(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £22,811, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Charity Commission of England and Wales.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, he had ventured to place on the Paper an Amendment in reference to this Vote, in order that he might again bring the action of the Charity Commissioners before the Committee. In almost every part of the country where the Charity Commissioners were acting the greatest possible discontent prevailed. He should say nothing about the Allotments Act, or the Charitable Trusts Act, because the working of those two Acts had been referred to a Select Committee, who were making inquiries with respect to them; but with regard to the Endowed Schools Act, the administration of which was by far the most important part of the work of the Charity Commissioners, that had not been referred to a Select Committee. It was quite true that there was a rumour that it was to be so referred; and one of the objects of his Motion was to obtain, if possible, an official statement that it was really the intention of the Government to refer the working of that Act to a Select Committee—and not only to a Select Committee, but to the same Committee, or to some Committee which should have the Members of the present Charitable Trusts Committee upon it. He hoped, in any reply the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) might make, he would give a public and positive assurance that that should be done. He proposed now to turn to the manner in which he hoped 1484 his Amendment would be met. He trusted he would not be again charged with wasting the time of the Committee, which charge he had been surprised to hear made by his right hon. Friend on a previous occasion. Was the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole of the cases quoted on a former occasion referred to this action of the Commissioners in respect of the Endowed Schools Commission, which, as he had already stated, was not referred to the Select Committee, and only one case under the Charitable Trusts Act was touched on incidentally—namely, that of Lenche's Trust. Not only was he desirous of urging on the Government to promise this inquiry, but he asked them to suspend the schemes which the Charity Commissioners had prepared until the result of that inquiry could be made known, no was quite aware that reforms in many of the charities of this country were necessary; but what he complained of was that the schemes of the Charity Commissioners inflicted great hardships upon the poorer classes. They almost invariably inflicted great hardship upon the poorer classes of the country, being framed in the interests of the wealthier classes. He also complained of the manner in which the Charity Commissioners ignored the expression of public opinion. They absolutely took no notice whatever of the local opinion of the various districts, whether it assumed the form of action by the Town Council, or of opinion expressed at public meetings. He had there a case which he had mentioned a day or two ago, because it was pressing — namely, the case of Kendal; and he would read a few lines from a letter he had received upon the case from a gentleman who happened to be a strong Conservative. He had also received one or two letters of a similar character from gentlemen who were on the other side of politics. This letter said—The question of the Endowed Schools Commissioners confiscating the property of the poorer classes, and transferring the same to the rich, is, I trust, a matter in which you will persevere. It is one of the greatest scandals of the age—the way in which these Commissioners have robbed the poor. There are few cases more flagrant than their attempt to rob the poor of Kendal.The writer went on to describe the free schools in that neighbourhood, one of 1485 which was a Bluecoat School founded in 1670. He said—Until this day, it has been one of the greatest blessings to the poor. There have been no complaints against the efficiency of the school; not a word of complaint as to any maladministration; and yet the step in process of being adopted seeks to upset the endowment, and to create a high school or boarding school for the benefit of the middle and upper classes, in return for which they give 14 Foundation Scholarships to boys who have been three years in any elementary school. That is the plea on which the property is taken away, or the compensation given for taking the endowment from the poorer classes. As an alternative, they coolly refer the children to the parish, if they are unable to pay the fees. In case of poverty, the fees are to be paid out of the rates—and thus these poor children will be converted into outdoor paupers.There had been a great stir in the town; every kind of remonstrance had been made by all classes in the town; and this gentleman concluded his letter thus—But all this is persistently ignored, and they still seem determined to thrust their scheme upon us in spite of our protests.He stated in another letter, as the result of this action—I may mention that a lady of my acquaintance, a day or two ago, on hearing of the scheme of the Commissioners, immediately went to her lawyer and struck out of her will a bequest of £500 which she had made to the schools, and for the truth of this statement I can vouch.In the school there were something like 80 children, who were not only clothed, but educated. Whether that was the right form or not he would not say; but it was a positive possession, belonging to these children, who certainly ought to have some compensation for being deprived of it. There had been a town's meeting convened by the Mayor, at which there was a strong expression of local feeling, although it had been passed over by the Charity Commissioners as of no account whatever. At that meeting the scheme of the Charity Commissioners was almost, if not quite, unanimously condemned; and he was told that nine-tenths of the inhabitants of the borough had signed a protest against it. The Town Council had protested against it, and had formed a Committee in order to get the scheme amended, but with no effect. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he ought to name the cases which he complained of. Now, he (Mr. J. Collings) complained of every scheme, 1486 without exception, which these Commissioners had forced upon the people. He complained of all of them on the same principle—namely, that nearly every scheme substantially deprived the poorer classes of their rights for the sake of the wealthier classes. He could assure his right hon. Friend that he had made somewhat too light a matter of this complaint; and he would find that it could not be settled, and would not be settled, unless some alteration was made. For instance, on a recent occasion, he had ventured to bring forward the case of Tunbridge Wells. He mentioned that, because he saw his hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Causton) there, who knew the circumstances of the case well. The reply of the Vice President of the Council was most unsatisfactory; and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman had been very much misinformed with respect to the facts of the case. He would, therefore, state them again. The original draft scheme of the Charity Commissioners was published in 1875; and they proposed in that draft scheme that out of the accumulation of the surplus funds of the high school established in Tonbridge there should be a middle or lower class school for the benefit of the people of Tonbridge. [Mr. MUNDELLA dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman dissented from that statement, and he had refused to accept it when it had been mentioned on a former occasion; but he (Mr. Jesse Collings) had a copy of the draft of the scheme published in 1875, in which it was stated—"A school in or near the town of Tonbridge." Now, on the faith of that, the Skinners' Company spent £20,000—£10,000 out of the corporate funds of the Company, and £10,000 out of certain other funds which stood as trust funds of the Company, so that altogether £20,000 were given by the Skinners' Company. That sum was accepted by the Charity Commissioners; and a supplemental scheme was issued embodying that proposal, and in that supplemental scheme the words "in or near the town of Tonbridge" were altered into "in or near the parish of Tonbridge." The inhabitants of Tonbridge objected to the alteration at the time, because the parish extended for five or six miles; but they heard nothing of the final intentions of the Charity Commissioners until 1882, 1487 two years after the scheme was finally settled. In that year, in a communication to the people of Tonbridge, the Charity Commissioners for the first time declared their intention of establishing these middle-class schools in the town of Tunbridge Wells, five miles off. The people of Tonbridge regarded that as a great grievance, because it practically deprived them of the benefits of these middle and lower class schools, and they considered it a breach of faith in this respect—that the £20,000 they had obtained from the Skinners' Company had been given on the distinct understanding that these middle and lower class schools should be established in or near the town of Tonbridge. Then there was another scheme which required to be stopped immediately—namely, the scheme for Rochdale. In the borough of Rochdale there was an agitation going on amongst all classes against the scheme of the Charity Commissioners, which proposed to destroy the free school which had existed for a very long period; and it was a curious fact that this scheme was almost identical with one which had been for some time propounded by the Vicar, and rejected by the Trustees. The existing school gave free education to the poorer classes, with a preference to orphans and the children of those who had large families. It might be said that persons in that condition might go to the parish to have their education provided; but the children had been supplied for a long period with these privileges in regard to a free school; they had enjoyed them for something like 100 or 150 years; and it was only in the present day, without a word against the conduct of the school, for he believed the Inspector had reported favourably in regard to it, but simply because it was a free school, which seemed to be the object in all cases of the positive hatred of the Charity Commissioners, that the privileges enjoyed by those poor children were to be taken away. The Charity Commissioners had but one policy respecting a free school, and that was to destroy it as soon as they possibly could. He knew of several cases in Rochdale in which the right of the poor to send their children to this school, not as a matter of charity, but in the enjoyment of their own absolute rights, made all the difference between applying to the 1488 parish and maintaining themselves in their decent poverty. Then, again, the Commissioners said to these poor children—"We take away your endowments, and we convert the school into a middle class girls' school, for the benefit of the middle classes; and you, if you cannot pay, must apply to the parish." A more demoralizing or more pauperizing proceeding could not possibly be conceived. Then they had the case of the village of Scarning, in Suffolk, about which he had received a very unsatisfactory reply. What were the facts of the case? In the village of Scarning there had been a free school for 250 years. It was founded with positive instructions from the donor that it should always remain a free school; and up to three years ago it had not only been a free school, but a very flourishing free school, for the income had really met the expenditure. Three years ago the Charity Commissioners decided that the free character of that should be destroyed. They imposed a fee of 1d. a-week, and the money so raised was to be expended in scholarships, which scholarships were offered to various parishes round, and which it was obvious the children of the agricultural labourer would have very little chance of obtaining. There had been meetings of the labourers in the parish, and the opposition to the scheme he could only describe by stating that the entire village and neighbourhood had been placed in a state of riot. The inhabitants felt themselves aggrieved; they refused to believe that half-a-dozen men sitting in London, or any central power, could come down, without their consent, and, sweeping these schools away, deprive them of privileges which they regarded as theirs as much as the houses they lived in. So greatly was their just indignation manifested, that these poor people refused to send their children to the school at all if they were to pay a fee. They had sent them on several occasions, as a test, without the fee, and they had been turned back, and for two years the children had been taught in a Methodist Chapel by a volunteer teacher. He did not think that was a satisfactory state of things to introduce into the parishes of England; and, undoubtedly, a strong sense of hardship and injustice had been created among the poor in a variety of cases. He was aware that by making strong representations they 1489 might induce the Charity Commissioners to hold their hands. He had just been told that they were going to stop the schemes for Kendal and for Stroud; but there ought not to be a system which rendered it necessary in each case to bring this strong pressure to bear. This he knew had been done in some cases; but where the poor in the poorest districts had nobody to help them their remonstrances had been disregarded, and they had simply to suffer. He knew it would be argued by his right hon. Friend that the Charity Commissioners had no option; that they were simply to carry out the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. The complaint he made was against the unfair administration of the Act of 1869. Clause 11 of the Endowed Schools Act—and he asked the particular attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to this clause—provided that—It shall be the duty of the Commissioners in every scheme which abolishes or modifies any privileges or educational advantages to which a particular class of persons are entitled, and that whether as inhabitants of a particular area or otherwise, to have due regard to the educational interests of such class of persons.What had happened in the case of Ton-bridge? The original grant was "in or near the town," not "parish;" and, in spite of that, the Charity Commissioners had signified their intention to put the school at Tunbridge Wells. [Mr. MUNDELLA: It was the decision of the Court of Chancery.] No matter what the decision of the Court of Chancery was, the right hon. Gentleman would not dispute that it was done under the scheme of the Charity Commissioners, and that the Commissioners intended, against the wishes of the people in the area, to remove the school to Tunbridge Wells, five miles off. Then as to the class of persons entitled to the benefits of the endowment. Clause 12 provided that—In framing schemes under this Act, provision shall be made, so far as conveniently may be, for extending to girls the benefits of endowments.Take the case of Kendal; the girls, under the new scheme, had no advantages. In Rochdale they received advantages in the free school; but, by destroying the schools and putting the funds to the strengthening of existing grammar 1490 schools, girls were deprived of every atom of advantage which was bequeathed to them, and which they enjoyed for so long a time. Then, again, if they turned to the 30th section of the Act, they found that—In any scheme relating to such endowments, due regard shall be had to the educational interests of persons of the same class in life, or resident within the same particular area as at the commencement of this Act," &c.He maintained that the spirit of these instructions had been violated. He was quite aware what the answer was—namely, that by the establishment of a certain number of free scholarships in the grammar schools the interests of the poorer classes were secured. Never was anything more illusory. As a matter of fact, the interests of the poorer classes were not secured in any way; and he would prove the position he took up. Let him take, as an example, what the Charity Commissioners considered one of the most liberal schemes—that was, the Birmingham scheme, under which he (Mr. Jesse Collings) was one of the Governors. It was quoted as a very liberal arrangement on the part of the Charity Commissioners to secure the rights of the poorer classes. The school had, at the present time, an income of £30,000 a-year. For 300 years it was a free school—it was free until the Charity Commissioners insisted upon making it a paying school. The school had been divided into one high school, and a certain number of grammar or middle-class schools. For the high school the Commissioners had imposed a payment of £9 a-year, besides books, which formed a very considerable item, and an entrance fee. Now, in 1883, to what extent was the advantage of the school enjoyed by anyone below the middle class? There were two scholars admitted free from the elementary schools into the high school in that year; and that, he thought, might be taken as a rough test of the extent to which the poorer classes were benefited, so far as the high school was concerned. There were a good many children who were not poor in the grammar schools, and he admitted that they had got some benefit from those schools. The annual fees for the middle class grammar school were £3; there was an entrance fee, and the charge for books amounted to a considerable sum in the course of the year. 1491 Now, in 1883 there were 58 children who came from the elementary schools, and were admitted free into these grammar schools. So there were 60 children of the poorer classes in the borough of Birmingham who were admitted free, and that was the whole advantage these classes received out of the income of £30,000 a-year. Most of those who were admitted free were children who were at private schools, or boarding schools, or who had private tutors. To the children of the poorer classes, the elementary school children, whose parents were willing to make sacrifices in order that they might enjoy the advantages of the education of a middle class school, the Governors had been under the painful necessity of saying—"No; you cannot come, unless you can pay £3 a-year and provide books." He had taken the trouble to ascertain the reason why more of these children did not attend the school, and some of the parents had admitted that it was on account of their poverty. Of course, many people would not give any reason. He maintained that the poorer classes, who had as much right to a fair share of the foundation as any other class, had, practically, but very little benefit. That was the opinion of the people of Birmingham generally. The matter had been before the Town Council, and on several occasions a resolution had been passed condemning the scheme as being contrary and opposed to justice. So strong was the feeling in the borough, that if any Town Councillor out of the 64 were to attempt to defend the present grammar school scheme, he would not have a good chance of being returned to the Council. Was it not monstrous that Birmingham, which could manage its own concerns, which had a debt of £7,000,000 sterling, and over £300,000 income, should not be allowed to disburse £30,000 a-year in the manner in which the town required it to be spent? If they wanted the smallest thing done by the Board of Governors, they had to go to London to get the consent of the Charity Commissioners. On a recent occasion, he (Mr. Jesse Collings) complained before the Town Council of the enormous increase of the legal charges. The answer was—"We cannot help it; there is such expense in going to the Charity Commissioners, and dealing with them, that we cannot avoid an increase." Of course, it would be 1492 argued that the result of the fees was to increase the education. [Mr. BRYCE: Hear, hear!] His hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets cried "Hear, hear!" The income had been increased by fees to the extent of £2,000, £3,000, and even £4,000; but what effect had there been on the education? If the grammar school did not exist there, the education of the children of the well-to-do parents would be attended to. In consequence of the fees, however, the poorer children could not take advantage of the grammar school; they lost their education; so that this £4,000 really meant a barrier to the education of the children of the town; many children were shut out from the advantages of the school; and, as a consequence, the general culture of the town, the general education of the town, was far lower than it would be if the fees were removed. He contended that their object ought not to be to produce a few University men, a few giants in education; but it ought to be to lift the whole educational condition of the borough. They wanted the factories and offices to be filled with well-educated men; and it was his opinion that if every exhibition were abolished to-morrow, and masters were forbidden to concentrate any efforts on this or that special point, but told that their business was to lift the whole educational status of the school, the cause of education would be greatly advanced. For what did he find? Why, that parents in sending their children were only too apt to ask—"What is to be won?" or—"What exhibition is to be got?" Imbued with this miserable commercial spirit, their children ground away at some exhibition; but when they had got it, and when they had passed at the University, Heaven knew what became of them. If they advertised a situation with a salary of £50 or £100 a-year, how many University men, out of work, would they find to apply for it? He turned to the Report of the Charity Commissioners themselves for 1883, and what did they say? Why, that the endowments with which they had been called upon to deal might be taken mostly to have been given for the benefit of the poor. What was the argument of the Charity Commissioners in promoting these schemes? They argued—and he was sorry to say there were a number of people who agreed 1493 with them—that free schooling was demoralizing to the poor. They ought to discard the word "charity;" because, if a man left money in trust for somebody else, and that somebody else received money, he received it as a right. At Birmingham they were giving an education which cost the foundation £35 a-year — they were giving it to the wealthy classes for £9. Was there no demoralization there? They were giving the wealthy people £26 per annum. Not a word was said about demoralization in that case; but the moment they began to pay 2d. or 3d. a-week for the poor, paid really out of their own money, there was great demoralization. The whole of the poorer classes, and a large number of the other classes of England, were with him in saying that the present state of things was monstrous. He had only one other argument to advance, and that was that the action of the Charity Commissioners tended to perpetuate the present abuses. He knew many cases where Trustees of endowments, knowing the weaknesses in the Trust they were administering, would gladly make improvements and do away with abuses; but they say—"No; we dare not apply to the Charity Commissioners, for what they will do is to take the Trust away altogether." He contended that that fear was the cause of the perpetuation of a large number of the abuses which existed. He put it to the Committee whether this confiscation was wise? Was it right to teach the people that for no cause, and without their being consenting parties, there could be taken away what they had believed from generation to generation to be theirs? If ever the people did get absolute power in this country, a very bad example was being set them; they would say—"There are other classes who possess property which we do not think is put to as good use as it might be; therefore, we will turn it to some better and proper use." Rightly or wrongly, they were giving the people an idea—and they felt the wrong bitterly—that they were taking away something which was theirs. He was no advocate for keeping things as they were; but if reform were brought in, let it be reform in accordance with modern ideas. He protested against the Commissioners going down to a place, and, in opposition to the whole public opinion of the 1494 borough or locality, saying—"We will take away the Trust and set up an institution, not in the same place, but miles away." The grievance to which he had given utterance would not sleep; it was gaining ground every day. Some definite declaration was required from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella). It was not enough for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Endowed Schools Act imposed certain duties upon the Charity Commissioners; his (Mr. J. Collings's) contention was that it was the administration of the Act that was to blame in the matter. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £5,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £17,811, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Charity Commission for England and Wales."—(Mr. Jesse Collings.)
§ MR. BRYCE
said, that no one who had listened to the earnest speech of his hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings) would dispute the great importance of the question he had raised. He thought, however, his hon. Friend had not taken the best means of raising the question. His hon. Friend had not been content to call the attention of the Committee to the importance of granting an inquiry; but he had asked them to follow him in the details of a great number of cases which Members of the Committee, and he dared say even the Member of the Government who represented the Charity Commissioners, had not come prepared to deal with. The hon. Gentleman's complaint was one that could not properly be made on this Vote. It was not a complaint against dereliction of duty on the part of the Charity Commissioners, but it was a complaint against the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, itself based upon the Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission. He (Mr. Bryce), therefore, could not ask the Committee to listen to him while he went through the clauses of that Act, or called attention to the various points of the Report on which that Act was founded. But hon. Members who had read the Report of the Committee of the House which sat, he thought, in 1873, would see that the questions to which his hon. Friend referred really belonged 1495 to the policy of that Act. He was far from saying his hon. Friend had not an excellent case for inquiry; but the matters to which he had referred were not matters for which the Charity Commissioners could fairly be either blamed or commended, inasmuch as the Charity Commissioners had done nothing but give effect to the Act of 1869, and the Report on which it was based. He should not attempt to follow his hon. Friend into the cases he had cited; in the first place, because there was not time; and, in the second place, because he was not prepared to do so. He had, however, a passing observation to make in respect of one of the cases. His hon. Friend referred to the case of Tunbridge Wells. He could not understand his hon. Friend's anxiety that, in the interest of the poor, that endowment there should be confined to the particular local area in which it had hitherto existed. Anyone who knew Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells knew that Tonbridge was a small and stagnant place, while Tunbridge Wells had grown up rapidly of late years, and that, having so recently grown up, it had got no endowed school. The Commissioners finding, under the terms of the will, that it was not only legal, but just as legal, to have the new school in Tunbridge Wells as in Tonbridge, thought they were doing the best for the community in establishing a school at Tunbridge Wells. He submitted, however, that, whether they acted rightly or not, it was a question of policy, which was, at any rate, totally distinct from the ground on which his hon. Friend had made a charge against the Commissioners. He believed the Commissioners were right in what they did, and that, so far from quarrelling with their conduct, the Committee would do well to enlarge their discretion and administration in such matters, and to require them to make the endowments follow the population, because in that way they would do more for those whom the testators intended to benefit than they would by confining the endowments to small local areas. There were far more people in Tunbridge Wells than in Tonbridge. Tunbridge Wells was growing every day, whereas Tonbridge was standing still. The effect of the argument of his hon. Friend would be to confine the £120,000 available in the City of London for charitable purposes 1496 to the City of London itself, instead of distributing it, as Parliament had last Session directed should be done, for the benefit of the population of the Metropolis generally. [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: My argument tends in exactly the reverse direction.] His hon. Friend referred to Birmingham. He (Mr. Bryce) was not sufficiently conversant with the facts to follow him into that case; but the enormous majority of the cases in which free grammar schools existed in the country showed that, at the time the Endowed Schools Commissioners commenced their labours, the schools were used by the wealthy classes. The poorer classes had left the schools because the education was not one suited to their needs; and the Charity Commissioners, and the Endowed Schools Commissioners before them, had conferred infinitely greater benefit on the poorer classes of the country by their schemes than any rights they might here and there have lost. His hon. Friend had frequently said that the poorer classes were under the impression that these endowments were theirs. He would like to know what his hon. Friend meant by "theirs." The hon. Member would say, he (Mr. Bryce) supposed, that if in a parish bread to the value of £100 was given at the church doors every year to the poor, the dole belonged to the poor. The hon. Gentleman would say that if it was the property of the poor, the poor had a right to say in which way they would receive it. But it was not the property of the poor in the same sense in which a man could say of £1,000 he had invested in the public funds that it was "his." It was rather in the nature of public property, and the State had accepted it, on the tacit condition that it should have the right to dispose of it from time to time. He (Mr. Bryce) thought it ought to be applied to the purposes of the poor, because they needed it most; but not because it was theirs. The public opinion of a neighbourhood ought not to be the guide of the Commissioners; but they ought to be empowered to apply the property in a way in which it was calculated to do the greatest good to the poor. He could not deny that the hon. Member for Ipswich had made out a strong case as to the need of an inquiry into the working of the Acts. There could be no doubt that what his hon. Friend said did represent 1497 a large feeling in the country, and that there was a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with the working of the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. He believed, and he hoped his hon. Friend would agree with him, that the dissatisfaction was confined to the working of the Endowed Schools Act. He did not think it was any breach of Order to say that the evidence taken before the Committee which had been sitting upstairs on the Charitable Trusts Acts had convinced the great majority of the Committee that no charge could fairly be brought against the Commissioners as to the spirit in which they had administered those Acts; and that, therefore, whatever the complaint was, it was founded upon the working of the Endowed Schools Act. He willingly adopted the argument of his hon. Friend that the Government ought to institute a searching and complete inquiry into the working of the Endowed Schools Act. The Committee upstairs—
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I rise to Order. I ask you, Sir, whether it is in Order for an hon. Member to refer to the proceedings of a Committee which has not yet reported to the House?
The hon. Member is not in Order in referring to the proceedings of the Committee now sitting.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, he had no desire to pursue a subject which would carry him out of Order. He merely wished to show that the evidence laid before the Committee was such, that the inquiry advocated by his hon. Friend was desirable with regard to the Charity Commissioners. He did, at any rate, admit that before the work proceeded further it was desirable that there should be an inquiry of this kind. He had lately seen cases in which the schemes of the Charity Commissioners under the Endowed Schools Act had been disputed; and things were alleged to have been done which ought to be fully sifted before a Select Committee; and, therefore, he hoped the Government would promise to appoint a Committee of Inquiry. He thought the Government would do well to consider whether it would not be desirable to give the Charity Commissioners direct representation in that House; for he was convinced, if that were done, such complaints as his hon. Friend had brought forward would be far less likely to occur; and if 1498 they did occur, they could be much more satisfactorily disposed of if the Charity Commission were a Department of the State, which could be approached in that House whenever it was necessary to call attention to their proceedings. He wished to refer to another subject in connection with this Estimate, and that was the branch of the Vote which concerned the City of London Parochial Charities. Last year an Act was passed to add two Commissioners to the existing Charity Commissioners, for the purpose of dealing with the Parochial Charities of the City of London, whose present income amounted to about £120,000 a-year. If he were wrong, he should be glad to be corrected; but he believed it was a fact that a room could not be found in the house occupied by the Charity Commission for these additional Commissioners and their staff, and that, in consequence, they had to be, so to speak, boarded out in an office in Craig's Court, a constant expense being incurred in that way to the amount of something between £700 and £800 a-year. It was true that this expense had to come ultimately out of the funds of the charities; but he pointed out that, in the first instance, it came out of the public Revenue; and he said, therefore, that a more satisfactory arrangement was desirable. However, there was another reason, still more important, why the two Commissioners should not be separated from the rest of the Charity Commissioners—namely, that the operations of the Charity Commission were delayed by that separation. It was a fact that there existed a good deal of information on the files of the Charity Commission relating to the London Parochial Charities, which it was necessary that the two additional Commissioners should obtain, and the effect of their being separated from the rest of the Office was that much time was lost in going to and from Gwydyr House to get that information which, under a better management, would be saved. He could not help hoping that the Government would see their way to meet this evil; and, for his own part, he thought that the best way of doing so would be to increase the accommodation at Gwydyr House by adding to it another storey, and by charging a portion of the expense thereby incurred on the funds of the Parochial Charities—an arrangement which would be per- 1499 fectly air, because that portion of the expense would represent the rent and other charges which had to be met now in providing other accommodation. He believed it would be necessary before long to increase the whole of the staff, and accommodation for the staff, of the Charity Commission; and that it would be found that a great deal more work could with advantage be undertaken by the Charity Commission if its staff, as well as its premises, were increased. He did not think his hon. Friend would object to that, because the expense would be naturally incidental to the already existing Office; and there could be no doubt that this action of the Commission was the means of saving a large sum of money every year to the charities. As a matter of fact, a great deal of work was done by the Commission which otherwise would have to be done by the legal advisers of the Trustees; and that had the effect not only of preventing the loss of endowments, but also of saving money in the working of the Trusts. Therefore, he said that the country would receive ample value by an extension of the staff and the premises of the Charity Commission. He quite admitted that the expense was one which the charities ought to be called upon to pay. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had intimated that the charities might be taxed to pay the expenses of the Commission. He (Mr. Bryce) could not help hoping that that promise would be redeemed, and that before long they should see the public Revenue freed from any charge for the management of these charities, which ought, so to speak, to pay their own way.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he was sorry to intervene between the Committee and hon. Gentlemen who rose to address it; but, at the same time, he thought that a very short statement from him would probably be to the convenience of the Committee, and tend to shorten its labours. There were three different branches of the work of the Charity Commissioners—first, Charitable Trusts; secondly, the Allotments Act, passed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings); and, thirdly, the work of the endowed schools. With regard to the first two branches, he would point out to the Committee that they were now the sub- 1500 ject f inquiry and investigation by a Select Committee of that House, which they might reasonably expect would present its Report shortly; and he thought it would be hardly fair to occupy the time of the Committee by either discussing the action of the Charity Commissioners, or rebutting charges against them with reference to the matters referred to by the hon. Member for Ipswich; while, as a matter of fact, the whole question at that moment was sub judice. His hon. Friend had entered, in some detail, into the question of endowed schools; and he referred, amongst others, to the school at Rochdale, and the mode in which the Commissioners were dealing with that school. But he pointed out that the Commissioners had not yet dealt with the school; and it would be improper for him to express any opinion on the case to which his hon. Friend had adverted until the schemes of the Commissioners had been brought under the attention of the Department, and until they had been considered by that Department. His hon. Friend did not seem to be aware that the schemes of the Commissioners had to be advertised for two months, that they might be petitioned against by a single individual, and that they would have to be laid upon the Table of the House, where they could be challenged by any hon. Member.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
I referred to the right hon. Gentleman, not only as presiding over the Department, but as a Member of the Charity Commission. I refer to him in both capacities. He is the only Charity Commissioner whom we can get near.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he did not sit on the Commission; it would be impossible for him, as Vice President of the Education Department, who had to supervise the work of the Commission, to do so. He might add, that no Vice President of the Council on Education had ever taken any part in the work of the Charity Commission. Therefore, he said it would be improper for him to pass any opinion upon the work of the Commission at that moment. He repeated that the question was now before a very able Committee of that House, and he expected that, in a very short time, they would have before them a complete Report upon the evidence laid 1501 before that Committee. He did not complain of the action of his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich; but twice during this Session he had brought this question before the House, and on the last occasion he spoke on the question at considerable length. He had given him no Notice that he was about to make any complaint, and the very next day the witnesses in the case of the Birmingham Trust came before the Select Committee, and gave their evidence upon the whole question. Surely, it was hardly fair—he must say it was not fair—that, while this matter was before the Select Committee, the hon. Member should come before the House and complain of the conduct of the Charity Commissioners. His hon. Friend was aware—he (Mr. Mundella) had told him over and over again in public and in that House, and he repeated it then as publicly as he possibly could—that he was quite resolved that the whole policy and administration of the Endowed Schools Act should be referred to a Select Committee next Session. For his own part, he was quite satisfied about the matter; and that because his hon. Friend had indulged in doctrines which he believed, when they were sifted before the Committee, would hardly bear the light of day. They were the most antiquated and Conservative doctrines that he had ever listened to. The ideas of the hon. Member were up in the clouds; and he believed that, so far as the poor were concerned, they would be the most unfortunate that could be carried out; but the hon. Member was not alone in his views. There were many people in the country, who, he believed, had forgotten what had taken place; they had forgotten the Schools Inquiry Commission, appointed at a time when a mischievous state of things existed; that had been forgotten by many, and insufficiently realized by others; and they had no knowledge of what would result from such a system of education as that advocated by the hon. Member for Ipswich. Therefore, he hoped the whole subject would come before a Committee of the House, and that some Gentlemen who were serving on the present Committee would again serve on the Committee of next Session, so that there might be something like continuity of inquiry. Finally, being anxious that there should be a complete 1502 inquiry, and because he understood that his hon. Friend, in moving the reduction of the Vote, did not intend to cast any slur on the manner in which the Commissioners had discharged their duties, he hoped the discussion would be allowed shortly to terminate, and that the Vote would be agreed to.
§ MR. CAUSTON
said, that in the remarks he was about to make he must not be understood to say that all the schemes of the Commissioners were bad; because his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella) would know that, on a recent occasion, he supported one of their schemes, when his hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings) divided the House upon the question. His object in addressing the Committee on the present occasion was to say a few words before it was too late as to the ancient school of Sir Andrew Judd, at Tonbridge, and to the proposed Middle School for Boys, established by the Skinners' Company, who were the Governors of Tunbridge School. His hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) spoke of the Tunbridge scheme as if he knew all about the matter. He (Mr. Causton) did not know whether his statement was the result of inquiries made; but it was not a question with him whether Tunbridge Wells was or was not a larger place than Tonbridge. The question was, what object had Sir Andrew Judd in view when he founded the Tonbridge School; and he (Mr. Causton) asked if it was his intention to benefit the townspeople of Tonbridge specially, or that the town and the people in the adjacent country should be benefited? And, again, he would inquire whether there were sufficient boys in the town of Tonbridge who were qualified to be educated at the proposed second grade school? He did not know whether Mr. C. I. Elton was the Gentleman who now sat in that House, or whether he was one of the Schools Inquiry Commissioners referred to in the course of the discussion; but, at any rate, he went down as one of the Schools Inquiry Commissioners to Tonbridge, and, as the result of his inquiry into the Judd Charity under the powers of the Endowed Schools Act, he said—It would, no doubt, be a good thing for the town if a Middle School could be established in connection with the Grammar School.When the Charity Commissioners drafted their first scheme for the Grammar 1503 School, in 1875, they made careful provision for giving effect to this suggestion, and accordingly directed, in Clauses 67 and 68—67.—The residue of the income of the School shall.… be treated as unapplied surplus.… and shall be invested.… but placed to a separate account to be called 'The Middle School Fund.'68.—When the amount standing to the credit of the Middle School Fund shall be considered sufficient for the purpose, the Governors shall apply for a Supplemental Scheme, which the Charity Commissioners shall have power to frame, for the application of such fund in or towards the establishment and maintenance of a Middle or Lower School in or near the Town of Tonbridge.This suggestion for a Middle Class School for Tonbridge came first from Mr. Elton. There was also a suggestion in the new scheme that the then Governing Body should be altered. The Governors objected very much to that, and it became a question as to how much would be given if they were allowed to remain as they were; and a resolution was passed to the effect that if the Charity Commissioners would consent to a sum of £10,000—an accumulated loan trust—being applied for the purpose of the school, the Skinners' Company would supplement it with another £10,000. The draft scheme was framed, and, on being sent back to the Commissioners, it was returned with the suggestion that before the scheme was published the words relating to the locality should be made less vague than they were in the draft; but the Governors, without giving up the intention which they had held from first to last, of benefiting the town of Tonbridge, expressed their willingness to allow the word "parish" instead of "town" to remain in the scheme, because they did not wish to bind themselves to any particular spot; for they knew, as men of business, that it was most undesirable, when intending to purchase land, that they should allow it to be known that they had fixed on a particular spot, because, as the Committee would be aware, the price of the land under such circumstances would be greatly increased. As he had before stated, the original intention of Sir Andrew Judd was to benefit the town of Tonbridge. The school originally established there was a free school; but, early in the century, fees were instituted, amounting to £10 in the case of boys living within a radius of 10 miles, and 1504 £20 for boys living at a distance of between 10 and 20 miles. Since then the fees had been again raised. With regard to the second grade scheme, the Governors would most certainly have insisted upon the words "in or near the Town of Tonbridge" being retained, had they known the way in which the Commissioners would act towards them. There was no doubt that there were a sufficient number of boys in or near the town of Tonbridge to justify the Commissioners in allowing the school to be placed there. A Return had been furnished in 1878, which showed that within a radius of 10 miles of Tonbridge there was a population of 104,115; whereas the similar district round Tunbridge Wells had a population of 83,631. If his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets, who had referred to this subject, objected to a 10 miles' radius, he would give him a six miles' radius, which gave the population of Tonbridge at 51,560, and the population of Tunbridge Wells at 46,912; from which it was clear that the argument with regard to population was in favour of the town of Tonbridge. All he would say further was, that the action taken by the Charity Commissioners with regard to this second grade school would force the Governors to place it at Tunbridge Wells against their will. The purchase for the land selected had not yet been concluded; and it appeared to him that, unless the Governors and the Charity Commissioners could agree, further difficulties would arise, and the Governors would have to come again to Parliament. He would add that the Commissioners had vetoed every proposal with regard to a suitable site for the school which the Governors had made to them. Under the circumstances, the Governors had given up the matter in despair, in the belief that it was of no use to attempt to come to any arrangement with the Commissioners, who were going against their wishes, and against the intentions of Sir Andrew Judd. He hoped that in this case, if opportunity arose, the right hon. Gentleman would use his influence with the Charity Commissioners to bring about a satisfactory settlement of this question.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
said, he considered the Committee were under an obligation to his hon. Friend the Mem- 1505 ber or Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) for having brought this question before them. The topic was one of very pressing interest. He believed he was not wrong in saying that there was a general impression throughout the country that every single endowment which could be got hold of was being taken away from the poor, and put into the hands of the rich. The City Companies were once the property of working men. [Mr. Alderman W. LAWRENCE: Never.] He repeated, that they were; but now one saw tailors who did not know how to cut out a coat, and spectacle makers who did nothing but make spectacles of themselves, and a variety of persons who had got into their hands property which did not belong to them. Did anyone mean to tell him that people who called themselves carpenters 400 years ago were not carpenters; and that those who called themselves tailors were not tailors? Everyone knew that the foundations of the City Companies were laid before the Reformation, and that they were in the hands of working men. He knew a College at Oxford, the Charter of which declared that no one should be in the College who had more than £5 to spend. Why, a servitor of that College was a noble Earl a few years ago. And the same sort of thing might be said of a number of such institutions. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education (Mr. Mundella) said that the endowments of the grammar schools were in a scandalous condition 40 years ago; but, whatever their condition was now, he (Mr. T. Rogers) did not believe that they had been set straight by the action of any Commission or by any Act of Parliament. The first move in that direction was taken by the right hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Thomas Acland), who was one of the first persons who started the Oxford scheme of examination, which was shortly afterwards copied by Cambridge. The scheme of local examination had done what the Charity Commissioners ought to have accomplished. He contended that there was throughout the country a strong impression that every one of the schemes of the Charity Commissioners, so far as education was concerned, tended towards appropriating the money of the poor, and putting it into the pockets of 1506 the rich. They were told that the poor were demoralized by free education. They had free education in America; but there was no demoralization there. The middle class was not demoralized by free education. Were the rich demoralized by being able to get hold of old endowments? It was high time that this ridiculous cant came to an end. He was perfectly ready to admit that when they gave doles at the church doors to poor persons, they were doing them an injury in a certain sense; but it was absurd to say people were injured by free education. For his part, he felt sure there was a growing feeling among a large number of working persons that the whole tendency of the Acts of both Houses of Parliament was to make the lot of the poor man worse, and the lot of the rich man better. They were told constantly that they could not discuss what was going on in a Commission, and they must, therefore, treat the Commission as not existing; but these were great grievances, and they ought to be redressed. There was another instance. In his borough there was a grammar school, which was one of the most admirably managed schools in the county. He had been a member of the Oxford Board of Examiners ever since it was established; and, although he had not the ubiquitous knowledge of the hon. Member on the Treasury Bench, he knew what grammar schools should be. He was referring to St. Olave's School; and he had known, over and over again, the son of a working man who had been freely educated in that school do himself and his parents great honour. In one case, the son of a washerwoman, after going through that school, became a scholar at Balliol, and he did not think the boy had been demoralized. When he got through the University, he put his mother into a position of comfort, and did himself and her great credit. The Committee might take his word for it that a great deal of this talk about boys being demoralized was cant. It was a shame, and it was unfair, because what was applied to one class was not applied to another. He thanked his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich for bringing this matter forward, and he hoped what had been said would sink into the minds of Gentlemen who were Members of this Commission, and 1507 that they would do something to relieve the naturally unsatisfactory state of mind of the working men. He hoped that such an interest would be taken in this subject that no more would be heard about the demoralization of the poor by gratuitous education, and that people would understand that it was the first duty of this House to deal justly with all classes, and that the House would not indicate by legislation that they had warm sympathy for struggling men with £500 a-year, but none whatever for struggling men with 20s. a-week.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he was a Member of the Committee on Endowed Schools in 1869; and, as far as he recollected, the object of that Committee, and of the Bill that followed, was to render the schools having endowments more efficient and more applicable for the purposes for which they were intended. He could not help thinking that the operation of the Charity Commissioners under the Act had gone rather beyond what was originally intended by the framers of the Act, and of those who took an interest in passing it. The Committee were, he thought, indebted to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) for bringing this question forward. It was a fair and legitimate question for consideration, and he was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mundella) proposed to consider it during the Recess. He very much agreed with the hon. Member for Ipswich that the Commissioners had gone too far with respect to these schools, and had levelled up rather than levelled down; that they had handed over the schools to a class for whom they were not originally intended; and that they had left behind a number of people to whom the schools would be fairly and properly applicable. There was, he believed, great room for education such as was originally contemplated — something between the board schools and the National schools—for the advantage of what he called the working classes; such as clerks, agents, law-writers, and persons of that description, and what he would call the lower middle class, who would be very glad to avail themselves of these schools. They might be rendered very efficient for that purpose, and he hoped the result of such an inquiry as was contemplated by the 1508 right hon. Gentleman would be to render the scheme applicable to its proper purpose, and to bring it within the reach of the people for whom it was intended. There was another matter connected with this Vote which he would venture to touch upon, and that was the expenses of the Commission itself. There was an Estimate of something like £39,000 for the expenses of the Commission; and as the Vote stood, that amount was entirely charged on the taxes of the country and upon the Imperial Revenue. It seemed to him that that ought not to be. The object of the Commission was to regulate the charities, and the country might fairly be called upon to contribute to this object; but the question was, whether the charities themselves, which were actually in the hands of, and administered by, the Commission, should not do so also. Great benefit was derived by a number of small charities, and the objects of them, which he was not sure was fully appreciated by the Committee. It might be seen from a Return which had been laid before the House that the Commissioners had large funds and property vested in them. How had that arisen? In this way. Trustees of these charities were authorized to vest the property in the Commissioners, and the Commissioners might administer it for the purposes of the Trust. The greater part of the property of the Charity Commissioners had come to them in that way. The funds were perfectly safe, for they were vested in a responsible public Body. They were administered without any expense to the charities, and there was no transfer and no succession of rights, because they were vested in an existent Body. He had in his own case availed himself of the facilities so afforded, as doubtless had many others who had been appointed Trustees of charities either by deed or will; and by that means considerable expense was avoided in the administration of the Trust, and any risk of misapplication of the funds by those parties or their successors avoided under these circumstances. He did not see why the Charity Commissioners should not pay something towards the expenses, by some slight tax on property so vested in, and administered by, them. He merely threw out these suggestions now, and he should not press them at the present time; but 1509 he thought the matter was one worthy of consideration. He only wished to do what was right for the benefit of the public, and for the benefit, on the whole, of the Trusts. So far as the present Motion went, he hoped the hon. Member would not press it further. He had gained his object by the discussion, and he hoped he would not attempt to reduce the Vote by the salaries and the staff of these Commissioners, who were efficiently doing their duty.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, as he had happened to be a Member of the Committee of 1873, he might, perhaps, say a word or two. In the first place, it must be evident to the Government that there was a widely awakening interest in regard to the Commission; and the Committee was indebted to the hon. Member for Ipswich for bringing that subject forward. His hon. Friend, he knew, was a great advocate of free education; but that was a broad question of national policy; and if free education was good in itself, it was good all round, apart from the question of endowments. The position of the Charity Commissioners was not altogether satisfactory. It was far too autocratic in its character. If cases were brought before the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, he said he was not an acting Commissioner—and for that there was excellent reason; for if he was a Member of the Commission he would be sitting upon it, and then reviewing it. But the right hon. Gentleman went further, and said he had no power over the Commissioners; and in that case he (Mr. Illingworth) was bound to say the right hon. Gentleman admitted that there was ground for altering the relationship between the Commission and this House. A reference was made by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) to the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, and the hon. Member had said that if that Act was defective it would be necessary to have further legislation; but it had been stated over and over again in this House, and on the Committee, that there had seldom been an Act which had given so much power and discretion as that Act had. There were many respects in which very fundamental changes must be made in the character of the Commission and in the policy it pursued. At one time the Endowed School Commission was made 1510 up entirely of Churchmen, and that was the case with the Charity Commission. He (Mr. Illingworth) freely acknowledged that, by a side-wind, the Prime Minister was able to appoint a Commissioner who did not belong to the dominant sect in this country; but he did not hesitate to say that the whole policy of the Commission, in regard to the appointments they made, must be changed. The other day he had had brought before him the re-appointment of a Trustee of a dole of £200 or £300 a-year. There was one Trustee required, and four were suggested for the appointment. All of them were Churchmen, and three of them Conservatives; and he had no doubt a Churchman would have been appointed, but for the force of public opinion. There must be a sense of justice and equality of treatment in these appointments. It had been the policy in all Departments to treat Nonconformists as not identified with the great majority of the foundations in this country. Take the case of the grammar schools. It came out, before the Committee of 1873, that on the question of religion, in 90 per cent of the foundations of the grammar schools, the original instructions were absolutely silent as to any religious teaching, and yet there was hardly a single Governorship in the country held by a Nonconformist. In Bradford there was a grammar school which was, when endowed, never intended for any particular sect; but a Dissenter never dreamt that he had any right to share in the government of the school. He was glad to be able to acknowledge that there had been already a favourable change established in the spirit in which these endowments were administered; but matters must go very much further, so that there should be no traces of partiality left on the one hand, or of injustice on the other. They had been reminded by the right hon. Gentleman that the Charitable Trusts Act was under consideration, and he had promised further inquiry into the working of the Endowed Schools Act. This discussion could not now be exhausted; it could only be postponed until the result of the inquiries were obtained; but it must be taken as unquestionable that there was a growing interest in this great subject of the charities and the working of the Endowed Schools Act. Although he did 1511 not believe the direction ultimately taken would be on the lines of the hon. Member for Ipswich, he hoped the House would give some assurance to the public as to the working of these Acts.
§ MR. MONTAGUE GUEST
said, he was glad that this discussion had taken place, for it gave him an opportunity of alluding to a case which happened in the South of England. There was in Blandford an endowed school of the same nature as that referred to by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth). It was endowed about 300 years ago for boys only, a short distance from Blandford; it was removed to Blandford; and about seven years ago it was closed entirely by the Charity Commissioners. They were asked to open it again, and then they turned it into a girl's school. What the people wanted to know was, upon what principle the Commissioners arrived at their decision and took that action, which, he could assure the Committee, was entirely against the wishes and feelings of the whole neighbourhood? The Trustees of the charity were asked the other day whether they could make any recommendation on the matter; but they said they could not, because they did not approve of that course. Meetings were held in the town, and Petitions were presented, both to this House and to the House of Lords; but, notwithstanding the scheme of turning the school into a girl's school was carried out, the people wished it to be a boy's school; but the Commissioners were determined that it should be a girl's school. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) said he had no power over these schemes; that they were not before the House; and that the proper course was to wait till they came before the House. But where were these schemes to be got? He believed they could be bought for 6d., or for 1d., if anyone knew where to get them. That was the first difficulty; and then the next difficulty was to know to whom a Petition was to be sent; and then, when at last the schemes came before the House, it was said that proper proceedings had not been taken, and the House of Commons, of course, supported the Commissioners, who were also supported by the Government of the day. So the schemes were passed into law against the wishes of the people for whom they existed. The hon. Gen- 1512 tleman opposite (Mr. Gregory) said the object of this Commission was not to divert, but to render more efficient, the benefits of these charities; but he (Mr. Guest) contended that if they went absolutely against the wishes of the neighbourhood in regard to one scheme, they were diverting the benefits of the scheme. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had urged that public opinion should not be the guide in these matters; but he (Mr. Guest) held that the public opinion of the neighbourhood should be the guide as to these schemes being reformed. In the particular case he had mentioned, the Educational Committee of the County of Dorset had proposed that this school should be made a girls' school; but the proposal was absolutely rejected by the Synod of Dorset. Three or four gentlemen formed the Educational Committee, who made that proposition; but there was hardly a person in the county who was anxious to have this a girl's school. He was glad to have an opportunity of putting a stop to these schemes; but it was exceedingly hard to put a stop to them. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that next year there would be a Committee of Inquiry, and he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not, in fairness and justice, withdraw the schemes now before the House, until that Committee had decided what should be done? He did not think it would be fair to press these schemes, and run them through the House, until the Committee, which was likely to be proposed next year, had reported upon this branch of the Charity Commissioners' work.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he was a Member of the Committee of 1869, which was presided over by the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) in a manner which gave great satisfaction to everyone on the Committee; and he must say that never before was a Committee so disappointed as that Committee was when the Act was passed. They were told that the Act was not to touch the good schools, but was only to touch the bad schools. There was a school in which there was only one scholar; the proprietor of the school to which he was sent paid the money, and the school-house was made use of by the clergy. There were other endowments which 1513 were most improperly carried out. What happened was this—schools, some of them with an income of over £1,000 a-year, were to make their own schemes, and the Endowed Schools Commissioners were not to interfere with them; but these Commissioners paid no attention to that arrangement, and made their own schemes. If the schools so treated did not approve of the schemes of the Commissioners, it was open to them to get the scheme opposed in the House; but it was almost an impossibility to get them upset by that process. The Act had been carried out on the theory that there should be no free education, except as a reward of merit; and what did that mean? Children of six or seven years of age were not to have any free education, except as a reward of merit. But the thing was so absurd and so ridiculous that the Order had to be withdrawn. It came to this—that it was a matter of competition between the children of poor parents and the children of the better classes. The poor child, the child of the widow, and the children of labouring men, stood no chance as against the child of the well-to-do tradesman. So far as the reward of merit was concerned, the well-to-do tradesman was enabled to give his child a better education, in the first place, so as to enable it to obtain the reward of merit, than was the widow or the poor man. In this way the children of the better class were enabled to avail themselves of advantages which the child of the poor parent was deprived of. It was no wonder that this reward-of-merit principle became contested, looking at the excitement the policy of the Commissioners caused throughout the country. He thought the ratepayers of London were entitled to the greatest praise for the way in which they had met the Commissioners as to Emmanuel Hospital. Their conflict with the Commissioners had ended in the Endowed Schools Commission being dissolved, and its work handed over to the Charity Commissioners. The theory was that only those children who had had a certain amount of education were to be assisted. He felt obliged to his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. J. Collings) for bringing the question forward, because it showed that there was a change taking place in the country, and that the feeling was spreading that where 1514 endowments had been left for the education of the community the poorer classes ought to have a distinct benefit. There could be no doubt that the tendency had been to take away endowments intended for the poor, and to hand them over to the higher classes. It was the tendency in all endowed schools to do that; because, in the first place, a master was appointed in a school, that master took in boarders, and paid great attention to them, in order that it might be shown that he was giving better education than ordinary to the children, and so get an increase to his salary; the master, therefore, took in boarders, the boarders got on and obtained prizes, and eventually that class of student took possession of the school, the day scholars, or the children of the poorer parents, being turned out, and really robbed of that which the founders of the schools had intended for them. He was sorry that the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) was not now in his place, as he should, have liked to have had an opportunity of answering some of the statements he had made as to what his (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence's) opinion on the Committee had been. He had been on the Committee of 1873, before the Endowed Schools Act was renewed. At that time his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford did not hold the opinions he had enunciated in the House to-night. The hon. Member evidently thought they had gone far enough in handing over the endowments of the country to the superior classes of the community, instead of to those for whom they were intended. With regard to the Tonbridge School, it seemed to him (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) that the manner in which the scheme had been carried out, and in which the Governors had been treated, was in the highest degree discreditable to the Charity Commissioners in every shape and form. The Tonbridge School was left to the community by Alderman Judd, a gentleman who knew the advantage of education long before it was generally appreciated throughout the country. Knowing the value of putting schools of this kind under the care of strong and influential Corporations, he placed it under the control of his Livery Company—he placed it in charge of the Skinners' Company, just as the Monmouth School was placed under the control of the 1515 Haberdashers' Company; and as many other schools set up by those who, like Alderman Judd, knew the value of education, had been left on trust. These founders had themselves felt the want of education, and knowing the value of it had not entrusted the schools to country gentlemen, who were only capable of exercising temporary control; but placed them under Livery Companies, which they knew would be in existence long after their contemporaries had passed away. These founders and these Livery Companies had set an example to the whole country, having energetically taken up the business of education long before it was the fashion as it had now become. After the lapse of many years, the theory now seemed to be that this valuable work for the education of the community should be undone, and that higher education should be given—that the money which had been set aside for the benefit of the poor should be devoted to the conferring a better education upon the higher classes of the community. He was glad that that theory, which had held ground for some time, was receiving a check, and that the feeling was gaining ground that the classes for whom the money was originally left should be benefited, and not those for whom it was never intended. The Endowed Schools Commissioners were crumpled up, because they were endeavouring to carry out a false theory, and had at last come to a point when they could carry it out no further. He did not complain of the action of the Charity Commissioners so much; they had succeeded the Endowed Schools Commissioners, and, the latter Body having got into a certain groove, the Charity Commissioners had followed them, and now found it very difficult to get out of that groove. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) had said—"What did it matter if an endowment left for one town was used in another town, if it was more likely to do good in the town other than that for which it was left." That was a most dangerous policy. [Mr. BRYCE: I did not say that.] He had understood the hon. Member to say that. He understood the hon. Member to say that, by moving the Tonbridge School to Tunbridge Wells, it would be much more largely availed of, and would do a great deal more good than if re- 1516 tained in the place in which it was originally bequeathed. The hon. Member asked—"What did it matter where it was left for, so long as it was found to do a great deal of good in Tunbridge Wells?"
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, that, at any rate, it was not in the district in which it was originally established; and he denied the right of anyone to ignore the intention of the founder as to the locality of the school. The discussion that night would, no doubt, be properly appreciated by the Head of the Education Department; and it might be fairly expected that great benefit would arise from it. As to the suggestion for taxing charities, he begged to remind the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Gregory) that a system of that kind had been tried, and was a very difficult and dangerous project for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to enter upon. He would remind the hon. Member that when these moneys were originally bequeathed, 10 per cent was taken out by the Government as a tax. The question under discussion was a large one, and it deserved being looked carefully into; but he certainly did not think that the principle of no free education, except as a reward of merit, was a sound one, and would commend itself to the people of this country.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he did not wish to trouble the Committee at any great length upon this question. He desired merely to say a word or two in support of the appeal made by his hon. Friend opposite the Member for Wareham (Mr. Guest), with regard to the Blandford School. Though not interested as a proprietor in the district, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had considerable knowledge of it. He had had representations from a score or a score and a-half of persons connected with the district, who took the same view of the case as that adopted by his hon. Friend. They said that the present objects of the school ought not to be departed from, and that the scheme of the Charity Commissioners ought to be rejected. It was considered a great hardship in that district that the objects of the original founder should have been departed from. He agreed with his 1517 hon. Friend who had just left his place (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence), and who had addressed the Committee in terms so energetic as was his custom, and, at the same time, so persuasive—he agreed with the hon. Member to this extent—that the original intention of these old Trusts should be fulfilled as far as they could be, and if the local interests should be considered — in fact, that what a lawyer would call the cy-près doctrine should be carried out, and the objects of the trusts fulfilled as far as possible. He had seen with regret that, in many instances, the Charity Commissioners had departed from that principle, and had adopted another one which was hardly calculated to advance the interests of the poor, and which was contrary to the wishes and instincts of the people in the districts in which the schools were situated.
§ MR. CROPPER
said, he desired to thank the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) for having brought this subject before the Committee; but, at the same time, the hon. Member having chosen to take the Kendal School as an illustration of some of the evil done by allowing the Charity Commissioners to have control of the endowed schools of the country, he would like to say that if no more harm had been done by these Commissioners all over England than had been done in the case of the Kendal School, there would not be very much to blame them for. It must be remembered that we had an Education Act in this country, and that, therefore, where the object of the founders in establishing these Trusts had been merely to give an elementary education to the poor, the schools they had left did not now stand in the same position that they had occupied years ago. Where large foundations had been established, it might, now that the Education Act had been passed, be greatly to the advantage of a town, and greatly to the advantage of the poor, as well as to the better classes of the town, that an opportunity for higher education should be given, instead of continuing the opportunity of elementary education at a cheap or gratuitous rate. He agreed with the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) when he said that the popular opinion of the country was not always to be relied upon on this subject. There would always be a popular 1518 opinion against doing away with any gratuitous grant. There would always be a popular opinion in favour of free education in a town, although that free education might be carried on in a costly and wasteful manner. In Kendal the same amount of money which had been invested in the endowed school would have educated an increased number of children; but the object of the Charity Commissioners was to give to the poor children the chance of a much higher education than anything that was to be got at that time. The Corporation of Kendal had taken the question up, and the subject had been thoroughly well studied and discussed amongst the townspeople; and the only differences of opinion, as far as he knew, was as to the number of scholarships that should be established in the school that the Charity Commissioners wished to commence. They had heard something of the advantages of this higher education; they had heard, for instance, how the son of a washerwoman had become the head of his College. Such a thing would not have been possible if it had not been that schools existed in which a high class education could be given to the poorer classes. To his mind, the great object of the Charity Commissioners in the diversion of Trusts, and in the appropriation of the money that they had to deal with, had been to give such opportunities as these. He admitted that, in some cases, they might have done too much for higher education alone, and might have offered too few scholarships to the lower classes in some towns; but, at the same time, he was sure that by directing the energies of the Commissioners, and carefully studying and deciding upon the scope of their work and their schemes in this House, that they would obtain better results than they would by such action as would lead the Commissioners to think that the House was opposed to their work. He was sure that the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) would always render them every assistance in considering the schemes of the Commissioners. He desired to support the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) in what he had said; and, for his own part, in connection with the school he had taken for his illustration, he had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for being assured 1519 that the scheme would not be laid upon the Table without being thoroughly looked into, and without any real grievance that there might be being redressed. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers), he did not think that the hon. Member was right in saying that the effect of legislation on these matters had been to make the poor poorer and the rich richer. In no case had the temporal benefits of a section of the community been more increased during the past 20 years than they had in the case of the working classes. He believed this was true both in education and in all social advantage, and he should very much regret this discussion, if it were to go out as the general opinion of this House that the legislation of the past 20 years had been to make the poor poorer and the rich richer, as the hon. Member had remarked.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, that as he had the honour to be a Member of the Committee sitting upstairs to examine into the whole work of the Charity Commissioners and of the Charity Trusts Acts, he did not wish to say anything with regard to those subjects, because that Committee would now very shortly present its Report to the House. He only wished, as a Member of the Committee, to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) for having pledged the Government to appoint a Committee next Session to inquire into the working of the Endowed Schools Act. He might say that the Committee had come to the opinion that this subject should be inquired into. He dissented from the remarks of the worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) as to what the hon. Member thought a great reform in the abolition of the Endowed Schools Commissioners. To his mind, that was a retrograde step; but the object with which he had risen had been to refer to a subject which had already been alluded to by the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory)—namely, the financial position of this Vote. They were asked, in round numbers, to vote £30,000 to the Charity Commissioners, between £4,000 and £5,000 of which was for the City of London Parochial Charities Department. The legislation of this Parliament had recognized that charities were not to have the cost of their management 1520 paid out of the Consolidated Fund for the future—that, in fact, the Department managing them should be made self-supporting. They were called upon to-night, however, to vote something like £24,000 towards the expenses of the Charity Commissioners, and something like £7,000 for the work of the Charity Commissioners as Endowed School Commissioners. He should like the Committee to consider what that Body was, and what was its income, for which the whole body of the taxpayers of the country were called upon to pay, to manage. In 1876 that income of the charities then known to the Commissioners amounted to £2,200,000 per annum, exclusive of the incomes of the Universities, the public schools, and the Cathedral foundations, and all such institutions supported by voluntary contributions. There were something like £11,000,000 of Consols at the present time standing in the name of an official Charity Trustee—a sum which represented something like £330,000 a-year. It was neither just nor right that the expenses of the Commission should be defrayed out of the general taxation of the country, but that the charities for whose benefit the Commission was founded, and still existed, should themselves defray the cost. He was glad to see the hon. Member for Chippenham (Sir Gabriel Goldney) in his place, because that hon. Baronet had already succeeded in carrying a Resolution through that House, which, he was sorry to say, had not been acted upon, calling upon the Government to do something in this matter. As far back as 1845 an attempt had been made by Lord Lyndhurst to impose a tax upon charities. That attempt failed. Another attempt was made in 1863, and that also failed; but in 1868 the hon. Member for Chippenham succeeded in carrying a Resolution empowering the Charity Commissioners to meet part of their expenses by charging fees; and the same provision was also extended to the Drainage Commissioners and the Tithe Commissioners. In 1871, the then Member for South Essex (Mr. Andrew Johnson) carried a Resolution to the effect that an Income Tax be imposed upon the charities, and that something like a Succession Duty should be put upon these large funds that were being administered at the cost of the taxpayer. The matter was brought 1521 before the House in 1879, during the existence of the late Administration, and a Motion, the effect of which was now submitted to the House, was made. He should like to call attention to the words of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Sir Gabriel Goldney) on that occasion. He had said, in effect, that the income of the charities of this country at that time amounted to something like £4,000,000 per annum, and that the amount was rapidly increasing. He pointed out that they had been so nursed by the country, that they had been exempted from the payment of Income Tax, Succession Duty, and Probate Duty, and he contended, that they should be taxed, and certainly every 25 years should contribute to the Probate Duty. After a very considerable debate, the then Secretary to the Treasury, the hon. Member for West Essex, shadowed forth a scheme the Government were prepared to support, for throwing the burden of the administration of the charity funds on the funds themselves. He said that the object of the Government would be to make the charities, as far as possible, self-supporting, and to prevent the cost of the Office of the Charity Commission from being charged on the public. That plan had not then been submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it was merely the hon. Member's attempt to mark out a solution. He was followed by the present Prime Minister, who commenced his speech by saying that any mitigation, however slight, of the false and absurd positions—for it was nothing less than an absurd position—in which they stood as to these charities, ought to be thankfully received. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to contend that the property of the charities should be subjected to the general taxation of the country. The Prime Minister was followed in that debate by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he had said that he had never asserted, nor had he ever believed, there was any doubt as to the propriety of making charity pay the expenses of charity. A Bill was brought in on the subject; but, unfortunately, brought in at the end of the Session, and, though it passed through the Committee, the Government ultimately withdrew it, on the distinct pledge that it would be brought 1522 in again the next Session. In the following Session, however, that Government was no longer in Office. That brought him down to the year 1880. Nothing was done in that year—they were now in the year 1884, and still nothing had been done. To-night they had a good opportunity of getting at the sense of the Committee on the subject; and he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to carry out now that principle for which he had so long contended, and which was supported by both sides of the House in 1879—namely, that the cost of the Charity Commission, which was a valuable institution, doing a great deal of most valuable work, should be administered by the charities themselves, and should no longer be allowed to be a burden on the taxation of the country. Here they were asking the general ratepayers of the country to pay some £30,000 a-year for work from which the general ratepayer got no benefit whatever. He earnestly hoped the suggestion he had made would be favourably considered by the Government.
§ SIR GABRIEL GOLDNEY
said, he was obliged to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) for taking up this subject, and he trusted that before long the hon. Member's suggestion would be carried into effect. Nothing could be more monstrous than the state of things which at present existed. The hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Cropper), in the early part of the evening, had referred to the evils of the existing condition of the free schools in the different localities of the country. He (Sir Gabriel Goldney) quite agreed with the hon. Member that the general feeling of the poor was that they would be glad, in any shape or way, to get higher education for their children. Following out that view in the borough he represented some six or seven years ago, they came to an arrangement of this kind. It was arranged that, looking at the obligation imposed on every one to educate their children, that something like a benefit should, at the same time, be held out to the poor to encourage them to send their children to school, where enormous benefits might be derived. The Governing Body—the Charity Trustees—and the Corporation of the town, on his suggestion, came to a conclusion which the Charity Commissioners 1523 aided them in carrying out. They arranged that all the funds in the free schools should be appropriated for the purpose of creating scholarships for children taken from the elementary schools of the town. The scholarships were open to children of all denominations, and to the children of all the elementary schools, of which there were some six or seven. A certain number of boys received scholarships which were maintainable for three years. That system was more appreciated in the town to which he was referring than any other charity which existed there. Its effect was to build a social bridge between the classes, and a principle of that kind they should encourage as much as they could between the poor and the rich. The poor boy, by that system, had an opportunity of learning the subjects only included in higher education, which he would not have been able to obtain if the free schools had been continued. The most satisfactory results had attended the arrangement he had described, for large numbers of boys who had availed themselves of these scholarships were taken as a matter of request by different employers in the town, and were engaged in positions of great trust where skill and education were requisites. They had at this moment no less than 13 or 14 boys filling high positions in the City of London, and a large number of other boys were employed in the different manufacturing businesses in the town in which they received their education, having been selected on account of the excellence of their training. If the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would do all in his power to develop that system and encourage its adoption amongst the Governors of free schools, the effect would be, as he had said, to build a social bridge between the classes, and to do an enormous amount of good.
§ MR. HORACE DAVEY
said, it was quite impossible for the Committee to enter into the details of the different schemes formed by the Charity Commissioners, because of the difficulty of determining the accuracy of the information submitted with regard to particular schools. The Committee would at once see that it was impossible to test the extent and the validity of the complaints made against the action of the Charity Commissioners without knowing 1524 all the circumstances, and without hearing the other side, and knowing the grounds on which the Commissioners had come to their conclusions in particular cases. It was impossible to test the validity of these complaints without knowing whether they proceeded from the whole or a portion; and, if so, what portion of the population they proceeded from. No doubt the Motion made by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) involved a question of policy of great importance. He (Mr. Horace Davey) believed it to be impossible to exaggerate the importance of the question which underlay the Motion of his hon. Friend, as to the proper mode of employing the educational endowments of the country; and he was bound to admit that he was not altogether in agreement with the policy that had been pursued by the Charity Commissioners, acting under the powers and under the directions contained in the Endowed Schools Act, up to the present time. However, he thought it extremely unfair to charge on the Charity Commissioners, acting under the powers of the Endowed Schools Act, the reform of that system with which his hon. Friend did not agree. He (Mr. Horace Davey) agreed with many of the observations made in the course of the debate. He agreed with his hon. Friend that the policy of the existing legislation was not altogether satisfactory, though they might differ somewhat as to the reasons why they respectively thought so. It seemed to him extremely unfair to blame the Commissioners for the policy of the Act. The Commissioners were a public Department of the country—they were a public administrative Board, who were placed where they were with certain definite powers, for the purpose of carrying into execution statutes defining their duties, powers, and obligations; and it would be impossible, as the Committee would see, for the Charity Commissioners, acting under the Endowed Schools Act, to do otherwise than carry into effect the policy of those Acts. If the policy of those Acts was not satisfactory, it was this House, and not the Charity Commissioners, who could alter it. What were the charges his hon. Friend brought against the Charity Commissioners? He had said, in the first place, that the schemes prepared inflicted great hardship on the poor. Underneath 1525 that lay the great question of policy. Undoubtedly, the policy of the country and Parliament, in dealing with these educational endowments, up to that time, had been this—to carry into effect, and to its logical conclusion, the arrangement first made by Lord Melbourne as to eleemosynary charities—that they should not be applied in aid of the ratepayers; that to apply them in aid of elementary schools would not be expending them in the interest of the poor. He believed that his hon. Friend would find that in several schemes of the Charity Commissioners under the Acts, though they had not directed the endowments to be applied directly in supporting elementary schools, they had, in many instances, applied endowments to those schools on the faith of the school pence—that was to say, on the faith of a contribution paid by the children. He thought—in fact, he knew—that if they searched among the schemes of the Endowed School Commissioners, or, rather, of the Charity Commissioners, acting under the Endowed Schools Act, hon. Members would find that they entirely bore out what he said. Personally, he did not feel the force of the reasoning which said that charities for the poor, whether it were for education or the relief of posterity generally, should not be applied in such a way as to relieve the rates. It appeared to him that these were public moneys devoted to a particular purpose for assisting the poor. He regarded the school rate as a compulsory contribution or subscription; and it seemed to him that those who were asked to contribute to it had a fair right to say—"First apply towards the education of the poor the funds which have been devoted to that object." But he did not desire to initiate a discussion on that point. He only wished to point out that there was a serious question of policy underlying the statement of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend was quite right in calling the attention of the Committee to the question, and he was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) say that he meant to ask the House to appoint a Committee next Session to consider the whole subject of legislation under the Endowed Schools Act, when this important question and others would be considered; but what he (Mr. Horace Davey) desired to point out to the Com- 1526 mittee and his hon. Friends was this. In what had happened the Charity Commissioners had not been to blame, but that the complaint was really as to the policy of the legislation. He was entitled to say that, because, as he had already remarked, he himself was not in entire agreement with his hon. Friend. The other complaint of the hon. Gentleman was that the Commissioners ignored the expressions of public opinion. If the hon. Member had had as good an opportunity as he had had of knowing the work of the Charity Commissioners, he would not have made that complaint. These gentlemen could not please everyone. If there was a difference of opinion in the locality to which the charity related, the Commissioners could not form their scheme in such a way as to satisfy everyone. He hoped the Committee would believe he was speaking from personal experience. He had no doubt that, whether they succeeded or not, the endeavour, and the earnest endeavour, of the Commissioners, as far as they could, consistently with the limits imposed by these Acts, was to carry out the wishes, and feelings, and views of the localities in which the charities were situated. Of course, in many cases it was impossible for them to do so, because it would be inconsistent with their powers, and inconsistent with law; but he believed they took every possible means they could to ascertain the condition of the locality generally, and the feeling of the inhabitants, by sending down an Inspector. He believed that in every case they sent down to the locality Inspectors appointed under the Endowed Schools Act. But he must say that the value of his learned Friend's criticism on this point had been strongly illustrated in the course of this debate, because the strongest case brought forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) was the case of the school at Kendal, in which the hon. Member had represented that the establishment had been altered from an elementary school into a school of a liberal character, with exhibitions for boys; and, as he (Mr. Horace Davey) had understood, against the wishes of the whole, or, at least, a vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. Well, what did the hon. Member for Kendal say? If he wanted to know what the feeling 1527 of Kendal was, he should go to somebody who was acquainted with the place—he should go to the hon. Member for Kendal. He could place reliance upon what that Gentleman said—certainly more reliance than he could place on the letters which his hon. Friend had said he had received from ladies and gentlemen living in Kendal. No doubt, the correspondence in question had been composed with the utmost good faith, and that the hon. Member's correspondents believed every word they said; but he thought that when they had the advantage of having the town of Kendal represented in the House, the Committee were entitled to place more reliance on what fell from its Representative than on letters submitted from private individuals. He agreed with a great deal his hon. Friend had said about those; the complaint he had made was not as to the administration of the Commissioners, but the working of the Act. That he had already referred to. Before he sat down he should like to say that if the hon. Member for Ipswich had moved to strike out the whole of this Vote he should have cordially agreed with him, because he thought it most unfair that the charge should fall on the taxpayer of the country. He saw no reason whatever why the charities of the country should not only be relieved from taxation in the form of Succession Duty or from Income Tax, but should ask to have the ordinary expenses of administration defrayed out of the consolidated Revenue of the country. This was too big a question, he presumed, for a private Member to take up; but was it too much to express a hope that the Prime Minister, whose eloquent speech on the subject of the taxation of charities formed, if he might say so, the text-book of this subject—was it too much to hope that before the right hon. Gentleman left Office he would find an opportunity of putting in the form of a Government Bill and passing into law a measure dealing with this great grievance of the taxpayer of the country? It would be impossible for him (Mr. Horace Davey) to argue the question fully before the Committee now; but he must say that he could not conceive any reason whatever why the charities should not pay their full quota to the Income Tax. As he had said, they were relieved from Succession Duty, 1528 because the law gave them the singular privilege of perpetual possession. They paid no Succession Duty; they paid no Income Tax; and then the taxpayer of this country was asked to defray the cost of their administration. Whenever this question came before the House, as he hoped it would before long, he should give his cordial support to any measure for remedying that which he conceived to be a great grievance. One part of this Vote related to the administration of parochial charities. The cost of this administration was made, in the first instance, out of the Revenues of the country, and was to be recouped out of the funds of the charities, so that, so far as the administration of the Parochial Charities Act went, justice would be done. He could not see why what was right in connection with parochial charities should not be equally right in connection with other charities.
§ MR. COURTNEY
suid, that he would briefly refer to the general question put by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings). He (Mr. Courtney), in the early part of the Session, had had an opportunity of explaining his views on the subject, and he did not wish to repeat what he had then said; and, moreover, the Vice President of the Council had given an assurance that a Committee of the House would be appointed next year to consider the question—or that the scope of the inquiry of the Committee now sitting would be enlarged, so as to enable it to consider the Endowed Schools Act. That was sufficient satisfaction for the moment, and was a fair reason why they should not go into all the matters that had been referred to in the course of this debate. With regard to himself, he could only say that he was convinced that the result of the inquiry would be to strengthen the principle of the Endowed Schools Act, which his hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings) was so much opposed to. He trusted the hon. Member would allow him to make that expression of opinion. As to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Wareham (Mr. Montague Guest) with regard to the suspension of the action of the Charity Commissioners acting under the Endowed Schools Act, pending the inquiry to which he had referred, he must point out to the hon. Gentleman that every scheme promulgated by 1529 the Commissioners could be opposed by any single person interested. It must be remembered that before an opposed scheme could have the binding effect of law it must come before both Houses of Parliament, and that an adverse vote of either House would be fatal to it. If, therefore, it was true, as the hon. Member for Wareham suggested, that the House of Commons was overcrowded with Business, and that the majority of its Members were too anxious to support the Government to desire to set aside any scheme of the Commissioners, the opponents of that scheme could but resort to the other House, where, at least, there would be plenty of time to consider the subject, where there would not be an overcrowding of Business, and where the affection for Her Majesty's Government was not so strong as to preclude the House from setting aside a scheme if they thought it desirable to do so. He had heard the Tonbridge scheme mentioned. A good deal had been said as to the establishment of that second grade school at Tunbridge Wells instead of Tonbridge. Well, he did not wish to enter fully into the question; but he thought he was correct in saying that an investigation of the Trust of Sir Andrew Judd would show that the intention of that founder was to establish an educational institution for the benefit of persons residing within at least 10 miles of Tonbridge. The matter had long since been made the subject of legal inquiry, and that was the decision of no less ardent a reformer than Lord Eldon. If there was a case, any reasonable case, shown against any scheme, as he had said, hon. Members were not precluded from securing opposition to it in the other House if they thought they had no chance in this. As to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) and the hon. Member for Chippenham (Sir Gabriel Goldney), there could be no doubt whatever as to the justice, and he might almost say as to the necessity, of taxing the charities to an extent which would, at least, cover the expenses of the Commissioners. There could be no doubt as to what the disposition of the Government was on this subject—no one who had read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, made 20 years 1530 since, could doubt it. However, at the same time, no one could doubt that at the fag end of a Session, or the fag end of a Parliament, it would be a very difficult thing to carry a measure upon the subject through the House. He remembered at the end of the last Parliament, when a Bill was introduced by the hon. Baronet who then held the Office of Secretary to the Treasury, who was earnest in his desire that it should become law—a Bill which proposed to establish a charge of 1 per cent on all charities, and which would have gone far towards defraying the expenses of the Commission—that Bill which was brought in by a Conservative Government, and carried with it, therefore, the assent of a certain reluctant section of Members—of whom he was not speaking in adverse terms if he said they were not on the first blush in favour of the principle—it was found impossible to pass. It was supported by many who might be expected to be antagonistic to it; and of course Members on the Liberal side were eager to carry it—["No, no!"]—well, most hon. Members on the Liberal side must have been eager to see it pass. In spite of all that, the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) had found it impossible to pass the Bill of 1879. It was said—"Oh, but it was brought in very late in the Session." Just so, but later on the hon. Baronet had said that such was the reception his Bill had received that the Government were not encouraged to go on with it. It was impossible not to see the enormous forces arrayed against a Bill of this kind. No doubt if, at no very distant time, this change were to be accomplished, he confessed he believed it would have to be done on the first blush, and in the new life of a new Parliament. He trusted that the Bill might be brought in under the auspices of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone). There would be no indisposition on the part of the Government to undertake the task and to carry it through. With regard to the remark made at the commencement of the discussion by the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), who took a very intelligible and honourable interest in the working of the Parochial Charities Act—the question as to whether anything could, be done by bringing the Commissioners charged with carrying out the Act into 1531 closer relation with the body of the Charity Commission—he must, in response to the hon. Member, agree in the extreme inconvenience of separating the Parochial Commissioners from the general body of the Charity Commissioners. No doubt a great deal of time was lost by going to and fro from one building to another; and no doubt a great deal of inconvenience was caused by the difficulty of access on the part of the Parochial Commissioners to information in possession of the Charity Commissioners. The Parochial Commissioners, no doubt, would be very much facilitated in their work if the inconvenience to which he referred were obviated. One of them had told him the other day what a length of time he had been in endeavouring to get at some information which he would have been able to procure at once if the Commission had been more conveniently situated on the premises of the Charity Commission. Unquestionably, at no distant date measures would be taken to relieve the Commissioners from the disadvantages they were labouring under.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he believed that on both sides of the House the verdict would be that whether they approved of the policy of the Charity Commissioners or not they were, at least, satisfied that they had proceeded honestly in the direction of carrying out the Act. He was bound to say that he thought the conduct of the Commissioners was very fair and respectful towards all those they had had to deal with. There could be no doubt, as was admitted by the hon. and learned Member for Christ-church (Mr. Horace Davey), that they had taken very great pains to ascertain the local feeling in the places whose educational establishments they had dealt with. It was quite true they did not always carry out all the views of all the persons in those places. They would have to be very clever men to do such a thing, because naturally, when there was a strong difference of opinion prevailing amongst members of a community, if the Commissioners pleased one section they would be sure to displease another. But this discussion had been a very instructive one, because they had heard doctrines propounded from the other side of the House which he thought it would have been a pity that they should not have had the advantage 1532 of hearing. They had heard, for instance, a good deal said about the question of confiscation; and, certainly, if he could have shut his eyes before the hon. Member rose, and hearing what was said, had wondered where the word came from, he could not possibly have believed it was the hon. Member for Ipswich who used it. He could almost wish that the hon. Member for Ipswich had sat in the first Parliament in which he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) sat, when they used to say so much on the Opposition side of the House with regard to confiscation. Very little had been heard about it on the other side of the House, and the result was that the Endowed Schools Act passed as it did. Great importance had been attached to the wishes of Sir Andrew Judd with regard to the Tonbridge School; but Sir Andrew Judd was only now made the concrete representative of the "pious founder" of whom so much used to be heard in years gone by. He was astonished to hear so much about the wish of Sir Andrew Judd; and, more than that, he was astonished at the statement of the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers) when he talked about "political economy run mad." All these things were not only instructive, but very refreshing to hear from such a quarter of the House. But he had not risen for the sake of taking part in banter. His object in rising had been to impress upon the Government these utterances—these, no doubt, unguarded utterances—which, at the same time, were spontaneous—but yet represented a certain amount of feeling outside, and a feeling which should not be ignored. The hon. Gentleman must remember that these matters had caused an enormous amount of discussion in 1869 and 1870. He was not going to contest the policy then laid down. He took what part he could in the matter, and was ready to support, as far as he was able, the proposal of the hon. Member for Ipswich and others, who regarded themselves as the defenders of the rights of the poor in respect of education which had been handed down to them. But he wanted to impress on the Committee that it was possible to go too far in what was called a popular direction in matters of this kind, and that, as years went on, they might find themselves in conflict with opinions at first denounced 1533 by them as reactionary. Personally, he had a great deal of sympathy with the feelings which prompted the action of hon. Members opposite, and he was bound to say that he considered there was much to be said for the right of the people, which hon. Gentlemen advocated, to retain for themselves the privileges of the foundations. He should not take up the time of the Committee by entering then into the question as to whether they had equal rights in this matter. He was, however, ready to admit that the question was a large one. But there was this to be said—if the hon. Member was right in insisting on the rights of the poor in this matter, he must allow others, from whom he might differ, to contend for other rights which they held to be equally sacred. But he desired to say a few words with regard to the powers of both Houses of Parliament to amend the schemes of the Charity Commissioners. He had been glad to hear, on the great authority of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, an argument which was, perhaps, more often heard on that side of the House than upon the other—namely, that there were some great functions which the House of Lords could be trusted to perform. The hon. Gentleman had been good enough to assert and to emphasize that doctrine; and, in so doing, he was quite right to remind the Committee that if the House of Commons failed to do its duty with respect to the schemes of the Commissioners, the House of Lords might generally be relied upon to do theirs; in other words, that if those schemes required amendment, and were not amended in that House, they would be amended in "another place." And then, with regard to another point of a practical nature. The Government talked about appointing a Committee next year to inquire into the whole question of the action of the Commissioners under the Endowed Schools Act. Personally, he had some doubts as to the position taken up by the Government in this matter, and a few months would probably show whether they were justified in the very confident view which they took of the future, and with regard to being able to afford such facilities. But he would point out that, even if the Committee were not appointed next year, there was power, under the En- 1534 dowed Schools Act, to reject the schemes of the Charity Commissioners. He was speaking of what related to the House of Commons, not of what might take place in the House of Lords; the House of Commons had the right to object to a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, and, if it were necessary, to amend it. The state of Public Business, it was true, often prevented that right from being exercised; but, theoretically speaking, the power existed, and he wanted the Government to consider whether, by any means, they could give this statutory, although inoperative power, something like vitality. The Act provided that the schemes of the Charity Commissioners should lie on the Table of the House for 40 days, during which time any Member of that House could move an Address to the Crown, praying to have them amended; but, as he had pointed out on previous occasions, it was almost impossible, under present conditions, to find an opportunity of moving such Address.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he did not state that the case had never occurred of an Address to the Crown being agreed to; he meant to say that it was exceedingly difficult for the Government to find days for the discussion of Motions for Addresses when there was any pressure of Public Business. What happened was that the Government withheld the Order until half-past 12 or 1 o'clock, when it was not an easy matter to proceed satisfactorily with the Business. Again, on private Members' nights, if they were not seized by the Government, there was always the danger of the House being counted out, which often took place on occasions which, though they might be of interest to many people in the country, did not happen to command the attention of many hon. Members. For these reasons, he urged upon the Government to find some means of reducing to practice, and rendering available, the valuable protection he had referred to, which, at present, might be said to exist only on paper. Finally, in taking leave of the subject for the present, he wished to emphasize what had been the general tone of the discussion, and to express the hope that when this sub- 1535 ject again formed the topic under consideration the same moderation would be observed, and the same desire shown, to arrive at a just conclusion with regard to the proceedings of the Charity Commissioners as had been manifested that evening.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, that having regard to the promise of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education that he would appoint a Select Committee next Session to inquire into the whole question of the action of the Charity Commissioners in respect of the schools, he would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment. In doing so, he wished it to be distinctly understood that he did not agree with all the statements which had been made in the course of the discussion with reference to the Endowed Schools Act. He agreed that that Act was, in some respects, defective; but his complaint had reference entirely to the way in which it had been administered by the Charity Commissioners. That Act vested large powers in the Charity Commissioners, and his contention was, that those powers had been exercised by them in a manner opposed to the public will, and in such a way as to inflict great hardships on the poor of the country. He had no wish to detain the Committee; but he desired to make some remarks with reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), whom he understood to say that it was a just and proper thing to take away free schools from the poor, wherever they existed. That was to say, that what was taking place at that moment at Rochdale was just and proper. The Charity Commissioners were abolishing a free school at Rochdale; they were taking away free education from the poor, for whom it was intended, and were about to give it to the middle class, for whom it was never intended; and they were saying at that moment to the poor people at Rochdale—"You must apply to the Board of Guardians for education"—or, in other words—"We take away your right to this free education; we give what was meant for you to people of the middle class, and we reduce you to the class of outdoor paupers." On that contention of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets he joined issue; he protested against this 1536 assumption; and he ventured to say that the action of the Charity Commissioners, in respect to the schools belonging to the poor, would not be borne by that House or by the country.
§ MR. WARTON
said, there was one point in connection with the schemes of the Charity Commissioners which he trusted the Committee would pardon his referring to under the present circumstances. The hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had alluded to the check which was supposed to exist with regard to the schemes of the Charity Commissioners when brought up for consideration in either House of Parliament. But the attempt had been made before, and would be doubtless made again, to prevent the right of Members of that House to object to and amend the schemes of the Commissioners being exercised. He had himself called the attention of the House on more than one occasion to the perverse determination on the part of the Government to render ineffectual the right which hon. Members undoubtedly possessed; and in this way—by laying the scheme on the Table of the House, and taking very good care that it should not be printed for 15 days, and then not debated for a considerable time after that. Although the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education said that a scheme could not be blocked, yet the schemes were most effectually blocked by having three-fourths or two-thirds of the time at the disposal of hon. Members taken away. He had called attention to this practice of the Government by putting a Notice on the Paper; but it had, unfortunately, always happened that the Government took possession of the day on which the Motion would have come forward. All he could say was that the protection referred to by the Secretary to the Treasury was really no protection at all, as against the schemes of the Charity Commissioners, which there was reason to believe was sometimes very bad. Without entering into that question, however, he would express a hope that it was not too late for the Government to say that they would have the schemes of the Charity Commissioners printed soon after they were laid upon the Table of the House, because his experience was that the time during which hon. Members were kept waiting for the schemes was never less 1537 than 15 days, while it was very often even longer than that; and he was bound to say that it was an evasion of the Privilege of the House for the Government to persist time after time in not having the schemes printed at once. This was one of the ways by which the Government kept hon. Members out of their rights; and, as a practical matter, he said it ought to be dealt with at once. It was scarcely creditable to the Government that Reports which had been laid upon the Table of the House should not have been printed for two or three weeks afterwards, and that while they monopolized the time of private Members for their own proceedings they should never afford facilities for the discussion of any subject which reflected on the conduct of the Charity Commissioners.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £16,340, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of the Land Revenue Records and Inrolments.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, he thought it was scarcely right at that late hour (12.30 A.M.) to enter upon a Vote for the Office of Woods and Forests. There was one subject alone in connection with the Vote of great interest to many hon. Members, and the discussion on it would certainly occupy an hour and a-half. Several hon. Members, he could assure the Secretary to the Treasury, had a great deal to say upon the Vote; and he felt bound to point out to the Committee what had been the conduct of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the discussion of the particular question he referred to on a former occasion. He and his hon. Friends were prepared to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, and to have continued the discussion; but after the Motion of his noble Friend, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury arose and replied in a speech which did not answer all the charges brought forward. At a quarter past 12 the Go- 1538 vernment, feeling rather doubtful with regard to the Motion for a Select Committee, organized, with a great deal of skill and care, a "count out;" the result being that the House adjourned at a quarter past 11 o'clock. That would be in the recollection of hon. Members; and he thought that, in asking the Committee to agree to a Motion to report Progress at that stage of the Estimates, there was nothing unreasonable, because, in his opinion, so important a Vote as that just put from the Chair should not be brought on at half-past 12 o'clock in the morning, and especially after the prolonged and exhaustive discussion they had listened to on the difficult and important subject brought forward by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Viscount Lymington.)
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he hoped the Committee would not assent to the Motion of the noble Lord to report Progress, because, unless the Committee continued its labours, it was evident that some days would be added to the length of the Session. There was nothing unusual, at that period of the Session, in continuing in Committee of Supply to a later hour than had been reached. The noble Lord said many hon. Members were anxious to take part in the discussion on this Vote, and no doubt there was a good deal to be said on both sides of the question. That being so, he thought the best course would be for the noble Lord to withdraw his Motion, and allow the debate to proceed.
§ MR. CHEETHAM
said, he rose to support the very reasonable proposal of his noble Friend that the Chairman should report Progress. He knew that several hon. Members wished to speak on this important question, which, in his opinion, could not be satisfactorily discussed at that hour of the morning. Under the circumstances, if his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury wished to make further progress with the Estimates, he suggested that the Vote for the Office of Woods and Forests should be postponed.
MR. STAVELEY HILL
said, he hoped the Motion to report Progress 1539 would not be agreed to. He concurred with the view of the subject taken by the Secretary to the Treasury, that it was desirable to get on with the Estimates, having regard to the period of the Session reached. As the hon. Gentleman truly said, they would be kept at work a number of days longer unless they made further progress. The proposal of hon. Members opposite, he would point out, appeared to be of an obstructive character.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, whether the Motion of the noble Lord was agreed to or not, he hoped that nothing would be allowed to interfere with the order in which the Votes were to be taken. Nothing but dissatisfaction had ever resulted from that course being taken.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, he trusted that the Secretary to the Treasury would agree to the Motion to report Progress. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that there was a great deal to be said on this Vote. It was a Vote on which many hon. Members desired to address the Committee; and there were materials for a debate of, at least, three hours' duration. The discussion on a former occasion having been interrupted at an hour when it could have been reported by the course taken by the Government, as described by the noble Lord, he thought it was only fair that the discussion on this Vote should be taken at a time when it could be reported.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 33; Noes 111: Majority 78.—(Div. List: No. 164.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he was anxious to call the attention of the Government to the great desirability of taking some steps to promote the study of forestry in this country. He thought they were much indebted to the hon. Members who had directed attention to this very important question, whether or not they were able to accept the remedies which they had suggested for consideration. They had to thank the hon. Member for Dublin (Dr. Lyons), 1540 also, for having secured the valuable Report by Mr. Howitz; and he wished that it and M. Boppe's could be more generally known. Our annual imports of wood were estimated at no less than 300,000,000 cubic feet; worth some £17,000,000 or £18,000,000 sterling. He did not, however, base his argument mainly on that consideration, important as it was. The losses which had recently pressed with much severity on landowners, and the diminished value of land, ought to render them anxious, if possible, to open up some fresh source of profit; and the recent depression would not be altogether without some compensating advantages if it induced them to devote more attention to questions connected with land, not the least important of which certainly was that of forestry. They were sometimes told that forestry was not, after all, of much importance in this country, because our national forests were small compared with those of several other countries. Even the national woods and forests were, however, of sufficient extent to make the question between good and bad management one well deserving attention. But they constituted a very small part of the subject. It was estimated that there were altogether some 2,500,000 acres of woodlands. But, in addition, there were, at least, 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 acres which it would pay to plant. Indeed, Mr. Howitz estimated the amount at 5,000,000 acres in Ireland alone; and M. Boppe, in his Report, expressed his opinion that in Scotland also there "still remained 5,000,000 acres capable of furnishing valuable forests." Nor must they forget the enormous area under wood in India and our Colonies. A remarkable illustration of what might be done by judicious planting was afforded by the French "Landes." This region, which 20 years ago was one of the poorest and most miserable in France, was now one of the most prosperous. The increased value was estimated at no less than 1,000,000,000 francs. Where there were previously only a few thousand poor and unhealthy shepherds watching their flocks pasturing on the scanty herbage, were now saw-mills, charcoal kilns, and turpentine works, interspersed with thriving villages and fertile agricultural lands. Our own experience in India was another startling 1541 case. The institution of the Forest Department in India was first placed on a scientific footing in 1863, when Dr. Brandis was appointed Inspector General of Forests. But it was not until 1867 that his plans for the training of foresters for India were matured and adopted. What had been the result? In 1870 the forest revenue of India was £357,000, with the net income of £52,000. In 1880, the gross revenue had reached £545,000, while the net income had increased from £52,000 to £215,000. The effect of forests on climate seemed now to be generally admitted. It was mainly by the destruction of trees that Asia Minor, Palestine, Northern Africa, and so many other countries, once rich and populous, had been reduced almost to the condition of cinders. In this country, indeed, we need apprehend no such danger; but, as regarded India and our Colonies, the case was different. In Scotland it was probable that the management of forests was better understood than in England or Ireland; but it was very questionable whether, even if Scotch foresters were available in sufficient numbers, an English or Irish landowner would be wise to place his lands under anyone whose whole knowledge had been acquired in the practical management of Scotch forests, because the condition of the countries were so different. Moreover, it was probable that even Scotch foresters had much to learn. M. Boppe, one of the highest French authorities on woodlands, had recently visited our English and Scotch forests; and his Report, though short, was most suggestive. On the whole, he concluded that, even in Scotland — though in that country forestry was more advanced than in England—much remained to be accomplished in order "to place forest management in Scotland on a sound economic basis." His expressions deserved all the more attention, because, from the kindness and hospitality he everywhere experienced, and from the pleasant character of his visit, he evidently wished to make the best of everything. Still, it was easy to read between the lines; and, while his Report was full of praise of the soil and the climate, the ability and the hospitality and industry of the people, it was clear that, in his judgment, the system of forestry was altogether archaic, expensive, and obso- 1542 lete. One fundamental difference between the management of woods and forests in England and France seemed to be that we planted, and then thinned, and then finally cut down the trees. The French foresters, on the contrary, made it an essential part of their system that the forest should renew itself. In this country, they observed, there did not exist "any link between the old forest and the new." M. Boppe mentioned, with much pathos, such a forest which he visited. The trees had all been cut down for railway sleepers; the ground was covered with the blackened remains of roots torn up and burned, reminding him of an "immense ossuary;" and the proprietor was replanting, at a great expense, and with much loss of time, both of which might, to a great extent, have been saved under a better system. Again, M. Boppe called attention to the presence of sheep as, in his judgment, inflicting a great injury on the Scotch forests, because they effectually prevented the trees from renewing themselves. Not that he would exclude sheep altogether. He observed that a forest required, say, 120 years to come to maturity, and that sheep ought to be excluded during the first 20 years, when the trees were still small, and also during the last 30, when they ought to be renewing themselves. This, however, left 70 years out of the 120, or more than half the period, during which sheep did no injury, and might safely be admitted. Moreover, he pointed out that, in a forest so treated, the young trees killed off the heather and gorse, and the herbage was thereby so much improved that he believed sheep could be more profitably kept in a forest so treated, than if they were allowed to be continually present. Another point of the greatest importance was the association of suitable species. No foreign foresters would think of planting oak by itself. But in our country, sometimes side by side, and on identical soil, there might be seen oak alone, sometimes larch alone, sometimes oak and Scotch pines, sometimes oak and beech, oak and larch, or oak and chestnut. It was clear that most of these were economical errors. The New Forest had been so mismanaged, and so much injured by the unrestricted exercise of the right of common, that it was said that 49,000 acres would before very long be nothing 1543 but a barren heath! Whatever difference of opinion there might be between British and foreign authorities as to the best management of woodlands, all were agreed in advocating the establishment of a Forest School. The Journal of Forestry had ably and persistently advocated this step. The Journal of Horticulture observed—That it is little less than deplorable to witness the miles of woods that are practically valueless from a commercial point of view; whereas under skilled supervision they might yield a substantial revenue to their owners, and in addition be an advantage to the trading and agricultural community.The same view was advocated by Colonel Pearson, who read an excellent Paper on the subject before the Society of Arts; by Mr. Brown, Mr. Griger, Mr. Boulger, and, in fact, he might say all our English authorities. Mr. Cruikshank, in his Practical Planter, summed up the matter very tersely when he said—Nothing is more common than to see trees, which are proper only for moist soil, placed in the most parched positions, and those which Nature has adapted for dry ground alone planted in swamps and morasses. Those species that would flourish on a light soil are often absurdly stationed in the most tenacious clays, where they can make but little progress; while those that would have attained a large size in stiff land are planted in gravel or sandy loam, as if for the express purpose of making them dwarfish, unsightly, and entirely worthless.All the great countries of Europe had established Forest Schools. Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, and even Roumania had done so. Great Britain was the only exception, and it was surely very remarkable that it should be so, when it was considered that this Empire was probably the most richly endowed with woods and forests of all the countries of the world. Our Colonies contained millions and millions of acres of forest land, much of it of very great value. It was estimated, on high authority, at not less than 340,000,000 of acres. Surely, then, the arguments in favour of establishing a Forest School in this country were very strong. He was, indeed, not clear that the establishment of a Government school was desirable. He understood that in future the Indian forest students were to receive part of their instruction at Cooper's Hill. For his part, he was sorry the Government had not taken a wider view of the question. It would be well worth 1544 inquiring whether some of the existing Colleges could not be made available for such a purpose. Possibly some arrangements might be devised by which, under careful regulations, the Professors and students attached might periodically visit our national forests. Of all our national woodlands those known as Lord Gage's Woods were, perhaps, the most suitable; and if the authority in charge of them could be appointed Professor of Forestry at Cirencester or Downton, perhaps that might be the best course to adopt. He, however, only threw it out as a suggestion. Surely, also, it would be desirable that Professors of Forestry should be appointed at our great Universities. Considering that so many of the landed proprietors of England were educated at these great Institutions, it was, to say the least of it, unfortunate that their attention should never even be directed to a subject in which they were so vitally interested. He did not mean that they should receive necessarily any thorough system of instruction in forestry; but the devotion of a very short time would suffice to give them an idea of the nature and the importance of the problem—of the manner in which it affected their interest—and the sources from which they might subsequently derive more definite information. It was, he feared, still true that, as the House of Commons Committee of 1854 reported, timber was "everywhere worse managed than any other species of property." Where, indeed, could a country gentleman with a few hundred or a few thousand acres of wood find anyone competent to undertake the management? Whore could he send his son so that he might learn something of forest management? Private enterprize could not supply the want, because it was absolutely necessary that a Forest School should have forests connected with it. In this respect, therefore, the concurrence of the Government was essential. There was one substantial difficulty, which, however, only brought out the more strongly the necessity for some such step. We had, M. Boppe declared, no single piece of woodland in the country which would serve as a model. Last year, when he (Sir John Lubbock) called the attention of the Government to this question, his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury promised to give it his serious considera- 1545 tion. He would respectfully urge him and Her Majesty's Government to appoint a Committee or a Commission to inquire into the whole subject. Averse as he was, on general principles, to Government interference with private enterprize, the objection did not seem to apply here. He did not, at present, ask for a Government school; it would be preferable, if it was possible, to utilize the national forests in connection with Cirencester, Downton, or some other similar institution; but he would very respectfully, but earnestly, press on the Government and on the House the great need of some such step, the result of which, he felt satisfied, would be that our existing forests and woodlands would be more remunerative; large tracts might be profitably planted; we should create additional employment for the people, considerably increase the incomes of our landholders, and make a substantial addition to the wealth and resources of the nation.
§ MR. CHEETHAM
said, he wished to question one or two points in the administration of the Office of Woods and Forests; and, by way of emphasizing what he had to say, he proposed to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,200. He would first refer to the case of the Crown Waste of Towyn Trewen, in Anglesea, over which the neighbouring freeholders and occupiers had, from time immemorial, enjoyed rights of common. Last year the Office of Woods and Forests offered the common for sale by tender, there being about 700 acres; and it was bought for £1 per acre by a speculative and enter-prizing individual, who at once fenced it round and built a house upon it. That high-handed action of the new lord of the manor had not been met by equally high-handed action on the part of the commoners. Instead of pulling down the fence and the house, these law-abiding people preferred to appeal to the law; and with the result of involving themselves in one of those costly suits which generally went in favour of the longer purse. Early in the Session he had presented a Petition, signed by nearly 200 of these commoners, complaining that the Office of Woods and Forests had not protected their rights. What was the justification the Office put forward for their action? They said they sold the common subject 1546 to all the rights of the commoners. He did not suppose they could have sold it upon any other condition; but what could be the value of a paper reservation that was powerless to prevent enclosure? Surely, to have enclosed the land would have been an invidious thing for the Office of Woods and Forests to attempt. But it was hardly less invidious to leave it in the power of some other person to carry out an in-closure. He thought that in such a case as this the principle of noblesse oblige must be held to apply with peculiar force. But the Waste of Towyn Trewen was not the only tract of Crown land in the Principality of Wales, and he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether this was a specimen of the policy that was to be pursued in other cases; whether it was intended to put up these properties for sale one by one, and to hand over these poor people to the tender mercies of the highest bidder? This case illustrated the disadvantage the House laboured under in being left without any direct oversight or actual control of the Department charged with the administration of Crown Lands; and he thought it would greatly conduce to the public advantage if transactions of this character had to pass the ordeal of a Standing Committee of this House. He would not, at that late hour, go into other matters; but he wished to say a few words as to the administration of the Department in another respect—namely, with regard to the management of leasehold property of the Crown in the Metropolis. The Office of Woods and Forests appeared to have no settled rule or principle of action in dealing with this property. At one time the land was offered for sale by tender, which was the method pursued by the Metropolitan Board of Works, and strongly recommended by a Select Committee of this House which investigated the Crown Lands administration 30 or 40 years ago; but at another time no tenders were invited or any public notice given that the lands were for sale. The negotiations were privately carried out. That was the course pursued in the Pulteney Street case, of which the House was cognizant through a Paper laid on the Table; and the result of that course was that by far the largest share of the property fell to the least suitable tenant. There was no certainty that under this system the best 1547 price could be got, or the best tenant. Then as to the machinery of the Office. There appeared to be no provision for the salary of the Crown Surveyor, whose name, indeed, he could nowhere find in the official list of the Department; but he had been told that that officer received, by way of remuneration, the first year's rental of the leases which he negotiated. If that was so, it ought to appear in the accounts as an item of the cost of administration. He hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would give some satisfactory explanation as to this official and his remuneration. It would be more satisfactory that all these sales should be conducted by some responsible official who held a recognized position on the staff of the Office, and not by professional persons who did not appear to have any ostensible connection with the Office. These were only two of the instances which might be adduced to show how unsatisfactory in many respects was the administration of this Office. The more these matters were investigated the more apparent would be the necessity for that inquiry for which he had moved earlier in the Session. After the attack that had been made he was rather surprised that the Department had not themselves courted an inquiry. He hoped his hon. Friend would yet see his way to granting the Committee that had been asked for inquiry; but, in the meantime, those who felt strongly on the matter must deem it their duty to take advantage of every opportunity of calling attention to the points in which the administration of the Crown Lands was defective; and, to mark his sense of the unsatisfactory conduct of the Office of Woods and Forests in the instances adduced, he should move the reduction of the Vote by £1,200.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £15,140, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments."—(Mr. Cheetham.)
§ DR. LYONS
said, he desired that nothing he was about to say should be taken in any way invidiously in regard to the distinguished officials who held the chief positions in this Department, 1548 for he had always received from them the greatest encouragement, and all the information available had been placed at his disposal, so that he had the most kindly feelings with regard to this great Department. This Office had grown up in a way it was not easy to understand, into a sort of compound agency for questions connected with mines, the disposal of house property in London, Crown estates, and other interests, much in the same way as an ordinary agency. In a small degree it represented the policy of the Government in regard to the forest interest of the country, but only in a very small degree. It was a kind of Departmental superintendence of woods and forests, in connection with other less important matters. It was being rapidly enforced on the public mind that in regard to one of the great interests of this country the Department had got its affairs into a very critical condition; and he hoped the hon. Gentleman who represented the Treasury would apply himself seriously to this question. In his own efforts to deal with this great question, he had been treated only to smiles; this important subject of the extension of the forests of these countries was looked upon with a certain kind of good-natured toleration, if not indifference—as a kind of "fad" of his; and the most he had been able to get from the Representatives of the Treasury, and also, he was sorry to say, from the Irish Office, and the different persons who were responsible in Ireland, had been good-natured smiles. But he believed that all great subjects with which the House was not previously familiar must pass through that phase. He had borne a good deal of good-natured banter on the subject; but the matter had forced itself upon the public mind in a way which could no longer be ignored. In India and some of the Colonies this question represented an enormous interest connected with the resources upon which the strength and capabilities of this great country might ultimately have to rest; and the question of our future timber supplies at home must be faced in a serious manner at the earliest possible moment. It was too generally supposed that the supplies of timber from abroad were practically inexhaustible, and were never to come to an end; but he had ascertained from the highest authorities 1549 on the subject—and the House could now judge for itself through the admirable Reports of the Foreign Office officials in Rurope and America—what was the real state of facts in the chief timber-producing countries. He was afraid these resources could be no longer relied on, and that henceforth those who wanted timber would no longer be able to look to America for continued sources of supply. There were 112,000 miles of railway in America; and as most engines were still fed with wood, beside the demand for sleepers, the consumption was enormous. With regard to the supply of wood from America, it was hopeless to expect that we should be able to get a large quantity from there in the future. The quantity would decrease by degrees, and the American people would find that they had need for all that they could grow, and would refuse to let us have any more. As to Canada, a similar description would hold good; but that question would require to be separately dealt with. [Ironical cheers, and cries of "Divide!"]
I must say I am altogether unable to see the application of the hon. Member's observations to the Vote before the Committee, which is that £16,340 be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments.
§ DR. LYONS
said, that, looking at the latitude the Chairman had allowed the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), he confessed he was tempted to go beyond the point the Chairman was entitled to allow him to overstep; but he would now confine his observations more strictly to the Vote before the Committee. Whenever this subject was carefully considered and discussed, it was universally conceded that the supply of timber in America, and in other countries, was barely sufficient, or would be, in the course of a very short time, barely sufficient for the domestic wants of these countries. We were the largest importers of timber in the world, importing, as we did, 29,000,000 cubic feet per annum, which, with the other forest products, reached the annual figure of £20,000,000 sterling; and the question which presented itself, therefore, was, whom were we to look forward to in 1550 the future for this supply? Every other country was awake to the knowledge of the fact that it would be its own duty to supply itself with the wood it required in the future. That principle was recognized in all the countries of Europe and in America—in fact, in every civilized country, with the single exception of the British Empire, which occupied the unfortunate position of being the greatest consumer of timber in the world with the smallest amount of land devoted to its growth at home. That being the case, it was a matter of vital consequence to us that in whatever direction efforts could be made they ought to be made to supply this great want. We spent £20,000,000 sterling on timber and other forest products; and it was a question where in the future that vast supply could be obtained. The Department of Woods and Forests in England should address itself seriously to this question as soon as possible, for it was beyond doubt that we would have to supply ourselves with a large portion of the timber we used in the course of a very short time. It was stated on the authority of those who were familiar with the subject that a large portion of the timber which was used for various industries in this country could be cut down from its seventh to the tenth year of growth. It was well known that for minor industries a great deal of timber did not require a larger period of growth than that. At the end of 25 years timber would have matured so as to be available for a great number of manufactures. As time went on of course the timber became superior and more matured, and capable of being used in various forms of architecture, and applied to other purposes to which sound matured timber was put. His contention was, that it would be possible for this country, in a comparatively short space of time, to produce a timber supply of its own. If there was one principle more fully established than another, it was that every country, looking at the general aspect of its soil and other conditions upon which a forest growth depended, could devote a proportion of from one-fourth to one-fifth of its area to the production of timber. Not only would this forest growth be of enormous value to the country from a commercial point of view, but it would improve the natural physical conditions of the land, for it would regulate the 1551 springs and water supply, which was a most material point, and one which was the subject of legislative enactment in Canada in this current year. This afforestation of the country would prevent an enormous waste of the nutrient materials of the land, now constantly swept away by the down-wash of the rains, and in many other ways would act in a beneficial manner. If they accepted the fact that from one-fourth to one-fifth of the surface of the land should be devoted to the growth of timber—[Ironical cheers, and interruption.]
I must point out that the question of planting large forests in this country, and of supplying ourselves with home-grown timber, does not come under this Vote.
§ DR. LYONS
said, he bowed entirely to the Chairman's decision. [Cries of "Go on!"] Some of the details to which he had alluded were to be found in the Report of the Woods and Forests Department which was connected with this Vote; and therefore it seemed to him that, in touching upon these matters, he was not going beyond his right. However, he did not for a moment challenge the Chairman's ruling. The Woods and Forests Department had a vast function before it. They found that it was devoted to the important duties to which he had endeavoured to call attention, and that for the purpose of carrying out these duties two Commissioners were appointed. The amount of the fund at the disposal of these gentlemen at the present moment was that contained in the Vote—the comparatively small sum of £23,340. What occurred to him on this point was, with all respect to the Commissioners, that the duties of the Office as they were at present discharged could be quite satisfactorily carried out by a single Commissioner. Here they had a remarkable instance of a great Public Department having two gentlemen in precisely parallel Offices discharging precisely the same class of duties—at any rate, the last printed Report published in 1883 did not show any difference in the duties—they had a remarkable instance of two gentlemen occupying the same position doing work for which one would be more than capable. It appeared to him that that was a waste of force and a waste of public 1552 money, particularly when they came to consider that neither of these gentlemen was specially qualified by education to discharge the duties which were regarded as so important in other countries in connection with the timber growth and the supply of timber. The more he looked into the matter, the more he was struck by the consideration that one superior official would be quite sufficient to manage all the work of this Department. The amount of land under the Commissioners was, unfortunately, not very large, the largest area of land of which they had the control being, so far as he could learn, the New Forest, which included 22,000 acres. In some countries the Woods and Forests Departments had to do with millions of acres. The great forests of Russia, for instance, comprised over 400,000,000 of acres; and, if he were not mistaken, France possessed something over 22,000,000 acres of forest, and other countries were supplied with timber in like but varied proportions—Norway, over 18,000,000 acres; Sweden, over 40,000,000 acres; Germany, 34,000,000 acres; Austria Proper, 23,000,000 acres; and Hungary, 22,000,000 acres. Looking at the small amount of land in England devoted to timber (only about 1,400,000 acres), and that our largest forest did not exceed 22,000 acres, it was idle to say that one Commissioner could not manage all the duties of the Office. He would also suggest that there should be a competent official selected without the least possible delay to take up the consideration of the extension of the forests which were especially under the charge of those two gentlemen. No doubt, the two Commissioners very ably discharged their duties at the present time; he did not for an instant bring any charge against them. He was speaking of the Department as a Public Department, and his complaint was not of individuals, but of the manner in which the whole Department had been permitted to be worked under successive Governments. No doubt the two Commissioners were as competent to discharge the duties which devolved upon them as they could be; but he was finding fault with the scope of those duties—in fact, with the whole construction of the Department, his contention being that it was altogether insufficient and inefficient for the 1553 wants of this great nation. He desired to see the funds of the Department properly applied. It was impossible for this country to maintain itself in the position in which it had so long and so honourably stood, without taking active and immediate measures to replace the forests which once existed in it, and which were so absolutely necessary, from every possible point of view, to the maintenance of her industries and to the welfare of the State. [Ironical cheers.] He saw the hon. Gentleman below (Mr. Courtney) treating him with his usual smiles. He regretted to find the hon. Member, notwithstanding the ability and energy which were so eminently characteristic of him in common with his countrymen, about the last to recognize the position in which the country found itself in regard to this great question. He always found the hon. Member, and some of those associated with him, looking coldly upon proposals such as he (Dr. Lyons) had been making. He should have thought that, even to the unbelieving mind of the hon. Member (Mr. Courtney), it would be apparent that, under the circumstances of the case, there was no necessity for the employment of a second Commissioner, and that the funds devoted to the Department could be better utilized in the remuneration of high-class skilled Forest Conservators, such as those who had raised the forest system of India to such a high standard of excellence and financial success within the lifetime of men still amongst us.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, he hoped that the hon. Member (Mr. Cheetham), who had moved the Amendment, would persevere with his Motion. This he (Mr. Bryce) regarded as the very worst of all the Departments of the Crown; and though he did not intend, at this hour of the night, to go into a long catalogue of its misdeeds, still he would remind the hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury that he by no means would get rid of the question, either by counting it out on a Motion on a Friday night, or by putting it off until a late period at night. The Department was grossly mismanaged — its whole course was marked by a succession of jobs. There was a great deal of suspicion attached to its action. [Cries of "Divide!"] Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite need not interrupt him and 1554 cry "Divide!" because they might rest assured it would not make the least difference to him. He could wait until hon. Members had done. The hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury knew, or ought to know, that there was grave dissatisfaction entertained regarding the way in which Crown property in London was managed. It was very difficult to fix responsibility, contracts being effected by middle-men; but he might say that the public was benefited neither by receiving the best available price for Crown land let or sold, nor, on the other hand, by the placing of that land with thoroughly good tenants. He would again urge on the Government the duty of acceding to the request which had been so often made to them for a full inquiry into the whole matter. If the Government did not make this concession to-night, he could promise them that this debate would be renewed in every Session of Parliament, whenever hon. Members had an opportunity of bringing it before the attention of the House. Constant complaints would be made of the mismanagement of the Woods and Forests Department until the Government permitted the whole matter to be thoroughly inquired into. It would only be fair to the Commissioners to let them vindicate their conduct before such an inquiry. It would only be just to allow them to endeavour to win back the confidence they had forfeited.
§ MR. COURTNEY
was understood to say that he hoped the hon. Member for Dublin (Dr. Lyons) would pardon him if he altogether failed to follow him into the subject he had so fully discussed. All he would say was that, if he could do anything in the way of putting the hon. Gentleman into communication with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, so that he might give them the advantage of his knowledge and experience in these matters, and ascertain from them the way in which the duties of the Department were discharged, he should be very glad to do so. As to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Derbyshire (Mr. Cheetham), he would point out that he (Mr. Cheetham) did not make out a case by bringing general accusations—however serious those accusations might be. To make out a case, it was necessary to descend to details. What he (Mr. Courtney) had ven- 1555 tured to say, when the subject was last under discussion, he now repeated, and it was that no case had been made out against the Department. Some little carelessness, on one or two occasions, might have existed; but there did not seem to be any ground for the suggestion now made of malversation of the funds of the Department.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, at all events, the accusations had now been unrooted to some extent. He had said at great length, in answer to the hon. Member for Derbyshire (Mr. Cheetham), that he could not recognize in the evidence sufficient ground for granting the inquiry asked for, and that statement he must now repeat. Whether, with more details and particulars before them than they now had, a case might not be made out, of course he could not say. It was stated that manors were sold, and that commoners were treated in an illegal way; and, bearing upon this, there were questions at present before a Court of Law. But it must be remembered that those who acquired property must be allowed to proceed to act in a way they believed to be an assertion of their rights; and their neighbours might take action against them on what they conceived to be a violation of their rights. A man who bought a house in the City could pull it down, and proceed to build a larger one; and if by so doing he obstructed the light of his neighbour, recourse must be had to a Court of Law. If the case of the hon. Member for Derbyshire (Mr. Cheetham) was anything at all, it was a case for an application to a Court of Law. The Crown could only sell common land subject to the settlement of the claims and rights of the commoners; and in this matter purchasers would have to defend themselves. The hon. Member for Derbyshire (Mr. Cheetham) had found fault with the administration of the Department in the Metropolis, because, in many cases, property was not sold by tender. He (Mr. Courtney) had stated that, as a general rule, it was let by tender; but in any case where previous tenants had, by long usage and relation, been connected with the Crown, if any claim to preference was allowed, it was allowed 1556 to them. The principle which had been adopted had been to give preference to old tenants. As to the remuneration given to the Crown Surveyor, it was understood that he got a year's rental for his services in dealing with property.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he did not think they did. As regarded the subject of a forestry school it had not been lost sight of; but it must be considered in connection with India, and he had been once or twice in communication with the India Office. In order to carry out such a scheme, and to justify so large an expense, it would be necessary to have the co-operation of the India Office; and they had taken the view that it was impossible to give instruction to their forest surveyors and forest men in England which would be necessary to qualify them for their duties in India. Whether it would be possible to come to some partial arrangement he could not say; but the subject had not been lost sight of, and there was a great desire on the part of the Government to promote the matter.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, he thought the Secretary to the Treasury had rather unfairly criticized hon. Members for not having gone into sufficient detail, for it was impossible, at this late hour, to go into detail. The reason why the Motion had been made was, that it was impossible, at this late hour, to fairly and fully discuss this matter; but he would recommend his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion. Although the Government had twice succeeded in stifling the discussion of this subject, he must tell the hon. Member that those who were interested would take the first opportunity, on some other occasion, of raising the question and having it fully discussed; and he thought they would be able to convince the hon. Gentleman that there was some reason in what they urged.
§ MR. CHEETHAM
said, he would withdraw his Motion; but, in doing so, he must say that he could hardly accept as satisfactory the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury. It seemed to him that the Government were bound to take some steps to safeguard the rights of the Towyn Trewen commoners.
§ MR. PULESTON
said, that, in the case mentioned in London, one tenant was favoured at the expense of other tenants, and nearly the whole of the property was allowed to pass into his hands. That, he held, was a case of miscarriage of public policy.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.