HC Deb 18 March 1895 vol 31 cc1350-6
SIR ANDREW R. SCOBLE (Hackney, Central),

in rising to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to be graciously pleased to withhold Her consent from the Scheme now before Parliament for the management of the foundation known as Sir John Cass's Charity in the parish of Aldgate, &c. explained that Sir John Cass was an Alderman of London, who flourished about 200 years ago, and was Alderman for the Ward of Portsoken. In 1709 he made a will, by which he established two schools; first, the one he had already set up in Aldgate, which was an elementary school, and secondly, a more advanced school, to be built upon land which he possessed in Hackney, and which was to form a sort of extension of the Aldgate school, and was to be for the benefit of the same children. In 1718 he intended to make, another will, but he died, after executing only two sheets of that document. There being, consequently, some difficulty in carrying out his intentions with regard to the schools, an attempt was made to obtain an Act of Parliament, but it only passed the House of Lords, and failed to pass the House of Commons. Some years after, in 1743, the matter was brought before the Court of Chancery, and Lord Hardwicke made a decree establishing the first will; but, as it appeared that the testator's freehold estate, which, on inquiry by the Chief Clerk was found to be worth £160 2s. l0d. per annum, was not sufficient to provide for both schools, the Court directed that the income should be devoted to the school in Aldgate. No attempt was made for about 100 years to establish the school in Hackney, but in 1842 the trustees of the Charity brought forward a scheme by which they proposed to spend £10,000 in building the school in Hackney, setting apart at the same time an amount of money for the maintenance of that school. Opposition was, however, offered to that scheme and it was dropped. In 1873 the matter was brought to the attention of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, who proposed a scheme for building upon the founder's estate in Hackney. That scheme also was not proceeded with. Then came the scheme now before the House. The Vestry of Hackney were quite willing and desirous that no attempt should be made to interfere with the school at Aldgate, and to that portion of the scheme no objection was taken. What they did object to was the further proposal of the Charity Commissioners, whereby, instead of spending money available for a school in Hackney, they proposed to spend a very large sum, not so much in the education of children, which was what the testator had in view, but in the establishment of a technical institute in the parish of Aldgate, not for children, but for adults of both sexes. He thought it would be abundantly clear that the intention of the testator was to establish a school in Hackney. It was also perfectly clear, that if such a school was established, it would enure to the benefit of the children of the district; therefore he contended that the best way to carry out the object of the testator was to benefit the children of Hackney as well as the children of Aldgate. At the time of the appeal to the Court of Chancery the annual income available was only £160, but it was now £6,000 a year, the bulk of it coming from Hackney; and he thought he was justified in saying that it was only fair, in dealing with the matter after such a lapse of time, that regard should be had to the needs of the locality from which the funds were derived. What he particularly wished to bring to the notice of the House in regard to the scheme of the Charity Commissioners was this, that not only was there no provision at all in the will of the testator for any such institute as was now contemplated, but it would be an absolute waste of funds if such an institute were established in Aldgate. Aldgate was the next parish to Whitechapel, where there was already a Technical Institute and school perfectly available for any Aldgate boy who wished to go there. On the northern side, in Finsbury, was an admirable Technical Institute established by the City Guilds of London. And in regard to the scheme for a library, which was one of the features proposed, in the next parish, Bishopgate, there had recently been established by the efforts of the Rev. W. Rogers, an admirable library. Therefore, he submitted, the scheme was unfair as regarded Hackney and unnecessary as regarded Aldgate. He only asked that the intentions of Sir John Cass should be carried out, so far as the school at Hackney was concerned, and that the school might be made available now as 200 years ago for the children of Aldgate, by the establishment of foundation scholarships or in any other way that the ingenuity of the Charity Commissioners might devise. Aldgate was at the time of Sir J. Cass's death a part of the City of London, destitute of educational advantages. Hackney was a suburb not built upon, consisting mainly of arable land. There were now more persons living upon the Cass estate in Hackney than there were in the whole parish of Aldgate. If they took the Census Returns, it appeared that the population of the parish of Aldgate now amounted to only some 6,000 persons.


The population to which the scheme applies is 9,000 or 10,000. It is not for Aldgate only, in any sense.


said, that, even taking the right hon. Gentleman's figures, it remained that there were 10,000 people in that part of Hackney alone, which consisted of the Cass estate, while in the whole of Hackney there were 200,000 people. The 10,000 in Aldgate had many opportunities of obtaining this education, but in Hackney there was no institution of the kind; nothing more than an elementary school. It was the duty of hon. Members, as guardians of the public interest, to see that, in a matter of this kind, the best advantage was taken of such a benefaction, which, after being long in abeyance, was to be made fruitful. If the scheme of the Charity Commissioners, as it stood, were adopted, it would be of very little use, and a positive disadvantage to the kindred institutions in the neighbourhood. If, on the other hand, the benefit were extended to Hackney in the way the founder intended, and as the circumstances of the time required, it would be fruitful of much good, and would supply a want which had been severely felt in one of the poorest districts of London. He begged to move.

MR. G. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)

seconded the Motion. With regard to Aldgate, the hon. Member had forgotten to mention another institution in that neighbourhood—the Bishopsgate Institute. Aldgate was now surrounded by such institutions, while Hackney was almost totally destitute of them. In the one case there was a diminishing population, and in the other a constantly increasing population. The Hackney people felt that they had an interest in this matter, and their claim seemed irresistible. It was proposed to hand over to Hackney a sum of £5,000, and what could Hackney do with such a nest-egg? It could start nothing, and if it did start anything, it could complete nothing. The cost of building this institution would be £100,000. When a scheme of this kind was devised for dealing with charitable funds, all those who felt they had an interest ought to be considered, and especially when the fund was to be made available for general public purposes. He did not know what position the Government would take, and did not wish to go into the question at length. This was a new scheme, appropriating money to a new purpose, and, in fact, the claims of Hackney had been recognised to the extent of £5,000, and this showed recognition of the principle he advocated. Hackney had a claim to some portion of the money. Then there was the fact brought forward by the hon. Member that the inhabitants of Hackney were the persons living on the estate furnishing the means for building up this institution, and they ought to be considered. In a few years, if matters proceeded as now, Aldgate would be almost denuded of resident population, and those who did remain there would have a variety of institutions to which they could go, while Hackney would be absolutely without them. He seconded the Motion.


said, he did not propose to go into the question how this money, which belonged to the parish of Aldgate, might or might not be spent, and no doubt there were many ways other than in the manner proposed by the scheme. There could be no doubt that the proposed technical institute would be of real value. The population of Aldgate was something between 9,000 and 10,000, and unless the House was prepared to throw over the will of the pious founder altogether—and the tendency had been in the other direction—he did not think the House could reject this scheme. The whole thing turned upon the will of the founder. True the founder left two wills, but it did not matter which was taken, neither the one nor the other left the money to Hackney. In his lifetime the donor founded an elementary school in Aldgate, and in his first will the founder provided for a schoolmaster and 20 poor boys to be selected from the school in Aldgate. Clearly it was for higher education for Aldgate. The second will said nothing of the secondary school, but it said nothing of allotting the money to Hackney. So far as the judgment of Lord Hardwicke went, it confirmed the second will. In no case was a bequest made to Hackney. The trustees, rightly thinking that the fund was too large for an elementary school, proposed, with the concurrence of the Charity Commissioners, to devote part of the money to a technical institute in Aldgate. If they once recognised the fact that in every place where a charitable endowment existed there a school must be placed, they would upset deans, chapters, and colleges in a most extraordinary manner. The Charity Commissioners, recognising that Hackney might have; some claim, provided that a residue not exceeding £500 a year should be given to it for educational purposes. When the scheme came before the Education Department he had interviews with the Governors of the Aldgate cheme and the representatives of Aldgate, and they contended that the scheme unjustly deprived them of advantages and gave them to Hackney. On the other hand, the representatives of Hackney contended that they did not receive enough. In all these schemes a compromise had to be arrived at, and, though Hackney had no legal claim whatever, it was only reasonable to see whether something more could be done for it. Consequently, two additions were made for Hackney—£5,000 if it wished to build a technical institute or a polytechnic; and secondly, besides £500 a year, when the income from the endowment largely exceeded the amount required for the purposes of the Aldgate Scheme, the excess should be applied for a further scheme in which regard should be had to the educational interests of Hackney. What he had meant to say was this, that Hackney had no legal claim at all, and they could not have gone further without justly and fairly annoying the Aldgate people, where, as he had stated, there was a population of over 10,000. On the last occasion when a scheme was before the House, hon. Members rejected it because the views of the pious founder were not properly observed, and because there was too much alienation. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Address now contended that there was not alienation enough; but he hoped the House was not going to reverse the view it took on the previous occasion and insist that Aldgate must give still more, for that would only wreck the scheme and prevent any proposals on behalf of Hackney from being brought forward for many years to come.

The House divided—Ayes 15; Noes 83.—(Division List No. 29.)

House adjourned at Fifteen minutes before One o'clock.