HC Deb 14 April 1885 vol 296 cc1751-62

in rising to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to withhold Her consent from section 3 of the Scheme, now lying upon the Table of the House, for the management of the Endowments known as Muir's School Fund, Millar's and Peadie's School, Wilson's Charity School, M'Lachlan's Free School, and Graham's Free School, all in the county of Lanark and burgh of Glasgow, said, he had two Amendments on the Paper, and the first of these, which he now brought under the consideration of the House, related to a scheme involving the application for educational purposes of a sum of money amounting to between £50,000 and £60,000. It was proposed that the Governing Body under that scheme should consist of 17 members, and those 17 Governors were to be elected partly by the magistrates, partly by the School Board, and partly by the Trades' and Merchants' Houses. Those Bodies represented all classes of the community and all the religious sections of the population of the district; but in addition to the Governing Body to be elected in this way, the proposed scheme provided that five out of the 17 should be elected by the city ministers, and Kirk Sessions, and managers of the Established Church; so that five out of the 17 composing the entire Governing Body were to be elected by the Church. It was originally proposed by the scheme that no fewer than seven of the total number of Governors should be elected in this way; but, out of deference to the very strong remonstrances made to the Commissioners, that number was eventually cut down to the five now embodied in the scheme. The Commissioners asserted that they had no option but to do what they had done in placing upon the list of the Governing Body the number of Church representatives they had recommended, and that in doing so they were only obeying the Act of Parliament. In support of this allegation, they quoted Section 15 of the Act, which set forth that— In framing schemes, it shall be the duty of the Commissioners, with respect alike to the constitution of the Governing Body and the educational provisions, to have regard to the spirit of the founder's intentions. He (Dr. Cameron) did not at all dispute the dictum thus cited from the Act of Parliament; but he wished to point out to the House that the Commissioners were to have, under that Act, only the same respect to the intentions of the founders in the constitution of the Governing Body as they were to have to the educational provisions the Act contained; and it would be seen that, in drawing up these schemes, the Commissioners had adopted a very different latitude when dealing with the educational provisions to that which they had laid down for themselves in dealing with the constitution of the Governing Body. The first Amendment he had placed upon the Paper, and which he was now about to move, applied to the scheme relating to the educational endowments named therein, all of them being of comparatively modern date; but at the same time, with but one exception, they all belonged to a period before the Disruption, and before the extension of the parochial system in Scotland and the institution of popular public education. At the time the sums of money to be dealt with under the scheme were left, nothing was more natural than that those who bequeathed their property for educational purposes should have so bequeathed it as to have loft it under the supervision of the Kirk Session of the Established Church; because in the days when the majority of these bequests were made the Kirk Session of the Established Church constituted the authority for administering the education of the country; but since that time the whole system had been entirely changed. In dealing with the educational provisions, the Commissioners had been apparently actuated by a motive which had led them to make such arrangements as would enable the district to which the endowments belonged to derive the greatest possible amount of benefit from the money thus bequeathed for educational purposes. Actuated by that motive, they had disregarded, in all cases, the letter and spirit of the founders' intentions. Dr. Bell's Bequest to Glasgow contained a scheme for the purpose of encouraging, amongst others, the Madras system of instruction; but they had abolished all obligations to keep the Madras system of education. There had also been a bequest for the benefit of poor Highlanders; but the Commissioners had dropped the poor Highlanders. In dealing with the other Churches, they had exercised the same latitude with regard to the members intrusted with the administration of the endowments. One of the endowments was Maxwell's, and he contended that they should apply the same measure to the ministers of one Church as they did to the ministers of another. If they got rid of the Episcopalians and burghers, they ought not to have retained the Established Church clergymen. He entirely controverted the statement in one of the schemes on this point, and he said that any reason for getting rid of the Episcopalians, burghers, and clergymen existed equally with respect to the Established Church. The Established Church was well represented in the various Institutions of Glasgow; in the School Board, the University, and in the Trades House and the Merchants' House; and he could not see why matters should not be allowed to adjust themselves, and why, if it was desired to have clergymen on these Governing Bodies, they should not be elected like other citizens. That was his point; he objected altogether to their being elected as clergymen. They were told that clergymen were not elected; but he said that clergymen would be ex officio members of the Governing Bodies. The Vice President of the Council said that he had not had a statement of reasons in the Petition placed before him. That might be technically correct; but he would point out that in 1883 a public meeting was held in Glasgow, at which a protest was made against the constitution of the Governing Body under this scheme, and a long and elaborate Memorial to that effect had been signed. Another meeting was also held, and a further protest made and embodied in a Resolution which he had read to the House a few days ago. That Resolution did not crave for a representation of other Religious Bodies on the Governing Boards of the Trusts; but it objected altogether to clergymen, as clergymen, being placed as members of the Governing Bodies under these schemes, or clerical bodies, as such, being intrusted with the right of electing members. Out of a Board of 17, it appeared that no fewer than five were representatives of the Established Church.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to withhold Her consent from section 3 of the Scheme, now lying upon the Table of the House, for the management of the Endowments known as Muir's School Fund, Millar's and Peadie's School, Wilson's Charity School, M'Lachlan's Free School, and Graham's Free School, all in the county of Lanark and burgh of Glasgow."—(Dr. Cameron.)


said, that, in making the new arrangements for these educational endowments, the people of Scotland had made up their minds that the education should be national and not denominational. It might be said that the founders' intentions were being respected; but he did not think it would be found that secondary or technical education was assigned a very prominent place in the original bequests. If the purposes of the founders were altered in order to suit modern ideas, he thought the Governing Bodies should also be rendered suitable to modern ideas and modern necessities. It was the intention of the Educational Endowments Act to secure that these endowments should be made available for the purpose of secondary or technical education. It might be true that when the endowments were established, there were only clergymen to take charge of them; but that was no longer the case. The endowments themselves and their object having become national, there were now plenty of philanthropic people other than clergymen well qualified to see that the funds were disposed to the best national advantage.


said, he was obliged to his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow for the way in which he had spoken on this subject. He believed that no body connected with education had ever discharged their work so efficiently and with greater impartiality and fairness towards all parties concerned than this unpaid body of Commissioners. He believed it would be found that unpaid Commissioners could and would do excellent service in matters of this kind, and do it more ably perhaps than Commissioners who occupied a different position. But he was sorry that his hon. Friend had thought it necessary to challenge the two schemes now before the House, and in saying that he expressed his opinion that there never was a scheme challenged in that House on grounds of so little substance as in the present instance. There was hardly any substantial ground at all for challenging the schemes of the Commissioners. He did not say because the Commissioners had done their work well that therefore their schemes should not be inquired into or challenged; but he did think it necessary to point out that these two schemes had proceeded from a body entirely above suspicion, which had endeavoured to meet the wishes of those interested in Glasgow, and he thought that it was a little hard that their schemes should be challenged in that House upon such unsubstantial grounds as his hon. Friend had put forward. Under the Educational Endowments Act there was power to amalgamate a number of small schemes, making them into one considerable scheme, and forming them under one Governing Body. His hon. Friend had spoken of the antiquity of some of these endowments; but he had not told them that the principal endowment—Muir's—amounted to £800 a-year, and the total income from all the funds to £2,660 a-year. Mr. Muir, the donor in the case of the principal endowment, died in 1865; but his will did not come into operation until 1868, and under it £800 a-year was left to a Governing Body composed of 22 ministers and elders and three magistrates of the City of Glasgow. Then there were four other endowments amounting to £1,400, governed by ministers and laymen. Now, what was the scheme of the Commissioners? They had formed a new Governing Body of 17 members, of whom three were members of the Town Council, three of the School Board, two were magistrates, two were members of the University of Glasgow, two were members of the Merchants' and Trades' Houses, and one member was elected by the ministers of St. Columba Church. Now, that scheme had received the general approval of the citizens, although he knew that some objections had been raised to it by Nonconformists in Glasgow. It was thought that, having changed the Madras system of teaching to technical teaching, they might get rid altogether of the ministers. But the 15th section of the Act said that in framing schemes, it should be the duty of the Commissioners, with respect to the constitution of the Governing Bodies and to the educational requirements, to have regard to the spirit of the founders' intentions." It was one thing to change the method of teaching, and another thing entirely to ignore the persons into whose hands the founders committed the trusts. He did not think there could be any objection to the Governing Body as was now proposed, of which six members belonged to the Town Council and School Board, two to the Senatus of the University, and two to the Trades' and Merchants' Houses—in fact, 12 out of the 17 were laymen and persons deriving their qualifications from membership of public bodies. No representation whatever had been received from Glasgow in reference to this scheme, nor had any objection been lodged at the Educational Department with regard to it. He hoped his hon. Friend would not persevere with his Motion.


said, that the hon. Member for Glasgow had brought a charge against the Commissioners of partiality towards the Established Church of Scotland; but if the composition of the Commission were taken into account, he thought that no one would ever suspect them of any partiality of that kind. As he had the honour of being a Member of the Commission, he wished to say that the Commissioners were not in the habit of inquiring into each other's ecclesiastical tendencies; but, so far as he knew, there were on the Commission only two members of the Established Church, and certainly the other five were quite capable of looking after the interests of other denominations. The work intrusted to the Commissioners was the re-organization of educational endowments in Scotland; and that had been described more fully as extending the usefulness of educational endowments in Scotland, and carrying out more fully than was done at present the spirit of the founders' intentions. As had been stated, the Commissioners were enjoined by the Act of Parliament to have respect to the spirit of the intentions of the founders, not only in the educational provisions which they should make, but also in the constitution of new Governing Bodies. Now, it had been said that they were not dealing with these endowments in the same way as education was dealt with under the Act of 1872, in which the religious element was neither prescribed nor proscribed. But they were not to be guided by the lines of the Education Act. Parliament had given them a special Act for their guidance, and in doing so it had in view the difference between rate-supported schools and endowments provided by the beneficence of individuals. In the construction of the Governing Bodies for these endowments, the Commissioners had been instructed by the Act that, except under special circumstances, a certain number of Governors should be appointed from Town Councils and other public bodies, and with regard to the remainder of the Governors they were left to consider who would most properly represent the founders' intentions. In that way they were thrown back on the object of the trusts as declared by the founders, and on the composition of the original body of trustees. That was their duty with regard to any new Governing Body which they had to devise. Then as to the schemes which were brought before the House in this Motion, it had been found expedient to amalgamate certain endowments and treat them as a single scheme. That, he was bound to say, was not an idea of the Commissioners only, but it had been recommended to them by those in Glasgow who were interested in these trusts. They had also received a large amount of assistance from the trustees of these different endowments in constructing the Governing Bodies. It might be asked why they had presented two schemes for the endowments enumerated in the two Motions of the hon. Member, and why they had not one scheme for the whole of these endowments? The reason was simply this—that there was not only a certain difference in the destination of the endowments as expressed by the founders, but also a marked difference in the original Governing Bodies named by the founders. In the first group of endowments mentioned by the hon. Member the City ministers had the principal share in the management, and in the second group the Town Council was principally represented. It was unnecessary to repeat what had been already stated by the right hon. Gentleman as to the composition of these Governing Bodies as proposed in the schemes; but he would point out that the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had made a mistake in his reference to Muir's Trust. It was true that the money was given to the Lord Provost and other functionaries of Glasgow to hold; but who were to be managers of the trust? Those who were to have charge of it were to be City ministers and elders. It was thoroughly a Church trust, although, as he had said, the money was to be held by the Lord Provost and two magistrates. Muir's was the most important endowment of the group. The other endowments were all more or less connected with the Church, with the single exception of the last one named—namely, Graham's Free School—and with regard to this there was special representation given on the Governing Body. The hon. Member for Glasgow had passed from that group to a second, called the City group, and had brought objections against the scheme with respect to which he thought it necessary, notwithstanding the late hour, that he should offer a few words of explanation. It was said that the Commissioners had been blameable in not giving representation in the new Governing Body to two Episcopalian and two Burgher ministers who were members of the M'Lachlan Trust and the Maxwell Trust. It would be a serious charge against the Commissioners, he admitted, if they had done any injustice to those reverend gentlemen; but, as a matter of fact, these two trustees, in each case, represented one-seventh only of the original body of trustees. Again, the two trusts named represented only one-seventh part of the group of endowments in which they were now merged by the scheme, so that the complaint was that representation had not been given to one-seventh of one-seventh—or to one 49th part. But the entire Governing Body only numbered 21, and the Commissioners were obliged to assign 14 of the 21 members to the Town Council and School Board. Then, again, objection had been taken to Bell's Bequest being treated in the scheme. Now, in regard to Bell's Bequest, an arrangement was made by the Town Council in 1833, and confirmed in the following year by Parliament, by which the sum of £381 was paid every year among 10 schools—to a school in each of the 10 parishes of Glasgow—and all that the Commissioners proposed was, that so far as these schools were still in operation, and still under Government inspection, the small grant of £33 to each of them should be continued.


We do not object to that.


understood that that was part of the objection of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron). On the whole, he (Mr. J. A. Campbell) hoped that the House would be satisfied that there was really nothing in the hon. Member's objection. It was founded on the idea that the Commissioners had not been dealing equal justice to all parties. That was an entire mistake.


said, he should not, at that time of the morning (1.35), occupy the House more than a few minutes. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), who had submitted this Motion to the House, could not have reflected upon the precise terms of the Educational Endowments Act, or he would not have brought this Motion forward. He (Mr. Ramsay) had acted as a Member of the Commission from the first moment of its existence. Now, he was a Nonconformist; but he did not consider it his duty to endeavour to secure religious equality—as it was termed—in all the new Governing Bodies that had been formed. The object of the Act was very briefly stated in the Preamble. The Act was passed for the purpose of carrying out more fully than at present, the spirit of the founder's intention, and it was required that with respect to the constitution of the Governing Body the Commissioners should have regard to the spirit of the founder's intentions. He would like to ask any Member of the House how, when funds were left to be administered by clergymen of the Church of Scotland, it would be possible to carry out the spirit of the founder's intention with regard to the constitution of the Governing Body if they neglected to consider the claims of ministers of that Church to form part of the Governing Body? If, in consequence of their own personal feeling against the Church of Scotland, the Commissioners had prevented the clergy of that Church having any voice in the administration of such funds, he felt that they would have acted very improperly. It was essential when anyone was appointed to adminster an Act, that they should have regard to the provisions of the Act, and to that Act only. It was said that the Commissioners were bound to give heed to religious equality. The Commissioners, however, were appointed to administer the Educational Endowments Acts, and to that they were bound to confine themselves. He failed to see, therefore, any advantage that could accrue from the House throwing over this scheme. Although he was an advocate for religious equality, he certainly did not feel, when he accepted the position of a Member of the Commission, that he was to act upon his own religious or political opinions. He hoped the House would not assent to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron).


said, that he was Chairman of the preceding Commission to the one which had brought forward this scheme; and this subject underwent inquiry by himself and Colleagues, including the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House (Mr. Ramsay). The Commissioners were pleased to record their opinion, that in putting ministers upon these trusts, the founders had in view some security for the religious education according to the use and mode in Scotland. He thought that the present Commissioners had done nothing more than their bare duty in carrying out the Act of Parliament, in keeping a certain proportion of ministers upon the trust; and he thought it was particularly the case with regard to the foundations in Glasgow, where ministers had been put on foundations in a very large proportion. No doubt it was the case with regard to many of the local trusts, that ministers had been selected as public men, and not with any regard to a particular religion. This, however, was not the case with regard to a large number of the trusts, and especially with regard to the important trust with which the House was now concerned. In his opinion, the Commissioners would have failed in their duty if they had not kept the desire of the founders in view. He might have his opinion that there would be every security for religious education just as much if ministers were not on the trusts, as there would if they were. No doubt, to some extent, this might be the case; but it was not in the eyes of the public. He did not think that in the eyes of the public of Glasgow there was the same security for religious education when ministers were not upon the trust as when they were. He considered that the intentions of the founders had been very properly carried out; and therefore he trusted the House would reject the Motion of his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron).


said, he was bound to point out to the House that the complaint made by his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) was not that any injustice had been done to any of the Churches who had not been included in the Governing Bodies under the new scheme. What the hon. Gentleman complained of was, that this Act should be made a means of continuing sectarian differences in Scotland, and maintaining the ascendancy of the Established Church. It was quite true that possibly ministers of the Episcopal Church would not be entitled, in every case, to have representatives on the Governing Bodies; but that was not the point. What the people of Scotland desired to have was religious equality, and they were disappointed that this Act should be made the means of continuing sectarian differences and sectarian privileges, especially when the objects of the founders could be equally obtained by a purely representative body. That was the apprehension which some Gentlemen entertained when the Bill was passing through the House, and they stated their views very distinctly on the question. What had taken place was that the clerical element had received a greater amount of consideration, in many cases, than the people of Scotland desired it should have. Now, he found that the two principal objects of Muir's Trusts were the education and clothing of boys, and the assistance of parents having boys in the school. That intention of the pious founder had been disregarded; and he maintained that the clerical element had received a much greater amount of consideration than the objects warranted. In his opinion, his hon. Friend was entitled to make this protest against the continuance of religious distinctions under a recent Act of Parliament. He trusted that his hon. Friend would go to a division.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 8; Noes 50: Majority 42.—(Div. List, No. 100.)