HC Deb 17 August 1893 vol 16 cc422-4
SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)

I beg to ask the hon. Member for Merionethshire's Charity Commissioner, whether Clause 91 of the Merionethshire County Scheme is consistent with Clause 16 of "The Endowed Schools Act, 1869," referred to by him on 14th August; whether he is aware that a clause of a similar character, relating to denominational teaching in boarding houses, was contained in a scheme dealing with Christ's Hospital, and eventually struck out under a judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as being ultra vires; and whether there is any scheme in operation under the Endowed Schools Acts containing such a restriction as indicated in Clause 91 of the Merionethshire Scheme?


The Commissioners consider that Clause 91 of the Merioneth Scheme is consistent with Section 16 of the Endowed Schools Act, 1869; but, as has been already stated in reply to the hon. Member for Owestry, the Commissioners have taken care to obviate all possibility of incompatibility between the clause and the section by making the provisions of the clause subject to those of the section as embodied verbatim in Clause 90 of the Scheme. The provision to which the hon. Baronet refers as having been struck out of the Christ's Hospital Scheme, in pursuance of a judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, was not similar in character to this clause. That provision was that— Every person in charge of a boarding house of any school of the Foundation should allow exemption when claimed from attending prayer or religious worship, or from any lesson or series of lessons on a religious subject. This provision the Judicial Committee declared to be contrary to Section 16 of the Endowed Schools Act, 1869. No provision similar to this can be found in Clause 91 of the Merioneth Scheme. But, if there be anything similar, it must give way to the requirements of Clause 90. The precise provisions of this clause are not contained in any scheme which is in operation under the Endowed Schools Acts. But a similar provision is made in Section 89 of the Carnarvonshire Scheme. In nearly all the schemes which have been framed by the Charity Commissioners under the Endowed Schools Acts for schools in England and Wales (except those which are strictly denominational by virtue of Section 19 of the Act of 1869), the power of prohibiting instruction in the schools in the formularies of any particular denomination is given by the Schemes to the Governing Body.


I do not wish to press the hon. Member unfairly, but I desire to ask him whether, as Clause 91 now appears for the first time, and is proposed to be carried into operation under this Scheme, whereas the House was first informed by the Vice President of the Council that this clause was founded on the Act of 1891, and on the Endowed Schools Act; and whether, as on the 14th August we were informed by the hon. Member that the clause was founded only on Section 16 of the Endowed Schools Act, and as we have been informed that it is subject to six or seven other clauses of the Endowed Schools Act, the hon. Member does not think it advisable to refer this matter to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to have a legal opinion taken upon it rather than risk the destruction of the whole Scheme, which is inevitable as the clause remains, and so put back the entire education in this district of Wales?


I have just stated that a similar provision appeared in Clause 89 of the Carnarvonshire Scheme, which was thoroughly discussed in the House of Lords for several hours some months ago, and passed without any vote whatever. The Commissioners are perfectly satisfied that the clause is legal, not founded on Section 16, but subject to Section 16, and it is not the duty of the Commissioners, but of the objectors to the Scheme, to test its validity.


Is it not the fact that the Scheme wholly prohibits the reading of collects in family worship in the hostel.


Yes, Sir.