HC Deb 29 June 1891 vol 354 cc1730-823

Order for Committee read,

*(4.5) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

rose to move— That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to make provision, in the case of districts where there exists no school under public control, for the introduction of the principle of local representation in the supervision of schools receiving the fee grants. The right hon. Gentleman said: There has been expressed on this side of the House a strong wish that no delay should take place in passing the Elementary Education Bill into law; and I may, therefore, be fairly asked why, if that is our desire, I am interposing this Motion between the Second Reading and the Committee stage of the Bill. The answer is a very simple one. The grave question dealt with by the Motion—one of the gravest questions in this controversy—could not have been raised during the Debate on the Second Reading without challenging the Second Reading, and, in fact, voting against it. Nor can it be raised in Committee without the previous sanction of the House. I have, however, a justification for this Motion of a far broader character than any simply technical rule of procedure. We are about by this Bill to make an addition to the permanent expenditure of the country, and that involves an addition to the permanent taxation of the country by a very large sum of money. That sum can by no economy ever be reduced, and my desire, hope, and expectation are that it will be increased. It represents, as my right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division (Sir G. Trevelyan) put it, 1d. in the £1 on the Income Tax; or it represents half of the Tea Duty. Now, Sir, I think that before making so large an appropriation as this of the public money, Parliament is bound to subject that appropriation to conditions which would insure, not only that the money should be efficiently and economically spent, but that the expenditure should not impose any injustice on any section of the community. A new departure in policy is about to be taken. Parliament is accepting the principle that the entire cost of the elementary education of the country shall be defrayed from public taxation and from private contributions. But there is so enormous a disproportion between the amount raised from the Public Treasury and the amount contributed by private beneficence that the prospect, not in the distant, but in the immediate future is that an overwhelming proportion of the cost of primary education is now about to be finally placed on the Public Exchequer. To appreciate the extent of the grant which Parliament is about to make, and to appreciate the justice of the demand which the Motion involves, I must ask the House for a moment or two to look at the figures. We cannot appreciate the policy of this question without thoroughly and clearly understanding the financial aspect of it. The maintenance of the public elementary schools of England and Wales, exclusive of any payment of money borrowed for the erection of buildings and for the sinking funds in respect of such loans, is £7,500,000 per annum, in round figures. I propose throughout to use round figures, but I will use them as fairly as I can, and I shall be glad of correction if I make any misstatement. That cost of £7,500,000 is defrayed to the extent of £4,500,000 by grants from the Exchequer and from the local rates, leaving £3,000,000 which have been defrayed by the parents and by voluntary contributions. But of that £3,000,000 less than one-third—less than £1,000,000—is raised by voluntary subscriptions and endowments. The proposal of the Government is to give an additional subsidy from the State of 10s. per head on 3,750,000 children at present attending school. That will absorb £1,800,000, and practically, in a short time, £2,000,000. Therefore, taxation will find £6,500,000 and voluntary effort £1,000,000. I think a mere statement of the figures justifies what I said about the disproportion of the amount raised by the State and the amount contributed by the voluntary effort. These totals include Board schools, but, to state the case fairly to the denominational schools, the Board schools must be excluded. The voluntary schools deal with 2,250,000 children, and their income is £4,250,000. Of this sum £3,250,000 are raised out of the Public Treasury and from the parents, and less than £1,000,000 is contributed by private donors. The proposal now is that the fees paid by the parents, amounting to upwards of £1,250,000, shall be paid by the State, involving an increase in the income of the voluntary schools of nearly 22 per cent. The proposal, put into plain figures, is that the voluntary schools should have an educational endowment of £1,250,000, and that means raising the public grant from 50 to 78 per cent.; and the proposal, as the Bill stands, is that the management of these schools shall be left precisely in their present position. The representatives of those who provide £3,250,000 ought to have some voice in an expenditure affecting them both as taxpayers and parents. I know it will be said that there is a control exercised by the Education Department in respect of the contribution made out of the Parliamentary grant, but I cannot accept, and I say no financial authority would accept—not even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, outside of this question—the visit of an Inspector once a year, whose main duty was to see after the education of the children, as a financial control and a financial check upon the expenditure. No one will dispute the general principle that public money involves public control. That is a cardinal principle of this country's taxation, and a principle which the House ought never to tamper with. Money raised by general taxation ought not to be handed over to a private organisation which is neither nominated by the Crown nor elected by the people. But there is a special peculiarity about this case. This is money levied upon taxpayers of all religious opinions, and it is handed over to the managers, practically, of one religious opinion, for the purpose—no doubt honourable and beneficial in itself—of promoting that which is in accord with their own religious convictions. I am not now asking in this instruction that this principle of public control should be applied in every case. What I ask the House to do is to affirm the principle in the case of districts where there exists no school under public control. I am not asking the House to affirm the principle in every case in large towns, such as London and elsewhere, where there is a choice of schools, but that in a district where there is but one school, and that school is a denominational school, where the parents are compelled to send their children to that school or to go to prison, and where the State is about to add 30 per cent. to the income of that school, the representatives of the public, who would include the representatives of the parents, are entitled to take a share in the management of the school to which the children are compelled to go whether they like it or not. That is in accordance not only with justice, but with the rule of this House, even in regard to matters of less serious importance than this. For instance, the shareholders of the Manchester Ship Canal have spent upwards of £10,000,000 on their undertaking, and when they asked the city of Manchester to lend them £3,000,000 more this House said:—"You shall not have the money unless you give the people of Manchester a share in the management of the affair and some control over the expenditure." This is so self-evidently fair, and so in accord with the past history, that the onus of disputing the proposition rests rather upon those who dispute it than upon those who maintain it. We have had the advantage of this Debate being anticipated, and statements have been made by two Members of the Government, both of whom, I regret to say, are absent this evening. The first was the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty, who anticipating that the present Motion would be made, gave a singular reason why it should not be adopted. I assert," said the noble Lord, "that it would be impossible to give the ratepayers control over an institution unless the rates were liable for the maintenance of that institution. That was a very extraordinary statement to be made by a Member of the Government which brought in the Local Government Act. Under that Act we have placed in the hands of representatives of the ratepayers large sections of the Imperial Revenue, portions of the Probate Duty, and a share of the duties levied on spirits and on beer. The amount of money which we have placed under the control of the ratepayers is to be counted by millions, raised by national taxation. The effect of our subsidies and subventions under the Local Government Act is that at this moment the entire cost of the County Police of this country is defrayed out of taxes voted by Parliament, while the entire administration is left in the hands of the Local Authorities. Again, the Government of which the noble Lord is a Member, brought in and passed a very beneficial and important Act which forms a precise precedent for this case—the Technical Education Act of 1889. That Act authorises the Local Authority to aid in supplying technical education, or it re-enacted the Conscience Clause in the most stringent form, and provided that— Where managers of a school receive aid the local authority should, for the purposes of this Act, be represented on the governing body of the school in such proportion as will, as nearly as may be, correspond to the proportion which the aid given bears to the contribution made from all sources other than the local rate and money voted by Parliament. Somebody may say that the answer to this is that it is a question of rates. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Hon. Members opposite cheer that. I thought they would. But in 1809, £1,000,000, raised by the Spirit and Beer Duties, was granted to County Councils for the purpose of technical education, and they received intimations that the Government and Parliament would enforce the legitimate and righteous appropriation of that money. There you have an instance of money given by the State, and raised by general taxation, administered by the Local School Authority and by local representatives placed upon the Board for the purpose of assisting in administering the money. I might go on and deal with the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill, but I will leave that question to my hon. Friend below the Gangway (Mr. T. Ellis). But that was not the real objection; the real objection is not that the money is raised by the rates. It is a good fighting objection, no doubt; and if it had been used before 1888 it might have passed muster. The real objection to my Amendment was stated by the Secretary of State for War, who said— The right hon. Gentleman urges that our best security is to establish a system of what he called the local supervision. We all know what a moderate amount of control means. It means the thin end of the wedge in order to obtain a more complete scheme of control. The right hon. Gentleman went on to object to the proposal on the ground that it involved universal School Boards, and that universal School Boards meant an enormous increase of the rates, and that that meant the destruction and abolition of religious teaching. Some hon. Members opposite suffer from what I will call "School-Boardphobia," and hate School Beards almost as much as they hate the London County Council. They think you ought to keep a School Board out of a neighbourhood as yon would keep out a pestilence; that you should stamp it out by every means; and they employ the usual arguments that School Boards necessarily increase the rates, and are an obstacle to religious instruction. Now, Sir, I am happy to think that School Boards will stand or fall upon their own merits. Two-thirds of the people of this country are under School Boards, and I maintain, and I say it without fear of contradiction, that these institutions are doing a noble work and that their expenditure has been a laudable and beneficial expenditure. Hon. Members opposite are ready and willing to lavish money on national defences, but the work which the School Boards are doing forms no small part of our national defences—defences against evils of the most deadly and dangerous character. Hon. Members jeer at the increase of the rates. For my part I do not think the goodness or badness of local government depends on the increase of rates any more than hon. Members opposite think that the goodness or badness of our military and naval defence depends on the amount expended upon it. I am not in favour of diminishing rates when they are wisely spent. In a previous Debate an hon. Member went into the question of the increase of rates and he said he found that the result of establishing universal School Boards in West Ham would be to increase the rates, by 4s. in the £1, and he said he would like to see any hon. Member advocating the establishment of School Boards at the expense of such an addition to the rates. So should I, but I do not think that such a courageous man is to be found either in this House or elsewhere. Now, according to the local taxation returns, the rateable value is £751,000, and a shilling rate will produce in round figures £35,000. Therefore, an addition of 4s. to the rates would be an addition of £140,000. That was to be the cost of establishing a School Board. Then I looked at the returns furnished by the Education Department, and they show that there are 22,000 children in the Board Schools of the borough; the cost is up to the London average, and the rate is 1s. in the £1. Then, how many children are there in the voluntary schools? You would suppose there would be upwards of 100,000, for if you educate 22,000 children for 1s. rate, to require a 5s. rate you would have five times as many children in the voluntary schools as you have in the Board schools. Well, Sir, in the voluntary schools of the borough there are less than 2,000 children— indeed, there is only accommodation for 1,600 in those schools, so that the increased cost of carrying out the scheme in this place would involve really a very small increase of the rates. On the most liberal calculation you could not estimate the enormous calamity that would fall on the town if you had all the children in the School Board schools at more than a 1½d. rate. But there is a more important personage even than the hon. Member for West Ham, who has dealt with large figures in this direction, and that is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). A short time since the right hon. Gentleman said that the cost of sweeping away the voluntary schools and replacing them by Board schools would amount to upwards of £50,000,000. I was startled at those figures, and I put a question to the Vice President of the Council on the subject. I asked him what had been the cost of the elementary voluntary schools in connection with the National Society and the Church of England which had been built between 1839, when the grant first commenced, and 1882, when—as I understand the evidence before the Royal Commission—the building ceased. What was the answer? It was perfectly fair and full, and it was that when the grants in aid of the building of voluntary schools had come to an end, 5,676 schools in connection with the National Society or the Church of England had been added, with grants to the extent of £1,500,000, the amounts subscribed by the promoters being £4,296,000, showing that the total cost of sites and buildings, between 1839 and 1882, had been £5,811,904. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that at this rate the total cost of the accommodation for 2,651,000 scholars supplied by the 11,854 national schools would amount to £14,580,000. The criticism I would pass on those figures is this, that the most expensive schools were built between 1839 and 1882. I believe that in 30 per cent. of these schools there are less than 60 children in average attendance. The expenditure on these schools would be smaller, especially in those days when men were struggling in the cause of national education, and made the best of things. But, on his own calculations, the right hon. Gentleman opposite puts the entire cost at only £14,500,000. Now, we are asked to assume that by the establishment of Board schools every Church of England school will be shut up. But I do not think that is at all likely. I do not believe the clergy or the people of the Church will allow it. The people of the Church who are ratepayers of the parish will see that the schools are let to the School Boards during secular hours and otherwise utilised. Therefore, I am inclined to take off a large discount for those purposes. I will submit the figures I myself arrive at—and it must be understood that I am not arguing in favour of the abolition of voluntary schools, but I say that in using an argument which depends on figures, we are bound to test the figures and see whether they are correct. When you have it on so high an authority as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that so much as £50,000,000 would be required to replace the voluntary schools by Board schools, you are bound to examine into the matter as far as you can to see if the figures are correct. I put the cost of the procedure—which I am not advocating, and which I do not think is likely to take place—at a much less sum than £50,000,000. I have gone into the figures very carefully myself, and I believe that on the fullest calculation the total cost of sweeping away the voluntary schools and establishing Board schools in their place would not be more than £12,000,000, and that the additional burden on the country imposed by such a sweeping change—such an educational revolution—would not exceed £2,000,000 a year. In this way: the payment of principal and Sinking Fund in respect of the £12,000,000 would cost £408,000—or put it at £500,000 as an extravagant estimate—you would have to replace the cost to subscribers, which I put at £1,000,000; and you would, no doubt, increase the cost of education, and I put that at £500,000. I am open to contradiction, but I put it fairly to the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the additional burden by the change would not be more than£2,000,000 a year. Then it is contended that my proposal would destroy the voluntary schools, but why? I think on the contrary, that the admission of popular control would strengthen them. It would strengthen the management. One of the highest educational authorities in the country, before the Royal Commission, said, speaking of the managers, "There are always three nominal managers, but in point of fact one generally does everything."

MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)

Who was that authority?


The Rev. Prebendary Roe. And the Royal Commission in their Report speak in strong terms of censure, I am happy to say, against this system. In the majority Report it was stated that— There are a very large number of schools, especially in thinly populated districts, in which the management eventually falls into the hands of a single manager, frequently the clergyman of the parish. I say that to add to that manager representatives of the parish would not be to weaken the management, but to strengthen it. A new interest would be created in the parish, and everybody who knows anything of public life in this country knows that, from the Treasury Bench down to the most insignificant Local Body in our villages, directly you give a man a sense of responsibility he applies himself to the work before him impartially and in a public-spirited manner. The idea of hon. Gentlemen opposite is that to elect representatives of the parish upon the Boards of Management would be to admit the foes of the voluntary schools to those Boards. I say that it is not so, and that the body which would be elected would be one which would strengthen the management and improve the schools. It has also been urged against my proposal that it will destroy religious teaching, and I feel bound to say that this argument has been more unfairly used than any other objection which has been raised. There are, according to the Report of the Royal Commission, 2,225 School Boards in England and Wales; of those only 7 in England and 50 in Wales dispense with religious teaching. In Wales the number is larger than in England, because of certain special peculiarities among the people, which hon. Members fully understand, but no one will charge the Welsh with being indifferent to religious teaching. The Majority Report of the Royal Commission said on this point that— All the evidence is practically unanimous as to the desire of the parents for the religious and moral training of their children. But hon. Members opposite are afraid of the parents. They say the parents cannot be trusted in the matter of religious teaching. I affirm, however, that religious teaching cannot be destroyed. The House of Commons cannot destroy it. If we pass an Act rendering it illegal it would be impossible to carry it out, for public opinion would not permit it. My noble Friend the right hon. Member for Rossendale went yet a step further in regard to this point. In a remarkable speech which the noble Lord made a few days since he said— If you tell us that the measure for establishing free education is incomplete because it does not establish popular control over all schools, I say that I can rejoice that their legislation should be incomplete. I say that they as a Government are wise in defeating the schemes of those who, much as they might love free education, hate religious instruction more. My noble Friend is not present; if he had been I should have challenged him to get up and say what Party in this House or what section of Her Majesty's subjects hate religious education. If those words were directed against the Non-conformists—for they are supposed to be the class who are most interested in raising this question—I should be unable to characterise the charge without using language which you, Mr. Speaker, would not permit me to use on the floor of this House. The history, the homes, the lives of the Nonconformists of this country are a complete refutation of the imputation that they are indifferent to much more—that they hate religious education. Hon. Members will agree with me when I say that the noblest development of religious education in this country has been our Sunday school system—a great work in which the Anglo-Saxon race all over the world has been proud to follow England. The Nonconformists claim a large share in the accomplishment of that work, and on that ground also I repudiate the charge that the Nonconformists of England and Wales hate religious education. I wish to draw attention to one other point. It may be asked, How do you propose to carry out this instruction? I answer that that is not a question for the present stage of the Bill. It is not unusual, when you are asking the House of Commons to affirm a principle, to endeavour to have a red herring thrown across the trail by discussing details on which there may be every variety of opinion. I am not asking the House to put the stamp of their authority on any one scheme; I am asking the House to sanction a principle. If that principle cannot be carried out, then the principle is gone. It will be for the House to determine what will be the fairest and the wisest and the best way of carrying the principle into practical operation; and I frankly say I have no intention of complicating the Debate or weakening the issue by the discussion of varieties of details with reference to which perhaps hon. Members would not be agreed. To adopt this principle would promote efficiency and economy. In support of that I would quote the authority of a great educational expert, Lord Sandford, who, in a special note to his Report, having proposed that there should be an additional grant to voluntary schools out of the rates—and we are now going to make an additional grant out of the taxes—declared that the ratepayers of the district should be represented to a limited extent in the management. But it is not efficiency and economy only. The main reason is stronger, and it is this: that the present system of management and conduct of our voluntary schools inflicts a serious wrong on the conscientious convictions of a vast number of the parents of the children. Now, there are no schools under popular control available for 10,000,000 of our population. They are bound, whether they like it or not, to send their children to schools of one religious complexion. I am going to take Stockport, which has been already referred to in the Debates on this Bill, as a case which justifies the interference of the House in legislation of this sort. I deny the assumption that national education, paid for out of the Public Purse, is a private preserve for any number of managers of any number of schools. There is no public school at all in Stockport; there are 22 schools in the borough, all of them voluntary. They have a total income of £16,000, of which £7,200 comes from the parents and £8,500 from the Exchequer; but when this Bill is passed the whole sum will come out of the Imperial Exchequer. And the voluntary system works remarkably well; of course it does under such conditions. The Royal Commissioners were very much interested in this case of Stockport, and they had the Chairman of the School Attendance Committee before them. One hon. Member put this question— I find there are four schools in Stockport maintained without any voluntary subscriptions at all? And what was the answer?— We generally expect that the schools shall be self-supporting with the Government grant and with the children's fees. It is an exceptional circumstance for anyone to have to subscribe to schools within the borough. And we are told the voluntary system-works remarkably well in Stockport. But besides Stockport there are 37 towns where there are no School Boards. Let me ask the House to note the subscriptions and the fees in these cases. In 1876 the average fee charged to the parent was 11s. 8½d., and the average subscription per head was 7s. 1½ in 1889 the fee charged to the parent had risen to 14s. 2d., and the voluntary subscriptions had decreased to 4s. 3d. That is the working of the voluntary system! At the same time grants increased by 4s. 3½d. per head in those 37 towns. There are 1,176 schools in England where there is no subscription at all, and in Wales the fee grant under this Bill will exceed the amount paid in fees by £20,000. I find from the admirable letter of the Bishop of Wakefield in the Times that in such towns as Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Birkenhead, and Preston the average voluntary contribution to the voluntary schools is only 3s. 6d. per head. I ask the House, as a question of abstract justice, what right have the people who only subscribe 3s. 6d. per head to claim the exclusive control and management of these schools? My right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Sir W. Hart Dyke) stated that the percentage of subscriptions to voluntary schools was increasing very largely.


Not largey.


Well, where are they increased? In 1880 the voluntary contributions to Church of England schools were £587,000, and in 1889 £582,000, a decrease of £5,000. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic subscriptions were £54,000 in 1880 and £67,000 in 1889. The Wesleyan subscriptions have increased by about £1,000, and the British have risen from £79,000 to £83,000. Therefore, the bulk of the increase—and I am glad to see that increase—is not in the bulk of the schools with which we want to deal. I say that towns like Stockport are entitled to free schools under representative control, and, if you withhold them, there is a tenfold need for representation in the supervision of the voluntary schools, which monopolise a whole locality, and maintain their monopoly by the use of public money. There are 10,000 parishes where the children are compelled to attend schools belonging to the Church of England. Is this a grievance? The Majority Report of the Commission, which was signed by Viscount Cross, the Bishop of London, Dean Gregory, and Cardinal Manning, say this— After hearing the arguments, we have come to the conclusion that in schools of a denominational character, to which parents are compelled to send their children, the parents have a right to require an operative Conscience Clause, so that care he taken that the children shall not suffer in any way in consequence of their taking advantage of the Conscience Clause, and that, inasmuch as the parents are compelled to send their children to school, it is just and desirable that as far as possible they should he enabled to send them to a school suitable to their religious convictions or preferences. That is my case. The Conscience Clause is not operative, or the Royal Commission would not have said there was a necessity for one that is operative. The Minority Report says— Moreover, we have received evidence showing that among Nonconformists of all descriptions the system is regarded with deep resentment as being inconsistent with the elementary principles of religious liberty and as inflicting on themselves and large districts of the country great hardship and injustice. I say that both Reports, therefore, indicate that there is dissatisfaction with the working of the present Conscience Clause. The Minority Report says that the present Conscience Clause, though rarely violated, is not operative, and is wholly ineffective, and that the protection it is supposed to offer to parents, whoso children are attending schools where the religious instruction is contrary to their religions belief, is illusory. I grant that the Conscience Clause is not violated in the letter, but it is in the spirit. Out of 2,000,000 children attending national schools, 8,000 children only claim to avail themselves of the Conscience Clause. How many Nonconformists are there among the 2,000,000? I will take the Sunday-school test. There are 5,200,000 children in attendance in Sunday schools in England. Of these 2,200,000 belong-to the Church of England, 1,650,000 are Methodists, and 1,110,000 are Congregationalists and Baptists.


Whore does the right hon. Gentleman get these figures?


From the Minority Report. There are about 2,250,000 attending the Church Sunday-schools and 2,750,000 the Chapel Sunday schools. Dr. Dale gives the figures for the children attending Protestant Sunday schools, between the ages of 7 and 14, as Church schools, 1,500,000, and Nonconformist schools 1,750,000. He gave the number, between the same ages, attending day schools, excluding Roman Catholics, as 3,000,000. Therefore, there must be a number of children who are compelled to attend day schools who go to the Dissenting Sunday schools, and, therefore, do not claim the freedom of the Conscience Clause. The Secretary of State for War was very indignant at the use of the word "persecution," but I will give him some figures from, the county which he represents—Lincolnshire. In that county I am told that Nonconformists feel very acutely the pressure, not "persecution," to which they are subjected. I am informed that in six typical parishes in Lincolnshire the following figures are shewn: in one parish there are 188 children in the national schools, 137 being Nonconformists; in the next, 90–74 being Nonconformists; in the next, 100–80 Nonconformists; in the next, 58–44 being Nonconformists; in the next, 233–133 Nonconformists; in the next, 90–64 Nonconformists. In these schools you have 759, of whom 534 belong to the Nonconformists. In Lincolnshire the Methodists have 28 day schools, with only 6,251 children, but in their Sunday schools they have 58,000 children. Where do they go on the week day? Between 30,000 and 40,000 surely are compelled to attend the schools of the National Society. The Chairman of the School Attendance Committee at Lutterworth, Canon, admitted that one-fourth of the children attending the day schools were attending the Sunday schools, and he added that only 12 children in Leicestershire were withdrawn under the Conscience Clause out of 29,000. The Report of the Commissioners shows that a large number of complaints came from the parents in all parts of the country. One witness said that the children were cautioned against attending places of worship; while the Rev. Charles Williams, President of the Baptist Union of England, said that to claim the protection of the Conscience Clause was to expose the children to trouble and inconvenience. Another witness for the Trades Council of London, a working man, said the children would he marked if the protection of the Conscience Clause were claimed. There is, I am sorry to say a great deal of political pressure put upon them. Nonconformist means Liberal, and often the national school means the Primrose League; besides, in every village the ladies take a prominent part in political life. As a consequence children are boycotted, and parents do not choose that their children should be boycotted. ["Oh!"] An hon. Member contradicts me. The invidious cases appear trifling, but any one who knows school life will appreciate the hardship. Take one told me by a friend of mine—it was the case of a boy who went up for the first prize, which he had won at the national school sports. The clegyman said, "I am very sorry. I cannot give you the prize; you do not attend the Church Sunday school." Now, will anybody justify that? Would any of you allow your boys at Eton or Harrow to be put at a disadvantage because of the religious opinions of their parents?

SIR J. COLOMB&c.) (Tower Hamlets, Bow,

Will the right hon. Gentleman say where this occurred?


No; I will not. My friend who gave me the information is a man of property in the parish, and he wrote to the clergyman informing him that if he treated Nonconformist boys in that way he would, at his own cost, erect another, and of course a rival, school in the village. The clergyman wrote asking him not to do so, and stating he regretted what had happened; it was the act of the curate. But, Mr. Speaker, there is another question still more serious than the question of social distinctions—that is the nature of the teaching to which the children of Nonconformist parents are exposed. It is repugnant to me to bring this subject before the House; and although I have some strong cases in the Catechisms before me, I will not use them. ["The Kilburn Sisterhood."] Yes, the Kilburn Sisterhood. The great dividing line in this country between the Church of England and the Nonconformists is the strong feeling entertained by the latter against Sacramentarian and Sacerdotal teaching; and without going into details affecting the subtle mysteries of these disputed questions, any one acquainted with the religious opinions of Nonconformists will see how unfair it is to teach their children doctrines from which they dissent. This class of teaching, happily, little children do not understand; but here is a Catechism containing teaching which they do understand, and which I am informed by the head of the Wesleyan Education Department is in considerable use in national schools. Let me give one or two quotations— We have amongst us various sects and denominations who go by the general name of Dissenters. In what light are we to consider them? (A.) As heretics; and in our Litany we expressly pray to be delivered from the sins of 'false doctrine, heresy, and schism.' (Q.) Is, then, their worship a laudable service? (A.) No, because they worship God according to their own evil and corrupt imaginations "—[cries of 'Oh!' and laughter]—"and not according to His revealed will; and therefore their worship is idolatrous. (Q.) Is Dissent a great sin? (A.) Yes; it is indirect opposition to our duty towards God. (Q.) How comes it, then, in the present day that it is thought so lightly of? (A.) Partly from ignorance of its great sinfulness, and partly from men being more zealous for the things of this perishing world than for the Lord of Hosts. (Q.) But why have not Dissenters been excommunicated? (A.) Because the law of the land does not allow the wholesome law of the Church to be acted upon"[laughter];"but Dissenters have virtually excommunicated themselves by setting up a religion of their own, and leaving the Ark of God's Church. (Q.) What class of Dissenters should we be most upon our guard against? (A.) Those who imitate the most nearly the true Church of Christ. (Q.) Why so? (A.) Because we are more liable to be deceived by such, the points of difference being apparently few and unimportant, whereas the very circumstance of their being Dissenters shows that they have fallen from the unity of the Church Catholic, and consequently are not in a state of salvation. (Q.) But are there not some Dissenters who use the same form of prayers as ourselves? (A.) Doubtless; but the prayers of the Church, being for the most part for the priests to offer up in behalf of the people, it must be sinful and presumptuous for those persons who are called Dissenting teachers to address the Throne of Grace, usurping the priestly office. (Q.) Is it wicked, then, to enter a meetinghouse at all? (A.) Most assuredly; because, as was said above, it is a house where God is worshipped otherwise than He has commanded, and, therefore, it is not dedicated to His honour and glory; and besides this, we run the risk of being led away by wicked, enticing, words. At the same time, by our presence, we are witnessing our approval of their heresy, wounding the consciences of our weaker brethren, and, by our example, teaching others to go astray." [Cries of "Oh!" and laughter.]


In what school?


In numbers of schools.


Name one.


These children are taught the sinfulness of their parents and the wickedness of going to chapel. I am sure hon. Members opposite do not sanction these things which are carried on; but we want to throw the light of public opinion upon them, in order to put a stop to this one-man management system.


What school?


I must ask the hon. Member to cease interrupting me.

MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)

None of us has ever heard what school it was.


These little children, taught in this way, are the sons of peasants, farm labourers, miners, colliers, iron-workers—people by whom the Bible is honoured. These men are many of them Sunday schoolteachers and preachers—and good preachers, too—yet their children are taught to believe that their parents are not in a state of salvation. I will recall a sentence used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer— It was not necessary to be a Dissenter to be able to appreciate the grievances of Dissenters. No answer had been given to the question put by his friend (Mr. Bright), that if there were 500 schools managed by Dissenters, would they as Churchmen pass a compulsory power for the children of Churchmen to be sent to these schools. No Conscience Clause would satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite. I say no Conscience Clause would satisfy us in this case. At one of the largest gatherings of Wesleyans ever assembled in London a resolution was carried stating that after an experience of 20 years the Conscience Clause had, to a considerable extent, proved a failure. I will read the resolution. It is as follows:— 9.—That the experience of 20 years has shown that the Conscience Clause has, to a considerable extent, proved to be ineffectual and unreal as a protection for parents and children against religious intolerance and oppression; that, moreover, in not a few day schools of the Church of England, religious intolerance and bigotry of an exceedingly offensive character are systematically taught the scholars during the hours set apart for religions instruction by means of a special Catechism, such as it ought not to be possible to teach in connection with any public school of the nation; and that the way of appeal to the Education Department against such grievance is difficult, tedious, and often altogether unavailable. Last week they re-affirmed the resolution, and urged that some provision should be made in the Bill now before Parliament to try and remedy these grievances. My point is, that so long as we have denominational schools carried on in 10,000 parishes, and so long as the public find three-fourths of the money, the public have a right to say that those schools should be carried on fairly justly with regard to the Conscience Clause. There is another grievance, relating to pupil teachers. They are prevented in a large number of districts from entering the teaching profession at all. In large districts of the country children cannot be sent to be apprenticed at Board schools, and the only chance for them is at the national schools. That is a real grievance. In 10,000 parishes the children of Nonconformists cannot pursue the teaching profession. I am not proposing this Instruction as a complete remedy, but only as a step in the right direction. I shall be told, I suppose, that this is an attack upon the Church of England. I deny that altogether. The Church of England rests upon a deeper and more lasting foundation than any exclusive privilege, Parliamentary enactment, or national subsidy. The Church of England, with her magnificent resources, her unrivalled opportunities for doing good, is strong enough and great enough to repudiate the delusive, treacherous, and dangerous aid of sectarian intolerance and unworthy ecclesiasticism. Not one single step has been taken in the way of religious toleration, not one single fetter by which the action of the Church of England has been struck off, but a cry has been raised that the Church is in danger. I would appeal to the noble Lord the Member for the Darwen Division whether ever in the long period of its history the Church of England was greater or more powerful for good than it is at present. I was reading only yesterday that charming book The Life of Archbishop Tait, and I saw in it that when the Burials Bill was under discussion one eminent Prelate said that if it became law it would be the burial of the Church of England. The Church of England will be the stronger, the better, and the more powerful for what I propose. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know as well as I do that the present system cannot last. Even if the Nonconformists were a much more insignificant body than they are this system must come to an end. I will read to the House what is more applicable to this Debate, and much more forcible and eloquent than anything which I could say. I refer to the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, who the last time a question of this sort was before the House said— Who are the persons to whom I have been referring? Are they persons of whose footings, sympathies, and prejudices the House ought to be negligent? Are they persons as to whose interests no respects ought to be entertained in this House? I will not go into religions topics. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, I know, have a monopoly of regard for religious education. But I would repeat what my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) said on this subject. The Nonconformists are the descendants of those men who formed their congregations, not out of the ranks of the Established Church, but by going into the haunts of ignorance, poverty, and crime, in times when the Church Establishment was less careful of religious instruction and education than it is now. But if I may not speak of religion, I may speak of liberty. I say these Nonconformists are men to whom in this country we owe a great deal politically. Almost every advance in liberty, from the time of the Stuarts to the time of the Reform Act of 1832, has been in a great degree promoted and assisted by the exertions of the Nonconformists. It is to them, as much, if not more, than to any other body in the country, that we owe the blessings of that free Constitution which, on both sides of the House, we prize so highly. These are the men whose feelings and prejudices cannot be safely neglected by either side of the House. I should have thought, if not justice, at all events generosity, would have led those having at their command a powerful majority in both Houses of Parliament to consider carefully the feelings, and even the prejudices, of these men, and when they knew that a measure would be distasteful to them they would have imposed it with the greatest consideration and forbearance. The noble Lord then comes to the question of School Boards, and he says— The establishment of School Boards is, in the eyes of many of us, the redeeming feature of the Act of 1870. There are many of us, and I do not scruple to say I am one of them, who believe that the principle of School Boards is the right and true principle in this matter. We believe that being the right and true principle, it will in the end prevail. We believe that when once the time has arrived that Parliament bus declared that the education of the country is the business of the country, it becomes inevitable that sooner or later State education must be in the hands, not of individuals, but of representatives of the people. Sir, these words express our position. Lord Hartington never led the Liberal Party in a truer sense than when he uttered those words, and when he had the staunch support of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is another statesman to whom I will allude before I sit down—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman in 1885 said voluntary schools, as well as Board schools, should be made free, and that to meet the cost an additional grant should be provided. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—and this is the ground on which I ask for his support—that the present position of the voluntary schools is anomalous, and that in every case there ought to be some popular representative control of the schools during school hours. I have endeavoured to state the case frankly and fairly. I have free authority for every allegation I have brought forward. I have been precluded from mentioning names and places for reasons which will be well understood; but even should there be an indisposition to receive my statements, I am quite content to rest my case on the evidence given before the Royal Commission, as proving that the working of the system of national education, so far as denominational schools are concerned, is very unsatisfactory. I would only say, in conclusion, that we are now about to write a new chapter in the history of our national education. I ask the House to erase from the first page of that history everything that savours either of intolerance or injustice. Surely the time has arrived when the education of the people of this country should cease to be the battlefield for contending parties and for rival churches. I appeal to hon. Members opposite, and to hon. Members on this side of the House, to elevate this great national duty into a loftier and purer atmosphere. We all believe that there is nothing so vital to the stability, nay, to the very existence of the Empire, as the character and the conduct of her citizens. We all believe that no greater curse could cast its shadow on our future than the growth amongst us of an ignorant, immoral, and irreligious population. We all believe that our surest safeguard against that dire calamity is our national education. We are now about, in the name of the people, on behalf of the people, and, I believe, with the full consent of the people, to give an enormous subsidy for the completion of that magnificent enterprise. If that enterprise is to be crowned with complete and lasting success it must be undertaken, maintained, and carried out with unfaltering impartiality, with even-handed justice, and with a scrupulous regard for the conscientious convictions of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects.

Motion made, and Question proposed' That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to make provision, in the case of districts where there exists no school under public control, for the introduction of the principle of local representation in the supervision of schools receiving the fee grants."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

(5.34.) MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I think that any one who looks at the Notice Paper, and considers the number and the character of the Amendments which appear upon it, will be at some difficulty to reconcile them with the professions of eagerness and enthusiasm for free education which we have listened to from Members on this side of the House. Certainly, if all those Amendments are to be discussed at anything like the length with which other stages of the Bill have already been discussed, it is hardly possible that the Government will be able at the same time to keep its pledges to the House with regard to the end of the Session, and to carry this Bill. I certainly do not impute any sinister motive to my right hon. Friend, to whose eloquent and able speech I have listened with so much pleasure and interest. I know enough about his action and his opinions with regard to education to be perfectly certain that so far as he is concerned he is earnestly desirous that this Bill should pass, and that if he cannot improve it he will take it as it is. My right hon. Friend desires that free education should be secured to the country at the earliest possible moment. Although that is his desire, I must point out to him that the effect of his Amendment would be altogether different. My right hon. Friend knows perfectly well that the great body of the friends of denominational education—whether rightly or wrongly I do not say—do, as a mutter of fact, resist to the uttermost the idea of having popular control forced upon them in connection with this subject. If, therefore, my right hon. Friend were to be successful, and if the House were to adopt the proposal which he has made, the flood-gates of discussion and of controversy would at once be reopened, and it is absolutely impossible that a measure so altered could be passed in reasonable time. What is the principle of the Bill? It is to give free education without disturbing or altering the status of denominational schools. Then the Amendment of my right hon. Friend is an Amendment against the principle of the Bill. It is an Amendment which will be destructive of the Bill; and my first observation is this, that my right hon. Friend, and those who think with him, would have been more consistent and more candid if they had voted against the Second Reading, instead of proposing this Instruction, because the Instruction will certainly have the same effect as a vote against the Second Reading would have had. My right hon. Friend referred to the opposition of hon. Members opposite. He said very truly that they opposed free education when it was suggested in 1885, and they have been taunted with inconsistency because now they are prepared to support free education. But it is evident that the reason why they opposed it in 1885 was because they believed it would be fatal to the denominational schools. I think I know something about this opposition of the Conservatives. [Ironical Opposition cheers.] Yes, because I was the chief promoter of free education in 1885, and I am entitled to know who were my opponents. I say, with the exception of a few who held the contrary opinion, the great majority of the Tory Party opposed my proposals distinctly on the ground that they would destroy denominational schools. The reason why they support them now is because the Government have produced a scheme which will not destroy the denominational schools, but which will keep them in the position in which they are at present. My right hon. Friend proposes that the Government should turn round and sell its friends, and that it should adopt his proposal, which would destroy denominational schools. I am not saying that my right hon. Friend may not be right, but I say that he is wrong if he wants free education now. I have really tried to place myself in the position of my right hon. Friend. I believe he desires free education and approves it for its own sake. I believe he desires the control of public elementary schools. Perhaps I agree with him in both; but I say he cannot have the two together. That is as clear as the multiplication table. Therefore, my right hon. Friend has to say whether he will take the one without the other. There are some hon. Members, like my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Illing worth), who, I believe, might say, "I will not have free education without control; I believe that without control it would be injurious rather than the reverse." He would have been perfectly consistent in voting against the Second Reading of the Bill and in voting for the Amendment. But I cannot understand how my right hon. Friend can support a line of action which is altogether inconsistent with what I believe is really his desire. I think that when my right hon. Friend comes to consider the Parliamentary conditions of the subject he would prefer, even without any attempt at control, that the Bill should go through as it is, and give to the country free education. There is a party that goes further. My right hon. Friend quoted a passage from a speech made by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). I am sorry that my noble Friend is not here to speak for himself. I do not know whether he was correctly reported when he said that there were some persons who hated religious education more than they loved free education. If my noble Friend did say that I think he would admit that the circumstances did not justify that language. But probably what he meant to say, and what I should say, is that there is a party in this House and in the country which hates the Church more than it loves free education, and which does not care so much to improve the schools as it does to injure the Church. That is the party which demands, which is consistent in demanding in all circumstances, that this opportunity should not be lost, and that free education should be used as an instrument in order to obtain control of the schools which they believe will damage one of the great bulwarks of the Church. I do not agree with them. I doubt very much whether those schools are, as at one time they were, a religious and political bulwark of the Church. But, be that as it may, all who hold that opinion ought to have voted against the Second Reading of the Bill, and I defy them in the country to explain the vote they are going to give on this Instruction as anything but a vote against free education. As to the merits of the question of control, my right hon. Friend quoted a passage from a correspondence I had with the Dean of Wells on this subject. I adhere to every word I said then. Undoubtedly, in my opinion, upon the merits of the question there is a case to be made out for a greater control than is at present possessed. Take some of the cases put before the House by my right hon. Friend—the case of Stockport, for instance. Reference has also been made to the case of Macclesfield, which is, I believe, one of the towns where it is said that Church schools will suffer because the fees received are more than the 10s. fee grant, and it is supposed that they will not be able to collect the difference. What is the state of things there? From the Return moved for by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), I find that there are six Church schools, with an average attendance of 2,123 children, and the subscription in those schools averages 1s. 7d. per head, or about 4½ per cent. of the total expenditure. There is the case of Chesterfield, where two schools are given. The average is 1s. 9d. per head, or less than 5 per cent. of the expenditure. Every one must admit that such cases as these are anomalous cases. Here is a school receiving 95 par cent. of its expenditure from public money, and claiming the whole of the direct administration. There is certainly a considerable control exercised by the Department. My right hon. Friend gave an illustration which I think not altogether good. He asked whether there was any case of the Government contributing the whole of the cost and not having the whole of the management. I should certainly say that the Government is in some respects in the position of a department which contracts; and where a department contracts for a man-of-war or a gun, it does not supervise the management or administration of the factory, but it does supervise the article turned out. It sees that the article is in accordance with its specification, and then it is satisfied. But I agree with my right hon. Friend that the case of schools which are receiving 95 per cent. or even more of public money, and in regard to which there is no direct control, is not a strong one. I maintain that these schools will either have to do more in the way of subscriptions, or will have to admit, in some shape or other, of more public control. This does not apply to the Church schools alone. If I take the case of Macclesfield, for instance, there is a Wesleyan school, where the subscriptions only amount to 10d. per head, or less than 2½ per cent. of the total expenditure of the schools. The time has come when the managers of voluntary schools, especially of those which are in this weak position, should bear in mind their responsibility, and should consider whether it be not possible, without injuring any object which they desire to secure, or any interest which they desire to maintain, to allow some form of representation on the management. I believe that in many cases this has voluntarily been done. What I want is that this principle should be voluntarily extended by the schools themselves; and I warn managers who are in the position of the managers to whom I have referred that unless they deal with the question voluntarily they must expect that Parliament will, some time or another, interfere. I say, then, that there are cases where a strong case may be made out for a greater measure of control, on the part of the State, of the secular instruction given in those schools. Now I come to the point which impressed me in 1885, which led me to make the proposal I then made, and which leads me now to welcome the Government's Bill. However desirable this public control of voluntary schools may be, it is impossible, as a matter of policy, to secure it by forcing it on the voluntary schools. I will make this clear to hon. Members who may disagree with me. In the first place, I must go back to a point raised by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord G. Hamilton), which my right hon. Friend has entirely misapprehended. The noble Lord said, "If you are to have local control of these schools you must have local contributions. My right hon. Friends say, 'No,' because there are cases where there is local control and no local contribution." That argument does not meet the point. Suppose you have a school which is now supported partly by £100 a year of voluntary subscriptions. Suppose you force on that school local management and the result is that the cost is in, creased by £100, either because the managers insist on paying more to the teachers, or on reducing the fees, or in improving the appliances, where is the increased expenditure to come from? Are yon going to impose this expenditure and then expect the voluntary managers to find the money? If you increase the expenditure you must be prepared to meet it. You may put it on the rates or on the State grant; but the latter alternative is impracticable, because the State grant cannot take account of local and individual circumstances. Therefore the money must go on the rates. That is one difficulty. There is a second reason why I believe that it is absolutely impracticable at the present time to enforce this control against the managers of voluntary schools. Of course my right hon. Friend questioned my figures, and said that they were very greatly exaggerated. Let me take his own. For building grants he says that £14,000,000 is the cost of the denominational schools up to 1882.


Up to 1890. Taking into the calculation all the schools existing up to that date, the cost is £14,500,000.


My right hon. Friend is proceeding on the assumption that when you have substituted a State system for the voluntary system the schools are not going to cost any more than under the voluntary management. But that is a great assumption. If you are going to have Board schools you must pay the price for them. If you have Board schools you must pay what they have already cost the ratepayers, and they have cost £12 per head of the accommodation. You have accommodation for 3,600,000 children; multiply that by £12, the cost for site, buildings, playgrounds, and for the appliances necessary, and that gives a total of £43,000,000—I said, speaking roughly, £50,000,000: I was wrong. £43,000,000 is the exact sum. It is useless to tell the ratepayers that they can get £43,000,000 of worth for £14,000,000. Whatever the reason may be—whether it be that the voluntary schools were not so good, or that the requirements of earlier days were less, or that the Board schools are less economically managed—the fact remains that for every child you take out of the voluntary school and put into another school you will have to pay £12 a head as a building grant to begin with. That is not all. In his calculation, my right hon. Friend makes the same mistake with regard to the annual expenditure. The average attendance in the voluntary schools is 2,250,000; and the annual cost of Board schools is, roughly, £2 6s. per head. That gives, in round figures, a total annual cost of £5,250,000 as necessary for educating in the Board schools the children now in voluntary schools. Of course, that is not all extra. You must deduct the amount to be paid by the grant in aid of fees. That is £3,120,000, and the net extra charge will therefore be £2,080,000 per annum. Hon. Members may have their own opinions as to what the country will stand. My right hon. Friend suggested that it would not be necessary to have a substitute for the existing school buildings, because they might be leased to the School Boards. If they are leased at a fair rent, the cost is the same calculated at a rental or as interest on the original cost of the school. But I very much doubt whether, without legislation, which would be very unusual and unprecedented, the managers of these schools, who have contributed very largely to their erection with a definite object in view, will consent, when that object is taken away, to let the schools be used for the purpose of education. They will prefer to retain them entirely for their own purposes. If this matter is fairly put before the country, you have to tell the ratepayers that if they want Board schools instead of voluntary schools they have to find something like £40,000,000 in cash and an extra rate of £2,000,000 a year. I do not believe that the people of this country are prepared to pay that price for what is only a counsel of perfection. I have not found that there is any great popular feeling on the subject of control of the schools. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] There is a very strong feeling on the part of a certain section of the Nonconformists, which my right hon. Friend represents so ably; but I do not think it is a widely felt desire, or the sort of desire which would induce the country generally to put their hands into their pockets to the extent which I have described. But there is another difficulty in the way of my right hon. Friend. We have been told that there is a good time coming after the General Election, and my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Sydney Buxton) said that his Party was going to win the next General Election. I will assume that his prophecy is correct, and I ask him whether he is in the mood to prophesy the majority which he will have. If he only has a majority of 100 or 150, he cannot carry any measure enforcing control over the voluntary schools, because, if he enforces control over the voluntary schools, he will have to meet, not only the strenuous opposition of the friends of the voluntary schools who are Churchmen, but also the strenuous opposition of the Wesleyans. [Cries of "No!"] Yes, ask Dr. Rigg. And, more important still, he will have to meet the strenuous opposition of the Roman Catholics. I do not quite know what is the Wesleyan vote in this House, but I do know what the Roman Catholic vote is. After the General Election my right hon. Friend will have to count for his majority on the Irish Party. We do not know yet what the composition of that Irish Party will be. We are told that the hon. Member for Cork will only have an infinitesimal following; and, if so, there may be 75 Members following the hon. Member for Longford. The party which follows the hon. Member for Longford after the next General Election will be a clerical party. Every one who sees what is going on in Ireland has ascertained that; and we know perfectly well that the Church which these hon. Members will represent, and whose efforts will return them, will not listen to any proposal for establishing popular control over voluntary schools. Suppose my right hon. Friend has, however, a normal majority of 150. The first time he raises the question his majority will turn over to the other side, and there may be another General Election, in which it may be open for me to hope for, or to prophecy, a majority in another direction. My right hon. Friend, before proposing such an Instruction, ought to have considered this practical result. It is nonsense to go to the country and say you are going to obtain control over the voluntary schools when you know that in no conceivable circumstances will you have the power to obtain it. In 1885 I saw the difficulty so clearly that I made the proposal to which my right hon. Friend has referred. I said, "Let us separate the question of the control of denominational schools from that of free education. You won't give us control over the schools, and we are not strong enough to take it from you. Give us free education, and we will say nothing about control over the schools." That is the proposal which I made in 1885, and that is the proposal which the Government make now. It is a proposal which, if my right hon. Friend is desirous to see free education put into practical shape, he ought to be the first to accept. This Amendment of my right hon. Friend's is a mystery. Has the House looked to its wording? It is a very peculiar Amendment indeed—a remarkable Amendment, that may have results which I may assume are altogether unexpected by my right hon. Friend; for if a man of his candour had expected the results which I am going to show, he would himself have told them to the House. The right hon. Gentleman takes credit for generosity. He says—"Do not think I come down to ask for the whole of this principle. I believe the principle is right; it is a sacred principle that there should be popular control wherever there is public expenditure; that sectarian schools should be administered by popular representative authorities. That is a universal principle; but I am too generous to ask you to apply it in all cases. All I ask is for a little concession on your part. I ask you to give me this principle in those cases where there is no choice of schools—in those districts in which there is no School Board and no Board school." Was there ever anything more incomplete and imperfect than a proposal of this kind? To begin with, it shuts out from what my right hon. Friend calls "justice" all the large towns in England and a great part of Wales. In every district where there is a single Board school there will be under the Instruction no popular control of denominational schools. Take the case of Preston, where, I believe, there is no School Board and no Board school. Supposing Preston creates a School Board ad hoc and establishes one Board school, it would thereby exclude from popular control every denominational school in the borough. Does that give choice to the people in Preston? The Board school would perhaps hold only one-fiftieth of the children, and the other schools would be "unjustly" treated, in order that the one-fiftieth may have the small and tender mercies of my right hon. Friend. Again, the Board school may be built at one end of Preston; why should not the people living at the other end of Preston also have the choice of a free school? But has my right hon Friend a secret object? There is a curious fact connected with his strange proposal, and that is that under it five-sixths of the Church of England schools would have to submit to popular control, while not one in 100 of the Catholic, Wesleyan, or British schools would have to submit to it.


The Wesleyans have already asked that the principle of popular control may be applied to all their schools.


I do not see that that has any thing to do with my argument. Have the Roman Catholics asked that the principle may be applied to their schools? Under this Instruction the managers of Wesleyan schools are not obliged to accept the principle in one case in a thousand, and the Roman Catholics will be equally free from control of that kind. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will now answer tins question. Was he aware that this would be the result of his proposal?




My right hon. Friend candidly says "Yes." Then why did he not tell us so? I will tell the House why. This is really a most interesting discovery, and I must go back to the previous Debate on the question of free education. On February 21, 1890, there was an Amendment moved to the Address in favour of free education, and this question of control came up. At the very end of the Debate, when there was no time to take notice of the matter in the course of further discussion, my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne got up and made a most remarkable statement, in which he defined the position of his Party. He said— Our position, I think, is this, that when a school is intended for all, it should be managed by the representatives of the whole community. Where, on the other hand, the school claims to be for a section of the community, as, for example, the Roman Catholics or the Jews, it may continue to receive public support as long as it is under the management of that sect. That, of course, is the Scottish system; it works wed there, and without any friction. Yes; but it is not the English system, although my right hon. Friend thinks it ought to be. The Member for Newcastle proceeded to say— That appears to me to be a position which we, and even hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, may consistently take up. That is the principle on which I shall vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham, and it is upon that principle and on the general advantages, which have been dwelt upon in this Debate, to be gained in the cause of education itself, that we support the Amendment. Thereupon the Member for West Belfast rose in his place and said— I wish to say that I accept the declaration just made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, speaking on the part of the Liberal Party, that the vote on this Amendment for the principle of free education does not close or even prejudice the rights of conscience, but allows us to maintain the principle that when a school is under the management of persons of a particular creed, it must still remain under that management after the system of free education has been adopted. Accepting that principle, and recognising the authority of the right hon. Gentleman as the spokesman of the Liberal Party, I shall have no difficulty in voting for the Amendment. I should think he would not have any difficulty. This little arrangement, which was called the "New Concordat," met with very little support from any Party in the country, and the Nonconformists passed resolutions denouncing any such unfair compromise. I have not seen any cause for believing that they have now changed their opinion. I do not think they will consent to anything so monstrously unfair as that the schools which stand most in need of public control should be allowed to escape it in order that my right hon. Friend may conciliate his political allies. On what ground are you going to make a difference between Roman Catholic and Protestant schools? The latter are notoriously less sectarian than the former. I suppose everybody in the House will agree that the teaching of the miserable catechism which my right hon. Friend quoted is a monstrous abuse, and ought not to be allowed, but I say that the teaching in the Roman Catholic schools is quite as sectarian, if not more so. Why, then, should the schools in which that catechism is taught be brought under popular control, while the Roman Catholic schools are left alone. There is no possible distinction which you can make between the Roman Catholic and the other denominational schools and the Church schools that tells against the latter and in favour of the former, and an Amendment of this kind is, in my opinion, an uncandid and, I may almost call it, a dishonest Amendment. It is directed against a particular set of schools, and all others are to be allowed to go absolutely free. The right hon. Gentleman is in this position. His Amendment is an unfair Amendment which it is evident he cannot justify, or he would have told us what its effect would be. I thought, perhaps, he had accepted it from somebody else more accustomed to Parliamentary tactics, and that he himself did not perceive what the actual result of carrying it would be, but we have his absolute assurance he was aware of it, although he kept it to himself, I say it is an unfair Amendment, and I am surprised the right hon. Gentleman should have for one moment supported it. If popular control is to be applied it must be applied to all schools alike, and if it is to be so applied you cannot carry it through this House, at all events under present circumstances. Before I sit down I wish to refer for a minute to a very important communication which has appeared in the Nonconformist newspaper, in the shape of a letter from my friend Dr. Dale. Everybody in this House knows Dr. Dale, and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that the Nonconformists of this country never had a more courageous, a more consistent, a more able and eloquent exponent of their views than Dr. Dale, whom, perhaps, some hon. Members might call an extreme man. Dr. Dale is in favour, strongly in favour, of disestablishment, of the separation between religious and secular instruction, and, indeed, of the old programme of the National Education League. But Dr. Dale is a practical man, and he is able to see what is possible and what is impossible under existing circumstances. In this letter he is generous enough to take up the cudgels in my defence, and to vindicate the course I have taken in this matter, which he says he knows from his own knowledge is absolutely consistent with the course I took in 1885. Dr. Dale then goes on to speak of the discussion on the subject in the Commission of which he was a member. He says the minority of the Commission who discussed the question of free education came to the conclusion that it was only to be secured by an average grant of 10s. per head of all schools, denominational as well as Board schools, and he then goes on to deal with the present situation, and sums up his views in these words— For my part, I am well content that for the present no attempt should be made to secure public control. Those of us who believe in it are not strong enough to insist on any effective application of our principle, and I do not care to have a mere illusory arrangement. It is quite certain Dr. Dale would not support the proposal of my right hon. Friend. He goes on— From the absence of public control other evils must follow; but these are involved in the very terms of the problem which the Government have attempted to solve. It is easy to criticise this measure, but those who criticise it should be prepared to show that, under existing circumstances, it is possible to construct a scheme for free education that would be less objectionable. At present the denominational schools are too strong for it to be possible to transfer the power of their managers to School Boards. We may regret this—I regret it very much—but the fact cannot be denied; and the question is whether, if this fact is recognised, any fairer and less objectionable measure for securing free education can be constructed than that which has been proposed by the Government. If not, the choice lies between accepting the main outlines of their Bill and postponing free education indefinitely. The second alternative I am not prepared to approve. Now, I maintain that that is unanswerable. I cordially adopt Dr. Dale's views and his reasoning on this subject, and I say that anyone who votes for the Amendment of my right hon. Friend will vote for an Amendment which deliberately gives an unfair preference and advantage to the most sectarian of the existing voluntary schools. If, on the contrary, you are prepared to adopt the only logical course and to go for general control and universal School Boards, then you must be aware that, you are postponing free education indefinitely; that if you make free education depend on the adoption of your scheme you will be postponing it until you can persuade the people of this country to accept a system which would involve them in a heavy cost, and until you can persuade them to give you such a majority as to make you independent of the Roman Catholic and other denominations. I am in favour of free education. I earnestly desire to see it conferred on the country as early as possible. I will do nothing to hinder it or to delay it, and on these grounds I sincerely hope the great majority of the House will reject the Amendment of my right hon. Friend.

(6.22.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

I think it is only right that some Irish Members should say a few words on this question. I understand the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to be this: He is, on the whole, in favour of some popular control when it is possible, but he does not think it is possible at the present moment, and as he does not care to delay the present Bill, he will not support this Instruction. The position which Irish Members will take up goes far beyond that. In common with almost every Irish Member in the House, I altogether object to what is termed popular control in the sense in which it is now advocated. I do not, however, object to such control, if it is provided that the persona taking part in it shall be of the same religion, or denomination, as the parents of children who attend the school. If such a protection were not given, the Roman Catholics in this country would be placed in a very unfair and disadvantageous position. If popular control in the ordinary sense is granted, the local body that has charge of the schools would in the ordinary course seek to do away with the Roman Catholic schools. I believe there is only one district, or part of a town, in England in which the Roman Catholics are in a majority, and that one place is the Scotland Division of Liverpool; everywhere else the Roman Catholics are in a minority, and it would be very unjust that their schools, to whose support they subscribe, should be placed under the control of persons of another religion. That control might take one of several forms, each of which would be most objectionable. In some districts, for instance, they might wish to stop the teaching of our Catechism. I quite acknowledge that there are many districts in England in which the Protestant majority would treat the Roman Catholics with tenderness and fairness, but there are other districts in which I fear this would not be the case, and where a strong desire would be shown to interfere with the Catholic schools. They might not only interfere with the books and Catechisms, but they might compel the appointment of teachers of another religion. But what I most fear would be the indirect interference with the Catholic schools. The Local Authority, or the School Board, seeing that the Catholic schools are poor and are struggling with financial difficulties, would crush them out, and would thus compel the Catholic children to go to the Board school. Every scheme of popular control that has been suggested in the House would put the Roman Catholic-schools in the greatest possible danger. In fact, the Roman Catholics have something to complain of now in this matter. I have been informed that in upwards of 100 cases Catholics have been refused permission by School Boards to set up voluntary schools by the side of the Board schools. I do not affirm that this is done on doctrinal or proselytising grounds; it is done simply because the School Boards believe their own schools to be the best, and do not want more schools established. But the Roman Catholics cannot, of course, consent to such a state of things, and the majority has no right to coerce them to do so. With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham said about the strength or weakness with which the hon. Member for Cork will return to the House after the General Election, I may point out that the relative strength of the two sections will make little or no difference in this matter. Both parties will be strong denominationalists, because nearly every candidate returned will be pledged to support denominational education, and to vote against such an Instruction as that now before the House. I shall record my vote against the Instruction to-night, and I shall do my best to support the Bill of the Government, which I look upon as a very great boon. I have been expressly returned to vote upon most questions with the Liberal Party, but I am equally pledged to support denominational education, and I cannot conceive any Irish Member so pledged voting for this Instruction.

*(6.30.) MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

So far the Debate has proceeded without taunts against hon. Members upon their change of view towards free education, but I may be allowed a few remarks in explanation of what has been termed a change of front. In past years, and in former controversies, the cause of free education has been largely identified with secular education; but throughout the course of this Debate purely lay or secular education has not been so identified with free education. An argument has been founded against the voluntary schools on the weakness of the voluntary subscriptions; but attention has not been paid to the fact that those subscriptions have of late been steadily increasing. The subscription to the Church of England schools in the last 12 months have increased by nearly £7,000, and I believe there is a corresponding increase from the other religious denominations. I feel grateful for these remarks; they serve to impress upon the supporters of voluntary schools the paramount importance of increasing the amount of subscriptions. I fully recognise that if voluntary schools are to continue there must be a great growth of voluntary subscriptions, and he is no true friend of the voluntary schools who conceals that fact from his associates. I am glad to have the opportunity of repudiating in the warmest manner the use of that catechism to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, and I am quite sure that in using it voluntary school managers seriously injure the cause they endeavour to promote, and I have little doubt that if the truth were known, so little consistency is there in this mistaken action, that, at the same time in the same schools, hymns are used composed by Nonconformist divines. The discussion this evening has, in the main, assumed a friendly tone which I do not wish to disturb, but I can regret the bitterness imported into the controversy on a former occasion by Welsh representatives which cannot but hinder the cause of religion as well as of education. Coming to the Instruction, I cannot help thinking that the time is somewhat inopportune to move a mere abstract Resolution. It may contain a good doctrine or expound a bad doctrine, but there is no precision in the Resolution. The House is asked to give power to the Committee to make provision for the introduction of the principle of local representation, but there is no indication of the form that it is to take, and I certainly should have expected from the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution something more than this skeleton proposition, some attempt to clothe it in flesh and invest it with life. The Education Debates in 1870 ranged over the months from February or August, and turned, in large measure, upon the Governing Bodies but if we now proceed in discussion without knowing what authority we are to set up, I am afraid we are wasting our time and merely putting an impediment in the way of the passage of this measure. When I come to look at this Resolution, I, not unnaturally, ask what the probable effect of it will be on my own constituency of Wigan. Wigan, with its 55,000 inhabitants, has a School Board; but, owing to the generosity of the inhabitants, not a single School Board school. We have large Roman Catholic schools, so large indeed, as regards both building and staff, as to be beyond the actual requirements of the case. Now, I ask whether it would be fair and reasonable, or in accordance with sound principles of religious liberty, for any authority to step in and interfere with the government and management of these Roman Catholic schools? It may be said that the subscriptions to these schools are not large. I am not aware of the scale of the subscriptions, but if there are not large contributions in money, there is much assistance given in work, for the teaching is to a very large extent carried on by a sisterhood, members of which either give the whole of their time to the work or receive an acknowledgment for their services utterly and wholly insufficient. Beyond the Church schools there are many schools in the hands of Nonconformist bodies, and I am quite certain that the managers would be by no means willing to submit their establishments to the control of anybody whatsoever. With regard to the Church of England schools, I have heard nothing from Lancashire in connection with this question of popular control but the language of apprehension and alarm. Capital to the extent of £13,000,000 or £14,000,000 has been invested in voluntary schools; and though, of course, the founders took the chance of any future legislation which might affect this property, it surely is not just that these institutions, being secured under trust deeds, and being founded on the faith of this security, should be subjected to wholly new conditions in violation of those upon which the schools were established. In the Rural Deanery of Salford, for instance, no less a sum than £70,000 has been contributed in the last few years, and I put it to any Member of the House, is it consonant with principles of fairness to say to those who contributed this money, that the trust deeds upon the strength of which you made these sacrifices must be torn up, and the conditions upon which the property is held changed contrary to the wish of the founders? In this country, moreover, an effective control is already provided in the form of the Code, which imposes severe conditions upon the voluntary schools. Our schools are visited several times in the course of the year, and we make no complaint of this; but, on the contrary, we would be glad to see the Inspector more often, and are always willing to carry out his suggestions. I do not wish to embark on any long discussion of the Conscience Clause, but I would point out an inaccuracy into which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Fowler)—he is not now in his place—unwittingly fell. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the majority of the Commissioners recommended that there should be some change in the law as regards the Conscience Clause, but as a matter of fact the language of the Commissioners was entirely the reverse. It will be found, on page 121 of their Report, that they say It is not to any alteration of the law we must look for redress of grievance, but rat he to the spirit of tolerance and forbearance with which the clause is carried out, and of the prevalence of which we had received so much assurance. Now, it is said that there is a much larger number of children of Nonconformists in the day schools than in the Sunday schools, but how is it that if there is this proselytising tendency, the children are sent to the day school? The great majority of the Church day schools conduct religious teaching in such a manner that no hurt or harm can be done to the susceptibilities of Nonconformists. I do not think it necessarily follows, because we have a School Board, that we should have local interest most fully developed. The Royal Commission cite the evidence of a well-informed witness, who says that— Managers whose whole time is given to one school take more interest in one school than the School Board does, which have under their superintendence the work of a large district. Such is the view we find supported in the evidence given before the Royal Commission by Mr. Stuart and others. They say that— There are frequent changes on the School Board, but voluntary management remains, and the interest is continuous. There is no defeated and irritated minority. The fact is that parents have regard not to the mode of management, but to the efficiency of the teaching; and if they have confidence in the teaching and an affectionate regard for those who conduct the schools, children are sent to them, and no respect is had to electioneering tactics or political considerations. I maintain that this Instruction would prevent the passing of the Bill this Session, and, secondly, that if it were passed and the Bill were to come forward in its changed condition next Session, there would be an alteration of the entire existing arrangements, a breach of faith with the managers of these schools who have worked so hard during so many years, and a great disappointment to a vast number of parents who have full confidence in the management and desire to send their children to voluntary schools.

*(6.46.) MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)

Every Member who has spoken on this Resolution has been the representative of a large urban constituency, and perhaps now I may be allowed to express the view held by the inhabitants of an agricultural district as to this principle of popular control. The noble Lord (Lord Cranborne), to whose speech we listened in the Second Reading Debate, spoke disparagingly of any idea of popular control for voluntary schools, and went so far as to say—and I noted the words, thinking how incorrect they were, not from design, but from ignorance on the subject—the noble Lord said that the people did not care whether they had any control over the management or not. Now I, having some experience of the agricultural districts, am able to contradict the statement that the people in the country do not care much whether they have any voice in the management of the schools or not. I believe there is nothing which interests the people in the villages more than this question of having some element of popular control and management in the schools to which they are obliged to send their children. There seems to be an opinion among some hon. Members that the people in the agricultural districts are so selfish that they care for nothing but the money in relation to the subject, that all they wish for is to have the school fees remitted, that if they are no longer called upon to make any payments to schools they will be perfectly happy, and the question of popular control will be forgotten. I know, for instance, that in the Division I represent, a foremost leader of the Conservative Party, a noble Lord, who will do me the honour of opposing my return at the next election, speaking of free education, has said that it is an appeal to the selfish instincts of the people and to their breeches pockets. This argument is not very important as coming from a candidate, and perhaps I ought not to have mentioned it in that connection, but the same idea has been more or less ventilated by hon. Members who have spoken from the other side. It is a monstrous insult to the people of the agricultural districts to say that if they had these fees remitted the question of popular control would be absolutely forgotten. In these villages there is a large number of Nonconformists, and also a large number of Church people who are not satisfied with the existing control, who, I believe, if they were asked whether they would have free education now, on the condition that the school remained indefinitely under the control of the parson, or have it postponed until a Radical Government could give them the full measure of control they want, would be high-minded enough to say that they would prefer the latter course. For my own part, I think it wisest to accept this measure, bad as it may be, because we look forward at an early period to making it a real and genuine measure which will give not only money but justice to the people of the villages. I believe that the unpopularity of the incumbents in the villages is notorious, and, in my opinion, the cause of it is that, unhappily, many of them seem to put on a sort of overbearing assumption of superiority, which is shown in nothing more than in the management of the schools. I could give scores, or I might say hundreds, of specific instances of gross injustice committed by managers of voluntary schools, but I will give only one or two. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War the other night asked for some specific instances of persecution, and I could give a great number of what appear to me instances of persecution. In the instances I will mention I will give the names, so that if I am incorrect I may be corrected. In the constituency I have the honour to represent there is a small village called Radway, and therein is a school, managed, not by the clergyman, but by—I was almost saying a more incompetent person than the clergyman—managed by the clergyman's wife. The clergyman's wife has the management of the school at Radway, and has laid down certain rules. One of these rules, since altered by the intervention of the Education Department, was considered by parents and the inhabitants of the village arbitrary and objectionable. The parents of two of the children attending the school declined to comply with this rule, and thereupon Mrs. Miller excluded the children. The children were sent with the money for the fees on several Monday mornings, but they were refused admittance, and on one occasion the children were imprisoned in a separate room by Mrs. Miller, and she also assaulted them with her own hands. To the parents of the children, one of whom was Mr. Strong, she wrote warning him that if they continued to send their children to intrude upon the school premises Mrs. Miller must act on the advice given her to meet such a case. Well, the children were denied admittance, and the next step was that information was given to the Attendance Officer of the district, and I have not the slightest doubt that information was given through Mrs. Miller herself, and the parent was summoned for non-attendance of his children, before the Kineton Bench of Magistrates, of whom I may say, in passing, they are about the worst Bench to adjudicate in such a case. The parent was fined, and in default of payment would have been imprisoned. The Magistrates were divided, but of the three who voted for fine with the alternative of imprisonment two were clergymen of the Church of England, and one of these a cousin to Mrs. Miller. She was in Court during the hearing of the summons and had in her pocket at that time a letter from the Education Department, which if it had been read in Court, must have led to the dismissal of the the summons, for the letter expressed the disapproval by the Department of the rule which the parent objected to and out of which objection the proceedings arose. But Mrs. Miller thought it consistent with Christian charity to suppress that letter and allowed the fine to be inflicted for non-attendance on account of non-compliance with a rule afterwards altered. Another instance occurred in a village called Tysoe, and here I cannot give the name of the clergyman, for I do not know it, he was the curate, not the vicar. The curate thought fit to punish children for, I think, the offence of throwing stones, a trifling offence, but in addition to and after the punishment the child was compelled to wear a large placard, on which was inscribed the nature of the offence, not only in the school, but in the village as a sort of degrading badge. This may seem a trifling matter, but I can assure hon. Members it is not so to parents in a village community. In the same district, at a village called Ratley, the school is managed by the vicar. It is notorious that the parents of the children attending that school have lately asked for free education. Well, there is a magazine published in the parish, and this is how the vicar describes his own parishioners in that periodical. He says—referring to free education— Who asks for it? Why the atheists and secularists—the men who hate religion of every kind, and who want to stamp it out all over the country. That is the insulting description he gives of his own poor parishioners, and then he goes on to say—and I do not think hon. Members opposite will relish his words— And then it was taken up by the fellows who thought it would he a good bait to catch votes with. I could give many other instances of this sort of petty tyranny, but it is not necessary; but I must say that the cases I have given, if they are contradicted, can be investigated and proved. Is it to be wondered at that the people have no confidence in the control of the clergyman, who is really in almost every I village school the manager; is it to be wondered at that they do not love these men who are sent, no doubt, to preach, but who do not practice the first principles of the Gospel of love. I have been speaking of the country, but now with regard to London. It has been brought to my knowledge that in the parish of Walworth there is a very large national school called St. John's School, under the management of the Rev. G. T. Cottham and his curate. There are two other managers, but they never attend or interfere in any way with the management. The school is a voluntary one, and its total income is £538, of which £59 is received in voluntary subscriptions. On the 26th May, 1891, one of the girls attending the school was refused admission by the mistress. The mother of the girl wrote a very temperate letter asking to be informed on what ground her daughter was refused admission to the school. The mistress very properly showed the letter to the principal manager, the Rev. Mr. Cottham, who endorsed it. I have it here in his own handwriting—"I don't think any answer is needed." That is the sort of system they follow in Walworth, but I will give no more cases of that kind. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke pointed out that there has been a large increase of late in the subscriptions to voluntary schools; but, for my own part, I do not think they have been kept up recently in a way that will favourably compare with past years. If hon. Members will look at the tables dealing with the Church of England for 1880 and downwards, I think they will find that there is little to be proud of as regards voluntary schools. Though there may have been an increase in the subscriptions last year, I believe that it would be found that the year before there was a decrease. Voluntary subscriptions in these schools are about one-fifth of the whole income of the schools, and so far from taking the hopeful view that the hon. Member opposite took, I believe that when this Bill is carried—as I hope it will be carried—so far from stimulating subscribers to increase their subscriptions, it will cause them to reduce them, and that in three years' time, instead of these subscriptions being one-fifth of the income of the schools, they will only be one-tenth. It is said we are asking for this popular control for schools because we want to interfere with and gradually to wipe out religious teaching. So far as I am concerned—and I believe that on this question I express the opinion of almost every Member on this side who represents an agricultural constituency—I declare that that allegation is without foundation. We do not want in any way to interfere with the system. What we want is this, that every sect—and I include in that the Church of England—should attend to its own religious teaching, and we hold that if the schoolroom is utilised out of school hours for religious instruction, every sect in the village or town should, under proper regulations, have the use of it to educate their children as they like in their own religion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, in moving the instruction, said he would not deal with the manner in which these managers should be elected by the people. I, however, will say a word on that. I believe that the only plan, or one of the only plans, that will be satisfactory to the people of the villages, is the one I shall be quite prepared to propose, and which I believe will receive support on this side of the House, namely, that the managers of the country schools shall consist, in addition to the existing managers, of the members of a Parish Council, to be elected by the Parliamentary and County Council voters of the parish. We do not object to religious teaching, but our object is to have a thoroughly representative authority, elected by the people, to deal with the expenditure of the money which the people supply. That, of course, might be done in various ways, and I am glad to see that within the past two years, indeed, within the past twelve months, a feeling has grown up on the other side in favour of Parish Councils. I do not believe we can have any better authority. Such an authority would save the necessity of dual elections, and at the time the Parish Council was elected the people would know they were also voting for the managers of the voluntary schools in villages. Now, I will conclude by quoting a passage from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, so for back as 1st October, 1885, at Bradford. It has been quoted before, but we cannot have too much of a good thing. He said— Whenever the time comes for its discussion, I, for one, shall not hesitate to express my opinion that the contributions of Government money, whether great or small, ought in all cases to he accompanied by some form of representative control. To my mind the spectacle of so-called national schools turned into a private preserve for clerical managers used for exclusive purposes of politics or religion, is one which the law ought not to tolerate. Well, the time has come for the right hon. Gentleman to vote in support of his declaration. I am afraid he will vote in an exactly opposite way, but that is his affair, not mine.

*(7.14.) SIR J. BAIN (Whitehaven)

As this is the first time I have risen to address the House, I trust I shall have extended to me that generous indulgence which the House invariably extends towards new Members. As the latest accession to this side of the House, I wish to say that I was returned at the close of April by a largely increased majority composed to a large extent of working men, and I got a mandate from my constituents in coming here, which I cheerfully and cordially accepted, namely, that I should support Her Majesty's Government, that I should vote for an eight hours' day for coal miners, that I should vote for free education and for no School Boards. In the town. I have the honour to represent there are altogether 3,500 children at voluntary denominational schools. We have no School Board, and we do not want one, because the schools are commodious, the teachers are efficient, and the Government Inspector is all that can be desired and all that my constituents require. They told me that their wish was that they should be freed from the payment of school pence. I have seen, as a magistrate, the parents brought up for neglecting to send their children to school, and it has been easy to discover that they wanted the school pence more than the will to send their children to school, and some of my constituents have said to me—poor and honest men—that if the State thought it necessary to force on them compulsory education the State ought to pay for it. So I have come here to say, on behalf of my con- stituents, that what they wish is to be freed from the school fees and not to have a School Board over them. We all know the expense and turmoil School Board elections involve and the wrangle they bring about, and we, in our town, see no reason why we should put our schools under popular control. I could understand that if the 10s. we are to receive from the Government were obtained solely from local rates, and not from the State, there would be a good reason for popular control; but as the 10s. is merely an addition to the sum we already receive, I hold that if the supervision of the Education Department is sufficient to exercise a wholesome control over the 50 per cent. of our school income, which we at present receive from the Government, the Department will be perfectly capable of exercising control over the additional 30 per cent. we are to receive. Therefore, I shall vote against this instruction. My constituents—to use an historical expression—want "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill."

*(7.18.) SIR R. LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)

As an old educational officer of Government, I must say I generally agree with the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Instruction as to the very great importance of the issues which have been raised by it. To me it seems that it is no less than the whole of the difference between that form of free education, which was opposed by the Conservative Party in 1885, and the form of free or assisted education, to which we now yield our most hearty support. I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the instruction with the greatest interest, and, as to its manner, with the greatest pleasure. It was a speech in that respect worthy of the best traditions of this House. It was a temperate and fair speech, fairly and eloquently argued on most points; but I would venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it was hardly worthy of the rest of that speech that he should have quoted to us certain catechisms—miserable catechisms, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham most properly styled them—catechisms which I venture to say not a, single Member on this side of the House any more than on that side approves of. It is hardly fair to quote such catechisms as if they represented the opinion of any section whatever, worthy of consideration, of those who support voluntary schools. I venture to make the same criticism of a considerable portion of the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Cobb). He quoted some most improper and injudicious expressions made by school managers in two or three isolated cases, and which in no way represent the habitual manners of the managers of voluntary schools. I venture to say that such misconduct on the part of managers would be in no way met by a, change of managers. It would be and ought to be met by a reference to the Education Department. It has been made a matter of some reproach to those Conservative Members who, like myself, support this Bill, that we have in some incomprehensible way gone back from the opinions we expressed in 1885. I would appeal to my hon. Friends the Member for Evesham (Sir R. Temple), the Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth), the Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley), and others, who have given expression to this opinion, to consider the issues as they were put in the very able and eloquent speech of the Mover of this Resolution, and then to say whether it is not true, as I allege, that what the right hon. Gentleman is proposing is indeed what we opposed in 1885, but that the present proposal of the Government is altogether a different thing, and will tend not to weaken but to strengthen the voluntary schools throughout England. I would draw the attention of the House to one point in the wording of this Instruction—a point in regard to which I think a fatal blow would be struck at the voluntary system if the Motion were carried. The right hon. Gentleman proposes that in all districts whore the excellence of the voluntary schools or the general desire of the population for religious instruction have rendered unnecessary or impossible the establishment of Board schools, the voluntary schools should be actually turned into Board schools. It seems to me that the effect of this Instruction, if carried, would be even worse than the proposal to introduce free education on the lines of the unauthorised programme of 1885, because it appears to contemplate the actual confiscation of the voluntary schools in all districts to which it would apply. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman said something about the School Board taking a lease of the sites and buildings and school appliances, but it must surely be clear to the House that the financial effect of the School Board taking a lease would be precisely the same as if they put down the capital sum necessary for the provision of the premises. As was shown in the admirable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, that capital sum would be something like £36,000,000 or £40,000,000. Will any gentleman opposite propose that the taxpayers or the ratepayers of this country shall provide a sum like that for the purpose? It seems to me that the ultimate result of any such Motion as this would be the actual confiscation of the buildings, the sites and the appliances of the voluntary schools. We who support this Bill have been sometimes taunted with our preference for the term "assisted education" instead of "free education." It seems, at first sight, to be a distinction without a difference, but this Instruction clearly illustrates that the form of education proposed in the Bill is more accurately described as assisted than as free education. The Bill provides 10s. for each pupil, but leaves the buildings and sites exactly in the position in which they are at the present moment. I would ask the permission of the House to read two sentences from my own election address in 1885, which indicate the difference between the Bill as proposed by the Government and as it would be if the Instruction were carried. In the course of my election address in 1885, I ventured to say that there was no question which was more interesting or exciting to the electors of North Kensington than was that of education. I further said I recognised the hardship inflicted on many parents of the poorest class by the present law with regard to the payment of school fees, and that I was prepared to support any well considered measure of reform, such as the application of the Imperial Funds towards securing free education both in the voluntary schools as well as in the Board schools; in fact, I then foreshadowed the very measure that has now been brought in by Her Majesty's Government. I further said I should resist every attempt to establish such a system of gratuitous public instruction as that which had then been proposed, because it must necessarily occasion a lavish expenditure of the money of the already overburdened ratepayers, and crush the voluntary schools. This, I venture to submit, represents exactly what would be the result of this Bill if the right hon. Gentleman opposite be allowed to work his wicked will upon it. Of course I only use the phrase "wicked will" in a Pickwickian sense. Such is the moral I draw from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Instruction, and I venture to appeal to my hon. Friends on this side of the House who have been putting down Amendments to the Bill in sufficient number, I fear, should they all be persisted with, to seriously imperil the passing of the measure, whether it would not be well for them to come to some terms with the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Can they not approach the right hon. Gentleman to whom they are as much opposed as I am, and say, "If you will withdraw your Instruction, and induce your friends who think with you to withdraw their Amendments, we, on our part, will withdraw all the Amendments we have put down, so as to allow the Bill to pass in the exact form in which it now stands on the Paper."

(7.34.) MR. WHITBREAD (Bedford)

I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down with some attention, and it appears to me that he has been endeavouring, though unsuccessfully, to find some reason for voting against the Instruction which has been moved by my right hon. Friend. I listened also to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who seemed to go quite round about in his effort to find some excuse for voting for this Instruction. I hope the outcome of both these efforts will be that this Bill will pass, for when this Bill is passed, the principle of free education will have been firmly established, and all that the Liberal Party will have to do in the future will be to see that that principle is carried into full and complete effect. This measure, if amended in the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, may be regarded as an act of justice, as an act of reparation, inasmuch as it will tend to remove in a large degree the grievances of the Nonconformists. But there is another aspect in which the proposal of my right hon. Friend may be viewed, and, as an ounce of practice is said to be worth a ton of theory, I will briefly give the House a little of my own experience in connection with the subject of popular control over education as a member of the management of a voluntary Church of England school. Some 10 or more years ago I happened to be on a school committee in a parish where toleration is carried to such an extent that the church and the chapel stand side by side. Somehow or another, however, complaints were always being made by the parents of the children of the way in which the scholars were treated in the school, and considerable friction was the result. The school committee entirely failed in their attempts to put an end to this friction until at length it was determined to place upon the committee two representatives of the parents, and after that step was taken everything worked smoothly enough. You may say that this is a little too good; I say it is not too good to be true. Those two representatives who were elected by the parents are just such a man and woman as anyone might wish to see there. They were received by the farmers and others who were members of the school committee at the time with all the respect due to persons who are making some sacrifice in the public cause. That was the only change we made, the teachers and all the other conditions remaining the same as before. My experience of many years has led me to refuse to act upon any school committee unless the parents are re presented upon it. Those who have reflected upon the relative positions occupied by the Church minister and the Dissenting minister in rural parishes must have seen that the former has too often lost touch with the people. It is a remarkable thing that in this House hon. Members are never tired of singing the praises of representative institutions, which they know form the foundation of our prosperity; nevertheless, they always shrink from carrying out the principle of representation whenever it is brought before them in the concrete form. In what consists the value which attaches to those who are known in this House as labour Representatives, except that it is through them that the working classes express their wishes and make known their aspirations? I ask what do you mean by thinking it necessary to appoint parents' representatives on the management of your higher grade schools, and then denying the necessity of having parents' representatives in your elementary public schools? Do you mean to argue that the parents are less in touch with the governing body in the one set of schools than in the other? Surely you must know that this cannot be the case. If they are necessary in the one their presence must be advantageous in the other. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has said that this measure was an unfair measure because its application would be mainly in the direction of the Church of England schools. All I can say is that if it affected them alone I should rejoice to see the Instruction carried, because I am satisfied that it would tend to strengthen and to give vitality to those schools by keeping them in touch with the general community. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham has put forward some very curious doctrines in connection with this question, and has come forward as an advocate for caution. I should like to know how many useful measures of reform would have been carried in this House if every reformer had seen in every bush a lion in the path. This principle of representation requires much further extension. I believe it is the great panacea, the great principle which may help us in the age on which we have entered of complicated social questions. The principle must be much more widely acknowledged and acted upon that it has been up to the present time if we are to safely guide the democracy. I welcome this little effort, as I should welcome every other effort which extends the principle of representation, in the hope that it will enable all classes to work harmoniously together.

(7.47.) MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

I give my very hearty support to the Instruction moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton. It deals with a great practical grievance, where those professing various forms of religion are compelled by law to send their children to one school solely conducted by one denomination. This is the peculiar difficulty with which we are dealing, and it applies to all the rural parishes in England, and in a still higher degree to the parishes in Wales. The Member for Wolverhampton is entitled to our thanks for suggesting a practical way of giving effect to the principle of representation. It is not perhaps what could be looked upon as a final solution, but what has been suggested, I think, will really meet the practical necessity of the case. I do not think it is possible at present to get a thoroughly logical system of popular representation. We are bound to look out for some compromise, something which will expose us to the least possible friction. I think the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire is, in the existing circumstances, the most likely alternative to command the general assent. Now, we have continually thrown in our teeth the difficulties connected with the Roman Catholic schools. Why should we apply to Church of England schools a different régime to what is applied to Roman Catholic schools? That is a very specious argument, and no doubt it will be very largely used throughout the country. But the grievance we are trying to deal with does not arise in connection with the Roman Catholic schools, which are attended only by the children of Roman Catholics. Protestant children do not, except in the rarest cases, attend those schools, and the Roman Catholics will not send their children to the Board schools. The Roman Catholics regard as of primary importance that they shall have the control of the education of their own children. The Liberals have to accept this fact. The case we are dealing with tonight is a perfectly different one. We are dealing with the Nonconformists of England, who are compelled to send their children to Church of England schools, or suffer imprisonment. I think the Roman Catholic difficulty is a claptrap argument which is levelled against us by those who support the Member for West Birmingham. The difficulty we are coping with is very much the result, I am sorry to say, of the growth within the Church of England during the past few years of a spirit of exclusiveness and intolerance which certainly did not exist 50 years ago. I hope the extracts read from the Catechism by the Member for Wolverhampton, containing shameful misrepresentations of the doctrines of their own Church, will warn Churchmen of the danger of such misrepresentations. Such doctrines were not known 50 years ago. If the sacerdotal party gain their object, they may do, if not checked, for England what the Church of Rome did for France, where now the education is purely secular, and conducted in a manner very unfriendly to the Christian Faith. If we are to have in this country the continued growth of sacerdotal power, if we are to have catechisms such as we have heard read to-night publicly taught, I warn them that they are digging the grave of religious teaching. Sooner or later it will be impossible to have any form of religious teaching in the schools. But if a wiser policy is pursued, if the managers of voluntary schools are content to give that simple religions teaching on which the Protestant sects will agree, I believe it will be very many years before there will be any outcry in this country in favour of purely secular schools. The chief object of the remarks I make now is to ask gentlemen on the other side of the House, and who are supposed to be the friends of religious education, to consent to the very moderate proposals which we are making here to-night to prevent the infringement of conscience, and to give due and just and reasonable rights to every section of the public.

(8.0.) MR. J. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

On looking at the Bill as one for giving free education, I confess I have been unable to discover a single syllable, either expressed or implied, with reference to denominational education, and I shall support the Instruction of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, because I hold that in doing so I shall not in any way be voting against the principle of the Bill. I have no desire to attack in any way the principle of religious education. I think the principle laid down in this Instruction is the principle by means of which our educational difficulties may be solved. I have for many years been of opinion that the battle of 1870 was fought upon wrong lines by the Nonconformist Party. In that year, led as they were to a certain degree by the Birmingham League, they adopted to a considerable extent the principle of purely secular education. I think that that was a mistaken principle, and it has led to the failure of which the right hon. Gentleman has reminded us. What we object to is not religious education, but denominational control. We find that wherever denominational control exists in Wales, it amounts to the control of the clergyman of the parish; that control is always exercised in the interests of the Church of England as a sect, and attempts are made to use the schools for proselytising purposes. Religious education would not be objected to if a system of management were introduced under which no favouritism would be shown for children of a particular denomination. Difficulties arising under these circumstances have vanished in Liverpool, where the religious education is not given in the interests of a particular denomination, and if a system similar to that were adopted in Wales the difficulties we experience there would also vanish. As has been admitted by the Vice President of the Council on Education, the Bill in the form in which it has been introduced will, as far as Wales is concerned, be, to a great extent, a measure of endowment for the denominational schools. In some schools the fees are as low as 1d. per child per week, and thus there will be an endowment of 6s. 8d. per child. The people of Wales cannot be expected to endure with patience a scheme under which schools so endowed will remain under the control of the Church of England. If in a parish in England four-fifths of the inhabitants belonged to the Church of England, and one-fifth to the Primitive Methodists, would the former be ready to place the schools of the locality under the control of the latter? What the members of the Church of England would feel in such a case is just what the people of Wales will feel if, under this Bill, the control of the schools is not given to the people. It has been suggested that as the fee grant is paid out of Imperial, and not local, resources, the cry for local control is weakened. I should not object myself to Imperial control by the State. If the masters and teachers were appointed by the State there would be no grievance; but what I do object to is, that the State should pay for the schools out of the general taxes of the country, and hand over the management of the schools to one small denomination as in Wales. One hon. Member suggested that, although the Army and Navy are supported out of the taxation of the country, the people do not claim popular control over those Services. Of course they do not. But, then, the Army and Navy are not controlled by the Church of England; and so with the police. If it were insisted on that the chief constables and sergeants' should all belong to the Church of England, we should most strongly object to the Force being maintained at the expense of the State, and governed by one denomination. But that is the gravamen of our complaint with regard to education in Wales. I was surprised at the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham dealt with the New Concordat—with the policy enunciated by the right hon. Member for Newcastle respecting elementary education. The right hon. Gentleman has evaded in the most disingenuous manner the point of that policy. The principle of that policy was really this: that where there is a school that serves the interests of one denomination exclusively, the denominational control of that school shall not be interfered with, but that where a denominational school serves the interest of the entire public of a district, the control shall be in the hands of the public. That distinction the right hon. Gentleman never touched. He treated the declaration as if it were intended to servo the purposes of Roman Catholic schools and to injure the Church of England. But it was framed for the protection of the general public, and to secure that there should be a school in every district to which Nonconformist children, and the public at large, should have access, and that it should be under undenominational control. No doubt it would hit the Church of England harder than the Roman Catholics, but that is due to the fact that in a large number of districts the only school in existence is a Church of England school. We are willing that where schools serve only denominational children they shall remain under denominational control, but where they serve the public we say there should be public control. Whether that public control be local control, in the sense of parents assisting in the management, or direct Imperial control, we do not care so much. What we are anxious to secure is that the control shall not be in the hands of one particular denomination, and worked in the interests of that denomination. (8.25.)

(8.50.) MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)

The hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House seemed to regard the absence of popular control in the case of voluntary schools as some distinct grievance to Nonconformists. When one of the Welsh Members rises to speak on any subject of this sort he generally begins by announcing that he is the representative of some Nonconformist Body, and when such announcement is made I feel bound to give attention to him, being a Nonconformist myself and very much in sympathy with any question which affects Nonconformists in either of the three countries. I must confess I have been unable to ascertain how the Nonconformists, those in Wales especially, are placed at any disadvantage in regard to voluntary schools. I have no experience of educational concerns in Wales, but I have considerable experience of them in Ireland, and I know that in Ireland, whichever party subscribes most towards the support of a school, naturally has the larger number of representatives on the Committee of the school. They naturally elect as the manager or chairman or president or patron of the school a member of their own denomination, and consequently I have never known that we in Ireland have suffered under any grievance, at any rate in that direction. The other night the hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd-George) said that in some cases in Wales the rector had the entire management of the school, and all connected with it, whilst nine-tenths of the money by which the school was supported came from Nonconformists. If that is so, I think the Nonconformists are very much to blame. Surely they ought, under such circumstances, to have placed a minister of their own denomination in the position of patron or manager of the school. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), in moving the Instruction under discussion, asked the House to affirm a principle, although he was not prepared to say that it was possible to carry the principle out. It seems very marvellous for a Member to ask the House to affirm a principle which he is not sure can be carried out. The right hon. Gentleman does not indicate any one line along which the principle can be carried out. I think he is perfectly well aware, considering the large Roman Catholic vote in this House, that it would be quite impossible to carry it out at all. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said very rightly, I think, this Instruction is right against the principle of the Bill. The measure is simply one to endow to a certain extent the schools as they at present exist, and to make no change whatever in them. The Instruction is not an enlargement of the principle of the Bill, but is opposed to that principle. It has been said again and again by those who often meet popular audiences in this country that there is no strong or universal feeling anywhere in favour of popular control of the schools. There are few principles that are part of the Radical or any other programme which I have not had put before me at meetings in different parts of the country; but I have never heard anyone make a strong point of this principle of popular control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton took care to guard himself against the supposition that his statement was an attack on the Church of England, but, at the same time, when he confessed that he knew his Instruction, if it were carried into effect, would hit the Church of England chiefly, it is fair to say that his Motion is intended to be hostile to the Church of England. Of course, if the Church of England came into conflict with the Nonconformist churches, I should be bound to be against the Church of England, but there is just as great a tendency on the part of the Nonconformists to attack the Church of England as there is on the part of the Church of England to attack the Nonconformists. To destroy voluntary schools, it is admitted, would bring a burden upon the taxpayers of the country. That seems to be common ground, and, so far as I know, the ratepayers do not think there is any compensating advantage to them if they support any measure that would, in the slightest degree, put out of being the voluntary schools of the country. But then we have additional evidence—if additional evidence were needed—of the position the hon. Gentleman and his supporters would take up on this question. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of his Party, and he took care to point out that he did not refer to the Parnellite Party but to the united Home Rule Party, that in fact all Members from Ireland representing Roman Catholic constituencies would be bound by their pledges, and he himself would encourage constituencies to demand a pledge from their representatives in favour of popular control over these schools. That being so, there would be 60 odd members, counting 120 on a Division, in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman, and he and his friends would be powerless. It seems to me, as it does to many others, that this is only a piece of Parliamentary tactics against the carrying out of the principle of free education by a Conservative Government. Looking at the whole matter, I venture to say that representatives of Nonconformists will feel that if the leading men of their own denominations will pay attention to this question of voluntary schools, and will see that in various districts these are not picked up by the rector and others, they will find that they will suffer nothing in the voluntary school competition, and may protect themselves just as well as members of the Church of England protect themselves.

(9.4.) MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)

I hope the House will listen to a few words from one of those unfortunate individuals who would prefer the postponement of free education in order to secure the conjunction of free education with popular control. If I could conceive that the securing of free education would ultimately, or at any rate within reasonable time, secure the concession of popular control, I should have welcomed this measure, and if a Motion had been proposed on the lines of the Amendments of some of my friends I would have voted against it. But inasmuch as I sincerely believe that the concession of free education means the in definite postponement of public control, I do not care to disguise from the House or from my constituents that if the Amendments on the Paper, instead of being in the form of blank cartridges, had been persevered in I would have voted for them. Why do I say I do not believe there is no likelihood of securing popular control within any reasonable compass of time? It is because I believe that by conceding to people free education, having relieved them from the strain upon their pockets, you will kill that agitation which has hitherto existed in the country in favour of popular control. Arguments have been advanced from either side of the House which have gone to the extent, at any rate, of declaring the principle that if you were to deprive the working classes of the suffrage, and give them houses free of rent, they would accept free houses in exchange for the suffrage. It is an argument only to be described in language of condemnation as a timid mode of approaching this question, and a departure from the highway of Liberal principles. I do not think there is any probability of securing an agitation in this country in favour of popular control; but assuming what is required, that we should return a Liberal Party to power pledged to popular control, I doubt very much, even if a measure of popular control were passed in this House, it would become law, because of the opposition which undoubtedly would be given to it in another place, and which the volume of opinion in the country would not be strong enough to counteract. When I speak of public control I freely admit that absolute public control is not feasible; for when we look at the very large amount of funds required for the maintenance of schools, apart from the capital value of the fabrics, derived from voluntary sources, I do not see how, whether you take the more moderate estimate of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton or the higher estimate of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, you are likely to get the people of the country to assent to such a large expenditure. Bat what I do say is this: that the people of this country are prepared to accept a moderate measure of public supervision; and when I say the people of this country, I cannot lose sight of this fact: that in Church Congresses and in various meetings which have been held through the length and breadth of the land by Church people it has been recognised as a solution of this question, which was not to be rejected, that tome measure of popular supervision should be applied. If this measure of popular supervision had been offered in conjunction with the payment of a fee grant, then Church schools in this country—I do not say without exceptions, but the large majority—would have accepted it as a fair and reasonable solution of the question. I know that a great deal has been made of the question of proselytising in Church schools, and I think, probably, some exaggerated language has been used on this side of the House; but, at the same time, it must be perfectly obvious that a system of elementary education which rests on a sectarian basis must more or less partake of a proselytising character. Small blame attaches to the clergy of any denomination who, having control of a school, use that control for securing recruits to the ranks of the sect to which they belong. I had not long ago an opportunity of speaking to a person who has some considerable knowledge of education in Ireland, and he told me that the control which is exercised by the priesthood in Ireland over the elementary schools of that country does undoubtedly operate in the direction of retarding the growth of Protestantism there. Undoubtedly, if we take the illustrations offered to us from Wales, and without persecution, which in these days I think it is an absurdity to assume, though in isolated cases there may be grave cause to complain of influences resorted to, the influence of the school teaching is in the direction of maintaining the ascendancy of the Established Church. But I am not inclined to rest this altogether on a religious basis. I regret that extravagant language has been used in reference to the religious aspect of the question, but there is another and a very serious point of view from which to regard it. It has been conceded in temperate speeches made from the other side of the House, by the Vice President of the Council and others, that in rural districts Church schools are frequently the only schools to which the children can be sent. In populous districts parents have the choice between denominational schools and Board schools. I am not wishing to press the religious argument; bat I say that when we are providing, as in Wales, the bulk of the money for the maintenance of the schools, and the same applies to rural England, where certainly the great proportion of the funds will be publicly provided, and where denominational schools are the only schools to which children can be sent, it is only reasonable and just that schools supported and maintained by public money should have some measure of public control over them. I do not think that it is possible to secure absolute popular control, but it is radically wrong that the schools to which parents are obliged to send their children should be in the hands of little groups of sectarians. From an educational point of view, and even from a disciplinary point of view, entirely apart from an educational point of view, it is only fair and just and in consonance with the traditions and principles of English finance that some measure of control should be afforded to ratepayers or parents of children in the district. I do not know whether it is too late, at this stage of the Bill, to give any assurance on the point, but I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman who has charge of this Bill would do a wise thing, and one that would not be unpopular on his own side of the House, and would meet with the approval of Churchmen on both sides of the House, if he were to make some concession to popular feeling on this point. I do not desire to discuss this at greater length. I think almost every argument in favour of the Board system and popular control has been used. I do not throw in my lot with those who insist on complete popular control, for I believe, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, that it is, at the present time, impossible; but I do urge that we should sow the seeds of that popular control without which any system of popular education will be defective.

*(9.18.) MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)

I am sorry that the clear and, from his point of view, very able speech of the hon. Member was not addressed to a larger number of Members. I am not an ardent admirer of the Bill. It is well known by this time that this is not the kind of educational measure which Lancashire Members on this side of the House looked forward to. We had hoped that the principle on which we had taken our stand would be recognised—that it is desirable that parents should, to some extent, contribute towards the cost of the education of their children. We did indeed wish that certain portions of the existing system which are a hindrance to educational advancement should be removed. We wished to see the obnoxious 17s. 6d. limit put an end to. We desired, also, a better method of relieving parents unable to pay the school fees. In this direction I was disposed to go far, and such a measure might have met all that was wanted. Now, the speech we have just heard is au important one in support of the Bill, for the hon. Member has completely knocked the bottom out of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman who put forward this Resolution. He would prefer, he told us, the indefinite postponement of the Bill until it could be associated with a large measure of public control. He does not object to free education or anything in the Bill, but he would oppose it because, if the Bill passes, there will be no demand for public control—and it will be impossible to get up a popular agitation in favour of the principle. Well that, I think, is a strong argument in support of the Bill. But I do not wish to labour that point; it is an argument for the consideration of those Members who are not themselves admirers of the Bill to induce them to vote against this Instruction. There is, however, no unity of purpose on the part of those who have supported this Instruction. The hon. Member for Bedford wants representation of the parents, and I think the idea of associating parents in the management may in many cases be a very valuable one. But it does not come within this Resolution at all, and I do not see how under the Resolution the hon. Gentleman could introduce an Amendment giving effect to his view. I do not know why it is supposed that members of the Church of England have such an aversion to representation. They have been always accustomed to the principle of representation, as illustrated in the office of churchwarden. In many districts the managers of voluntary schools would like to have associated with them one or two persons who are acquainted with the wishes and feelings of the parents, but it is found that people are so satisfied with the management of the schools that they do not care to interfere. Churchmen, however, would object to any local representation which would introduce the firebrands of religious partisanship or anything approaching to a system of compulsory secular education. One valuable result of the Debate is, that we know from the admission of hon. Members opposite that most of them have ceased to advocate compulsory secular education, and on that ground it is perhaps not a matter of regret that the Instruction has been moved.

*(9.28.) MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

I am not surprised that Members who have spoken from the other side of the House should have betrayed some searchings of heart in giving support to the Bill. It has been, in the language of a supporter of the Government, a "bitter pill, but it must be swallowed," and my only wonder is that they have swallowed with so good a grace. But I do not wish to indulge in taunts and provoke recriminations. Anyone who heard the speech of my right hon. Friend in moving the Instruction, and the speeches of those who have supported the Motion, must feel that ample justification has been offered for this very moderate—I would even say this too moderate—proposal. What has been said with reference to England applies with tenfold greater force to Wales. The case of Wales stands on a ground of its own. There is, in the first place, continual friction between the parsons who manage and the parents of the children who are compelled to attend the denominational schools; and in the second place, except in the populous districts, the average fee in Wales is very low. Now, the outcome of the Second Reading Debate has been to show that in the case of high-feed schools the Bill is likely to prove injurious to the voluntary schools. But where, as in the case of Wales, and especially North Wales, the fees are low, the subvention which the Government is giving will afford these voluntary schools a new lease of life, particularly where they are now in a semi-animate state, and will supply them with the sinews of war to carry on the work which they are struggling to do at present I have no wish to be unjust to the voluntary schools; but this I will say, that in the Principality of Wales every denominational school is an anomaly. If I had my will, I should like to see a Board school in every parish in Wales, because I believe the Board schools are more efficient, more popular, and better suited to the religious wants of the country. But the least we can be content with is such a provision as is contemplated by the Instruction of my right hon. Friend. Then it is said by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by the noble Lord the Member for Darwen—who seems to have taken the Welsh Church under his special protection—why do you not set up Board schools in Wales? Well, we have Board schools in Wales. In the rural districts of Wales there are a larger proportion of these schools than there are in the rural districts of England; but hon. Gentlemen will bear me out when I say that, under the 8th section of the Education Act, we cannot always get School Boards. We are not at liberty to constitute them where, in the opinion of the Education Department, we have a sufficient number of schools—voluntary and otherwise—in the neighbourhood. Besides, Wales is essentially a poor country, and the people who provide the money for the schools are the rich people, which creates another difficulty in the way of constituting the Board schools. But it is said, "You have the Conscience Clause." Why, the Conscience Clause is nothing more than a piece of paper, and as my late friend, Mr. P. Cumin, said before the Royal Commission "The real thing is to get the power of appointing the school manager.' It has been truly stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Merionethshire that our denominational schools are, for the most part, simply centres of propaganda. Speaking generally, their first purpose is proselytism, and their second purpose education. Objection has been taken to the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Instruction for quoting what has been described as a miserable Catechism, but the views expressed in that document I know to be widely shared by many who have to do with the voluntary schools in Wales. The vicar of the parish in which I live once disposed of the denominational question much more summarily than the Catechism quoted, for he said, "Dissent is schism, schism is sin, therefore dissent must be a sin." We see school children rewarded for going to church and punished for going to chapel; and, what is worst of all, you cannot point to a single instance of a dissenting boy or girl, however bright and clever, being appointed a pupil teacher in a voluntary school without first abjuring their faith. I hold that that the condition of things is as though the schools had inscribed on them, "No Dissenter need apply." Now, under the Bill you are going to handover to the denominational schools, many of which I can only term hole-and-corner schools, an enormous sum of public money—£1,250,000 sterling—without obtaining any assurance whatever that the interests of education will be properly looked after, without taking any precaution as to the publication of the accounts, and without providing for any kind of popular supervision or control. You must remember that in former days the payment of fees gave a sort of indirect voice to the parent on the question of education. In the future he will have no voice. Let me give one or two instances of the effect which in particular instances this Bill will have on denominational schools. In one school mentioned by the hon. Member for Rotherham, where the whole expenses amount to only £20, we will be making a present to the school managers of £40. In another case the fees amounted in 1889 to £116 and the subscriptions to £38, or a total of £154. There are 282 children, including, I admit, several under five years of age; but the limit of age imposed by the first section of the Bill seems to be so universally condemned that we may regard it as dropped. The Government grant in that case would amount to £141, which will be within £10 or £12 of the whole expenses of the school, so that you are actually making a present to the few persons who subscribe towards the school of some £25. But in the case of Brecon, mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair), the total cost of the voluntary school is £57. The Government grant will amount to £70, so that you are practically handing over £13 over and above the cost of the school to the managers. To come to general figures, there are, I believe, in Wales 129 voluntary schools educating about 21,000 children, of which the fees amounted to £7,558 and the subscriptions to £2,374—making a total of £9,932. Now, if you take the fee grant of these schools for all the children the sum will amount to £10,476, so that a balance of £544 over and above the total cost of the schools at present will be handed over to the managers of the schools. I say it is absurd to call schools supported in that way voluntary schools. There are, I believe, in this country 1,176 denominational schools—so-called voluntary schools—conducted without any subscriptions at all. If the Bill passes in its present shape this number of 1,176 will be largely increased. There will be the old arguments raised of economy combined with religion, and the people will be asked to save their souls and their pockets at the same time. Under this Bill you will be handing over to the tender mercy of the parson and the parson's wife hundreds of these schools supported entirely by public money. Hon. Gentlemen opposite make no secret of the reason why they support this Bill. The Prime Minister has stated that it was only introduced because he believed that the effect of it would be to place voluntary schools in an impregnable position. I think that every Member of the Government who has spoken on the question—from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Junior Lord of the Admiralty—has declared that the only reason why he supports the Bill is because he believes that it will be the saving of the voluntary schools. Sir, it is the old policy of "dishing the Whigs." I cannot help thinking that that policy in the present instance will prove, as it has proved on former occasions, somewhat illusory. Do hon. Members suppose that the people of Wales are going to rest content with the state of things that I have described? So far from the Bill being a settlement of the question in Wales it will be only the beginning of strife. Let us be honest and candid, and, for my own part, I will tell the House fairly that in season and out of season, in Parliament and out of Parliament, the Welsh Members, backed strongly as they will be by their constituents, will agitate and continue to agitate for local control in the schools. The Government have furnished us with a good cry for the next election, for I cannot conceive a better one to go to the country with than that of "Education for the people by the people." I have had some experience of the popular feeling on this question at one or two by-elections. In South Dorset the walls of all the houses were plastered with the announcement "No more fees," but the announcement fell as Hat as ditchwater. The people said, "We wish to have no more fees, but we also wish to have something more." The case in regard to Wales is a particularly strong one, and in the pursuit of this object we are not going to be frightened by the raising of any bogies about the want of religious teaching or the enormous cost the change proposed will involve. As to religious education, we have already provided for that. As to expense if there is one thing more certain than another it is that before many years are over the Church in Wales will be disendowed, and the effect of that will be to give us a revenue sufficient to educate every child in Wales up to the age of 16. The noble Lord the Member for Darwen threatens that if this Bill is not amended as he suggests he will go so far as to withdraw his support from the Government. But on this side of the House we are more loyal. We accept the Bill, but only as an instalment, and we will reserve for the future the question of popular control as far as, at least, the Welsh are concerned. There is one thing on which we are determined, and that is that we will not allow public money to be used for the purpose of swelling the endowments of a rich University and of crushing and repressing the religious aspirations of a people whose only fault is that they are poor and who only ask for a measure of simple justice.

(9.48.) MR. TALBOT

I do not think this is the occasion for discussing the principles of the Bill. We are only concerned with the Instruction of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, and the Instruction, I think, goes to the very root of the educational position of the present time. It has been emphatically laid down by almost every educational authority that the present supply of education in England is a two fold supply. It is provided partly by the rates and partly by voluntary contributions. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that, although these are called voluntary schools, they are not voluntary schools. Hon. Gentlemen who are patching up their Party watchwords will do well to look a little more closely into the question, which is not to be disposed of by platform agitation or partisan orators. It is really concerned with a good deal of our past history. The voluntary effort which supplied the voluntary schools entailed a great deal of sacrifice in money, labour, and anxiety, and almost every one of the schools represents a vast amount of voluntary effort in its inception. It may be that in the course of time much has been contributed by the fees of children and Government grants, but that does not detract from the fact that in the inception of these schools there was a large amount of voluntary effort, and thus, speaking commercially, there was a large amount of capital sunk in them, the interest on which ought to be accounted for. It would have been a monstrous thing for Her Majesty's Government, or any Government, to have ignored the just claims of the voluntary schools. The managers of the voluntary schools have not asked for free education. On the contrary, we are, in many cases, opposed to it in principle. Speaking for myself, it is only when I look at it from the point of view of a practical politician that I give any support to the proposal. Hon. Gentlemen opposite propose now to take hold of the results of voluntary effort in this country, and to use them in the furtherance of principles entirely opposed to those which they were originally intended to support. Surely that is a proposal which cannot be sanctioned by a serious amount of public opinion. This question of local control seems to me much more a political than an educational cry. It is said that in our controversies the real interests of the children are sometimes neglected, and I am very much afraid that is so. These voluntary schools were founded by men of deep religious convictions—convictions quite as strong as those of the men represented by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and it is idle to say that these schools, founded by Churchmen for the instruction of the children of the Church in the principles of the Church, must be applied to the propagation of principles which are just as alien to the principles of Churchmen as the principles of Churchmen are to those of Nonconformists. The conscience of the Churchmen is as strong as that of the Nonconformist. If Non-formists want an undenominational, non-sectarian form of instruction, let them provide schools for the purpose of giving it. They are being provided very largely by the School Boards. We cannot prevent that, but we say it would be very hard indeed to take advantage of a Bill which has no reference to the controversies between Religious Bodies in order to deal with what would be a very serious blow at the consciences of the managers and teachers of these schools. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton said, I think, that the Royal Commissioners on Education had recommended that the Conscience Clause should be altered. This is what I find on page 120 of the Report of the Commission:— One class of witnesses tells us that parents, so long as education is religious, are not too nice as to the complexion which it assumes in the hands of the teacher; and that the absence of withdrawals from religious instruction indicates that the parents generally are fairly satisfied with the spirit in which religious instruction is given, even in schools carried on by denominations to which they do not belong. A different interpretation is put upon the same facts by witnesses representing some Nonconformist views. They believe the fear of unpleasant consequences to children often induces parents to acquiesce in their receiving religious instruction, to which they themselves conscientiously object. For the existence of any just grounds for this fear, however, we have failed to find proof. Cases have been cited before us by witnesses who had heard of them from others, and who were evidently convinced themselves, that uadue pressure had been put upon certain children to induce them to conform to the religious teaching of the school. But no persons were produced before us in answer to our challenge, willing to depose to any act of tyranny or intimidation exercised towards them or their children, to induce them to forego the right of withdrawal from the religious instruction of a school. Of this reluctance to give evidence the same explanation was offered to us as had been given for the absence of withdrawals from religious instruction, namely, that the persons aggrieved were afraid to make their complaints known. A single exception, incited, occurred in the case of a working-man, who complained that whereas he would have preferred that his children attending a London Board school should have had no religious instruction at all, he had been induced to let them take part in it with the rest rather than make martyrs of them. He contended that a child attending a voluntary school in Pimlico, and claiming the Couscionce Clause, would be made a martyr of. The grievance, however, on which he founded his contention occurred in a Board school in Chelsea, and not in a Pimlico voluntary school. It is possible, indeed, that among teachers the love of uniformity may perhaps now and then get the better of that tender consideration for the wishes of parents which we should desire to see cultivated to the uttermost. We welcome, therefore, the evidence laid before us, which shows that even where the children of Nonconformists are not withdrawn under the Conscience Clause, many teachers, when they have any means of distinguishing such children, are studiously careful, in giving the religious instruction of their own denomination, not to pat to them questions which would require answers at variance with the fact or with the religious persuasion of their parents. But the absence of any substantiated case of complaint, and the general drift of the evidence, convinces us that the Conscience Clause is carefully observed both by teachers and managers. This is, at least, the view taken by those of Her Majesty's Inspectors who have appeared before us, to whom any complaint of its infringement would be known. The Commission of which I was a member endeavoured in vain to get a single case of real grievance in regard to the Conscience Clause, and the instances which have been adduced to-night do not give me the impression that those grievances exist in any substantial degree. They do not seem to me to savour of persecution or religious oppression, but are simply such petty acts of tyranny as might have occurred under the local control which the right hon. Gentleman opposite is so anxious to establish. Now, let me ask what is this local control intended to be? The right hon. Gentleman was very sagacious in his remarks on this subject—much more so than some of his friends on the opposite Benches. He said he would entirely confine himself within the limits of his scheme, and declined to commit himself to the details of one scheme or another, thereby following the example of his great leader with regard to Home Rule. Other hon. Gentlemen, however, have not been equally discreet. From one quarter we have heard of parental control, and one hon. Member said he would never be satisfied without the control of a Parochial Council. For my own part, I think that the clergyman would be at least equal to the average members of a Parocial Council. Here let me refer to what was said by Mr. Prebendary Row in answer to Question 55292— Do I understand you, that to entrust the management to the farmers would put education back?—It would put the clock back at least 40 years. At any rate, I do not want to see education put back 10 years or any number of years. I do not think that anybody, except one speaking in a popular assembly with the fear of his constituents before his eyes, could contend that education would be better promoted by throwing it upon the table to be scrambled for by popular election. Why should education be the only matter to be managed by those who know nothing about it? With regard to the election of the popular bodies, there has never been a word said about the educational fitness of the persons who were to conduct education. Before sitting down I should like to say-how far I can meet the right hon. Gentleman. Nothing would induce me to agree to the Resolution, because that would be taking a step which would be repugnant not only to those who agree with me, but to the deepest feelings of our constituents. I could not, therefore, submit to obligatory control; but any voluntary arrangement by which parents or subscribers can be represented more largely than they are at present in the management of the schools will be gladly welcomed by me and those who think with me. Excellent as are the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman, if he were to succeed in his proposal he would only diminish the possibility of those arrangements which we all desire. Recognising that Her Majesty's Government have endeavoured to hold the balance straight between Board schools and voluntary schools, and that any departure from such a course would be as grievous to the conscience of Churchmen as it could be to the conscience of Nonconformists, I will give my strenuous opposition to this Instruction.

(10.6.) MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

The opposition which is offered to this Instruction is based upon three grounds, partly educational, partly ecclesiastical, and partly political. The reason why I support it is because I believe it tends towards that end which we shall, sooner or later, arrive at—that there should be a School Board school in every School Board district. I do not think it possible to have a free school in the proper sense of the term till that is brought about. I deny that a school is a free school because it is free in the matter of fees; it should be free also in its direction and management. There can be no doubt in the minds of those who have read the Blue Book that denominational schools at present are unsatisfactory in sanitary matters as well as in regard to education. What is proposed by the Government is that the mischiefs which exist shall be made permanent, and that no sufficient control shall be given to enable us to do away with them. No guarantee of efficiency of any kind is set up by the Bill unless this Instruction is carried. There is no such power of bringing popular control and judgment to bear upon the schools as would lead those who managed them to see that if they did not do their duty they would incur public blame. At present it is undisputed that the rural clergy are receiving about 7s. a head on the average, with a practically absolute monopoly in 10,000 parishes, and the Government are now going to give them 10s., which means that they are going to make them a present of £200,000 a year. Something like 500,000 children of the denomination to which I belong are driven into those schools. With regard to the character of the teaching in these voluntary schools, the Nonconformists have no confidence in schools where control is to be exercised by clergymen who believe in doctrines of the sort which have been preached by the new Bishop of Truro, who writes solemnly to the parish priest of the town, and says— Do not join the Dissenters on religious platforms, greatly as you may desire to do so. Refrain for three reasons: first, it has been found signally and commonly to fail; secondly, it will perplex and confuse your holy communicants; thirdly, it is wrong in principle; for example, you will soon be asked to attend the meetings of the Bible Society. That, Sir, is the teaching of a Bishop; what is the teaching of the clergy under the Bishop's control? It is too late to tell us that all these cases we are bringing forward are the cases of isolated and unimportant individuals. This is the teaching of a man you delight to honour, and whom you have sent to take charge of a West of England See, known to consist very largely of Dissenting and Methodist districts. Even with the greatest stretch of Christian charity we cannot have much confidence in such teaching, and it occurs to us that education given under such circumstances cannot be very satisfactory. What we want is education that is free, not only with regard to pence, but free from bigotry. With regard to the political point of view—for this is essentially a political measure—hon. Members opposite say that, as there is not local rating, there should not be local representation. But on this side of the House we contend that this change would involve local rating. I have to-day received ceived a letter from an important body in my own county, stating that they accept the measure, but earnestly protest against any increase of the rates. But an increase must undoubtedly come. I object to throwing the cost of the education of the poor people belonging to the agricultural classes upon others outside and far away from them, and who, in point of fact, get no benefit from the small wages of the agricultural classes. The starvation wages which they get do not allow these poor people to educate their children; the burden should come upon the right shoulders at the right time. We all know that this is a political move, and the fact has been sufficiently acknowledged, even by right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Government Bench. I was much amused some time ago to find that one right hon. Gentleman, speaking to his constituents, urged them to bear with this measure as much as they could, as it was desirable to do so. He said they were not to accept free education because it was a good thing, or because they liked it, or approved of it, but because it must come to the surface, whatever Party might be in power; and if the question were deliberately postponed it might stand over until their opponents were in office, when they might have free schools, which would possibly be so free that the voluntary schools would be in great danger of being extinguished. He, therefore, believed that the Government proposal would give great satisfaction to the friends of voluntary schools. This, then, is a measure to keep voluntary schools alive, although, for my part, I believe it is one that will inevitably kill them, and that is why I support it. Doubtless, it will give them a temporary advantage, but when that has worn away you will find that you have let in the thin end of the wedge, so that the principle you now acknowledge will deepen and widen to such an extent that eventually this Instruction will ultimately give us a School Board school in every School Board district; but this is exactly what some of you cannot at present foresee. Another right hon. Gentleman recently made use of the same kind of language to soothe the excited feelings of his Church friends. He said— Nothing they could do would stop the granting of free education, and that it was better to accept a measure framed by the best friends of the denominational schools than to await the Bill of their most bitter opponents. But the right hon. Gentleman may rest assured that that Bill will come, whether he likes it or not. Let me offer the Government one suggestion, and that is, that they should try again. They have tried many things and failed—allotments have not answered, free education has not answered. If they try again, let them try triennial Parliaments.

*(10.24.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

The hon. Member who has just sat down has said that, in his judgment, there is something political about this measure. I think that there is something political about this Instruction; but, however that may be, I do not propose to discuss the question from the political point of view, but from an educational point of view, and, as I am compelled to do, more or less, from the religious point of view, as so much prominence has been given to that part of the question in the Debate of this evening. I trust that the House will show me some indulgence in this case, because I wish to intervene in two capacities. I am a school manager in one of those schools with regard to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton wishes to secure local representation, and I am also the utterer of certain views on denominational schools, which have been more than once quoted in these Debates; in fact, I observe that when hon. Members opposite have found the wheels of their chariots running rather heavily, they have always tried to revive the flagging attention of their hearers by quoting from previous speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And as hon. Members have done me the honour of quoting from my speeches, I think that they are certain to give me their attention if I say a few words on the present occasion. With regard to the personal part of the question, there is one phrase of mine which has been, I think, three times quoted in connection with these Debates. The words are these— In the long run popular feeling will declare itself against compulsory attendance of children at denominational schools, and the support of such schools by public money. These words I used in 1876 under the following circumstances. I had associated myself thoroughly with the policy of Mr. Forster in 1870. That policy was a policy of maintaining denominational schools, and of supplementing our great system of voluntary schools only where necessary by the establishment of Board schools. I approved of that policy, and it has been justified by events. The 21 years which have passed have shown what work these voluntary schools have been able to do, and how the friction which was anticipated has been reduced to a minimum. I thought it was an unwise thing in 1876 to disturb the compromise of 1870, and the language quoted was not an expression of my desire, not an expression of policy to which I was attached—the whole conduct of myself and my friends was in the opposite direction—it was rather a warning addressed to those who were in power at that day that it was unwise to disturb that compromise. I venture to appeal to the Report which has been quoted and to the experience of many hon. Members of this House—whether those religious conflicts which seemed to threaten the educational progress of this country in 1870 and for some years after have not passed away, and whether, thanks to the common-sense of the people, to the manner in which the voluntary schools have been conducted, and to the desire of all parties to free the education question from religious controversies, it has not been possible to maintain voluntary schools in spite of compulsory attendance. We hope that by the continued good sense of the managers of denominational schools we may continue to have the full advantage of that system, which has not been in the slightest degree injurious to the educational movement of the country. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton what he really means and intends by this Resolution? We cannot interpret the Resolution simply by the eloquent speech he made. We must look to the surrounding circumstances and to the utterances of others. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbighshire suggested that this was far too moderate a Resolution. What were the Resolutions put upon the Paper at an earlier period? One hon. Gentleman wished the House to declare that no Bill would be satisfatory which does not provide for the entire abolition of fees in all public elementary schools, and for the local management of such schools by elected local representatives of the taxpayers. That is not the moderate Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, but it represents the real expression of the opinions of hon. Gentlemen opposite. These Amendments were withdrawn in order that a Resolution might be put upon the Table on which the right hon. Gentleman might make a comparatively moderate speech, and by which, as the right; hon. Member for West Birmingham had suggested, he might avoid disturbing that compact which had been made with the Roman Catholics by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton was present at a very interesting conference of Methodists which has taken place since the Second Reading of the Bill, and at that conference language was used of greater candour than that of the right hon. Gentleman himself. In regard to what was stated at that gathering, I wish to point out that the present law provides machinery by which complaints made by parents may be brought to the notice of the Local Authorities and of the Education Department.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

What Local Authorities?


The School Attendance Committee. The Local Authority is defined in the Act of 1876, which provides that it shall be the duty of such Local Authority to report any infraction of the provisions of Clause 7 of the Elementary Education Act of 1870 in any public elementary school within their district which may come to their knowledge, and to forward to the Education Department any complaint they may receive of the infraction of those provisions. The right hon. Gentleman does not know that, because when he was at the Education Department there were scarcely over any complaints made by the parents, and, therefore, it had not been found necessary to enforce that provision. I have searched the records, and found serious complaints very rarely made of the infraction of that clause. The proceedings of the conference to which I have alluded began with fair moderation, but a Mr. Bunting said they wanted "protection against the Anglican monopoly of education," and "they must be protected against religious oppression." I ask the Committee to consider whether the tendency towards religious oppression would be removed by the adoption of the Resolution. Have hon. Gentlemen opposite no grievance against the School Boards with their full local representation? If that is so, how is it going to be remedied by the adoption of this Resolution? The right hon. Gentleman may revive every kind of religious controversy in every parish in the country; he may have an election founded not upon educational progress, but upon religious controversy. After he has done that, when he has got his local representation, is it certain that local representation will be such a great boon? It is not by the adoption of the Resolution that we can hope to remove the religious difficulty which in times past has obstructed educational progress. I still hope that difficulty may not be revived by these controversies, and I hope it may still be possible to continue that amicable working together of Churchmen and Dissenters, which is, happily, to be found in many parishes. The hon. Member for Bedford said an ounce of practice was worth a ton of theory, and there are many ounces of practice by which we can show conclusively that unless attempts are made to create grievances—unless the agitator is sent into the parish to go round to the parents to ask them to complain—those complaints are extremely rare. I am myself the manager of a rural school, in which one-fifth of the scholars are the children of Dissenters, and during the 15 years I have been associated with the school I have not had one single objection from those parents. I have made inquiry in other quarters. A friend of mine has a school in which there are 360 children, of which GO are the children of Dissenters, and he informs me that in the whole course of his experience there has not been a single case of friction or complaint. The theory is that there is a grievance, but I can produce evidence to show that it is more in theory than in fact that the grievance exists. If there was a serious grievance I would be as anxious to remove that grievance as any Member of this House. If Dissenters had any real grievances those grievances ought to be removed; and if I were a manager of a school, or had any influence in a school where a catechism was used such as the right hon. Gentleman quoted, I should feel it my duty, even at the risk of having to abandon that school, and to establish a School Board, to withdraw my subscription. These people seem to me in their zeal to be levelling a blow at the Church to which they belong in displaying such intolerance. They weaken that reputation for tolerance and general breadth which ought always to characterise the Established Church. We were anxious that the right hon. Gentleman should produce cases of schools where the catechism was in vogue, but he did not produce them. I presume there were such instances, or he would not have thought it necessary to bring these matters before the House. Though there are many friends of the Church—friends who have worked in the cause of denominational education—there is not one who is cognisant of the circulation of the particular form of catechism to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. I am afraid that in all churches, and wherever there is this religious zeal, which we must admire though it is not always discreet, there are some cases of excess, of indiscretion which most persons would be prepared to condemn; but let us ask ourselves whether the right hon. Gentleman's method will have the effect of preventing those individual indiscretions which sometimes occur. I should like to call the attention of the House to a rather interesting extract from this conference. The Education Committee of the Wesleyan Methodists some months ago required their secretary to keep a careful record of all such cases of complaint of persecution. Dr. Waller said that— Our experience since the last meeting has been precisely in harmony with the experience before. The resolutions of last meeting went over all the country; there has not been one single case of infraction of the Conscience Clause. Another speaker said that he was bound to say that they could not give definite cases; if they did, their cases would break down. That is the sum of the assault which is made in the most eloquent terms by the right hon. Gentleman. Where the cases have been examined, those cases have broken down.


I never said that the Conscience Clause had been violated. I said, as the Report of the Minority says, it was not effective.


I should like some definite cases to be produced where it has not been effective. I do not know to what extent the right hon. Gentleman thinks the cases he has quoted show that it has not been effective, but I think the cases he has quoted will not confirm his argument. The right hon. Gentleman said that where there was this great contribution made from the public funds there ought to be public control, and he quoted certain cases in order to show that public control did accompany the grant of public money. He was partially answered on that point by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, who showed distinctly that it is the product which is examined by the Public Authority, and that it is the Public Authority that decides whether the public has got worth for its money. I venture to say, speaking with some experience, that even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham scarcely went far enough, because it is not only the product which is examined, but the conditions under which the product is produced. I know the Inspectors who visit us from the Central Department are as particular with regard to every detail of inspection as it would be possible for any one to be. The right hon. Gentleman said that they reported on the use of public money; but they do much more than that. They report on the use of the money of the subscribers, and the subscribers cannot erect a new annexe to the school; they can scarcely put in a drain or extend a schoolroom without having to submit the plans to the Department. I maintain, having gone through the process myself, and having seen the extraordinary tyranny almost, I might say, which is exercised by the Central Authority over every detail of the school, the public have been assured that whatever money is spent by the public is spent under the most rigorous watchfulness on the part of the representatives of the taxpayer. Take the case of the sanitary condition of a school. You want parents to examine into the sanitary condition. Well, it is examined into by the Inspector with the most watchful eye. The point really does not turn on the efficiency of the schools—that is secured at the present moment by the central control through the Inspector, who is responsible to the Minister, who, in turn, is responsible to the House of Commons for the expenditure of public money—the point turns on the question of the Conscience Clause and the alleged religious grievances of the Dissenters. It is on those occasions when there is a great Debate on education that those grievances are alleged to exist to the extent that we have heard to-night. There have been long periods when we have heard very little of the existence of grievances. I do not remember any great Motion brought forward on the violation of the effective part of the Conscience Clause during the years 1880 to 1885, when the right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible for the Education Department. I do not know whether they were aware at that time that great grievances existed, but I do not think things have changed since the period from 1880 to 1885. It is also curious to observe—I have not seen even at the many bye-elections which have taken place that those burning grievances of which we hear, have been insisted upon in so many directions as was suggested. The right hon. Gentleman gave as real instances of persecution the case of six typical schools in Lincolnshire. He gave us the percentages of the number of Dissenters in those schools, but then he passed on to some further instances of persecution; he did not say there were any possible grievances. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman forgot his brief, but in those six typical schools, started by the generosity of Churchmen, there was a very large proportion of Dissenters who did not supply any grievances or persecution under the existing management of the schools. Then the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to the case of a prize winner who had been deprived of his prize at some athletic sports because he had not attended the Sunday school. I think it was a foolish proceeding on the part of the managers of that school, but I fail to see how this Instruction could meet this petty form of religious zeal. The right hon. Gentleman relied on the evidence given before the Royal Commission, at which a good many Inspectors gave evidence; and the right hon. Gentleman, like the minority Members of that Commission who reported, did not attach very much importance to the evidence of the Inspectors who gave evidence as to the absence of any serious complaint against voluntary schools. It was stated that they had no cases they could produce. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the opinion of Mr. Fitch, to the effect that he had heard of grave hardships in connection with the Conscience Clause; no case had ever been brought to his notice, but a large number of people had said that there were such cases, though he could not speak to the truth of what they said. He said that the kind of statements the Commissioners referred to had been made in his hearing, but he could not say that they had been verified. No one has verified them, and the right hon. Gentleman has not verified them. Mr. Fitch was asked whether he would remedy the grievance he had pointed out by proposing that children should only attend during the time of secular instruction, to which he replied— I think that would be too large a remedy with which to deal with so small an evil. It is such evidence as this that is brought forward to support the case of the right hon. Gentleman. Now I come to the most interesting case of all, which has been brought forward to establish this minor form of persecution—that is the case of a working man named Smyth, who gave evidence in support of the allegation. Those who signed the Minority Report excused themselves for being unable to get hold of many persons who would give evidence in support of such allegations, as they said that it was not the business of the Inspectors to find out whether these forms of minor persecution existed or not, while the evidence of the managers of schools could not be accepted. But there was one person, at all events, to whose evidence they attached considerable weight, and that was Mr. Smyth, the working man. In these circumstances, I think that the House will agree with me that it is of extreme importance that we should know exactly what it was that Smyth stated. He was questioned as follows:— Do you mean that you have yourself taken advantage of the Conscience Clause?—Yes, I have. And that your children have been what you called 'spotted'?—Yes. Where was that?—The first instance was when my eldest boy went to Cook's Ground School. He was put to religious instruction, or religious instruction was offered to be given. I sent and asked that he should be withdrawn from that religious instruction, and I will tell you what happened. There was a demur about doing so, and I had a consultation with the schoolmaster about it. I sent my wife also to ask about it; and the result of all the negotiations was the boy was put up at one end of the room by himself in front of all the school; while they were being given religious instruction he had to stand there. That was a Board school, I presume?—Yes, that was a Board school. The case you mention is the case of a Board school; is there any such case which you have ever heard of in a voluntary school?—No. Therefore the grievance is a Board school grievance?—The grievance is put up with. But the grievance which you now maintain is a Board school grievance? Yes, it was. And yet now we are invited to put an end to this alleged system of petty persecution in voluntary schools, this system under which boys of some particular denomination are "spotted" and made to stand by themselves at the end of the schoolroom whilst religious instruction is going on, and are thereby subjected to humiliation, which grates quite as much on my feelings as it does on the feelings of gentlemen opposite. And how are we to put an end to this system of petty persecution? Why, by means of a system of popular representation. And then we have it that the only authentic case of such a system of petty persecution which can be brought forward is shown to have occurred in a Board and not in a voluntary school. But there is another witness. Dr. Bruce, who is an eminent representative of the Nonconformist Body, is asked— Is it your contention that the Conscience Clause is no more protection in Board schools than it is in voluntary schools?" And he replies—"No, I do not believe that it is but the Board schools do not use any Church formularies, and therefore there is a natural Conscience Clause in operation in them which is not the case in the voluntary schools. I submit to every man of common sense whether it is possible to solve the difficulty which we have to encounter of having to deal in each school with children of different denominations by means of popular representation. I venture to say that you cannot solve that difficulty by means of popular representation nor by Act of Parliament, which, I am afraid, cannot eradicate that spirit of intolerance which I do not think is confined to the Church of England. We are told that eventually we are to have School Boards universally. But, in the meantime, we are to have temporarily a system of control by popular representation. The Member for Wolverhampton did not show us his hand. He prudently refrained from saying whether there is to be an election, but I presume, according to all the definitions of representation, it cannot be secured without election. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman says "Hear, hear!" You are to have an election, and into that the religious element is sure to enter. Where would he be if there was an election based on Church against Dissent, and the parents elected according to the cry of that particular election? You would not have ideal managers coming forward to smooth all religious difficulty, but zealots on both sides would engage in the fight. You would have men coming from central organisations, whom I am always sorry to see interfere in local affairs. There would be the indiscreet curates, to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred, on the one side, and Dissenting ministers of no less pugnacious proclivities on the other, and they would come down and rouse the parish in the interests of religious tolerance and religious peace! I see no other prospect opened up in that direction. The difficulty cannot be removed by a system which has not been explained, but which has been adumbrated by the right hon. Gentleman. But do hon. Gentlemen opposite think that the position of Dissenters would be improved by the result of an election where the Church would be in a majority? I cannot conceive how the Dissenters could improve their position if they were in a minority. In these 10,000 parishes where you have only one school the right hon. Gentleman suggests the Dissenters are always in a minority, except in six instances in Lincolnshire. [An hon. MEMBER: No, in Wales.] But in the other cases have you got a majority; and if you have, how is it you have not met the case by founding another school? If there are 30 children who can be brought together they can have a school of their own. Here is this burning grievance of which nothing was heard from 1880 to 1885, and indeed not much until this Debate, and yet you do not get 30 children together, and that is in districts where you say your percentages are so large. In many cases there are districts where the schools are Dissenting schools, and the Church children go there, and in other cases the Dissenting children go to the Church school, according to the neighbourhood and convenience of the parents. Discontent does not exist over the greater part of this country. I believe that to a great extent things have improved, and that in the vast majority of cases the Dissenters are prepared to work pleasantly with their brethren in the Church. I believe in all honesty that many hon. Gentlemen opposite have the cause of education thoroughly at heart, and that they would regret to see religious animosity crossing their path. I trust I have said nothing that will jar on the feelings of those hon. Members. I have not seen anything brought forward to show the practical necessity of the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. I believe I have shown that the course he suggests would not produce the results which he wishes. So long as the religious clement is retained in the schools there will be some difference of opinion amongst religious men, and the only way entirely to get rid of the feeling will be to cast off and remove religious instruction altogether from the schools. That is a course which I do not think many are willing to adopt. The right hon. Gentleman drew a picture of the work which has been done by the Board schools. I agree it is a pleasure to find where schools did not exist that these schools have been established. I do not yield one jot to the right hon. Gentleman in my desire for advancing education. He spoke as if we grudged the money for the schools, while we did not grudge the money for national defence. But education was carried on in the denominational schools as well as in the Board schools, which are the ideal of the right hon. Gentleman—and carried on by great voluntary and spontaneous efforts which have been the characteristics of social, political, educational, and religious life in England—a system which has rendered untold service in the past. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know whether that cheer is for "in the past," but do hon. Members not wish that it should be continued in the future? The right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech by quoting the words of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, and I shall conclude by quoting the eloquent words of the Member for Mid Lothian. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, speaking on June 24, 1870, said— Now, as regards the existing denominational schools, it is a very grave and important question which we have to ask ourselves "— I hope hon. Members will put it to themselves now, and will not answer it in the negative— whether we are frankly, ungrudgingly, willingly, and systematically to make use of that powerful agency for the purpose of good secular instruction which is placed at our command in a great degree, if not exclusively, through the vigorous action of religious zeal and love. Let us not disguise from ourselves that this is a question of the greatest moment. The answer to it, I own, appears to me to be perfectly clear. That answer is"— I commend it to the attention of the followers of the right hon. Gentleman— that nothing but folly could induce us to refuse to avail ourselves of an opportunity so valuable. If we do not avail ourselves of it, if we treat those voluntary schools as institutions either to be proscribed or, at the best, only to be tolerated, limited, hemmed in, permitted to exist merely because they do exist as things which it is not worth our while to recognise or honour or encourage—on what principle can we justify such a policy? Those are the views of the leader of the Party opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton says that he feels pride when he sees the many Board schools that have been erected. I think we ought also to feel pride when we see how the country has been covered with schools erected by voluntary effort, and how, through the good relations existing between the managers and the parents and the inmates of those schools, those who support them are associated with the parish life and the life of the rising generation. I say that the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman would not effect its object, and that it would lead to the establishment of universal School Boards. If the policy of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out, many of the ties of sympathy which bind us to the rising generation and endear the various classes in a parish to one another would be snapped, and you would only substitute, in the place of what we should lose, an annual election affected by religious animosities and resulting in the display of religious intolerance.

(11.23.) MR. MUNDELLA

I think that every one who heard the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton must admit that the magnificent speech which he addressed to the House remains unanswered and unanswerable. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] It has not been answered by the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who has excelled this evening in the adroitness and wonderful resource which characterises all his speeches, nor has it been answered by the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman opposite addressed us as a school manager, and as an utterer of some utterances which he seemed to wish could be obliterated from the memories of Members of this House. As a school manager, we all know the right hon. Gentleman would never tolerate practices which have been referred to, and I can hardly believe any Member of the House would tolerate such insufferable petty tyranny as that involved in the catechisms which have been read. It is easy to treat the catechisms which have been referred to in the Debate as trivial matters; but are hon. Members who make light of them aware that some of these catechisms have run through 12 editions? 160,000 copies of the catechism specially quoted by my right hon. Friend have been issued, and of others 200,000 and 300,000 copies have been printed, and the Society which is responsible for them is increasing its subscriptions and publications enormously. Do hon. Members think that these catechisms are printed by the hundred thousand merely to be thrown into the waste-paper basket? No; they are printed for use, and are in use in many schools. [Cries of "Name."] It is a disgrace to our educational system. [Cries of "Name."] Questions with reference to the use of these books in particular schools have been put again and again to the Vice President of the Council. [An hon. MEMBER: Name one school.] The Vice President, in answer, has been obliged, as I was obliged, to admit that neither the Education Department nor Her Majesty's Inspectors have a right to inquire into the religious teaching in schools, and that consequently he can do nothing. I can refer the Vice President of the Council to case after case of gross intolerance in voluntary schools. Very few weeks pass without cases of the kind being brought to my notice. Only the other day a respectable working man appealed to me from a rural village——[Cries of "Whore?"] Hon. Members opposite, I suppose, wish me to give the name so that the man may be subjected to all the consequences. This man's son had been most successful at school, and the schoolmaster was very desirous of employing him as a pupil teacher. The boy passed his examinations at South Kensington with credit, and obtained all necessary certificates. But when the time came to appoint him as teacher the schoolmaster was obliged to decline his services. Why? Because the youth had attended a Nonconformist Sunday school. The father implored the clergyman not to allow this fact to stand in his son's way, but his entreaties were unavailing, and the lad was not employed. We know there is no chance for the children of Nonconformists entering on the career of a teacher in districts where there are only Church schools. The right hon. Gentleman said one thing which was rather unworthy of him, I thought. It was an echo of something said the other night by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War and a taunt to Welsh Members. He said, "Why don't you set up schools of your own?" How are poor agricultural labourers to build a school and employ a schoolmaster, and find all the expenses of conducting a school for 12 months in order that they may obtain a grant?


There is very considerable Dissenting wealth in Wales, and the Church schools in Wales have been helped from central sources, and not only from local sources.


The Dissenting wealth in Wales has to maintain the whole religious worship of Nonconformity in the Principality. The Dissenting; wealth of Wales has to provide Colleges even for Welsh ministers, and the poor quarrymen and miners in Wales subscribed their half-crowns and crowns, and even their pounds, to build up Aberystwith and endow it, and they are to be reproached because they do not also provide public elementary schools when they would get no grants till not only the school had been built and at work a year, but had received the approbation of Her Majesty's Inspector. The question has been asked whether there is any evidence of the petty tyranny to which my right hon. Friend referred. When I was at the Education Office I had them constantly, and dealt with them. I received hundreds of letters, and answered them daily, and wherever I could I gave redress, and where I could not give redress I gave discouragement to the action and encouragement to the parties who brought properly authenticated cases. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, Does he believe that if in 50 parishes in England Nonconformist or Roman Catholic schools were the only schools in the district, there would not be an outcry from hon. Gentlemen opposite to insist that children of Churchmen should not be forced to enter those Nonconformist schools? This was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman himself in his more enlightened and more Liberal days. The argument of the right hon. Member for Birmingham is a very good argument for extending the Instruction, but it is a very bad one for opposing it. For my own part, I believe the Instruction does not go far enough. My belief is that if the Instruction is rejected tonight, as I believe it will be, hon. Gentlemen opposite will live to regret it, for they will never again have the opportunity of voting for such a moderate Resolution. I should just like to recall to their memories that the proposals for local control are, in the opinion of many good and wise Churchmen, involved in the very measure under discussion. For two years Churchmen have been considering whether they could accept the fee grant, because they feel it necessarily involves local control. It has been the argument at Church Congresses that local control is necessarily involved. I have received numbers of letters from excellent clergymen of the Church of England, liberal minded men, who are all anxious that there should be some local control—men who, if they could influence the Government, would ask them to support this Instruction. When it is said that voluntary schools have been built by Churchmen, let it be remembered that Nonconformists subscribed in many cases even more liberally than Churchmen themselves. The Rev. Lord Forester, Canon of York, wrote to me that it was preposterous that a nation which sets so much value on religion could not somehow unite upon a plan of instruction which should be satisfactory to all. Canon Dunkley, vicar of Wolverhampton, chairman of the local School Board and a manager of several voluntary schools, read an admirable paper at the Church Congress in favour of representative management, and nobody replied to it. I might cite the words of Prebendary Row in a similar sense. Indeed, representative management was expected by Churchmen to accompany this Bill, and it would have done so, but for the lack of courage on the part of the Government. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham seems to have turned his back on all his former convictions. Nothing could be more extravagant than his estimate of the cost which would attend the establishment of School Boards. There are 400,000 places in British and unsectarian schools, the managers of which would gladly place them under School Boards. There are nearly 700,000 places in excess of local requirements. The right hon. Gentleman based his estimate—£12 a head—on the cost of schools in London or Birmingham, where the site alone often costs more than schools and site elsewhere. There are 18,000,000 of the population already supplied with Board schools. The estimate of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton is much nearer the mark than that of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. It was I who first used the expression quoted by the right hon. Member for Newcastle, and I made use of it in asking the House to give England the Scotch system. Is the Scotch system a concordat with the Roman Catholic? If we could have such a system in England this long contention would cease; we should make a new start and have a peaceful and progressive state of things. I ask the House to consider that there are 10,000 parishes in England where there is only one school; that school being, in the main, under the control of one man, and that man being in almost every case a cleric. Whether Churchmen or Nonconformists, these are not the men who ought to be trusted with the sole management of the schools. The present Bill involves the largest endowment that has ever been given to the rural schools of this country. Last year the right hon. Gentleman gave an increase to them of more than £50,000 a year; but now the Government are proposing to give at least £150,000. In Committee I will show to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there are rural schools which will not cost a farthing to the school managers. I hope that after the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton—a speech which, for power, lucidity, and force, was such as has been rarely heard in the House, and which has not been impugned or even dealt with except by quibbles—the House will divide in favour of the Instruction. But whatever may be the result of the Division, I am convinced that the worst service that could be rendered to the Church is to maintain the entire monopoly of the rural schools in the hands of the clergy.

(11.56.) The House divided:—Ayes 166; Noes 267.—(Div. List, No. 309.)

It being after Midnight, Further Proceedings on going into Committee stood adjourned.

Further Proceedings on going into Committee to be resumed to-morrow.