HC Deb 27 July 1883 vol 282 cc830-62

, in rising to move— That the unforeseen and growing amount of the school rate; its unequal pressure upon various districts and various classes of the community; its failure in some cases to meet the requirements of the most necessitous classes; and the circumstance that it involves expenditure not originally anticipated, call for the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government with a view to the relief of the burdens of the ratepayers, while maintaining, in accordance with the original intention of ' The Education Act,1870,' the efficiency of elementary education, observed, that it was a matter of courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to express his regret that he should have the trouble of a second discussion upon education. If he could have communicated with him (Mr. Salt) some days ago that he proposed to take the Education Estimates so soon, nothing would have been wanting on his (Mr. Salt's) part to meet his views as far as possible. At the same time, he must observe that it would have been difficult to frame the Resolution so as to be applicable to a Vote in Supply. He trusted, therefore, that, on the whole, the course that had been adopted would not be found inconvenient. In bringing this subject under the notice of the House, he was actuated by no desire to make a Party attack upon the right hon. Gentleman—on the contrary, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman would entirely agree with roost of his observations, although he might object to the conclusions which he drew from the facts of the case. He desired, at the outset, to meet two objections that might he raised to his Resolution. In the first place, it might be said that in bringing forward this Resolution he showed that he was no friend to elementary education. It, however, was because he was a real friend to elementary education that he had framed this Notice. In the second place, it might be supposed that he was opposed to the amount of the Parliamentary grant. Had that been the case, he would have raised the discussion upon the Estimates on the previous night. It was not the amount he intended to criticize. Possibly he might criticize its application and use. Of course, if it could be said a very large expenditure of necessity produced an excellent and valuable system of education there would be nothing to do but to look to the grant; but it by no means followed that a grant, growing in amount year by year, was administered in the most economical and efficient manner. Large expenditure did not necessarily imply sound education. If the House gave this money with no ungrudging hand it behoved them to watch carefully that it was expended to the best advantage. In his Motion he had referred to the expectation held out by the Act of 1870, and he would quote two passages from the debates of 1870, often quoted before, but which he should quote in a somewhat different sense. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), speaking on July 5, 1870, said it was not probable that any charge for the purposes of the Bill would exceed 3d. in the pound. Then, on the 7th July, 1870, the Prime Minister said— I only speak of the limit of the permanent burden, and it is reduced by the proposition of my right hon. Friend to 3d. in the pound. Now, those statements he could not claim as pledges. No Minister, however powerful, could possibly limit the amount of the rate for the future. Nothing could do that but a clause in the Act itself; but he could not but think that those statements had been incautiously made, and that, proceeding, as they did, from right hen. Gentlemen of such eminence as statesmen, they had greatly misled public opinion. They must remember by whom these expectations were held out. The one was one of the most remarkable statesmen that Europe had produced in this century. The other was not only an eminent statesman, but also, as they had been told, an eminent philanthropist. Upon the suggestions made by such persons, compromise was effected, and action was founded. The expectation from the Act of 1870 was that the rate, as a general rule, would not exceed 3d. in the pound; but what was the result 12 years later? The School Board rate of London was 6d., gradually rising to 7d.; and so far from the scale throughout the country being anything like 3d., there were 1,491 School Board districts where the rate was above 3d., and only 252 where the rate was below that. The cost of building school board schools had been enormous, amounting, on the average, to £12 per child; whereas the cost of building voluntary schools only amounted to £57s. per head. In the Education Report for 1882 one of the Inspectors said the cost to the ratepayers for the erection of 26 permanent board schools built in Southwark was £397,679, and the account was not closed. The average cost of building a school was something like £15,295, and the average cost per child £16. In one large town, a board school had cost £23 148. 8d. per scholar, another £20 9s. 7d., and another at a cost of £53 1s. 9d. per scholar. Contrast with these schools built at Birkenhead for 976 children at a cost of £5 10s. per head, and a British school to accommodate 761 at a cost of £3,480. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Does that include the site?] He believed it did, but was not quite sure; but he would give the right hon Gentleman the correction if he was mistaken. But he would take other figures, where there would be no difficulty as to sites and small details. It was stated in the Education Report for 1882 that between 1839 and 1881 a stun of £1,766,000 was given from the public funds for the purpose of building elementary schools—Parliamentary grants of that kind had now ceased—for the education of 1,233,000 children, the remainder being made up by voluntary contributions; but under the new board system, from 1870 to 1881, the expenditure in building schools by the money derived from rates had been £13,784,000, and the number of scholars provided for was 1,124, 000 only. Under the old system, the money spent did not take a penny from the pockets of the ratepayers, and it left no debt behind it; but under the second system there was a large burden, a debt of £13,000,000, which would continue for 50 years at least. Certainly the Act of 1870 was productive of many blessings. He willingly acknowledged that; but he contended the working of the Act had been most expensive. He would now take another line of figures, which he thought could not be challenged. While the average cost per scholar in attendance before the passing of the Act had been £1 5s. 5d., it was now £1 16s. 8d. Thus in board schools in 1872 the cost per head of each scholar in attendance was £1 8s. 4d., whereas it was now £2 1s. 6d. throughout the country generally, and £2 17s. in London. There was, however, one crumb of comfort, and that was that the average cost had remained almost stationary during the last three years. In 1870 it was estimated that the cost per head would rise from £1 5s. per head to 30s. per head, to be made up of 15s. from the public funds, 7s. 6d. from the parents, and 7s. 6d. of rate in school board schools, or of subscriptions in voluntary schools. The result showed where the pressure really lay. Thus in 1881 the grant to board schools amounted to 15s. 10d. per head, and to voluntary schools to 15s. 7d., just what it had been anticipated it would be. The ratepayers, however, had been called upon to pay 16s. 11d., instead of 7s. 6d., while, in voluntary schools, the parents had had to pay 11s. per head and the subscribers 7s. 1d. per head. He would observe there were many things which had happened that were not anticipated in 1870 when the Act was introduced. He by no means blamed those who originated the Act, still less did he blame those who from year to year had administered it; but in this year of 1883 they found many things in existence which would have astonished men if they had heard of them in 1870. Amongst others, that the ratepayers were powerless to prevent excessive expenditure; that a different class of persons sent their children to the board schools than it was expected would do so; that such extravagant sums should be spent on buildings; that head masters received £242 a-year instead of £100; that there should be in the Metropolis alone a staff of scores of Inspectors and Visitors; and that ebonized pianos and Turkey carpets should be the necessary furniture of a training ship. He did not mean to say that much of the expenditure that had been incurred was not necessary; but what he did say was that there was a state of things that was not contemplated when the Act of 1870 was passed. They had plunged into the stream, and the stream had carried them very much farther than they expected. Another point to which in his Motion he had called particular attention was the varying amount of the rate in different districts. There were 148 places in which it amounted to 1s. and upwards; 214 where it was 9d. to 1s.; 519 from 6d. to 9d.; 610, 3d. to 6d.; 200 from 1d. to 3d.; and 52 where it was below 1d. These latter, as might be expected, were places where there were school boards, but no board schools. That rate, varying in amount from ½d. to 2s. 3d., was purely national in character. The object of the system was the education of the poorest children in the country. He must notice just for one moment the effect of this heavy school rating upon the supporters of voluntary schools. They had made four complaints. They complained, in the first place, that they were compelled to pay rates for board schools and, at the same time, to support their own school. This, in effect, frequently meant that they were paying twice over. Secondly, many supporters of voluntary schools complained very strongly that they were in favour of a definite religious instruction, and that they were compelled to subscribe to board schools, where there was such religious education. Those complaints came from persons worthy of the highest respect, who made great personal sacrifices for the cause they had at heart. The third ground of complaint was that building grants were withdrawn from them—they had to build at their own cost, and could not borrow; whereas school boards had unlimited borrowing powers, with repayment spread over 50 years. The fourth complaint was that the operations of the board schools had so increased their expenses that they found it almost impossible to carry on their own schools. In the Province of Ontario our Colonists had a method of solving that question which, though he did not recommend it for our adoption, possessed merit and ingenuity. Five heads of families were empowered to summon a meeting and appoint three trustees, who, on application to the district school authority, could be constituted a Corporation, establish schools and levy rates on the subscribers and on the parents of the children. Persons so contributing were exempt from the general school rate. There was one curious effect which the school board rate had upon a well-deserving class of the community. He referred to the middle class. The middle class shopkeeper in the town in which there was a school rate was in this position—he paid for the education of his own children, and he also paid for the education of the poor people's children. The result of this was that the children of the poor people received an education which enabled them to compete with the tradesman's own sons. Now, the Act of 1870 had done both too little and too much. One of the great objects of the Act was to reach the gutter children. [Mr. MUNDELLA: All children.] In point of fact, there had been a complete failure to reach those children. The right hon. Gentleman himself, speaking at Birmingham on January 15th, 1883, admitted that there was scarcely any change in their criminal statistics, and that they still had to bring the poor Arabs out of the streets. Mr. Wilks, of the London School Board, said that the system had failed to reach the waifs and strays of society. Sir Edmund Currie, speaking of the Tower Hamlets, said there were as many poor children in the streets now as there were eight years ago. Notwithstanding all that, no less than £31,285 was spent in 1882 for the purpose of getting the children to attend the schools. The present system of elementary education had erred in doing too much in two ways. It had imposed too much labour both upon teachers and scholars; and next it had aimed at subjects not suited for mere elementary instruction, children who were scantily fed and scantily clothed, and who could not be expected to exert their brains like the children of parents well-to-do. What he complained of was the wholesale system of treating all children alike, whatever their mental capacities or social circumstances might be. He did not say that every child was overworked; but a great many children suffered from this high pressure of education, and sufficient care was not taken to adapt the instruction to the capacity and strength of the child. He believed the object of the Act of 1870 was to give an education suited to the children of persons who were to obtain their living by manual labour; but in many cases the instruction given could only be of use to persons in a far higher position. There was, however, one of the specific subjects that at first sight promised to be practicable and easy; and in regard to that he had made a careful search among the Reports of the Inspectors. He referred to domestic economy, and he would proceed to give the result. One Inspector reported— Only one-third of the girls presented in domestic economy passed; more nonsense has, I believe, been written in answer to questions on this subject than all the rest put together. Another wrote in a way to illustrate that opinion— A girl of Standard V., in one of the most favourably-situated schools, when asked to write a short account of soda, replies, 'Soda is an utensil with which we wash ourselves.' Another, in the same Standard, whilst writing very neatly and speaking correctly, in answer to the question, 'What points should be borne in mind in looking for a house?' replies, 'You should always sec if the drains do not smell, and the ventilation are cleaned out; because, if not, perhaps we should catch fever or any other degrees.' These girls would have been better employed in cleaning their mother's house. He would give only two more short quotations. One Inspector said— I am fully persuaded that, unless several hours can be added to a day, and the school staff materially increased, to take up specific subjects is a positive injury to the proper teaching of elementary and extra subjects. And another— Physical geography. This has been a favourite subject with teachers, for one obvious reason at least—namely, that more money can be got with less trouble in physical geography than in any other way. Complaint had been made, in eloquent terms, by a recent French writer of the effect of excessive pressure in the elementary schools. He compared the present with 10 years ago, and with what might be expected 10 years hence. He showed how great the stride in expenditure and how great the change in teaching had been; and then, looking forward, said that in another 10 years every child would be expected to know many things of which the Senators and Deputies who passed the Education Laws were themselves ignorant. He described the fatigue of an examination. Every day beforehand added something to the burden. The child bore it bravely, he staggered along without turning right or left, without thought or care for anything else. At last the day arrived. Breathless and exhausted, he threw down the burden at the feet of the examiner; he felt relief; he stretched; he was at ease again; he emptied himself at once of all this cram, once and for ever, so completely that he forgot it all, and retained neither the will nor the power to study more. The school board system had been making great progress during the last 10 years. It was now a recognized system, though it was originally created to supplement, not to supplant, the voluntary schools. He was not prepared to say that it was right that it should embrace the whole education of the country. In 1872 there were only 82 board schools in England; in 1877 there were 2,089; and in 1881, 3,075. Again, in 1872, the school board rate amounted to £3,254; in 1881 it amounted to £738,737. At the same time, 959 or more voluntary schools had been transferred to school boards. The system was a great and growing system, which, under existing circumstances, must increase and strengthen every day; for the voluntary schools had not sufficient vigour to withstand the great money power that the school boards possessed. The question then arose, was it desirable that the country should be entirely handed over to the school board system? It was very much a system of grind and of work. He did not mean to say that the school boards had not been of great value to the country; but he should be very sorry to see the old-fashioned schools altogether abandoned. He believed it was most desirable for the country that, if possible, the two systems should exist in vigour and thrive side by side together. His desire had been to put forward some ideas and suggestions which he believed to be worthy of consideration. He hardly, at that moment, expected a very definite reply from the Vice President; but he did hope for the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that he would give serious attention to the points that he (Mr. Salt) had ventured to lay before the House. In the interests of elementary education, in the interest of the poor who were taught, and of the poor who paid, and, he believed he might venture to add, for the credit of Parliament and of the Government of the country, he begged to move the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


, in seconding the Motion, said: The desire I have long felt to see some effectual curb put upon the imposition of school rates, and the excess of school board expenditure, would not have induced me to second this Motion if it were of a Party or sectarian character. Great and grievous discontent prevails among the ratepaying community, especially in London, at the breach of conditions on which the Act of 1870 was passed; and as far as I know there is hardly a subject on which there is more unanimity of feeling. But as one of those who steadily supported that measure, and who did not shrink, when difficulty arose regarding its application in the Metropolis, from lending aid which was frankly accepted by the Government, and from taking my full share of work in bringing the Act into operation, I feel bound to raise my earnest remonstrance against the gradual perversion of the system to purposes that were never avowed, and I hope never intended. We were asked to impose on the occupiers of rateable property, the bulk of whom may be fairly designated as the struggling classes, a charge previously unknown in aid of primary education. Voluntary schools, with the help of grants from the Privy Council, had done a great deal; but confessedly they were unable to reach a poor and helpless outlying mass; and Parliament was asked by the right hon. Member for Bradford and the Prime Minister to set up board schools, not to supplant those existing, but to supplement them, and to gather up the waifs and strays of childhood, that nothing should be lost to the usable strength of the State. As far as that purpose was really meant, and to whatever extent it has been attained, I commend and I am ready to sustain it as cordially as ever. But I regret to be compelled to say that, like other young institutions, that of board schools has wandered frequently and far from the straight path of its duty. The questionable and, I think, Quixotic ambition to obtain control of higher education, for which it is unadapted, and which it has no just means of supporting, diverts continually its thoughts and its resources from the proper objects of its care; and causes a yearly augmentation of burdens which ratepayers, already overtaxed, feel to be intolerable. Rates, we are sometimes told, come out of rent; if a man pays so much more rate, he gets au abatement of rent, and so there is no hardship. Put in a rising market for houses this is not true; and when you propose to put on a rate for the first time for primary schools, it was certain enough that the charge would come out of the householder's pocket. I well remember, in a conference at the house of the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), the fitness of rates to bear the newly proposed burden was fully discussed, upon the objection that if primary instruction be a public duty it is a national obligation, and ought to be discharged out of the Ways and Means of the nation at large. The objection was overborne. But, speaking for the largest section of the ratepaying community represented in this House as part of the Metropolitan area, I say, deliberately and distinctly, that if you had not held out the lure already named, and if you had not held out the positive inducement that the rates should never exceed 3d. in the pound, I, for one, would net have agreed to the Act of 1870; and I do not believe that my Metropolitan Colleagues would have been authorized by their constituents to give that measure their support. I am not making any charge of wilful breach of faith; I deprecate language to that effect whenever it is used. Our duty here is to deal with tendencies and results, not with intentions or miscalculations. It is right, however, that the fact should be recalled when we are taking stock of our progress, and seeking to bring back daily practice to the original design. The 3d. maximum rate does not rest upon vague recollection of words spoken in debate, but is capable of absolute proof, as I undertake to show. I hold in my hand the original Elementary Schools Bill, introduced on the 17th of February, 1870, and not finally passed until the end of the Session. The 84th clause of that Bill promised a guarantee that when, in any parish, the 3d. rate did not produce more than £20 a year, the deficiency should be made up, not by an extra rate, but by an extra grant from the Privy Council. In a word, the great broad and wholesome principle was professed, and, as we hoped and believed, faithfully laid down, that primary instruction of the needy classes was the duty of the whole Kingdom, and was to be undertaken substantially for the national good. Localities were to pay a limited rate in order to create a check on expenditure; but it never was whispered that localities were to be left to the caprice of temporary and, therefore, irresponsible school boards; or that these were to be used by the Government as a machinery for trying fantastical experiments and empirical theories in the system of over-cram. It never was contemplated seriously by Parliament that, under the misleading pretence of screwing up the general standard of book knowledge, tested by competitive examination, a furtive and insidious means might be found for sapping and mining religious schools. At first, when the legal limit of local rates was exceeded, excuses were made that the excess was only a little; and when all sorts of subjects of higher education were one by one added under the expanding Code, we were told that it did not signify, for it was only this, and only that, and only t' other. A College friend of mine accused his servant once of making free with what did not belong to him; the man protested his innocence often; but, being at last found out, declared he meant no harm, for he never meddled with any but three things, which he really thought were allowable, tea and sugar was one, wine and spirits was two, and coals and candles was three. But public patience is worn out at last, and endurance has reached its limits. The Committee of Council stimulate rather than chock the overstrain, which I believe to be a most pernicious infatuation; and in this and other ways egg on the school board to ever-augmenting expense. In London the rate is more than double what we stipulated for, and new schools on the most expensive pattern are continually erecting, where they are not really wanted, apparently to break the heart of the existing voluntary schools. Within the last month, in the parish of St. Giles's, Bloomsbury, what has occurred? Many years ago a central building was raised at a great expense, capable of accommodating from 900 to 1,000 children, and when the Act of 1870 was passed I can bear witness that it was constantly full. A portion of the parish, however, was overcrowded with poor, and the London School Board, of which during the first year I was a member, along with Mr. Samuel Morley, Viscount Landon, and Mr. W. H. Smith, were told that an additional school house was wanted. To provide for the wastrals and the necessitous provision was accordingly made, part out of rates, part out of fees, and part out of grants, no one, as far as I know, complaining. Other board schools were built in adjoining parishes close by, and the general effect on the old establishment in Endell Street, was to drain it of half its scholars. Still we forbore to complain; but what have we now? Within the parish, whose population is greatly diminished in the last decade, the Board supply accommodation already for 2,892 children, though the average attendance is but 2,100; nevertheless, they are going to add 441 additional places, at a cost of £24,470 for site and building, with a probable outlay besides of £4,500 for a new playground; and this while 400 places are actually vacant in the old voluntary school. You will never persuade an intelligent people that this is all needful and right, or that you ought thus egregiously trifle with the means of livelihood of the peaceful and hard toiling community, while one-half the Kingdom is wholly exempt from liability to the burden thus mounting up year after year. Nineteen out of 20 common-sense people you talk to—whether Anglican, Catholic, or Wesleyan—declare that you are rather unfitting than fitting thousands of poor children for honestly earning their bread; and I grieve to add that the suspicion deepens daily among men of various creeds that the rates are misapplied with the unconfessed purpose of steadily reducing all primary instruction to the French dead level of secularism. I do not say that all who are engaged in the operation realize the ultimate purpose; but I say that the experiment thus 'making is unwarrantable and unwise; and now that at last silence on the subject has been broken, I am convinced that Parliament will have no peace until means are taken to bring back the expenditure of school boards within proper bounds. It is quite true that voluntary schools, by the help of earnest and munificent friends, are trying to keep their ground; and it is to their infinite credit that in some cases they still succeed in doing so. But everyone who watches steadily what is going on around him, and who candidly tells what lie sees, must own that the high pressure of board school competition daily threatens to squeeze the voluntary schools out of existence. Members of school boards, and all who hold office under the Committee of Education, avow their belief in the course of events; but say it is inevitable. Inevitable is the most good-for-nothing word in the language. Nothing in legislation unjust, inexpedient, or wrong is inevitable, if we only make up our minds to arrest or amend it. If you will not make rates universal instead of partial, and if you will not allow each parent to pay his rates, like the fees of his children, into whatever school he pleases, then there is the other alternative of charging the whole expense between fees, benefactors, and public grants, which I, fer one, believe would be a fairer and wiser plan.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the unforeseen and growing amount of the school rate; its unequal pressure upon various districts and various classes of the community; its failure in some cases to meet the requirements of the most necessitous classes; and the circumstance that it involves expenditure not originally anticipated, call for the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government with a view to the relief of the burdens of the ratepayers, while maintaining, in accordance with the original intention of The Education Act, 1870',' the efficiency of elementary education,"—(Mr. Salt,) —instead thereof.

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


said, that it would have been impossible for anyone holding the views of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) to have expressed those views with greater moderation and fairness to his opponents. The hon. Member urged that the original object of the Education Act was to supplement, and not supplant, the voluntary schools. He had himself, in carrying the Bill through, stated that as its object over and over again. But his hon. Friend was quite mistaken in saying that the result had been otherwise. The Act had, in fact, supplemented, and not supplanted, denominational schools. In 1870 in the National schools the average attendance of children was 882,000. Now the number had risen to 1,552,000. As he saw his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk (Sir Charles Russell) present, he would refer to the Roman Catholic schools. He had no figures for 1870 with regard to them, but in 1873 there was an average attendance of 90,000 children in Catholic schools; but now, greatly to the credit of that religion, the number was 163,000. He thought it was matter for Congratulation that, although the school board system was absolutely necessary, voluntary effort had not been discouraged, but had increased in far greater ratio than the population. He admitted that he had expressed his belief that the rate would not exceed 3d. in the pound, and he was supported in that opinion by those who had the largest experience of educational questions. His hon. Friend seemed to be under the impression that in the original Bill there was a clause limiting the rate to 3d. That was a mistaken idea, as the 84th clause was, in the end, substantially the same as when the Bill was introduced. He had, however, since that time had so much experience of political life that he should not be inclined, on any subject, to venture upon prophecy again. There were several reasons for the mistake into which he had fallen. The first was that a far greater educational destitution existed than anyone imagined, and he could only congratulate the country that adequate efforts had been made to provide for that destitution. His Predecessor (Lord Robert Montagu) had estimated that there were in the country about 350,000 children to be provided for. But the increase in the number of children being educated had risen from 1,700,000 in 1870 to 4,500,000 in 1883, and the average attendance from 1,150,000 to 3,000,000. Then schools had to be built. Then there had been an increase in the cost of educating the children, which had risen from 25s. 5d. to 36s.d. a-head. The main cause of that increase was the higher salaries now given to masters and mistresses. The salaries of masters had risen by 26 per cent, and those of mistresses by 28 per cent. He might be charged with want of economy, but he could not but rejoice at that result. The increase in salaries had arisen partly from the fact that teachers were formerly underpaid, and partly from the greatly increased demand consequent upon the passing of the Act. They certainly had a much more efficient educational staff for their schools than existed before the passing of the Act. He did not believe that the very poor children were being neglected. There might be some "gutter" children still out, but nothing like so many as there were. Large numbers were being brought in, and these children required more teaching power to be brought to bear on them than children coming from more comfortable homes; and in order to get the work done it was found necessary to have a larger staff of masters and mistresses, and, perhaps, fewer pupil - teachers. Hon. Members who had spoken thought that the special subjects had a good deal to do with the cost, but he was certain they had very little. Almost every special subject was met by the Government grant. The first and most important business was to give a thoroughly good elementary education—reading, writing, and ciphering—and he trusted the day was far distant when there would not be alongside that a Scriptural education. The Act of 1870 had not resulted in a purely secular system; but, as he believed, in a more thoroughly Scriptural and religious teaching than existed before. But he should be sorry to suppose that the country would be satisfied with mere reading, writing, and ciphering. The hon. Member had quoted examples of ridiculous answers. Such instances could be found in any examination in the Kingdom, if anyone chose to amuse himself or the House by seeking for them. A few ridiculous answers were no proof that knowledge was not being taught. The boys now at school would be the voters of the future, and it was not desirable to debar them from a knowledge of the history of their country, or the geography of that Empire with the management of which they would probably have something to do. In no respect had the Vice President shown his absolute fitness for the Office more than by the way in which he had considered both sides of this question—acknowledging that the chief object was to give a really good elementary educa- tion, not discouraging special subjects, but not pestering the children with too many subjects. He rather expected that the hon. Member for Stafford would have suggested what changes he thought ought to be made in the mode of raising the money. When the Act passed it was stated that an increase would be given in the Government grant, and that pledge had been thoroughly fulfilled. The average attendance had increased 260 per cent; the Government grant, 320 per cent; voluntary contributions, 70 per cent; and the fees, 210 per cent. Ought they to take a larger proportion out of the taxes than they did at this moment? The Government grant was then 35 per cent of the total income, and was now 40 per cent; and he confessed that he thought it would be a disadvantage to education to give a larger proportion out of the public taxation. He would give, very briefly, one or two reasons why there should not be a larger increase in the taxes. The result of it would be that one set of people would be managing, and another set spending; and that meant extravagance to begin with, and also, in his belief, inefficiency. In his opinion, it was most desirable to keep up the local management, and he was sure that the management would be much less efficient if the money were mainly paid by the State. Then it had been said how much fairer it would be to the subscribers to voluntary schools if the taxes supplied the money; but they would only be taking out of one pocket instead of the other, taking taxes instead of rates. Under the present system if people thought there was extravagance they had the remedy in their own hands, and could vote for Members who held with a policy of "strict economy," which, however, often really meant starving education; and the large majority of the constituents in London, and, he believed, in every large town, had decided against that policy. He had only one other remark to make. Allusion had been made by the hon. Member for Stafford to what he called the "Canada" system. There was a great deal of attraction in the proposal; but he believed that the more it was looked at the more generally those interested in education would come to the conclusion that it was utterly impossible to work it in this country. Practically, there were only two denomina- tions in Canada, and the number of denominations alone would make it impossible in England. It was, also, contrary to the very principle of rate management, which was that the ratepayers should choose the persons who were to dispose of the rates. But he was quite sure of this—that a proposal more likely to injure the interests of denominational schools could not be conceived. He did not wish to refer to the old controversies that bad taken place, mere than to say that he was sure that, for the interests of denominational schools, the more they had them separated from the school boards the better it was for them. It was easy to find theoretical faults, but, in so doing, they must set one against another; and he would be prepared, in the interests of education, to uphold the view he held before, and would only state that they must, if they looked at the theoretical unfairness on one side, look at it also on the ether. He might, perhaps, be considered conceited; but he had seen nothing in the working of the Education Act since it was passed to lead him to think that they did not arrive at the best system. At any rate, they might have the comfort that, although there was much yet to do, there had been more done in the last 12 years than any man interested in education could suppose possible to be done.


said, he hoped the House would allow him to make a personal explanation on behalf of the London School Board, which had been attacked. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) referred three or four times in the course of his speech to the secular education of the London School Board, of which the hen. Member had been a member, and must, therefore, have been familiar with its debates on the question of religious instruction. The London School Board passed a resolution with reference to Scriptural instruction, which became a pattern for all the school boards throughout the country. That resolution was, in substance, that the principles of religion and morality should be taught from the Bible, but that the teachers should be warned against proselytizing; and on that resolution the Board had acted ever since. It was in reference to the Scriptural instruction that the Vice President of the Council, when distri- buting prizes to the schools a few days ago, complained that it was, perhaps, a little too ambitious, and went too minutely into the facts of the Bible. He thought, therefore, that the hon. Member for Finsbury must either have been very forgetful or very hasty when he spoke several times during his speech of the dead secular level to which the London School Board were striving to drag down the education of the children of London. With regard, also, to the combined charge of gross extravagance and of malicious unfairness to voluntary schools which the hon. Member brought against the London School Board, he was completely in error in the statements lie made, and in contending that the Board were erecting schools in the neighbourhood of voluntary schools, with the object of driving the voluntary element out of the field. The supporters of the Church schools had no justification for the complaint of the increasing pressure in consequence of the competition of the board schools. In 1870, before board schools were established, their subscriptions amounted to 7s. 6d. per child; in 1883 they paid exactly the same amount. But the general taxpayer paid them an increased sum of 14s. 9d., instead of 8s. 9d. per child; while the children in average attendance were paying 10s. 5d., instead of 8s.; and by the utilization of public property, in the shape of old endowments, the miscellaneous contribution to the total cost of £1 14s. 9d. per child had increased from 1s. 4d. to 2s. The Church schools, by raising their fees, had taken the pick of the pupils, and had sent the unsatisfactory children to the board schools. He would briefly give the history of attendance in the London board schools up to the 1st of July, 1883. In December, 1871, there was an average attendance of 174,000 in all the schools of London; in June, 1883, the number was 430,000. In June, 1883, there were 175,000 in voluntary schools, as against 173,000 at the beginning of the school board system, notwithstanding that many voluntary schools were, in the interval, transferred to the board schools. In the board schools the average attendance was 255,000. With respect to the enforcement of attendances, he would say that the average of attendance had risen to 72 per cent of the whole number on the books throughout the United Kingdom. But, in London, the average attendance was 81.3 in the board schools, and 80.2 in the voluntary schools. Thus a comparatively regular attendance had been attained. But even that was not satisfactory. Paris, where compulsion had only been introduced in the last year, had an average attendance of 94 or 95 per cent; and in Holland there was a similar high attendance. As to the cost of school buildings, no doubt that was a very great item; but it must be remembered that the sites were very costly, especially as compulsory powers were exercised. It was also the duty of the School Board to see that the schools were thoroughly well built. Curiously enough, it was the fact that the Education Department required more space and cubic feet of air for board schools than for voluntary schools. In a voluntary school 8 feet of superficial space per child was required, whereas in a board school it was 10 feet per child; and, therefore, the same amount of space in a board school was required for seating 80 children that was sufficient in a voluntary school for seating 100 children. He thought the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) would, therefore, see that the sanitary arrangements in the board schools were so good as to be worth the money spent upon them. He would just say one word upon the complaint of hon. Members as to the injustice of taxing people for the general State education of the country who were maintaining the private education of their own children in accordance with their own religious principles. No doubt, the argument was a popular and an intelligible one; but it led directly to the Disestablishment of a State Church, because if it was unjust for Episcopalians to contribute to the rates for maintaining unsectarian schools, it was an injustice towards Jews and unsectarians to require them to contribute towards a State Establishment from which they derived no benefit and which was repugnant to their feelings. He had other arguments in his quiver whenever the Disestablishment debate came on, which he should be glad to discharge for the benefit of the hon. Members who supported a State Church. He had expected to have heard a little more from the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) as to the injustice of the incidence of taxation. He thought the incidence of taxation in towns was pretty nearly fair upon rich and poor alike; but in the rural districts, where the taxation was placed upon the land alone, which formed the capital of the farm, while other forms of property were untaxed, it appeared to be unjust; and when the great question of Rating and County Government, and other cognate topics, came up for discussion, he hoped some method would be devised by which local burdens might be more fairly distributed over various classes of property. It was a large question, however, involving many considerations; and he trusted that some day it would be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. He thought there was one matter in which the State might make a subvention in connection with the burden of school board taxation, and that was in the way of defraying the cost of enforcing the school board by laws in reference to attendance. It was in the nature of a police charge, and not an education charge; and although he did not care to have it put upon Imperial instead of local funds, yet he saw in it no such danger of diminishing the efficiency of the schools as would result from the transferrence of other burdens.


wished to remind the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) that in that House he sat as a member of Parliament, and not as a Member of the London School Board. He therefore declined to follow his hon. Friend into the wonderful statistics which were exhibited by the management of the London School Board. He prefered to advert for a moment to some of the statements of his right lion. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster,) who had made a confession in regard to the false prophecy lie had made in 1870. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman mended the matter by saying that other people had been false prophets as well as himself. He thought the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had been compelled to declare that he had pressed the Bill upon the House upon false calculations was sufficient to induce the House to support the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) in declaring that the matter did require the serious reconsideration of Her Majesty's Government. He (Mr. Leighton) approached this question not as a Churchman, but as an educationalist, as a philanthropist, and as a taxpayer. He impugned the existing system, both as to the manner in which it had been originated and as to the manner in which it had been carried on. He did not say that all the abuses which at present existed were the creation or the fault of the right hon. Gentleman; but the right hon. Gentleman was the representative of the system, and he was never tired of declaring that it was, as nearly as possible, perfection. He thought it was almost unworthy of Parliament, and almost a discredit to the nation, that there should, every year, be a paean sung on the state of education, when, after all, it was open to the gravest criticism. Viscount Sherbrooke, when a Member of the House of Commons, specially warned the House against creating a great Government monopoly of education. But what had they done? They had created a great Government Department, which had under its command 40,000 teachers and 9,700,000 pupils, and this enormous Department—larger than the Army or Navy—was one which must surely exercise a tremendous influence over the people of this country. With regard to the rates, the expectation with which the Act of 1870 was introduced had entirely failed. Of that he would speak later on. As to the quality of the education, it was originally intended to be elementary education. What was elementary education? He would not use his own words, but those of the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright)— That a child should be taught to write so as to be read, and to read so as to be understood, and to cipher without mental effort. Yet he found, among the subjects taught in the board schools, Latin, French, botany, chemistry, and elementary science. These were special subjects, but they were subjects paid for out of the rates, and they entered into the elementary education of the country. Then, again, let them test the sincerity of the regard of the Department for the really elementary subjects by the action of their own Inspectors. The other day, in a country school in a remote part of the Kingdom, an Inspector paid a visit of inspection, and the first question he asked the children was to explain the solar system. Of course, the managers and the teachers and everyone else were aghast at that question; but the Inspector declared that he could not satisfy his conscience without putting such questions. He was producing no exceptional example of the method and spirit in which rural schools were inspected. What did men like Mr. Francombe, of Redcliffe, say— The number of subjects now being taught in our schools greatly impairs the results in the three Ws, and few boys leave school able to read well or spell correctly. The Chairman of the Committee of the National Union of Elementary Teachers, speaking as the representative of that Union, stated that the New Code was distinctly higher now than the Old Code, and the Secretary of the same Society asserted that serious pressure went on under the system. Therefore, whether for good or whether for evil, there had been a departure from the plan laid down in the original Education Act. He would examine the question, not vaguely, but on evidence which would be received in a Court of Law. First, he would call the attention of the House to a Petition lately presented to them. He would only read the words of the Petition, and not in any way use his own. The words of the Petition were so hideous that he thought they would scarcely be credited. These were the words of the Petition, and the Petition itself came from the Bradford School Board— Information has reached the board of the undoubted existence of prostitution amongst the girls of school ago in the borough of Bradford, who are in actual attendance at schools. And that experience he believed was borne out by the experience of London as well. Passing from that most shocking result of gathering 300 or 400 girls together, without placing them under moral influences, he would go on to another result, not so shocking, perhaps, but which seemed to him to be still more sad. What did the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Chairman of the Lunacy Commission, say— Insanity generally has diminished; but the proportion of lunatics among the teaching class and children has risen. Many people had begun to see that the forcing system in schools, and the burning competition for places among teachers, were producing mental injury. What did other testimony from Scotland prove? It showed that insanity had increased among the teaching class through overpressure in the schools, and there had been a large increase in the percentage of deaths among children of school age from brain disease. That was not given as the result of a careless investigation, but as the result of comparing the six years before the Education Act with the last six years. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council received the cheers of the House the other night when he described how many children were gathered together in the schools; but the doctors said that if the system was persisted in, without reforming it, the development of the children must suffer. Was it surprising that mothers said — "You are killing our children?" And was it surprising that the teachers said—"We want our grant, and we must make them pass?" This came of the system of paying by results, without regard to circumstances. They had heard how the system had failed in gathering together the gutter children, and in getting them to enter the schools. To use the words of the Rev. Mr. Cox-head— The poorer class of children is gradually being thrown upon the streets. But the very first duty of school boards was to gather in the Arabs of the streets, the children of the poorest of the poor. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) said that, so far from supplanting, he had really supplemented the voluntary system. He (Mr. Stanley Leighton) was sorry that the Charity Commissioners, who ought to know quite as well as the right hon. Gentleman, held an entirely different opinion on the subject. This was what they said in their last Report in describing the competition of the board schools with the higher elementary education— The third grade of endowed schools will be practically emptied and rendered practically useless by a competition such as we have indicated, a contingency which we cannot but regard with anxiety; and then the Commissioners went on to describe the serious mischief that was being done, and the great waste of pecuniary resources which would inevitably follow. If the system was doing good, if the system of pure elementary education was really being promoted, he should have very little to say; but, even in connection with the London School Board itself, Mr. Thomas declared that the result of the administration of the London School Board was a failure. The extravagance of the School Board, and their ambition, had greatly increased the rates, and had greatly injured the poor. It was not the fault of the principle of the Act of 1870, but the fault of its administration. He did not think that people fully recognized the enormous increase of the education rates. He would refer to one individual case, the type of hundreds throughout the country—namely, the country parish of Stoken Church, in Oxfordshire, where the school board rate was 2s.d. What did that mean? It meant enhanced house rent. It meant that the cottager had to pay 10s. a-year more for his cottage. And what did it mean in regard to farmers? A farmer with a ratal of only £500 a-year, paid £50 to the school board rates. If a man had £10,000 a-year, he considered £50 a considerable sum to pay, as a subscription, towards a school; and yet here a farmer whose rental was only £500 a - year, and whose income was probably about £300, had to pay in the parish of Stoken Church upwards of £50 a year in school board rates; the sum came upon him suddenly, without any provision having been made to meet it. He would ask if that was fair towards the ratepayers? He concurred very much with the suggestion which had been made by the Home Secretary when the Education Bill was under discussion in 1870; and he did not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had ever withdrawn his opinion since that time— The education rate should be limited, and the pressure of the residuary charge, whatever it is, should be borne by the Treasury. He would put a question to his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this case—we were within a measurable distance of this contingency—what would be the result if the supporters of the voluntary schools withdrew their subscriptions? And he (Mr. Leighton), for one, would certainly be ready to support that step. The result would be that it would throw £2,000,000 on the rates of the country in a single year; and he did not believe that even a Government so strong, so wise, and so self-satisfied as the present Government, could stand a blow like that. £2,000,000 would be thrown on the rates if the support given to volun- tary schools by voluntary subscribers was withdrawn and these schools were thrown upon the educational rate. It had been said that no remedy for the existing state of things had been suggested. He could suggest several. First of all, let them limit the rate, and increase the grant; then let them keep elementary separate from secondary education; let them make it easy for the children to pass from one stage to the other—that was to say, from the elementary and State-aided schools to the higher grade schools; let them abolish overtime and home lessons, and let thorn encourage half-time and physical education. These seemed to him to be the methods by which they should endeavour to reform the system of education in this country. It was the dual control—half Governmental and half local—which increased the expenditure, and made it almost impossible to carry on the education of the country properly. The Government, with the generosity which always belonged to Departments of the State, laid all the blame of failures and abuses on the local managers; but, in point of fact, the local managers were helpless. They were at the mercy of a superior task-master in the Department, and were forced to make all they could out of the undeveloped brains of the children, and the result was the physical exhaustion of the children. In the face of, and against the protest of, such men as Mill and Herbert Spencer, who always declared that there should not be a Government monopoly of education, a Government monopoly was being inaugurated. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would not oppose the proposal of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt), for all that the Resolution declared was that the matter required the serious consideration of the Government with a view to its amendment.


said, that, in rising to address a few observations to the House upon this question, he desired to make his attitude in regard to it perfectly clear. He regretted that the Question before the House was not that suggested by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the working of the Act of 1870. That Act had been in operation for some 13 years, and the school boards had spent a good many millions of money in carrying it out, in addition to having incurred a considerable amount of debt beyond the sum actually raised by taxation. He recognized that, under the operation of the Act, great work had been done; but he thought it was fitting, after 13 years' experience, that they should inquire how far an Act of Parliament, which in its nature was experimental, had worked; whether the large SUMS raised by taxation under it lied been raised in the best way, whether they were applied in the best manner, and whether the State was getting full value for the cost. He (Mr. Charles Russell) was specially interested with reference to its operation upon the voluntary schools, and particularly upon the voluntary schools of, en the whole, the poorest class in the country, — namely, the Catholic community. The House and the country would be generous enough to recollect that those schools stood in an unique position. Catholics could not conscientiously avail themselves, and they did not, of the board schools. They believed that religious should accompany secular teaching. They did not admit that the school board Bible-teaching was religious education, properly so called, although the religious sense of some classes in the community was satisfied by it. But it was clear that, even if it were, it was not the religious education which Catholics desired to give their children. Indeed, was it not also clear that in proportion as the school board teaching did assume a definite religious character, so as to satisfy Protestant requirements, so in proportion must it be unacceptable to Catholics? It was now admitted that the Act of 1870 did not profess to be antagonistic to voluntary schools. By the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and by the Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) it was again and again stated it was intended to supplement, not to supplant, voluntary schools. The Prime Minister had, further, fully recognized the claims which voluntaryists had upon the consideration of Parliament. It was they, indeed, who had done for education all, or nearly all, that was done before the State had recognized its duty to see that its children did not grow up in ignorance. But what did the Act of 1870 do? Did it, or did it not, contain the germ of a principle which, if allowed to grow unchecked, was destructive of the voluntary principle? This was a serious question. The Act of 1870 gave an unlimited power of taxation to school boards, the proceeds of such taxation to be applied solely—although the Bill as brought in provided otherwise—to board schools, and, at the same time, such schools had the right to come pari passû on the Privy Council grant, on the same principle as the voluntary schools. Was it not obvious, therefore, that the board schools, with means practically unlimited at their backs, must, in the long run, in the matter of buildings, higher paid teachers, and so forth, hold out inducements not within the reach of the voluntary schools, with their share of the Privy Council grant, supplemented only by private beneficence, and so supplant the latter? No doubt, some would rejoice at that result; and some, he feared, because they would regard it as the triumph of secularism over denominationalism in education. He (Mr. Charles Russell) declined to discuss the question as a contest between secularism and denominationalism in education. He had no objection to secular education, pure and simple, for those who desired it; but he would not have those volunteer agents unfairly handicapped who desired to see religious attend secular training. He would be glad to see the voluntary principle evoked in regard to each mode of education, and the State supplementing private effort to extend education, whether in a secular or a denominational form—the State paying only for the work of which it received the benefit in secular teaching. Fairly considered, no question of religious difficulty arose. He (Mr. Charles Russell) submitted that so long as the State had efficient guarantees that in the matter of secular education the teaching was sound from the State point of view, and was full value for the money it cost, the State should, in all directions, and on whatever system given, help the work of secular education. They would, in that way, give fresh impulse to that important factor, the voluntary spirit of the people, which, he feared, the Act of 1870 had somewhat checked. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had said 1,000 Anglican schools had been given up to the school board. [Mr. LYULPH STANLEY: Voluntarily.] He (Mr. Charles Russell) so understood; but that meant that in the case of these 1,000 schools the voluntary effort to help the work was relaxed. No Catholic voluntary schools had yet shared that fate, although paying rates for that which, conscientiously, they felt themselves unable to take advantage. The poorest part of the community had strained every nerve to meet the new difficulties and competition which they encountered. He was not sorry there was the competition. It would do good to the voluntary schools; but there was a point beyond which, on existing conditions, the competition could not be maintained. He gratefully recognized the fact that the increased sums received from the Privy Council grant had helped the Catholic body to extend greatly their educational area. In 1870 there were only 666 inspected Catholic schools in Great Britain, with accommodation for 119,599 scholars, and an average attendance of 75,127 scholars. In 1882 the schools wore 1,562, with accommodation for 314,519, and the average attendance 190,540. At the same time, the yearly cost of instruction had risen from £1 0s. 6d. per head on the smaller number in 1870 to £1 10s.d. per head on the much greater number in 1882. He (Mr. Charles Russell) need not point out that the school board cost was much greater than this, and that went some way to account for the increased cost in Catholic schools in the endeavour to keep pace with the board schools. He was glad also to find that the grant per head earned by Catholic children represented a higher percentage on cost of instruction than in the case of any other class. It would appear, too, that in reading, writing, and arithmetic, the Catholic average was higher than that of the rest of the country—in reading, 90.85, against an average of 89.22; in writing, 82.78, against an average of 81.92; and in arithmetic, 77.83, against an average of 77.22. There was still here room for improvement. He (Mr. Charles Russell) did not believe the House or the country, whatever prejudice might prevail, would wish to see such voluntary efforts as these interfered with. He claimed adequate help for these schools on a principle which he believed to be sound. The State now recognized that it was its duty to give at least secular instruc- tion to its children, and particularly to the children of the poor. Amongst those children were the children of the Catholic poor. He claimed that the State should, in fairness, and in sound policy, pay for the secular instruction of these Catholic children according to its value, and upon the same principle that the State paid for similar education in the board schools. In other words, secular education in Catholic schools should not be underpaid, because Catholics desired to see religious teaching attend and follow secular instruction. They asked no help in the work of religious teaching—that must be left purely to voluntary effort.


said, that his reply to the challenge of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. C. Russell) was, that there was no section of the community which had received such generous consideration as that to which he belonged; and that, speaking for his Predecessors in Office as well as for himself, to the Roman Catholics in England exceptional consideration had been shown. They had been allowed wherever they desired, in spite of all rules, to have their own schools, and to receive the grants. At the same time, there was scarcely a school board in England upon which the Roman Catholics were not represented; and a degree of liberality had been extended to them which he thought deserved recognition. With regard to the speech he had delivered at the Crystal Palace, he would repeat now what he had then said—that, since the passing of the Act of 1870, the religious instruction in England had increased as largely as, and even more largely than, secular instruction, which, he thought, some hon. Gentlemen would regret. From 1,600,000 children on the rolls, the number had risen to something approximating to 3,000,000, and the operation of the Conscience Clause had made religious instruction a reality. There were 3,000,000 children, and 1,200,000 were instructed in the principles of Christianity according to the Gospel; and these children were taught to read and understand the Scriptures; and of the whole of the children 1,300,000 were to be found in the Sunday schools on Sunday. The religious instruction of to-day in England was many-fold better than it was before the Act of 1870; and he hardly knew of anything that could be said in answer to that. The hon. Member (Mr. Salt) had not made a speech in support of his Motion, for a great deal that he had said had no bearing upon the Motion. The hon. Member's Motion pointed to the burdens of the ratepayers; but he believed the whole bearing of that speech was to increase rather than reduce those burdens for the benefit of denominational schools. In the interest of those schools, he thought it would have been better if this debate had not taken place. He stood up for the Act of 1870 against all assaults made upon it; and he believed that if the matter were thrown into the crucible the result would not be favourable to those who would oppose that compromise. With respect to the cost of schools, the hon. Member was quite mistaken in putting the cost of building schools at £6 10s. per head. Then the hon. Member spoke of those supporting voluntary schools not being rated for board schools; but the principle of exemption could not be and was not carried out. With regard to the classes of children that ought to be brought into the schools, there were tens of thousands of children in the schools coming from most miserable families of six and eight and ten children. There were 2,700,000 children of the poorest class brought into the schools since 1870, although he admitted that there were still many thousands of the same class of children still outside the schools. In respect to the question of over-work, he had in his possession statistics to show that from 10 years before to 10 years since the passing of the Act of 1870 the death rate of children between 5 and 15 had diminished by more than 19 per cent. There was nothing more remarkable in the history of the health of our population than the decline in the death rate of the children. This was due to the Factory Act, the Mines Acts, and the Education Act. During the last 20 years the death rate of children from brain disease was so small as not to be more than 0.5 per 1,000 of the population; so that these stories as to over-work were absolutely illusory and without ground. With respect to specific subjects, who introduced them? Viscount Sandon and the late Government, and he thought they deserved credit for having introduced them. He had, however, taken them from the lower Standards, and allowed young children to take them in the Fifth Standard; and was it for this that the hon. Member came down and denounced him for murdering the children? He did not know which had been the most striking—the language or the attitude of the hon. Gentleman. As to the cost per child, he maintained that the increased cost per child had not been 1s. 4d. per head. The voluntary subscriptions had increased from £419,000 in 1870 to £723,000 in 1883; and the schools had received from public funds an increase of £1,750,000 a-year. He thought it was not necessary to urge the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion, for nothing would be more unwise than to go to a Division. The Acts were working well, the voluntary schools were most successful; and he would challenge anyone to say they had not been fairly administered by every Vice President of the Council who had been in Office, and he was sure it would be allowed that good results had followed.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council disbelieves that managers of voluntary schools have a grievance; but he supports his disbelief by disproving a proposition which is not the basis of their complaint. They complain, not that the Government grant as now adjusted aggravates their difficulties, but that it does not mitigate them. The weight of the pressure on voluntary schools was admitted by the Government in 1870, and they promised that it should be alleviated. And now the Vice President of the Council triumphantly declares—"We promised an increase of one-half in the former grant, and we have fulfilled our promise." "True," we answer, "you have enlarged your grant; but you have, at the same time, enlarged your requirements, so that our increased expenditure upon each child permits no mitigation in the amount of voluntary contributions pressing with greater severity, owing to the extension of voluntary schools, and the multiplication of scholars." We are told, indeed, that we have no right to complain of an additional burden of our own creation. But why did we multiply our schools and scholars? Because we were assured that our burden would be lightened, and that an education rate, estimated at 3d. in the pound, would be supplemented by the Government grant. The Government deny that there is any provision to that effect in the Education Act. Of course, there is not; if there were such a provision we should make our appeal to the law, and not, as we now confidently do, to the Legislature; for, assuredly, the founders of Church schools would not have spent £6,000,000, except upon the assurances of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and the Prime Minister. But, even had no such expectations been held out, the claims of voluntary schools would be not the less entitled to satisfaction; for what, in plain terms, is their position? The State decrees a compulsory education; it assigns a provision by rate for board schools, and a subsidy from the Exchequer for board schools and for voluntary schools alike, measured by their results—an arrangement which leaves voluntary schools dependent for their existence upon individual liberality. We do not ask that this burden upon individual liberality be wholly removed; but we do ask that the weight of it, almost unbearable in some cases, shall be lightened. The State demands the production of children instructed in secular knowledge. The voluntary schools present their scholars efficiently instructed. Why should they — producing the article demanded by the State—be at so large a pecuniary disadvantage as compared with board schools? The board school receives for its scholar 14s.d from the Government grant, and 17s.d. from the rates. The Church school receives for its equally instructed scholar 14s. 10½d. from the Government grant, and nothing from the rates. Why should it be mulct because it adds religious to secular instruction? Churchmen pay now £600,000 in voluntary subscriptions, and they pay as much more in their share of the £800,000 education rate. We ask, as a remedy to this unequal treatment, that the school board expenditure be subjected to a vigilant control, and that the Government grant be enlarged, so as to throw the cost of elementary education more fairly on the wealth of the country, and to diffuse more generally the burden of maintaining voluntary schools, now pressing upon a comparatively few.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 102; Noes 74: Majority 28.—(Div. List, No. 238.) Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.