able and well-directed efforts of our own hands. A scheme of education patronized by Church and State, originating in Government aid, and superintended by a member of the Establishment, would most effectually promote our views. This was the germ of the National School Society. No doubt when the members of the Church of England took the matter in hand earnestly, they very far distanced all competitors, and they had every advantage for doing so. They had wealth, and social influence, and the ear of men in power to aid them. While we had to build and maintain our chapels, they had the parish churches at their disposal; while we had to maintain our ministers they had national endowments; so that in many parishes they had nothing to do with their money except to build schools. I am very far from wishing to derogate from the great work they were doing; I am always anxious, in this House and elsewhere, to express my admiration and respect for the great services rendered to the cause of national education by denominational schools; but even then the representation of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is not quite accurate. It is not quite true that we have only been building chapels and (Sunday-schools; we have built also a large number of day-schools. In Wales alone we have built between 400 and 500 day-schools. Nor was he more accurate when he said that if Nonconformists sent their children to the Church schools no unfair influence was exerted on their minds. On the contrary, I allege that for many years, until the Conscience Clause was forced upon them, education was steadfastly and systematically employed as an instrument of proselytism. The learning of the Church catechism, and the attendance of children at church on Sunday, were sine quâ non conditions in many cases for admission into the Church schools. To such an extent was this carried in Wales that Dr. Thirlwall, when Bishop of St. David's—a high-minded and conscientious man, whose mind revolted against the practice—delivered a very severe rebuke to his clergy on the subject in one of his Charges; and I ask the attention of the House to the short extract that I am about to read, especially of hon. Gentlemen who say there is no religious difficulty, because they find they are allowed to teach the catechism to the children of various Dissenting bodies without any objection on the part of the parent. Indeed, this is one of the most inexplicable things I know—how high-minded, honourable Christian gentlemen, like those who made this boast, can look upon that as a reason for congratulation. For what does it mean? It means that they rejoice at being permitted to teach little children lies in the name of religion. For look what it is. You take a little Baptist child and teach him to say he has been regenerated in baptism, when he has never been baptized at all. You take the children of Nonconformists, and make them say that their godfathers and godmothers have promised and vowed certain things for them, when they have no godfathers and godmothers at all. When you say there is no religious difficulty, I say there ought to be one—if not on the part of the parents, on the part of the teachers and the clergy, who receive children into their schools and teach them to repeat falsehood in the name of religion. Dr. Thirlwall, referring to a poor man, who in the absence of any other means of education for his child but what is afforded by a national school where the teaching of the Church catechism is enforced, sends it there, says— Few, I think, will be disposed to condemn him very severely if he yields to such temptation. But in the eyes of a clergyman who attaches supreme value to a 'definite, objective, and dogmatic faith,' he must appear to be guilty of a breach of the most sacred duty; to be bartering his child's eternal welfare for temporal benefits; to be acting a double part, allowing his child to be taught that which he intends it to unlearn, and to profess that which he hopes it will never believe. Can it be right for a clergyman holding such views to take advantage of the poor man's necessity and weakness for the sake of making a proselyte of the child? Is he not really bribing the father to do wrong, and holding out a strong temptation to duplicity and hypocrisy when he admits the child into his school on such terms? And when he enforces them by instruction which is intended to alienate the children from the father in their religious belief, is he not oppressing the poor and needy? I can understand, though I cannot sympathise with it, the rigidity of conscience which closes the school against Dissenters; but I cannot reconcile it with the laxity of conscience which admits them on such terms. And I cannot. But I am afraid the same spirit is still actively at work, for though. I believe that among those who contend for religious education in schools there are many who are perfectly sincere, whose anxiety is genuine, that the children of the people of this country should be brought under Christian influence—and, so far, I cordially sympathise with them—though I think they are mistaken in imagining that can be best done by teaching religion in the day school, nevertheless there are many others who by religious education mean, in fact, ecclesiastical education, and who are much more anxious to make the children good Churchmen than they are to make them good Christians. This is what is said in the monthly paper of the National School Society; and when we read this, need we wonder that Nonconformists should feel jealous at seeing their children pressed and forced into denominational schools?— In the present condition of Church schools it is more than ever necessary that they should be made nurseries of Church principles. All that is happening in the matter of education is a call to the Church to put out her strength and do valiant battle for her principles in our schools. Our work, then, is to teach children the facts of our religion, the doctrines of our religion, and the duties of our religion. We must teach them the facts of our religion that they may be intelligent Christians, not ignorant as heathens; the doctrines that they may not be Christians also, but Churchmen; the duties that they may not he Churchmen only, but communicants. This last, in fact, is the object at which we are uniformly to aim—the training of the young Christian for full communion with the Church, and, as a preliminary to that, a training for confirmation. The whole school time of a child should gradually lead up to this. They ought to know why they should be Churchmen and not Dissenters; why they should go to Church and not to meeting; why they should be Anglicans and not Romanists. But it is said—"You have the Conscience Clause to protect you against this great evil. "My answer is that the clause is a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. It is repeatedly evaded. ["No, no!"] Do you believe the testimony of your own Government Inspectors? They report frequent violations to the Department, though the Department, so far as I know, never punish the schools in which violations take place. In 98 visits of surprise paid by one Inspector he found religious instruction given in violation of the time-table in ten cases. But even when the letter of this clause is observed, there is no protection against the spirit being broken. A clergyman has twenty ways of selecting out and branding a little Dissenter. He is excluded from the Church feasts and treats, and prizes may be withheld from him. I heard Lately of a case where the children at a denominational school were formed into guilds called Church Guilds—among which is one called the Guild of St. Timothy—and one of their rules is never to attend service at any place of worship which does not belong to the Church of England. But I distinctly deny your right to subject a poor man, as a condition of his obtaining education and employment for his child, to such a religious test as this. To withdraw his child from the denominational education is a very conspicuous act for a poor man in a country village, and he will hesitate long before doing it, because he knows very well he will incur the displeasure of the squire or the squire's lady. Yet hon. Members say there is no religious difficulty. There may be none of which you are aware, for if a poor Dissenting labourer has any wrong with regard to the education of his child, a Tory Member of Parliament is not the person to whom he is likely to carry his complaint. He is much more likely to go to his own minister, and then it is always open to hon. Members opposite to dismiss the testimony of a Dissenting minister with a sneer, and say that he has manufactured the grievance. To all this you must add that there is a furious fanatical spirit of ecclesiasticism abroad, which has taken possession of many of the clergy of the Church of England, and which makes them look with a perfect horror and hatred upon Dissent. What can you think of the things which are continually cropping up in all parts of the country? What do you think of this advertisement?—Wanted, at once, £50 to rescue 200 souls from Dissent. When this came to be inquired into it was found that the object was to establish a Church school in order to supplant a Dissenting school in the district. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Davies) referred in his speech the other day to a little catechism which he said is used in Wales in Church schools. It is called "A second Catechism for the children of the Church. Issued by the Church Extension Society." I ask the House to listen to a few of the questions and answers in this catechism— Q. Is there any other reason why you call her Catholic? A. Yes, because she teaches all truth, and lasts through all ages. Q. How is the Church Apostolic? A. Because she was founded by the Apostles, and is governed by those who succeeded them. Q. Who have succeeded them? A. The bishops, priests, and deacons of the Church. Q. Are these three orders of ministry appointed by God? A. Yes, and no true Church is without them. Q. Why cannot we look for salvation out of the Church? A. Because God's promises are only made to His Church. Q. Is it not then very dangerous to leave the Church? A. Yes, and it is also a very grievous sin. Q. What is this sin called? A. A schism or division. Q. Are we warned against this sin in the Bible? A. Yes, St. Paul tells us to mark them which cause divisions, and to avoid them. ["Hear, hear!"] You cheer that, then why did you cause divisions by leaving the Church of Rome? Q. What are those who separate from the Church of England commonly called? A. Dissenters. Q. Are there different sorts of Dissenters? A. Yes, Baptists, Independents, Quakers, and many others. Q. Is it wrong to join in the worship of Dissenters? A. Yes; we should only attend places of worship which belong to the Church of England. Q. Why? A. Because it is the branch of the true Church which God has placed in the land. Some years ago there was at the head of a normal college in North Wales a reverend gentleman—and he is there still, I believe, for I have never heard of his being removed—who used to give to the young men papers for examination which contained such things as these— Show that the Sacraments as administered by Dissenters must be mere blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits…..Dissenting ministers, being merely laymen, there is no promise or warrant for supposing that what they do on earth Christ will do in heaven, or that He will be present to bless their ministrations. What inference do you draw?—No bishop, no church.….Show that there is a perfect safety in the English Church, and that to leave her for any other Church or any mere sect must be a most fatal error. Puritan doctrine is popular because it is convenient and comfortable. Church principles are not conformed to this world, and therefore the world hates them. Give illustrations. Show from Scripture that a Real Presence is essential to both sacraments. Show that the phrase 'Protestant faith' indicates a ridiculous impossibility. These are the things which were, and, for aught I know, are still taught in a normal school in which young people are being trained to conduct schools in the Principality of Wales, where the overwhelming majority are Nonconformists. But it is not the clergy only of whom we have to complain in this matter. I believe that in various parts of this country there are systematic attempts made to stamp out Nonconformity and Methodism in our rural districts. Landlords refuse to let farms or houses to Nonconformists. Dissenting cottagers, if they open their houses for prayer-meetings or other religious services, are harried out of their homes. Dissenting servants are dismissed, and Dissenting tradesmen lose their custom. I read lately a speech delivered by the President of the Wesleyan Conference, the Rev. Gervaise Smith, and he says— To-day there were 2,000 villages in England where there was not perfect religious freedom. He knew instances where wealthy men had been nominated for high, civic offices, but because they were Methodists their names had been scratched out. He knew godly men in farming districts who had been driven from their farms because they were Methodists, and he knew men in different parts of the country who, because they were Methodists, had been obliged to close their shops. Hon. Members opposite ask for instances. Let me give you one or two. Here is the case of a gentleman, a Nonconformist, who saw a house advertised, and applied to the agent. Everything was going on very well until the agent asked him whether he was a Churchman. "No," he said, "I am a Dissenter." "Ah," said the agent, "you had better not apply; you will have no chance of getting it. "Here is a letter addressed by a large land agent in London to a gentleman who applied for a farm in the eastern counties— Dear Sir,—The rent, exclusive of tithe to be paid by the tenant, is £1,200 a-year, including the 17 cottages; the drainage rates are paid by the landlord. Shooting is reserved, but the tenant may kill rabbits by trapping or ferreting them when they damage him, but we never had a complaint yet from a tenant. Then there are some other arrangements of the kind described, till we come to this paragraph— It is essential that the tenant should be a Churchman, and have £10 an acre of unencumbered capital. That letter was written to a Nonconformist who had applied for a farm. Here is another letter written when nearly everything was settled— In reply to your letter of the 22nd inst., I write to say that before I put any rent upon my house and land I should be glad to know whether you are a member of the Church of England and a supporter of the Church, also if, in the event of my letting it to you, you will be prepared at an election to support the Conservative Party by voting for them, as I should not feel inclined to let the houses to anyone who is not a good Churchman and a known Conservative. I have no doubt that these persons are very sincere, and that they are acting up to their consciences, but we object to have our children placed in the power of men who keep such ferocious consciences as these. Now, some hon. Gentlemen think it a strange display of bigotry and intolerance on our part that we should not want to see our people taken away from us and placed under such influences as those I have described. But let me ask who these people are whom we have thus collected together? They are not people whom we have lured from the Church. They are people who for generations were neglected by the Church, or whom the Church with its utmost efforts had failed to overtake. When our Nonconformist and Methodist forefathers went in search of these people or of their ancestors, they found them, not in the churches, but in the alehouses, in the cock-pits, in the bull-rings, in wakes and Sunday fairs, lounging and gambling on the village green; in Cornwall, sauntering, grimy and savage, around the mouth of the pits; in Wales, frequenting scenes of profane and sensual revelry, or wandering over the mountains like sheep without a shepherd, no man caring for their souls. They went forth, as they believed themselves bidden to go, into the streets and lanes, highways and hedges, and braving the scorn of the educated classes, and the brutal violence of the mob, by infinite labour of body and travail of soul they contrived by the persuasions of Christian love to compel these men to come into what I and they believe to be the Christian fold. We think it is unfair that efforts should be made to take the children of these people out of our hands in order to deliver them into the hands of persons who use their utmost efforts to pervert them from the faith of their fathers. And yet, because we object to and protest against this, you rain upon us a shower of opprobrious epithets. You call us intolerable, impracticable, and sectarian —though I contend that it is you who are sectarian and not we—and one gentleman, in despair of finding within the ordinary resources of the English language any term strong enough to express his detestation and disgust for us, felt himself driven to the necessity of coining a new and barbarous word to fling at us; and he says that not only are we intolerant, but that we are "unclubable." Now, with regard to all these charges there underlies an assumption. The simple truth is this—that members of the Church of England have so long enjoyed the privileges of ecclesiastical ascendancy that they have come to take it for granted that their views in all matters of religion, of doctrine, discipline and practice, are the standard of what is right and fitting and proper; and that if any man depart from that standard ipso facto he is placed on his defence. Well, for a Reformed Church, built on the principle of private judgment, and not claiming infallibility, this is rather a strong view to take. Still, it is a very natural one, and I do not blame them. I dare say that if I and the Church to which I belong had been placed in the same position of ecclesiastical ascendancy as they have been, we should have fallen into the same error; but still you cannot expect us to admit that. We claim the right to exercise our own private judgment and our conscience in all matters of religion, and with all deference to you we refuse to submit our conscience and our judgment to you. Now, let me call attention to one other point which we consider is a great grievance to the Nonconformists in connection with this Bill, and this is that they will be excluded virtually from all share in the teaching profession. For, observe that in all these denominational schools the teachers must be Church people; and this kind and form of legislation, therefore, practically closes the teaching profession against Nonconformists. Even in regard to board schools and endowed schools, which are supposed to be under the protection of a Liberal legislation, we are exposed constantly to instances of injustice and unfairness. We had the other day, in a School Board Chronicle, an advertisement for a mistress for a board school, in which it was stated that she must be a Churchwoman. The Department was appealed to whether it was legal to require that a master or mistress should belong to a particular denomination, and the answer was that they had no power to interfere. Then there was the case which lately occurred at the Perse Grammar School, where a gentleman who had been educated at the University of Oxford, and was an M. A. of his College, was dismissed from the school by the superior Master on the ground that he was a Nonconformist, and therefore not his social equal. With regard to schools belonging to the Church of England, in any number of the National Society's Magazine advertisements abound, coupling the appointment of master or mistress with rigorous ecclesiastical conditions. Here is one— Wanted, a master and mistress for a mixed Government school of 80 to 100, agricultural. Must be good Church people. Master must be certificated, and able to play small organ in Church. Another says— Wanted, a master for a mixed school (certificate provisional or otherwise), salary £30, school pence and Government grant. Good Churchman, able to play harmonium in Church occasionally. And so we see that in this way the Nonconformists, if there are to be none but denominational schools—and under this Bill it is unlikely that there will be any but denominational schools—are entirely excluded from any share in the teaching profession. Now I come to the Motion of which I have given Notice— That, in the opinion of this House, the principle of universal compulsion in education cannot be applied without great injustice, unless provision be made for placing public elementary schools under public management. The House will see that I proceed upon the assumption that for the State to take powers to compel the children of the people to go to school is a strong measure which cannot be justified unless the State at the same time takes care to provide such schools as shall not trench on the right of conscience and the principles of religious freedom. Now, I am bound to acknowledge that for myself I am not, and never have been, so violently enamoured of universal compulsion as some of my hon. Friends profess to be I am one of the old-fashioned Liberals who think there may be danger in the State meddling too much in our social and civil life. I dislike compulsion everywhere, and most of all in connection with religion and education. It would be far better, in my opinion, to persuade than to compel men to send their children to school. When I was in Holland four years ago, I made considerable inquiries into their national system, and I found that this was the plan which was in operation there. The law gives them no compulsory powers, but ladies and gentlemen of influence and of considerable leisure formed themselves into voluntary committees, and visited the habitations of the working classes and of the poor, and by every kind of argument and remonstrance endeavoured to persuade them to send their children to school. If they pleaded that they were not able to pay the fees, and this statement was found to be well founded, there was a voluntary fund to enable the committee to pay the children's fees, and I was told that the result had been, on the whole, extremely satisfactory. And certainly if compulsion were only enforced in the way described by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Mr. Morley), in that very interesting speech which he made the other day, in which he spoke of how it was administered by himself in connection with a board school, it would partake much more of the character of persuasion than compulsion. But it seems that Parliament and the people of this country are determined to have compulsion in some form. Now all I want is, under that extreme power that you are assuming, to protect the children of those who are not members of the particular denomination to which the schools belong, from any wrong being done to them in conscience. No doubt the best way to secure the end I have in view would be to the establishment of universal school boards and board schools, or else to give power to the new authority which you create under this Bill to call such schools into existence where they seem to be rendered necessary by the character of the population. But I am aware, of course, that this is said to be at present impracticable, partly on account of the cost and partly on account of the prejudice which an active and unscrupulous propaganda has contrived to create in the minds of many people against school boards. Well, I do not insist upon that, but I proceed on this principle—that denominational schools as they are at present placed, or a large number of them at any rate, cannot, with any show of justice, be regarded as either private or voluntary schools, if by voluntary you mean that they are supported by voluntary contributions. I am told that millions have been raised from private resources in order to establish and maintain these schools; but I can also point to millions that have been lavished upon them out of the public funds. By the last Return I find that these so-called voluntary schools have received grants, between 1859 and 1875, of close upon £14,000,000 of the public money, of which £10,500,000 have gone to Church of England schools. According to the noble Lord the schools are supported in this way—Government grants amount to £1,000,000 a-year, children's pence to another £1,000,000, and the voluntary contributions to over £600,000. There are many schools even now, I believe, up and down the country, which do not require, and do not receive, one penny from voluntary contributions—all the cost is defrayed from the grants and from the children's pence, and under this Bill these schools will be largely multiplied. I ask, is it unreasonable to require that institutions like these, many of which will be altogether supported, and many more of which will be nearly altogether supported, out of public resources, should be placed under some public management—especially at a time when you are taking power to force all the children of the country into these schools? I may be told, but people who make this assertion can hardly be sincere, that they are already in public hands, and responsible to the Department. That is to say, Her Majesty's Inspector pays one formal visit and one informal visit in the course of the year; but that cannot be regarded as any effectual check upon the managers throughout the whole year. But you will ask me, What kind of public management do you ask for? Well, take the machinery provided for by this Bill—namely, town councils and Boards of Guardians. No doubt the Boards of Guardians are in many ways an utterly unsatisfactory authority for educational purposes—their mode of election is one which gives the dominant influence to a class who are not immediately or personally interested in the schools; and I am afraid that the ex-officio element would prove singularly unfair as regards a liberal and unsectarian education. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) that the want of rural municipalities is one of our greatest administrative defects. But we have none, and therefore I am willing to accept the Boards of Guardians, for they, at any rate, have some sort of representative character. You already give them certain powers under this Bill. I ask you to enlarge their authority, to give them power to see that, so far as the secular instruction is concerned, it is administered at least in accordance with law. The clergy might still retain full power over the building out of school hours. Let some representative authority be appointed who shall secure the parent against the extravagances of Ritualism or the arbitrariness of clerical government. This is surely not an absurd or extravagant demand that I make. I say—"Here you have schools that have ceased to be private or voluntary; they are sustained in great part, and I believe after this Bill passes they will be wholly supported out of public sources, out of Parliamentary grants, and children's pence, and yet you propose to deliver into the hands of these institutions the manipulation of the education of all the children of this country without any check or control whatever upon the expenditure of money that is thus entrusted to them." I am afraid that we got into a wrong groove in this matter from the very first. When the State 40 years ago began to awake to a sense of its duty, or supposed duty, to take care of the education of the people, instead of taking the matter into its own hands, as it ought to have done, it chose to consign it into the hands of certain voluntary societies which it found already in existence; and I believe, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), that the Government did not in any degree discharge its duty by delegating it, not to persons chosen by themselves, but to any number of persons who came forward to found schools. We got into a wrong groove at that time, and we have been getting deeper and deeper into embarrassment ever since. When we reconstructed, in some degree, our system in 1870, I regret that advantage was not taken of that opportunity, without doing any injustice to voluntary schools—for I would not have them wronged in any way—to lay the foundation, at any rate, of what should be a real system of national education. I contend national education is national work, if any work can be called national; and I desire that Government should undertake to do what they can do of that work without trenching on any man's liberty or violating any man's conscience, looking to it that a good, sound, thoroughly efficient secular education is given in the schools, and then throwing the responsibility, as they have a right to throw it, of the religious instruction upon the churches that claim to be divinely-appointed institutions for the training of the people in religious doctrine and practice. If by this co-operation, all classes of the community could be brought to unite in this blessed work, then we might hope before long to find not only an instructed, but a moral, religious, and Christian population.


seconded the Amendment of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard). He assured the House that in undertaking to address it upon that question, and particularly from the point of view which he took, in common with his hon. Friend who had just sat down, he felt most acutely the difficulty under which they laboured. They were, unhappily, facing a large and hostile majority in the House, and for that Parliament the ultimate decision of the issue they had raised might be said to be a foregone conclusion. A long discussion had already taken place on the Bill, in which the principles against which they were contending had been practically admitted; and worse than all that for them, there were upon their own side, upon the seats behind them and upon their front benches those who sympathized with some of the objects of the Bill, and who were among the ablest and most determined of their opponents. Therefore, he could not but feel, in rising to address the House, that he laboured under a great disadvantage. It might be true that the principles which were established by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, in 1870, were principles which had received the general acceptance of those who had since then held the Government of the country; but he held that to be no reason why at every stage at which it was at- tempted, either to re-assert or to crystallize the principles that were then laid down, they who disagreed with these principles, holding that they were politically, economically, and educationally bad, unjust, and impolitic, though they might be in a conspicuous minority in Parliament, should not enter their protest against them. It would be admitted that if, in that House, questions were only to be raised when there was a reasonable expectation of bringing these questions to a hopeful issue, then the House might as well adjourn never to meet again. In seconding the Motion, he would speak with great frankness, and possibly he might be obliged to say some things which would not be received with favour on the other side; but he trusted he should be able to avoid saying anything that could wound the susceptibilities of any hon. Member. They were asked by the Government to approve the course which they were about to adopt, and let them ask themselves what was that course? He took it, it was a course that was intended to discourage the right of local supervision over the expenditure of public money. It was a course which was intended—or, at all events, whether it was intended or not—it was calculated to put off for a long period, and further than ever, the creation and maintenance of an efficient and permanent economic system of education. It was intended, or, at all events, it was calculated, and certainly would operate, to perpetuate and enhance an injustice which arose out of a protection and aid given to sectarian interests with public money. It was calculated, whether intended or not, to help to recuperate the decaying vigour of an inequitable Establishment, to confer on improper and incapable persons jurisdiction which they were neither expected nor elected to exercise, to maintain injurious principles of religious supremacy which were at once unjust in themselves and inconsistent with the spirit of the times in which they lived, the teachings of history, and the tendency of modern politics in every free and enlightened country. That was the indictment which he brought against the Bill, and which he thought he should be able to prove. In reading over the Bill many times, it occurred to him that it was a sort of mirror or index of the mind of the Government on more questions than one. It at once disclosed the extent of their educational zeal and of their political and religious enthusiasm. Their zeal for religious education was indicated by the single clause in which indirect compulsion was proposed as the remedy for educational difficulties, but their anxiety for the maintenance and spread of true religion, as taught by the Church of England, at the expense of the ratepayers, was evidenced by the rest of the Bill. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members might take exception to the statement, but they would see how, in answer to his argument, the Vice President of the Council would be able to dispute this compendious generalization of the true principles of the Bill. It would doubtless be argued that this discussion was unnecessary and inconvenient; but he would point out that since the debate upon the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), some significant circumstances had occurred out-of-doors and in the House which strengthened the ground on which the hon. Member for Merthyr had acted in bringing forward the Motion. In the first place, and on the one side, from every Liberal Body in the country, and from every unestablished religious Body, except the Roman Catholics, disconnected with the Church of England, there had come forth a loud and emphatic protest against the Bill; while, on the other hand, meetings had been held and resolutions passed, and Amendments had been placed on the Notice Paper of that House, which were of a very significant character, as indicating what were the aims and objects, he did not say of Her Majesty's Government, but of those who were supporting that Government. These Amendments were put forward by the so-called friends of religious education. He did not use the words "so-called" in any sense of detraction; but because he held it was unfair for them to arrogate to themselves the exclusive right to assume that title. He ventured to claim that there were some of them on that side the House who might also claim to be sincere friends of religious education. A man might be a friend of religion and religious education when he had sufficient faith in it to believe that by its own inherent force, or by the zeal and sacrifices of those who maintained it, it could be carried home to people's hearts without the assistance of money from the public pocket. Yet there were proposals which had come from hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House, with the too probable approval of the Government, for the insertion in the Bill of clauses which would enforce in all the public elementary schools the teaching of certain creeds and formularies of religion, and which would make such teaching the condition of receiving grants of public money. It seemed a singular thing that, whilst in all other free communities the revolt of human intelligence against the interference of Government in the domain of religious conscience was being maintained, here in England alone, which claimed to be the freest of all free lands, they had a Government which was endeavouring to enforce principles entirely contrary to the principles and feelings of modern progress, and which invited them to perpetuate and enhance an intolerable interference with civil rights and religious liberty. He could not but think that that was a critical period, not only in the history of education, but also in the history of the nation. If this Bill were passed they would have what he could not but feel to be an inequitable, injurious, and mischievous, as well as unpractical system of education. He could not blame hon. Members opposite if they took advantage of their majority for the purpose of maintaining principles which he was sure they conscientiously held, but, at the same time, they (the supporters of the hon. Member for Merthyr) protested and warned them that the system they were about to crystallize and re-in force must before long be swept away to make room for some system more equitable and practical. In the United States of America, where the diversities of religious sects were certainly not so sharply defined as in other parts of the world, they were now beginning in high quarters to speak of separating secular education given by the State from the religious education which was to be given by the Churches. And if, in a country where the difficulties arising from the establishment of a State religion were not felt, it was found to be practically impossible to work out, with anything like a concurrence of all the citizens, an education based upon some commonly accepted creed, what must it be in this country where all these differences were so sharply defined, where sect looked sect in the face with hostile aspect, and where, altogether, things were more likely to become worse instead of better in regard to the sharp definition of differences. He would like to see a day when all might agree in some form of religious instruction which might be carried on without risk of interference with the liberties of the subject, when all could, without injustice or heart burnings, join in teaching their children some of the common principles of their faith; but it seemed to him to be impossible, owing to the spread of intelligence and the activity of modern thought, and, worse than all, the impracticable claims of Pontificalists and Sacerdotalists, that there should even be a common agreement on this subject. It was because they knew this—because they were certain that the system they were seeking to re-inforce would be swept away for its inefficiency, its inequitableness, its incompatability with modern circumstances and political ideas—that they protested against the attempt to root it more firmly in the soil, and against the further passage of the Bill. They could not but be doing their duty in taking that opportunity of bringing before the country the arguments against and objections to the system inaugurated in 1870, and it was their duty at every stage, at every opportunity, to emphasize the difficulties, the anomalies, the solecisms, the wrongs, the perils of the course now being pursued by the Government. Every day those wrongs were becoming more patent, and though now the Government might be able to carry the Bill, and might suppose they had permanently established its principles, a time would come when defeat would be all the more certain and sure. There was no error in politics or legislation which did not work its own revenge, and the temporary success of a fallacy must only make its ultimate confutation the more disastrous and complete. Before he said a few words on the religious aspect of the Bill he wished to draw the attention of the House to its economical and practical consequences. Regarding it merely from its political aspects, it was a solecism. It proposed to create a distinction between the privileges of parents in different parts of the country. Under the school board or in the town, parents whose children were to be educated had a voice in the selec- tion of those who were to superintend their education. In country districts the enforcement of education was to be placed in the hands of boards who were utterly irresponsible to the class from which the children were taken, or who were the nominees of a State Department administered in the interests of the Church. That was a re-action against the whole course of modern English policy in relation to domestic government, and there was a danger in the arrangement. The powers of compulsion conferred on school boards had been generally assented to by the working men, because the breadth of the franchise gave them some voice in the creation and management of those bodies. But could the miner or the agricultural labourer be expected to be reconciled to the exercise of arbitrary powers by bodies completely above and foreign to them, in which they had no representative interest whatever? That was a blot on the Bill which nothing could remove; and the violation of principles of national administration and national economy in the present and in antecedent measures were glaring and indefensible. He would like to know in what other cases the Government asked private companies to undertake a duty like this with only occasional inspection, with only occasional checks on expenditure, with no efficiency, with positive carelessness, if not fraud, in the mode of spending the public money, and with manifest favouritism to one particular denomination? His charges against the denominational system were simple and straightforward. They were based upon Reports and Returns which had been presented to the House, and he could furnish the proofs in detail if required. He said the standard of education results under the denominational system were not only inferior to the education given in the board schools, but utterly ineffective to meet the just aims and expectations of a great national system of education. The standard and results, such as they were, were attained at an unnecessary cost, and this cost was increasing. Over £1,000,000 was being paid to what he might call private-contract schools, whilst the sum paid to board schools was only £75,130; and, more significant than all, out of 2,500,000 who ought to be at school, and out of the 1,000,000 and over who were supposed to attend school, only 508,000, or about one-fifth of the whole, had been able to pass an examination through all the Standards. How could the Government come down to the House and ask them to perpetuate a system which showed such results as that? But there was another point. The school boards and the Education Department frequently paid more to denominational schools than they earned. One school in Manchester in 1874 claimed £6 2s., and accepted £4 19s. 8d.; another in Salford received payment for 41,145 attendances in the quarter, whereas it was proved that only 30,220 had been made; and one of the Government Inspectors in his Report animadverted upon the very unsatisfactory state of school accounts, which he said were at all times troublesome. It was almost incredible that religious bigotry could descend to such practices as these. There was also no warranty that even the Time-Table Conscience Clause was followed by the officers and teachers who professed to teach the morality of the Sermon on the Mount. He found that one of the Inspectors had said— I have made 98 visits of surprise, and on most occasions I found something that required amendment. In 30 schools the attendances had not been added up at the end of each week, and entered in the summary. In six schools the register had not been marked at the proper time; and in five schools they had not been marked at all. In 12 schools, the regulation which requires that an entry should be made in the log-book once a week at least, had not been observed, and in 10 schools the work was not being carried on according to the Time-Table. In the generality of cases I considered it sufficient to mention the defects in the log-book, and to add that they must he corrected. In a very few instances did I deem it necessary to send a report of my visit to the managers. One could have no difficulty, therefore, in assenting to the views of Mr. Brodie Grant, Inspector, who said— There are plenty of signs that the denominational system tends just to become a mere scramble for the public money, and unless its aberrations be checked, and its vagaries curbed, it will end in much more waste and abuse than even now exist. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Merthyr was, therefore, of practical importance, for it appeared from this that the issue which was really placed before them was, whether it was worth while to pay for a bad education to irresponsible managers rather than for an efficient education to public bodies sub- jected to local and Governmental control, in order that certain sects might have increased facilities for religious and political propaganda. He would refer hon. Members to a manifesto of the National Society in which the National Schools of England were declared to be the training ground of English Churchmen, and in which teachers were urged to give every child some training in the theology of the Church as well as in the secular elements, in order that the people might become loyal to their spiritual mother and her champions in her hour of danger. He objected to such sentiments being taught at the expense of the nation, for if those were the motives of Churchmen for supporting the Bill, it was not to be wondered at that the other half of the nation should have no sympathy with its objects. It was proposed to increase directly and indirectly the grant for denominational schools out of the public funds. The schools which would most benefit by the proposal were the schools of the Church of England; yet they intended to take for that purpose money contributed by the Roman Catholics of Ireland, the Presbyterians of Scotland, as well as the Dissenters of England. On what ground could that be defended—nay, on what grounds was such an almost criminal injustice advanced? He had seen a paper which was presented to a meeting of the National Union, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury was chairman, and in that paper it was declared that— On the general grounds of religious liberty, the Union maintained that it was a grievance that Churchmen should be compelled, by the payment of rates, to sustain schools of whose religious teaching they disapproved, or schools which were virtually training their scholars to deny those eternal truths which were felt by Church people and others to be the only true basis of religious teaching. This payment, the committee affirmed, was a direct violation of religious liberty as asserted by the Legislature when abolishing the church rates. It was not surprising that the meeting of Bishops and clergymen generally should have decided that the report should be taken as read. The idea of suggesting, as it was suggested here, that the ground upon which this claim was put forth was the same ground upon which they were able to abolish church rates in England was absurd. There was such a thing as consistency, and hon. Members opposite had not altogether lost their liking for consistency. But what was the consistency of a Party who refused to abolish church rates in Scotland and consented to abolish them here? What would be the principles of a party who would force other people to send children to a school where those eternal principles were taught which they disbelieved? Logic and justice were equally disregarded, and it was a gentle euphemism to call their tactics by the term "inconsistent." There was one question which he would venture to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which he would ask them carefully to put to their consciences. He would ask them whether, supposing that to-morrow every Church school in England was to become a Roman Catholic school, with a Roman Catholic teacher, under the management of a Roman Catholic priest, even with a Conscience Clause, they would vote for that Bill? He thought they would not; but if they did not, where was their consistency? He could imagine the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, when he went into the Division Lobby, as he would to-day, assisted by hon. Friends from Ireland who were in favour of denominational education, and he could fancy him slipping his arm into that of the hon. Member for Louth and saying—"My dear Sullivan, you have assisted us this year in passing this Bill; and now we will bring in a Bill next year to give to Ireland that which you have asked for—denominational education." The House knew that was an impossibility. Yet how could they justly deny to Ireland what they were taking for England? If the Bill passed, as he hoped it would not do, he, as a true Liberal, should feel obliged to give to Ireland what England had got for herself. He had not said anything at which hon. Gentlemen opposite could be justly offended, and he hoped no hon. Gentlemen would get up and throw at him, or the Party about him, the taunt that they on that side were associating themselves with socialists and infidels—that they did not desire State education, but were mere sectarian bigots. They threw back the taunt, and he would say with diffidence, but with truth, that with regard to the dogmas of the Church of England, that many of those on his side of the House who acted with him held as intelligent an appreciation of them as many on the opposite side, who were most loud in their vindication of Church privileges. He could enjoy the ritual of the Church of England; he could enter with profit and pleasure into her communion; his child lay in an Anglican churchyard, laid there of his own will, and interred by an Anglican minister, with the beautiful Service of that Church. It could not therefore be said that those on his side of the House who were opposing this measure were animated by sectarian bigotry; but he must enter his protest against passing that Bill, because he believed it was inconsistent with the best interests of religion and inconsistent with the principles of civil and religious liberty.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the principle of universal compulsion in Education cannot be applied without great injustice, unless provision be made for placing public Elementary Schools under public management,"—(Mr. Richard,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that differences of opinion on religion, politics, and on social questions, would, no doubt, always prevail in the country, and would find expression in that House; and he thought it indicated a wholesome state of society that they should be debated, even although it was done with vehemence. But, at the same time, it was fair to ask that, in this great chamber of Legislature, where time was of so much value, those who contraverted any argument should understand the principles of the Party opposed to them, and that they should, at all events, use a common language. If the builders of the Tower of Babel had met together after the confusion of tongues to discuss any subject, they would not have made much progress, nor could hon. Members conduct their discussions properly unless they used words which bore the same ordinary meaning. He maintained that the speech of the hon. Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, and all the utterances of the Liberation Society, the Birmingham League, and other like societies, showed an utter ignorance of the principles of their opponents and a complete disregard of the common English language. Almost every remark of the two hon. Gentlemen opposite showed that they did not understand what Church principles were, and he would therefore state them. The one great principle they held in the foreground was that of religious liberty, accompanied by parental authority as involved in personal freedom. As to the definition of words, it would really be convenient if those hon. Gentlemen would have recourse occasionally to Johnson's Dictionary. They talked of religious liberty when they meant religious equality, which were two distinct things. Religious liberty Churchmen absolutely accepted, as they did also religious equality so far as it implied the equality of individuals before the law; but the supporters of the present proposal when they used the latter term meant the equality of all religions before the law, and this was impossible, because it was at variance with the Constitution of the country. The Sovereignty of England was connected by many statutes with the English Church, and they could not be separated. Again, the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) spoke of the Church of England as "sectarian," and an agglomeration of all sorts of Nonconformists as "unsectarian;" but if he referred to Johnson's Dictionary he would find that a sectarian was a person separated from the Established Church. He probably by sectarianism meant bigotry and intolerance; but then he should say what he meant. He (Mr. Hubbard) maintained that the Church of England was the most unsectarian of all religious communities. He admitted, however, that the religion professed and the education imparted by the Church of England were dogmatic and denominational. The Church was Christian in its origin, Catholic in its creed, and Anglican in its nationality. There was, in fact, no such thing as undogmatic religion, for no one could repeat the first sentence of the Lord's Prayer without enunciating a dogma. He held religion to be the very essence of education, and believed there could be no such thing as education in its true sense without a religious basis. The three R's should be combined with religion, and education, not with three R's but with four, would be better worthy of its name. Though he lamented the change of policy introduced in 1870, he did not quarrel with it; but he asked that the Legislature should, at all events, not obstruct religious education. He (Mr. Hubbard) deeply regretted that no formula or creed should be used in board schools. The great evil of their exclusion was that it had led to so much misapprehension. The Catechism was a part of the Prayer Book, and the Prayer Book was a part of the law of the land, and every child brought to baptism was required by the law to learn the Church Catechism. It was a serious grievance to Churchmen that school boards were restrained from teaching the Church Catechism, were they ever so much inclined. The system of excluding all religious teaching from the school and by the schoolmaster had been tried in Birmingham; but he believed it was an entire failure, and, in any case, it was not one which would find favour with the English people. Then a hope had been held out that we should in time arrive at some system of religious teaching which should satisfy everybody. Some years ago, when Japan was turning over a new leaf and reforming everything, a committee was appointed by the Japanese Government with special instructions to contrive a religion which should satisfy everybody. He had not yet heard that the committee had reported; but until some such religion was discovered, he ventured to say that we must be satisfied to tolerate the coexistence of various and even differing religions, and allow them to influence the education provided by different denominations. Religion was an indispensable element in education, and no education could be really national unless religion was blended with it. Moreover, we must be satisfied that the religion taught in the schools came from the heart as well as from the lips of the teachers. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) in discussing Clause 14 of the Elementary Education Bill, the principle of which he accepted, strongly deprecated the notion that the effect of the clause was to bind the tongues and fetter the convictions of the teachers in the board schools. The right hon. Gentleman said it never was intended to have that effect, and it ought not to have it. Unfortunately, however, it was obvious from a recent voluminous Return that the effect of the clause had been to create a general feeling throughout the country that Parliament intended to suppress anything like doctrinal teaching in the board schools, and the result was that, in supposed obedience to the law, religious teaching in these schools was often of the most meagre and unsatisfactory character. In this respect the board schools were under a serious disadvantage, and the hon. Members for Merthyr and Dundee should remedy those evils before asking Parliament to accept with open arms the extension of the board-school system throughout the country. Then, again, it had been said, with regard to State aid, that to make any grant whatever was an endowment of the school, whether of the Church or of any religious Body which received it, out of the funds contributed by the whole community. There was some truth in that view, for he had pointed out long ago that, having abolished church rates because they were expended without reference to the religious views of all those who were liable to pay them, they were re-applying that principle to education, and that the same difficulty would arise in an intensified degree and over a larger area. So long, however, as the present system existed, let the voluntary schools have fair play. School rates were raised from all religious denominations throughout the country; and upon what principle were Churchmen, who were three-fourths of the whole population, and therefore contributed three-fourths of the whole taxation, to be excluded from their fair share of the rates raised for the purpose of education? The rates were often now applied in a way which did not give them satisfaction. They were of opinion that board schools in which there was no religious teaching, as in Birmingham, were not a justifiable use of the rates. It was said that religious teaching in board schools could not be made satisfactory to everybody. He was willing, however, to leave a great deal to the teachers, and he thought Clause 14 in the Elementary Education Act should be so amended as to remove the serious misapprehension which now existed respecting its purport, and to make the teachers understand, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone), that they might freely exercise their own religious instincts and convictions in teaching from the Bible according to the children's capacity. Meanwhile, the attempt to deprive denominational schools of any grant was utterly inconsistent with the principles of religious freedom. "Exclusive dealing" was the only term applicable to the course recommended by the hon. Member for Merthyr. The hon. Member wanted to apply the principle of exclusive dealing to the conductors of voluntary schools, whether Church of England, Wesleyan, or Roman Catholic. What the State said was practically this—"The law requires the education of all children, and the State engages to contribute a portion of the cost, defined and limited by the results attained in secular knowledge." That hon. Gentlemen should decline to allow such a contribution to be made to schools of a denominational character was to advocate "exclusive dealing,"a principle destructive of all social peace and all social liberty. Whatever the board schools spent they recouped themselves out of the rates. Consequently they could not incur loss or deficiency; but, on the other hand, the denominational schools had to make great individual efforts and pecuniary sacrifices. The clergy of the Church of England were entitled to the highest praise and gratitude for the liberality with which they had kept their schools alive out of their slender means. He did not see why, because such efforts had been made, these meritorious managers should be further punished by being rated for the maintenance of schools which were their rivals. It was said in Birmingham—"Let all your schools be secular schools, and there will be no difficulty at all." He ventured to assert that the people of England never would assent to such a proposition. The people of England were thoroughly religious, and religious in the wise sense of seeing that all the complaints against dogmatic teaching were nonsense. The British and Foreign Schools of Joseph Lancaster had been held up to their admiration as the pioneers of education. He admitted the merits of Lancaster, and his memory should be venerated; but what was the difference between the systems of the British and Foreign School Society and the National Society? It was that while the latter was distinctly dog- matic, the former was not. But the National Society had received seven times more children into its schools than the British and Foreign School Society. Either the Birmingham League or the Liberation Society issued a strong recommendation to the effect that wherever the British and Foreign School Society had an opportunity of making a deficiency in the school accommodation of a parish they should shut their schools, so that board schools might be there established; and they did so. But in some cases where that proceeding had not the effect of closing the denominational schools they came again to the Department, and asked to be allowed to re-open their schools on the same terms as before. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), in an admirable speech he made a week or ten days ago, told the House how he had been applied to for a subscription to a Wesleyan school in his own neighbourhood, and had given it, as the hon. Gentleman, with his usual generosity, was sure to do. He asked upon what system the school was to be conducted. The answer was—"Our school is to be conducted as a public elementary school under the rule of the Wesleyan Conference, and it will be conducted by myself, a Wesleyan minister, and my assistants. But beyond that there will be nothing denominational about it. "He confessed he admired the resolution of these people; they took the very course which the hon. Gentleman opposite would proscribe. The child was to be instructed in his religion in the school, and he would be further instructed in his religion in the chapel. As the child was, so would be the man. The people of England differed in their religious convictions, but in those convictions they were in earnest. The Wesleyans would have their schools. Sir James Kay-Shuttle worth, the father of the hon. Member for Hastings, presided lately at a tea meeting at a Wesleyan school—for the Wesleyans were very fond of tea—and in the course of his remarks he said— I am charmed to find that you have determined to connect the school with your own chapel in this parish. You are taking the right course. These schools should in every instance be adjuncts to the chapel. He entirely concurred in that sentiment. He utterly disbelieved in the figment of a religion which was to satisfy everybody. With reference to the Motion of the hon. Member for Merthyr, it was impossible for him to accept it. He was not prepared to Americanize our institutions. In the United States they had attempted to carry out the Common School system, striking out everything like religious instruction. Under that system of irreligious instruction a generation was growing up which was a curse to their parents, to society, and to themselves. It was only necessary to look at the picture of New York as drawn inThe Times to see how demoralization had spread from the highest to the lowest, and all arising from their unfortunate departure from the true principles of education. He wished to preserve the institutions of which we were proud. If they could not entertain the same views on every subject, still they might have unity in this—that they were willing to extend to every man entire religious liberty, entire personal freedom, and treat with forbearance any expression of opinion by those who differed from them on this very vital question. He entirely dissented from the proposition of the hon. Member for Merthyr.


said, the Education Act of 1870 would have pleased him much better if it had been more national and less denominational in its provisions. Yet he advocated the policy of endeavouring not to injure or retard denominational schools, already existing, unless where they were condemned as inefficient. But not to injure or retard denominational schools, and to still further encourage, assist, and endeavour to increase and perpetuate them, were very different courses of action, and the latter course appeared to him to be the direct tendency, if not the direct design, of the Bill. The eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War would have dispelled any doubt on the question, and it determined several Opposition Members to vote against the Bill. School boards, notwithstanding the determined opposition they had encountered, had been almost universally successful where they had been established, and had not only succeeded in getting hundreds of thousands of once utterly neglected children into their own schools, but had also largely increased the attendance at denominational schools. Nor was he prepared to admit that the cost had been extravagant, whatever might be urged to the contrary; indeed, when they remembered the expensive sites that had to be purchased, frequently under compulsion; that school-houses had to be erected during a period when both labour and material were unusually high; and that the whole of the machinery for efficient school-board work had to be created, the wonder was that a larger expenditure had not been incurred. But, even if the cost were greater than it actually had been, he believed that it would have represented a wise, judicious, and, in the end, an economical expenditure of public money; and, considering that school boards had not yet been six years in existence, they might well be astonished at, and thankful for, the marked progress they had made and the work they had accomplished. He believed the School Board for London, of which he was once a member, had not erected a single school which was not proved by statistics to be required, and which was not sanctioned by the Education Department; and he thought it would be admitted that, in a rapidly-increasing town like Leicester, the accommodation provided was by no means excessive, and would, in a short time, be found insufficient. It would, therefore, be a penny-wise and pound-foolish policy not to make some allowance for the rapid increase that was going on. To judge merely by average attendances at schools was very fallacious. The attendance was much larger at some times than at others, just as it was at churches and other places. An outbreak of measles or scarlatina, the hop-picking season, or some interruption of that kind, would make a serious difference. For an average attendance of 300 children the Education Department held that 400 places should be provided, and the school boards were compelled by the Act to make such provision. Then, with regard to the greater amount of grant earned in voluntary schools, comparisons of that kind, as every one who studied the question must admit, were useless and unfair. The noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) had informed the House that in Nonconformist schools—including, it was presumed, British and Wesleyan schools—the amount earned was 13s.d.; in Roman Catholic schools, 12s. 10¾d.; in Church schools, 12s.d.; and in board schools, 11s.d. But they must not lose sight of the fact that denominational school children had been in regular attendance, and were of a higher class than board-school children were. Many of the latter had been street Arabs, or gutter children, who, when gathered into schools, were utterly ignorant, undisciplined, and difficult to control or manage; therefore, to compare them with children of denominational schools who had had vastly superior advantages both at home and at school was very unfair, and was useless for the purpose the House had in view. There was another fact deserving of notice: the noble Lord had told the truth, but not the whole truth. The fact was that, taking the last year but one, ending the 31st of August, 1874, the grant earned in board schools in London was only 6s. 3d. per head, whereas in the following year, ending the 31st of August, 1875, it had risen to 10s. 11½d., thus showing a rapid and very gratifying improvement. He might add that the certainty of school-board children not being able to secure much of the Government grant was clearly perceived by many voluntary school managers and masters, and that after the formation of the School Board for London, when the Board had no schools of their own, they did their utmost to force the children into denominational schools, and to fill the vacant places of which so much had been said. But the Board soon discovered that they were engaged in a very difficult and thankless task, and that there was the greatest reluctance on the part of the voluntary schools to receive such children, partly because they feared that some parents of the better class might object to their children being associated with street Arabs, and, perhaps, still more, because those voluntary schools foresaw that the introduction of such children would lower the standard of the school and reduce the average amount of the grant to be received. In order to avoid this, the school fees were raised, in some instances nearly doubled, and all sorts of objections were made with a view to the exclusion of these "gutter children." And now what had been clearly foreseen and carefully guarded against was brought forward as an argument to show the inferiority of board schools. The greater cost of board schools in London might also be accounted for by the fact that the balance-sheets in the first year of their existence contained no Government grant, and that all the temporary schools, having to be provided with furniture, books, and apparatus, paid for out of the current account, were much more costly than the permanent schools. But the net cost was diminishing half-year by half-year, as children were induced to pay better fees and as the Government grant became higher. If this Bill passed, in its present form it would render the future extension of school boards difficult, if not impossible, and would still further promote the interests of denominational schools: indeed, it would enable many of these schools to be altogether independent of any voluntary aid. Some of them were so at present, and he had heard of instances in which a surplus was secured. It would also enable rate-supported schools in many rural districts to become as sectarian and as denominational as any schools were at present. He believed unfair means had been adopted in many instances to prevent the establishment of school boards; that the Conscience Clause had not always been faithfully acted upon; and that in some cases the law had been broken, or, while its letter had been kept, its spirit had been, he was going to say, shamefully violated. At first the policy was to endeavour to prevent the establishment of school boards, where it was possible to do so; but latterly a different and more objectionable policy had been adopted. Great efforts had been made and undue influences used to obtain a board even in places where ample school accommodation already existed, but where a sufficient number of managers favourable to denominational teaching could be secured. Denominational schools were then let to the board, the hour from 9 to 10 in the morning being reserved by the former managers for any Catechism to be taught or any religious instruction to be given. The schools were, therefore, just as denominational as they had been before, with this important addition—that the protection of the Conscience Clause could be dispensed with, and the schools were supported by the rates. Remonstrances to the Education Department only produced the reply that the law had not been broken. He disapproved of the proposal to substitute Town Councils and Boards of Guardians for school boards, because whatever might be the case with Town Councils, the farmers, as a class, cared very little about education, and were very little disposed to tax themselves for this purpose. Having quoted the remarks made on the education of the children of agricultural labourers by farmers at a meeting at Guildford, the hon. Member said he pitied the poor children who were dependent upon such Guardiansfor their education. Another objection to giving this power to Guardians and Town Councillors was that some of the school boards had working-men upon them, who were not the least valuable of the members. Town Councils and Boards of Guardians were, however, elected upon a property qualification, and therefore working-men, whose presence upon school boards was a satisfaction to the working classes, would be excluded from these bodies. The noble Lord opposite (Viscount Sandon) had rendered valuable services to the London School Board while a member of it, and he was the last man to whom improper motives could be attributed. But whatever might have been the intention of the framers of this Bill its effect would be to encourage and perpetuate denominational schools, and it would not, therefore, meet the necessities of the case or do the best that might have been done for the children of this country. Before sitting down he wished to refer to the warm and indignant reply of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) which had been called forth by some observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon). The hon. Member for Berkshire had deprecated the introduction of the religious element into this question, and had said he had read with great regret a certain document containing a remonstrance against the Bill. He (Mr. M'Arthur) heard the speech of the hon. Member for Berkshire with great regret, because he felt that it must elicit an answer, and that it would have been wiser not to agitate such a question, if it could have been avoided. The hon. Member had mentioned a case to show that there was really no religious difficulty, and had asserted that these remonstrances were got up for Party and political purposes. For his part, he must protest against such an imputation, and he could safely protest against it also on behalf of many friends throughout the country with whom he was acquainted. He had no unfriendly feeling towards the Church of England, or any other denomination in the country. There were many Church of England clergymen whom it had been his pleasure and his privilege to know, and with whom he was still associated in various ways. They were men for whom he entertained the greatest respect and esteem. There were many whose ministry he would just as soon attend as that of the Church to which he belonged; many whose instruction he would be equally willing that his children should receive; but he was bound also to say that there were many denominational schools where the instruction given was of a character which he should be sorry for any child of his own, or any over whom he had any control, to receive. The hon. Member had also spoken of intolerance on the part of Nonconformists towards Churchmen in this matter, and said that he had never felt the same intolerance in dealing with them. He fully believed that statement of the hon. Member, and it would be well for the Church if many others would imitate the hon. Member's example. But the hon. Member had also remarked that while Nonconformists were ready to discover points of difference when the question was one of sending children to school, they ought to be a little more consistent than they were when they asked for the help of Churchmen to build their own schools. The hon. Member had then read a letter which he had received from a Wesleyan minister, acknowledging a subscription which the hon. Member had generously given. He (Mr. M'Arthur) hoped the hon. Member did not imagine that such applications came from Nonconformists only. Many Nonconformists received similar applications for help to build schools from Churchmen; sometimes, too, from clergymen or curates, who were so overworked and so underpaid that, unless they had some private means of their own, they found it difficult, if not impossible, to educate their children, to dress respectably, or to live in moderate comfort. When such cases were known to be genuine and deserving they were favourably responded to according to the means of the donors; and that was only as it ought to be, and he did not say there was any particular credit to be attached to any party for it. But as the hon. Member had read a letter, perhaps he also might be permitted to read one, though of a different character, on the subject. It had been written some time in May last, and had probably been sent to a large number of persons. The name of the writer was given, but he had, perhaps, better omit it. It was as follows:— Lower Norwood, May, 1876. We are very anxious to secure £1,000 before Michaelmas to enable us to begin a mission in a large and poor population sunk in infidelity and Dissent here. Will you kindly send at least £1 towards this work, which has the sanction of our diocesan. This appeal was addressed by the clergyman to a well-known Manchester merchant who was the deacon of an Independent church, and whose son replied to it that if he had known his father personally he presumed he would not have addressed him in terms implying that the members of the religious communion to which he belonged were to be classed with infidels. He would not, however, trouble the House with the whole correspondence. Perhaps also he might refer to a catechism published by a reverend vicar in Essex for the use of families and schools, in which the children were taught that the various sects and denominations which came under the head of Dissenters must be regarded as heretics who worshipped God according to their own evil and corrupt imaginations, and not according to His revealed will, and that their worship was in direct opposition to God. He did not think that teaching of that kind was very well calculated to promote friendly feelings between Nonconformists and Churchmen in that House, and when the charge of intolerance was bandied in that way, it must be evident to the House that if there was intolerance it was not to be found all on one side of the House. But they were told that the Conscience Clause would protect the child and prevent any unfair advantage from being taken. He was perfectly willing to admit that the Conscience Clause was frequently fairly acted upon; but he was equally certain that very frequently it was the reverse, and that the law was, if not broken, at all events evaded. They all knew that almost every week brought to light some case in which this was illustrated—some case like that referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr, which roused the just indignation and contempt of every lover of fair play and civil and religious liberty in this land. They disapproved of caste in India, and were endeavouring to break it down, because they believed it to be injurious to commerce, civilization, and Christianity; but if they might judge from the correspondence which had taken place in the Perse case, no Brahmin in India ever clung with greater tenacity to his caste than the rev. gentleman at Cambridge who had gained an unenviable notoriety was disposed to cling to his, and avoid every Dissenting Pariah. Yet with all these things staring them in the face, they were told that there was no religious difficulty. How any hon. Member could say so, he could not understand. He maintained there was a religious difficulty, one for which Nonconformists were not responsible, but which at the same time pressed very heavily on many of them. He believed that the character maintained in former days by the Established Church of this country, of being the great bulwark of Protestant Christianity in this land, could not be sustained by, at all events, a considerable section of her ministers and people during the present day, and on that point he might also be permitted to give some little illustration. Reference was made by his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr to the catechism published by the Church Extension Association. He was not going to detain the House by reading extracts from it, but he would just say that that catechism inculcated the doctrines of baptismal regeneration and priestly absolution for both original and actual sin. It also taught that they need not look for salvation out of the Church; the infallibility of the Church's teaching; the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist; prayers for the dead, and the necessity of auricular confession and absolution. It was men who held and taught such doctrines that caused a great deal of the unpleasant feeling and the religious difficulty. Hon. Gentlemen opposite professed to be very zealous for Protestantism, and he hoped that they would show that they were indignant when they heard of such doctrines as those he had referred to. Perhaps he might be allowed to quote the opinion of a highly respectable Bishop of the Church of England on the subject. The Bishop of Sydney was in this country a few years ago, and after returning to the colony, and when addressing the Church Society, composed of his own clergy and the Church members, he said that the Church of England's disregard of all solemn obligation did appear to him inexplicable. Her adoption of Roman phraseology and practices and power of sympathy with Romanism and contempt of the Reformation were totally inconsistent, as it appeared to him, with an honest adherence to the Church of England. He (Mr. M'Arthur) repeated that it was not surprising that the Nonconformists in this country should object to send their children to schools where such doctrines were taught and such principles inculcated. He would also commend to the consideration of the House the concluding paragraphs of the Rev. Henry Bowden's letter in The Times on Friday last. He could understand and respect those who from conscientious conviction went over to the Roman Catholic Church, or any other Church, but it was difficult to understand the honour or honesty of men who, while professing themselves to be clergymen of the Established Church and eating her bread, were sapping her foundations, leading astray her youth from the principles in which they were brought up, and betraying the trust reposed in them. He trusted that this, at all events, would be some excuse for the opposition that was offered to this Bill, and that while such a state of things continued to exist, there must and there ought to be a religious difficulty, and nothing short of one school board or undenominational school in every district would satisfy the reasonable demand of Nonconformists in this country.


said, the Motion submitted to the House by the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) was one he (Mr. Greene) entirely objected to, as being in favour of secular education, and the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur), in supporting it, had alluded to many unhappy circumstances that had occurred to some few members of the Church of England. In so large a body it was to be expected that some would not act wisely or prudently, and he deprecated the teaching of such men. He would point out that the minds of children were not capable of understanding abstruse religious doctrine, and he would rather incur the risk, such as it was, of some error being taught than see religious education abolished in our schools. The question before the House was whether the children of this country should be taught religiously or not, and it was idle to ask hon. Members on that side of the House, who had been returned by those who held different views from the hon. Member for Merthyr, to support the proposition he had brought before them. Religious teaching had always gone hand in hand with education, and he wished to see it continued. An attempt was made to cast a slur on the education given in the agricultural districts; but he would remind the House that the clergy and country gentlemen were the pioneers of education when it found no favour with the cotton spinner or the ironmaster. It was, therefore, late in the day to find fault with an organization that had done so much good. He, for one, felt grateful to the Wesleyans, Independents, and Baptists, for being fellow-workers in the cause of education with Churchmen, and he believed the day was not far distant when they would agree on some principle of religious teaching which would once for all clear away that religious difficulty of which they had heard so much. He hoped, therefore, that they would not spend more time over Motions of that kind, but would go into Committee and endeavour to make the Bill as perfect as possible. He believed the measure was in the main acceptable to the country generally, and that if passed it would do more to forward education than any attempt by direct compulsion to force all the children into the schools. He thought all must give the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council credit for having endeavoured to produce a workable Bill; but he (Mr. Greene) confessed he was not surprised that Nonconformists should feel as they did when they saw such letters as had been quoted from The Times of Saturday, and when they knew that there were churches in which such ceremonies as were not in accordance with the principles of the Church of England were performed. But he believed they had power to put that down, and that it would soon become entirely a thing of the past. Certainly, if he believed it was the teaching of the Church of England he would not remain a member of that Church for a single day. But feeling confident that that was not her teaching, he gave the Bill his cordial support.


said, the principle affirmed in the Amendment was, that there should be protection for Nonconformist parents who might object to the teaching of Church schools, and he should be thankful to see a disposition on the part of Churchmen to meet them in this matter. He was no advocate for the exclusion of the Bible from the schools, nor of a sectarian system of teaching. The people, he thought, had settled that question. He did not believe that of our large population there was more than a fractional part favourable to the extension of exclusively secular education. [An hon. Member: What about Birmingham?] Birmingham was a striking exception, and he was rather surprised at that town accepting the system adopted by its board. But he was prepared to say, with some slight knowledge of the opinions of working men, that while amidst the conflicts of sects they got sick of the controversy on religious teaching, there was no objection on their part to the honest, fair, and simple use of the Bible in schools by teachers who would not prostitute their opportunities in order to enforce denominational education. He had an extract from the National Society's monthly organ for February, 1872, which threw some light on the directions given by the National Society to their teachers. It said— There is need now more than ever that our teachers should be more thoroughly fitted for the religious side of their work; they should not only be religious people, but sound Church people. Is it too much to hope that the Church will furnish an abundant supply of devout young people who will give themselves earnestly to the work of school teaching in the belief that there is no more effective way of benefiting their fellow-creatures than by giving them a sound education in the theology of the Church, of England. Again, in August, 1872— In the present condition of Church schools it is more than ever necessary that they should be made the nurseries of Church principles. This is the object at which we should aid—the training of the young Christian for full communion, and, as a preliminary to that, a training for confirmation. The whole school time of a child should lead up to this. This language, when addressed to Church schools in the City of London, where we had abundance of schools for the people to choose from, and where the children attending the school were connected with the Church, might be very natural; but in the country villages, where the poor were to be subjected for the first time to a special system of compulsion, we had a right to ask for protection for them from such training. The parent, who was exposed to that training, and who conscientiously objected to it, should have the right of appeal, not to the Committee of Council on Education, or by deputation to the Lord President, but to some local power which could interpose and effectually protect him in the training of his children. He had not the slightest doubt that in many of our villages the Conscience Clause was a dead letter. He deliberately expressed the opinion that people dared not expose themselves to the fear of social consequences if, in a small village, they availed themselves of the Conscience Clause and withdrew their children from religious teaching. He knew a village where, out of 135 who attended the National School, upwards of 100 withdrew from the teaching of the Catechism; but that was because it had been made clear to them that they were at liberty to do it, and that no consequences could possibly ensue by their taking such a course. Reference had been made to the religious teaching in the board schools of London. That teaching was based on a resolution moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), seconded by himself (Mr. Morley), and adopted almost unanimously, and was now in operation. The resolution was as follows: — That in the schools provided by the Board the Bible shall be read, and there shall be given such explanations and such instruction there from in the principles of morality and religion as are suited to the capacities of children, provided always—

  1. " 1. That in such explanations and instruction the provisions of the Act in Sections 7 and 14 be strictly observed, both in letter and spirit, and that no attempt be made in any such schools to attach children to any particular denomination.
  2. " 2. That in regard of any particular school the Board shall consider and determine upon any application by managers, parents, or ratepayers of the district who may show special cause for the exception of the school from the operation of this resolution, in whole or in part."
Upon the character of the teaching in the schools, he asked permission to read a few lines from the Inspector's (Mr. Noble's) Report— Since the adoption of the regulation fixing the time at which the Bible should be read and explained, I have observed considerable uniformity in the mode in which teachers have acted upon their instructions. A chapter is read either by the head teacher, or the children in the upper class of the school, and then such 'explanation and instruction' are given as are' suited to the capacities of the scholars.' This instruction is in no way less reverentially imparted than in voluntary schools, and I have observed no desire on the part of a teacher in any instance to shirk this essential part of his duty. It is but just to say of all our teachers, that they seem to he fully impressed with the importance of this part of their work, and, at the same time, are anxious to avoid the violation of the Board regulations and the Act of Parliament by giving this teaching a denominational colour. In infants' schools, exactly the same practice is followed as in denominational schools; the teacher selects a text of Scripture, which she explains and illustrates in a manner that the children can understand. On this subject of religious teaching in schools and the desirability of concession, he would refer to a letter he had received a few days before from a clergyman of the Church of England, who said— It is my strong conviction that any enlargement and consolidation of denominational education will henceforth tend to narrowness and to the hurtful increase of sacerdotal influence. The great wealth and organization of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches will enable them through denominational schools to obtain great entrenched camps of the future. If the Government could be induced to assist one kind of school only—namely, a true national school in which the Bible shall be read and taught, I believe the further greatness and harmony of England would he promoted. He (Mr. Morley) was assured that not a few of the clergy largely shared that opinion. He understood the object of the Amendment was to appeal to Churchmen to meet them in the matter. He believed if the Catechism were excluded from the day school and reserved for its proper place—the Sunday school, or reserved for special hours in one or two days of the week—a great deal of the difficulty would be got rid of, and he was certain that there were hon. Members opposite who were as indisposed to press upon the consciences and judgment of those whom they were seeking to benefit as any on the Liberal side of the House. He might mention, as showing the feeling of the working classes on this point, that at a very recent meeting of the London School Board two deputations were received. One consisted of the Rev. R. T. West and the Rev. D. Moore, who presented a memorial objecting to the Board holding a transferred mission-hall school, on the ground that provision for the all children would be made otherwise than by board schools, and asking to have the mission-hall transferred to adenomination. It was stated that the denomination had raised a large sum of money to supply any deficiency. This deputation was introduced by Mr. Mills, M.P., and the Rev. Dr. Irons. The second deputation consisted chiefly of labouring men—one in the uniform of a railway porter—and they were headed by Admiral Fishbourne, who stated that the mission-hall was built 10 years ago to supply a want in the district, and the school had always been well maintained in regard to numbers of children, and the sum received from the Government grant showed a high state of efficiency. When the Act was passed the supporters who subscribed to the school could not afford to pay the rates and subscribe too, and so the school was transferred to the Board with the perfect satisfaction of the parents, who desired that the religious teaching should be unsectarian, such as was taught in the board schools. The objection to the mission-hall school came from Dr. West, of the Ritualistic Church, and the speaker begged to state that if the Board listened to the parochial clergy who had waited upon them, and shut up the school, the original trustees would, carry it on, for the parents would not subject the children to the teaching of Ritualistic Churches, and they all regarded this action of the parochial clergy in endeavouring to close the school as a piece of ecclesiastical tyranny. This showed the feeling of the working classes in regard to the religious education as given in the London board schools. He felt that we were under great obligations to the clergy of the Established Church for their services, and no word had ever passed his lips which was otherwise than respectful towards them, and mindful of the sacrifices they had made. But we had come now to a point at which he believed it would be the best policy of the Established Church to make some substantial concession in this matter, and he maintained that in the reading and teaching of the Bible there was every possible guarantee for the religious teaching of the school. He especially appealed to the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council to lend his aid in this matter. He was persuaded that if something was not done, they would have an embittered controversy which would only end in the establishment of secular schools, a result which he personally would regard with extreme disfavour. It would eliminate from education the really honest religious element and the inculcation of truths universally held amongst us. He believed with one of our Bishops, who had said that if half-a-dozen men on each side of the controversy were to go into a room and spend an hour or two in considering the matter, the one condition being that they were all in favour of religious education, they would be able to decide on such a system of religious teaching as would meet the fair necessities of the case. He hoped the noble Lord would aid by endeavouring to influence those who were unreasonable on both sides. The principle of religious liberty was infringed if any parent was compelled from fear of consequences to subject his child to religious teaching to which he had conscientious objections. He thought he might venture to say that his right hon. Friend would confirm that. He was prepared to defend the system of religious teaching of the London board schools, for quite as much of that kind of teaching was given in them as in the denominational schools, and, beyond that, he could point to the recent examinations for the gratifying results of the system they pursued. He had no expectation that his hon. Friend would be able to carry his Motion; but he hoped he would divide the House, for he regarded it as a protest against the embittered controversy to which the Bill would give rise, and therefore he would give it his support.


said, the speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) would have been more appropriate if it had been made on the introduction of the Education Bill of 1870. From that speech he inferred that the hon. Member's object was the establishment of universal unsectarian schools. Even if school boards were universally established we should not have universal unsectarian schools so long as we had the Act of 1870, because the existing denominational schools were recognized under that Act. Therefore, in order to carry out the purport of the Amendment, the hon. Member would have to bring in a Bill to entirely repeal the Act of 1870. For his own part, from his experience as I a manager of a voluntary school and as the chairman of a school board in a rural district, he was of opinion that hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House wore a little too prejudiced against school boards. He could assure hon. Members, on the contrary, that those bodies were of use, and in many districts, he believed, if the difficulty were boldly grappled with, that the school board would provide a satisfactory solution of it; but he hoped the day would never come when universal school boards would be established by force of law, whether with the condition of compulsory bye-laws or not. He greatly preferred the proposal in the Bill, because it was admirably calculated to meet the difficulties that stood in the way of education in country districts. To place power in the hands of a committee of the Board of Guardians was a wise and an economical proposal. He understood that the hon. Member for Merthyr objected to Boards of Guardians having power to make rules for compulsory attendance at school, and insisted that school boards only should have that power. But the fact was that generally speaking 99 out of every 100 members of school boards were members of Board of Guardians. If the proposal for the establishment of universal school boards were adopted the only persons who would be fitted to serve upon them in rural districts would be the same squires and farmers who managed the existing schools. The fact must not be lost sight of that it was more troublesome to serve upon school boards in rural districts than in large towns where the factory owner could leave his work with the certainty that it would go on with the regularity of clockwork in his absence, while the prosperity of the farmer depended entirely upon his personal presence and supervision. Under these circumstances it was almost certain that if school boards were universally established, the duties would be badly performed or not performed at all in rural districts. It must also be remembered that where there was not sufficient school accommodation school boards would still be appointed— a fact that cut away the ground from under the feet of the hon. Member op- posite. For these reasons, he thought the proposal of the Government to entrust those duties to Boards of Guardians was a most wise and judicious one, and was especially adapted to the wants of rural districts, for which he claimed especially to speak, from a life-long knowledge of them. Ho would add, that he also entirely approved the method proposed in the Billfor putting a sort of indirect compulsion upon the parents by not allowing their children to go to work until they had attended school for so many years, or had passed certain educational Standards. That was a better plan than bringing the policeman and the magistrate and fine and imprisonment into play to enforce direct compulsion. He protested against the attempts of hon. Members opposite to mix up the so-called religious difficulty, which in his opinion did not exist at all, with this Bill, as by doing so they were greatly injuring the cause of national education. The Government, in his opinion, had taken the right course; and if the Bill passed, it would do more to promote a thorough general education than any form of direct compulsion which could be imagined, and certainly more than could be associated with the speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr, and the disestablishment of the Established Church, which he trusted would never take place. He should give his vote against the Amendment, and in favour of the Bill.


while fully admitting the energy and courage of the Dissenters as a body, could not regard their present action as being consistent with the toleration they had always professed to have at heart. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard) had read a number of extracts from certain works which contained propositions which were utterly repudiated by the Church of England at large, and especially by her authorities, and it was not fair to condemn the whole body of Churchmen for the eccentricities and the follies of the few. It was not because certain absurdities were practised, and an unauthorized catechism was taught in half-a-dozen Church schools that 12,000 voluntary schools were to be made to suffer. This wholesale condemnation on the part of the hon. Member of those who had done so much for education before 1870 was neither tolerant, nor fair upon his part. The Motion, too, of the lion. Member in his (Mr. Cowper Temple's) opinion was neither just, fair, nor tolerant. It was capable of several interpretations, and it appeared to offer three alternatives. One was to prevent the powers of compulsion being exercised in voluntary schools; but that would inflict upon our children the injury of continuing to be irregular in going to school, and leave them still under the influence of careless or idle parents, or of their own heedlessness or folly. Another alternative would be the creation of school boards in places where the existing Bodies could do all the necessary work, and this would tend to injure the ratepayers in the localities by increasing the burden of the rates; while a third alternative would be to transfer the management of the existing voluntary schools from their present managers to local Governing Bodies. With regard to the first of these alternatives, he did not think it necessary to say anything, for no one would deny that compulsory powers were needed in all the public elementary schools. The second could not be adopted in the dissatisfaction so generally felt at the burden of school board rates. Although the Boards of Guardians appeared to be the best elective body in the rural districts to administer the duties imposed by the Bill, they would be ill fitted to undertake the ordinary management of schools, and the members would be much surprised if asked to undertake such a duty, in addition to the business now devolved upon them, even supposing they considered themselves qualified. His own belief was that if there was a body of persons who deserved encouragement, it was the managers of voluntary schools, who had, by their own labour and expenditure, supplied education for the poorer classes where the State neglected them. They had discharged this work of benevolence and patriotism well, and did not deserve to have a slur cast upon them. The adoption of any one of the three alternatives he had mentioned would be a great loss to the children, and the supposed remedy would prove worse than the existing evil. It was not correct to assume that clergymen were the sole managers of the voluntary schools. In all cases it was necessary to appoint managing committees as representatives of subscribers, and they were responsible for their share in the affairs of the schools. The defence of the Motion was based upon the so-called insufficiency of the Conscience Clause; and it was contended that under the law, as it stood at present, children were compelled to listen to religious instruction in denominational schools, whether their parents wished it or no. Those, however, who took that view did not really know how the Conscience Clause worked. It was, perhaps, true before the passing of the Act of 1870, when the clergyman or schoolmaster had the power to give religious instruction at any time in school hours. But now that state of things had been altered, and it was only possible for religious instruction to be given before or after the lessons in other subjects had been given. From a Return on the Table of the House, he found that out of 10,800 schools 98 per cent had the religious teaching given before or after the register of attendances had been taken. Consequently, parents could, with the greatest ease, arrange that their children should arrive at the school in time to be entered on the roll after the religious instruction was over, or leave the school before it begun; and the teachers had no pecuniary interest in the attendance of children during the religious teaching. The Conscience Clause was, in fact, self acting. Ho admitted, however, that there might be a few cases in which the law was not strictly observed; but for these, the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had placed upon the Paper would give an ample remedy. If the Conscience Clause was observed and enforced, a voluntary school was just as secular a school as a board school. That was to say, it was so, so far as the children of Nonconformists were concerned; but it had the recommendation of being a religious school to those children whose parents desired it. He thought it would be terrible if they were, for the sake of remedying a fancied grievance, to deprive children of getting a religious education, which, though very elementary, might prove the foundation of their future progress in religious knowledge. It was difficult to discover cases in which children were proselytized in the denominational schools. Proselytism might be carried on, but it was outside the schools. The proposition to prohibit the schoolmaster and the schoolmistress from giving religious instruction was a most extraordinary one, for they were the persons best qualified for imparting to the minds of the children those elementary truths which they ought to receive. The attitude of the Nonconformists towards the Church was well described during the debate in 1870 by one of the most eminent of their number—Mr. Winterbotham—as being one of watchful jealousy. That jealousy had accomplished a great deal. It brought about the Time-Table Conscience Clause at the sacrifice of much of the good influence previously exercised in the schools. That vigilant jealousy ought not to outlive the circumstances that supplied its excuse, nor be indulged to the hindrance of regular attendance in all public schools. No case of grievance had been made out, on behalf of Nonconformists. If anything like a real grievance existed, he would be among the first to endeavour to remedy it. But this Resolution, if carried, would create a grievance on the managers and conductors of voluntary schools, and those who had subscribed for their support. He opposed the Amendment because he saw in it a tendency to secularism. Secularism was repugnant to the feelings and judgment of the nation; and yet there was a certain power of logic and circumstances which was continually drawing men down towards that gulf. Earnest men, unable to untie the knot of the religious difficulty, were inclined to cut it by stopping religious teaching in the schools altogether. What he disliked in secularism was its tyranny and contempt of the conscientious convictions of Christians. He believed that the great security as regarded religious teaching was to give as much liberty as possible—liberty to those who taught, liberty to those who were taught. Let them leave to the conductors of voluntary schools the freedom they possessed to teach what they believed to be necessary and suitable for the children, with the existing safeguards against any teaching to which their parents objected, and if any cases could be found in which the Conscience Clause was not observed, let them be reported to the Education Department, and the noble Lord might be trusted with the duty of giving an account of them, and of finding a remedy against their continuance.


said, the hon. Member who moved the Amendment (Mr. Richard) had wandered very far, in recommending it to the House, from the principle it expressed. The hon. Gentleman had laid before them a very long list of the grievances of the Dissenters; but when they came to be examined he believed those grievances would be found to be entirely imaginary. The Amendment, if it meant anything, meant this—war to the knife to voluntary schools. He was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say he was no great advocate of the principle of direct compulsion, preferring the more gentle system of persuasion. The feeling of the country did not go with an uniform system of compulsion; and if they wished, the children of the country to be educated, they must have the feeling of the people favourable to the system of education which they adopted. The hon. Gentleman, though he would destroy the voluntary schools, did not say, and could not say, they were inefficient. The fact that £816,000 had been subscribed in their support in the course of a single year was sufficient to show that the mind of the country was in their favour. It had been asserted though, by other speakers, that voluntary schools were inefficient and expensive. The result, however, proved their teaching was more satisfactory than the rate schools, and a glance at the figures would show that the proposition that they were more expensive could not be maintained. This Bill was intended to supplement and complete the Bill of 1870, but was there no other blot on that measure than that of unfilled schools? It could not be denied that, in endeavouring to avoid the Scylla of the religious difficulty, they had fallen into the Charybdis of the irreligious difficulty. It was a strange fact the outcome of their mutual mistrust in the matter of religion should give rise to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, in the year 1870, called a monstrous thing. The right hon. Gentleman said— Would it not be a monstrous thing that the Book which, after all, is the foundation of the religion we profess, should be the only Book that was not allowed to he used in our schools?''—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 458.] Birmingham was the great, but by no means the only, blot on the system, for he found that in no less than 140 board schools there appeared to be no provision for religious teaching, though in some the Bible was used as a text book. He was glad, therefore to see on the Notice Paper an Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hampshire which would have the effect of enlarging the scope of religious teaching in board schools. He ventured to think the line taken by the London School Board was one which might well be adopted for the whole country, for he found from a Return which had been recently presented to the House by one of the Inspectors of that Board that out of 60,000 children in the district which he visited, there were during the past year only 28 objections on the score of religious principle, 17 out of the 28 coming from members of the Hebrew persuasion, which left a balance of but 11 as the sum total of Christian objections. Now, if that were to be taken as a measure of religious difficulty, was it not, he would ask, too miserably minute to be worth the consideration of the House? Regarding the present Bill as an attempt to supplement the Bill of 1870, he thought it was absolutely necessary something should be done in the matter of finance, because it was in his opinion extremely objectionable that such restrictions should be imposed as under the existing law on Government grants merely by means of departmental arrangements. The main principle of the Act of 1870 was that those grants should be given as payment for results, but when they came to be limited in one direction and another that principle was altogether sacrificed. The system of rating school buildings was also in his opinion mischievous. There was no fairness in it, because board schools, though nominally rated, were actually free from rates, inasmuch, as they put one hand in the pocket of the ratepayers, and paid the rates in that way with the other. In order, then, to place all school son an equal footing the best things to do was to declare no buildings employed for school purposes should be liable to rates at all. Another Amendment which was, he thought, necessary, was that there should be absolute power to dissolve school boards, for their very name was beginning to stink in the nostrils of the people, who ought to be afforded an opportunity of getting rid of what they declared to be useless. Again, as to denominational teaching, where, he would ask, would the education of the country have been before 1870 but for the denominational system, which had worked so vigorously and heartily, and which was in accordance, he believed, with the feelings of the great majority of the nation? It was an established fact that regular attendance was secured by good teaching, and one of the London School Board Inspectors, whose Report he quoted, thought it would go far to obviate the necessity for continuing the exercise of compulsion. Let it not be said that there was no sufficient sign in the country to induce the Government to adopt some of those Amendments. Let it not be supposed that the Amendments on the Paper were not called for by the country; it was not always the greatest clamour that gave evidence of the deepest feeling, and there was such a force in Nature as silent but irresistible strength. This was the time to give effect to the feeling of the nation in favour of religious teaching— '' Where shall wisdom be found? The depth saith It it is not me! and the sea saith It is not with me. Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. That wisdom ought to form part of our national education. Could we not get rid of those twin demons of mistrust and suspicion, and unite in the spirit of charity, to carry on the work of education not only in secular matters, but in the eternal truths of Christianity?


said, he should not have taken part in the debate were it not for the speech of the hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Paget). He (Mr. Mundella) had no difficulty in responding to the challenge just made, and declaring that hon. Members on that side desired to co-operate in a spirit of kindness and charity in promoting the education of the country; if he voted for the Amendment it would not be that he meant to declare war to the knife to the voluntary schools. On the other hand, he had no wish it should be supposed that he desired to promote a purely secular system—what hon. Members opposite regarded as an infidel system, and to exclude the Bible. He never would be a party to any Act of Parliament that would exclude the Bible from the common schools of the country; but, on the other hand, he would not join with hon. Members op- posite in an attempt to enforce a minimum of religious instruction in the schools of the country. The safest way to promote the religious education of the country was to leave it to the religious feeling of the country; and they had the best proof of it in the fact that there were more children receiving religious education at that moment, and a better religious education, than ever had been received in this country before. Any man who really desired the religious education of the children of this country ought to rejoice at what he saw going on in all the large towns. [An hon. MEMBER: Birmingham.] Well, let them wait until the hon. Member for Birmingham took his seat for the defence of the Birmingham School Board. He was concerned with the general education of the country; and not for the 7,000 children of Birmingham only, about whom so much was said. He could point to twice as many in the schools of Sheffield who were receiving a religious education which was not surpassed by that given in any of the schools of the country. In the metropolis the schools gave a religious education which could not be excelled, and it was a matter for rejoicing that such was the case. He repudiated the animus against voluntary schools that was imputed to him and others, arid admitted that there was enough to do to supplement their work; but a further question was raised by the position of the schools referred to in the Amendment. The words "public management" were both ambiguous and embarrassing, and meant where they stood a great deal more than his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil put in his speech. There were few Members in that House who had not been or were school managers, but nobody dreamt of taking away the control of voluntary schools from such managers. [" Oh, oh !"] His hon. Friend stated that as plainly as possible towards the close of his speech. ["No, no !"] What he desired was that there should be public supervision of voluntary schools, and no more than that public control over the expenditure of public money, which was contended for by so many in the debate on the Prisons Bill. From a Return just placed in the hands of hon. Members it appeared that £ 3,800,000 was expended last year on education in England and Wales. Of that, £ 800,000 was voluntarily contributed—a fact which deserved the highest consideration at the hands of the House. But that £ 800,000 would under this Act be a decreasing quantity, while the £ 3,000,000 were an increasing quantity, and two or three years hence we should be spending £ 5,000,000 a-year on education, not 10 per cent of which would be derived from voluntary contributions. He admitted that in London and in the large towns the religious difficulty was a trifle, for if the parents of a child were not satisfied with a denominational school, they might send it to a British and Foreign or to a board school, but that was not the case in the rural districts; there would be there but one school, and to that all the children of the district would have to resort, and the increased grants would be given almost exclusively to the schools of one denomination. If there were only 100 purely Roman Catholic schools in the 14,000 parishes in the country to which the children of Church people must be sent or not be educated at all, would hon. Gentlemen opposite pass this Bill without further safeguards? ["Yes, yes!"] Not they. He did not believe they could honestly answer this question in the affirmative. Would they pass a Bill to compel their children to go to a Roman Catholic school? The noble Lord, in the Amendments he had put on the Paper, had partly met the grievance of the hon. Member for Merthyr. They were glad the noble Lord had done so, and hoped he would go still further towards relieving the consciences of Nonconformists. In rural districts the schools were exclusively Church of England schools, and in a majority of these the Conscience Clause would be fairly worked, but it would be evaded in some cases, and ho was sorry to say that the action of the Education Department would increase the difficulty of meeting these cases, for it had been decided that wherever a Church school was in itself sufficient to supply the wants of a district, Nonconformists should not be allowed to establish a British or Nonconformist school. He hoped that by reference to the Law Officers of the Crown the noble Lord would find that this was not a proper construction of the Education Act. Meanwhile he could not refrain from supporting an Amendment which, asked for public supervision where public money was spent, and in conclusion he hoped the measure before the House would be made a good and useful one for the purposes of University education.


said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Mundella) took a very different view of the Motion before the House from that which he (Mr. Hall) entertained. He did not understand the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) to mean "public supervision" rather than "public management," but, on the contrary, inferred that what was meant was a system of universal school boards and that alone. [Mr. MUNDELLA: No, no!] That remedy for the grievance had often been placed before the House with great ability by an hon. Gentleman whose absence they all regretted (Mr. Dixon); and the House invariably rejected it by considerable majorities, and reflected thereby public opinion at large upon it. The ordinary average Englishman abominated school boards. They were associated in his mind with needless extravagance, a good deal of petty tyranny, and a great deal of ungodliness. Any legislation which succeeded in making the cause of education and school boards synonymous would do a great deal towards creating a re-action throughout the country against education itself. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster) set himself the task of covering the country with good and efficient schools. He made Churchmen put their hands a great deal deeper into their pockets than they liked, and £3,000,000 were subscribed towards building and maintaining voluntary schools. Now, in 1876, another problem had to be solved, which was not a question of money, but of good government, and how far they should come between parent and child. The problem now was how to fill the schools the right hon. Gentleman had caused to be built. The experience they had had of direct compulsion where it had been tried, showed from the many exceptions which had to be made, that however admirable in theory, it was difficult to put in practice and well-nigh impossible to carry out satisfactorily. The question must be looked at not only from the stand-point of school managers, who were naturally anxious to fill their schools, but from the stand-point of parents, who had been accustomed to utilize the services of their children, and who must be weaned gradually from this habit. If direct compulsion were the system to be adopted ultimately by Parliament, it might, perhaps, have been applied to children under 10, who were not to be allowed to work. But direct compulsion might not be necessary ultimately. It had not been required among the upper or middle classes; and though two or three years ago he was in favour of some method of direct compulsion, he was now beginning to believe that the lower classes would also rise to a sense of their responsibility, and would make voluntary sacrifices for their children's sake. That was why he liked the Government plan. It did not say—"Stand aside, you are too much of a boor to know what is best for your children," but it enlisted the parent for the first time on the side of education, and made him the compelling power, and an interested compelling power, to send the child to school. Surely that provision was more in harmony with the natural order of things than the system of domiciliary visits, which reminded those persons subjected to it of Continental espionage, and was one reason why the compulsory powers of the school board were so much disliked. He admitted that the children throughout the country must be educated, and if parents would not rise to a sense of their responsibility, he should be ready at a future time to vote for direct compulsion. The debate had taken a somewhat religious tone, and he remarked that the hon. Member for Merthyr thought that the Nonconformists only had grievances; but when the House got into Committee it would be found that others had grievances and were as ready to air them as he was. He (Mr. Hall) was free to admit that when he first saw the Bill he felt grieved that the Government had not more boldly spoken on the question of religion, and dealt with that clause which, unless it were altered, would hand down to posterity with less honour than they would all like to see, the name of the right hon. Member for South Hants (Mr. Cowper-Temple). The whole question no doubt was bristling with difficulties, but strenuous efforts would be made when in Committee to remove the reproach that it was possible for any school board in the country to insist on non-religious teaching in an elementary school. He hoped that those efforts would not be relaxed until we had succeeded in obtaining a more religious system of education. If the system of the London School Board, which he believed to be moderate and consistent, were adopted, he hoped that the religion-loving parent would be protected by a Conscience Clause in the other direction; for there was need of protection from the tyranny of a chance majority who, in any particular place, might be hostile to religious teaching; for he believed that in Birmingham—and they were not to wait until an hon. Member took his seat before speaking of Birmingham, where to its eternal disgrace religion was excluded—if a religious Conscience Clause was enforced, it would be largely taken advantage of, to the immense comfort of the parents, to the dismay it might be of some of the managers, and to the lasting benefit of the children. He did not understand that education could possibly ever mean the exclusion of the Bible, and he did not see how the House could refuse such a request. If a Conscience Clause be granted to a man who objects to any religious system, how could it be refused to a man who sought to have his child educated not as a heathen, but as a Christian? He always imagined that the idea, and a just one, too, was this—that in rate-aided schools no sect should be able to cram its opinions down the throats of other people. [Opposition cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen cheered, but there was one sect which sought to cram its opinions down other people's throats, and that was the sect which was not ashamed to proclaim that there was no God. ["No, no! "] Did hon. Members mean that there was no such sect? Why, infidelity was rife, and he who had something to do with Oxford knew that it was rife there. That creed was a negative, not a positive creed, and, if by taking advantage of the squabbles of Christians, those men could banish the Bible from the schools, they would be practically throwing down their infidel creed upon the floor of the school and teaching it to the children of Christian parents against the desire of the parents themselves. He had no wish to proselytize in the interests of the Church of England or any other denomination. He did not be- lieve in teaching little children abstruse religious dogmas; but to determine, because different denominations could not agree about certain recondite doctrines, that we were not to teach any doctrines at all would be the most suicidal folly that the author of evil ever suggested to the mind of man. He was a staunch Churchman, but he would a thousand times rather entrust the religious instruction of his child to any denomination of Christians than doom him to miss the golden opportunity which the season of childhood gave for grasping so simply and so firmly the truths of eternity. The time had come when they should seek to do away with these wretched efforts for trying to destroy each other's schools, and Christians of all denominations ought to stand shoulder to shoulder in support of the voluntary schools, which were the great homes and nurseries of the religious life of the people of England, and which were in perfect harmony with the sentiment of the nation. That they were in perfect harmony with that sentiment, we had only to look to the efforts made by the voluntary bodies. What had induced them to make those efforts? Nothing but the horror felt at the possible godlessness of the school-board system. He trusted that education would cease to be the battle-horse of contending sects. He hoped the religious sentiment of the people would assert itself, and that secular schools would go where they would have been if the quarrels of Christians had not drawn them out. He warned hon. Gentlemen on the Liberal side from making a mistake and appealing to narrow views on this question. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said the other day that there was nothing he would like so much as an appeal made to the country on behalf of an efficient Navy against the cheeseparing policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite. But what, he would ask, would be the result of an appeal in favour of religious education? Why, these (the Ministerial) benches would not be large enough to hold those who would be returned to support it. They knew that the heart of the country was perfectly sound on this matter, and believing that their position was a strong one, he thought their moderation should be in proportion to their strength. Trusting in their principles, they asked for fair play to enable the House of Com- mons to bring these principles to their legitimate issue, which was to give to every child of every parent who desired his child should receive it, that sound religious education which the schools of every denomination of Christians were, he believed, eager to impart. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Jenkins) had referred to America, but in that country there were as many wrongs to be righted as there were lessons to be learned. As an Englishman he was not ashamed of the present educational policy of this country, and he was not in this matter disposed to look to America or to France, or to Germany, or to any other foreign land, for lessons in educational policy. He would rather trust the dictates of honest hearts, and give wherever it would be accepted religious education to all the children of the land.


Sir, as I was not able to address the House on the second reading of this Bill, I hope I may be allowed to say a few words in explanation of the vote which I shall give on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr. I trust the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Hall) will excuse me if I do not follow him through any part of the very eloquent speech he has made, because, able as that speech was, his argument was rather addressed to a point not immediately before theHouse—the propriety of introducing religious instruction into all schools, whether board or denominational, than to the Amendment of my hon. Friend. And as I do not intend to make an argumentative speech, I shall not think it necessary to follow myhon. Friend into all the arguments he employed, more especially as there were many of them in which I agree. I have no doubt whatever that all religious sects are animated to a considerable extent by religious animosity and bigotry. I have no doubt that religious bigotry is manifested in many of the relations of life. I have no doubt that many cases of persecution of Dissenters by members of the Church of England have some existence in fact, as stated by my hon. Friend. I have no doubt, either, that all religious sects, including the Church of England, make use of the education of the young as an instrument for promoting the interest of their own denomination. I do not think it necessary to controvert that position of my hon. Friend. I have no doubt, again, that there does exist in the midst of the Church of England a party with religious opinions that contravene the sentiments and that are altogether at variance with the principles of the Reformation. That is another position of my hon. Friend I do not feel called on to controvert. But it seems to me that these are not questions which we have to decide upon this evening. What we have to decide upon is this—whether it is politic for the State to impose such checks on the injudicious action of certain parties whom he has described, or whether we should enable the State to make use of the vast educational resources possessed by various denominations, and most of all by the Church of England, without interfering with the religious liberty or freedom of conscience of any class of our fellow-subjects. Well, I think that my hon. Friend was a little unjust to my right hon Friend the Member for Bradford. I understood him to describe the Act of 1870 as a denominational measure, framed in the interests of one denomination or one sect only. [Mr. RICHARD: I made no such statement.] Then I am glad I misunderstood my hon. Friend. I understood him to describe that Act as establishing a denominational system for the benefit of one sect only. I am glad my hon. Friend did not make that accusation, which has, however, been made by others who have succeeded him. My hon. Friend may be right, the system of 1870 may be a denominational one; but I think the whole House must be aware, as I am perfectly aware, that the intention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford in introducing and passing the Bill of 1870 was to favour no sect or denomination, and that the sole object he had in his mind was the educational interests of the people. He may, indeed, have erred in the choice of his means, but there ought to be no mistake whatsoever about his intentions. It seems to me that it is possible to look at this Bill of the Government from two points of view, the educational and the political point of view. It was chiefly discussed from the former point of view on the second reading, when the question before the House was whether the measure was calculated to provide a substantial extension of education to all classes. The question which is now more immediately before us is what I have described as a political question—namely, the question of civil and religious liberty. The question we have to decide is whether the rights of any portion of our fellow-subjects are endangered, and whether the religious convictions of any parents are violated by the proposal made by this Bill for enforcing upon parents the admitted duty of providing education for their children. Although this is the point more immediately before the House, it is impossible altogether to leave out of view the other aspect of the Bill. If the Bill fails altogether in an educational point of view, if its machinery is inadequate, if it fails to bring to school children who do not go there at present, if it fails to keep them there a sufficiently long time, if it fails to secure adequate results, or, at all events, does not require a sufficient amount of attendance, then I think we are justified in looking upon those provisions of the Bill which trench on the liberty of the subject with jealousy and suspicion. But if, on the other hand, the Bill does make a distinct advance in an educational point of view, if it is calculated to bring to school and to afford a good education to numbers of children who would otherwise grow up in ignorance, then I think it is our duty to look upon it with some degree of favour and rather with a view to amend such provisions as may be found objectionable than to seek means of rejecting it altogether. Looking at it from this point of view I must admit that the Amendments placed on the Paper by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council appear to me clearly to amend this Bill from an educational point of view. It was shown in the last debate that the form of indirect compulsion, on which the noble Lord seemed disposed to rely, had failed in times past and was likely to fail in the future. It was shown, on the other hand, that direct compulsion had succeeded, that it was not unpopular, and that it was likely to be successful. The Amendments placed on the Paper by the noble Lord are all, so far as I understand them, in the direction of strengthening the principle of direct compulsion: and for my own part, however objectionable the name of direct compulsion may be to hon. Gentlemen opposite, I find it rather difficult to see how this Bill can be regarded in any other point of view than as a Bill substantially for the establishment of direct compulsion. Turning to the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I find that it is not altogether easy to understand his object from the Amendment only. In order to understand the Amendment it is necessary to turn to the speech with which it was introduced. My hon. Friend insists, as a preliminary to universal compulsion, that public elementary schools should be placed under public management. But in one sense they are now under public management. Public elementary schools, whether denominational or board schools, are subject to inspection by public officers; they have to comply with certain rules and regulations laid down for them by Parliament and a Public Deportment; and above all they have to submit to a Time-table Conscience Clause which has been prescribed for them by Parliament. But what my hon. Friend wants is not merely public management, but local management—that is, management by some local body, by some locally-elected authority. It is quite clear that such a change as that would be extremely distasteful to the managers of denominational schools, and the question the House has to decide is whether the change is required in the interests of education or in the interests of freedom of conscience and religious liberty. Where the Conscience Clause is faithfully enforced the religious scruples of parents cannot be violated. For what then does my hon. Friend require this local management? It must be for cases where for some reason the Conscience Clause is not scrupulously enforced. Now, what are the cases in which that occurs? There is the case where the parent does not care to insist on the Couscience Clause. Well, that is not a case in which the House will consider any great consideration is due. Then there is the case where a parent does not dare to receive the Conscience Clause, and with regard to that I do not see how the Amendment meets the case. According to my hon. Friend's supposition, there is some overwhelming influence which makes it dangerous to the parent to call on the Government Inspector, as he has an undoubted right to do, to insist on the enforcement of the Conscience Clause. But where this overwhelming influence exists, is it likely that the Guardians, who are elected under the shadow of that influence, will be able to enforce the Conscience Clause if the parent does not desire to call upon the Government Inspector to do so. Undoubtedly cases may occasionally occur in which the whole tone of the teaching of a school is distasteful to a parent and the whole village community. In such cases some local supervision would be an advantage. But in many other cases quarrels and disputes of a most undesirable character might occur between the existing managers and the local elected authority, and I must point out to my hon. Friend that he does not meet the whole of the Conscience grievance by the Amendment which he has proposed. He does not meet the Conscience grievance of Roman Catholics, or, in a less degree, that of some members of the Established Church. A Roman Catholic board school, where no religious instruction is given, is just as great a stumbling block as any religious instruction that is given in a denominational school to the child of a Dissenting parent. It seems to me that the only security which it is in our power to provide is the establishment of some power to strictly and effectually enforce the Conscience Clause. My hon. Friend says that the Conscience Clause is a delusion; but although he was extremely profuse in his quotations and extracts from various books and papers in support of many of his assertions, he did not, I think, bring before the House any convincing proof in support of that assertion. It seems to me that the Amendment of my hon. Friend goes too far. I do not understand my hon. Friend to wish to put an end to all denominational schools, but to substitute for the present management of denominational schools a management by some local elected authority. If that is so, I fail to see for what object a voluntary school would exist. If you take away the power of management from the managers of voluntary schools, I do not see in what better position they will be placed than if the districts were made school-board districts, and the schools turned into district board schools, and employing not only compulsion under the Bill, but also under the Act of 1870. Under that Act a school board, although it might apply compulsory bye-laws, had no power to interfere with the management of denominational schools. Take, for instance, the borough of Stockport, where a school board passed compulsory bye-laws, but, as I understand, has established no board schools. But the effect of my hon. Friend's Amendment would be to compel the Stockport school board, whose compulsory bye-laws are working very well, to undertake the management of schools with which at present there is no necessity whatever for interfering. While I think the Amendment of my hon. Friend goes too far in these respects, I cordially support the Amendment to which some reference has been made, and of which Notice has been given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. The effect of that Amendment, as I understand, is to make it the duty of the local authority to report any infraction of the Conscience Clause to the Education Department. That proposal will not disturb in any degree the management of the denominational schools by the existing managers, whilst it will give to the local authority, whose duty it will be to force the children to go to school, the duty and power of seeing that the security intended is given to them, and of which they can only be deprived by culpable neglect or abuse of the power of management. It is only right and reasonable, when powers are given to the local authorities, that the children and parents should be protected from any probable abuse of power by the manager of the schools. I am not surprised that my hon. Friend is dissatisfied with the present system. I must confess it is a remarkable, and I believe it is an anomalous system. It is a system which places in the hands of religious Bodies and private individuals duties and powers which, in every other country in the world, are considered as appertaining to the State and should be exercised by it. It is a system which has undoubtedly worked very much to the advantage of one denomination and to the detriment of others. But when I look to the hold this system has acquired, when I look to the vast amount of educational machinery which would be put out of gear by any sudden and violent change, when I look to the power which the present managers have of resisting any such sudden change, when I look, above all, to the immense check which would be put on the existing educational progress of the country, I admit I cannot go with my hon. Friend when he proposes universal compulsion, until a system has, been established which he and I perhaps would regard as more perfect. This Bill does not, in my opinion, interfere in any degree with the progress of school boards. If, as my hon. Friend believes, and as I am inclined to believe, the school-board system is a more perfect system, if it is becoming daily more suited to the wants, and more congenial to the feelings of the country, then I think we may depend upon it that it will make its own way; and it will make its own way all the more rapidly, if it be not forced on an unwilling country. If denominational schools gain something, the Nonconformists and the advocates of a State system of education also, I think, gain something under this Bill. For the first time—and this seems to me to be by no means a small matter—in the history of our legislation, public authorities are not only to be permitted, but enjoined to take part in the work of education, and that not only where school boards are established, but universally throughout the country. That I look upon as a step of no unimportant character. It may not be a very great step, but it is a step in the direction which my hon. Friend and those whom he represents advocate. It is a step which has been taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and my hon. Friend may rest assured that if it be found necessary that this measure should be followed by others, they can only be such as will go further in the direction of this step, and cannot be of a retrograde character. For the first time, public authorities throughout the country are vested with some share of its educational business, and, looking at that fact and to the educational advance that is made by the measure, I cannot agree to vote for the Amendment, which would in practice put off sine diethe adoption of universal compulsion, which it is now admitted the country is prepared to accept, and therefore I am compelled, however reluctantly, to give my vote against the Motion of my hon. Friend.


said, the debate had now lasted for a considerable time, though, in the early part of the evening, it seemed so much to flag that he was apprehensive the whole matter would come to a premature conclusion. He did not therefore think that he was rising too early to address the House. During the first two or three hours of the debate he felt disposed to regret the tone which had been adopted by more than one speaker. He had during that time heard a good deal which seemed to indicate that religious feuds and bitterness would be introduced into the discussion; but then he felt himself bound to admit that, after all, Nonconformists had many wrongs in the remote past to complain of, and that Churchmen ought not to be too sensitive if, even at the present day, when those wrongs were about to be removed that those who belonged to the older generation of Nonconformists should still be very susceptible when they approached a subject such as that before the House, which they considered was likely to touch on the rights and liberties of the subject. For his own part he must confess he wished the House in dealing with it could follow the example of the school boards, so that no Catechisms of any kind should be introduced into its debates; for their introduction, in his opinion, neither tended to the dignity of those debates, nor to the promotion of that good feeling which ought to prevail. But if there were some speeches in the early part of the evening to which he could not listen with satisfaction, there were others later on full of grave and serious arguments, such as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hants (Mr. Cowper-Temple) and that of the noble Lord who had just sat down, which would, he thought, do good service to the cause of education; for, while they entered fully into the grievances of the Nonconformists, they came to the conclusion, with the Government, that those grievances were only imaginary. He might also observe that he had received several communications from various parts of the country in which he was informed that such denunciations of the proposals of the Government as the House had on more than one occasion heard were by no means acceptable to the great mass of Nonconformists. Now, there were two or three points which had been raised by the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard), the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur), and others to which he wished to advert before entering into the general argument. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr had spoken of it as one of the great grievances of the Bill that under its operation Nonconformists would be excluded from all share in the teaching profession; but surely he forgot that there were at the present moment 2,000 British schools besides 1,100 board schools, in which he hoped Nonconformist teachers, even if excluded from Church of England schools, would find ample room for exercising their powers. Then the hon. Member said there were thousands of schools supported only by fees and Government grants. [Mr. RICHARD: I beg pardon. I said "some schools."] Of course he accepted the hon. Member's retraction. But it was desirable he should give the figures. There were 130 Church of England schools supported in that way; 180 British and Wesleyan schools; and five Roman Catholic schools out of a total of 315. That was to say, 1.38 Church schools were so supported; and 8.85 British and Wesleyan. That was an important figure. Then the hon. Member said that £14,000,000 had been spent by Government upon the maintenance of voluntary schools; but it must be remembered that £13,000,000 had been spent in building those schools, only £2,000,000 of which was Government money. There were many differences of opinion as to the desirability or otherwise of Boards of Guardians becoming managers of voluntary schools, and against the view of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil. he set the representations made to him by recent deputations from the trades unionists of London and from the agricultural labourers, that such bodies were quite unfit to be school managers. When the hon. Member had settled that point with his friends of the working class he would be happy to discuss it. The hon. Gentleman said he was very doubtful about compulsion, and thought it better to leave it to the general good feeling of the people; but on looking at the Division List upon Mr. Dixon's Bill last year, when they were told that universal school boards were not a necessary part of the Bill, but that the real test was universal compulsion, he found the name of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil as voting for the Bill. He (Lord Sandon) was the last person in the world to blame any one for a conscientious change of opinion, but that was a very remarkable change indeed. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Jenkins) assured the House that the labourers would not consent to compulsion, if put under Boards of Guar- dians—that, in fact, they would regard it as an insult. From labourers' unions and their friends, however, a very different story came. They were so eager for education that they found the Government scheme of compulsion much too moderate. In comparing denominational and board schools the hon. Member for Dundee was not more fortunate, for Returns showed that the average attendance was much higher in, voluntary schools than inboard schools. It was true the latter excelled somewhat in writing and arithmetic; but still their position was not a strong one. The assertion that board schools were cheaper than voluntary schools was as unfounded as the statement that they were more efficient; for, while the average cost per head at a Church of England school was £1 11s. 11½d., at Wesleyan or British schools £1 12s. 2½d., and at a Roman Catholic school £1 9s. 5d.; the average cost of a board school was £1 16s. 11;d. A great part of the hon. Member's argument was based on those two points, and on the strength of them he appealed to the Government not to occasion any shock to the school board system. As to that, he (Viscount Sandon) could only say that the Government did not aim at destroying the school board system. They left people free to have school boards if they liked, although as to board schools being cheaper and more efficient than others there was not a particle of evidence. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur) said the Conscience Clause was often shamefully broken; but there again no evidence whatever was offered, for it was to be borne in mind that the Time Table did not always mean the Conscience Clause. A transposition of the hours of lessons, in fact, sometimes was made. The hon. Member sneered at the agricultural interest, and spoke of the intense ignorance of the agricultural children; but it had been found that the country children attended school longer than those in towns, and that they passed better than the average in towns. [Mr. A. M'ARTHUR denied that he had sneered at the ignorance of the agricultural children.] Well, if the hon. Member did not sneer at agricultural children, his whole tone in regard to them was depreciatory. But the real point was, were they or were they not to assent to the proposal of the hon. Member for Merthyr. In introducing the Bill he (Viscount Sandon) said they desired to do the most for the children's advantage, both as children and as future citizens of that great Empire. That was the point of view from which they must look at the question. When they talked of putting these schools under public management, he would ask, what sort of schools did they want? Did they desire their children to go to simply elementary learning shops, where they would pick up nothing but the bare elements? He could not have a doubt that the country wished that the schools should be thoroughly good places for training children in elementary knowledge, and also good training places for their characters and morals. The country wished to have schools of the latter kind. He had not the least doubt about that; he saw it on every side. Now, the question was, how the education referred to was to be given. Was public management the best thing for them? The only public management that they had any practical experience of was the school board system, and he doubted very much whether they could in future rely on as good men joining the school boards, to undertake the drudgery of managing board schools, as had done so in the past, when those bodies were novel and excited attention. Even with the advantage of a better class of men than were likely to join them in future, school boards up to the present had not worked remarkably well. Reports from Cornwall, Suffolk, and Essex spoke of them in dubious terms. As far, therefore, as practical experience went, it was doubtful whether elective bodies were likely to be the best managers of schools. There was a curious Return as to the management of schools by school boards. There were 874 school boards in England and Wales, and yet only about 160 of them had appointed managers for their schools. Those 874 school boards had 1,754 schools of their own, and for the 1,541 of those schools which were attended by girls only, 46 school boards had appointed lady managers to the number of 256. Hitherto the successful management of our girls' schools had been very much due to the ladies of this country; but when it was found that so few of the school boards had appointed lady managers, that fact suggested another doubt as to the fitness of popular bodies for those functions. Again, out of that large number of 874 school boards, with 1,754 schools, only 407 had arranged for the systematic visitation of their schools, either by themselves or by managers. Thus they had before them this picture—in many towns they had the schools left entirely in the hands of the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses; in many cases young persons, who, however excellent as teachers, were hardly fit to walk alone without the help of managers. Then, as to Birmingham, which was supposed to be a remarkable town in all educational matters, he found that its school board had appointed no managers to its schools. From a report of the proceedings of the Birmingham school board he learned that they were asked whether they would arrange themselves for the visitation of the schools having no managers, and that they expressed their regret that they were too busy to do so, and the schools, as far as his knowledge went, were left without any visitation. As compared with that picture, surely experience had shown that the management of the voluntary schools had been good. The voluntary schools had been particularly good in regard to the moral character of the children. Comparing them with all the best accounts of the American and the German schools, he believed that the English voluntary schools would bear the palm for good influence over the children. Therefore, as far as the advantage of the children themselves went, he said that private management carried the day. Now, was there some overwhelming injustice proposed by that Bill which should make them overthrow a system that they would nearly all agree was the best for children? Had the Conscience Clause really failed? He had looked at the Inspectors' Reports, Report after Report, and he found that it had not failed. Whenever the papers brought to the notice of his Department a case of injury done to conscience, they sent down a peremptory missive to stop that injury. But it was said that the Conscience Clause had no effect. Well, last autumn he wanted to ascertain whether it was used or not, and he sent a circular from the Department to all the board and voluntary schools scattered through the country; and what was the result? Why, he found from the answers made to that circular, that under that much- maligned Conscience Clause a total of I over 3,300 children had been withdrawn from religious instruction. That was to say, out of 8,586 public elementary schools of the Church of England, scattered all over the counties, there were withdrawn from religious instruction 1,446 children; out of 1,755 British, Wesleyan, and undenominational schools,249 children were withdrawn; out of 528 Roman Catholic schools, 1,325 children were withdrawn; while out of 1,319 board schools 358 children were withdrawn. That showed that the Conscience Clause had not proved nugatory, but had to a large extent done the work it was intended to do. He would not now dwell on the religious difficulty, but he thought that evening's debate had shown it was generally acknowledged that that difficulty was not a real and serious one. Granting for the sake of argument that a religious difficulty did exist, he would ask why it had not been started when Mr. Dixon brought forward his Bill? Mr. Dixon stated over and over again that his was a Bill of direct compulsion, but it contained no provision for making new schools. Why was not the religious difficulty mentioned then? Well, then, he would ask whether the Government Bill aggravated the religious difficulty in any way? Perhaps the best answer he could give the House to that question was to quote from a printed circular which had been forwarded to him at the Privy Council Office. It was marked private, but he presumed that he might use a document coming to him in his official capacity, and he would appeal to this circular as containing trustworthy information as to whether the Government Bill really aggravated any supposed religious difficulty. It was written before the Bill was printed, but it went minutely into details. It stated that no power was given under it to the authorities to establish school boards. It was dated from Birmingham, and he would ask the permission of the House to read this passage— The effect of these proposals will be to introduce both direct and indirect compulsion into many parts of the country where Nonconformists are numerous, but where the only schools in existence are schools connected with the Established Church. The Committee (the Central Nonconformist Committee) feel strongly the injustice which is involved in compelling the children of Nonconformists to attend schools which are established with the avowed intention of educating children in the principles of the Church of England, and which are under the almost irresponsible control of the clergy. But practically the injustice already exists. It is one of the inevitable evils resulting from the denominational system. Nonconformists of every description are anxious to give their children as good an education as possible; but in many parts of England they have no choice of schools. They are obliged to send their children to the schools of the clergy or to leave them uneducated. We believe, therefore, that the number of Nonconformist children who are not actually at school, and who would be driven into Church schools by Lord Sandon's Bill, is extremely few. The children whom the Bill would reachare for the most part children of ignorant or careless parents, and it is better that they should be driven into the schools of the Church than that they should receive no education at all. While, therefore, we recognize the strength of the abstract objection to the compulsory proposal of the measure, we cannot recommend that these proposals should be resisted. In the interest of the neglected children and of the country at large, we think that they should be accepted.—Signed by William Middlemore, J.P., chairman; R. W. Dale, H. W. Crosskey, J. Jenkyn Brown, hon. sees.; F. Schnadhorst, secretary. This was remarkable testimony, and if he wanted an argument to show that the Government Bill was one of perfect fairness to the Nonconformists as well as to the Church he thought he might rest his defence upon the important circular that had been forwarded to him. It was clear that the meaning of the Amendment was not whether the schools were to be under public management. It was the old story that the board schools should be put within the reach of every Nonconformist parent. The Bill was in fact a Police Bill. It prosecuted the employer who infringed its provisions, and it brought the parents of neglected children before the magistrates. The real meaning of the Amendment was that the voluntary schools should be thrown on the rates, and that Parliament should create universal school boards. This, however, was a proposal which the Government could not entertain for one moment. He regretted that the subject should be brought forward again, but he trusted that the calmer judgment of the Nonconformists themselves, when they thought the Bill over, would lead them to see that it had been framed with no sectarian spirit whatever. It had been framed in an honest endeavour to make the best, soundest, and most satisfactory provision for the education of those children who, when they grew up, would be the future citizens of this great Empire, without introducing those great changes in the habits of the people which would set them against education, and also without unduly interfering with the institutions already existing. He trusted that for these reasons the House would not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member.


said, that as it was evident that the debate was not exhausted, it would be better that the discussion on the subject should be adjourned. ["No, no!"] Then he must proceed with his speech, because it was a subject on which he could not be content to give a silent vote—["Divide, divide!"]—and one on which he felt so strongly that any interruptions of the kind he heard would only protract his remarks. Although his views might not be the views of hon. Members on the opposite side and some on his own, yet these views did influence a large number of the people of this country, and without understanding them he did not think the House could fairly enter on the discussion before them. They were told that the grievances of Nonconformists involved the remote past and involved imaginary grievances—["Hear, hear!"]—and that view seemed to find favour in some who cheered at that moment. He was prepared to hear those cheers from the enormous and crass ignorance there was on the subject. It was desirable, therefore, in the clearest way to bring the true view of the matter before the House. It was right to tell the House that this grievance did not belong to the remote past, but belonged to to-day, and was not an imaginary, but a real grievance, and the reason why they objected to the Bill was not that it was such a very very bad Bill—he would make hon. Gentlemen a present of that—but because it was a continuation of a course of legislation which was exceedingly destructive, as many of them believed, of the religious liberties of the country. He did not mean to argue at any great length as to whether this was the tendency of the Bill; but he could not help seeing that the tendency was to strengthen the denominational direction of existing legislation, and to destroy the entire religious liberty of large bodies of Nonconformists in regard to the education of their children. He was quite prepared to go further and say that that was the natural result, to a great extent, of previous legislation, and which seriously imperilled the liberty he had mentioned. He did not speak there as the Representative of any religious Body. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not; he had no right to do it; he was not authorized to do it, and it would have been impertinence to do it; but being a member of a large religious Body—the Wesleyan Methodists—and knowing the feelings and views of those who composed it, he felt it right to express those views not as their Representative, but for the information of the House. They believed the natural tendency of that legislation was to throw education into the hands of the Church of England in this country, and to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, and they did not know which was the more objectionable of the two. They did not think it fair that in Ireland education should be thrown into the hands of a Church which took every possible advantage of the principles of toleration in this country, and took care to act on opposite principles in every other country in which it had power. They did not think it desirable that education should be thrown into the hands of the Church of England. According to the views laid down on the other side, the Nonconformists were fighting on the side of infidelity; but there were so many things to be said in favour of the views they entertained that he could not help thinking, when they were accused of teaching "There is no God," such a suggestion as that, though made in the British House of Commons, was not worthy of any reply at all.


I beg to contradict that. I said it was time for Nonconformists and Churchmen to unite against infidelity—not that the Nonconformists favoured infidelity.


said, that if he borrowed the tactics not long ago used, he should say he was glad to hear that retractation—[" No, no!"]—but he did not borrow those tactics. He would rather say he was glad to hear he was wrong. This was not a question which could in reality be touched by the Conscience Clause at all. He would not allude to the scolding of people who were constantly evading the clause.


I must take exception to ''who are constantly evading." I said, "now and then."


Surely "now and then" were the indicta of many of whom the country never heard at all. He cared very little about the Conscience Clause, or very little about the Catechism, nor did he think any number of them would remedy the evil of which he and those who thought with him complained. He did not think all the theology they could teach children of tender years was worth anything. That was child's play; that was not the real difficulty, the real mischief. As a Wes-leyan Methodist, if the Government would prepare a Catechism of good sound Protestant theology, he should be glad to see it read in every school of the land. Differences of dogmatic theology would have no effect. The really important matter, and what he did care about, was that the Bill would hand over teaching to one religious denomination of the country which would have the aid of that subtle influence which would tend to show that was the one religion of the land. That was what was done. If children were led to believe that the clergymen of the Church of England were the one ministers of the Gospel, and the one minister from whom to derive all holy things, they would be driven from that learning which their parents believed to be proper for their interests. In that way, in the course of a few years, they would be driven by shoals from the religion of their fathers. Take Lincolnshire, where the majority belonged to the Church he belonged to. They were poor, and education was in the hands of the parson and the squire. By this Bill the management of the school would be under the ægis and care of the Church of England clergymen, and the minds of those children would be taken from the religious learning their parents were disposed for them to have. ["No, no!"] He said "Yes." Whatever they might have had of de-nominationalism before there would now be denominationalism plus compulsion. The Bill would drive their children away from the training they ought to have, and give them that which their parents did not wish them to have. There was not a day of their lives that they did not find out that they were looked upon— as they were gracefully informed a few days previously— that they were looked upon as belonging to an inferior social sphere. They had borne this for a long time at the hands of the Church, but all that they asked was to be let alone. They were not jealous of the position of the Church, notwithstanding her position and wealth. [" Oh, oh! "] They only wanted to be let alone; but, unfortunately, that was not the course which had been adopted. They had been accustomed to outrage in connection with almost every service of their Church— in the baptism of their children, the marriage of their adults, and the burial of their dead. An absurd and narrow-minded bigotry pursued them all through life, and endeavoured to snatch a paltry victory over the tombstone of the dead carcase, but they had borne it all. There was, however, one thing beyond, which would stir the Nonconformists of the country, and that was any legislation of which the distinct and inevitable consequence would be to interfere with the training of their children, and if the Government were going to introduce a Bill to add compulsion to denominationalism, and which would turn their children from the faith of their fathers; if this sort of thing were to go on and the string were continually to be tightened in favour of the Church and against the1 Nonconformists— there were a number of them who had hitherto held their hands, but would now join in the the fight and raise a battle-cry which would be very disastrous to the Established Church. When the time came for the reversal of the policy of the Government, as come undoubtedly it would, let them not imagine that any proposal for compensation would, be listened to when that policy was reversed. He should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Merthyr, and he would appeal to hon. Members in the moment of their power to consider that they were not legislating for a day, but for all time.

Question put.

The House divided:— Ayes 317; Noes 99: Majority 218.

Acland, Sir T. D. Anstruther, Sir W.
Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Antrobus, Sir E.
Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C. Arkwright, F.
Agnew, R. V. Ashbury, J. L.
Alexander, Colonel Astley, Sir J. D.
Allen, Major Bagge, Sir W.
Allsopp, C. Bailey, Sir J. R.
Amory, Sir J. H. Balfour, A. J.
Barclay, A. C. Egerton, Adm. hon. F.
Baring, T. C. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Egerton, hon. W.
Barrington, Viscount Elliot, Sir G.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Elliot, G. W.
Bates, E. Elphinstone, Sir J.D. H.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Emlyn, Viscount
Beach, W. W. B. Errington, G.
Bective, Earl of Eslington, Lord
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Evans, T. W.
Beresford, Gr.de la Poer Ewing, A. O.
Beresford, Colonel M. Fellowes, E.
Biggar, J. G. Ferguson, R.
Birley, H. Finch, G. H.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Fletcher, I.
Bolckow, H. W. F. Floyer, J.
Boord, T. W. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Bourke, hon. R. Folkestone, Viscount
Bousfleld, Major Forester, C. T. W.
Bowen, J. B. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Bowyer, Sir G. Forsyth, W.
Bright, R. Foster, W. H.
Brise, Colonel R. Fraser, Sir W. A.
Broadley, W. H. H. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Brooks, M. Gardner, J. T. Agg-
Brooks, W. C. Gardner, E. Richardson-
Bruce, hon. T.
Bruen, H. Garnier, J. C.
Bulwer, J. R. Gilpin, Sir R. T.
Butler-Johnstone,H.A. Goddard, A. L.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Gordon, Sir A.
Callan, P. Gordon, Lord D.
Cameron, D. Gordon, rt. hon. E. S.
Campbell, C. Gordon, W.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Gorst, J. E.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Cavendish, Lord G. Goulding, W.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Chaine, J. Grantham, W.
Chaplin, Colonel E. Greene, E.
Christie, W. L. Greenall, Sir G.
Clifton, T. H. Gregory, G. B.
Close, M. C. Guinness, Sir A.
Clowes, S. W. Gurney, rt. hon. R.
Cobbett, J. M. Hall, A. W.
Cobbold, T. C. Halsey, T. F.
Cochrane,A.D.W.R.B. Hamilton, Lord G.
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hamilton, I. T.
Coope, O. E. Hamond, C. F.
Corbett, J. Hanbury, R. W
Cordes, T. Hankey, T.
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Hardcastle, E.
Corry, J. P. Hardy, rt. hon. G.
Cotton, rt. hon. W. J. R. Hardy, J. S.
Crichton, Viscount Hartington, Marq. of
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Dalkeith, Earl of Hay, right hon. Sir J.CD.
Dalrymple, C.
Dease, E. Heath, R.
Denison, C. B. Helrnsley, Viscount
Denison, W. E. Henry, M.
Dick, F. Hermon, E.
Digby, hon. Capt. E. Hervey, Lord F.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Hevgate, W. II.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Hick, J.
Douglas, Sir G. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Downing, M'C. Hinchingbrook, Visct.
Dunbar, J. Hogg, Sir J. M.
Dundas, J. C. Holford, J. P. G.
Eaton, H. W. Holker, Sir J.
Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W. Holland, Sir H. T.
Holmesdale, Viscount
Egerton, hon. A. F. Home, Captain
Hood, hon. Captain A. O'Donoghue, The
W. A. N. O'Leary, W.
Hope, A. J. B. B. O'Neill, hon. E.
Hubbard, E. Onslow, D.
Hubbard, rt. hn. J. G. Paget, R. H.
Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Parker, Lt.-Col. W.
Isaac, S. Pease, J. W.
Jenkinson, Sir G. S. Peel, A. W.
Johnson, J. G. Pemberton, E. L.
Johnstone, Sir F. Pender, J.
Jolliffe, hon. S. Peploe, Major
Jones, J. Phipps, P.
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Plavfair, rt. hon. L.
Kay - Shuttleworth, U. J. Plunket, hon. D. R.
Plunkett, hon. R.
Kennard, Colonel Polhill-Turner, Capt,
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Portman,hon.W.H.B.
Kingscote, Colonel Powell, W.
Knight, F. W. Power, R.
Knightley, Sir R. Praed, H. B.
Knowles, T. Raikes, H. C.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Rathbone, W.
Law, rt. hon. H. Read, C. S.
Lawrence, Sir T. Repton, G. W.
Learmonth, A. Ridley, M. W.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Ripley, H. W.
Lee, Major V. Ritchie, C. T.
Legard, Sir C. Rodwell, B. B. H.
Leighton, S. Round, J.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Ryder, G. R.
Lewis, C. E. Sackville, S. G. S.
Lewis, O. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Salt, T.
Lloyd, S. Samuda, J. D'A.
Lloyd, T. E. Sanderson, T. K.
Lopes, H. C. Sandon, Viscount
Lopes, Sir M. Sclater-Booth, rt.hn.G.
Lome, Marquess of Scott, Lord H.
Lowther, hon. W. Scott, M. D.
Lowther, J. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Mac Iver, D.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Shirley, S. E.
M'Lagan, P. Shute, General
Majendie, L. A. Simonds, W. B.
Makins, Colonel Smith, W. H.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Somerset, LordH. R. C.
Marten, A. G. Sotheron-Estcourt, G.
Maxwell, Sir W. S. Spinks, Mr. Serjeant
Mellor, T. W. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Merewethor, C. G. Stanley, hon. F.
Mills, A. Stanton, A. J.
Mills, Sir C. H. Starkey, L. R.
Monckton, F. Starkie, J. P. C.
Monk, C. J. Stewart, M. J.
Montagu, rthn. Lord R. Storer, G.
Montgomerie, R. Sullivan, A. M.
Moore, S. Swanston, A.
Morgan, hon. F. Sykes, C.
Mulholland, J. Talbot, J. G.
Muncaster, Lord Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Muntz, P. H. Temple, rt. hon. W. Cowper-
Naghten, Lt.-Col.
Newport, Viscount Tennant, R.
Noel, rt. hon. G. J. Thornhill, T.
Nolan, Captain Thwaites, D.
North, Colonel Thynne, Lord H. F.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Tollemache,hon. W. F.
Torr, J.
O'Brien, Sir P. Tremayne, J.
O'Byrne, W. R. Tumor, E.
O'Callaghan, hon. W. Verner, E. W.
O'Clery, K. Wait, W. K.
O'Conor Don, The Walker, T. E.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. Wroughton, P.
Walsh, hon. A. Wyndham, hon. P.
Walter, J. Wynn, C. W. W.
Watney, J. Yarmouth, Earl of
Wellesley, Colonel Yeaman, J.
Wethered, T. O. Yorke, hon. E.
Wheelhouse, W. S. J. Yorke, J. R.
Whitelaw, A. TELLERS.
Wilmot, Sir H. Dyke, Sir W. H.
Woodd, B. T Winn, R.
Allen, W. S. Howard, E. S.
Anderson, G. Ingrain, W. J.
Backhouse, B. James, Sir H.
Balfour, Sir G. James, W. H.
Barclay, J. W. Jenkins, D. J.
Bass, A. Kensington, Lord
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Laverton, A.
Bazley, Sir T. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Beaumont, Major F. Lawson, Sir W.
Beaumont, W. B. Leatham, E. A.
Biddulph, M. Lofevre, G. J. S.
Blake, T. Leith, J. F.
Briggs, W. E. Lloyd, M.
Bright, Jacob Locke, J.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Lush, Dr.
Brogden, A. Lusk, Sir A.
Brown, A. H. Macdonald, A.
Brown, J. C. Mackintosh, C. F.
Burt, T. M'Arthur, A.
Campbell - Bannerman, Maitland, J.
H. Maitland, W. F.
Carington, hn. Col. W. Middleton, Sir A. E.
Carter, R. M. Milbank, F. A.
Cave, T. Morgan, G. O.
Chad wick, D. Morley, S.
Chambers, Sir T. Mundella, A. J.
Cholmeley, Sir H. Norwood, C. M.
Clifford, C. C. O'Gorman, P.
Cole, H. T. Palmer, C. M.
Colman, J. J. Pennington, F.
Cowan, J. Potter, T. B.
Cowen, J. Balli, P.
Crawford, J. S. Rothschild, Sir N.M.de
Cross, J. K. Russell, Lord A.
Davies, D. Sheridan, H. B.
Davies, R. Sherriff, A. C.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Dillwyn, L. L. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Dodds, J. Smith, E.
Earp, T. Smyth, R.
Edwards, H. Taylor, D.
Forster, Sir C. Taylor, P. A.
Goldsmid, Sir F. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Goldsmid, J. Waddy, S. D.
Gourley, E. T. Weguelin, T. M.
Grieve, J. J. Wilson, C.
Havelock, Sir H. Wilson, Sir M.
Hayter, A. D. Young, A. W.
Hill, T. B.
Hodgson, K. D. TELLERS.
Holland, S. Jenkins, E.
Holms, J. Richard, H.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.