HC Deb 20 March 1883 vol 277 cc933-4

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in remodelling the Department of the Lord President, he will take into consideration the desirability of separating the actual Minister of Education in the House of Commons from that office; and of transferring to him the power of appointing the inspectors and other officers on whom the satisfactory working of the Education of the Country so greatly depends?


, in reply, said, he did not quite understand, in the same sense as his hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), the engagement that had been given by the Government. He did not think that the engagement given by the Government had at any time been to remodel the Department of the Lord President. The engagement of the Government had relation only to the provision made in that House for the affairs of Commerce and the affairs of Agriculture. So far as they undertook—as they did undoubtedly undertake—to consider the provision for agricultural affairs, it necessarily involved the duty of examining into the present arrangement of that part of the Office of the Lord President. But beyond that they did not go. With respect to the question opened up by his hon. Friend, that was a very large question indeed, perhaps even larger than he was aware of. There was a comprehensive arrangement which had subsisted for 40 years with regard to Education, under which the Lord President of the Council had acted as the Chief, and under which the Vice President of the Council had acted immediately under him. And his Office had gradually become one of great importance indeed. Besides that there was a Committee of Council for Education, which might not have met very frequently of late years, but which had been by no means a Committee of mere form, like the Committee of Trade and the Committee of Local Government, but which for, he thought he might venture to say, something like 30 years had met from time to time to consider all the important questions of principle that arose on the subject of education. Therefore, his hon. Friend would see that this was a very largo subject, not included within any pledge of the Government; nor was he (Mr. Gladstone) prepared to say that, viewing what the Government had upon their hands, and what were the other calls on them, it was within their immediate intention to examine into this complicated matter.