§ MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)
I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether the teaching of such catechisms as "A second catechism for the children of the Church, issued by the Church Extension Association," in a public elementary school in a country district in which no other school than a Church of England school exists, is a violation of the letter and spirit of Clause 8 of the Education Act of 1870, which requires that the education shall be efficient and suitable for the children of the district; whether the Education Department has power to refuse grants of public money to schools so situated in which such catechisms are taught; and, if it has the power, whether it will exercise it?
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir W. HART DYKE,) Kent, Dartford
I am not aware, as I have already stated, that the catechism mentioned is used in any public elementary school; but the hon. Member ought to know that every such school is ipso facto efficient and suitable within the meaning of the Statute. It follows, therefore, that the Education Department has no power to refuse a Parliamentary grant to a school on the strength of any catechism that may be taught during the hours set apart for religious instruction, provided that the Conscience Clause is not violated; and the right of parents to withdraw their children from such instruction is scrupulously respected.
§ In answer to a further question from Mr. SUMMERS,
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
said: The Department has no right to refuse a grant to a school on such grounds, provided the Conscience Clause is not violated.