§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
I beg to ask the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. J. W. Lowther) whether he is aware that, although the Careswell Exhibitions Charity was originally intended to provide exhibitions to Oxford for poor Shropshire boys in certain fixed proportions from six schools in the county, the benefit has of late been reaped mainly by Shrewsbury school at the expense of the schools at Shifnal and other places which are more in need of educational endowment; and whether the Commissioners have it in contemplation to frame a scheme, under the Endowed Schools Acts, or otherwise, in order to remedy this state of things?
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
This case has repeatedly been under the consideration of the Commissioners, and has of late been the subject of correspondence with the Trustees and with the Governors of the schools concerned with a view to a scheme under the Endowed Schools Acts. The facts are substantially as stated. The boys intended for benefit were to be chosen "out of the most ingenious and deserving scholars" "of the least ability to maintain themselves" at Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Newport, Shifnal, Wem, and Donnington Grammar Schools, Shrewsbury and Newport having four exhibitions, the rest three or two. Under an order of the Court of Chancery made in 1861 exhibitions from a particular school for which there was no sufficiently qualified candidate were thrown open to the rest, and in the result Shrewsbury has obtained since 899 1866 41 exhibitions instead of 11, Bridgnorth 1 instead of 10, Newport 9 instead of 10, and Shifnal, Wem, and Donnington none instead of 9, 5, and 6 respectively. The schools at Skifnal and Donnington are now closed. The Commissioners have had it under consideration whether a division of the fund should be effected so that the candidates from schools frequented by a poorer class of scholars where the education is better suited to train them for Universities and places of higher instruction other than Oxford might no longer have to compete on unequal terms with candidates who have received a classical education, and so that the schools in question may not be diverted from their proper function by the influence of unsuitable examinations. But they have recently received from the Trustees a copy of an opinion by Her Majesty's Attorney General, in which he advises that they should request the Commissioners at his instance not to proceed with the scheme. The difficulties of the case, which are considerable, having thus been increased, the Commissioners are unable at present to say whether they shall proceed further with their proposals for a scheme.