HC Deb 19 June 1876 vol 230 cc15-101

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [15th June], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, 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, it is desirable that the recommendations contained in the recent Report of the Factory and Workshops Acts Commission, relating to the enforcement of the attendance of children at school, should be introduced in any measure for improving the elementary education of the people,"—(Mr. Mundella,) —instead thereof.

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


The first feeling of Members who supported my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) six years ago in passing the Education Act must be one of strong satisfaction at the advance in public opinion, and in the readiness of the country for general education, which the introduction of the present Bill and the manner in which it has been received by the House indicate. A new principle tentatively proposed in 1870 can now be more or less boldly carried forward; and the debate shows that the House with few exceptions does not shrink from the plain and simple duty of filling our schools and making national education a reality. The differences between us are only as to the precise mode in which that should be done; how, having schools, we can get the children to attend them; how, having teachers, we can provide them with scholars; how, having a law of education, we can enforce it. In 1870 our first anxiety was not with respect to the question of attendance. It had reference to the provision of adequate school accommodation, sufficient teachers, and an efficient quality of instruction. In the year 1870 school accommodation existed for only 1,878,584 children, whereas in 1875 there was accommodation for 3,146,424 children. The number of teachers was 12,467 in 1870, and 20,940 in 1875. In the same period the number of assistant teachers had increased from 1,262 to 2,713; and the number of pupil teachers from 14,304 to 29,667. With respect to the efficient quality of the education I rejoice to think that it has been improved by recent changes in the Code of the Education Department; but with regard to the standard attained by the children I fear I can say very little. Our main anxiety now is to secure the attendance of children who do not attend school, the regular attendance of those children who attend irregularly, and the attendance throughout the school age of those who now only attend one, two, three, or four years. Since the year 1870 no less a sum than £1,606,298 has been expended on new voluntary schools and enlargements. Moreover, in August, 1875, there were 1,136 board schools; £1,500,000 has been spent by the London School Board on such buildings, while £2,750,000 has been so spent by school boards generally. Some of these board schools, including those in London, may no doubt be filled by the action of the compulsory bye-laws under the powers of the Act of 1870; but the other schools throughout the country remain very thinly attended. The average attendance in 1870 was very low, only 1,152,389; being out of all proportion to the accommodation, which was for 1,878,584 children. The school accommodation has increased 67 per cent; the teaching staff 90 per cent and more; but the increase in the average attendance has been less than 60 per cent. These figures show that partial compulsion in less than half the country is not enough. The average daily number of empty seats in 1870 was 726,195, and in 1875 it was 1,309,244. Although there has been an increase of 67 per cent in the school accommodation, the number of empty seats has nearly doubled. The question we have to solve is, how are we to fill these empty seats? How are we to supply the teachers with scholars, and to secure that the money which has been thus spent on school-building shall not be wasted but that it shall be really reproductive? The figures I have given clearly show, I think, that a Bill was necessary; and hence the Bill of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council on Education. The Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) seems to me to do good service by placing in contrast with this Bill the proposals of the Royal Commission which was appointed by Her Majesty to inquire into the working of the Factory and Workshops Acts, the extension of any of their provisions to other trades, industries, and occupations, and the question of further provisions for improving the education of children. In considering these proposals I shall ask the House to inquire for a moment what are the conditions which a Bill on this subject ought to fulfil. I say that, in the first place, it should be simple and clear, so that all the parents in the country may know what the law is. It should be equal in its operation in different districts, and equal also in the manner in which it weighs on children employed in different trades. Again, it should not give a freedom to the idle that is denied to workers, nor should it impose on one trade an obligation from which another trade is capriciously left free. It should be just to the employer, just to the parent, and, above all, it should be effective for its main purpose—the lasting benefit of all our children. There is also another principle which a Bill on this subject should now fulfil. While not centralizing administration, Parliament should, I think, boldly and completely take upon itself the whole work of legislation, and should not delegate it in any manner to local authorities. I will now ask the House to let me analyze the Bill—pointing out what it does and what it does not do. First of all it prohibits the employment of children under the age of 10;and it likewise prohibits the employment of all children over 10 who have not obtained a certain educational certificate. It repeals the Agricultural Children Act, which—in a manner however imperfect—provided that children employed between the ages of 11 and 13 should attend school 300 times between the ages of 10 and 12. What measures, then, does this Bill take to secure attendance, and thus to insure a less wretched standard of attainments, to save expenditure on schools from waste, and to fill the 1,300,000 empty seats in our schools? It takes no simple direct measure for this purpose. Let me here remind the House what we did in the Scotch Act but three years ago. It was enacted that— It shall be the duty of every parent to provide elementary education in reading, writing, and arithmetic for his children between 5 and 13," and that, "it shall be the duty of every school board to appoint an officer to ascertain and report what parents have failed to perform the duty. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley) says that parental responsibility is secured by this measure. Yes; but where? There is "parental responsibility" in the Preamble, but you will not find it in any of the clauses. There is nothing in the clauses declaring that it is the duty of a parent to send his children to school. I hope, therefore, that in Committee the House will adopt the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster). I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester say he was prepared to accept that Amendment; and I hope that when he said that he expressed the views of many Gentlemen opposite, who, I am willing to say, are quite as earnest as Members on this side in their desire to secure the attendance of children at school. What are the wants of the parents on this subject? I think a parent wants the same advantages for his child as for a Scotch child. Moreover, he requires that the law in the next parish should be the same as in his own parish. He does not want the law to press more hardly on the trade in which his child is employed than it presses on the trades in which his neighbour's children are employed. He wants as strict a law for the idle as for the working children. I think the parent may fairly say to us also—"Do not tell me in 1881 when my five year old child becomes 10 that he must not work because he has no certificate, unless meanwhile you plainly say to me, 'you must send him to school.' "I believe that all these demands of the parent ought to be carefully considered in legislating on this subject. I will separate the children into two sets—the children who are prevented by the Bill from working and the children who are at work. What does the Bill do to secure that either set shall attend school? I might almost say it does nothing at all. Work is prohibited at the age of 10, unless a child has obtained a certificate. Now what is there in the Bill to insure that the child shall obtain a certificate or that the child shall not consequently be kept idle till 14, neither at work nor at school? The 7th and 8th clauses of the Bill apply only to children whom the noble Lord called "wastrels"—a word with which Members from the North of England are perfectly familiar. I do not propose to include these clauses in my analysis, as they only apply to cases of vagrancy or crime, or of continuous and habitual, as well as inexcusable neglect on the part of parents. I look upon the case of the "wastrel" children as an entirely exceptional case, and the mode of dealing with these children proposed by the noble Lord—where there has been continuous, habitual, and inexcusable neglect by parents—shows that he himself views their case as exceptional. So far, then, we have nothing but these permissive bye-laws. Indeed, I think this Bill in its permissiveness outdoes the efforts of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). It is more permissive than the Permissive Bill. The hon. Member for North Northumberland (Mr. M. W. Ridley) says that where there are rural school boards those school boards do not pass bye-laws. Well, this may be true in many cases; but surely that is the strongest argument which the hon. Member could have adduced against permissive bye-laws, and in favour of our doing in this House what we are proposing to delegate to local authorities. It is the strongest argument against our leaving any option to local authorities. The Bill, therefore, only provides for direct compulsion by bye-laws, that is, for bye-laws in places where school boards choose to adopt them, in places where Town Councils choose to pass them, and in places where Boards of Guardians are requested by a meeting of the ratepayers of a parish to pass them for that parish. I am not surprised that hon. Members opposite admit that there is little or no direct compulsion in this Bill. During this debate attention has not been directed to sub-section 2 of Clause 20. It appears from this sub-section not only that Boards of Guardians are not to adopt compulsory bye-laws unless the ratepayers ask them to do so, but the Guardians are to adopt such sort of bye-laws as the ratepayers like to ask them to adopt. Ratepayers may say what kind of bye-laws they desire, and Boards of Guardians are to have regard to such wish. For example, the ratepayers may wish that the bye-laws should not touch children engaged in labour, or engaged in some particular kind of labour, or should not affect children above the age of 10; or they may wish that children should be allowed to be employed at home at any age, or that children who have passed a very low standard should be exempt from the operation of the bye-laws. In the same Union, therefore, there may be districts with effective bye-laws, other districts with, half- hearted and ineffective bye-laws, and districts with no bye-laws at all. You may have visitors in one parish and no visitors in the next parish. Children engaged in a particular trade in one parish may escape all compulsion whatever, while in the next parish this trader may be under the influence of strict bye-laws. You will have stringent bye-laws here, no bye-laws there, and weak and useless bye-laws elsewhere. I do not think that any one fairly considering this subject can deny the injustice to children under 10 years of age which such a diversity in law would produce in different districts of the country, more especially in districts of the same county and even of the same Union. Take the case of a child who is uneducated in a parish where the ratepayers ask for no bye-laws, and who at the age of 10 goes to a town, as is often the case. I happen to live in a manufacturing district, in which, however, there are large tracts of country given over to agriculture. In one parish there may be no manufactures at all, while other parishes teem with factories. In this district there is one school board, and plenty of parishes that would be under the Board of Guardians. Take the case of a child uneducated in one of these rural parishes who, at the ago of 10, is taken by his parents to Burnley to be employed in a factory. Having no certificate, that child will not be allowed to be employed; and, fortunately, in Burnley he will come under bye-laws which will oblige the parent to send the child to school. But suppose that, instead of going to Burnley, he goes to one of the little towns, of which there are plenty in the district, which are not in a school board district, and in which there are no bye-laws. At the age of 10 this child will neither be allowed to work, because of the general law, nor will he be sent to school, because of the absence of bye-laws. Such a state of things will involve the grossest injustice not only to the child, but to the parent. It will be unjust also to the employer; and being unjust to employers, it will be injurious to the country. I think I have pointed out strongly the effect of the permissive nature of the bye-laws as regards children under 10. Passing now to another point, I feel that we cannot dwell too often on the injustice to parents of saying to them, when a child is 10 years old—"Your child shall not work; he has no certificate," if you have not before said—"Your child shall go to school, so that he may obtain his labour pass." This system of endeavouring to secure education before work by requiring certificates at a certain age as a condition of work, has been tried and found wanting. There was such a provision in the Coal Mines Act. The evidence laid before the House showed that the Act failed to secure the education of the boys engaged in coal mines, and one main reason why it was a failure was because of this illusory requirement. The same attempt was made unsuccessfully in the Agricultural Children Act. The system is condemned by Mr. Tufnell, who was one of the Commissioners appointed to inquire in 1869 into the subject of the employment of women and children in agriculture. I will read the condemnation of this system of certificates by the Royal Commissioners on the Factory and Workshops Acts. They say, speaking of the system as developed in the Agricultural Children ActThere is the inherent defect in its principle, if it stands alone, that it presumes a degree of forethought in a parent which is not to be expected from the parents of working children. A parent must foresee, 12 months beforehand, that his child will require the certificate of attendance, must keep it in view throughout the year, must count the number of times he plays truant, in order to be sure that the minimum of attendances required by law shall be made up, and must have faith that the watchfulness of Government will be sufficiently all-pervading to prevent him from finally escaping its requirements. I beg the House to attend to these concluding words of the Commissioners— Without affirming that such a provision will always be impossible to enforce, we think it may be laid down that, by itself, it will combine the minimum of efficiency with a great deal of hardship. Now, the Bill goes farther than the Act which was thus so strongly condemned by Royal Commissioners. That Act required 12 months of foresight on the part of parents. This Bill presumes at least five years of forethought on the part either of parents or of ratepayers. Now, having the Reports of Royal Commissions, and abundant evidence in the Library, and representing in this matter the whole country, why should not Parliament exercise this forethought? Sir, there is one question which has not yet been asked during this debate, and which I wish to put to the Government. I hope we shall have some reply to the question.—Who is to grant these certificates? The Bill says that the Education Department is from time to time to make regulations for the purpose. But I am not satisfied with this provision, and think the House should have some further information. We have strong evidence—and, if it were necessary, I could cite the opinion of Mr. Kennedy, Her Majesty's senior Inspector of Schools—to show that it would be very objectionable if schoolmasters were allowed to grant these certificates; that it would expose them to strong temptations and leave a loophole for all sorts of abuses. I cannot, then, believe that the power to grant certificates will be entrusted to schoolmasters. By whom, then, will it be exercised? It is very desirable that we should receive an answer to this question before the second reading of the Bill. The Bill leaves the law as to children whom it will prevent from working in a state which is unjust to children, unjust to parents, unjust also to employers, ineffective for purposes of general education, unequal, and illogical. I come now to the question—What means does the Bill take or contemplate to secure schooling for those children above 10 and under 14 whom the law allows to work? The agencies upon which the Bill relies for this purpose are scarcely greater, and in one respect are less than those now existing. In one respect they will be less—namely, by the repeal of the Agricultural Children Act. The Bill relies entirely upon the Factory Acts, permissive bye-laws, and Clauses 7 and. 8. I will take these in the reverse order. (1) Clauses 7 and 8 may be left entirely out of consideration, for their application is limited to vagrants and criminals, or to cases of continuous and habitual and inexcusable neglect on the part of parents. (2) All that I have said respecting bye-laws applicable to children who are prevented by the Bill from working, applies equally to these bye-laws as regards children during work. But there is another objection to this system of permissive bye-laws, and that is the objection to our delegating legislative as distinguished from administrative functions to local authorities. I hold that objection in a very strong degree; but it has also been held by authorities who, I think, will be respected by Her Majesty's Government. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) in his place, for, if the House will allow me to do so, I wish to make a quotation to which I am sure the House will listen with pleasure—as it does to everything said by the right hon. Gentleman—from a speech made by him in Committee upon the Education Bill of 1870— Was their experience of permissive legislation so favourable that they thought it due to the credit of the House to delegate their functions to others upon a point so important, and to call upon school boards to enact something which they were not prepared to enact themselves—not to pass "bye-laws to carry out in detail that which the Legislature had indicated, but to perform the work of legislation itself? Was that a power to place in the hands of school boards? What would happen? If it were true that the great mass of intelligent working men, who would have votes, were in favour of compulsion, then, where they were in the majority, school boards would be elected to put in force the compulsory powers of the Bill; but, on the other hand, in places where compulsion was most needed, and where there was less enlightenment among the working classes, the school boards would be elected upon a solemn pledge not to exercise their compulsory powers. He held that it was not becoming the dignity of the Legislature to delegate its authority upon a question of such importance. If the Committee meant to have direct compulsion, let them enact it…"[3 Hansard, ccii. 1749.] I leave the right hon. Gentleman to answer himself; I think he will find it exceedingly difficult, because those statements are so logical, that I do not believe any Member in this House could answer them. The right hon. Gentleman will say, no doubt, that we had permissive provisions in the Bill of 1870. But that Act was an experiment, and the country at that time was not prepared for compulsory attendance at schools. But now we are in 1876, and can it be said that we are not prepared to attempt it? Well, then, if we are prepared, letus introduce compulsory attendance into our law, and not leave it to the local authorities, who will have plenty of things to bicker about, plenty of things to contend about, without this fruitful source of contention. The Bill continues to rely mainly on the Labour Acts to secure the attendance of working children at school. But the present working of the Factory and Workshops Acts with their various and conflicting regulations for different kinds of labour is highly unsatisfactory. I will not use my own language in condemnation of it, but I will quote the language of a high authority, and when I finish the quotation I will state whose language it is— Did those Acts give sufficient security that the children of this country went to school?…They gave the impression of general confusion, general inconvenience, and very inadequate results….Again, between the different kinds of labour—that of textile factories, of workshops, and of mines—they had constant conflict and confusion, the employers frequently complaining of the injury inflicted on their various industries by the inequalities as to age and other matters; while for the parents nothing could be more vexatious than to find that on a change of their abode they were brought under different rules. Why should a parent in choosing a particular industry for the employment of his child be hampered by having to calculate how far his choice would be affected by these conflicting rules? What they wanted in these matters was simplicity and uniformity of arrangement. These most important words were the words of a Member of the Government, the words of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council in introducing the Bill. I want to ask the noble Lord where in this Bill are the provisions to remedy the confusion of which he complains? I want to know what has been done in this Bill to remedy the defective state of the Factory Acts? Then there is another point which ought to be cleared up in this Bill, and that is whether the bye-laws of the school board, if more stringent than the rules of the Factory Acts or of the Workshops Act with respect to the labour and employment of children, are to override them or not? There appears to be a complete conflict of opinion on this subject. Mr. Cumin, Assistant Secretary of the Education Department, in his evidence before the Commission, and Mr. North Buxton, of the London School Board, maintain that the school boards' bye-laws do override the Factory Acts. The contrary is maintained by Mr. Chamberlain, Mayor of Birmingham. Why is this point not made quite clear by the Bill? I may illustrate the state of the Labour Acts by reference to the well-known and now notorious Workshops Act of 1867, which is either a dead letter, or only means 10 hours' schooling a week—that is, two hours a-day for five days. Mr. Kennedy, the senior Inspector, speaks unfavourably of the educational requirements of the Act, and of the insufficiency of the enforcing body. He says the Workshops Act was a nullity when first begun, being left to the local authorities to carry out, that the enforcing authority is still very insufficient, and that there is no hope of efficient education for children under this Act. Mr. Redgrave, the Factory Inspector, speaking of the Workshops Act, says— There are very few places, indeed, where the children attend school for half-time;" and he adds, "It is painful to us to be obliged to administer the Act, because we have to be very strict and to require attendance at school when we know that it is next to valueless. It is the constant habit of parents, under the Workshops Act, the school hours being say from 9 to 12, to send their children in from 10 to 12, or from 9 to 11. The whole object is to get some certificate. And so on. I will not weary the House by reading the whole of the evidence; I will merely say it is a complete condemnation of the Workshops Act. And so also under the Mines Act 20 hours' schooling a fortnight is all that is required. Moreover, the Factory Inspectors have over and over again pointed out that they are not the right persons to look into the efficiency of schools. In my opinion, an opinion supported by the Report of the Factory and Workshops Commission, attendance under the Factory Acts should be at schools recognized as efficient by the Education Department. That principle was recognized in the Factory Act of the Home Secretary passed two years ago, and why the same provision should not be applied to other industries I cannot imagine. On this point I will quote a few words from the evidence of Mr. Cumin— 1631. One inconvenience which has arisen is that most inconvenient of all things—a conflict between the Factory Inspector and our Inspector. The Factory Inspector sometimes insists that a school is efficient, and we say it is not. Then we order a school board on the ground of deficiency, and after the school board is up the children continue to go to what we call an inefficient school, but what the Inspector of Factories calls an efficient school. Then the ratepayers are compelled to build a school, and they say—'It is very hard we are made to build a school because you say the school is inefficient, and the Factory Inspector says it is efficient, so that our new school is of no use.' In this case there is a direct and mischievous conflict. 1634. You would extend the provisions of last year's Act to the case of all factories?—Yes;when we ask about it we are told that nothing but the grossest inefficiency can authorize a Factory Inspector to declare a school inefficient. I need not point out how improper and unfair it is to the parents to compel the child to go to school if you do not take security that the school is effi- cient. Four arguments are given by the Royal Commissioners against proceeding by the way of indirect compulsion, and in support of the view that direct compulsion is necessary:—First, that stricter provisions will lead to more frequent evasion; secondly, that the obligation of school attendance should not be a tax on the energies of working children only, and on those working children only whose occupation has for other reasons been selected for regulation as to hours of work; thirdly, that it is an anomaly that a child thrown out of work is released from obligation to go to school at the very time when school attendance could be exacted with the least hardship. And their fourth argument is that children too young to work are not touched by indirect compulsion, though in this case compulsory attendance is most required, can be most easily enforced, and would cause the smallest loss to parents. The principles the Commissioners lay down are strengthened by a consideration to which I hope the House will give its attention, that half-time schooling should be regarded as a privilege for the working child, and not as a special burden. The Royal Commission point out the disadvantage, amounting to a confusion of thought and an error of principle, of leaving the administration of a half-time system of school attendance to the Factory Acts, instead of making it part of our Education Acts. The law with respect to parents and employers should be in complete harmony; and half-time schooling—in place of full-time—should be conceded under the Education Acts to those parents whose children are beneficially at work, and should be enforced by Factory Acts on the employer. But at present, under the Factory Acts, the child is subject to the exceptional obligation, as an operative or labouring person, of having to attend school half-time as a condition of being allowed to work. On that subject I will only refer hon. Members to the very strong arguments most forcibly put, but which are too long to read to the House, which will be found in Paragraph 146 of the Report of the Commission. And now I come back to Clause 4, and the two good steps which the Bill proposes to take. The Bill has two good points, but I fear that they are only good at first sight, being weak, and even ob- jectionable, standing alone. The first is no employment before 10, the second no employment without educational certificate between 10 and 14. As to the first point, is there any hope that a Board of Guardians will enforce non-employment of children under 10 years of age in a parish which does not ask for, and which has not, bye-laws? I do not think they will have the courage to enforce it, when they have no law for compelling attendance at school. As to the second point, the non-employment of children after they are 10 without an educational certificate, I think it would be much better if there were any prospect that, when 1881 comes, and also when the earlier times provided for in 1878, 1879, and 1880 arrive, with their temporary modifications, it will be possible to enforce this provision. I fear it cannot be done, because you do not take sufficient security that the children will go to school in the meantime. I desire now briefly to summarize what the Bill does not do. I leave the case of the "wastrels" out of account. First, the Bill takes no direct means to enforce attendance except where school boards and Town Councils pass bye-laws, or where the ratepayers by requisition cause Boards of Guardians to frame bye-laws. Secondly, the Bill does not assert or declare parental duty, and thusenact as a law that children shall attend school, as is done in the Scotch Act. Thirdly, it does not make any provision whatever—other than permissive bye-laws—for education, either before 10, except the requirement of the certificate as a condition of employment after 10; or after 10, except the present half-time regulations of the numerous and conflicting Factory Acts and of the very defective Workshops Act. Fourthly, it neither touches, nor extends, nor improves, the existing half-time legislation, nor does it base it on educational principles as recommended by the Royal Commissioners. Still leaving the "wastrels" out of the question, in the fifth place, under the Bill, in districts where there are no bye-laws, there will be no compulsory education before 10; only the certificate required at 10;no compulsory education after 10, or during work, except under the Half-time Acts; and no one but an authority that passes no bye-laws to enforce Clause 4. Sixthly, in districts where there will be rural rate- payers' bye-laws, the bye-laws will be weak in themselves, and, what is more, will be weakly administered. I am unwilling to apply hard words to the measure, but if the Bill passes in its present form it will be an Act to prohibit labour and to permit education. It will be a compulsory Bill which does not compel; and I am afraid it will be an Education Act which will not educate. Parents, employers, and children may well say—"Do not prohibit labour, unless you compel education: do not compel here, unless you compel there." I may be asked this question, whether I think the Bill can be made a good and useful measure in Committee, and whether, therefore, I can support the Bill at all. I am glad to be able to answer these questions in the affirmative. We must, however, criticise its provisions: we must advocate such additions as will complete it: we must endeavour to graft upon it the recommendations of the Royal Commission. If the Government proposals are, as we are told, such as the country will approve, then the logical corollaries of those proposals are also such as the country will approve. I will mention briefly to the House what the recommendations of the Royal Commission are, as the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), seemed not to know them the other night. They are these: The school attendance of all children, whether they are at work or not, should be enforced by law, subject to the three exceptions in Section 74 of the Education Act of 1870; the regular school age should be from 5 to 13; the rule of attendance should be full time, or five hours daily and 25 hours weekly; it should be conceded as a privilege that the attendance should be only half-time in cases of children beneficially and necessarily employed. The attendance should be at a school recognized as efficient by the Education Department; no child under 10 should be allowed to begin attending half-time, and no child under 10 should be employed in regulated labour; there should be an alternate day system in certain trades, on account of distance or dirty occupation; and the attendance of children employed in agriculture should be during part of the year not less than six months. I might quote to the House the opinions of the Assistant Commissioners under the Commission that inquired seven years ago into the condition of women and children employed in agriculture to show that you can reasonably require some sort of half-time attendance from children employed in agriculture. Here are great authorities on the agricultural districts who, as early as 1869 said that you could exact a certain amount of school attendance there. Mr. Henley recommended 150 attendances in the winter months. An hon. Member, whom we are all sorry not to see here, the Secretary to the Board of Trade(Mr. E. Stanhope), then an Assistant Commissioner, says you could require 100 days of schooling in each year up to 12 or 13—that is 200 attendances; and that this would deprive the families of very little money, and hardly interfere with the days required for the farm. Then I might refer to the experience of Mr. Paget, who for a long time carried out the half-time system in agricultural work. The hon. Member for North Northumberland (Mr. Ridley) spoke as if nothing of this kind was required in this country. Let me quote from Mr. Tufnell, the Agricultural Commissioner, who says that if all other places in England were like Northumberland, the Commission would have been useless. Therefore we must not take the opinion of the hon. Member for North Northumberland on this matter of the state of the agricultural districts generally, because if all the rest of England were like his county, there might be little or no necessity for compulsion. There is a point which I would here suggest—namely, that where local boards exist would it not be better to make them the local authority rather than the Board of Guardians? In my own neighbouring town there is a local board, and the ratepayers would regard them as more fitting persons to carry out this law than the Board of Guardians sitting in another town some distance off. I merely throw out that for consideration. Then the proposal to enable local authorities to delegate to committees of unknown persons the powers of compulsion and of spending rates is very objectionable. I cannot see how you could delegate to a committee under this Bill, which might not be composed of Guardians at all, the powers of applying compulsion and of spending the rates. It may be possible, perhaps, to make some arrangement by which the majority of the committee or its quorum should always consist of Guardians. Let me also call attention to the requirement of 250 attendances at school in each year. This seems to be regarded by the Government in this Bill as a full-time attendance at school, and they have taken it from the Education Code, which declares that to be the minimum number of attendances qualifying a child to be examined at the time of the annual inspection. But the school must meet—according to the Code—at least 400 times in the year; and the grant is given on the average attendance at those 400, or more than 400, meetings; how, therefore, could 250,attendances on the part of the child be regarded as sufficient? The Commission recommend that for half-time 220 attendances of the child at school should be required, or 110 days in all. Full-time, therefore, should be about 400 attendances. The Secretary of the Board of Trade, when an Agricultural Commissioner, proposed that 200 attendances should be the number required for half-time in agriculture. I hope that the Government will muster courage to insist on at least something stronger than merely 250 attendances. We are told that this Bill is opposed by a large number of Nonconformists. There is nothing more easy than to oppose a weak, half-hearted, and inefficient Bill of this kind. But I venture to assert that if a really bold measure—a measure which would give to the country universal education—were proposed, it would be very difficult for the Nonconformists, patriotic men as they are, to resist it, and to put their grievance in its way. It is much more difficult for the Government to pass a feeble and an inefficient Bill than to carry through a really strong and bold one. I do not know whether many Members of this House are accustomed to play at the old-fashioned game of chess; but they may often see in the papers chess problems that are to be solved by three or four moves. This is a great chess problem; and the problem of making the children attend school might be solved in three or four moves. But if you take a wrong move, it will require a great many more. I am afraid that my noble Friend (Viscount Sandon) is not now taking the right move. Instead of advancing a queen to the point of attack he is advancing a pawn; and in place of solving the problem in three or four moves, I am afraid that at his rate of progress he will have to take many, and that he will have to retrace his false steps and then to take the right ones. I hope he will review his position and decide to adopt the bold course at first, by accepting the Amendments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), and those of the noble Lord near him (Lord Frederick Cavendish), and embodying them in the Bill in Committee. Then we may this year pass a measure that will really advance the object which we all have at heart—namely, that of bringing into school the 1,300,000 children who ought to be at school, and for whom there is room, and thus rendering the money which has been so freely spent truly beneficial to the country.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) had referred to the game of chess. He (Mr. Hardy) did not profess to have any special skill in that game, but he had always understood that skilful players employed their pawns before bringing their queen to the front, lest by bringing out the queen too soon, the game might be imperilled. The hon. Member proposed that the Government should play his game—a proceeding to which they entirely objected. They were playing their own game, and not that of the hon. Gentleman, and they believed that by the course they had adopted they should win the verdict of the country, while at the same time they satisfied its expectations. The hon. Gentleman had shown great inconsistency; for after dissecting the Bill with the skill of a vivisector, he had come to the conclusion that he could not oppose the measure, but he wished to see it brought more into conformity with his views. He thought the hon. Gentleman, without knowing it, had made a covert attack on the existing system, for almost all his arguments against it would equally apply to the existing law, which, to a great extent, had proved successful. The hon. Gentleman had told them there were only two good points in the Bill, and they were so weak and objectionable that it was not thought they could ever answer. He (Mr. Hardy), however, would turn to a great educationist, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh, who said he saw in the measure a sincere attempt to deal with a great question. He said that by the ordinary action of the Bill a large step would be taken towards increasing the number of attendances, though he felt that more was necessary to bring the whole of the children into school. Complaint was made of the silence of the Government by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), who undertook to direct the Government as to the time when they ought to interfere in the debate. He was as ready to interfere then as now; but what was the course of the debate? It was not a debate directed against the principle of the Bill, nor against the Bill itself. It was a debate of criticism. His noble Friend (Viscount Sandon) had introduced the measure in a long and able speech. Everything connected with the Bill was before the House. Members rose one after another. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who took certain objections to the Bill, was followed by the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley), who, if he might use the expression, "said ditto" to the hon. Member for Sheffield. But he did say that what he wanted to fix was parental responsibility, and that had been repeated that evening, and indeed it had proved the cry of almost all the speakers upon the Bill. He thought, however, he could show there was abundance of parental responsibility in the Bill. But it must be remembered that the speeches of partial objectors to the Bill were met by speakers on the other side. There were the hon. Members for North Northumberland (Mr. Ridley), Manchester (Mr. Birley), Leicestershire, and Exeter (Mr. Mills), and, last but not least, for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), who in the most manly way stated his opinions, and made a speech calculated to do the greatest good—he did not say to the Bill, but to the cause of education in the country. The hon. Member for Sheffield told them that they were bound to take the recommendations of the Factories Commission as the basis of the Bill. Now, the Government had carefully considered the question involved in that view, and with a real respect for the ability of the Members of the Commission. At the time when the Bill was under consideration in the first instance that Commission had not then reported, but still it did report in abundant time to have its recommendations considered; yet the Government were of opinion that direct and absolute compulsion was not a mode in which they could most properly deal with the question in accordance with the public feeling of the country so as to secure the objects which they had in view. He did not think they were bound to take the dictum of the Commissioners on a subject of this kind, more especially when that particular point had not been definitely referred to them. The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) was a Member of the Commission, and had made a separate Report. In that Report he had made a statement, with which he (Mr. Hardy) perfectly agreed, and it was this—that the reference to the Commission was in regard to certain trades existing under certain Acts of Parliament, and they were asked whether they would extend those Acts to other branches of trades, and how far they would interfere with those trades which came under the Factory and Workshops Acts. They had not the question of general education or of universal compulsion throughout the country referred to them, but only one special part of education—that in connection with trades under the Acts referred to. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) said there was no provision for children between the ages of 10 and 13;but his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department said, when asked the question, that the Report as to children over 10 required the most careful consideration and legislation with respect to trades and factories, but the proper time had not come for that. At all events, after the separate Report of the hon. Member for Roscommon he thought the House would hold that he was justified in saying that he could not agree with the Commissioners, for they had not the whole question before them. The hon. Member for Roscommon said— They recommend general compulsory education, not alone where factory and workshop children are concerned, not alone in the large towns and cities, but for all children in all places….I am not quite prepared to join in this recommendation. I do not admit that it legitimately comes within the scope of our inquiry, and certainly, if it does, we have never gone into it sufficiently to be able to pronounce a decisive opinion upon it….Into such an investigation we did not go. I do not believe it was our duty to have gone; and, not having made this investigation, I do not think we are justified in pronouncing a decision upon a subject upon which we are not more capable of forming an opinion than if we had held no inquiry at all. No one could read that hon. Gentleman's Report without seeing the intelligence which he brought to bear upon the inquiry. He (Mr. Hardy) had not been able, he confessed, to read the whole of the evidence which was taken, but he had from the index referred to points in that evidence, and he had looked at the statements of those witnesses whose evidence appeared to bear upon this part of the question, and he did not in the inquiries which appeared to have been made find enough to justify general legislation. He agreed in fact with the opinion of the hon. Member for Roscommon. It might be supposed from what had been said that there was under school boards a universal system of compulsion, and the hon. Member who had just sat down had called his attention somewhat critically to Hansard, as to opinions he had expressed six years ago. If he had changed his opinion he would not have been at all ashamed of it after an experience of six years upon the matter of education; but he found that he, at that time, expressed the opinion that he was now about to express upon the subject. He said then that the time had not come for the Bill that was then being introduced, or to introduce direct compulsion in any shape; and least of all, he said, before they had gained more knowledge they should not commit the power to local bodies to decide whether they should have compulsion or not. But he also said that if the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Forster), had provided a system of indirect compulsion, the alleged deficiency would be supplied. Now, that indirect compulsion was the groundwork of the Bill, and he said now, as he said then, that indirect compulsion was the best mode of proceeding to bring the country into the mind to bring up their children in the way in which they desired. The principle of the Education Act was decided against him, and doubly so, for the decision was in favour of direct compulsion; and in favour of school boards laying down whether they would have direct compulsion, instead of Par- liament deciding it. They had had great experience since then, and they had incurred an enormous expenditure of money, both by means of school boards and also by voluntary action, and the question came whether, after that great expenditure, they were not to have some means of getting the children to school. He felt that the country was not yet ripe for direct compulsion. He felt confident in that opinion, on the ground that all the school boards had not adopted it, for they were not at all unanimous on the subject. It was said the artizan and labouring classes were in favour of compulsion. If they were, they would, under the Bill, be able to obtain it. The Education Act gave school boards power to enforce direct compulsion. He believed school boards were not necessary for that purpose, and that they were distasteful to the country on many grounds. They were unnecessarily expensive, and they often caused conflicts of opinion which led to expense, and rose bitter questions, which when once invoked, were not easily got rid of. They were distasteful because of that direct compulsion which was placed in their hands. He did not say they had not used that power with discretion, but they had exercised it in many instances to raise a great deal of public animosity against them, and whether justly or unjustly, school boards were an institution not favourably regarded. But the passing of that Act witnessed that the Legislature had determined that the people should be educated, and the Government had considered that vast and most difficult question—how they could best attain that object. The school boards had not attained it. The country, indeed, would not adopt school boards with the view of attaining it. A great number of school boards had not yet made bye-laws on this subject, but were simply acting as school boards for other purposes. Well, then, finding that state of things, and having to arrive at some conclusion by which they should enforce responsibility, they had placed in the Preamble of the Bill a declaration as to the responsibility of parents to educate their children. The hon. Member told the House that it was a totally different thing placing that principle in the Preamble of the Bill and enacting it; but it would have been of no use enacting it without attempting to enforce it. Would any- body say that they could have enforced a duty stated in the Bill, unless they could, upon breach of that duty, have convicted for a misdemeanour. The Preamble laid down the principle upon which they proceeded; and did they put aside or neglect personal responsibility in the Bill? On the contrary, he said they were making laws for a thrifty and laborious people whose habit was so strong to use their children for work that they had to stop them doing so before the child was 10 years old. That proved that people were so anxious to get their children to work that they would, in some instances, make them rather work than have them educated; and, therefore, the Bill said that unless a child of 10 years of age had received a labour pass or a certificate that he had received a certain amount of education, he would not be allowed to work. Was he (Mr. Hardy) to be told that that was no strain on parental responsibility?—that a widow who was looking forward to the day when her son would reach the age of 10, and be a means of support to her, would not perceive that she had an interest in sending him to school from the age of five years till he was 10 years old?—that a father who wished to apprentice his son to his own trade would not be influenced in his heart and mind by the fact that unless he sent that son to school from the age of five years, or unless he obtained the labour pass he would not be allowed to work when he was 10 years old? Parents in this country were determined that their children should labour, and therefore they would take every step that might enable them to do so. Was it nothing that a parent should be called to account for not sending his child to school? Besides the children of the honest and industrious people of this country, there were wastrel children, the children of idle and improvident parents. They existed, probably, less in country districts than in large towns. The Bill cast a duty upon those parents to see that their children were educated, and the parents were made responsible. It was no answer at all to say that that part of the Bill would render necessary the building of more industrial schools. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh complained that too much use was already made of indus- trial schools by the school boards. He (Mr. Hardy) did not say whether the right hon. Gentleman was right or wrong, but it proved that the Government were proceeding on the lines of the very Act which hon. Members on the opposite side of the House praised. They, therefore, could not complain if the Government used these industrial schools as a last resort against improvident parents—not against them alone, but in the interest of their children. When the young children of parents who would not take charge of them were left without friends and there was no one who would do anything for them, the State, in its own interest, must step in, because it could not allow those children to fester and grovel in the mud, and to bring a pestilence on the country. Therefore what trouble they might incur, or however much they might spend, it was for the sake of these young children that they must take up the case. They provided parental responsibility so far as educating the child, but they also said that if the child was not instructed, they would take him from negligent and improvident parents, that he should not be left a waif and a stray to become a burden and a plague to the State. And when he was told that the Government were proposing to do something which would prevent these children from working, his answer to those who made that objection was—"Look at your own Act." That Act provided that a child between 10 and 13 years of age should attend school, and it provided for the total or partial exemption of such child from attendance at school if one of Her Majesty's Inspectors should certify that such child had reached a certain standard of education. What was that but a prohibition from labour? He was sorry that he should now be obliged to say a few words on a point touched upon by the hon. Member for Hastings—namely, the objection of Nonconformists. He (Mr. Hardy) wanted to know whether Nonconformists or Secularists, or whoever they might be, who opposed the Bill, did so on the ground that they objected only to indirect compulsion, or did they object to compulsion of any kind, direct or indirect, which might drive a child to a denominational school, where a religion different from its own was taught? He wanted to know that, because in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield there was no check upon direct compulsion, and there would be as much danger of the dreaded evil from direct as from indirect compulsion. Then as to what was said by the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) he (Mr. Hardy) thought that he might almost leave him alone in his isolation. He seemed to glory in standing alone. He was not with them, he was not against them; but he should think that the noble Lord, having gone over to Ireland, had much modified his views. He could not understand his taking such strongly exceptional views. The Conscience Clause was a Conscience Clause, or it was not; and if it was such a clause, then under it any child coming to a public elementary school was entitled to receive full secular instruction, and was not obliged to submit itself to any denomination. If he was asked why he thought this was a fair and reasonable Bill, he would say he did so because, while he did justice to all, it gave to voluntary schools that of which they had been deprived, and the means of obtaining better attendances than they had ever obtained. He would not hesitate to say that he infinitely preferred voluntary schools to board schools, and he preferred strictly religious teaching to anything shadowy and vague that the board schools might afford. He thought the denominational schools were the outcome of the mind of England. He found that poor men would rather have their children educated in schools where some religion was taught than in schools where none was taught; and that only in the rarest possible instances did any man belonging to the poorer classes in this country wish to withdraw his child from a school because he was not of exactly the same creed. For many a long year Nonconformists in that country—especially the Protestant Nonconformists—sent their children to Church schools, whilst they devoted their own money to building chapels and Sunday-schools, and to their own direct religious teaching. They used the schools that were provided for them, and they used them without any hindrance of those who governed them, and without any unfair influence being exercised on the children they sent to those schools. In his opinion they would never have thorough education— instruction was one thing and education another—they would never have real sound education, that of the heart as well as the intellect, unless there was sound religious teaching in the schools. He did not mean religious teaching as an extra to be thrown aside in a corner, and the children, as a mother had said, made to suppose that it was a thing that could not be brought into the light, but something that ought to be kept in the back-ground. He maintained that a free and fair religious education to all made the best school, although, at the same time, he would allow the parent of the child the fullest liberty to withdraw the child from that religious education if he thought fit to do so. That was the principle that had been adopted in the voluntary schools, though it might not have been carried into effect in a manner that all would desire; but it was the principle, and one which that House for many years not only recognized, but encouraged, because for many years no secular schools could receive any grant from that House. But times had changed, and they had submitted to it, and they gave grants to secular schools. But he asked whether such grants could be made without invading the conscience of the ratepayers, and whether the consciences of the ratepayers were not invaded when they were called upon to pay rates for schools which they utterly condemned, which they denounced, and which they thought unworthy of the name of schools, because they gave an education which, however much it might improve the intellect, did not touch the heart? There was a great town in that country in which men's feelings were outraged by those means, and he ventured to ask whether there were not many men in Birmingham who grudged the school rates they paid, who would willingly pay them if their children received a religious education. He said boldly, that, without the slightest unfairness to board schools, the Bill would afford the means of filling voluntary schools, and would give them the fair chance that was promised them at the time when the Act of 1870 was passed. He would refer to the opinion of one who was pretty strong in his opinions on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London had said during the passing of the Bill of 1870, that this Education Bill was a new one, and should be founded upon the principles which were fair and just, and that the only way to make the Bill fair and just in the opinions of tens of thousands of religious men was to make it fair to voluntary schools, and that therefore the Bill was intended not to destroy, but to supplement those schools; and it was upon that ground that the Bill passed. However, great numbers of persons went about saying that their object in supporting that measure was to destroy, sap, and undermine those public elementary schools which were raised by voluntary means. [Mr. MUNDELLA: No, no!] He had not accused the hon. Member for Sheffield of participating in that object. Just the reverse. He said the hon. Member was too great a friend to education to wish to destroy a good system of education, even although it was not altogether in his own direction. That, however, was not the case with all, for he saw by the papers of the League that their object was not to supplement, but to supplant the voluntary schools, and to destroy all that which gave its force and efficacy to the education of this country. He asked whether this Bill proposed to do anything that was unduly favourable towards the denominational schools as compared with the board schools. Some school boards had the power by their bye-laws of direct compulsion, and those which had not that power would receive under the Bill the advantage of indirect compulsion, with the power of resorting to direct compulsion whenever they thought proper. Boards of Guardians and Town Councils would under the measure be placed in the same position as the school boards, and there would not then be the necessity for those frequent elections that now were held. Town Councils would have the absolute power of adopting direct compulsion, and Boards of Guardians would have a similar power with the consent of their parishes. Under these circumstances both the voluntary schools and the board schools would be treated with perfect fairness. At the present moment there were school board bye-laws in force in Stockport, but no school board schools existed there, and direct compulsion was being used in that place to send all the children into denominational schools without any outcry such as was being made against this Bill being raised. He could not help thinking that when this Bill was first published a different feeling existed in men's minds from that now entertained, possibly owing to the effect of the opposition with which the measure was threatened by the Nonconformists. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) had made a noble protest on that subject, and it was time that such a protest should be made. If the voluntary schools were not efficient, and did not fairly do their duty and carry out the Conscience Clause, let them receive no money; but if they were educating the children and were doing their duty, do not let all England be stereotyped and drilled into one uniform system, but let us have the independent outflow of heart and mind of men who from principle gave their voluntary contributions and services. Depend upon it that if these men were chilled and their enthusiasm were driven back, the very fount of education would be destroyed, because it was from their efforts that all our educational schemes had arisen. People forgot what such men had done before any Education Bill came in to existence, and all the good that their expenditure and self-sacrifice had brought about. People talked as though education had only commenced some six years ago. Far from that being the case, the schools before that time were increasing in a greater ratio than the population, and the attendance in them was far beyond what could be expected under the then system. And it must be recollected that even now, with all the aid of direct compulsion, the attempt to till the schools had not been successful. How many thousands were there in London who were not yet brought within the schools, and in Birmingham, the place were compulsion had been carried out in the most stringent manner, there was the same difficulty in filling the schools, and so it always would be with our shifting population. He was astonished to hear from an hon. Member in that House the proposition that persons would move into districts where there were no schools within two miles of their residences for the purpose of evading the compulsory provisions of this Bill, because if they removed in sufficient numbers to affect the question it was as certain as the day that a school would follow them. The figures showed that in 1875 the earnings of the children in the voluntary schools was 12s.d. per head, and of those in the board schools 11s.d., a fact which proved that the voluntary were as efficient, if not more more so, as the board schools. In former days 200 attendances a-year were sufficient to enable a child to go up for inspection, and that number had been raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to 250, at which it still remained, and if a child attended 250 times a-year for five years it would be a very hard thing to stop him from going to work. The hon. Member had asked how these labour passes were to be granted, to which he (Mr. Hardy) replied that an Inspector or special Inspector should be appointed to grant them, and nothing would be easier than for the Inspector going to the school granting each child passing his examination his pass, although it was a matter of detail rather for the consideration of the Department than of the House of Commons. He did not think, in conclusion, that he had neglected to answer any point that had been brought forward in the debate, in endeavouring to give importance to points on which hon. Members had dwelt. He could not agree with the statements that had been made that there were at the present moment about 1,700,000 children in this country receiving no education whatever, because he was aware that each 50 or 60 children in the schools represented on an average some 80, or 90 children who occasionally attended. There were, however, he fully admitted, a sufficient number of truant children to induce them to proceed with this measure. He did not advocate direct compulsion. He had said on a former occasion, that if the country was prepared for it, it would be better to do it by legislative action than by indirect action, but he now said that the country was not ready for direct compulsion. Judging from the past six years' experience attendance could be enforced better by appealing to the people's feelings, by educating the parents of the country in the first instance, and resorting to terror only, to a certain extent, as a last resource. He believed the consequences of the Bill would be that the laborious and law-abiding people of this country, when the intelligible rule was made known to them that no child should be put to labour before he was 10 years old without a labour pass, which was to be earned only by attendance for live years, would approve it, and when it came before them not with the force of law, but with a gentle suasion they would obey it cheerfully. He believed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh that this measure would make a sensible and great step in the direction of real education; that it would meet the wants of all classes; and that where there were efficient schools which gave an education not only of the intellect, but of the heart, the children would be brought into them under it, and that the result would be that we should have an educated people not only in the sense of an instructed people, but an educated people in a moral and religious sense also.


said, he had been delighted in listening to the glowing eulogium passed on the voluntary school system, and on the advantages of religious education by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Hardy); but he asked what was there in the Bill to justify all this enthusiasm? The right hon. Gentleman, in concluding his speech, said that he thought he had left no argument which had been urged against the Bill unanswered, but he (the O'Conor Don) thought he had left on every important point untouched, for he had not told them what the Bill really would do for the voluntary school system. He asked what advantages did this Bill give to that system of education which the Conservative Party was peculiarly supposed to watch over and to protect, and, above all, what prospect did it hold out of security or stability in the future? To his mind this latter question was the all important one. A Bill that gave a little more money here and there to certain voluntary schools, a Bill that did not set up school boards and board schools everywhere, and whose chief merit consisted in having refrained from doing something rather than in what it did, was certainly a strange Bill for the Conservative Party to be satisfied with. When they examined the Bill was not its negative character its chief recommendation? When it was said that it did not establish school boards everywhere, and did not enforce universal compulsion, was not everything said that would be said either for or against it? The additional assistance which it proposed to give under certain circumstances to poor districts was, according to the statement of the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, a mere subsidiary proposal; it could be swept away in Committee without altering the character of the Bill, and even if passed the trifling extent to which it would benefit voluntary schools had been so clearly shown by his noble Friend the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) that he would not dwell upon it. The Bill interfered in no way with existing school boards; it left them and secured them in possession of all their advantages; it permitted their continuing in exactly the same way as if no alteration in the law took place; and although it permitted the trial of a different sort of machinery for carrying out educational requirements, yet that was eminently only a tentative proceeding, and if the machinery broke down, as he feared it would break down, the way was opened and made easy for the school boards. There was one very objectionable clause in the Bill, which required the attendance to be at Government schools in order to qualify for the labour certificate. This was quite a new feature in educational legislation. It was not required in the Act of 1870, and it would place voluntary schools, which were not in connection with the Government, at a very great disadvantage. Moreover, it would most seriously interfere with the employment of children who came over from Ireland with their parents, and who, although they might have attended at National Schools in that country, would not be allowed to labour in England, unless they could pass a standard of examination. Then as to general compulsion. It was true the Bill did not establish it at once, but its whole tendency was in the direction of its establishment. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) proposed by his Amendment that the House should endorse the recommendations of a Royal Commission upon which he (the O'Conor Don) had the honour of serving, which recommendation was to the effect that general compulsory education should be at once established. From that recommendation he had differed; he entertained a strong objection to interfering with parental rights and responsibilities. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that parents ought rather to be stimulated to look after the education of their children, than to have their responsibilities in this regard supplanted by the State, but he did not dissent from his Colleagues upon this ground. In his separate Report, to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, he had said nothing against compulsion, he merely declined to recommend its general adoption, because he thought it was outside the scope of an inquiry into the operation of the Factory Acts. In a circular which they issued immediately after their first meeting, the Commission stated the object of their inquiry, and in that circular not one word was said which would lead anyone to believe that this very wide recommendation was possible, and for himself he could say that he sat on the Commission for months before he had any idea that it was contemplated. He could not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, that any particular weight was due to this recommendation because it came from the Commission, for their inquiries had been confined to children employed in regulated labour. They had held their investigations only in the large towns, in most of which school boards and compulsory bye-laws existed, and upon the general question of education in the rural and agricultural districts, if they excepted the evidence of some of the officials connected with the Factory and Education Departments, they had no evidence worth a straw in regard to compulsion. He also deprecated the argument arising out of the example of Scotland, and contended that the evidence given before them proved that at the present time the education given in the large towns in Scotland was very inferior to that given in similar towns in England, and in support of this view he referred to the statements made by Sir John Wauchope, the head of the Education Department in Scotland, and by Mr. Walker, the chief Factory Inspector there, and also the Report of the Commission itself. At the same time he said he felt bound to admit that the evidence given in the large towns in England where compulsion had been tried was all in its favour. But if they turned to the Bill, if it had not accomplished all that the hon. Member for Sheffield desired, it certainly went a long way in the direction which he indicated. It clearly sanctioned the principle of compulsion; it ratified it where it existed; it gave new facilities for its enforcement; it proposed to place upon the parent who did not send his child to school even a greater penalty than a small temporary fine, for it proposed to deprive him of the advantages of a child's earnings at a time when those earnings would be most useful. Moreover, the penalty was one which would not fall exclusively on the parent, but would in many cases touch also the child. The non-ability of a child to bring in any earnings when he came to the age at which other children would be earning, would result, in many instances, in his being only half fed, badly clothed, and worse treated, and the penalty would then fall upon the innocent child as well as upon the guilty parent. He quite approved of the system of indirect, as opposed to direct compulsion, if it were likely to be successful in increasing the attendance of the children at school before they came to the age of 10; but if it merely resulted in punishing them after that age, he believed that direct compulsion would be preferable. On the whole, he would have preferred seeing the Government taking a bolder course, and proposing, if they thought it necessary, direct compulsion; but coupling this with such provisions as to voluntary schools as would place them, with regard at least to annual grants, upon a footing of complete equality with board schools. Universal and direct compulsion could never be justly enforced unless the parents had free choice of the schools to which their children were to be sent, and that freedom of choice should be a real one. It was no use telling parents they might send their child to a school of their own denomination, unless facilities were afforded for the keeping up of schools in accordance with their opinions. The hardship of obliging children of Dissenters and Roman Catholics to attend Church schools had been alluded to, and no doubt that would arise under any system of general compulsion; but it could not be met merely by the establishment of purely secular schools. There were just as strong conscientious objections entertained against sending children to those schools as to schools of a different denomination. The reason for this was obvious. The parent felt an objection to sending his child to a school belonging to a different religious community, not so much because he feared the child would take up the religious belief of that community, as because he might lose his own belief, and as there was often far more reason to expect that this loss of faith would be the result of the purely secular school teaching and associations, it was no wonder that a strong conscientious objection existed against it. Until this was clearly understood and recognized in legislation, compulsory education would in many instances amount to religious persecution. The difficulty should be met by affording every facility for carrying on education in accordance with the opinions of the parents, and by giving perfectly equal assistance by way of grants to schools in proportion to the educational results they accomplished, no matter in what schools they were accomplished, the cases of very small minorities being provided for by a very stringent Conscience Clause. He regretted that the Government Bill did little or nothing in that direction; he feared that a great opportunity was being lost, and that the result of the Bill if passed without alteration would be to make the way easy hereafter for the establishment of the purely secular system.


said, that having been a Member of the Commission he could state that the evidence taken by them was of such a character as to warrant them in recommending the adoption of the principle of direct compulsion. He believed that the Commissioners were unanimous in that recommendation, with the exception of the hon. Member who had just spoken, although they left it to the wisdom of Parliament to determine how that compulsion should be carried out. He entirely agreed with the Commission in the opinion that compulsion in some form was absolutely necessary in this country. He also agreed with the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) that all children should be educated, that employment should be no excuse, and that two miles distance from school should be no excuse for non-attendance. But there were some things in which he did not agree with the hon. Member. He could not agree with him when, he introduced into the debate the name of Joseph Arch as representing the working classes, because, in his opinion, it was unnecessary to do so, for the Commissioners had not the benefit of that gentleman's experience. The hon. Member himself volunteered his evidence, and his examination elicited facts for which the Commission were much indebted to him. All the evidence showed that there were a number of children who were not attending school, and the Commissioners could not help coming to the conclusion that the children of this country must be educated. The only question was as to the best mode of effecting that object. Employers of labour, managers of large factories and workshops, clergymen, ministers, schoolmasters, Inspectors of Education, and the working men themselves came to one and the same conclusion—that all the children ought to be educated, but they did not see any way of arriving at that result without compulsion. The friends and opponents of school boards equally agreed in this conclusion. Schoolmasters wanted more regular attendance; but it did not appear that they got it, except where school boards existed, and made attendance compulsory. For himself he should prefer a permissive Bill and voluntary attendance, because a child who went to school of his own free will was always a better learner than a child who was driven there. One great obstacle to education was that ignorant, and therefore indifferent, though loving, mothers looked upon it as a hardship to the children that they should be obliged to go to school. These mothers would say—"I never went to school; I never had any education; I do not know that my children are any better than I am, but I have got on somehow, and they will get on somehow too." There was another class of mothers who were too idle to exert themselves to clean and send their children to school, and who sent them to run about the streets or anywhere so long as they got out of their way. Although there was much less of that kind of thing now than there had been 15 years ago, there was still a great deal of it existing yet, and how were these children to be got at unless they were driven to school. In some of the agricultural districts, to which the inquiries of the Royal Commission had extended, there was objection to compulsion on the ground that it would work great hardship; but those who said that looked at the matter from a very narrow point of view. There was in the country districts a surplus population, which was increasing in consequence of the introduction of machinery in agriculture and the laying down of grass land to save labour. That surplus population naturally migrated to the towns in search of work; but before they could get employment they must be educated to the extent of their being able to compete with those labourers who were already there. A teams man or a waggoner might get on without education, but when he came to a town and endeavoured to get employment for his children, the case was very different. All trades were being more or less interfered with by Act of Parliament imposing regulations which required not only to be read, but also to be understood, so that the capacity to read and to comprehend was more than ever necessary on railways, in mills, and in the service of companies; and porters, pointsmen, and policemen equally required some degree of education. In fact the day was not far distant when an uneducated person would be unable to get employment, except upon a farm. When children entered mills owners had a right to expect that they should be able to read and comprehend the rules that were drawn up not only for their guidance, but also for their safety and protection. Unless there was compulsion, many of the children who ought to receive this necessary instruction would be left out of the schools. He agreed with the general provisions of the Bill, but considered it was too permissive. It laid it down that Town Councils "may," Guardians "may," and sanitary authorities "may" do this and the other; but his experience, which had been considerable in all those bodies, taught him that they very seldom did do—"may do," therefore, ought to be "shall do." In the case of assessment committees, their duty was made imperative, and, generally speaking, it was done, and well done, and the bodies he referred to would do their duty when, instead of it being left to the exercise of their own discretion, it was clearly and specifically laid down for them as it was for the assessment committees. The complaints about cases of hardship imposed upon poor widows with large families, and poor men with eight or ten children earning only 7s. or 8s. a-week, in driving the children to school and preventing them from working were only the usual stock-in-trade, and a repetition of what lad been heard any time the last 20 fears whenever any restriction was proposed. From the long faces of the cotton spinners at certain times it might have been supposed that the working of the mills depended upon the mere infants which worked in them, but when the Acts came into operation the mills went on as usual. No doubt there might be individual cases of hardship, but there were thousands of rich people in this country who would be only too glad to relieve such cases, and the cry of hardship came only from drunken and improvident parents who desired to trade on their children, for, of course, the less the children earned the less the parent would have to spend in self-indulgence. He believed that if the Bill were passed, with Amendments, it would have the support of the country, and that difficulties would vanish when it came into operation. In this, as in other cases, where there was a will there was a way. As regarded board schools, there were very strong feelings in Lancashire against school boards and board schools. Great efforts had been made in the shape of erecting schools, but the managers were unanimous in stating that there was a great difficulty in getting the children to attend with any regularity. He therefore thought that there must be a more definite compulsion. Unless compulsion were provided that class of children which had been spoken of as "wastrels" would continue largely to exist, would be left in the streets, and would be ill-fitted for industrial occupation when the time came that they must work. He did not approve of education without some religious instruction, and if it were banished on account of the opposition of those who, because they could not control it, would not let others do so, the zeal of all religious bodies alike would induce them to supply the deficiency in some other way, for he was perfectly sure those great Bodies outside the Church would not long endure a purely secular system. He trusted that before the Bill was read a second time the noble Lord would give them some assurance that in Committee he would consent to its being made compulsory in its operation.


said, he desired to thank the last speaker for the excellent speech he had delivered. He must confess that, notwithstanding the very able and interesting speech of the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Sandon), he (Sir John Lubbock) felt some diffi- culty in understanding how the measure would work, or whether it would work at all. He regretted that the Government had not seen its way to a simpler and more direct mode of action. A good deal had been said in this debate of the unpopularity of school boards, but so far from the London School Board being unpopular, his impression was, that the metropolis highly appreciated its labours and the admirable manner in which they had carried out the arduous task entrusted to them and was grateful for its efforts; and if board schools earned rather less than schools conducted by other bodies, it was to be remembered that many of them were situated in previously neglected districts. The noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert, Montagu) and other hon. Members had said that compulsion was not even the rule with school boards, but the fact that that system had been resorted to by 97 cities and boroughs out of the 99 in which school boards existed, was to his mind conclusive in its favour. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had referred to education in foreign countries, upon which it was asked, "What had we to do with foreign countries?—it was we who should lead and not follow them!" But before we could lead people we must get ahead. Hon. Members opposite objected to our being influenced in education by the action of foreign countries, but it must be remembered that the House was called upon to vote year by year vast sums in order that we might be kept on the footing, in the way of armaments, of that which was doing abroad. He thought we might very well vie with foreign countries in education as well as in military expenditure. Now, had any foreign country adopted the principles contained in the Bill? He believed not, and the Factory and Workshops Commissioners had given very good reasons why. Clause 4 had been described as the keystone of the Bill. But in order that it should be effective, a parent would have to remember months, and even years beforehand, that his child would require a certificate of attendance; he would require to watch carefully that the number of attendances was made up, and have faith that the watchfulness of Government would be sufficiently all-pervading to prevent him from finally escaping its requirements. A parent so foreseeing, however, would send his child to school without any interference on the part of the Government. Those were not the parents with whom the Bill was intended to deal. The Commissioners truly said, that such a provision as that combined the maximum of hardships with the minimum of efficiency. They feared that the requirement would operate in practice merely to exclude from the labour market for a time the bulk of the children who attained the age fixed by the Legislature for first employment. In fact, there would be many children whom the Bill would forbid to work, and yet for whom it would provide no motive which should make them learn. But the noble Lord, no doubt, hoped to deal with these cases by means of Clause 7. Local authorities, however, would find considerable difficulty in putting it into effect. The local authority was to put the law in motion if the parent— Continuously and habitually and without reasonable excuse neglects to provide such elementary instruction for his child as would enable him to obtain a certificate under the Act. But, as 125 days' attendance was all that was necessary, the local authority would practically be unable to act till the beginning of August, because up to that period the parent might plead that more than sufficient working days still remained. In that case it was obvious that for more than seven months in the year that provision would be a dead letter. There were many of the smaller details of the Bill which required further explanation. For instance, a child might be kept at home for "necessary domestic duties," but that might mean minding the baby or keeping the house clean, which were very necessary, but if such duties were accepted as an excuse for non-attendance the Act would become a dead letter. Then it seemed to be altogether a boys' Bill—it might affect boys, perhaps, but it did not apply to girls. In making these remarks, however, he did not wish them to be understood as hostile to the Bill. Naturally in discussing a measure people dwelt on its defects, but there were parts of this Bill which he for one could not but hope would on the whole work well, and diminish the proportion of children who would grow up altogether without education. A great part of it, indeed, was permissive, but it had one advantage over the Agricultural Children Act, which, it was said, had been a failure. Under the present Bill, however, if the authorities did not avail themselves of the Bill, it was then the duty of the Education Department to interfere. That was an important, and would be a most effective part of the measure, and if energetically administered, it might certainly do a very great deal of good, because, if the local authority neglected its duty, the Education Department might appoint persons to perform it, and charge the expense to the defaulters. One subject for congratulation, at all events, was this, that by the present Bill Her Majesty's Government and their supporters were committed to the great principle that children were not to be allowed to grow up in ignorance. To meet this they had proposed a particular remedy. Many hon. Members doubted whether it would effect the object; but if it did break down, the Government would, he supposed, try another mode of dealing with the question. The principle of the 14th clause seemed to him excellent. In all probability the expense thrown on the country would be small, but prizes were not to be measured by their mere pecuniary value. He had no doubt but that this clause would prove a powerful stimulus to many a schoolmaster and to thousands of children in the elementary schools. In conclusion, he would only express the hope that the Government would consent in Committee to consider Amendments with a view to strengthen thee provisions of the Bill, and then it might effect, or at least do something towards effecting, the great object which the House and the country had so much at heart.


said, there appeared to be an opinion prevalent in consequence of his having made adverse criticisms, after he had heard the statement of the noble Lord who introduced the Bill that, therefore, he was opposed to it. It was also said that he was very much hurt that the Agricultural Children Act was to be repealed, but the fact was he was glad that Act was to be repealed. It never was more than a stop-gap until some general measure was passed. As to this Education Bill, he found that objection was taken to the fact that it proposed to vest power in the Boards of Guardians, and he observed that the Agricultural Labourers' Union declared that the Guardians were not proper persons to deal with education, because of their association with pauperism. He thought that Boards of Guardians were really the municipalities of the rural districts. All sorts of duties were thrust on them which they had not to discharge a few years ago. They had now to look after the health of a district, and he did not see why they could not look after the education of their Union and apply compulsion, because health and education were necessary to preserve them from pauperism. He did not think that Boards of Guardians would have any difficulty in putting compulsion in force between the ages of 5 and 10, because public opinion was so entirely in favour of it. There was one point he wished to press on the attention of the noble Lord. A child might under the Bill complete his 250 attendances in six months, and for the remainder of the year he might go about an educated wastrel. He might do anything except enter regular employment. As to the non-employment of children in the North, he pointed out that the reason the farmers there did not require juvenile labour was that a great many women were employed, and this explained how it was the farmers in the North could pay their men well. If they went into a field in the North they would see two women to one man employed; but if they came to Norfolk and further into East Anglia and throughout the South, they would see 20 men and boys working, but no women. He pointed out exceptions which were made in the Bill with regard to certain seasons of the year, such as at corn and hay harvest; but, he said, these exceptions were not wanted. He, however, thought the exception in favour of hop-picking was a proper one, but it only concerned a small district. Children were useful in finicking operations of husbandry, such as weeding, picking stones, singling turnips, and so on, and a child could earn 6d. a-day very easily, and if children did not do it probably it would not be done at all. There was also the case of the market gardeners, who found children useful in picking fruit and planting potatoes. He thought these were points worth con- sidering. His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield said, in the able speech which he made the other evening, that the agricultural labourer was in favour of compulsion, and he knew their delegates contended that the Agricultural Children Act ought to be put in operation everywhere; but he had never found more than two agricultural labourers who were in favour of that being done, and one of those was a man who had never had a child; while the other had no child who was within the school age. As a general rule what they said was, that as soon as ever their children could earn a trifle they should be very glad. It was all well enough to talk of the Report of the Royal Commissioners on Factories and Workshops. But he thought the Commissioners had overstepped their Instructions when they made recommendations in respect of agriculture. He would also observe that it was a mistake to suppose that if the House should decide that there should be universal compulsion up to 13or 14, it would be easy to enforce it. There was, for instance, that very useful measure, the Vaccination Act, which insisted that something should be done for children of which they would find the benefit throughout their lives, and yet there were scores of persons who rebelled against that law, so that there was a great deal of bother attendant on the enforcement of its provisions. There was another Act which said that all pauper children who could not pass the Fifth Standard should go to school until they were 13 years old, and the consequence was that there were remonstrances without end against it, and that the Boards of Guardians throughout the kingdom were opposed to it, and that Standard had to be reduced from the Fifth to the Third, whereupon a cry of a dreadful Conservative re-action was set up. Although it would be found that during the 12 months which first elapsed since the order was issued only 1,470 pauper children had passed the required Standard, in the first six months after the Agricultural Children Act came into force no fewer than 600 pauper children had been allowed to go to work, because they had complied with its provisions. He was glad to see that by the provisions of the Bill no difference in the future was to be made between the education of pauper and other children. His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield had also stated that the country gentlemen, and by implication he embraced all magistrates and clergymen, were opposed to education, but against that statement he must strongly protest. There were, it was true, a few farmers who thought it hard that they should be called upon to provide the means of educating their neighbours' children, when they could hardly provide for the education of their own; but the country gentlemen generally wished children to have a sound religious education; while they, like the farmers, objected to the compulsory formation of school boards throughout the districts in which they resided, and to having certain accomplishments taught in board schools paid for by the ratepayers. The Bill before the House, he might add, had been characterized by his hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) as a wise, a comprehensive, and a well-considered measure. The more he had heard it discussed, the more was he disposed to endorse that opinion. He looked upon it as a mild, a gentle, and a persuasive measure. It did not certainly do too much or go too fast, but it was as well that country people should be made to walk before they ran. Another good thing about the Bill was, that it upset nothing, except, perhaps, his little Agricultural Children Act, and that it happily did not compel the creation of any new boards. It enlisted the sympathies of every employer in the rural districts, and it tended to encourage the intelligence and the talents of every poor child throughout the country. It held out every possible inducement to the good parent to send his child early and regularly to school, while it applied to the indifferent parent the very strong argument of the breeches pocket. It was a measure which, in his opinion, would in a very short time give us all the benefits which one could expect to derive from direct compulsion, without the harsh, the arbitrary, the irritating and reactionary tendencies which all direct compulsion must engender.


I do not intend to make a speech on this occasion. But I wish merely to call attention to one or two facts of considerable gravity in connection with the matter now before us. The question of compulsion, direct and indirect, and the educational aspects of the Government measure generally, have been discussed with great ability on both sides on the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). But the House must be aware that there are other elements contained in the Bill which have only been referred to cursorily and incidentally. I refer particularly to the immense additional power thrown into the hands of the denominational schools, and the bearing of that upon the rights and liberties of large classes of Her Majesty's subjects who are not members of the particular religious communion to which the overwhelming majority of these denominational schools belong. On this point I feel it my duty to inform the House that nearly all the Nonconformist Bodies in the country have pronounced against the Bill with a unanimity and earnestness which I have seldom or ever before witnessed. The United Nonconformist Committees of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and other large towns, which met recently at Crewe, declared their conviction that the principles of religious liberty are seriously violated by the Bill. To the same effect are the Resolutions of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, representing upwards of 4,000 churches; of the Baptist Union, representing upwards of 3,000 churches; of the deputies of the three denominations, in and about London; of the Unitarian Association; of the Liberation Society; and last, not least, the powerful body of Wesleyan Methodists, who have condemned it as unequivocally and emphatically as any class whatever. I hope that neither the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council nor any other hon. Member of this House, will think it wise to ignore or despise the opinions of so large a body of our countrymen on a question in which they are so intimately concerned. For let me remind the House who these people are, what place they occupy, and what a work they are doing, in connection with our national life. I observe that recently an able and competent statistician, in a paper read before the Statistical Society on the "Statistics of Religious Institutions" in this country, stated, on what appear to have been carefully-prepared and authentic data, that while the Church of England provides between 18,000 and 19,000 places of worship, the non-Established or Nonconformist Bodies provide 28,000 such places, all of them built without a penny being derived from tithe, or tax, or rate, or any form of compulsory impost, but as the pure offspring of voluntary zeal and liberality. What may be the amount of money invested in these buildings I have no means of ascertaining, but it must be very large. The same authority estimates that the amount raised for the support of these places and the various institutions connected with them cannot be less than £6,000,000 a-year. Now, I say it is not wise, not true statesmanship, in considering a question so essentially a national one as popular education, to leave out of account the opinions and feelings of so large a portion of the nation. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), in his speech on Thursday last, referred to these Resolutions of the Nonconformists. I confess I listened to that speech with much the same feelings as the hon. Member described himself as having experienced on seeing the Resolutions—those of great surprise and regret. Earlier in the Session that hon. Member delivered a speech on the Burials Bill, conceived in a spirit so generous and courageous in its vindication of the rights of the Nonconformists, that I felt he had earned the gratitude of all the Dissenters in the Kingdom by the good service he had rendered to them on that occasion. And when I saw him get up to take part in the education debate I said to myself, now we shall have a speech that will uphold the principles of religious liberty. But great was my astonishment to find the hon. Gentleman launching forth into a vehement Philippic against the Nonconformists, because they had dared to say that they considered this Bill, if it passed into law, would involve a serious violation of the rights of conscience, and place them at a disadvantage as respects their religious interests and liberties. For that the hon. Gentleman denounced them as impracticable and intolerant. And it was curious and edifying to observe the rapturous delight with which hon. Gentlemen on the other side received these charges of intolerance against the Nonconformists. It is always interesting to witness such spontaneous ebullitions of self-conscious and indignant virtue on the part of the righteous, who are perfectly exempt from the infirmities which they so emphatically rebuke in others. For, no doubt, it was the profound sense of their own perfect tolerance that made them so wrathful at the intolerance of the Dissenters. Whether the eagerness with which any allusion to the Nonconformists in the way of reproach or ridicule is received on the other side be a sign of tolerance or intolerance it is not for me to decide; but certainly, if I were to recommend to any young Member of the House, especially on this side, a sure means of obtaining an easy, if somewhat hollow oratorical success, I should say to him—Have a fling at the Nonconformists, and your fortune is made. And especially if you stand up with a jaunty air, and with an easy wafture of your hand exclaim—"There is no religious difficulty in education"—though the same declaration has been made before probably 20 times, you will stand a good chance of being greeted with what the reporters call "loud and long-continued cheers." One of the oddest things I know is the way in which hon. Gentlemen in this House, and especially on the other side, seem to think that they are better acquainted with the position, the interests, and the feelings of the Nonconformists than they are themselves. The Nonconformists meet sometimes in large conferences of from 800 to 1,000 persons from all parts of the Kingdom, at other times by Representative Bodies, consisting of their most trusted and honouredmen, who are chosen because they are assumed to understand the circumstances, the wishes, and feelings of those whom they represent; and they pass resolutions expressing their judgment of public measures, as they have done on this occasion, declaring that in their belief there is danger to their most cherished interests involved in its provisions. But any hon. Member in this House feels himself entitled to waive all that aside, and to say—"These good people are entirely mistaken; there is no hardship or grievance in the matter." I hear it constantly repeated here by one and another—"There is no religious difficulty whatever in education. I have had experience in my little parish in the country, and I have met with no religious difficulty, and therefore there is no religious difficulty." Now, I submit to hon. Gentlemen whether it is not reasonable to assume that those who live in the midst of the scenes and circumstances, and are intimately acquainted from experience with the conditions under which a law is to come into operation, will be able to forecast more accurately how likely it is to affect them than hon. Members of this House can be who move in a totally different social circle, and are surrounded by totally different circumstances? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Berkshire went so far as to say that the action of the Nonconformists in this matter was "got up for Party and political purposes." Now, with all respect to the hon. Member—and no one respects him more highly than I do—I must give to that statement a peremptory and emphatic denial. Whether these people are right or wrong, whether they are correct or otherwise in the judgment they have formed of this measure, there is not the smallest doubt that they are perfectly sincere in the apprehension they entertain as to its sinister influence on their rights and interests. I am not going to argue the matter at present—for it is a point which cannot, in my opinion, be advantageously discussed on the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield; but I hope, on a future stage of the Bill, to raise a distinct and special issue on the question. I think—if it is not presumptuous in me to say so—that I could answer the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War on the religious question. Indeed, there was very little argument in that part of his speech. The impassioned declamation on the value of religion and of religious education, which always elicits such tumultuous cheers on the other side, amounts to very little, except to afford hon. Gentlemen opposite an easy way of proving what an extremely religious party they are. Such declamation is entirely beside the mark. The question is not, whether it is desirable to give a religious training to our people. On that point there is no difference of opinion. There is none, at least, so far as I am concerned. I yield to no man in this House in my anxiety to have children religiously educated. I go further, and agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, that there ought to be distinct, clear, positive, religious teaching. I do not believe in a neutral religion that has no blood in its veins—something that will please everybody and displease nobody. But the question is, when and by whom it is to be given? Our contention is, that you cannot give distinct positive religious teaching in schools supported out of public money without violating the rights of conscience. I hold that justice is as an essential part of religion, and no amount of dogmatic theology you can pour into a child's mind can compensate for the affront you offer to the spirit of religion by violating the principles of justice and charity in your administration of the schools. But I contend further, that the religious instruction you give in day schools is practically of very little value. You will find abundant proof of this in the Reports of the official Inspectors of Church of England schools, so long as those Reports were presented. Here is one specimen from the Report of the Rev. J. R. Blakiston— Many a time have I had to listen, sorrowfully enough, to disquisitions on the extreme importance of 'the religious element' in the education which our day schools offer to the children of the poor; the said 'religious element' consisting in the repetition by rote of the driest formulæ,or the reading and learning of a passage of Scripture, it being a mere chance whether the teacher feels the slightest religious interest in the subject. Nothing stands more fatally in the way of a sound system of a National education than the notion that there is the faintest religious culture realized by any process of this sort. The wonder literally is, when we consider how such children are taught religion, that even the dimmest religious reverence survives. Because I believe so profoundly in the importance of the religious element in education, I deprecate this miserable parody on it so earnestly. Let us have honest secular teaching in our National schools—very religious work so far—and then if Christian parents, Sunday schools, Christian teachers, and the atmosphere of the life of a Christian nation cannot add the higher—that is, the true religious influence—perhaps the less we talk about our national Christianity the better. But I forbear at present entering further on the argument. I intend, on going into Committee, to move a Resolution that will fairly raise this part of the question. I know hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike these semi-religious discussions in this House, and nobody can dislike them more utterly than I do; but if you thrust them into education and other Bills that are brought before this House, they must be discussed. And I am convinced that notwithstanding their repugnance to the subject, hon. Gentle- men will not refuse to listen to us, as they have never yet refused to me at least their kindly indulgence in attempting to address the House, if we state our views, as I hope we always shall, with moderation and candour, and in the spirit of Christian charity.


said, they had not heard from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down what it was that the Nonconformists objected to in the Bill, but no doubt when he raised the question in Committee they would have an opportunity of answering his objections when he told them what they were. For his part, he thanked Her Majesty's Government for having brought in so excellent a Bill. He himself some years ago advocated the principle which they had adopted—namely, that of giving parents a direct interest in the education of their children. Notwithstanding what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite, to expect that parents would give a religious education to their children was to expect what never would come to pass. Whatever might be said of the agricultural districts, and whatever objections might be urged by the Nonconformists, they knew that education which the people had hitherto obtained had come from the Church of England and emanated from the agricultural districts. Gentlemen opposite talked as if those residing in the agricultural districts had no care for the education of their people. He emphatically denied that such was the case. When he farmed largely some years ago, he always employed a schoolmaster three times a week in the winter season to keep up the education of the boys, so as to enable them afterwards to become, if they liked, policemen or railway officials. There were men in this House who owed their position to the education they had received in those little schools, which hon. Gentlemen opposite treated so lightly. He did not want to make out the labouring population to be all good or all bad; but he maintained that they were as anxious about the education of their children as hon. Gentlemen themselves, or any other class of the community, and even if they were not, when they knew that their children could not go to work unless they received a certain amount of education, they would insist on their attendance at school. It had been stated that the labouring classes fell back upon the in- dustrial schools for the education of their children; that was a libel upon them. He felt very strongly that the education should not be a merely secular education, and he deprecated the introduction into the schools of those kinds of dogmas which some people taught; but if this was to be a Christian nation they should not exclude from the schools the only book which would be of any value, and he was sorry to see the proposal supported by the Nonconformists. There ought to be a clause in the Bill that no school board should have the power to exclude the Bible from the schools, and if no one else would move a clause to that effect, he would do so, and divide the House upon it. Although strongly opposed to Roman Catholicism he would rather send his child to a Roman Catholic school than to one where he would never hear the name of God or of Christ.


said, he disapproved of the Bill because it gave a certain portion of the community a strong power over other portions which they ought never to possess. If skilfully worked, it could be made a powerful auxiliary in spreading the doctrines of the Established Church and giving it a superiority over other sects. It would also do that which should be done alone by Protestant Missionary Societies, and for that reason it was not worthy of support. He also considered the Bill to be unsatisfactory and incomplete, because it was merely of a permissive character. It would be altogether inoperative among the mining population. By the 5th clause the Mine Inspectors were the persons upon whom the duty would devolve of seeing that the children in the mining districts were educated; but, considering the many duties which they already had to discharge, the Bill in that respect was a deliberate farce. They would not be able to do what was expected of them even if their number was doubled or trebled. They should therefore relegate the duty to a proper authority, such as the school boards, or if they did not do that, they should adopt compulsory legislation altogether. The Bill, they were told, was one of progress, but unless its provisions were carefully revised, the progress would be one of retrogression. The Scotch Act, of which he had had some experience, had been alluded to, and the hon. Mem- ber for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) had said that it had been put into force without effect. That that was not the case he would show by quoting the individual case of the district with which he himself was connected. Four hundred and fifty persons had been brought before the board of which he was a member for not educating their children, and at least 90 per cent of these persons had one reason only to assign—namely, that their children were engaged in necessary domestic employment, and therefore they could not afford to send them to school. If the clause which made that a valid excuse were retained, it would open a door for evasion, and no progress would be made. When the Act came into operation in the year 1872, in his parish they had accommodation for 2,722 children. The first act of the newly-appointed school board was to have a proper census taken, and they found by this means that of children between the ages of 5 and 13 there were 4,934. It was impossible to carry out the Act at once, as they had 1,500 children to provide for, but they set about doing the best they could, and built wooden booths and borrowed chapels, and still they were unable for a year or more to compel the attendance of children as the law directed. They commenced building three large schools, and they were completed in 1875 at a cost of £15,000. The House had been told of the large burden which the school boards imposed on the rates, but in the parish to which he referred, the assessable rental was £74,000, and upon this the tax levied was only 2½d. in the pound on landlords, and 2½d. on tenants, making 5d. in the pound in 1875, whilst this year it was only 3d. in the pound between the two. There were now in the parish school board schools of the value of £24,000, and in 23 years' time they would have every one of those schools free from debt, with a rate not exceeding 3d. in the pound per annum. They had now accommodation for 4,647 children, or for nearly 2,000 more than they had accommodation for in 1872. The average attendance of children was 3,729. So much for the cost of building by school boards about which so much had been said. He denied that school board elections were necessarily expensive. In the district with which he was connected an election took place in April last, and its cost was only £64, or one farthing per pound on the assessable property. It had been said by the hon. Member for Wigtonshire (Mr. Vans Agnew) that school boards did not give satisfaction in Scotland. He (Mr. Macdonald) had as much experience on the subject as any hon. Member in that House, and he ventured to say he had never heard a single expression against them from any honest, intelligent working man. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had told them school boards were distasteful. No doubt they were in some cases. Where one man in a parish had been accustomed to mould opinion and regulate all educational matters, school boards which disturbed the old routine might to a certain extent be distasteful, just as light was to the owls; but with a compulsory system of education, he believed they would be found the best means of overcoming the difficulties of the present question. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War he considered was more declamatory than argumentative, and contained more impassioned eloquence than solid thought. In it, the right hon. Gentleman had boasted of having answered all the arguments which had been brought forward by the other side; but there was one argument he had not addressed himself to, and that was the one built by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) on the 7th clause of the Bill. It was to be hoped that the Government would give some consideration to that argument. He must repeat that if the Bill was not amended with reference to the mining population, it would be little less than a farce, if the Mining Inspectors were to be left to carry the measure into execution.


said, he could not admit that the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Macdonald) had made out any case against the Bill before the House. He ventured to think it was—using the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair)—a distinct advance, an honest and a very considerable advance, in making provision for the education of our children. What did the Bill provide? That every school board, town council, and local authority throughout the country should have the power, if they thought fit, to apply direct compulsion. It put the 74th section of the Act of 1870 into the hands of authorities now existing—not to be created at a considerable cost, but now existing—and who, from their known capacity for administration and habit of government, might be expected to undertake and discharge strictly the duties imposed on them. The Bill enforced indirect compulsion, for it imposed penalties on the employers of children who were not instructed. It required that children, if they desired to earn wages, should either have obtained a certificate that they had passed a certain Standard, or that they had completed 250 attendances at school during the previous year. It also applied direct compulsion to all children not at work, all children under 10 years of age desirous to work, and all children above 10 years of age found idle or wandering. He therefore claimed for the Bill that the powers which it put into the hands of local authorities were large steps in advance. He had taken a considerable share in the cause of education, and, with all the interest he took in the subject, he should hesitate to take broader, larger, or wider steps at the present moment In prosecuting the work of education they could only take sure steps by making it quite certain and clear that they were supported by the public opinion of the country. He had heard many hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen complain that this was a poor attempt to enforce attendance at school, and that it would not be so effective as direct compulsion. Well, he had ascertained the progress that had been made by a school board in which he took a deep interest some time ago, and which he thought must be admitted to have endeavoured most loyally to carry out the principle of direct compulsion. He had enjoyed the honour of being a member of that Board until he was called to other duties, and there was no part of his official life which was more satisfactory to him than that in which he was engaged in promoting the education of the children of this great metropolis. He claimed that the Board charged with these duties had done its work thoroughly and heartily. Indeed, he ventured to think that some harm had been done to the cause of education by the firmness with which that Board did its work, for it had caused some amount of reaction. It had a right, therefore, to claim the confidence of those who believed in the principle of direct compulsion. Well, what was the result of the efforts of the London School Board to enforce the principle of direct compulsion? In answer to a letter asking for information which he wrote to the Clerk of the Board he received this statement— At the last Census the number of children of school age for whom elementary provision should be made in London was 574,693. Allowing for growth of population, we estimate that at Midsummer of this year the number will be 614,670. At Christmas last the total number of school places was 412,259—viz. 288,702 involuntary schools and 123,557 in new Board schools, or in schools transferred to the Board. The above number (412,259) will be increased to 469,048. In brief, at the present moment for 614,670 children the Board think it necessary to provide 469,048 school places. The average attendance last Midsummer was 287,033, and last Christmas, after a very bad half-year, 288,497. As far as I hear, a very considerable improvement is taking place during the present half-year. The total cost of school visitors for the half-year ending Michaelmas last is £11,260—i.e., about £23,000 per annum. There are ten superintendents and 206 visitors. What he wished to point out was that it was admitted that no greater zeal could be shown than had been displayed by the School Board of London and its officers. Taking the years from 1870 to 1875 the attendance had been progressively and rapidly increasing, until it had reached the figures he had just named. What that represented, however, was not an increase in the number of children attending school, but an increase in the attendance at efficient schools, many of the children having previously attended schools which were not looked upon as efficient. It was a singular fact these figures showed that the London School Board, with all its zeal and activity, could not get more than half of the children who ought to be at school in regular attendance. He asked, therefore, if direct compulsion was satisfactory. Had it been absolutely successful, and could they do without that indirect compulsion which the Bill endeavoured to introduce? Last year the London School Board had taken out 4,000 summonses, and there had been 3,700 convictions, and the number of children brought to school by this means was 1,400. The cost of this operation was £11,250, two and a-half summonses having, on the average, to be taken out in each case, so that the expense of bringing each child to school was about seven guineas. He thought that a case had been made out for some other kind of compulsion than that which was called direct. They might press this instrument as much as they pleased, but if they had an unwilling, a careless, and an indifferent parent, they could only operate upon his sense of personal interest. After a certain point any attempt at direct compulsion became comparatively ineffective. Zealous as he was in favour of compulsion, he was not sanguine that direct compulsion could ever be made sufficiently effective to bring all the children to school. He claimed as one of the great merits of the Bill that it associated early labour with school teaching. He ventured to think that there was considerable value in affording facilities for education concurrently with labour. The Report of the Factory Commission stated that under the Education Act employment was regarded as the enjoyment of a privilege, and that was exactly the principle upon which the Bill was based. It said to a child—"If your parents qualify you to pass a certain Standard, and will insist upon your attending 250 times at school for so many years, then you may be permitted to earn money." Such a provision was of considerable value, because we could not ignore the fact that in this country a very considerable portion of the work which had to be done in life required a previous early training. The child of 13 or 14 years of age who was turned out of school to follow the plough, or to go into the farmyard, or even to undertake any of the ordinary commercial duties, found himself unfitted to compete with those who had commenced their work at an earlier age, and he would be unable to earn his livelihood in a manner that would conduce as much to the prosperity of the country at large as to his own. It was believed in America that the population did not reproduce its own labour; but he could hardly conceive a greater calamity that could happen to any country than that its necessary labour should not be reproduced within its own limits. The object that should be kept in view should be not so much to raise the people out of the position which must be occupied by a very large proportion of the labouring population of the country as to qualify them to live more happily and more usefully in their various stations in life. He believed that a true education would proceed first of all by developing the intelligence of the working man for his own benefit and that of the State, and then by casting a light into the gloom and the darkness of our cottage homes. He must express a very strong hope that the House would accept the Bill as a firm and large advance in the cause of education—an advance, indeed, quite as great as prudence would admit of our making at the present moment, and as a measure which deserved the recognition and support of the country because it recognized voluntary efforts and made the best possible use of the material ready to hand, and because it refused to listen to the voice of those who said that as they could not agree with the very large number of persons who had made great sacrifices for the cause of education, and who had spent their time, money, and energies in endeavouring to promote education, they would endeavour to exclude them from the work which they had taken up, and would condemn them to a barren and cheerless secular system, which would afford them, perhaps, some instruction and some improvement in the faculties which they possessed for this life, but nothing beyond that.


said, that the hon. Member the Secretary of the Treasury had made a very interesting and practical speech, such as might have been expected from one who had taken so deep an interest in education as he had done. He (Mr. Forster) confessed, however, that he did not think that the hon. Member had answered the arguments of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) or of those who supported him. His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield had not stated that there should not be any indirect compulsion. He was as anxious as his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Treasury that it should be used to supplement what was called direct compulsion, and he (Mr. Forster) had understood the hon. Gentleman to say not so much that the Bill was in favour of direct compulsion as that some of its provisions would be of assistance to direct compulsion. He fully believed they would have such an effect. There were before the House really two Motions—one for the second reading of the Bill, which the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) intended to oppose by a Motion which it was possible the Rules of the House might prevent him from making, although its principle could be debated on the question of the second reading, and also the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield. For his own part, he intended to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield, if the hon. Member thought it right to press it to a division, which he thought he would do unless he received some satisfactory assurance from the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council which would render it unnecessary for him to adopt that course. At the same time, however, he should not feel himself justified in voting against the second reading of the Bill, because he trusted that they would be able so to amend it in Committee as to make it effectual as a real progress in education. With the permission of the House, he would state concisely in what respects he desired to see the Bill amended. He was aware that this was a very unusual course to take in discussing the second reading of a Bill; but, at the same time, the noble Lord would feel that as this measure was an Amendment of a previous Act, it was difficult to discuss its principles without dealing with the different proposals embodied in it. He was reluctant to vote against the second reading of the Bill for the reason that he concurred most heartily in the object which the noble Lord had in view—namely, that of securing an increased attendance in schools. When the question of an amendment of the law relating to primary education was mooted in Her Majesty's gracious Speech, those interested in the subject of education were most anxious to know what form the Government proposals would take. No doubt considerable pressure from different quarters had been brought to bear upon the Government in relation to this question. There was an evident desire on the part of many hon. Gentlemen who gave them their political support that the Government should give increased and special help to denominational schools, and also a desire that religious instruction should be given. There was also amore general desire that an attempt should be made to meet the attendance difficulty. He was glad that the Government had not greatly yielded to the pressure brought to bear upon them on behalf of the first two views, though he was aware that much dissatisfaction had been expressed by hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite with the action of the Government. He did not know whether those hon. Gentlemen had derived much consolation from, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, but certainly he had objected most warmly to views which nobody had stated, at all events, inside the House, and he was not aware that it was customary for Ministers, on the second night of a debate on the second reading of a Bill, to answer arguments which had been used outside of the House, but which had not been expressed within it. He, however, intended to confine his observations almost entirely to the question of attendance. He was aware that before the discussions of the Bill were concluded the House would have to consider whether in the way in which the noble Lord proposed to amend the difficulty that had been pointed out, with reference to the Nonconformist portion of the population, he had, or had not, acted unfairly towards the school board system which was called into existence by the Act of 1870. The question immediately before them really was, how were the children to be got into the schools, and in dealing with this branch of the question he should—to quote the phrase of his noble Friend the Vice President of the Council—speak primarily in the interest of the children. In doing so, he was much obliged to his noble Friend for having brought the question before them, though he hoped he would allow him (Mr. Forster) to say that he should have put it before the House in a different way. His noble Friend in introducing the Bill affirmed that the schools and the teachers having been provided, all that was required, was the children to occupy the one and find employment for the other. The noble Lord followed that by saying that while there was an average attendance in the school of 1,800,000, accommodation for 3,150,000 had been provided, which left it to be inferred that about 1,300,000 children, who ought to be, were not at school. He (Mr. Forster) had no wish to overstate the number, but he thought there could be no mistake in saying that the average attend- ance, instead of being 1,800,000, was about 2,000,000, or would be up to that number in August next, and he was therefore not clear that 1,150,000 children who ought to be at school were absent there from. It must always be necessary to provide for a larger number than could be expected to attend school, and therefore the average number in attendance ought to be between the number of children for whom accommodation had been made and the smallest number in actual attendance. He (Mr. Forster) did not believe that they had all the schools that it was necessary to provide, but they had the machinery at work which was providing all the schools, so that they could apply compulsion. The average attendance being 2,000,000, the number of children upon the register was 2,750,000, at the end of last year. That showed that the great fault was not the absence of the children altogether so much as the insufficient and fitful attendance. The deficiency of average attendance could very fairly be represented by that statement in the Education Report for 1872, that we ought to have an average attendance of 3,000,000, whereas we had only one of 2,000,000. He believed it would turn out that this deficiency of 1,000,000 was mainly in those parts of the country which had not school boards with compulsory bye-laws. That was shown by the returns from Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, and Stockport. He would take the Census of1871. The population was 22,700,000. Of that number 12,500,000 had school boards with compulsory attendance, and there were 10,500,000 with bye-laws. Of that number the metropolis had 3,250,000, and must be considered by itself. They must not suppose that the Act of 1870 had done nothing to increase the average attendance. Since that year it had increased by 684,000, but in the five years before it it was only 304,000. It might be partly owing to new schools, but it was mainly owing to the better attendance brought about by a greater interest in education. He would take Birmingham; the increase there since 1871 in the average attendance was from 16,000 to 40,000; in Leeds from 14,000 to 30,000; in Sheffield from 12,000 to 28,000; and in Stockport they accounted for all the children in the place, although they did not attend regularly enough. If they had for England and Wales the same average of attendance as there was for Birmingham, Leeds, and Sheffield, instead of having increased the school attendance by 684,000, the increase would have been more than double that. No doubt these towns started from a very bad position; but he would take London. The difficulties in London were enormous. The great population, the great distance of the poor from the rich part of the town, and the want of public opinion working through the City, all made the difficulty of dealing with London vast. But, thanks to the compulsory bye-laws, the increase of attendance was in four years from 174,000 to 288,000; therefore, he thought the London School Board might take heart, though there was a large number of children not in average attendance. If all England and Wales had increased at the same rate the increase of attendance, instead of being 684,000, would have been more than 1,000,000, a more satisfactory result than was found at present to be the case. The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Mills), who was also a member of the London School Board, had stated that in London there was a large number of children on the books of schools who were not in regular attendance. Throughout England and Wales the proportion of children in average attendance to those upon the roll for five years was 67 per cent. The proportion for the five years before the passing of the Act was 68 per cent. The proportion in London was 74 per cent. Consequently, London, with all its difficulties, had met these difficulties better than had the country generally, and they might thank the School Board for that fact. To confirm that fact as far as he could, he might mention that taking the increase of the population since the last Census the average attendance at school throughout England and Wales was about, but rather under, 8 per cent of the whole population—in Birmingham and Leeds it was 11 per cent, and if they had all the country over an average of 11 per cent, the proportion now in attendance would be 600,000 more than it now was, and the noble Lord would have had to ask for money not for 2,000,000, but for 2,600,000. If, therefore, the influence of school boards and bye-laws had been generally extended, the half of the present deficit would have been swept away. Now, how had that success been obtained? By direct compulsion—he was obliged to use that ugly word. And what had been the effect upon the population? He distinctly challenged any of the opponents of that mode of increasing the attendance to bring forward any proof that could reasonably satisfy the House that the public, opinion of those places in which compulsion had been at work was not in favour of it. He did not know that any of those who supported the Bill of 1870, himself included, would have been sanguine enough to expect that result. They were sanguine enough to hope that good, would be be done, but compulsion was one of those interferences with Englishmen, who did not like interference at all, which they could scarcely hope would become popular. Cases of grievance had, no doubt, been cited and relied on, but he really did not think that when they came to be examined into they were cases of real grievance. He would put the matter to this test—Did those who were opposed to the principle of compulsory attendance think there was the slightest chance at any future school board election of a majority being returned which would do away with its application? He was therefore glad that the noble Lord did not meddle with those districts where the bye-laws were in operation. He willingly admitted, however, that to some extent the noble Lord gave some of those districts assistance by prohibiting work up to 10 years of age, and that feature alone in the Bill would make him most reluctant to do anything which would endanger its getting into Committee. But as to the districts in which the bye-laws did not exist the noble Lord created two, or rather three, new educational authorities—the Town Council, the Guardians, and also the committees which might be appointed by them. It was with great regret he heard that the noble Lord only proposed to give those local authorities permissive and not compulsory power to make bye-laws. The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Knowles), who knew thoroughly the position of the working classes, was thoroughly opposed to this merely permissive power being given to Town Councils and Boards of Guardians. After the strong argument of the noble Lord at the beginning of his speech, he expected that the "may" would have been "shall," and that the Bill would have given the local authority, not only the power to make bye-laws, but would have compelled them to do so. As he had said, he very much regretted it, but he knew he should be told that the great success of the school boards was attributable to their being the representatives of the ratepayers, who had themselves asked for these compulsory powers, and to their being a willing body to put these powers in force, and that it would be a different thing for the noble Lord to impose on the representatives of the ratepayers, for other purposes, a power which they were not called on by their constituents to exercise. There was, he could not deny, some force in that argument, but they had really got so strong in their progress in this matter that they could afford to be bold and to say that, the experiment having succeeded so well, the rest of the country should be called on to follow the example. They must remember that if they did not make bye-laws compulsory, it would be exceedingly difficult for school boards, Town Councils, and Boards of Guardians in small places to establish such bye-laws. Under the Sanitary Acts, it must be remembered, local boards in a voluntary form were established for some time, and when it was shown that it was necessary to have them the Government stepped forward and made them universal throughout the country. He had, he confessed, hoped that they would have had a general provision by Act of Parliament, not only stopping work up to 10 years of age, as the Bill stopped it, but also taking care that there should be only half-time work up to 13, or better still, 14 years of age, with security that sufficient schooling should be obtained by the children. As no general rule could be made to fit all cases, he would have given power to the local authorities to make bye-laws, adapting this general provision to the conditions of employment and the circumstances of the children, which bye-laws might have the sanction of the Education Department. He took it for granted that that was really the meaning of the recommendations of the Factory Commissioners, and it was with that view he should vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). He was not very sanguine that it would be carried, but he should not give up the Bill because that Motion might be defeated. He trusted that the noble Lord would not allow the Bill to go out of Committee without securing that if there was no work to be done before the age of 10 there should also be schooling up to that ago. With regard to the clause requiring the local authorities to see that no child worked between the ages of 10 and 14 without a certificate of efficiency or attendance, he believed that the noble Lord overrated its efficiency and underrated its severity. Much had been said upon the question of compulsion, both direct and indirect, and several hon. Members on the other side of the House appeared to think that indirect compulsion was a less stringent and a more English proceeding than direct compulsion. The more this subject was considered, however, the more it would be found that this was a mistaken view. It was just as great an interference with the liberty of the subject to prevent a child from earning money as to require him to go to school. The noble Lord, moreover, would not avoid domiciliary visits under his labour-pass system, and an Englishman would rather have a visitor coming to his house to tell him—"You had better send your child to school," than to have the agent of the local authority coming and saying—"Your child shall not work." The temptation to use indirect compulsion was, that the employers could be made to a certain extent the police of the State; but by such a system more might be obtained than was wanted. It was not desired that a child should not learn his employment as well as have his schooling. What was really wanted was, not so much that the child should not be able to earn money, as that he should go to school at the same time as he was working until he had had enough schooling. The noble Lord relied upon his certificate of attendance system; but he feared that the certificate relied too much on the foresight of the parent, and there was not much foresight in the parents with whom they had to deal. They were not the élite, or even the average, of the working classes, but were persons rather below the average, and they could not be expected to show foresight and resist temptation for four or five years before their children would be of an age to go to work. The penalty for the absence of the certificate was so severe that he did not believe it could be enforced. It reminded him of one of many suggestions, all equally impracticable, made to him when he was trying to pass the Act of 1870. A gentleman wrote to recommend that as so many persons married who were unable to sign their names, it was desirable, in order to promote education, to enact that no person should be allowed to marry who could not sign his or her name. He did not attempt to pass such a clause, because he thought that compulsory celibacy would have its disadvantages. In the same way compulsory idleness might have its disadvantages. Take the case of a child of 10 or 12 years of age, whose education had been neglected. This child would not be able to produce the certificate of proficiency, and might not have complied with the rule of five years' attendance. By the terms of this Bill that child would not be allowed to work, and to the calamity of ignorance there would be added in his case the further calamity of idleness. He doubted whether public opinion would go with the Legislature in enforcing such a law, and any amount of direct compulsion and domiciliary visits to warn parents that they were transgressing the law would be better than such a state of things. He believed, indeed, that the proposals in the Bill could not be carried out, and that the Education Department would be driven back to supplement indirect by direct compulsion. When the noble Lord came to his clause for direct compulsion a curious difference between that and the labour-pass was observable. The latter was severe and stringent enough for anything, but the former was a half-hearted law, which was entirely open to the objection of the hon. Member for Wigan. It said that the Town Councils and the Boards of Guardians "may," and not "shall." When they had to deal with the children they were to do exactly as they pleased. It was not their duty to find out the facts, but they were bound to hear the representations made to them, and if they thought it expedient to act they might do so. This meant that, unless these bodies chose to carry the Act in force, they need not do so. He was aware there was another provision which some had described as a very powerful one, to the effect that if the local authorities chose to make it appear that these children were idle and likely to be "wastrels," they might be taken before the magistrates, and the magistrates, having the fullest discretion given them, if they thought fit, might send them to an Industrial School. Now, if that were to be the general result of what was to happen, it would be far too strong a measure. He did not think the State had a right to take hold of these children and say that they should associate with the general run of the children that got into the Industrial Schools. The punishment was too great in that way; while, on the other hand, he was alarmed in another way, because it would be a great temptation to parents to allow their children to go to an Industrial School, where they would not only be educated, but fed and clothed, at the expense of the State. No doubt, power was taken to recover the cost from the parent; but it would be difficult to compel the payment, and he feared that a great number of these parents would yield to the temptation of allowing their children to be maintained at these schools. The provisions of the Act, moreover, would destroy the discipline of these schools, which were now doing a good work. With regard to the enforcing authority, the noble Lord gave power for certain purposes to new authorities—the Town Councils and the Boards of Guardians, or to committees appointed by them. He was aware he was treading on tender ground, because this subject would have to be discussed on the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard). He feared they could not establish school boards throughout the country at present; but he, for one, looked forward to the time when that could be done. He believed it would be better for the cause of education that there should be an elective body especially empowered to look after the education of the children. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) had stated in his remarkable and interesting speech that the great fault he found with the Bill was, that it did not give power to the Town Councils and Guardians to supply schools. He could not refer to that speech, as it was, perhaps, the last they would hear from his hon. Friend for some time, without bearing testimony to the earnestness with which he had dealt with this question, showing how much he had the cause of education at heart; and whatever his own views were, how anxious he had always been to make every allowance for those who differed with him. Still he must say he did not think it would be advisable to give the new authorities the power of supplying schools. He strongly suspected that, if this power was given to the new authorities, it would give rise to bodies antagonistic to school boards, and strike a serious blow at the school board system. At that point they were met with the greatest administrative deficiency in this country—the want of rural municipalities. If we had such rural municipalities as they had in the United States, in our own Colonies, and in some parts of the Continent, we should have a body to which we could at once entrust this power. It was a remarkable fact, however, that although there were such municipalities in the United States and Canada, they found it more convenient in those countries to have a special body elected for educational purposes. No doubt there were objections to the Boards of Guardians. It was not well to associate them with education more than we could help, connected as they were with the administration of the Poor Law. The mode of their election, too, by voting papers was about the worst we could have. However, the power of the ratepayers would still continue of electing a school board, if they wished to have it. Though magistrates were very fit men to be put upon school boards, he would rather that they were placed there by the choice of their neighbours. If, however, the Guardians or Town Councils were to have these duties imposed upon them, they ought not to be allowed to shirk or transfer them; and, therefore, he hoped that the clause which enabled them to delegate their duties to irresponsible committees would be omitted. Of course, if the powers were delegated, it would be to the managers of the National School in the parish, who, however fit, ought not to be thus appointed, for their selection by the Board of Guardians would be practically self-election. It must be remembered that ever since 1870 it had been generally considered to be quite clear that the managers of voluntary schools could not be invested with the power of compelling attendance at their own schools. There was great difficulty in enforcing compul- sion where there was not a choice of schools, and with regard to the choice on the part of the parent, he had always maintained that the parent, especially the Nonconformist, ought to be allowed to select the school to which he wished to send his children, wherever it was possible to do so. But there were cases in which he could not make that choice, because there was only one school, and then the only question to determine was, whether the child should be taught or remain untaught. When, therefore, he was driven to that alternative, he would say, let the child go to the school, and let the parent rely upon the Conscience Clause. The feelings of the parent ought not to be considered so far as to let a child grow up in utter ignorance, but the matter ought to be made as easy for him as possible; and we ought to remove not only injustice, but the fear of injustice and the expectation of it. Therefore, he hoped the noble Lord would not persist, when the child of the Nonconformist could earn a labour pass only at a Church school, in giving compulsory powers to these committees, but would entrust them to the elected bodies, to whom in the first instance the Bill gave those powers. He admitted that many managers of voluntary schools were doing their work well, and on Saturday last he conversed with one whose attendance was 12½ per cent out of a population of 650; though he was a clergyman he did not teach the Church Catechism except on Sunday, and such a man, no doubt, was one of the best to have to do with education; but under the operation of this Bill he would probably join the Board of Guardians for the purpose of carrying out its provisions. With regard to the clause for giving greater help to denominational schools in "poor districts," it was true that by its wording this clause did not apply merely to denominational schools, but to all the schools in those districts, but he had no doubt that the aid would be larger in the case of the denominational schools than in that of other schools. As to the amount of this, he thought the noble Lord went too far in saying that where a school had not £20, it would get £30 or something like that. The fact was, that in this respect the Bill merely removed a possible deduction from the grant, and did not add to the grant. The late Government, in framing the Act of 1870, put in a clause providing that grants from the taxes were never to exceed the income from the localities. If the grants earned by schools did so exceed the contributions by the localities, then there was a deduction made, and that amounted last year to less than £30,000. The present clause said that, in some districts, the deduction was not to be made; but although he thought that the immediate effect of the clause had been exaggerated, yet he sincerely trusted that the Government would not persist in it and that the House would not accept it. He considered that a great principle was involved in the rule that the grants from the taxes should not exceed the income from the localities, and he believed that it would be impossible to carry out the clause without breaking down that rule altogether. The Government probably were not aware how far their proposition would extend. He had a Return moved for by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) for another purpose. It gave the population and the rateable value of 49 of the largest boroughs. Thirty-five of these would come distinctly under the clause as poor districts, and parts probably of the other 14. Nottingham, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Leeds would be under the clause poor boroughs, and Warwick, Shrewsbury, and Bradford rich ones. If an average were taken of all these49 boroughs, they would all be poor districts under the clause. The rule would, therefore, have to go if the clause was adopted, and it was important that it should not go. Their Education Estimates increased very fast. The annual grant for day schools had grown in a short period from £500,000 to about £1,500,000. They did not grudge that increase, but they ought to be quite sure that they got efficiency with it, and kept proper checks upon it, and no check was more valuable than requiring that for every shilling given from the taxes an equal sum should be given by the locality. If that were not done, he believed it would injure the schools themselves, because they would rely on the Government grants and care little about results, provided they were enough to secure those grants; and eventually large sums of money would be granted by the House, which would not be met equally by the locality, and the latter would be spending the State money with the usual result of great extravagance and recklessness. The result would be, that in order to prevent such a contingency they would require a system of centralized control and management. There were several Amendments of great importance which would come before the Committee. The first was that of which he had given Notice—namely, that there should be inserted in the Bill a similar declaration to that in the Scotch Act, that it "is the duty of every parent to provide education for his child." He had two reasons why that ought to be done. In the first place it was what both the country and the parents themselves expected; and then it would not be acting fairly to the school boards to omit this declaration. Those school boards had a difficult task—it was even surprising they were not more unpopular—and the House ought not to weaken their hands as the omission of this declaration would weaken them. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War asked what was the use of putting this declaration in the Bill if nothing would follow from it; but he (Mr. Forster) would insert it before the 7th clause, and let something follow from it, so as to make it a reality, The second Amendment he wished to see adopted was one providing that if they so interfered with the employer and parent as not to allow a child to work up to 10 years of age, they would at least see that the child went to school under 10 years of age. The third Amendment he hoped to see adopted was, that they would not absolutely rely on the certificate or the labour pass, but that after the child was 10 years old they should aim at half-school and half-work for him up to 14. In the next place, they would have to consider the restrictions in regard to bye-laws, by which Guardians were allowed to act only on the requisition of the ratepayers. That provision must have got into the Bill by mistake. He could not conceive why Guardians should not have the same power as Town Councils. In his opinion it would be better that they should have liberty to act without a requisition. There were several other details which would properly come under consideration in Committee, such, for instance, as the one relating to poor districts. He also had much doubt with regard to the pro- vision for free passes, which might practically result in free schools, and demands upon the public purse which would make the hair of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to stand on end if he knew what it rendered possible. He must confess that if the Bill were to pass exactly as it stood, he should hesitate to vote for its second reading—he should feel some doubt as to whether it would not be better to wait for a less objectionable measure, or have no legislation at all. But the House was not driven to that alternative. The noble Lord had very frankly expressed his willingness to accept or consider Amendments, and it would, therefore, be prejudicial to the cause they all had at heart not to allow the Bill to go into Committee. Meanwhile, they had the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield before them. It was not in opposition to the Bill, but was only a good preparation for Committee, and, therefore, he should vote for it.


observed that he had no cause to complain of the reception the Bill had met with from the House during the two evenings the debate had occupied. He had invited free discussion of its provisions and had promised that all Amendments that were proposed should receive the fullest consideration. When he introduced the measure he was well aware of the complex character of the work he had in hand, but he was comforted by the reflection that it would not be discussed in a Party spirit. Of course it could not be expected at the present moment that the Government should state what Amendments they proposed to accept. He might say at once, however, that the broad features, the general principles of the Bill would necessarily remain unaltered. With the details it was different. Any Amendments which were calculated to make the measure more effective or to remove any sense of wrong or animosity which might have been created would be willingly accepted by the Government, or at least considered in the most favourable way. It would be highly inconvenient to enter into a discussion as to the details of the Bill, and he would therefore merely refer to the leading suggestions that had been made, and state why the Government could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). The hon. Member objected to Boards of Guardians being the authority to carry out the Act; but he (Viscount Sandon) would ask what other local authority could be found in the country districts? Supposing a second Board had to be formed, the same materials as those forming the Boards of Guardians would have to be taken. All the criticisms on that point came to this—Why should not school boards be substituted for Boards of Guardians? He hoped, however, the House would agree not to discuss the question of universal school boards. In connection with that subject, he might say he was very sorry to hear the remarks made by the hon. Member with regard to the members of the Boards of Guardians, the ex officio members especially the magistrates and the clergy. He thought it was a bad omen for their debates on this question, that the first hon. Member opposite who rose to discuss the Bill should have made observations which he knew would touch to the quick hon. Members on that (the Conservative) side of the House. He should like to ask the hon. Member who it was that had contributed the money already expended on the education of the people? £13,000,000 had been spent on voluntary efforts, a great portion of which, no doubt, was spent in the towns, but a great deal also in the country. Who supplied those funds, if the country gentlemen, and farmers, and members of Boards of Guardians abstained from contributing? He trusted to hear no more attacks of that kind on the Boards of Guardians. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) whose remarks he had listened to with great respect, said that the proposals of the Government with reference to bye-laws were as weak as water. Well he (Viscount Sandon) did not quite understand that criticism, because the Government had put the local authorities in the same position as that occupied by the school boards under the Act of 1870. Exactly the same people as got bye-laws passed under the Act of 1870 were to have power to pass bye-laws under the Bill. They thought it right to follow the lines of the Act of 1870, and to give the ratepayers the power to assemble and pass a resolution calling on the local authority to adopt direct compulsion. The hon. Members for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) and Poole (Mr. Ashley), the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Lord Frederick Cavendish) and the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh had contended that there was no security in the Bill for enforcing instruction in certain cases before or after 10 years of age. That was a serious charge, and if it really were so he confessed it would be a great blot on the Bill, for if they forbade all labour up to 10, and then at 10 said to the child—"If you have not reached a certain stage of intellectual instruction you shall not go to labour," they should be doing a very bad turn for the children of the country. If a child spent the years up to 10 in idleness and began his intellectual instruction at 10, he would be thrown upon the world at 14 with little education and a bad labourer, because he did not begin to toil early enough. He must, however, call attention to the 7th clause, which was intended to be a stringent one, whether it succeeded or not. The intention of the clause was that no child from 7 to 10 should be able to be continuously and without reasonable excuse kept away from instruction of some kind or other. It was intended, if he was not sent to school continuously—if he were habitually neglected by his parents, that then the strong compulsory powers should come into operation, and the local authority was empowered to force the parent to send him to school; and afterwards, supposing at 10 years the child did not get his certificate, the same clause would apply. The clause gave the power of direct compulsion in a way which he believed would be satisfactory to the country, and he trusted that all the employers of labour in the country—the merchant and the manufacturer, as well as the country gentleman and the farmer, would join heart in hand with them in seeing that there was no continuous, habitual, and unreasonable neglect, and would also join heart in hand in seeing that no child after it got its intellectual pass should be allowed to run wild in the streets, instead of being at labour. Some hon. Members thought the Act would not be carried out; but they forgot that there was a stringent clause which gave the Education Department the right to supersede any local authority which did not discharge its duty. The Department had the power to send down two agents of its own to any locality, to pay them out of the rates, and to keep them there two years, in order to see that indirect compulsion was strictly carried out in that locality. He should have thought, if there had been any fear about the matter, it would have been that their Bill was too strong. If, however, the words of the clause were found too feeble, they might be strengthened with advantage; but he should have thought there was scarcely a loop-hole through which a child could escape. He had been told compulsion had failed in the Mines Act and in the Agricultural Children Act. The answer to that was, that there they had no enforcing authority, but here they had a stringent enforcing authority. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) was opposed to several of the leading provisions of the Bill, among others, he said he was against the payments proposed to be made to "poor district" schools. Whether they would succeed in that respect he (Viscount Sandon) could not at present say. Now there was extreme difficulty in hitting off what was a "poor district" school, but he adhered to the view that it was unjust, because a district was poor and and could get but little local help, it should therefore be deprived of the Government grant. He thought the principle on which he had gone was a sound one. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that he would gladly accept the local authority proposed, if they gave them all the powers of school boards. That was a very serious matter, and he should entirely demur to the proposition that Boards of Guardians were fit to be the managers of schools and to carry out all the work of education. Then there was the solemn threat of the hon. Member—which was a serious matter coming from him—that if the Bill were carried they must be prepared to have a great agitation throughout the country which would result in the establishment of unsectarian schools in every school district. Surely that opened up quite a new view of the case, and different from that taken by the hon. Member in his Bill for universal school boards and universal compulsion. The hon. Gentleman said, in speaking on the 9th of June last year— Let it be clearly understood that, in all those districts where there is a sufficiency of school accommodation, my Bill will have no operation except to enforce compulsion. I only ask that, in addition to what is at present insisted upon by the Act of 1870, school boards shall be formed in those districts where there is already a sufficiency of school accommodation—that is, where voluntary schools, which are mainly Church schools, cover the ground, and where, therefore, a board school will not be required."—[3 Hansard, ccxxiv. 1572.] The fact was that the Bill of the hon. Member for Birmingham was supported by the whole of the Nonconformists; it proposed direct compulsion—that you should not build another additional school, but force the children into the existing Church schools; and yet the Government were now told by the hon. Gentleman that the present measure did exactly the same thing, though through the agency of the Boards of Guardians, and that there was to be an agitation throughout the land against its provisions, and that they would be obliged to build unsectarian new schools in every town. He could not understand the position taken up by the hon. Gentleman or the Nonconformists. He could not, however, help hoping that wiser councils would prevail, for the hon. Gentleman and his Friends must feel that the measure of the Government was framed in no sectarian spirit. He, at all events, in the speech which he made in introducing it, avoided saying anything which could excite the slightest feeling on their part, and he contended that the position which they appeared to be about to take up was totally untenable. There was another important point which had been touched upon in the course of the debate—he referred to that which related to the Industrial Schools. So far as they were concerned, the question involved was one which would of course require a great deal of discussion in Committee. He adopted the Industrial Schools, but hon. Gentleman must be aware that when a certain point in compulsion was reached, their action was liable to be absolutely foiled. It was impossible to fine and fine ad infinitum, and it was equally out of the question to imprison. The Government were therefore of opinion that some handling of Industrial Schools in the matter might be found to be very useful. It might, however, be matter for consideration, though the Government had formed no opinion on the point, whether some modifications with respect to those schools might not be introduced into the Bill. The truth was that the subject was one in which every alternative treatment possible must be adopted. One mode of treatment would not suffice, and it was necessary that they should have many strings to their bow, because they had to deal with a multitude of evils. Hon. Gentlemen, he might add, on both sides of the House, including the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley), and some others, had made speeches which were highly favourable to the Bill. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) too, though he criticized some of its provisions, showed he entertained a warm feeling for it, as well as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh. The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) had raised a point about which there was considerable difficulty, but that difficulty could be met by insisting that schools which were not public elementary schools should submit to a rigid inspection, while he could assure him that there was no intention of inflicting a wrong on any denomination. It would, however, be impossible to allow attendances at non-efficient schools to pass. The objection of the hon. Gentleman was, at the same time, one which he quite admitted was well deserving of consideration. As to the objection raised by the hon Baronet the Member for Maidstone, with respect to the attendance, that also he admitted would be a great blot on the Bill, if it could not be met; but he must confess he saw no danger of girls slipping out of its meshes. The conditions as to labour would, he thought, meet their case as well as that of the boys, as the clause dealing with the matter was intended to be very stringent. He regretted, he might add, that the House was not fuller when his hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) made his long and able speech. He could not sufficiently admire the generosity with which the hon. Gentleman said that he would even rejoice that his own Bill should be repealed, and as there was nobody more conversant with the wants of the country, and nobody more anxious that its children should have education, his testimony in favour of the measure of the Government was most valuable. He would not, however, on the present occasion enter into the details raised by his hon. Friend, nor could he give any pledge on the part of the Government with respect to them. A great number of important matters had also been raised by his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), which it would, he thought, be on the whole wiser not to deal with at present. There were figures, which he hoped to give when proposing the Estimates, but which did not affect the Bill. His right hon. Friend went on to say that he thought he (Viscount Sandon) overrated the labour part. He would remind the House that under the right hon. Gentleman's own Act a child could not go to school without a certificate; but, at present, the parent alone could be prosecuted, and not the employer who employed an uncertificated child. He hoped the present Bill would prove still more efficacious. Then with regard to the enforcing authority, he saw that the right hon. Gentleman still had a weakness for universal school boards. Well, the Government could not go with him to that extent. That subject must, as far as the present Government was concerned, be considered closed. The Government believed that the proposed enforcing authority represented the people thoroughly, and it became a matter of over-sensitiveness to say that that authority must in no way be connected with the management of schools. If we were to ostracize the managers of all the existing schools in country places we should be shutting out the best people who cared for education, and who were the most likely to get the children into the schools. He would now rapidly run over his objections to the proposal of the hon. Member for Sheffield. The point which the hon. Member raised was, as to whether it was wise that we should put the whole of our working population into bondage as to the daily attendance of their children, because some of their number were in-different and negligent. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) had asked why Parliament should not do the forethought for the parents? That was exactly the thing which the Government objected to, for they did not think it right or healthy that Parliament should do the forethought for the parents of the country. They held that to be one the false principles of legislation, which was doing a great deal of harm in the present day, when Parliament was asked to do the forethought of the people in regard to food, drink, and morals. The House must not be led by the hon. Member for Sheffield into this most dangerous course. The issue was a broad and a clear one. It was not a question of a little more of direct or a little less direct compulsion. The question was, whether we should put the honest, laborious, and duty-doing parents into bondage for the sake of the negligent ones. Direct compulsion meant that so many attendances at school should be necessary, and that the not keeping them was a crime. The Factory Acts Commissioners, of whom he wished to speak with the greatest respect, made a recommendation of a system of direct compulsion such as existed nowhere else. They said that the attendance at school of all children ought to be compulsory up to the age of 13, and they recommended a full-time attendance of five hours daily, or of 25 hours a-week and half-time besides. If, however, this recommendation were compared with the English Act of 1870 and the Scotch Act, it would be found to be much more stringent than anything already enacted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford stated that there were very few children absent from school in places where school boards existed. But the fact was that in London there were something like 180,000 children not in attendance at school, 25,000 at Liverpool, something like 16,000 at Birmingham, and a large deficiency in all other school board places. He believed, however, that under the proposed system of indirect compulsion the number of attendances would be greatly increased. The Ragged School Union had ascertained that there were a very large number of children in the streets during school hours. When they saw the agents of the society taking notes, the children imagined they were school board people, and rapidly disappeared; but when, soon afterwards, a Punch and Judy was sent into the district, the streets swarmed with them again. He thought that all these stories about the completeness of the work done by the school boards must be received cum grano, and it was at least open to doubt whether the school boards were doing their work so thoroughly and efficiently as had been stated. Some interesting remarks upon the subject would be found in the Reports of the Inspectors, which would be in the hands of hon. Members in a few days. He himself only saw them a few days ago, after the present measure had been prepared. One of the ablest of the Inspectors, speaking of Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, Mr. Moncreiff, said the action of the school boards had done little or nothing to prevent irregular attendance; and, comparing the country districts without school boards with the towns, he stated that the percentage of the attendances in Gloucestershire was to the city of Bristol as 15.6 to 10. Yet the same gentleman admitted that the Bristol School Board was by no means a bad one. Next came the evidence of Mr. Wilkinson, another Inspector, who was familiar with Staffordshire. This gentleman said that the action of the school boards had in some respects tended to increase the difficulties of education, because parents now sought to send their children only just often enough to avoid being summoned. Direct compulsion, therefore, was not as easy as it was represented to be. Every means should be used for procuring the attendance of the children, instead of confining ourselves to one means, and we should not use a pressure which in the long run might retard instead of promoting the end they all had in view. If labourers and artizans were so greatly in favour of compulsion why did they not vote for it in their several districts, and why was it necessary in every school board district to have such armies of visitors to force their children to school? The greatest caution was necessary when you interfered with the poorest of the population, lest by suddenly cutting off the earnings of their children, upon which they in part depended, you should produce a dangerous reaction against the education you sought to give. He was not alone in this view, which was sometimes supposed to be confined to benighted Tories, country gentlemen, or clergymen, who knew nothing of these matters. Canon Norris, who for 15 years was one of the best Inspectors of the Education Department, was earnest in pressing forward indirect compulsion, but in his book, The Education of the People, he said— When I hear politicians invoking a system of compulsory education as the panacea for all our social evils, I often wish I could take them into one of our poor village homes and let them there try to work out their plan, for a single week. Go into any one of those cottages where there are two or three children between the ages of 9 and 12. They are returned in my political friend's statistics as 'idle,' being 'neither at school nor at work.' But what is the fact? They are as indispensable to the home life of that cottage as if they were earning 3s. or 4s. a-week. One is going errands, most necessary errands, with the father's meals, to the apothecary three miles off, to the village shop. Another collects half the fuel they use, or acorns for the pig, or manure for the garden, and all in their turn 'mind the house,' 'mind the fire,' 'mind the baby while the mother is out.' We must think twice or thrice before we roughly try to apply compulsory school attendance to such a home as that. To require those parents to give up their children's services would be simply tantamount to requiring them to keep a servant girl, at a cost of 2s. 6d. a-week, out of an income of 12s. a-week. The late Prince Consort, in 1857, thus treated the same topic— What measures can be brought to bear upon this evil (of non-attendance at school) is a most delicate question, and will require the nicest handling, for there you cut into the very quick of the working man's condition. His children are not only his offspring to be reared for a future independent position, but they constitute part of his productive power, and work for him for the staff of life. The daughters especially are the handmaids of the house, the assistants of the mother, the nurses of the younger children, the aged, and the sick. To deprive the labouring family of their help would be almost to paralyze its domestic existence. Such an opinion, coming from one intimately acquainted with the domestic life of Germany, and with its school regulations, was well deserving of consideration. As to the Amendment, the Government must once for all decline to adopt it, and thereby to put the labouring population in leading-strings as to the daily life of their children. The Bill might be amended in various ways. It might be desirable to put in some declaration of the parent's duty, though general declarations of this kind appeared almost useless in the face of the Preamble. Considered as a whole, the Bill would alter the position of all the parties concerned towards education. The negligent parent, who now kept his child at work, would hereafter find the greatest difficulty in getting work for him without education. The employer who now tried to get the child to work for him, would thus find it his interest to educate the child with this view. This important change would be secured by the Bill. To sum up, school boards would be kept exactly as they were, with the same functions, but with the enormous assistance of indirect compulsion. Local authorities everywhere would be armed with the power of protecting children from the negligence of parents or the pressure of employers. Then a strong pressure would be kept on the local authorities themselves, through the power of the Education Department to declare them in default if they did not do their duty, a power which might be set in motion by the Inspectors or by other complainants. Then there was direct compulsion if the locality desired it, just as in the case of school boards at present, and, again, there was the labour pass. He believed the parent would not like to risk the loss of the child's labour when the time for it would come, because the child did not make all the attendances. And next we had the very strong clause which dealt with negligent parents and wastrel children. Well, then, we had got simplicity of working in the Bill. All the parent had to do when he wanted to send his child to labour was to present a pass, and all the employer had to do was to ask whether the child had got one, for as the age would appear upon it there would beno further difficulty. Then we had the dunce pass, the standard pass, and the honour pass; and in that way emulation among the children was provided for. Very little persuasion would be necessary to induce the child to attend regularly and do its work well. Another advantage was the concentration of duties upon existing authorities, the object being to throw as much work upon them as they would be able to perform efficiently, and as would add to their dignity without multiplying local bodies. In that way were combined economy with efficiency. Another point of great importance was that private adventure schools, which were the curse of the country, would be very quietly, and almost insensibly got rid of. The parent would not send his child to a school where he might not get sufficient education to pass the Standard, and besides, where attendance would not count. Lastly, the great reaction against our educational system would be avoided. ["No, no!"] Yes, direct compulsion had been pressed as far as it could; people were beginning to rebel against it, and unless by this measure we anticipated the growing dissatisfaction, that dissatisfaction might prove dangerous. Theorists might consider the measure illogical, half-hearted, insufficient. These were some of the epithets hon. Gentlemen opposite thought fit to apply. It was quite time the Government had been asked by some of the members of the Birmingham League to take courage and do their bidding. Some of the extreme friends of voluntary schools had also told them to take courage, do their bidding, and repeal the Act of 1870. As to taking courage to do the bidding of the League, all the electors throughout the country had told the League that the country was not with them. As for some of the entreaties of his hon. Friends who took an opposite view, there was no sufficient sign that the country was with them to justify any Government in taking up the conclusions they advocated. The Government, in his opinion, might rest with confidence upon their measure while they had the good opinion of such men as the hon. Member for Berkshire, the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh, and the hon. Members for Manchester, Exeter, and Norfolk, who had all acknowledged the vigour of this Bill; and it had been acknowledged in other quarters too. Because if that Bill was that weak and inefficient measure which some people pretented, why did the hon. Member for Merthyr say it was going to occasion a revolution? He quite admitted that the measure was cautious and moderate. He, for one, charged with the responsibility of the Department to which he belonged, would be sorry if he brought forward a measure which was not cautious, and which did not err, if anything, on the side of moderation, when he knew the enormous interests at stake. The Government offered, then, to the sober sense of Englishmen, not to the theorists, the members of the League, or to the extreme partizans on either side, a measure which was consistent with the freedom of Englishmen, and with the freedom of individuals, but which, while consulting that freedom, would show no mercy to the wrong-doer who injured his child by depriving him of the education to which he was entitled, and he believed that the effect would be that in a few years not a child in the country would be without a sound education.

Question put:—

The House divided:—Ayes 309; Noes 163: Majority 146.

Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C. Cole, Col. hon. H. A.
Agnew, R. V. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Allen, Major Collins, E.
Allsopp, C. Coope, O. E.
Allsopp, H. Corbett, Colonel
Anstruther, Sir W. Cordes, T.
Antrobus, Sir E. Corry, hon. H. W. L.
Archdale, W. H. Corry, J. P.
Arkwright, A. P. Crichton, Viscount
Arkwright, F. Cross, rt. hon. R. A.
Ashbury, J. L. Cubitt, G.
Astley, Sir J. D. Cuninghame, Sir W.
Bagge, Sir W. Cust, H. C.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Dalkeith, Earl of
Balfour, A. J. Dalrymple, C.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Denison, W. B.
Barrington, Viscount Denison, W. E.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Dick, F.
Bates, E. Dickson, Major A. G.
Bateson, Sir T. Digby, hon. Capt. E.
Bathurst, A. A. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M.H. Duff, J.
Beach, W. W. B. Dunbar, J.
Bective, Earl of Dyott, Colonel R.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Eaton, H. W.
Beresford, G. de la Poer Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.
Beresford, Colonel M. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Birley, H. Egerton, hon. W.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Elliot, Sir G.
Boord, T. W. Elliot, G. W.
Bourke, hon. R. Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.
Bourne, Colonel Errington, G.
Bousfield, Major Eslington, Lord
Bowyer, Sir G. Ewing, A. O.
Brady, J. Fellowes, E.
Bright, R. Finch, G. H.
Broadley, W. H. H. Floyer, J.
Brooks, W. C. Forester, C. T. W.
Bruce, hon. T. Forsyth, W.
Bruen, H. Foster, W. H.
Brymer, W. E. Fraser, Sir W. A.
Bulwer, J. R. French, hon. C.
Burrell, Sir P. Freshfield, C. K.
Butler-Johnstone, H. A. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Galway, Viscount
Cameron, D. Gardner, J. T. Agg-
Campbell, C. Gardner, R. Richardson
Cave, rt. hon. S. Garnier, J. C.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Gibson, E.
Chaine, J. Gilpin, Sir R. T.
Chaplin, Colonel E. Goddard, A. L.
Chaplin, H. Goldney, G.
Charley, W. T. Gooch, Sir D.
Christie, W. L. Gordon, Sir A. H.
Clifton, T. H. Gordon, rt. hon. E. S.
Clive, hon. Col. G. W. Gordon, W.
Close, M. C. Gorst, J. E.
Clowes, S. W. Goulding, W.
Cobbett, J. M.
Cobbold, T. C.
Grantham, W. Marten, A. G.
Greenall, Sir G. Maxwell, Sir W. S.
Greene, E. Merewether, C. G.
Gregory, G. B. Milbank, F. A.
Grey, Earl de Mills, A.
Hall, A. W. Mills, Sir C. H.
Halsey, T. F. Monckton, F.
Hamilton, I. T. Montgomerie, R.
Hamilton, Lord G. Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Hamilton, hon. R. B. Moore, A.
Hamond, C. F. Moore, S.
Hanbury, R. W. Morgan, hon. F.
Hardcastle, E. Morris, G.
Hardy, rt. hon. G. Mulholland, J.
Hardy, J. S. Muncaster, Lord
Harvey, Sir R. B. Murphy, N. D.
Hay, rt. hon. Sir J.C.D. Naghten, Lt.-Col.
Heath, E. Newdegate, C. N.
Helmsley, Viscount Newport, Viscount
Henry, M. Noel, rt, hon. G. J.
Hermon, E. North, Colonel
Hervey, Lord F. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Heygate, W. U.
Hick, J. O'Brien, Sir P.
Hildyard, T. B. T. O'Byrne, W. R.
Hill, A. S. O'Clery, K.
Hinchingbrook, Visct. O'Conor, D. M.
Hogg, Sir J. M. O'Conor Don, The
Holford, J. P. G. O'Gorman, P.
Holker, Sir J. O'Keeffe, J.
Holmesdale, Viscount O'Neill, hon. E.
Home, Captain Onslow, D.
Hood, hon. Captain A. W. A. N. Paget, R. H.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Pateshall, E.
Hubbard, E. Peek, Sir H.
Hubbard, rt. hon. J. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Pell, A.
Isaac, S. Pelly, Sir H. C.
Johnson, J. G. Pemberton, E. L.
Johnston, W. Pennant, hon. G.
Jones, J. Peploe, Major
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Percy, Earl
Kennard, Colonel Phipps, P.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Plunket, hon. D. R.
Knightley, Sir R. Plunkett, hon. R.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Polhill-Turner, Capt.
Lawrence, Sir T. Powell, W.
Learmonth, A. Power, R.
Lee, Major V. Praed, C. T.
Legard, Sir C. Price, Captain
Legh, W. J. Raikes, H. C.
Leighton, S. Read, C. S.
Lennox, Lord H. Rendlesham, Lord
Leslie, Sir J. Repton, G. W.
Lewis, C. E. Ridley, M. W.
Lewis, O. Ripley, H. W.
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Ritchie, C. T.
Lindsay, Lord Rodwell, B. B. H.
Lloyd, S. Round, J.
Lloyd, T. E. Ryder, G. R.
Locke, J. Sackville, S. G. S.
Lopes, H. C. Salt, T.
Lopes, Sir M. Samuda, J. D'A.
Lowther, hon. W. Sanderson, T. K.
Lowther, J. Sandford, G. M. W.
Macartney, J. W. E. Sandon, Viscount
Mac Iver, D. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Scott, Lord H.
Majendie, L. A. Scott, M. D.
Makins, Colonel Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Malcolm, J. W.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Shaw, W.
Sheil, E. Verner, E. W.
Shirley, S. E. Wait, W. K.
Sidebottom, T. H. Wallace, Sir R.
Simonds, W. B. Walpole, rt. hon. S.
Smith, A. Walsh, hon. A.
Smith, S. G. Walter, J.
Smith, W. H. Ward, M. F.
Smollett, P. B. Watney, J.
Somerset, Lord H. R. C. Wellesley, Colonel
Sotheron-Estcourt, G. Wethered, T. O
Spinks, Mr. Serjeant Wheelhouse, W. S. J
Stanhope, W. T. W. S. Williams, Sir F. M.
Stanley, hon. F. Wilmot, Sir H.
Starkey, L. R. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Starkey, J. P. C. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Stewart, M. J. Woodd, B. T
Storer, G. Wroughton, P.
Sykes, C. Wyndham, hon. P.
Taylor, rt. hon. Col. Wynn, C. W. W.
Tennant, R. Yarmouth, Earl of
Thornhill, T. Yeaman, J.
Thynne, Lord H. F. Yorke, J. R.
Tollemache, hon. W. F.
Tremayne, J. Dyke, Sir W. H.
Turnor, E. Winn, R.
Acland, Sir T. D. Davies, D.
Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Davies, R.
Allen, W. S. Dilke, Sir C. W.
Amory, Sir J. H. Dillwyn, L. L.
Anderson, G. Dixon, G.
Backhouse, E. Duff, M. E. G.
Balfour, Sir G. Duff, R. W.
Barclay, A. C. Dundas, J.C.
Barclay, J. W. Earp, T.
Bass, A. Edwards, H.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Evans, T. W.
Bazley, Sir T. Fawcett, H.
Beaumont, Major F. Ferguson, R.
Biddulph, M. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Blake, T. Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.
Brassey, T.
Briggs, W. E. Fletcher, I.
Bright, Jacob Foljambe, F. J. S.
Bristowe, S. B. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Forster, Sir C.
Brogden, A. Gladstone, W. H.
Brown, J. C. Goldsmid, Sir F.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord E. Gordon, Lord D.
Burt, T. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Cameron, C. Gourley, E. T.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Grieve, J. J.
Carington, hn. Col. W. Hankey, T.
Carter, R. M. Harrison, C.
Cartwright, W. C. Harrison, J. F.
Cave, T. Hartington, Marq. of
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Havelock, Sir H.
Cavendish, Lord G. Hayter, A. D.
Chadwick, D. Herschell, F.
Cholmeley, Sir H. Hill, T. R.
Clifford, C. C. Hodgson, K. D.
Cole, H. T. Holland, S.
Colman, J. J. Holms, J.
Corbett, J. Hopwood, C. H.
Cotes, C. C. Howard, hon. C.
Cowen, J. Howard, E. S.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Hughes, W. B.
Crawford, J. S. Ingram, W. J.
Cross, J. K. Jackson, Sir H. M.
James, Sir H. Potter, T. B.
James, W. H. Price, W. E.
Jenkins, D. J. Ralli, P.
Jenkins, E. Ramsay, J.
Johnstone, Sir H. Rashleigh, Sir C.
Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J. Rathbone, W.
Richard, H.
Kingscote, Colonel Russell, Lord A.
Laing, S. Rylands, P.
Law, rt. hon. H. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lawson, Sir W. Seely, C.
Leatham, E. A. Sheridan, H. B.
Leeman, G. Sherriff, A. C.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Leith, J. F. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Lloyd, M. Smith, E.
Lorne, Marquess of Smyth, R.
Lubbock, Sir J. Stafford, Marquess of
Lush, Dr. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Macdonald, A. Stevenson, J. C.
Macduff, Viscount Stuart, Colonel
Mackintosh, C. F. Swanston, A.
M'Arthur, A. Tavistock, Marquess of
M'Arthur, W. Taylor, P. A.
M'Lagan, P. Temple, rt. hon. W. Cowper-
M'Laren, D.
Maitland, W. F. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-
Middleton, Sir A. E.
Monk, C. J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Morgan, G. O. Vivian, A. P.
Morley, S. Vivian, H. H.
Muntz, P. H. Waddy, S. D.
Mure, Colonel Whitbread, S.
Noel, E. Whitwell, J.
Norwood, C. M. Williams, W.
Palmer, C. M. Wilson, C.
Peel, A. W. Wilson, Sir M.
Pender, J. Young, A. W.
Pennington, F.
Perkins, Sir F. TELLERS.
Playfair, rt. hon. L. Ashley, hon. E. M.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Mundella, A. J.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.

On Question, That the Bill be now read a second time?


said, that he would only detain the House a few minutes before proceeding to a division on the Main Question. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had reference only to the educational aspect of the Bill, which in his opinion, was defective, and failed to meet the educational requirements of the country, while it was a distinct departure from the principles of the Act of 1870. The time would come when, as the hon. Member for Sheffield had said, a Minister who regarded the matter from an educational point of view would call upon Parliament to repeal the present Bill. But besides its educational aspect it might also be regarded from a religious and a social point of view. With regard to its social point of view, he wished to ask hon. Members opposite whether, having reference to the confession of the Prime Minister himself, that the extension of the franchise to labourers in counties was only a matter of time, they were prepared to pass the 12th clause of the Bill, under which the Guardians were to pay the school-fees of the poorer children. His right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford had spoken of free education, but that involved a wholly different principle from the scheme under discussion. His view of the 12th clause was that a more pauperizing proposal had never been submitted to Parliament. Another objection which he had to the Bill rested on its religious aspect; and on this point he would ask Her Majesty's Government whether they were prepared to apply the principle of the Bill to Ireland, and so enable the Catholic priests to compel the attendance of Protestant children in Catholic schools? If they were not prepared to go this length, he ventured to ask why it was proposed to give a similar power to the conductors of denominational schools in this country? He should vote against the second reading, because he and those with whom he acted thought the measure was one which could not be satisfactorily amended in Committee.


wished to explain, the Vote he intended to give. He had put his Amendment on the Paper in order, if possible to avoid the necessity of voting against the second reading of the Bill. He should not vote against the second reading, but for the unmistakable manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War and the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council had expressed themselves.


reminded the hon. Gentleman that having already moved an Amendment on the Motion for second reading, he had exhausted his right to speak again on the Main Question.


said, he should vote against the second reading, because it would diminish the influence of the Roman Catholics in England, and if applied to Ireland would tend still further than at present to throw the control of education into the hands of the Board of Guardians.


said, he should vote for the second reading, because he believed all necessary Amendments in the Bill could be made in Committee.


understood that the Bill did not apply to Ireland, and therefore he was perfectly satisfied with it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 356; Noes 78: Majority 278.