HC Deb 12 May 1896 vol 40 cc1152-257

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [5th May], "That the Bill be now read a Second time;"; and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Asquith.)

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.

*COLONEL MELLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)

said, that when the Debate was adjourned last night he was calling attention to a quotation from a speech by the Bishop of Durham given by the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary on the subject of the 27th Clause. As that quotation exactly expressed his view of this question, as well as that of the right hon. Gentleman, and, as he believed, of the great majority of hon. Members of this House on both sides, he would ask permission to repeat it:— He did not think the power which was given would be very largely used. When solid and reverent instruction was given in the Holy Scriptures such as he firmly believed was given in the Board Schools of all their large towns, he did not think it would he interfered with. [Hear, hear!"] Such instruction was not all that they required, but what was wanting could be supplied elsewhere, and speaking from direct knowledge of the subject, he believed that greater completeness would be very dearly purchased by interference with the regular course of the school. Now, in that sentiment he thoroughly agreed, but the right hon. Gentleman did not read the second part as follows:— So in Church schools if the instruction given was Scriptural and non-controversial, as be believed it was in nearly all cases, it would continue in the future to be just as welcome as it had been in the past. There were, he knew, some exceptional cases on both sides, and here the Bill brought a necessary relief.'' ["Hear, hear!"] Not only did he entirely agree with every word of that quotation, but he would submit to the House that the very fact of this clause being in the Bill will prevent the necessity for putting it into force. When the clergyman of a rural parish realised that if he should attempt to introduce any highly controversial elements into his religious teaching it would bring about a visit from the Nonconformist minister, he would take very good care that such a provocation shall not be given. ["Hear, hear!"] And whilst on this subject might he express the hope that before this Bill is placed upon the Statute-book it might contain a clause making the grant of public money to any Voluntary School conditional upon the managers of that school, so far at least as assistant masters and mistresses were concerned, placing no barrier in the way of the engagement of Nonconformists, other things being equal. ["Hear, hear!"] It had been frequently mentioned that there were some 8,000 Church of England schools which the children of Nonconformists were compelled to attend, there being no other school in those parishes. Some weeks ago the right hon. Gentleman, the late Home Secretary, had made such a statement, and the statement was received with cries of "shame," as though the provision of those means of education was something' discreditable to the Church. The Member for Flintshire made the statement in reference to Wales that though three-fourths or seven-eighths of the inhabitants of a parish were Nonconformists the Church schools were the only schools to which the children had access. But surely this was no reflection upon the Church of England. If the members of the Church built the schools, although they they were a small minority, the more creditable this was to the Church. In conclusion, he desired to say a word in regard to the proposal to raise the age of half-timers to 12 years. Personally, looking at the question from an educational point of view only, he was in favour of raising the limit. So far as regarded the children themselves, it would no doubt be to their advantage except in certain exceptional cases. Where the father of a family died, and his widow was left to struggle with a young family, the loss of the half-timer's wages for 12 months, amounting to some 2s. 6d. or 3s. per week, would be a serious deprivation. It would mean that the children would often be sent to school insufficiently fed, and it was for this House to consider whether this was or was not a sufficient reason for allowing the age to remain as it was, and where it was fixed only two or three years ago, or whether it should be raised to 12 years, as the Bill proposed. There was only one other matter he wished to notice. Last year there were 5,325,858 children on the school registers. Of that number more than 5,000,000 left school before they were 13 years old. What happened? Why, that the great majority of those children threw their lesson-books on one side, and straightway forgot most of what they had learned. He believed the new evening continuation Code would largely help to remedy this state of things. It was drawn up exactly on the right lines for attracting the young people to the schools. And here again he spoke with a practical knowledge of the subject. Four years before he established a day-school he established a night-school—that was now just 44 years ago. For nearly 10 years at that period he devoted three evenings per week to the practical teaching of the young people employed at his works, and he knew what could be done in evening schools. Unfortunately, the children left the day-schools at a very critical age, before they were old enough to understand and realise the value of the education they had received, and which had cost the country so many millions of money, and so much anxious thought. He would like to see attendance at ail evening school made compulsory for two nights per week up to the age of 16. He was told this was done in Germany by making employment in the daytime dependent upon a certain limited attendance at an evening school, and he imagined the same thing might be done here. He would end as he began—namely, by expressing his satisfaction with the Bill. The Bill was a good Bill, it was framed on broad, liberal, statesmanlike principles, and when some of its minor details had been amended in Committee, and the Bill became enrolled on the Statute-book, it would prove of immense benefit to the cause of education through all its various and progressive stages, and would be an honour to a Statesman who had produced it, whose name would ever be associated with a great, a wise, and a liberal Measure.

MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (Yorkshire, W. R., Rotherham)

said, he was entirely in accord with what his right hon. Friends the late Home Secretary and the Member for Aberdeen had said, and he would try not to follow them in the path they had trodden. He heard with pleasure what the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken said about the assistant teachers in Voluntary Schools. If the hon. Gentleman could persuade his Friends to insert a clause in the Bill which would enable, in Denominational Schools, assistant teachers to be appointed apart from the particular denomi- nation to which they belonged, he would confer a very great boon upon many persons desirous of joining the teaching profession, and remove a grievance which was largely felt by many Nonconformists, especially in our country villages. From the point of view of the Queen's Speech, the main clause in the Bill was the fourth, the clause which embodied the general principle of giving aid to necessitous schools, both Voluntary and Board. He hoped that what had been said upon the Opposition Benches had made it clear that no one who sat upon those Benches was in favour of the extinction of Voluntary Schools. It was a perfectly reasonable thing that, in a year of surplus like this, money should be found to help necessitous schools. Very heavy drafts had been made upon the Treasury for the purpose of popular education, especially in the last half-dozen years—the grant had been very nearly doubled in the last six years. The demand was now normal, and therefore they were all agreed that, when there was money to spare, grants to necessitous schools, whether Voluntary or Board Schools—those schools which formed an essential part of the national system—were perfectly reasonable things. They differed, however, as to the conditions on which such grants might fairly be given to Voluntary Schools. They differed, further, as to the amount of provision which was made relatively to the Voluntary Schools and to the Board Schools. It seemed hardly reasonable there should be £489,000 allotted to Voluntary Schools, and only a sum of probably less than £40,000 to Board Schools. It had been pointed out more than once that that proportion was hardly reasonable, even from the point of view of the Government themselves. Then he hoped they might be able to embody in the Bill some arrangement for representation—and it was only representation of a moderate character which they asked for—in connection with Voluntary Schools which received this grant, with a view to the prevention of a waste of money. He would hardly have alluded to Clause 27 if it had not been for one remark which fell from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Plymouth last night. The hon. and learned Member spoke of the religious teaching in Board Schools as spurious religious teaching. He wondered whether the hon, and learned Gentleman had thought how much pain he would give by that remark to the 30,000 or 40,000 teachers and assistant teachers in the Board Schools who were doing their best, under the conditions under which they worked, to make the teaching they gave a, really religious teaching. [Cheers.] His contention and that of his hon. Friends was, that the great bulk of the parents whose children went to Board Schools now were perfectly satisfied with the religious teaching given—[''Hear, hear!'']—and desired religious instruction for the children in the school they attended. He asked whether Clause 27 would benefit either the children or the teacher. Was it good for children in their tender years to realise the divisions which existed amongst religious people by their being separated into different classes in the same school? Was it good for the teacher? Hon. Members knew full well that the teachers themselves disapproved of this new principle of giving religious instruction. He passed to the question of decentralisation, and he must confess he did not quite understand what their position now was. At first they believed that there was to be a completely new department set up in every county and every county borough; but the speech of the Vice President seemed to have somewhat modified that position. He said the setting up of the new authority should be permissive; and, on the other hand, he stated that the Education Department would not be weakened but would be greatly strengthened by the Bill. As to the permissive method of decentralisation it seemed to him it would be very difficult to carry it out. Invidious distinctions would be created, and he could hardly believe such a method would be effective. The hon. Member opposite said the Lancashire education authority would be found to be even more severe than the Education Department itself, because new brooms swept clean. If they were to have the present Education Department greatly strengthened by the Bill, and if they were to have the department in Lancashire more severe than the central department, he was afraid the hon. Gentleman and his friends would be suffering under a greater reign of terror than when he was at the Education Department. He might add that that reign was not quite so bad as it was painted. With reference to permissive decentralisation he observed that some of those towns which clearly deserved it did not seem to desire it. The hon. Member for the Edgbaston Division expressed no desire whatever to have this new Education Department set up in Birmingham, or to have the present system of inspection by the Education Department withdrawn. And what about London? They had not heard from London any voice urgently in favour of decentralisation. No doubt the County Councils Association would press a resolution in favour of it. It was rather tempting to be allowed to distribute 6½ millions of Imperial money. He remained of the same opinion which he formed when he first heard the Bill described, that this sudden and unexpected dissolution of the powers of the Education Department, if it was carried out in full, would have some very serious consequences. What kind of inspectors would they be able to appoint in their 126 new Education Departments? Between now and the first of January next they had to appoint at least 400 inspectors to work under these education authorities in the counties and county boroughs. Where were they to get their new inspectors from? He did not hesitate to say that, if this Bill was carried out in full, the inspectors of the county authority would be more important from the point of view of whether the schools were going to be lifted or lowered than the Inspectors of the Education Department itself. They could not make experienced inspectors in a few months. They could not get them by advertising for them. Think how gradually the Inspectors of the Education Department had been made. Most of them had undergone a preliminary training, and after long experience some of them were very capable and very able men. But these men would be retained by the Department. It the Department parted with any of its staff it would be with the least capable and least experienced of its members. It seemed to him a very important matter. There would be a double inspection of schools at the very least, he was not sure that in some cases there would not be a triple inspection. They were to have associations of schools dealing with the 4s. grant on a scheme to be approved; and it would be their business to see by some inspection of their own that the conditions were being satisfied, before the county inspector went to ascertain whether the grant was being properly dealt with by the association. Thus they would have the association inspector, the county inspector, and the Department inspector. That would be found too much of a good thing for most schools, and he felt almost confident that the county inspector would be the man who on the whole would be the most important official, and that the Education Department inspectors, who after all went mainly in order to see that the County Council were doing their duty, though he might be much the most experienced man, would be on the whole one whose visit would be less regarded. Then there was another point of view. Some counties were forward in the work of technical education, others had made very little progress; but they were going to attempt the task of trying to organise secondary education, and to provide cheap schools in many places where the sons of the farmer, the tradesman, and others might go. That was a work that required time. Under the Welsh Act of the last Tory Government, that was made possible for Wales. For four or six years at least this work had been going forward, and yet he had no hesitation in saying that the county governing bodies of Wales had still got their hands so full of secondary education that they were not really fitted to undertake the task of supervising elementary education in this country. That was the case also in some English counties, and if they overwhelmed them with these elementary education duties, they would put a bar on their going forward with secondary education in the way he hoped they might do. With reference to the provisions for secondary education, he entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Cambridge University that there ought to be some provision for a central authority, and he hoped the hon. Member would be able to persuade the Government to make some arrangement as to this subject. They could not effectively carry out the work of education unless they made some reform in the present position of the Charity Commissioners. Under the Bill special provision was made by which schemes should be carried through under the Charity Commission, but there was no provision for amalgamating the Charity Commission with the Central Education Department. What was the result? The theory of the Charity Commission was that there was Ministerial responsibility behind all schemes approved by the Lord President of the Council. But last Thursday night a scheme, so approved, was brought before the House, and it was opposed by a Member of the Cabinet. ["Hear, hear!"] That was not a satisfactory position. Either let the Charity Commission be entirely independent or let the theory of Ministerial responsibility be made real by amalgamating the Charity Commission with the Education Department so that schemes might from the beginning go forward with the sanction of the Minister for Education instead of being brought in with the feeling that somebody else was responsible for what he had felt himself obliged to approve. In the provisions for secondary education he was surprised to find that there was no conscience clause. The Endowed Schools Act of 1869 had a conscience clause both for day scholars and boarders, and the last Conservative Government inserted conscience clauses both in the Technical Education Act and in the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. He could hardly believe that the Bill would leave the House without some provisions similar to those under which nearly all their publicly aided education was carried on. He passed to the question as to how the Bill treated School Boards. Their position was this—Why had they not left them alone? If the Government had made some proposition, with reference to the small country Board Schools, for federating them in some reasonable way over a reasonable area, they would have entirely agreed with them. But the Bill went a good deal further than that, and yet it was difficult to understand exactly what the position was. If they said, ''You are attacking School Boards in this Bill," the reply was, "No, we are not attacking them:" and then, if they said, "What is the use of all these clauses if you are not attacking them?'' they were told that, "It is really only the provision of a beneficial, useful alternative system.'' They looked upon that useful alternative system with a good deal of suspicion. First of all, there was the financial check upon the School Board. That, they were told, was only a friendly way of setting up a Financial Committee to look after them. They did not regard it in that light. It was perfectly clear that there were to be no more School Boards in the boroughs, and if they took up the rest of the Bill it was perfectly clear that what was called the alternative system was a system gradually to do away with the School Boards. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: ''Hear, hear!''] The Leader of the House assented to that proposition. He wanted to point out what would happen in proportion as they succeeded with their alternative system, which was to get rid of School Boards—and here, again, he was dealing with the matter from a purely educational point of view. As they set up these County Committees, these educational authorities, which were to supersede, as was hoped, all School Boards, they would be in this remarkable position—that the more they succeeded the more these new education departments would have, in addition to their duties as impartial education departments, schools of their own as well. Consider an education department distributing public money and yet with schools of its own. He tried to imagine what the Education Department would have been, and he at the head of it, if, in addition to all its other difficulties, it had schools of its own. The hottest water he got into would be perfectly tepid compared with what the temperature would have been if this had been the case. At any rate, the Education Department, he believed with the admission of all parties, might be said to carry out its work with impartiality in the distribution of its money. It had perfect freedom of allotment, and it was not tied up as to the amount, and it could give it where it thought proper, and it certainly did not have the additional labour of carrying on schools of its own. But what would these new Educational Departments be? No doubt they would try to be impartial, but they would not have freedom of allotment of public money, because they were going to tie them up to a rigid limit by this Bill. They would also have to contend with the enormous difficulties which would arise on account of the suspicion attached to having schools of their own to carry on. If they did not give enough of the taxpayers' of the Education Department's money to their own rate-supported schools, they would receive serious reproof from the ratepayers; and if, on the other hand, they had the other duty of giving money to Voluntary Schools, and they gave too much to their own schools, they would be constantly told they were favouring them at the expense of the Voluntary Schools. What had been the tendency of the principle of inspection and examination in this country? Let anyone consider how it had worked as their educational system had improved, even in middle-class schools. First of all, they had the weakest form of examination where it was conducted by the masters themselves and they presented their own report. Then the next stage was where certain examiners were invited from the University or elsewhere by the head master himself, and the tendency was, if they wanted to be invited again, that they were rather tempted to give a favourable report. But in the course of the last quarter of a century, one after another, the great bulk of their best schools had submitted themselves to an impartial public examination by the recognised authorities from the Universities. What were they going to do under this Bill? They were going to carry on their own inspection absolutely by their own officers, and to do what was not done, at any rate, by the examiners in ordinary schools—to carry the money in their hand side by side with the inspection. He could not think that such a system would work out satisfactorily or without friction. Consider the position of a local inspector, a County Council inspector, in a county borough. He had come to the limit fixed by Parliament for the Parliamentary grant. He knew there was no more money to come from Parliamentary sources, and yet he was responsible for granting that money. He came to a Voluntary School which had, perhaps, been a very indifferent school, but which had passed into the hands of good managers and excellent teachers. He found that the school was worthy of receiving, perhaps, one-third again as much money as it received at the last inspection. But he knew that the whole Parliamentary grant was exhausted. He wanted to grant this money, but where was it to come from, because the other schools had not at all been backward, but perhaps going forward. If he was to do justice to the Voluntary Schools he must withdraw the money from the Board Schools, which were under the control of his masters, the educational authority. If he did that he would get into trouble with the ratepayers. Of course the deficiency must be met by the ratepayers, and if he went on that he would quickly send the educational authority to the City Council to ask powers for some more money to be raised. One could well imagine that, when they came, some City Councillor, who was more interested in the ratepayers than in education, would say, ''Why don't you give more Parliamentary money to the schools for which you are responsible?'' And when it was pointed out that the Committee had a duty to look after the Voluntary Schools, he could well imagine the Councillor replying, ''After all, charity begins at home." He could not help feeling that, under this new method, there would be the greatest difficulties for these local bodies in carrying on their work with a reputation, which they would desire to make, for perfect impartiality. Then it was said, that was the kind of case in which the Education Department would come in; but they would have the most difficult task of deciding whether, in detail after detail, the grant had been allotted fairly to a very considerable number of schools, and he defied even the best inspector to be able to come to a really saitsfactory conclusion on that point. He fully understood why this Parliamentary limit, which they so much objected to, had been inserted in the Bill. It was considered to be, he supposed, an almost necessary part of handing over the administration of the Parliamentary grant of £6,500,000 to local authorities, because the Government had no doubt said that if these local authorities were allowed, even under the strictest Code, to administer these six and a half millions themselves, and to give the highest grant wherever they thought it reasonably right, the £6,500,000 would very soon mount to seven, eight, nine, and ten millions, and the supervising work of the Education Department would be inadequate to keep that steadily rising grant down. This brought him to the financial clauses of the Bill. They were asked to assert for the first time that not the Treasury, not the House of Commons itself, were sufficient to deal with the question of the amount of money they would grant for the provision of education for Elementary Schools in this country. They were going to take into partnership the House of Lords. They, for the first time, were to have a permanent voice in this question, which affected the allotment of a present sum of more than £7,000,000. He had asked himself whether this provision was due to a sincere regard for the principle of national economy, and he had come to the conclusion that it was not. In order to justify that conclusion he turned to Scotland, and asked how many of the provisions of the Bill they were going to apply to that country. If the legislation was so beneficent, so admirable, so excellent, so good for progress in education, surely Scotland ought to have it. Were they going to redistribute the Scotch Education Department; were they going to set up a double inspectorate in Scotland; were they going to give special facilities for the dissolution of the Glasgow School Board; were they going to give the City Council of Glasgow special opportunities of setting up a financial committee among men who knew little of education in order to control that great School Board of which Glasgow was so justly proud? The answer to all that was, ''No.'' He turned to the financial provisions which were going to permanently put a limit upon their Parliamentary grant. He would ask hon. Members to look at the Estimates, and they would see to what he alluded. One page in those Estimates showed that the grant for the coming year for Elementary Schools was estimated at 19s. 1d. for England and Wales, while for the corresponding schools for Scotland the grant was estimated at 21s. 7d. A Scottish child, therefore, at the present moment was considered, and he dared say rightly, by the powers that be to be worth 2s. 6d. more than the English child. The Government proposed to perpetuate this system, to tie the English child down to a maximum of 19s. 1d. and to leave the Scottish child at a minimum of 21s. 7d. The Scottish child would probably obtain another half-crown in 10 years, when he would be worth 5s. more than the English child. He could hardly believe that the English people desired that the 500,000 children in Scottish School Boards should have this tremendous advantage over the 2,000,000 children in English Board Schools. He objected to this proposal that the little pushing northern member of the British firm should remain perfectly free, whilst the predominant partner was bound hand and foot. [''Hear, hear!"] If the Bill passed the English people would envy the position of Scotland, and pray to be allowed to share her privileges. As an English Member he protested against the proposed arrangement. He failed to see why the English child should be tied down in this way when the Scottish child was to be allowed to go forward. He could imagine that it would be very agreeable to Scottish Members on the other side of the House to vote for this proposal. They would be supporting their Leaders and at the same time helping to secure a special advantage for the country whence they came. There were some Scottish Members among the right hon. Gentlemen who sat near him. He should keep a most careful watch upon them—[laughter]—and he trusted that they would be able to withstand the temptation to vote for the clause. Our system of technical and commercial secondary education was largely dependent for its supply of capable scholars upon our Elementary Schools, and by this Bill the Government were doing something to prevent the development of that supply. A distinguished foreigner who visited England a few years ago to study our social and educational institutions said when he returned to his own country that in all matters of sanitary provision we were in advance of other nations, whilst in matters of education we were, on the whole, a century behind the times. It was, unfortunately, true that we were lamentably behind in respect of certain portions of our education, both elementary and secondary, and this was a most inappropriate moment in which to set to work to fetter public bodies in their disposal of educational funds. He could only hope that this might become a better Bill through rational discussion in Committee. He should vote against the Second Reading of any Education Bill which contained a limiting financial clause such as was found in this Measure. There were, no doubt, some good things in this Bill, but, in the main, it was retrograde and would retard and prevent that effective development of our system of national education which those who sat on his side of the House were specially bound to help forward. ["Hear, hear!"]

*SIR JAMES FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)

said, that he should have been glad to abstain from joining in the Debate, considering that the Measure had been so fully discussed, but he felt bound to describe to the House the painful disabilities under which the Voluntary Schools laboured in the constituency which he had the honour to represent. He regretted to say that the remedies which this Bill provided for the evils of which those schools complained would be inadequate in Manchester. Several hon. Members had questioned whether during the last election Unionist candidates had said anything to give their supporters to expect the introduction of so wide a Measure as the present. His own conscience, at any rate, was clear on the point, because he had declared to his constituents that in his opinion one of the chief wants of the country was a reform of education, particularly with regard to the manner in which public grants were distributed. He also felt sure that the supporters of Unionist candidates generally were under no misapprehension as to the intentions of the Unionist Party with regard to this subject of Voluntary Schools. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had been more moderate in his language than the right hon. Gentlemen near him who had taken part in that Debate. Nothing could be kinder than the right hon. Gentleman's references to the Voluntary Schools, but nothing could be sterner than his treatment of them when he occupied the office of Vice President of the Council. It had been said in the course of the Debate that the policy of the Education Department had been continuous. Some of the principles guiding its action might have been the same through successive administrations, but there was no doubt that the little finger of some Vice Presidents had weighed more heavily on the Voluntary Schools than the whole hand of others. In the last few years these schools had been treated very harshly, and now they were under notice to increase their teaching staff to an extent which he feared would absorb the new 4s. grant. Several hon. Gentlemen had described the proposed division of the grant as unequal, and complained that three-fourths or nine-tenths of it would go to Voluntary Schools. But the only real reason for making this grant was the excessive poverty of the Voluntary Schools, which had to compete with the Board Schools with their unlimited resources. It was manifest that if the grant was intended to level up the poor schools, which were mainly Voluntary Schools, the larger proportion of grants must go to them. He had read recently in the papers of the secularists or colourless religionists imputations that the conscience clause was strained because the Apostles' Creed had been taught in Board Schools. If the Apostles' Creed went beyond the limits of the religious teaching in Board Schools he should say that the religion taught in them was "spurious.'' The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked if it was good that children should be taught the divisions which parted Christians? He should have thought they could not go along the street without seeing them; but was that a reason why they should be taught a form of religion which had no distinctive features at all? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the decentralisation in the Bill as confusing because it was only permissive. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman would have liked it any better if it had been compulsory and immediate, instead of permissive and gradual. He thought it was a very difficult part of the Bill, but it was a most valuable part. What was wanted was an administration which should be sufficiently local to give consideration to the wants and circumstances of the schools of the neighbour- hood, rather than the intensely centralised and bureaucratic administration now prevailing. He had in his own constituency seen many evidences of the distress in which managers of Voluntary Schools had been placed by the excessive exactions of the Education Department under the instigation of the inspectors. Clergymen with small incomes and with large parishes had been compelled to maintain, somehow or other, schools holding 1,200 children, and these children had been admirably taught, as was evidenced by the education grant. They had been suddenly called upon to provide accommodation of a kind not dreamt of when their buildings were sanctioned by the Department, and over and over again they had sent to ask him how it was possible for them to meet this expenditure. That illustrated the want of local instead of central management. As to the gradual abolition of School Boards, there need be no misunderstanding about that. They were told when the present system of education was established that the Board Schools were intended to supplement and not to supplant the existing means of education. From the terms in which the Voluntary Schools were then spoken of, it could never have been supposed that the Liberal Party would endeavour to do I away with them. If School Boards were gradually abolished, it would only be because Voluntary Schools had so increased that they were not required, and the local authority had covered the ground, so that there would be homogeneity and unity in local government—a change to be desired in this country, as, by reason of the numerous elections we now had, it was sometimes hardly fit to live in. As to the difficulties of administration by local authorities, there must be considerable difficulty with regard to finance if they were to level up all the schools, and he must frankly say that he saw no real method of meeting the difficulty except by equally dividing, fairly among all the schools that fulfilled the requirements of the Department in the matter of secular teaching, all moneys raised from public sources. He could not for the life of him conceive why a school was to be deprived of a share of the rates because dogmatic religion was taught, and why a school should be penalised because it trained children in the Christian faith, which was the highest and most desirable part of education. It seemed to be unfair and extremely undesirable that people who were called upon to supply a large part of the cost of religious education should also be called upon to contribute to the rates, which were, to a great extent, crushing their own schools. He desired very briefly to state to the House how the present system operated in his own constituency, in the city of Manchester. There were 26 schools in North-East Manchester, which was a district composed almost entirely of the working classes. In 1870 there were the same number of schools belonging to the Church of England, to the Roman Catholics, and to the Undenominationalists. Ten of these schools had now become Board Schools, four Church Schools had been crushed out, and six Undenominational or Nonconformist Schools had been handed over to the School Board. The Roman Catholics had maintained their schools under the greatest difficulty, and with the greatest efficiency. They had only done so through the infinite sacrifices made by managers and teachers, and he thought the same credit was also due to the poorer Church parishes that had maintained their schools in spite of all difficulties. Out of 12,200 children attending school in that part of Manchester, over 8,000 were in the Voluntary Schools, and only 4,230 in the Board Schools. The education grant for the Voluntary Schools averaged £1 9s. 2d., and for the Board Schools £1 10s. 3¾d. Therefore, the education given in the Voluntary Schools was almost as good, judged by results, as that of the Board Schools. The school fees in the Voluntary Schools were 1s. 1½d. per child; in the Board Schools 1s. 5d. In both categories some of the schools were free. Contributions and sundries in the Voluntary Schools amounted to 5s. 2½.d per head, in the Board Schools to 9d. The contribution to the Board Schools from the rates was 19s. 2½d.; to the Voluntary Schools it was nil. The total income per child in Voluntary Schools was £1 15s., and in Board Schools £2 11s. 8d.; consequently, there was a difference of 14s. against the Voluntary Schools, and the salaries paid per scholar was 12s. 7d. more in the Board Schools than in the Voluntary Schools. Schools that were handicapped to that extent could only be maintained with difficulty. In Manchester, the public cost per child in Board Schools was £3 10s. or £3 12s., and in Voluntary Schools £1 7s. The Voluntary Schools had to struggle very hard for their existence in the face of the action of the School Boards. Would it be believed that, whilst there were 5,000 vacant seats for children in the Manchester Board Schools, the School Board of the city were erecting two large new schools within 250 yards of each other, notwithstanding the fact that in the space between them there were already in existence two flourishing Church Schools? Thus the unfortunate ratepayers of Manchester were being put to an expense of something like £30,000 for building two new Board Schools which were utterly unnecessary, the only excuse that was put forward for this extravagance being that three Nonconformist Schools had been given up. In his opinion there could be no good ground whatever to justify the erection of these new Board Schools in a district the educational requirements of which were already amply supplied by Voluntary Schools. Could hon. Members be surprised that in these circumstances the Voluntary Schools found themselves heavily handicapped in their struggle with a body that had at its back the purse of the ratepayers. No doubt the result of the last School Board election for Manchester was to put into office a majority of the advocates of denominational schools, but it was then too late to stop the mischief, because the building of the new schools had already commenced. A right hon. Gentleman, speaking the other night from the Front Opposition Bench, had said that no new Board School could be erected without the sanction of the Education Department, and that that sanction was not given until the whole circumstances of each case had been carefully inquired into. He should like to know whether the circumstances with regard to the schools to which he had just referred, or to the school in the Old Kent Road, had been inquired into by the Education Department before they gave their sanction for them to be built. In his opinion these cases showed the great necessity there was for decentralisation in the matter of educational control. What he desired to say with regard to this Bill was that, in his view, it would not to any appreciable extent remedy the hardships and disabilities under which the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Voluntary Schools laboured. It was true that they would receive this 4s. grant, but that would merely enable them slightly to increase the number of their teachers. He regretted that the Government had not availed themselves of the great opportunity which their present position gave them, and that they had given so poor a fulfilment of their promises. Why had not the Government had the courage of their convictions, and brought in a Bill that would have been of some real benefit to the Voluntary Schools. He hoped that they would not think that it was now too late to amend their Bill in the right direction. An Irish Member had said that he would vote for Second Reading of the Bill in the hope that it would be amended in Committee, and he should do so also with the hope that it would be greatly improved before it became law. As the Measure stood it might perhaps postpone the extinction of Voluntary Schools, but it would not be effectual for long. The supporters of Voluntary Schools had long struggled against hope deferred, and they had now trusted that the Government would have brought in a real Measure that would have the effect of preserving those schools which were valued by the parents of the children that attended them. In conclusion he could only express his great desire that the Government would consent to have the Bill largely amended in Committee, consistently with their professed intentions.

MR. W. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Plymouth, in the course of his speech last night had made a strong appeal to hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House to give up their policy of determined opposition to this Bill, and in trying to encourage them to adopt that course he made the strongest and most bitter partisan speech to which he had ever listened in that House. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told the House that the Nonconformists were perfectly satisfied with the spurious religious instruction that was given in the Board Schools. The hon. and learned Gentleman commenced by saying that the people of this country were dissatisfied with the Board Schools, and he stated as his explanation of the fact that the religious teaching given in those schools was of a spurious character. Such sentiments as those were not calculated to do away with the bitterness which had been introduced into the Debate. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he was surprised that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House should oppose the Measure, and that he was more and more surprised because every speech that was delivered from that side of the House, showed that the hon. Members who delivered them found something that was good in the Bill. The truth, however, was, that all the chief fault finding with the Bill appeared to come from hon. Members on the Government side of the House. Hon. Members opposite had condemned the Bill, not in respect of its details but in regard to its principle. In face of the disagreement among their followers that the Bill had given rise to, surely it would have been better for the Government to have put the Measure aside and to have substituted for it some social and useful legislation. The Measure had been condemned by the school teachers outside, and the London School Board had objected to many of its provisions. The condemnation of the Bill was not confined to one Party, it was condemned by educationists of all sections of politics. In these circumstances was it worth the while of the Government to try and force the Measure through that House? This Bill would in a large extent revivify and bring back to life much of the bitterness which the compromise of 1870 had done so much to soften away. He should not have intervened in the Debate had he not desired to put before the House some of the views on this subject that were held by the Wesleyan body to which he belonged. That body had had a great deal to do with the compromise of 1870, which some of them thought was ill advised. That compromise it was now proposed to overthrow. The Wesleyans were the only single body other than the Church of England and the Roman Catholics who had any number of Voluntary Schools attached to them. According to a Return presented in 1895 they had 534 schools under inspection, and the average attendance in those schools was 131,000. The opinion of the Education Committee was therefore entitled to considerable weight. That Committee had most strongly condemned the Bill on the ground that it did not carry out the policy for which they had been striving during the last 25 years. That policy was, doubtless, not an ideal policy. Their policy was not to have no religion at all taught in the schools but to have universal School Boards in districts of sufficient area in the schools of which Christian unsectarian instruction should be given. The Bill provided for the continuance of schools where dogma would be taught, and was absolutely antagonistic to the policy which they advocated. If this Bill had not been brought in he believed that the Voluntary Schools where dogma was taught at the present time would have gradually died out, and have been superseded by Board Schools, and he should not have been at all sorry to see that. The Wesleyan Voluntary Schools practically gave no religious teaching of a sectarian character, and if the other Voluntary Schools came up to their level, and if they could be as liberally minded, he did not think there would be any great objection to Voluntary Schools. He was afraid, however, that most of the other Churches had not got to so liberal a frame of mind yet as to support Voluntary Schools where the teaching was absolutely unsectarian. The 27th Clause of this Bill had been introduced as an Amendment to the Conscience Clause, and he knew that the Conscience Clause did not work well. In the villages it was practically inoperative, and children were compelled to go in for the religious teaching in the school, or if they did not they suffered for it. It seemed to him a most monstrous thing that this should be done, as it was making a farce of religion. In hundreds of cases the children were compelled to go into these schools and receive their religious teaching from a clergyman of the Church of England, who before he could become a clergyman of that Church had had to take an oath that he believed things which some of the parents of the children thought were sacrilegious and profane fables. He feared that the 27th Clause would not be more operative than the Conscience Clause had been. In the towns he admitted that it would be workable, as it would be possible in the towns for the Nonconformists to organise for the religious teaching to be given in the schools, but in the villages this would not be the case. The only people in the village who could be sent to do the teaching would be some of the leaders of religion in the village, and the greater part of these were working people who were not free during school hours. It would be impossible for them to organise any efficient system of religious teaching in the village schools. A number of hon. Members opposite had spoken of the intolerable strain on the Voluntary Schools, but he maintained that this strain was owing in very many instances to clerical intolerance. He could give the House one instance of this in a small town which he knew exceedingly well. There was there one Church school, and one or two Nonconformists were on the Board of Management of that school, and for upwards of 20 years there was never the least friction between the different sects in that town, as there was no endeavour to proselytise the children. But the clergyman gave up his living, and he was followed by a High Ritualist who at once endeavoured to proselytise the children. The consequence was that in order to protect themselves the Nonconformists had to open another school. He took very strong objection to that section of the Fourth Clause which permitted the schools to form themselves into an association. One of the most mischievous clauses of the Bill was that which permitted the Town and County Councils to veto an increase of the School Board rate. He thought that was a very dangerous proposal. He believed this was a power which was likely to be used, and there had been great difficulty already in getting the Town Councils to sanction the School Board rate. In Cardiff there had been for many years a difficulty, and the School Board there had had to threaten legal proceedings. The Vice President had told them that to vote against this Bill would be to oppose decentralisation, but that was a most unjust and unfair statement. No one was a stronger believer in decentralisation than he was, but in this case they believed the central authority to be a good one. The Times, which usually fairly stated the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, said the other day that in any average rural district or parish, most of the gentry and all the farmers thought that the labourers' children were taught too much already. But the gentry and the farmers in 18 cases out of 20 composed the County Councils, and that was why they disbelieved in the County Councils as educational authorities. If this Bill were passed they would have two competing sections fighting for seats on the County Councils. He objected to this Bill on account of its financial proposals, and on account of the new authority which it set up, and if the proposal in regard to the new authority was allowed to supersede the School Boards, it would be likely to endanger the good education of this country in the future. He most sincerely hoped that, although he knew the Bill would in all probabality be passed by a large majority on the Second Reading, it would be so altered in Committee that the Vice President would be compelled to give way to the reasonable Amendments suggested.


said, one point which had excited most opposition was the limit for the School Board rate. It seemed to him that it was overlooked that the proposal was similar to the limit which was exercised over the whole of the national finance by the Treasury. ["Hear, hear."] Yet they were told by several hon. Members that to be placed in a similar position under a local authority would be such an indignity to the School Boards that no self-respecting man would consent to serve. Members on the Treasury Bench bore up against that indignity; they were indignant, perhaps, but they submitted. [Laughter and cheers.] He could not help feeling that, although they were told that educationists were singularly sensitive as to their dignity, if the Bill passed they should hear no more of their intolerable wrongs. Then, as to the limit of the Parliamentary grant, he did not see that there was anything intolerable in the proposal. As to the special aid grant, he thought that every Member who had spoken was agreed that it was altogether too inadequate to be of much service to the Voluntary Schools. Even the Vice President of the Council admitted that. He would submit to hon. friends on his side of the House that unless in Committee they took some steps to give more adequate support to Voluntary Schools they should look silly indeed three or four years hence, because they would then have to face their constituents, who would feel great discontent because the Voluntary Schools were no better off than they had been. He thought there were few of his friends who would not feel a qualm of anxiety under the charge that justice had not been done to the Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] He was told that more money was spent on one School Board School in London than the whole special aid grants to Voluntary Schools. He thought that was stating the question in a picturesque form. Of course the reply of hon. Gentleman opposite was that they would very gladly see more help given to the Voluntary Schools, but that it must be accompanied by control. He thought the Member for Cambridge University dealt admirably with the question of control. It would be an absurdity, with a majority of 300 in favour of Denominational Schools, to undenominationalise them by a side wind. [Cheers.] Control would be intolerable if it meant the undenominationalising of these Voluntary Schools, but, subject to that, he did not believe there was any difference in principle between both sides as to leaving religious teaching free and the control of secular education. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the poor Board Schools, he thought they deserved every sympathy. The figures given to the House were very impressive, but if they deserved sympathy, so much more did the voluntary subscribers in heavily-rated School Board districts deserve sympathy. He did not wish to occupy too much time—[cheers]—but surely those who were heavily rated for Board Schools and gave generously subscriptions to Voluntary Schools, deserved consideration. [Renewed cheers.] He regarded the figures which had been quoted with regard to contributions to Voluntary Schools by subscribers as a stupendous monument of injustice and injury. [Cheers.] It seemed to him that they were only going to have religious education on the condition that they paid as ransom a large sum of money. He believed that there were, in fact, two religious questions; but that was a much more important question than either the maintenance of religious education as a whole. They were, indeed, told that the religious question had no real existence—that it was a creation of the platform; but platform creations did not produce £600,000 subscriptions. ["Hear, hear!"] Of course, it was perfectly certain that, if the religious question were the delusion it was said to be, Voluntary Schools would long ago have vanished off the face of the earth. ["Hear, hear!"] But there was another aspect besides the denominational aspect of Voluntary Schools which made them keenly valued. He had a quotation from an address given to some teachers in 1871 or 1872 by a very eminent Wesleyan, who was, he believed, a critic, but not an opponent, of the Bill, which he hoped the House would permit him to read. That gentleman said:— Never was the distinct teaching of the Church day-school teacher more required than it is now. It is needed to keep up to any serviceable mark of Christian efficiency the Biblical teaching of our Board Schools. I tremble not only for the Bible lesson, but for the charming and blessed children's hymns and for the simple prayer. It is my conviction that if there were in this country only Board Schools all these precious specialities of our English schools —heirlooms bequeathed to us by the Christian educators of the past, whom, in spite of secularist cynicism and detraction, I will dare to pronounce among the purest and greatest benefactors the English nation has known—would presently be done away with. The badge-word unsectarian would harden into secular; all savour of Christian love and tenderness would pass away from the schools; and then, indeed, England would find that it had paid dear for its School Board secularism, and might look with vain envy on the Christian system of Scotland, or even the denominationalised 'national' system of Ireland. That was a most important point. ["Who said that?"] Dr. James Rigg. ["Oh!"] He observed that hon. Members opposite had a great respect for every Nonconformist except the minority of Nonconformists who did not agree with them. [Laughter, cheers, and an HON. MEMBER: "Dr. Rigg opposes the Bill."] Then that only made his case stronger. ["Hear, hear!"] What was the case as regarded Clause 27? They heard from many hon. Members the most astonishing and fantastic travesty of the teaching of the Church of England. They heard of its being taught that all Dissenters would be lost everlastingly. He had never met a clergyman of the Church of England who held such a belief, much less one who endeavoured to teach it to children. [A laugh.] There had been attacks on dogmatic teaching, and the hon. Member who spoke last held up ideally unsectarian schools where undogmatic Christianity was taught. He would much like to see undogmatic Christianity; he wondered what kind of religion it was that did not depend strictly upon dogma. Then came the question whether Clause 27 would be unworkable. He believed it had worked in Birmingham and in Ireland. But they were assured that children would have their moral nature very much warped if they were segregated into different groups so early in life. He was always interested to hear these views of human nature, but he confessed that the child who could come to maturity, or to whatever was supposed to be the proper age for learning these dangerous truths without realising that all Christians were not of one mind, must be a very eccentric child indeed. [Laughter.] No doubt, in Board Schools at present there was that contiguity which was supposed to produce Christian charity as freely as it might produce infectious disease. That went on during the week days, but on Sundays all the horrors that were pictured by the imaginations of hon. Members opposite actually took place. Little Baptist children went to the Baptist chapel, little Congregational children went to the Congregational chapel, little Roman Catholic children went to the Roman Catholic Church, and, to the shame of all, little Church of England children went to the Church of England. That was not the worst of it. After church was over the segregation was repeated in the Sunday school; the children were ticketed and bracketed and all the rest of it, and yet he did not observe that on the Monday there was any outburst of bigotry among the children. [Cheers.] No, there was very little danger that a really frank recognition of the facts of the case would ever produce bigotry. He was astonished that hon. Members could use that word without a blush. Who were the bigots? If ever there was a case of flagrant bigotry it was to be found in the position of the opponents of this Bill. He had said there were two religious questions. He did not believe in the dangers that were supposed to surround the solution of the denominational question, and he attached very great value to Clause 27 for its bearing on the other great question, the question of the maintenance of Christian teaching in its most rudimentary form. Hon. Members quite understood why many felt so strongly on this question. It was not because they had any jealousy or dislike of Nonconformity that so much zeal and energy was thrown into the work of Church education, but because they believed there was a very great and real danger of education being secularised altogether. ["Hear, hear!"] It was said truly that in many Board Schools the education given was of a very real and sound Christian character. It was very valuable as far as it went; but, after all, much depended upon the Board elected and upon the individuality of the teacher. One man might be a pious man, and might give a true rendering of the Bible. In the next room, however, there might be a most sincere and conscientious man, but who was opposed to Christianity altogether. What importance could be attached to the Bible teaching of a man of that kind? There were many signs that the design to secularise teaching altogether was not by any means abandoned by some influential persons. Mr. Hugh Price Hughes proposed that the Church should abandon its schools and that the Apostles' Creed should be taught in every Board School. That was not accepted, but it was not received with indignation or horror by the Church Party. Mr. Riley spoke of it in terms of great civility and respect. But the proposal was received with indignation by Mr. Hugh Price Hughes' own friends and supporters, and in consequence of their vehement protest it was dropped. Were religious Nonconformists so blind that they did not see where they were being led? When Clause 27 passed they would have a great security, although he agreed with hon. Members it would seldom be used, except by general agreement, against Board Schools who main- tained good Bible teaching; it certainly would very properly be used if there was any danger of a Board School teaching ceasing to be Christian. He appealed to Nonconformists who really valued religious teaching, who were really not less sincerely religious and pious than any Churchman in the House or out of it, whether they could not join hands in the endeavour to preserve the principle of Christian teaching. He could not make that appeal without being reminded that it was not necessary to make a similar appeal to Roman Catholics. Nothing, he believed, had more raised the character of Roman Catholics in the eyes of many English Churchmen than the vigour and energy with which they had always thrown themselves into any educational battle in which not merely their own faith was concerned, but in which common Christianity was a stake. ["Hear, hear!"] Unhappily, they had learned that Roman Catholics, who were supposed to be bigots and most intolerant, could work more cordially and zealously with those whom they believed to be heretics than Protestant Nonconformists could work with those whom they regarded as their Protestant brethren. [Cheers.] He hoped the Catholic Church would show once again its power of rising to the height of a great occasion and show that it valued our common Christianity more than any differences that might divide religious denominations. [Cheers.] They had had some very important discussions during the present Sessions. They had passed a Bill which had greatly increased and strengthened the naval resources of the country, and had heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer detail his great Budget, and its story of national wealth and prosperity. As they listened to these Debates most of them, he supposed, felt some degree of patriotic pride at the strength and greatness and wealth of the country. But they would make a great mistake if they supposed that the great fleet and that great revenue were the true sources of the strength and power of this nation. They were the splendid fruits of it; the root was deep planted in the religious faith they held and drew its sustenance from their abiding fear of God. He believed that it was impossible to present a more momentous question to the attention of the House than the question of Christian teaching, because it involved the issue of national faith or national apostasy, and national apostasy, let them be sure of it, meant ruin. If we preserved our national faith it mattered not in the end what catastrophes might overtake us, we should rise again from every defeat with renewed vigour and renewed power of usefulness and greatness. But if it were destroyed we should fall inevitably and never rise again. [Loud Cheers.]


said, that he was sure the whole House had listened with great delight to the animated and most excellent speech of the noble Lord, who had spoken in a manner and with a conviction which must always be impressive and useful, and which was none the less courageous on his part. [Cheers.] Speaking of the new educational authority, he said that it was no myth of the past or dream of the future; they knew it very well. It was to be found in a Committee of the County Councils which were existing bodies. They knew of whom they were composed, and the spirit and opinions which they expressed, and, although he had no doubt that in many parts of the country where education was already very well conducted men would be found on those bodies who would do the work well, he was convinced that in places where education most required support it was impossible to hope for much assistance from County Councils. County Councils were composed for the most part of farmers; and he did not think a body of men would be found less animated by educational zeal than they were. [Laughter.] A County Councillor to whom he spoke of the benefits of education replied: "All I can say is, I have lived in the country all my life and have kept my eyes open, and I am persuaded that it would have been, a good thing if all the money spent on primary education during the last 25 years could have been put upon the land in the shape of artificial manure." [Loud laughter.] That man was an enthusiast, not for education, but for manure. [Laughter.] He did not believe in mind, but in muck. [Laughter.] He did not wish to underrate that man, although he was not altogether what they would call a literary person. He possessed to the full that ounce of mother wit which was proverbially said to be worth a pound of clergy. But he was quite sure that in his statement that the education of the agricultural labourer had been pushed too far, that man's opinion was honestly shared by a large majority of his class in the country districts, and he was not sure that it did not animate the souls of a great many men who sat behind the Government. [Laughter.] They were told that in objecting to decentralisation they were false to the great Radical principle of trust in the people. That was the first time those sacred words had crossed his lips. He desired to know who the people were in whom he was to trust before he was ready to make any such statement. Her Majesty's Ministers and this Bill were the result of trust in the people, therefore he passed over that remark. [Laughter.] The Secretary of State for India told them that the Education Department and the School Boards were overworked, and he referred to some distinguished man who left the finance committee of a School Board because he was all day signing cheques, an occupation the monotony of which was not destroyed even by the consideration that it was the ratepayers' money and not his own that he was signing away. [Laughter.] What was the remedy of Her Majesty's Government? The Education Department and the School Boards, overworked as they might be, had nothing else to do; but the cure for the congestion was to confer the duties on bodies who had already far too much work. The hon. Member for Cambridge University, whose presence in the House and whose speeches were enough to make even the fiercest of Radicals reconsider his objections to the utility of University representation—[cheers]—recognised that so clearly that he did not trouble himself about the education committee so far as it was composed of the County Council, because he pointed out that the County Council could invite the aid of extraneous ladies and gentlemen interested in the subject and with time to devote to the work. But, in the first place' these people were non-representative, and therefore, the old tag about trust in the people did not seem to scan. [Laughter.] Then they must be in a permanent minority; and one did not need to be a wizard to see what inevitably must happen. They might be quite certain that all the drudgery of detail which so moved the spirit of the Secretary for India would be left to these extraneous persons; but when money was to be spent and education raised, down would plump the farmers and country gentlemen and outvote them. What had the School Board done to excite, he would not say the animosity, but the very grudging tone and spirit of the Government? If the Voluntary Schools were suffering an intolerable strain, why did the Government not give them more money? No doubt the demand for some sort of control would have been made by the Opposition. But they would not have got it. [Laughter.] Certainly, if the Government was going to give doles and sops to those who assisted them at the last election, he would prefer Parson Adams to Squire Western. Whether this was good or bad from a Nonconformist point of view, nobody would complain of money being spent in bringing good, efficient schools to a proper pitch of excellence, and enabling them to carry on their work. But all that might be done without subjecting School Boards to any kind of ignominy. The First Lord of the Treasury had admitted that the object of the Bill was gradually to remove the School Board system and substitute for it a system of Voluntary and denominational education all the world over. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman's interruption certainly conveyed to his mind the opinion that he was not very fond of the existing School Boards, and looked forward to the time when there would be no School Board throughout the length and breadth of the land. There was no occasion, simply because the Voluntary Schools wanted money, to introduce into the Bill something that was regarded as an insult to the great system which had admittedly done so much educational work. Everybody who had been at the head of the Education Department admitted, not only that School Board education was good, but that it had given an impetus to Voluntary School education to become as good as it was. This part of the Bill should not be pressed on at all. What was wanted was money. There was money, and let money be given. Now as to the religious clause. He had always regarded the Vice President of the Council as the greatest master of irony who had ever spoken in the House. He had to introduce this qualification because the historian Gibbon was for some years a Member of the House, and a Member of Lord North's Administration. But he never spoke, although for years a Front Bench man. [Laughter.] He was content to draw his salary in silence. [Renewed laughter.] O si sic omnia! he might almost say, for ho thought the example of that great historian was worthy of pious imitation. ["Hear, hear!"] When they were told to approach the religious question in a calm, philosophical spirit, they knew what that meant. They were told to regard it in the spirit of philosophy, which regarded all religions as equally true or false. But they were so constituted that they could not regard it in that way. So that, in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's request, the spirit of philosophy and calmness had been conspicuous by its absence from the Debate. The religious question was not one of practical difficulty in the work of the schools. The practical difficulty could only arise from the children who attended school or from their parents. They must distinguish between the actual parents of the children who went to a school and other parents of other children who were often more interested and excited in the matter than the actual parents themselves. From the children no sort of difficulty could arise. It was a matter of complete indifference to a child what catechism was taught. He could remember, as a small boy, attending a Church of England school. There he enjoyed the Church of England catechism, and much preferred it to the four rules of arithmetic. [Laughter.] He took special pleasure in informing his deluded teacher that his name had been conferred upon him by his godfather and godmother in baptism, though he knew perfectly well that, as that ceremony was performed according to Presbyterian ritual, no such functionaries had graced it. [Laughter.] The parents of children who attended elementary schools were of two kinds—either pious, earnest, devoted persons who attached great importance to their own religious opinions, far too much importance ever to leave definite instruction in those opinions to week-day teachers of reading, writing, and arithmetic. If he sent his child to a Board School he was quite content as long as he felt certain there was nothing there contrary to the religious spirit. If he thought it was not an. Agnostic school, and no bias was likely to be given against his child's reception of religious truth at home, he sent his child without fear and doubt. Even in the country districts, if ministers would leave them alone, parents did not mind sending their children to Church of England schools. He admitted that. ["Hear, hear!"] The reason was that the really pious parent who had influence over his child and was deeply concerned in the child's spiritual welfare, knew he could in his own home or in the Sunday schools see that his child got the specific religious teaching that he wished. Then there were parents—a vast number, he was sorry to say—who were totally careless and indifferent on the subject of religion, not from any growth of sceptical opinions, although it would be unwise to overlook that growth, and certainly nothing was more likely to tend to its increase than undue clerical control over the education of this country. At the present moment this carelessness and indifference arose, not from skeptical opinions, but from poverty, and the terrible permanent depression of spirits which took hold of people who did not know from one week's end to another whether they could keep a home over their heads. Great poverty as much as great wealth was a real materialiser in our midst. Such parents did not care one way or the other about the religious education of their children; they were willing to leave the matter in the hands of other people. Where, then, did the difficulty come in? It came in because of the anxiety of various religious denominations to capture the education of derelict children whose parents did not care. We had in this country an Established Church, and everyone was supposed to belong to it who had no other religion, and the clergy knew that if they could get a person to say he did not belong to any religion or belonged to the Church of England, they would control the education of their children and proceed to instruct them in a vast number of principles of which their parents never heard and could not possibly understand. Therefore the difficulty did not arise with pious parents. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester drew a picture of pious parents panting that their children might be taught the Church catechism. But it was the noble Lord and his friends who panted. [Laughter.] Pious parents could teach children their own religious opinions at home or in Sunday school. The difficulty came in over children who had not religious parents. Now, whatever they did, let them not say they claimed for those children the right to be taught religious dogma in the name of their parents; let them not say these parents had a natural indefeasible right to have the children taught their religious opinions. They could not make a greater case for the parents than the parents made for themselves. If those parents had not this strong desire for definite dogmatic teaching no one could blame the clergy and their friends for desiring to give it, but in this case they were acting as proselytisers and teachers of what they themselves believed to be Divine truth, not what the parents wished their children to be taught. If clergy and ministers of religion would leave the parents and children alone to work out their own cure he had no doubt this difficulty would never have got into the platform any more than it had been found in the school. Therefore, this religious clause was introduced, not because of the anxiety of the parents, but because of the zeal of the Church of England. He did not think it a good clause—that either Nonconformists, or pious churchmen, or parents wanted it. It was wanted on behalf of the parents of children who were not pious, and they should make that admission. There would be a great deal of religious bigotry introduced into the schools. He did not think clergymen in country parishes would like Baptist ministers coming into a Church school to give instruction to Baptist children. He did not see how they could keep them out of the schools. For if they had denominational education they could not expect Nonconformists to stand on one side and allow one denomination to have the full benefit of the denominational system. They would introduce into country schools a religious difficulty, which had never yet really existed. Therefore, he found himself in a conservative attitude. Why not let it alone? They might say, "It will rarely happen in the villages, Baptist children will not want to go in any number"? How could they put in that condition, "reasonable number"? They had cardinals of the Church of Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury saying it was the inalienable right of every father to put his own construction on an unintelligible universe, and to have his children taught that construction in every state-aided school in the country. They said it was his natural indefeasible right. If so, it did not become stronger by multiplication. If there was a single child in a single village who had a father who desired that the child should be taught his religious opinions, how could they shut the door to him and say they must have a considerable number? Were they to say that parents could only have their children taught sacred truths where there were enough of them? It was impossible to support such a theory on any philosophical basis. He hoped the Government would raise the 4s. to 6s., and give good, efficient Voluntary Schools the money they wanted and leave the rest of the Bill alone. [Cheers.]

*MR. J. F. OSWALD (Oldham)

remarked that it was said by Solomon, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." His hon. Friend who had just sat down would say, "Don't train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old he shall not be able to find it." It might be lack of taste on his part, but he preferred the proverbs of Solomon to the proverbs of Birrell, and he was surprised so learned and experienced a Member of the House should have occupied the time of the House so long in opposing children being taught the religion of their fathers. The proposition was that children should be enabled to reach salvation if they could by following the road by which their parents or forefathers travelled thereto. That was all the Bill proposed. It did not propose in any way to interfere with the religious education of children, except in so far as the parent should have the inalienable right of dictating what should be the particular religious education of his child. He was somewhat surprised at the exaggerated language which the right hon. Member for East Fife had thought it necessary to employ in condemnation of this innocent little Bill. The rotundity of the right hon. Gentleman's sentences and the brilliancy of his adjectives were worthy of the condemnation of a much greater criminal. He looked upon the Bill as an innocent Bill, and one which established three most innocent principles. The first was that there should be a decentralisation of the educational authority, and that the local authorities should be allowed to direct the education of the young. In other words, Home Rule for education. He was returned to this House as a Tory—a fine old crusted Tory—by a great number of votes, and he sometimes doubted whether he had got on the right side of the House, because he heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite the most bitter opposition to what they themselves had hitherto always described as Liberal proposals. It was an extraordinary thing that the great Party opposite should oppose any authority in this matter being given to local authorities, and he wondered, when the time came for them to face their constituents, what sort of position they would take up with their local authorities. The right hon. Member for East Fife said the local authorities were not fit to be entrusted with the education of the young, and he devoted a great part of his speech to maintaining that proposition. But local authorities were considered sufficient to look after the welfare arid necessities of adults, they could administer the temporal affairs of the persons living within their jurisdiction, and he thought it was rather hard upon them to say they were not able to direct the education of the young, subject, as they would be, to the control of the Education Department. It was, and he should like to emphasise this, only subject to the controlling authority of the Education Department that the local authority could interfere in any way in education. The next principle of the Bill was to prevent the extinction of Voluntary Schools—not to suppress Board Schools. For 15 years he was one of the committee of management of a large Voluntary School in the Metropolis, which educated, on an average, somewhere about 1,000 children, and for 10 years he was, in addition, the honorary secretary of the school. His connection with the school had ceased for 10 years now, but during its continuance he could confirm what had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth as to the very keen competition between the Board Schools and the Voluntary Schools. The latter suffered very much from the competition of the former. Board Schools were to be put down near to the school he managed, its teachers were to be offered higher salaries, it had to contend at a great disadvantage with the Board Schools, and had great trouble in maintaining its numbers. In addition to that, the 17s. 6d. limit starved the school. The requirements of the Education Department had to be observed, and it was not able to compete with the Board Schools. Altogether, the school had a great struggle for existence, but he was thankful to say the school had flourished through it all, and was still doing good work. The whole object of this Bill was not to suppress Board Schools, but only to let Voluntary Schools have a chance of living side by side, with them. The argument had been put forward from the other side that directly you commenced to aid, as they ought to be aided, Voluntary Schools, the Board Schools must disappear. For 25 years the Voluntary Schools had been competing with the Board Schools at a very great disadvantage. Some of the Voluntary Schools, no doubt, had unfortunately disappeared, but he was thankful to say the great majority of them still survived. They had been able to exist under a competition far keener than the Board Schools had ever had to submit to; in fact the Board Schools never had had competition at all, and it appeared to him to be simply ridiculous to say that the small aid which this Bill was going to give to Voluntary Schools would have the effect of so strengthening these schools that they would suppress, kill, or work out of existence, the Board Schools. A great objection they had to the Bill in Oldham was that it did not give the Voluntary Schools sufficient assistance, and he hoped, in Committee, they might be able to carry some Amendment which would provide further help for Voluntary Schools. There was only one other principle he desired to deal with, and that was the one which related to the religious education of the young. The Bill provided that the children should receive religious education according to the tenets and doctrines which their parents held. He could not imagine how a Party calling themselves Liberal could oppose religious toleration. He always thought they boasted that their ancestors in politics had a great deal to do with bringing about religious toleration. For his own part he could not imagine a proposal more likely to bring about the welfare of this country than the proposal to assist the parents of poor children in having their offspring educated at the expense of the State according to the religious tenets of their parents. The three great principles of the Bill were the constitution of local educational authorities, the assistance of Voluntary Schools, and the enabling of children to be brought up according to the religion of their parents. All the rest was detail, and he said that the Bill which contained such liberal provisions ought to recommend itself to the other side of the House. He was glad to be a Member of a Party that would assist in passing such a Bill, and he congratulated the House and the country on the fact that they had a Government in power strong enough to place it on the Statute-book. When hon. Gentlemen told them they had no mandate for such a Bill, all he could say was that they had not watched the progress of the last Election. If there was one thing that was put forward at, and one thing that was shown by the General Election, it was that the people were determined to maintain religious education. The feeling of Lancashire on the subject was extremely strong, and hon. Gentlemen who did not recognise that the religious instincts of the great mass of the population of the country were very strong, would find that their constituents did not agree with them. The Party with which he had the honour of being associated would have no reason to regret the part they had taken in this matter.


said, he believed the operation of Clause 27 could not fail to be injurious to the highest interests of the religious feeling, and to the proper and rightful appreciation of religious sentiment in this country. The hon. Member who had just spoken had said that if there was anything conspicuous at the last General Election it was the approval of the country, and especially of Lancashire, of the principle of giving special aid to Denominational Schools which was contained in the Bill. He should have thought that that would scarcely have been contended as a justification for the introduction of the present Bill, of which the point to which the hon. Member referred was a very small and insignificant portion. He thought the information they had received from the Vice President as to the evolution of this Bill was positive proof that in its initial stages it was very different to what it was now, and he failed to apprehend how there could be an electoral warranty for the Bill in its present shape. The Vice President, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, referred to the principle of decentralisation as a principle to which all Radicals were wedded, and said that to vote against this Bill would be tantamount to voting against that principle. After an examination of the Bill, he could not give an expression of his appreciation of the decentralisation which the Bill contained. Instead of being real decentralisation, he apprehended that it was really re-centralisation. Instead of a devolution of the powers and authority of the Education Department to those bodies which had had the practical working out of the education of the country, the right hon. Gentleman set up a new authority, which could not, in the very nature of things, be expected to carry on the details of the work of the schools which it affected to represent. He thought the time and circumstances of the present were most inopportune for this work of decentralisation. They had only had 25 years of public recognition of the duty of educating the children of the country in elementary knowledge, and of that time they had only had 15 years during which the principle of compulsion had been in force. It seemed to him that the progress since the passing of the Act of 1870 had been wonderufully great; but, as the Vice President himself admitted, the progress had not yet brought them into equal position with France, Germany, and other countries in Europe. It seemed to him that, with the evidence they had of the immense development of their educational force under the existing system, it was inopportune to take it up by the roots and transplant it into some other position. He thought the decentralisation scheme of the Bill was faulty and insufficient in its nature and character, and that the time was inopportune for putting it into practice. He also felt it was inopportune that the Parliamentary power over education should be weakened at the present moment, because it had been admitted that the influence of Parliament had given a direct and strong impetus in favour of the advance of education. In the large centres of population, perhaps, where the benefits of education were fully acknowledged, matters under the new regime would remain very much as they were now, but he was afraid that in the rural districts, where there was not the same appreciation of the advantages of education, the new authority, taking its complexion from the electorate by whom it was constituted, would not have the same desire to progress, and to advance the education of the children in the districts over which they ruled. It was said that the Education Department would retain control over these authorities, and would infuse its own spirit into them. How was that to be done? It seemed to him that, unless there were going to be two staffs—one under the control of the County Councils, and the other under the control of the Education Department—the efficiency of the Education Department for thorough and effective control would be failing of its effect. They had already heard that some of the large county authorities had expressed their unwillingness to undertake the duties which the Bill would place upon them, because they felt that their hands were sufficiently full of work, and they were not unmindful of the fact that every Session Parliament was putting into their hands further powers of administration, and increasing their responsibilities. The right hon. Gentleman would say that there was going to be a system of co-optation of members, but his idea was that the authorities who co-opted were likely to co-opt with men who represented the same views as themselves. If, therefore, there was in rural areas a deficiency in the recognition of what was necessary in the interests of national education, he was afraid that those men who held reactionary views would co-opt with men holding the same views. Another argument was that special men would be elected to the County Councils for the purpose of carrying on this educational work. How was it to be done? Imagine the confusion of the electoral mind when the time of election came round. If, by chance, in a certain portion of the county, it was determined to send men possessing knowledge of educational requirements, what guarantee was possessed that those men thus specially returned would be placed on the Committee which had allocated to it the special work in which the locality was interested? With the best intention, therefore, on the part of the electorate to secure representation of such men to conduct its affairs, he thought that there was a possibility of this part of the scheme proving an utter failure. It seemed to him that the idea underlying this Bill with regard to the question of decentralisation was ill-founded. Surely they were not to be asked to entertain the idea that education was to be part of local government? The interests of education were so paramount, either with regard to the social or material interests of this country, that the authority ought to be elected specifically for that purpose, in order to carry out that great and initial work. Therefore, the opinion largely prevailed that, instead of deputing this work to an authority elected for other purposes, it ought to be confined to an authority elected for the specific purpose of carrying forward the education of children. As to the new authority and non-county boroughs, he said that a strong representation had been made by the non-county boroughs as to the injustice it was proposed to inflict on them by giving to other municipal authorities direct contact with the Education Department, as well as giving them, within their own area, entire authority, whereas the non-county boroughs were only to have that share of representation in the county authority that fell to their portion. This was a very important matter, because, on examining the last Report of the Education Department, he found that of 221 non-county boroughs, 88 of them had School Boards, and the total number of children in average attendance was 444,000; so that in those boroughs they had one child in every ten in England and Wales attending non-county borough schools. They claimed the same right to have the control of education within their boroughs as was given to the county boroughs, and they made that claim on the ground of their Charter rights. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman, when the Bill got into Committee, would not take up the same position as he now did by limiting the delegation of authority to the county boroughs while refusing a fair recognition to the independent position of the non-county boroughs. In those boroughs there were Board Schools which had been built at the cost of the inhabitants, and they were associated in the minds of the people with their own locality. A generation was rising up in those boroughs who had experience of those Board Schools, who entertained feelings of the utmost respect and regard for them. On what ground were schools which were the result of the contributions of the people to be taken out of their control? Why should the superior control over those schools be delegated to a County Council consisting of men who had no more knowledge of local government than the people had themselves, and who had no particular knowledge of the special locality of those non-county boroughs? They claimed, having regard to their individuality, and to their particular interests, that they should have a permanent and continuous control over the educational policy connected with their schools, and that they ought not to be relegated to the county authority proposed in the Bill. He pointed out, also, that the 8th Section of the Bill gave power to the Town Council to dissolve a School Board; so that a chance majority in the Town Council, having little regard to the question of education, would have the power to set up a series of actions for the dissolution of a School Board. In regard to the 27th Clause he wished to say very distinctly, as a Nonconformist, that he could not accept it as a satisfactory solution of the question. Nonconformists had never asked for it. They had never asked to be allowed to teach the special denominational tenets to the children in their schools. [Opposition cheers.] Those schools which were now under the control and management of Nonconformists did not do it now. They did not teach their tenets in their schools at all. They taught the general common principles of Christianity with which Christians uniformly agreed. Therefore, they declined to accept this as a solution of their difficulties, because it was no ambition of theirs in their schools to make little Catholics, or little Quakers, or Independents, or Wesleyans of the children under the teachers. What they wanted to do was to teach those sublime truths which underlie our common Christianity, to impress the life and teaching of Jesus Christ upon the children; and they did not propose to lead them into the wild and rugged deserts of sectarian dogma or to give them instruction in those abstruse doctrines appertaining to matters of religion which they could not be expected to understand. They prefer that they should receive the inspiration which comes from association with the teaching of Christ himself, and they would prefer to lead them by the green pastures and still waters of moral truth. Moreover, there might be considerable difficulty—in fact, a total impracticability—in carrying out the clause as it stood. When that clause was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman he referred at once to the City of Birmingham. The experience of a big city like Birmingham could not be said to apply to the whole country. In the scattered villages, Nonconformists, who wished their children should receive good scriptural teaching, and objected to see them put under the influence of sacerdotalism, they should find it impossible to supply ministers of religion to teach the many sects in these small villages. It would be an impossibility, and therefore this duty would fall, in large measure, necessarily upon the teachers. The fact was that those teachers had all subscribed to the tenets of the Episcopalian Church. Therefore, those teachers were already, by the very rule under which they were elected and selected, committed to sectarian ecclesiastical opinions. [Opposition cheers.] For that reason they should naturally expect that they would give such a bias to their religious teachings as would not be agreeable to Nonconformists. Having examined the Bill carefully, he had come to the conclusion that it was subversive of the existing system of education, which had proved so successful in the past. He believed that the decentralisation proposed led to the degradation of education, and that the whole spirit of the Bill breathed animosity to the existing Board School system. He believed, also, that the 27th clause did not give any satisfactory relief to Nonconformists. Therefore, on these grounds, which he believed were fundamental, and real, and serious, he should certainly record his vote against the Second Reading.

*MR. PLATT-HIGGINS (Salford, N.)

denied that there would be an unwillingness on the part of County Councils to accept the burden put on them. The hon. Member for Huddersfield said that the County Council of Cheshire had expressed its objection to that burden. He assured the House that was entirely a mistake. The County Council of Cheshire had not yet met, and consequently no one was able to say what their decision would be. True, the Technical Instruction Committee had met, and he believed had objected to undertake the duties of school attendance officers, and he could quite understand that County Councils did not see their way to accept too many details; but to say that County Councils, therefore, would not undertake the burden of elementary education when they had already undertaken the burden of higher and secondary education, was a statement that ought not yet to be made. It had been said that the Bill would interfere with the system of national education. It all depended upon what that system was. Hon. Gentlemen opposite spoke as if absorption had been the object of the Act of 1870, but against them he would quote Mr. Gladstone, the Prime Minister of that time. Speaking of gentlemen who held that view, the right hon. Gentleman said:— They regard Voluntary Schools as admirable passing expedients, fit only to be tolerated for a time, deserving of all credit on account of the motives which led to their foundation, but wholly unsatisfactory as to their main purpose, and, therefore, to be supplemented by something they think better. That is a perfectly fair and intelligible theory for gentlemen to entertain, but I am quite sure it will be felt it has never been the theory of the Government. [Ministerial cheers.] It was important to understand whether the policy of 1870 was intended as a policy of absorption; for if it was not, and the Voluntary Schools were intended to become a part of our national system of education, it was most imperative that they should be made efficient. He was a cotton-spinner, and as such he had to face one of the strongest trade unions in the country, who insisted that there should be no additional services required without extra payment being given for them. The school teachers shared that view, and rightly did so. But as to the Voluntary Schools, in 1870 the agreement was made to make certain payments to them for the discharge of certain services, and ever since the demands for work had been increasing, while the payments had remained stationary. The condition which the late Home Secretary sought to impose as to the assistance given to the Voluntary Schools, that they should be under local control, would largely prevent the acceptance of that assistance. The voluntary subscribers had built the schools, and surely they were entitled to some measures of control. The hon. Member for the Harborough Division had brought out the great cost of building the Board Schools, and he put that cost at 7s. 6d. per child. The latest return showed that, out of 3½ millions spent on the Board Schools, only 2 millions was raised by the rates, and the remaining 1½ million, which was raised by loan, represented the cost of the buildings. Now the analogous expenditure in respect of the Voluntary Schools was the contribution of the voluntarists to the national scheme, and was the basis of their claims. The difficulty of the supporters of the Voluntary Schools was that the sources from which they drew both for building and subscriptions had been exhausted by the demands of the ex-Vice President of the Council. He had been talking to the Bishop of Salford, who told him of how, when his friends had raised the money for maintenance of a certain school, they were confronted with a requirement for a number of hathooks involving an outlay of £600, and since that cloak-room had been provided, the Biship's Canons informed him that they had never seen any garment hanging there. That was where the "intolerable strain" came in. Again, the Voluntary Schools had asked for a certain sum of money, and they had been told that they could only have it on condition that there should be no inquiry into the religious belief of the teachers. But how was a teacher to give instruction in that which he did not believe? The managers would be bound to put the question to him. In his constituency they felt that the 4s. grant for the Voluntary Schools would not be of much assistance. He proposed that the Voluntary Schools should pay their 4s. grant into the rates, and that the Board Schools should do the same with their 20s. rate, and that both share equally in the common fund, then they would have that statutory equality advocated by the late Home Secretary. As to elections ad hoc, nobody suggested that with regard to secondary education, and he, therefore, failed to understand why it should be necessary for the inferior branch. The question of economy rarely arose in the election of a School Board. Each of the various religious bodies tried to elect the greatest number of representatives. and when it came to municipal elections, neither side were responsible for the School Board rate. It was well said that he who had the purse had the power; but the School Board rate rarely came up for public decision. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Bridgeton division of Glasgow (Sir G. Trevelyan) said, speaking at Manchester, that the School Board was a better authority for determining the amount to be spent on education than the County Council. But if education was so sacred a matter that it must be dealt with by itself, why was not the Vice President of the Council at liberty to put his hand into the Treasury till and take what money he liked for education? Why was there a public department to coordinate the demands of the Education Department with the demands of the other spending departments? He did not agree with the hon. Member for West Ham that a self-respecting chairman of the Education Committees would resign in the sulks if the demands of the Committee were not acceded to by the County Council. He knew a case in his own County Council of a chairman of one of the departments who wanted £30,000 for certain purposes connected with his department. The matter was passed by the Committee, but the County Council when it was brought before them decided that owing to other claims they could not allow more than £25,000. The chairman of the department, though he was a strong-minded man, did not think of resigning because of the decision of the County Council. He went back to his Committee and did the best he could with the amount he received. In his opinion there would be some danger that those Educational Committees would be too strong in the expression of their views; and as it was proper that the control should in the end rest with the County Councils, he intended to propose, when the Bill got into Committee, an Amendment providing that the chairman of the Committee must, in all cases, be a member of the County Council. He thanked the House for the consideration with which he had been treated on this the the first occasion he had had the honour of addressing it.

On the return of MR. SPEAKER after the usual interval,

*MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)

complained that they had not been informed by the right hon. gentleman in charge of the Bill or his supporters whence the Bill originated. Neither parents nor teachers had asked for it, and they had ample evidence that educational experts were not in love with it. The three men who had spoken in the House with the most knowledge and authority on education had condemned it. The hon. member for Cambridge University had setup an alternative scheme of his own, and had damned the Bill with faint praise. One would suppose from the speeches he heard that the whole educational work of the country prior to 1870 was done by the Church of England. The educational work of the clergy and other religious bodies had been most valuable prior to 1870, and it should never be forgotten that the people of this country owed a debt of gratitude to the religious bodies who were grappling so effectively, although in an imperfect manner, with the work of elementary education, nor should they forget that in that year, while there were 6,000 Voluntary Schools of the Church of England, there were 2,000 Elementary Schools belonging to the other religious denominations. When one remembered that the 6,000 had grown in 25 years into 14,000 it was a gross extravagance of language to suggest that the Voluntary Schools of the Church of England had been paralysed in their educational work by the competition of the School Boards. It should also be remembered that an enormous amount of the educational work of the country prior to 1870 was done in the Sunday Schools. Millions of people to-day, especially in the rural districts, were taught reading and writing in the Sunday Schools of the country long before the work of elementary education had been allocated to either School Boards or Voluntary Schools under the Act of 1870. There was another point which he ventured to submit to the House in view of the fierce criticism directed against the School Board system based upon Mr. Forster's Act of 1870, and that was that that Act was not approved of and not supported by the most advanced Liberals and Nonconformists of this country. It was passed over the heads of the Nonconformists in those days and it had been a source of dissatisfaction to numerous Nonconformist bodies. The Secretary of State for the Colonies said of the Act of 1870:— The Elementary Education Act is bad in principle, has been made worse in practice, and remains in its unamended state, a monument of the ingratitude of a Liberal Government, an intolerable injustice to Nonconformists, and the greatest possible hindrance of the national object it was professedly desired to secure. If that Act had worked unjustly to the Church of England, which he denied, one must not forget that it was not an Act which was palatable then or even to-day to the Nonconformists of this country. He did not wish to say much about the unjust attack which had been made on the religious education given by the Board School teachers, but Members who called it a "Godless education," or "Nonconformist religion," or as the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth did last night, a "spurious religion," showed not only a total want of Christian charity, but an absolute ignorance of what was going on in the Board Schools of the country to-day. There was not a religious body among the Nonconformists that had failed to condemn this Bill. A former Vice President of the Council, the right hon. Member for Dartford, said he was puzzled to know why this Bill failed to command the support of the Nonconformists. Even the Secretary of State for the Colonies, one of the few Nonconformists sitting on the Treasury Bench, said he could not comprehend why Clause 27 which was supposed to satisfy the wants of Nonconformists was rejected on all hands as it was. The Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Congregationalists, the Primitive Methodists, the Baptists, and every other Nonconformist denomination, acting through their representative bodies, had condemned this Bill, and therefore it was ridiculous to suggest that it was a Bill which the Nonconformists ought to accept. They had had ample demonstration that this was only a preliminary attempt of the clergy to put their hands into the public tills of this country to draw forth support for Anglican sectarian schools. What was the Nonconformist grievance of which they complained? They said that there were in the villages of this country no less than 8,000 schools which were practically under the control of the parson. The primary object of such schools was to teach the doctrines of the Church of England, the secondary object was education. That applied to every school settled on the trusts of the National Society of the Church of England. The clergyman called it "my school," and so treated it. That was a real grievance in the rural districts. Upwards of 700,000 Nonconformist children were found in the Anglican schools of the villages of England. There were many villages in his division where 60, 70, and even 80 per cent. of pupils in the Anglican schools were the children of Nonconformist parents, and those children were taught the catechism of the Church of England, a formulary to which Methodists attached little importance. These children were taught the Church catechism and the various creeds of the Church of England; they were taken to the church in many cases on saint days, and walked off to the church in some cases on one morning in each week. Nonconformists objected strongly to that. The proportion of public money bore about a ratio of 17s. 6d. to £1—there was only half a-crown of privately-subscribed money towards these schools—and they thought it a very reasonable proposition on the part of the Nonconformists of this country that they should have some sort of local control or representation on the local committees of these schools, especially as it was now proposed to give an extra 4s. per head towards the support of these establishments. With regard to the conscience clause, they had it on the authority of a former permanent secretary that it was a thing on paper, and they of the Education Department knew perfectly well in the rural districts there were hundreds of parents who would not dare to avail themselves of their rights in this respect. If they could show him an agricultural labourer even in a county like Lincolnshire—a Nonconformist county—who claimed the benefits of the conscience clause, he could show them a cottage in that village which would within a few weeks have upon it the notice, "This house to let." He did not agree with the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme in one material point. The hon. Member said he was in favour of secular instruction in the Board Schools. That was a position which had been repudiated by the Wesleyan Methodist body in this country. They were in favour of Bible instruction given by the teacher, but not by the priest of any community at all, and they thought that was a practical arrangement which had worked well hitherto. The Wesleyan Methodist body, which was, next to the Church of England, the largest religious body in this country, laid down three primary conditions, and he did not think that during the next 20 years they should ever find that body varying this position. The primary object was the establishment of School Boards everywhere, acting in districts of sufficient area, and the placing of a Christian, unsectarian school within reasonable distance of every family. They would not be satisfied as long as 750,000 children of Methodist parentage were compelled to attend Voluntary Schools, under the control of clergymen instead of popular control. The second condition was, that no increased grant of public funds, either from the local rates or Imperial taxes, should be given to denominational schools, unless that increased grant was accompanied by adequate and representative public management. Speaking at Bradford on October 1, 1885, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said:— I for one shall not hesitate to express my opinion that contributions of Government money, whether great or small, ought in all cases to be accompanied by some form of representative control. To my mind the spectacle of so-called National Schools turned into a private preserve by clerical managers, and used for exclusive purposes of politics or religion, is one which the law ought not to tolerate. And yet the right hon. Gentleman proposed to support this Bill. The third condition that they were anxious to see incorporated in any legislation relating to Voluntary Schools was, that Bible instruction should be given in all day schools, such religious instruction being given by the teachers. But Nonconformists had other grievances also. In many schools 60 or 70 per cent. of the children were the children of Dissenting parents. If any of them wished to enter the teaching profession through the portal of the Voluntary Schools, they were compelled to renounce their religious opinions, and to accept the religious tenets of the Church of England. That was a monstrous injustice. No one could enter a Church of England training college unless he had previously submitted to confirmation. He did not wish to say that confirmation did any harm, but it was a process to which young people ought not to be subjected as a necessary condition before they could enter the teaching profession. Another injustice was due to the curious provision in the Act of 1870, under which existing schools were permitted to supply any deficiency in the education supplied in any given town. In Southport and other towns where Nonconformity was very powerful, and where there was no Board School, nearly the whole of the elementary education was in the hands of the ministers of the Church of England, in consequence of this strange provision that any educational deficiency could be supplied by existing schools One of the clauses of this Bill which was very repugnant to the Methodists and other Nonconformist bodies was that which related to the federation of schools Nor did they think that the county authority was the most suitable authority to which to intrust the duties that were to be delegated. It would be found that the percentage of clergymen standing as candidates for County Councils would very largely increase, and he did not think that it would add to the efficiency of county government to have connected with it a large proportion of clergymen, whose special object in getting into the Council would be to control elementary education, and the funds allocated to that purpose. The effect of Clause 27, which they were told had been inserted in the Bill in the interests of Nonconformity, would be to split up Board Schools into a number of little religious factions. That would be discreditable to the schools, embarrassing to the teachers, and injurious in its effect upon the children. If the clause passed, there would come into existence a general and organised scheme for giving religious instruction in rural Anglican Schools through the agents of the various dissenting bodies. Would that be palatable to the clergy of the Church of England? Would it promote religious amity in villages? He regretted greatly the announcement that had been made that the Irish Roman Catholic Members intended to ally themselves with the Tory Party in supporting the Second Reading of this Bill. That announcement would cause surprise and disappointment to thousands of Nonconformists throughout the country. The Nonconformist Liberals had fought hard for the rights of the Irish Party, believing that they were supporting a policy which would result in the Irish people throwing off to a great extent ecclesiastical authority in civil matters. They had also supported the Irish Party on the ground that they ought to be actuated in matters affecting Ireland by Irish opinion. He feared that that view would now undergo modification. It might have to be cast to the winds. The questions now before the House affected England largely, if not exclusively, and the attitude of the Irish Members would make it exceedingly difficult for the Nonconformist Liberals of this country to argue in future with fervour and zeal in favour of a scheme which was supposed to have as its cardinal basis the acceptance of the views of the people of Ireland. If Clause 27 were carried, the Nonconformists would soon again be engaged in the old conflict between ecclesiastical authority and popular power; and, believing that ecclesiastical authority was subversive of the rights of the people and of civil liberty, they would oppose this Bill to the utmost, and, if it became law, they would strive to induce the people of this country to abrogate it at the earliest possible opportunity.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

said, he did not believe it would take him long to state the reasons which dictated the vote he was about to give on the Bill now before the House. It was a Bill which he was compelled to approach from two points of view, which were different, and to some extent conflicting. On the one hand, he was bound primarily to look upon the Bill as it affected the interests, educational and religious, of his own countrymen in this country; and, on the other, it would be wrong of him to forget the point of view of those English men and English women to whom the Irish Party were bound by old alliances and by many similarities of social and religious difficulties. It was not possible to reconcile those two points of view, for, while this Measure professed to do justice to the one class, and while certainly it accepted the principles for which they were contending, however insufficiently, it, on the other hand, did what the second class considered gross injustice to their dearest convictions and their most precious liberties. He had listened to a considerable portion of this long Debate, and one fact must strike everybody—that rarely had a Measure been brought into the House which had been damned with such faint praise by those who were, or might be expected to be, its staunch advocates. He listened, as did everybody else in the House yesterday evening, with pleasure to the able and eloquent speech in defence of the Bill which was delivered by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth. In some parts of the speech the defence was so extreme, and, as he thought, so unfair to the School Board system, that a vehement protest was elicited from his side of the House; yet this ardent and uncompromising advocate declared himself against the limitation of the rate, against a provision which in some respects was the corner-stone of the Bill. And he drew attention to this fact also —that not a single professional educationist who had taken part in the Debate had spoken in entire sympathy with the Bill. The Member for Nottingham, who was so justly entitled to be heard on the Bill, had denounced it, root and branch. If it was objected that the Member for Nottingham was a Liberal, he would take the speech of the Member for North-West Ham, who, though a representative of the teaching profession, like the Member for Nottingham, was, unlike him, a Member of the Party opposite. He objected strongly to the transfer of the authority to the County Council, one of the most important and fundamental proposals of the whole Bill. From the Liberal point of view it was objected, first, that the Bill proceeded on the lines of levelling down instead of levelling up. The objection was not to the relief of the Voluntary Schools so much as to the depression and degradation of the School Board Schools. Did not this clearly indicate the lines on which the Government ought to have proceeded? If they had come to the Liberal Party and declared that what they wanted was the educational efficiency of all schools—that their ideal was not the limitation but the extension of popular education, and that accordingly they would propose an increase all round, or even to increase the grants to Voluntary Schools, and if they had made this proposal unaccompanied by the limitations and shackles placed on the School Board Schools which were in the Bill, then their Bill would have met with a very different reception. But their plan had the double defect of doing the least for the schools in which they were interested and the most against the schools which they disliked. Did anybody on the opposite side of the House contend that this Bill would place the Voluntary Schools in a satisfactory and efficient position? He called, as testimony to the insufficiency of the Bill on this point, the most vehement supporters of the Voluntary system—the noble Lord who represented Rochester and the noble Lord who represented the Chichester division of Sussex. He should have to refer presently to the speech he had just mentioned—which was a remarkable and interesting speech in many respects. The second objection to the policy of the Bill was that it tended to strengthen and perpetuate sectarian hatreds. He fully agreed in this objection so far as it related to the Protestant sects and the Protestant schools in this country—a distinction which he would presently justify. Two things appeared to him to lie at the root of the consideration of the question of how we should train our children. First, that the years of childhood were not only the most impressionable but also the most influential years of nearly every human life. And the second principle which underlay his consideration of the training of children was that misapprenhension of the points of view of others was the most fruitful mother of the violent differences which separated class and class and creed and creed; that such misunderstanding came from the want of personal association between persons of different classes and creeds, and nothing tended to create the misapprehension and misunderstanding as much as the isolation of children of different persuasions. What did those who most strenuously defended what were called the Voluntary Schools do? They insisted that dogmas and formularies of the particular Church to which they belonged should be taught—which meant that the children only of one denomination could go to those schools. He knew it was contended that a Conscience Clause could permit a school to be at one and the same time sectarian and open to the children of other denominations. He could not admit the justice or truth of the contention. He believed that the sectarian school, especially in the rural districts in this country, was a school which could with safety be attended by the children only of the sect to which the school belonged, and he thought he would be a very poor Irishman indeed, and show a very poor conception and memory of the history of his own country—especially in the matter of education—if he were not able, almost instinctively, to understand and to sympathise with the apprehensions as to the faith of their children which were felt by the Nonconformists of this country with regard to the sectarian schools which this Bill was intended to strengthen and perpetuate. They had seen the whole problem tried out in Ireland; even those of the present generation could remember the system which offered education to the children of the Irish Catholics on the condition that the faith of their fathers should be, if not insulted, at least weakened and ignored. And, for his part, he should say they, as Irishmen, would be unworthy of the history of their own country, apart altogether from the consideration of the close connection between their hopes for the future and the sympathy of the Nonconformists, if they did not join the Nonconformists in every attempt they made to resist encroachments on the religious liberties of the children. He knew that two things he was about to say would not be pleasing to Gentlemen opposite, and that probably they would vehemently deny them; but, as he believed them to be true, he was bound to state them. The first was that the whole tendency, if not the whole intention of this Bill, was to prevent the growth of the School Board system in the rural districts in England, and the result of such a policy would be to strengthen the Church Schools at the expense of the liberties of the Nonconformists in these districts; and, secondly, that this danger was aggravated by the fact that, in addition to the pressure that the Church was able to bring, from its position as the established and endowed Church of the nation, it was backed by an amount of social ascendency, and, he would add, even social tyranny, which justified the fears expressed from the Liberal Benches. He listened with great pleasure to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Warwick—a speech which, if he would allow him to say, proved that he was destined to take an honourable and distinguished part in the proceedings of that House. He made what was certainly the best defence that had been urged in that Debate of the principle which underlies the Voluntary system. He claimed for his countrymen that their strong position in the world was as much the creation of the sense of their rectitude as of their great industrial skill. This rectitude of character he attributed to the teaching in the school. He agreed, but then he asked, could any man in that House get up and have the hardihood to declare that the teaching in the School Board Schools in this country had not been a teaching which made for rectitude? And was it not a fallacy to say that the only teaching that could make for righteousness must be the teaching, not of the fundamental conceptions of Christianity, on which all creeds were agreed, but on those dogmas on which the Churches had separated? This was not, as had been contended in this Debate, a conflict between the teaching of religion and of no religion. Nor was it a contention between sects that had a distinct creed and sects that had not. From what hon. Gentlemen opposite said one would be disposed to think that the only religious body in the country which had a distinct creed was the Church of England. As his right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division reminded the House, this displayed an insulting ignorance or a complete misunderstanding of the position and tenets of the Dissenting communities of this country, every one of which had its distinct doctrines on which it not only insisted, but which, in some cases, was the very reason of its existence as a separate communion. The Nonconformist position, as he understood it, was this—that the school should be broadly Christian and broadly national, but within its walls they should gather together the children of all creeds, and this could only be effected by leaving religious education to be taught elsewhere or by confining it within the schools to those broad points of common agreement between all Christian communions. Which was the nobler and which the higher ideal of education and of religion? He put the question confidently to even the hon. and learned Member for Warwick. For his part, if he was an Englishman and a Protestant, he should have no hesitation as to which he should regard as the truer Christianity and the truer national idea of education. How could they call it Christianity which separated Christian children in those years of their lives which were at once the most impressionable and the most influential of their existence into separate schools? Did they thereby raise up between them, not merely the material separation of the different buildings in which they were taught, but the thicker, the more enduring, the more impenetrable walls of mutual misunderstanding and mutual dislike, which must poison the very wells of Christian charity in their hearts. For his part, he could not look upon the proposals and principles which underlay this Bill without surprise and even bewilderment. His surprise and bewilderment were increased when he considered the time and circumstances in which this Bill was introduced. If the years that had just passed over their heads, and especially if the last few months that had come and gone, had taught this nation no deep lessons, then the nation must be unteachable. And what were these lessons? That the old commercial supremacy of this nation was no longer unchallenged or unthreatened, that it could only be maintained by the supremacy of strenuous exertions, and that unless the skill and genius of the people of this country be brightened and rendered effective by a system of education at least equal to that of the Continent, the days of the commercial supremacy of this country were rapidly coming to an end. And the second lesson which must have come to the mind of every man was that this Empire had few friends; that it was confronted, if not by a world in arms, at least by a world of suspicious, vigilant, and envious foes. And it was this moment, when on the one hand, their commercial supremacy stood trembling in the balance, that they selected to make an attack on the sufficiency of the education of the country. It was that moment, when they were threatened by foes all around, that they chose, not to unite, but to divide, their own people by all the bitterness, the misunderstandings, and the heart-burnings of warring sects and warring classes. And, as was pointed out further by his right hon. friend the late Home Secretary, this niggardliness of spirit with regard to education—this almost open detestation of education under the stimulating influence of a popularly elected body—was displayed at a moment when they threw millions into the increase of their naval defences—to say nothing of their relief of the landlords. He found no fault with this Government for such an increase of the defence of the Empire at a moment of such obvious peril; but he said that the greatest defence of this Empire—of both its trade and its power—was the efficient education and the national unity of her people; and this Bill was an attack both on the one and the other. If, therefore, this Bill dealt only with the question of English and Protestant education, he would be found, not only among its opponents, but among its most vehement opponents. But, as the House knew, and as he began by stating, he had to consider this question from an Irish as well as from an English point of view. There were two millions of his own countrymen in Great Britain, and they looked to their countrymen in that House as the guardians not only of their political but also of their religious liberties. Now, he had always contended that the Catholic Schools in this country occupied a unique position. The analogy which applied to it was not any Protestant School, but the Jewish School. As the Catholic School held this unique position, he had drawn the inference that it could be, and ought to be settled, on lines different from those of Protestant Schools. For what was the position of Catholic Schools? In the first place, it was the school of the poor—even of the poorest of the poor. In the next place, it had not the perils to the liberties of others which was involved in the school that was backed by a great, a richly endowed, and an Established Church. Secondly, it did not seek to proselytise, and it had not the power to do so even if it had the inclination, for it was the school of the few as well as of the poor. To say that the liberties of any section of Protestants in this country could be threatened by the schools of the small and poor Catholic minority was absurd. And now, did there exist in the case of the Catholic School a claim for separate treatment that did not exist in the case of the Protestant Voluntary School? He went back to the analogy of the Jewish School. Between the different Protestant creeds there was one great common principle and rule of faith—the Bible a Divine Code, and the right of the individual conscience to interpret that Code according to its lights. But between the Protestant persuasion and the Catholic, just as between every Christian persuasion and the Jews, there stretched the gulf of dogmatic difference. And what chance would the Catholic child have of preserving his faith—and, he must add, his nationality, for he regarded the maintenance of the Catholic School as a matter of nationality as well as of faith—what chance would he have of preserving his faith and his nationality if he were to be stuck in a school where nine out of ten of his schoolfellows belonged to creeds separated from his by the great and impassable gulf of fundamental dogma? And now, what was the position of the Catholic parent in this country? He would not send his children, if he could help it, to any school but a school of his own faith—under the guidance and control of the clergymen of his own creed. The School Board, however, was at his door. While he had every feeling of friendliness to the School Board, for his Protestant fellow citizens, it was not the school for his child. And he paid out of his own pocket for his school. In addition, he had to pay for the School Board School; so that they had this almost incredible contradiction—that the very poorest of the poor had not only to find all the money for their own schools, but also to help in providing the schools for their neighbours, who were much better off than themselves. And the results were bad in two respects. In the first place, double burden was laid upon the shoulders of those who could least afford it; and, secondly, the schools of the Catholic thus thrown so largely on the resources of people who were not only poor, but were taxed twice over, were very inferior in many respects to the public schools. He believed he could get the consent of his hon. Friends on the Liberal Benches not only to the principles of the Catholic school, but also their hearty sympathy, if they would accompany him to such Catholic Schools as those which were to be found in his own constituency. They were a sad, a moving, a pathetic sight. The Catholic School in many parts of the country was ill-built; had ill-paid teachers; had none of the opulent appliances for education which were to be found in the School Board Schools. And the children had not the good clothes and the good shoes, or often the comfortable looks, of the children in other schools. Everything spoke—and especially to an Irishman who knew the history, religious and political, of his people—in terms of eloquent appeal. These ill-equipped buildings and these children—some in rags, some without boots or stockings—told in one and the same breath of the material poverty and the spiritual opulence of the race; for was not the preference shown for this building by these children of the poor but another instance of that preference of their own faith to every material advantage which was the noblest moral of Irish history and Irish character? To an Irishman, he said, such a school appealed more strongly than to any other; but he confidently appealed to the sympathy of the English Nonconformists for these schools, for they represented in a different manner the guiding spirit of Nonconformity—the preference of spiritual freedom to State aid purchased at the price of religious conviction. The case, then, for separate treatment and for special endowment of the Catholic School was, to his mind, clear. But how did this Bill treat it? He expressed what he believed was the growing conviction of the Catholics of this country, that in a few years' time the case of the Catholic Schools would be very little different from what it was to-day. The noble Lord the Member for the Chichester Division of Sussex had pointed out that the new demands of the Code would swallow up the 4s. concession. Cardinal Vaughan, in a remarkable interview with the Westminster Gazette, had said the same thing. And this, then, was what this great Government, pledged to religious education, and in an especial degree pledged to the Catholics, had to offer the Catholic Schools. He said this Government was pledged in an especial degree to the Catholics. In the last Election the Unionist candidate owed his election in many constituencies to the Catholic vote, a vote given under extreme pressure. And this was the high-tide of Voluntaryism in this country. He did not see any greater chance for settling the question of the Catholic Schools on a sound basis from a Unionist Government than that which had been presented now; and the chance had been thrown away. There were other provisions in the Bill from the Catholic point of view which were open to severe criticism, and especially the provision with regard to decentralisation. But he had already occupied all the time of the House to which he was entitled, and he must pass these points over. Here, then, was his position on the Bill. So far as it referred to English and Protestant Schools, he thought it a bad and reactionary and even disastrous Bill; so far as it dealt with the Catholic Schools, he considered it grossly insufficient. If he could separate the English and the Protestant parts of the Bill from the Irish and Catholic, he would vote against it. But such a separation was impossible. It admitted, though insufficiently, the principle of increased State assistance for Catholic Schools, and in voting for the Second Reading—that was the only thing which he was voting for—that principle, and for that alone. He hoped in Committee, with many of his countrymen, to show that they were not indifferent to either the liberties, the interests, or the scruples of the Nonconformists of this country, and it might be that by their united efforts they might be able to so transform many portions of this Bill as to make it guiltless of any attack on the educational efficiency and the religious freedom of this country.

MR. WALFORD GREEN (Wednesbury)

said, that most hon. Members in that House must fully appreciate the difficulty in which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down found himself placed, because he had at the same time to satisfy his Roman Catholic constituents and to endeavour to conciliate the Radical Party. Therefore the hon. Gentleman was going to vote for the Bill because it would benefit the Roman Catholic Schools in this country, while he condemned its details because they were objected to by the Radical Members. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire had threatened the Irish Party with a rupture of the alliance between them and the Radical Party if they voted for the Second Reading of this Bill. He could not help recollecting that the hon. Member for Lincolnshire was one of those who led the English Nonconformist Party into the alliance, and if he now led them out of it the English Nonconformists would have reason to be grateful to him. At the same time, he could not help remarking that he honoured the Irish Nationalist Party for placing their religious faith before their Party interests in this matter. He would state the reasons which led him, as a Nonconformist, to support this Bill, and especially the 27th clause. In his opinion, the Bill would lessen the grievances of the Nonconformists, if it did not absolutely remove them altogether, and it would increase local control over the schools which the hon. Member for Lincolnshire called the ''Parsons' Schools.'' These schools would no longer be the Parsons' Schools altogether, because their accounts would be subject to public audit, and the Committee would have a right to enter the schools at any time in order to see that the school work was being properly performed. The 27th clause declared that, as far as Elementary Schools were concerned, all creeds were to be satisfied. Up to the present time it was said that Nonconformists had to submit to the religious teaching given in many rural Church Schools, but that would no longer be the case. In these circumstances, he could not understand why Nonconformists should oppose the Bill. The members of the largest denomination in this country, of the Established Church, objected to that denominational teaching which did not satisfy their conscience. Mr. Gladstone himself had described undenominational teaching as a monstrosity. Mrs. Besant, who had had considerable experience of the London School Board, had said that the result of unsectarian teaching was to establish a new form of religion, which had nothing in common with historical or any other form of Christianity. The result was that every teacher taught his own creed and catechism, which was exactly what Mr. Disraeli had prophesied when the Bill of 1870 was introduced. He believed that Nonconformists would be able to take advantage of the 27th clause. He certainly thought they would if the suggestion thrown out by the hon. Member were accepted, that the free churches should unite to secure teachers in these Elementary Schools. There were points in regard to which the Bill might be improved, and he earnestly hoped the Government would not insist on the limitation of the Parliamentary grant. On the whole, he believed the Bill would prove to be a great educational reform. Clause 12 was the first attempt ever made by any Government to organise secondary education, and the Bill would, he thought, be remembered with gratitude as the first step towards the organisation of a national system of secondary education.


said, that if he were asked to characterise this Bill in as few words as possible, he should say that it creates the maximum of disturbance and irritation while giving the minimum of relief to Voluntary Schools. He should like at the outset to state what was the position of the Catholics. While he undoubtedly would be disposed to claim, carefully avoiding the infliction of injustice on any section, of the community, the same rights for members of any other religious community as they claimed for their Catholic people, still, he thought it would be admitted that Irishmen were acting very wisely in confining themselves to Catholic claims. It was said by the First Lord of the Treasury at question time that this Bill was a purely English Bill, and he gave that as a reason for thinking that Irish Members might abstain from intruding upon the Debate. He wished the right hon. Gentleman would apply the same principle to his own following when Irish Bills were before the House. He regretted to observe that the Gentlemen from England who followed his leadership were not in the habit of abstaining from expressing their opinions on purely Irish Measures in a very vehement manner. But he denied most emphatically that this was a purely English question. If it were a purely English question he would be very slow indeed to take part in the Debate or in the Division. It was, however, not a purely English question. The Catholics of this country were their countrymen, two millions in number, driven from their own country by persecution and evil laws. In Ireland, in their own Catholic country, they were denied the right on account of their religion of free education. That persecution had followed them across the water, and he thought he would make that clear to his Nonconformist friends before he sat down. Here in this country, where they had come to seek a living, which was denied to them or to their forefathers in Ireland, they were still placed under a disability because of their religious faith, and they, the poorest section of the population of this country, were compelled out of their miserable earnings to contribute to the support of their schools, while they saw beside them, supported out of the public rates, palaces—public schools. What was the Catholic claim? The Catholic claim was that they were debarred by conscientious motives and deep religious conviction from sending their children into schools where their religion was ignored, and therefore they were compelled—being, as he had already said, the poorest of the poor—out of their poverty to erect and maintain in this country schools for their children in which the faith of their fathers would be taught. Their claim was—and he thought it was time in this Debate the Catholic claim should be properly stated—that these schools which they had erected out of their poverty for their children should obtain from the public funds the same measure of support as regards secular instruction given in those schools as is given in the Board Schools of the country. They were not content to rest their claim on the same low level as was stated to be the claim of the Church of England, by the head of that Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He said, on behalf of the Church of England—though he had not his offer repeated that night or during the Debate—that the Church of England was willing to continue to subscribe £600,000 if the Government would come to the rescue of their schools. They claimed, on behalf of the Catholics of this country, that they should obtain for their schools, so long as they built them and maintained them, the same grant for secular instruction. They claimed that the same grant for secular instruction should follow the Catholic child to the Catholic School as would follow him to the Board School if he turned his back on his religious faith. [Nationalist cheers.] He had not yet heard from any quarter in this House any argument to show that that is an unjust demand. None of the speakers opposed to this Bill denied that the Catholics in this matter are actuated by the highest conscientious motives, and if they are so actuated and determined to maintain those schools, was this House going to take up the position that the Catholics are going to be penalised and fined on account of their religious convictions—["Hear, hear!"]—and, after all, what injustice was there in demanding that a child going to a Catholic School should enjoy the same benefits and privileges as the child who attended a Board School? ["Hear, hear!"] He said it was common justice, and nothing more than justice, that the Catholics were demanding in this matter. ["Hear, hear!"] He was delighted to hear in the course of this Debate the Leaders of the Liberal Party declare in this House that they had arrived at the conclusion that the Voluntary Schools—he should prefer to call them the religious schools—in this country must be accepted as part of the educational system of this country, and that no section of the House desired to push them out of existence. Speaker after speaker from those Benches rose up and said they did not grudge this grant to the Denominational Schools if the objectionable parts of the Bill were removed. He referred to the speech of the late Home Secretary, the speech of Sir Charles Dilke, of the Member for West Fife, and other leading Radicals, who declared that they were willing not only to support the grant in aid of the Voluntary Schools, but that they regarded it as insufficient, and that they would be willing to support a proposal that would considerably increase that grant for the purpose of making the Voluntary Schools efficient. He could not understand how any man who has at heart the interests of the education of the people of this country could take up any other attitude. Either you are willing to accept the Voluntary Schools as part of the educational system or you are not, and if you are willing to accept them as part of your educational system, surely there can be no objection to bringing these schools to the level of the Board Schools in the country. ["Hear, hear!"] Once you admit that the Voluntary Schools should be retained, he could not for the life of him understand how any man could resist a Measure calculated to give those Voluntary Schools the resources necessary to maintain their position. It seemed to him that the position was unassailable. Many speakers stated to-night that the Radical Party, as regards religious teaching, objected to the teaching of dogma, but Catholics cannot conceive religious teaching without teaching dogma. They believed that religious teaching in the schools should be authoritative teaching given by a body of men who profess to have a body of religious truth to impart to the children. ["Hear, hear!"] He should be infinitely more willing to part with the teaching of dogma in schools than he would be willing to part with the religious atmosphere which is kept up in Catholic schools—that imperceptible something which is very difficult to define, but to which they attached enormous importance, and which was essential to the training of children in schools. He quite agreed that no teaching of religion and no moral training imparted in schools can take the place of moral training and religious teaching of the home; but the children of the poor have often no home. The stress and poverty of modern life deprive them of that inestimable advantage which the children of the upper and middle classes enjoy—["Hear, hear!"] and, therefore, the schools become ten thousand times of greater importance for moral training and religious teaching than in the case of the children of the rich. There were two millions of Irish Catholics in this country, and Irish Members were the only spokesmen of these people in this House. They were not able to return any representatives in this country with one exception, and for these people he claimed justice, not indulgence, not generous treatment, but simple justice—["Hear, hear!"]—that they shall get equal maintenance, whether from the Imperial Exchequer or out of the rates, with the children of the Board Schools. It was asked was it right that the Catholic parents of this country should get dogmatic teaching at the expense of the State. But they made no such claim. All they asked was that they should have the expense of their secular instruction borne by the State and the men who asked this question seemed to him to ignore the fact that the ratepayers are by a large majority in favour of these Denominational Schools. ["Hear, hear?"] These were the men who paid the rates and he did not see that any injustice would be inflicted upon the ratepayers if a portion of the rates were devoted to the support of the schools the principle of which they approved, nor could he see any kind of justice in saying to the supporters of Denominational Schools that they should not only pay the rates of schools they did not approve of, but they must also subscribe to schools they approved of. What was it that was demanded from the Government of this country by those who spoke on behalf of the Voluntary Schools of this country? What was wished was a Measure which would relieve the intolerable injustice under which the Voluntary, and, in an especial manner, the Catholic Schools laboured. He said the Catholic Schools in an especial manner, because, in dealing with this question they could not forget the relative wealth of those who supported the Church of England Schools as compared with that of those who supported the Catholic Schools. They maintained that this Measure should remove that injustice, while inflicting no injustice upon others, and disturbing existing institutions as little as possible. And he made that condition because he did most earnestly desire in the interest of the Catholic Schools, that this question should be settled, not as the result of angry and fierce Debate, but as was the case in 1870. If the Government wished—and their majority would be swelled to-night by the Irish vote—to thrust the Measure down the throats of those opposed to it, did they really suppose that that Measure would settle the question. He knew it would not settle the question, and being, as he was, interested in the future of the Catholic Schools, he looked forward with alarm and anxiety to the result of forcing such a Measure as this through the House, because he believed it would only be the first chapter in the long history of a bitter and fierce struggle, and when, with the inevitable swing of the pendulum, a Radical Government came back into power, they would come back pledged to undo all that was now done, and then the last condition of Voluntary Schools would be worse than the first. Though this Bill did not remove the injustice under which the Voluntary Schools labour, yet it proposed to revolutionise the whole system of English education, and it provoked an amount of opposition, and an amount of friction which did not permit them to hope that it would be a settlement of the question. That was the reason he found it impossible to approve of this Measure. He asked, first of all, what did the Bill do for the Voluntary Schools? It was a very long Bill—it might be described as an omnibus Bill. There were all kinds of clauses and provisions, the most important of which were never asked for or heard of by any section of the community until they were announced in the speech of the Vice President of the Council. So far as he understood it, the Bill only made two proposals of any value whatever for the Voluntary Schools. In the first place it proposed to make the 4s. grant in aid, and secondly proposed to abolish the 17s. 6d. limit. Those were two proposals which he felt bound to support. The abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit affected only a few schools, but it was a very exasperating and extremely unjust provision and he did not think there would be any difficulty in abolishing it. The 4s. grant in aid was ridiculously insufficient. He had not heard a single speaker say that the grant was adequate, therefore that grant could not stand. It ought to be made an adequate grant for the purpose in view. Was there ever a greater deception in the shape of a Bill which was to redeem the pledges of the Government, and to come to the rescue of the Voluntary Schools? If the Government would take the advice which had been given to them by everyone of their own supporters who had spoken in this Debate, and which had been given to them from those Benches also, they would drop the most contentious clauses of the Bill, and would increase to a generous extent the grant in aid of the Voluntary Schools. If they did this they would find that the passage of their Bill would be enormously facilitated, and that it would not leave any legacy of bitterness behind it. One other fault he found with the Bill was that it did not propose to remove that most objectionable provision as to unnecessary schools. Really, in his judgment the Bill might be fairly described as a most beggarly Measure. Let him quote from references which had been made to the 4s. grant. The hon. Member for Cambridge University, who made one of the most remarkable speeches delivered in the course of the Debate, and who approached the question in a spirit of aloofness from Party prejudice in the true interests of education, said that while the 4s. grant would be of value to some Voluntary Schools, in the case of many or most of those schools, the grant would be totally inadequate. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester, Sir J. Fergusson, declared that the 4s. grant would postpone the extinction of the Voluntary Schools, but only for a short period. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester declared, "We do not go in for the full measure of our rights." He took objection to that; on behalf of the Catholics they did go for the full measure of their rights. Why should not the full rights of the Voluntary Schools be demanded? If they were not demanded now, they would never be obtained. Let no man labour under a delusion as to the future of this question. They were at this moment at high water mark as to the fortunes of Voluntary Schools, and they were getting a chance now that they would never get again. He protested against the doctrine put forward by the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, and urged that it was with the Voluntary Schools a case of now or never. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich—to the excellence of whose speech he joined in bearing testimony—admitted that he did not believe much difference existed between the two sides of the House as to the amount of local control that would be given in case Voluntary Schools were assisted from the rates. That was a matter in which he hoped some understanding would be come to between the representatives of different views before the Committee stage was reached. The Catholic Bishops of England were willing, and would be glad, to accept any local control which was not inconsistent with the religious character of the schools. It would be ridiculous to ask the Catholic Bishops or the managers of Church Schools to accept any control which would destroy the religious character of the schools, because then they might drop the whole question, and have universal School Boards. But short of that the Catholic Bishops would accept such local control as would satisfy the ratepayers and the Imperial Government as to the proper management of the school and the proper distribution of the money, and he did not see what more the ratepayers required. Now he came to say a word or two upon a portion of the Bill to which he had personally a strong objection. In what he was about to say he did not speak the opinion of all the Catholics of England. At all events, a considerable number were in favour of this proposal of decentralisation. He greatly regretted it. He held that the Catholic Schools of this country had a much better chance under the Central Education Department than under these new local bodies. He feared the Greeks bearing gifts, and he feared the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) doing away with the cumulative vote. The cumulative vote on the School Boards gave a certain amount of influence on some of the great School Boards, which would be utterly denied them on the new authority; and in that House they could exercise some influence on the central authority. Apart from the general interests of education he believed these proposals for decentralisation were fraught with danger to the future of Catholic Schools. Nobody had yet attempted to show in what respects it promised to be of advantage to these schools, and he declined to be a party to any proposals which in the judgment of the best educational experts of this country were calculated to degrade or lower the standard of the education of the English people. The expression political Nonconformists had been used very often during these Debates as a term of reproach, and it had been said that but for them the opposition to the Bill would have been very slight. But a political Nonconformist was as much entitled to live and have the protection of the laws of this country as a political Churchman, and certainly when Irishmen looked back over the history of their country and their cause, it was not to be wondered that they should prefer the political Nonconformist to the political Churchman. The political Nonconformist had always been on the side of liberty. He helped to emancipate the Catholics in England as well as in Ireland, when Churchmen did their best to maintain the penal laws. He helped to pass the Irish Land Acts, he voted against Coercion, and at the present hour, when they brought forward annually a Motion for the release of the political prisoners, it was the political Nonconformists who supported them. Therefore, he was not the least ashamed to say it was with a sense of the deepest pain that he went into the Lobby against those who had been his allies. He would say to his friends, the Nonconformists of England, that in this matter Irish Members had no choice. Taking the Bill, with all its imperfections upon its head, and he thought they were many, because it appeared to him there were many clauses in the Bill which betrayed far more a political bias against the political Nonconformists than any zeal for the Voluntary Schools—[Opposition cheers]—and on those clauses Irish Members would have the pleasure of supporting their old allies. The professed principle of the Bill was to remove from the Catholics of the country and from other religious persuasions what he held to be an intolerable injustice, a persecution for conscience sake, and so long as it was confined to that principle and to stretching out some helping hand to the Catholics, they had no choice but to support it. They must vote for the Bill, and in Committee they must do their best to make it an honest and real attempt to undo this great injustice and to make it possible for the religious schools of the country, to maintain their existence and increase their efficiency. But on all other points where it was proposed to inflict any injustice upon any section of the community in England, or where any attempt was made to level down the educational standard or to attack great institutions which had done good work in this country, he for his part would certainly oppose the Government.

*MR. R. CAMERON (Durham, Houghton-le-Spring),

claimed the indulgence of the House, because he was the third schoolmaster who had inflicted himself upon its attention. His colleagues had given that substantial information, that accurate knowledge of the working of this Bill, if it was passed into law, which they were so well qualified to give, and his duty was simplified because of their speeches. He only wanted to draw attention to the general aspects of the question. He desired to congratulate the Vice President upon one thing. His colleagues had brought in Bills that were contentious enough and that stirred the country a good deal, but he had had the honour, the merit, or the demerit, of having brought in a Bill that had stirred to the very quick the deepest convictions of the most earnest minds in the country. He thought he knew something of what were called political Nonconformists, and they regarded this Bill as an attempt on the part of their old antagonists to steal a march upon them and to get State aid for the propagation of principles that they, as Dissenters, absolutely disbelieved. That was the root of the controversy. His chief objection to the Bill was because it had not aimed at a higher ideal than they had had before in educational matters. What was to hinder them from saying that every child in England should at least reach the seventh standard? What was to hinder them from saying that every child should remain at school until it passed that standard, and, if necessary, until 14 years of age, in order to pass it. There was nothing to have prevented this being done if they had believed in education. He found fault with the Bill on other grounds. The question of devolution or decentralisation had been discussed until they were almost tired of the phrase. It seemed to him a common-sense business that if they could devolve duties upon those who could do them better than those who had been doing them, it was right they should do it. But if the duties had been efficiently and fairly and uniformly done all over the country, why should they give them to a body who had not been tried and who, under their constitution, was not so likely to do them so well? His objection to it was that it would produce inequality in the amount of education that would be given in different parts of the country. They would have one County Council intelligent, and zealous for education; they whould have, in the rural counties, those who did not care for education. He knew that those County Councils and County Committees would give the education demanded by the popular feeling in the districts. On the religious question, they had heard from their old friends the Irish Members a defence of dogma. It was logical, consistent, for them to say so, but he asked to be excused if he took a different view, and if he looked upon dogma from another point of view. He objected to see religion frozen into form; he believed that a too great observance of the letter killed; he believed that creeds were only for a day, that they were what Dr. Chalmers said—only milestones showing how far we have reached. But the attempt to stereotype creed, to make it the only rule of faith, to keep it as a measure of faith for future times, and to teach children its dogmas was, he thought, contrary to the spirit of the age. On the other hand, what instruction was to be compared with Bible teaching, in its narrative, its biography, and all the elements of moral and religious instruction which appealed to the mind of the child, apart from its formulated propositions? The Bible was the foundation of all creeds. He maintained also that the school teacher did not stand in a position inferior to any clergyman in the result conferred on the national mind, and therefore he was entitled to more favourable consideration as to payment and freedom from extraneous duties. Now, to apply the doctrine laid down by the Prime Minister, surely fathers had an inalienable right to have their children brought up in the religion they themselves professed, and yet he had known two young men, one a Methodist and the other a Presbyterian, who could not get admission into any of their own colleges and had to go to a church college, there to consent to become members of the Church of England. If he were a Churchman or a clergyman, he would not have converts on those terms. What better were they, except in the method of it, than a Mahommedan who compelled an Armenian at the peril of his life to accept a change of his creed? ["Oh!"] They compelled a man to lose his prospects in life unless he changed his creed, and yet they paid enormous sums of money to these colleges. Again, the change proposed in the inspectorate he looked upon as very ominous, and as fraught with disaster to inspection in the future. He had seen inspectors at work 30 years. He knew what they were and what they did. Why were they so efficient? Because they were not local but national inspectors, that was the secret of it. They gave a fair and honest report of every school, but let them be selected by a local authority, let them be nominated by an Education Committee and be subject to local influences, they would be placed in the same position as poor magistrates on the Bench. They would be specially pleaded with for this case and the other case. He wanted such pressure removed from them. Make them national and responsible to the Department, and not to the local Education Committee. On the question of age he held that the last year of a child's school life was worth all the rest put together. He was asked up to London in 1871, when Mr. Forster's Bill was passed, to meet two distinguished men on this very matter—the one was John Stuart Mill, and the other was John Bright. They asked him why he objected to the figure at which they were fixing the school age. He answered, for this reason, because a child is a child up to 14. He said the education that did not reach the fifth standard was forgotten in 50 per cent. of the cases in a few years afterwards, unless the young persons happened to fall into lucky circumstances, where classes and books were accessible to them. Why was it there were so many illiterates in certain counties? It was because the education there was absolutely inefficient, and was a relative failure. [Ministerial cheers.] In his own Division at the last Election, 12,000 men voted and only 22 were illiterates, while in other counties a large proportion of the electors could not even read the names of the candidates they were asked to vote for. He had hoped better things, not from the Government as a whole, but from the right hon. Gentleman who filled the office of Vice President of the Council. He knew what the right hon. Gentleman would like to do; he knew that the right hon. Gentleman's ideal was as high as his own, and that he might be mentioned with Forster and other great men. But the right hon. Gentleman had chosen to hand over the education of the country to those who preferred the interests of the Church to the development of the character. The Bill was a step backwards; and though Dissenters might have to submit, it would not be willingly, and they would fight the battle at every election. He knew there were some Nonconformists who would like to see this matter stirred to its foundations, because they believed that they must gain by the fight. He hoped there would be modifications in the inspectorate, and above all things that the sub-Committee of the County Council would be elected directly by the people themselves.

*ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)

said, that the hon. Member's heated imagination had conjured up spectres that had no real existence. He yielded to no man in his desire to see the education of the children conducted on proper lines; and, no doubt, when this Bill was introduced it caused a great deal of surprise. [Opposition cheers.] But that was an agreeable surprise. It was said that the Bill would cause a reaction in the country. Why, the Bill itself was the result of the reaction from 25 years' experience of the legislation of 1870. He remembered that the Bill first introduced by Mr. Gladstone's Government was essentially a denominational Bill. It was supported by Mr. Disraeli's Party, and would have been passed into law, because it was in harmony with the real feelings of the country; but it was opposed by the political Nonconformists, who threatened Mr. Gladstone with the withdrawal of their support, and so was lost. And those who belonged to the Church of England, who were the majority of the population, had for the last 25 years been enduring the consequences of legislation which was passed contrary to their desires. If hon. Members opposite had been in a majority in the country, would they have endured so long that to which they were opposed? The clergy had, no doubt, influenced public opinion in this matter; but public opinion had largely framed itself. At his own election this question of education was made a test question. A long series of questions were sent him by the Roman Catholic bishop in charge of the district. He answered them fully and satisfactorily, for he was in sympathy with the views of the Roman Catholics because they were also the views of the Church; and he consequently obtained every Roman Catholic vote in Eastbourne. Clause 27 of the Bill was objected to. But the principle of the clause was in operation in New South Wales—as he had found when recently travelling in the Colonies—to the great satisfaction of everybody. There was free education in the Colony, but the schools were open at certain hours to clergymen of all denominations to give religious teaching to their children. It was no uncommon thing there for the Wesleyan minister to get the clergyman of the Church of England to take charge of his class while he went on his holiday, and in return the Wesleyan Minister took charge of the class of the clergyman of the Church of England while he went on his holiday. It was a wise system, and if it worked well in New South Wales he did not know why it should not work satisfactorily in this country. He did not agree with the hon. Member who had just sat down that the teachers should be under no control, or that the clergyman should have no voice in the management of his school. He thought there should be subordination on the part of school teachers as well as on the part of everybody else. There were, however, some parts of the Bill to which he took strong exception. He had received a strong remonstrance from the town Council of Eastbourne against the operation of the clause creating this new educational authority. Eastbourne was one of the non-county boroughs, and the town Council objected strongly against being brought under the County Council. They probably realised that they were perfectly competent to form an educational authority themselves. They had charge of their own police, they had their own magisterial Bench, they had power to contract loans, to erect a town hall and other buildings and they thought it an extraordinary thing that they should not be allowed to take charge of elementary education. It would therefore be his duty, when the Bill was in Committee, to move an amendment to remedy that defect. He had also been directed to call attention to Clause 12, which proposed to deal with secondary education in a manner that would injuriously affect the large numbers of scholastic institutions in Eastbourne. They objected to be brought under the clause, and as he was sure the clause was never intended to apply to such institutions he would suggest an Amendment dealing with the question in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen had said that Parliament had no right to hand over the management of the schools to the new authorities until they had proved themselves competent. That was an extraordinary doctrine. He had thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite were the strongest advocates of the principle of the devolution of authority. He had thought that the Liberal Party always boasted they were the pioneers of reform in this direction, and that it was greatly by their aid that Municipal Government had been extended. If that were so their opposition to this new authority was strangely inconsistent. They seemed to argue that because in 1870 School Boards were erected, School Boards ought to be perpetuated for ever. But they forgot that if County Councils had existed in 1870 they would have been used for the purposes to which it was intended to put them by the Bill. The County Council had been tried and had not been found wanting. Both sides of the House were parties to handing over the control of the police to a Joint Standing Committee co-opted by the County Councils and the Quarter Sessions. Why, then, should there be an objection to carrying the principle further, and applying it to the management of Elementary Schools? There was a great deal more to be said, but he was only occupying time he would willingly see occupied by others of greater authority, and he hoped his Leaders would participate in winding up the Debate.


said the object of the Bill was to put Voluntary Schools "on their legs," and there was no objection to do that for them as educational institutions. The objection was to do it for them as religious seminaries. He would vote them more money if they were put in the hands of the subscribers and the public in the ratios of the subscriptions and of the public money spent upon them. But the Bill attacked School Boards. ["No, no!"] Well, its author must be presumed to intend the consequences of his own acts. ["Hear, hear!"] The compromise of 1870 was carried in spite of the political Nonconformists, and if the gallant Admiral condemned it he must blame his own Party. ["Hear, hear!"] The success of Board Schools was the reason of their degradation, and the failure of the Voluntary Schools was the origin of their reward under this Bill. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] If they had not failed why did they want assistance? The reason they wanted help was that they were unable to compete with the Board Schools on favourable terms by giving as good education as was given in the Board Schools. The teaching in the latter was more efficient, the range of subjects wider, and the teachers were better paid. There were several ways in which the Board Schools were impeded and hampered by this Bill. [Sir J. GORST shook his head.] The Vice President shook his head, but did he remember what he said in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. "The second task Parliament had set before it was to devise some means of replacing the School Board system in rural districts, where it has been a failure, by some better system." Was not that a direct attack on the School Board system? It was also an attack on the School Board, because it gave it the power of self-extinction. It might be said that the School Board were a popular body, and ought to do what it liked. He denied that the School Board had this as part of its mandate from the electors who sent it there. It was an unfair and unjust thing to give three men who were in a majority on the Board power to extinguish the Board on which they were elected to serve. With regard to decentralisation, it was said that Liberal Members were denying a cardinal part of the creed they professed. That was a dangerous taunt. How was it they—the Tories—had taken this principle and acted upon it now? How was it they had invented such a remarkable fancy franchise and fancy self-government under the Bill? The reason was obvious. This was a new principle, and a little principle was a dangerous thing in the hands of those who were unaccustomed to its possession, hence it happened that they had a remarkable complexity of local institutions under the Bill. What he complained of in this decentralisation scheme was that, instead of concentrating responsibility, the Government had dissipated and scattered it over so wide an area that, at any given point, it had almost vanished altogether. They had got the Education Department and the School Boards. The Education Department was responsible to the House of Commons, with a Minister responsible to the Government he served and the majority for the time being of the House of Commons. He did not think it could be denied, whether a man was a Centraliser or Decentraliser in matters of education, that the standard of educational efficiency was higher in the House of Commons than in any part of the country. He said that an Education Department with a responsible Minister in the House was more responsive and sensitive to public opinion than the new bodies could possibly be. Not only had they an Education Department responsible to the House of Commons, but they had School Boards all over the country responsible to the ratepayers who sent them there. What had they under the Bill? They had 126 education authorities all over the country; they had ten different kinds of bodies in each county; they had the County Council, the educational authority for its general purposes; they had the educational authority as a School Board in certain districts; they had got the Town Council and the Urban Council; they had got the four new bodies in section 10, and they had got the amply-blessed federation of Voluntary Schools. With all this complexity of organisation would anyone seriously deny that the responsibility for education in this country had been dissipated and scattered over too wide an area? One word only as to the religious difficulty. His objection to Clause 27 was this:—The defenders of the Bill told them that if the Church parson might go into the schools so might the Nonconformists. He had two answers to make to it. In the first place the clause would be inoperative, its defenders knew it, and that was why they offered it. They knew perfectly well Nonconformist ministers could not go in many cases into these schools. Did hon. Members not hear in the course of the Welsh Disestablishment Debates, that the Nonconformists had no resident ministers, and how, therefore, could the clause be carried into effect? In the first place it could not be carried into effect, and in the second place they (the Nonconformists) did not want it. They did not think it was a part of the functions of the elementary schools of this country. Each school supplied a teacher to teach, and not a parson or priest to brandish his little catechism. The real reason of this Bill was the division of the spoils of the General Election. The Government had relieved the rates of one section of their supporters, they had given a commission to inquire into the grievances of another, and now they were relieving the parson and squire and manager, from the need to contribute to these schools as they had done in the past. They had heard a good deal about education and still more about religion, but the origin of this Bill was not to be found in the aim of its framers directly to promote religion or education, but it was to be found in their desire to satisfy their clerical supporters at the last Election, and it was because he thought it aimed at giving direct advantage to a class only of the community, and because he thought it was not conceived in the highest interest of the State, that he should vote against the Second Reading.

MR. ELLIOTT LEES (Birkenhead),

observed, that they had been asked by Members opposite to say what had been the result of the competition between the Board Schools, and the Voluntary Schools. The result had been the destruction of the compromise arrived at in 1870, and the Voluntary Schools were being gradually thrust out of existence, by unfair competition which was not dreamt of at the time when the compromise was agreed to. Mr. Forster, when he introduced the Bill of 1870, declared that the Board School system was to supplement and not supplant the Voluntary Schools, but the result of the competition had been that the Voluntary Schools had been unable to hold their own. The Government had been charged with acting wrongly in proposing to hand over the powers of the School Boards to county education authorities, and the hon. Member for West Fife had said that the new education authorities might consist largely of men like a farmer whom he had met, who expressed the opinion that all the money spent on education in recent years would have been better spent in the purchase of patent manure for the land. But those were precisely the kind of persons who had now control over many country School Boards. The county authority would be more likely to take a higher view of education, and to promote it, than men holding opinions of that description. He knew of one country School Board which witnessed a dispute between two of its leading members who proceeded from bad language to blows. The clerk intervened and endeavoured to separate them, and the result was that he received the greater part of the punishment; conduct like that could not conduce to the edification of the children in a school.

*MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, he intended to vote against the Bill, but as he felt he must do it in a somewhat different spirit from that which he had observed in a good many other hon. Gentlemen, he asked to be allowed a few sentences in which to make out his special position. Without entering into details, he would simply ask attention to what he considered to be the one central principle in the Bill. He regarded the Bill as a blow, and intended as a blow at what seemed to him to be the true principle as to the function of the State in national education. He did not say that the Bill was one for lowering education, but he did say it was one for clericalising education as completely as possible; and as he was one of those who had come to the conclusion that the true function of the state in national education was to make good citizens as distinguished from competent ecclesiastics, he felt he could heartily agree with his hon. Friends in opposing the Bill. At the same time he must say he felt astonished at the vehemence with which a good many of them had assailed the Measure, which he contended was only the legitimate and logical carrying out of the principles which the Party to which they belonged, in a fatal hour of weakness and in spite of the remonstrances of some of their best supporters, established with the assistance of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Bill was, in his opinion, not so much a revolution as a development. The true key to the whole chaos of present complications in the matter was to be found in what was usually, but, he believed erroneously, called the compromise of 1870, which, in his opinion, so far from being a compromise on detail, was in reality a positive surrender of principle. The Act of 1870 was agreed to deliberately by men who had anathematised the establishment of religion in churches, but who blessed the same abomination when it was proposed to be set up in schools, and who, while denouncing denominationalism at large, eagerly welcomed a permissive denominationalism in the new Board Schools. He knew very well that the gentlemen who gave themselves and their principles away in 1870, and their successors, fell back upon the Cowper-Temple Clause, which, to express honestly his opinion, seemed to him to have been simply a device, and not a very ingenious one, for throwing dust in the eyes of the simple, and those willing or anxious to be blinded. In connection with this point there seemed to be a sort of hierarchy of weakness, which might be conveniently arranged into three ascending stages of inconsequence. In the first class there were those energetic disestablishes and strong religious equality men, who thought that by the action of the Cowper-Temple Clause, although there might be a certain inconsistency in an attempt simultaneously to disestablish religion in churches and re-establish it in schools, yet still the offence might be regarded as only a little one, because only the Bible was to be used and therefore no great harm would be done. As this practically meant that there was less religion in the Bible than in Denominational formularies, he would leave the heresy to the proper authorities. There was a second class who thought that, under the Cowper-Temple Clause there could be no dogmatic or sectarian teaching in our Board Schools. That appeared to him to be a simple and sheer absurdity. Taking the case of the Jews, and of agnostics or secularists, the latter of whom had largely in- creased in numbers since 1870, the mere reading of the Christian Scriptures in Board Schools was a sectarian act that compelled them to pay for teaching in which they did not believe. ["Hear, hear!"] Religious teaching of any kind must necessarily be dogmatic and sectarian. ["Hear, hear!"] Because, after all, what was a dogma? It was not a mystery—it was simply a proposition; it was a religious idea expressed in language more or less grammatical. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] Of course it was impossible to express a religious idea except through a proposition. If, for example, in the Board Schools the Bible was explained to the children by the teacher, that was a performance that could only take place by the use of sentences which carried with them a religious affirmation; and what were such sentences but dogmas? They might go still further and say that, even if the Bible were merely read by the teacher, without making any comments or addition whatever, the result would nevertheless be a dogmatic one. ["Hear, hear!"] If they read the Bible to the children he supposed they expected the children to think something about what they heard, otherwise they might just as well be employed in beating the big drum during the time devoted to Bible reading. But if they thought at all they could not possibly think, except in propositions. Every psychologist, and there were many such there, knew that the most elementary principle was that you must think in propositions, and therefore the minds of the children must evolve dogmas which had been indirectly, at all events, communicated to them. Every reflective man who looked back to his childhood knew that very curious little dogmas were formed by children, and consequently the Churches, Catholic as well as Protestant, had drawn up dogmatic catechisms and formularies with the view of guiding the children towards the dogmas which they themselves thought most of, according to the usual way of theological egotism and self-assertion. [Laughter.] Directly or indirectly the Board Schools were, and must be, dogmatic and sectarian in the essential meaning of these terms, and he would go further and say that, wherever religion was taught at the public expense, there must be somebody who was paying for somebody else's religion. [''Hear, hear!"] When he observed the number of Boanergetic Nonconformist divines going about the country, and even the towns, vehemently protesting—he believed erroneously—in the name of general Nonconformity that there was no necessity for further encouragement of the Denominational Schools because there was nothing sectarian or dogmatic in the present condition of things, it was strongly borne in upon his mind that the violence of their protestations showed that they were protesting too much, and that they were not very dimly conscious that that was so. ["Hear, hear!"] And then the third class in connection with this matter was composed of protesters against the Bill who said: ''Well, supposing the settlement of 1870 was as bad as you like, it still was a compromise, and all compromises should be faithfully kept." That was one of the strangest doctrines that could be held by men who were presumably students of history and especially by Members of a reform Party. In politics no compromise was safe after a generation had passed away and a new race had arisen not responsible for the transactions of their predecessors, but bound to look at the possibilities and claims of the existing situation, and deal with them accordingly. [''Hear, hear!"] He totally disclaimed this doctrine of absolute continuity in public affairs. He was sorry indeed for his unfortunate friends who had sown the wind, and were now reaping the whirlwind. It was a melancholy sort of harvest. [Laughter.] He regretted to hear their outcries. He recognised their pain, but then they should not have sown the wind. A generation ago they planted the seed, the full fruition of which they now beheld and bewailed. Instead of giving secular education to the State and assigning religion to the Church and the home, they had forced an unnatural combination of the two, and by establishing religious teaching in the National Schools they had necessarily made them dogmatic, sectarian, and denominational. How could they complain when the clerical and priestly party came forward, and, through the Government, said: ''We are as good dogmatists, sectarians, and denominationalists as you, and claim to be put on an equal footing with you." [Ministerial cheers.] Any answer to that was beyond his imagination. The position of the Government, he was sorry to say, was argumentatively unanswerable, at all events as ad hominem argument. But, however it might be with hon. Gentlemen opposite, he felt his own position to be one of shame and sorrow. He was alarmed at the prospect of priestly domination in the schools, and when he spoke of priestly ascendancy in the schools, he did not confine himself to the sacredotalist alone, but desired to include every professional dogmatist of every description. He did not derive his alarm from any Scotch experience, because, although the educational condition of Scotland was plainly and frankly denominational, yet the denominationalism of Scotland was now only a denominationalism of indifference, and at the best it was merely local. But the denominationalism of England, whose influence for good or evil was worldwide, was an aggressive and desperate force, and therefore the appearance of the Bill filled him with fear that those of them who were the true friends of religious freedom were in for a severe and protracted struggle. Well did the priest know the time of day, and that the struggle he was embarked in now was a life and death struggle, and well, also, did he understand the value of the Jesuit maxim, that the future belonged to those who could win the young. Hence this Bill. What, under the circumstances, was best for the Opposition to do? It was to work back to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in this matter, by leaving denominationalism no excuse for making the demand it now made, and which, in the present circumstances, he did not deny was legitimate. He was not going to be appalled by the cry of secularism which he had no doubt would be raised by the clerical party. He was confident that if the people of England once came to understand, as they would soon do, that the question had come to be between priestly ascendancy over her educational system on the one hand, and the relegating of religious teaching to its proper sphere on the other, they would not have very much hesitation in making their choice, for England, as he had read history, was not a country to stand the unrighteous domination of the priest. He did not think they would be much frightened by the amazing exhibition of international Pharisaism which was made last night by the hon. Member for Tunbridge—whose speeches he admitted he always listened to with great interest, mingled occasionally with a certain amount of irritation—in which he alluded to the inferiority of secular-school bred American morals, to the morals of denominational England upon the authority of an unfavourable deposition which he said he had taken down from the lips of a casual but pious American, whom he had encountered in the train. It appeared to him that the hon. Member forgot that if the tree was known by its fruit, the very existence of this moral Yankee proved that the scheme which turned him out must be much better than the hon. Member chose to describe it. For his part he did not think the American people were any worse than ourselves. He felt sure that the people of England had as much respect for the people of America as they had for themselves, and he should not like from an ethical point of view to draw fine distinctions between Wall Street and Capel Court, between Oil Trusts and Chartered Companies, or even between the ways of Tammany, and the ways of English General Elections, as revealed before our own Election Judges. If this was the true way of getting out of the difficulty in which his Party found itself, why did they not take it up vigorously and resolutely? If no one else would do it, he would, in Committee, put down an Amendment for the purpose of having it declared that the nation should revert to the true conception of working out the State's actual and only legitimate function in regard to national education by keeping it to its own natural work, and leaving religion to make such arrangements as it was well able to make for itself. He knew he would be defeated, but he would comfort himself with the noble and reiterated sentiment of the late Home Secretary, that even although he was defeated, he had at all events performed his duty. But why should not some man of influence on that side of the House take up this idea if it was the right one? Why should they devote themselves ceaselessly to mere vote-catching in order to get as quickly across the floor of the House as was possible? [Laughter.] They had had political progenitors who sat 20 years in Opposition rather than sacrifice a principle, and he asked why should they not repeat that example—[loud Ministerial laughter and cheers]—and, having taken up some great principle which they believed to be true, stick to it through thick and thin? He had always been taught that they were the Party of all the political virtues—[laughter]—and that the Party opposite was the Party of the opposite. [Laughter.] He had also been taught that they were the sheep and that gentlemen opposite were the goats, although he felt it inconvenient that for the present—and he hoped only for a time—there was a certain inartistic transposi- tion of the proper topographical attitudes in which they should stand to one another. Why should they not act up to their high pretensions? [Laughter.] With regard to the rest of the Bill, he did not for the present feel very much troubled. He thought it required a great deal of understanding, and that he might come to a proper undertstanding of it in Committee. What he had endeavoured humbly to put before the House as what seemed to him the essential character of the Bill did trouble him and alarm him very greatly. He thought that this was a Bill that was fraught with the most formidable dangers to the highest interests of the country, and through them to the best interests of humanity, and it was because he believed that to be too closely connected with the essence of the Bill that he had no hesitation in voting against its Second Reading as a whole, and supporting the Amendment. [Cheers.]


who was received with loud cheers on rising, said: Various signs appear to indicate that this Debate is now coming to its natural conclusion. [Ministerial cheer, and Opposition cries of"No!"] It has gone on for five nights, and I notice that many speakers at the end of the five nights have got into that confused frame of mind, which may naturally be the result of prolonged discussion, that they speak on one side of the question and announce their intention to vote on the other. [Laughter.] That is not, I think, an inaccurate description of the speech made by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, and it certainly is not an inaccurate description of the speech which was delivered to an attentive House by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. Both of those speeches the House listened to with interest, but both of them produced that confused feeling in the mind of the listener why, if the speaker held those opinions, he was going into the Lobby in which he announced his intention of going. There is one feature of this Debate to which I think attention should be directed, and that is that the Leader of the Opposition has not thought it necessary on the present occasion to enlighten us with a general survey of the Debate which has taken place—[cheers]—and I am therefore, obliged to get up without the advantage I should have received from his speech. But having waited until 25 minutes past 12 on the fifth night, I think the House will hardly expect me to wait any longer. [Cheers.] Therefore, with a brevity fitted to the hour and the length of previous speeches, I shall endeavour to indicate the views which the Government take on this matter. I am not going to dwell upon a matter which has hardly been alluded to in this Debate, but which was probably not absent from the minds of hon. Members; it is the vulgar financial aspect of it. It is absolutely necessary, if you are going to save the rates in this country from an enormous charge, that something should be done to maintain the Voluntary Schools, which now do so much in our educational work. I have had a calculation made of what it would cost England and Wales if all the children now educated in our Voluntary Schools were educated in Board Schools, basing my calculation on the average cost of children in Board Schools both for maintenance and for provision of school accommodation. I find by that calculation, made with all the care possible in such circumstances, it would cost £4,200,000 a year to transfer the educational duties from Voluntary Schools to Board Schools. That is a burden which anyone interested in local taxation—at the present time I do not look to higher considerations—must contemplate with something akin to absolute despair. I admit that the money question is but the smallest, the most insignificant part of the question, though not in itself insignificant all the same. There are three other aspects of it of far greater importance. The first may be described as the local government aspect of the question. Hon. Members opposite have told us that we are adopting an ideal of local government far inferior to that which now exists. If I rightly understood the late Home Secretary, his view of the proper arrangement of local control in educational and other matters is to have two authorities—the Town Council and the County Council—both elected by the same constituency—["No!"]—both elected in precisely the same method—that is to say, without the cumulative vote, but with the ordinary vote——


County Council and School Board.


Both representing the same area, both elected by the same individuals, both elected under an identical method, one of which shall have the management—[''No!'']—of the general affairs of the district, the other of which shall have its activity restricted to education alone, but shall have an unlimited power of drawing on the other body for as much money as it desires to spend on its own peculiar schemes. I think that is an absurd idea; I say it with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, it multiplies elections to a ludicrous extent; and, in the second place, it prevents a true financial control from being held by any local authority whatever. What would be thought of a national system of government which had, let us say, a separate election to deal with the Navy, which elected naval experts to settle all naval matters, with an unlimited power to draw on the Chancellor of the Exchequer for as much money as the naval experts thought fit to spend? We might or we might not get a good Navy under that system, but the finances of the nation would get into absolute confusion. No principle seems to me more fundamental, or that we should strive more earnestly to carry out, than the principle which gives to those who have the general interests of any community, be it national or local, the whole control of the finances by which their schemes are supported. [Cheers.] Thus, and thus alone, you will be able to combine true economy with liberality in administration, of which certainly our municipal authorities have shown so many splendid examples. [Cheers.] At present you have extravagance without responsibility, and you divide in a manner absolutely illegitimate the right to spend and the right to draw upon another exchequer for the money which you wish to spend. But I have another objection to this dual system of local government. I say it is injurious to the constitution of your municipal bodies. How can you expect to collect in your municipal bodies all the best men in the localities if you cut the duties which they have to perform in two in this arbitrary fashion? ["Hear, hear!"] I cheered a statement made earlier in the evening, and the cheer was interpreted as indicating that I should desire to see this Bill end in the long run in substituting a Town Council management for a School Board Management. Yes, Sir, I frankly admit that is my wish. We have arranged in the Bill that it shall never take place without the wish of the locality itself, but when the locality wishes it I think we ought to carry it out; and I earnestly hope the result of the Bill will be that the localities will desire to concentrate all their municipal and educational activities in the hands of one great municipal body. [Cheers.] I am told that this is an insult to the School Boards. I do not admit that. Of course, the School Boards have done excellent work. Who denies it? But the question is not whether they have or have not done excellent work, but whether the work may not be done better in future by concentrating the responsibility in one set of hands than at the present time. We shall have to discuss this question, no doubt, at a later stage of the Bill, and I must, therefore, cut out all the detailed argument which under different circumstances I should have liked to address to the House upon this crucial aspect of the Bill, but I would ask Gentlemen interested in the question before they come to a decision upon it to draw a lesson from foreign examples. I am told by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that Town Councils and County Councils do not contain the elements or the men capable in many cases of dealing with educational affairs. Are we inferior in our powers of local administration, let us say, to the Germans? I say the German system of primary education is one of the best in the world, and that system is a municipal system, and not a system of education carried out by bodies elected ad hoc. The modern German municipality is a body as active as the best municipalities now existing in England or Scotland. Its activity extends to all spheres of usefulness such as the Town Councils of Birmingham and Glasgow and other great towns in the country have shown themselves so admirably fitted to perform. But do German Town Councils on that account think themselves incapable of dealing with the responsible duty of primary education? On the contrary, the fact that the German municipalities do deal with this question attracts to their assistance men of the highest culture in their districts, and I am convinced that, so far from diminishing the utility of the German Town Councils as regards education, it rather enhances and greatly increases the general prestige of those bodies. [Cheers.] Gentlemen opposite have attacked us for attempting to decentralise education, in this country. Again, I would ask the House, before coming to a conclusion on this topic, to consider the examples presented to us by foreign countries. The late Home Secretary, in the speech in which he summarised with admirable force and eloquence the views of his Party on this subject, described the results of this Bill as "an educational "patchwork.'' He said:— If you do not have at Whitehall a body controlling the education of the country and rendering it uniform, you will have such an educational chaos as will be fatal to the general interests of education. I do not believe that there is a country which takes more interest in primary education, or which has made greater sacrifices for it than Switzerland. How is it managed in Switzerland? They have carried decentralisation to a point not contemplated by this Bill—which the authors of this Bill would not have cared to present to this House. Every canton has its own Educational Department, and manages its own education in its own way. And are these cantons much larger in population than the communities governed by the Town and County Councils with which we entrust these duties under this Bill? No. They are about the same size, or smaller; and in Switzerland these cantons, comparable in size to such units of English local government as Leeds or Norfolk, have an absolute control over their education; have their own views as to the way in which the religious difficulty should be dealt with, as to the number of years which children should spend in the school, and as to all questions. And the mutual and generous rivalry between these bodies has produced an ardour for and an efficiency in the primary education which other counries much bigger than Switzerland might well emulate. The conclusion to which I have come from the facts I have indicated to the House is that, as far as primary education is concerned, the municipalisation and decentralisation of education, as far as they are effected by this Bill, are two great methods of improving education which every educational reformer ought to hail with satisfaction. [Cheers.] There is another point. We have now in England a chance, which the evolution of the educational history of other countries has often deprived them of, of co-ordinating primary and secondary education. It is wasteful and foolish in the highest degree to so organise your educational machinery that these two great interests shall perpetually belong to different and antagonistic bodies, ["Hear, hear!"] I rejoice to think that a step has been taken under this Bill which may put both primary and secondary education under one municipal authority, which shall prevent overlapping and waste, and be able to superintend, from the highest to the lowest stage of primary and secondary education, the whole curriculum which the children may be expected to pass through. [Cheers.] I have hurried with extreme brevity over these most important aspects of the Measure; and into a few moments I shall be able to compress what little I have to say upon what is to my mind an aspect of the question infinitely more important than any question of rating or even of secular education—I mean the religious aspect of the question. [Cheers.] The plain issue before the House is this—Do you mean to continue a system which will gradually, but inevitably, squeeze out of existence in a large part of the country every school which is by law permitted to teach denominational religion? [Cheers.] That is the plain question now before the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have told us that they sympathise with the Voluntary Schools, and would like to give them a lot of money. [Opposition cries of ''No!"] Some of them have said so, and notably the late Home Secretary. ["Hear, hear!"] But when we examine the methods by which hon. Gentlemen opposite would distribute that money, we see that the boon they would confer on the Voluntary Schools is absolutely illusory. [''Hear, hear!"] They think that the money to be given should be distributed equally between the Board Schools and the Voluntary Schools. Was ever such a futile proposition made? [Cheers.] I do not deny that the Bill is unequal, locally, in its operation. [Opposition cheers.] But that is the very essence of our proposal. By the distribution of the money which we propose, more money will go to districts where there are many Voluntary Schools than to districts where there are few Voluntary Schools. If the Bill were not unequal in that respect, it would not carry out its object. If this £500,000 were distributed equally all over the country, it would give about 2s. 6d. to each school. But would that do anything materially to prevent the Voluntary Schools being squeezed out of existence by the rate-aided Board Schools? No; when the £500,000 would be squandered—as squandered it would be if employed in such a fashion—things would be exactly the same, and nothing would have been done to save the Voluntary Schools. [Cheers.] I have never pretended that the Bill is financially adequate for the purpose we have in view. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well the difficulties that lie in the way of any proper financial scheme of this kind. If you will not have rate aid, if you will have Imperial aid, Imperial aid is limited by Imperial resources, and no one will for a moment pretend, that in the present state of Imperial resources we could give anything but an inadequate sum—that we could do more than we have done to bring the Voluntary Schools up to Board Schools, or to prevent the powerful rivalry of the Board Schools squeezing the Voluntary Schools out of existence. ["Hear, hear!"] But, leaving that side issue apart, I would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite—Can they contemplate with equanimity this gradual secularisation, or semi-secularisation, of the whole of the elementary education of the country? Have they contemplated the trend of public opinion in every country of Europe, north and south, so far as I can judge? In Prussia they have tried this very experiment of teaching those elements which are common to all sects; they have tried their own version of the Cowper-Temple Clause. The National Schools, existing side by side with the Roman Catholic Schools and the Lutheran Schools, are gradually going down in the attendance at them, while those in which Lutheran teaching and Roman Catholic teaching are given are gradually rising in their attendance. What is true of Prussia is true of Holland, of Belgium, and of France. At this moment in France a most remarkable movement is going on. The State has thrown itself on the side of secular education, but secular education is so repellent to the consciences of a large number of the French population, that they are actually sending 20 per cent. of their children to those Voluntary Schools which do not get a penny of public support—[Opposition cheers]—either from the rates or from the State, although, in consequence of that, the education which is given in the Voluntary Schools is greatly inferior to that which is given in the National Schools, which have practically unlimited resources at their command. But we need not look beyond the United Kingdom to see that this phenomenon, common to the whole Continent, is to be found also within the limits of these islands. I will not adduce the case of Ireland, which is perhaps not so well known as it ought to be. I will confine myself to Scotland, for this reason—six of the best speeches which have been delivered in favour of undenominational or secular education, as the case may be, in the course of the Debate, have been delivered by Scotch Members, and every one of those Members sits for a constituency where in every public elementary school they teach the Presbyterian Shorter Catechism, than which a more dogmatic document, one more distinctive of a particular religious denomination cannot be conceived. Why do not these six Gentlemen go down to their constituents and preach the teaching of undogmatic religion? [Cheers.] Why is England to be the country in which dogmatic religion is to receive no encouragement from the State, and where schools in which dogmatic religion is taught are to be squeezed out of existence? I heard with amazement these philosophic lectures from Members whose constituents every day are giving a practical contradiction to the doctrine so glibly preached by their representatives. [''Hear, hear!"] Speaking, as I do, in favour of an international and universal movement, have I not the right to say that in this case the world at large is judging rightly? To listen to speakers like the right hon. Member for Aberdeen, the desire of Gentlemen on this side to have some sphere of dogmatic religious teaching in primary schools is a desire to teach children metaphysical doctrines which no child can understand. I think that fallacy was exploded in the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Jebb). Is it not the most familiar fact in the world that doctrines which need never be formulated or taught, which need never be put before the person who is being taught in words, nevertheless vitally influence in every sphere of learning the character of the teaching? In the teaching of science would you begin with the abstract laws of mechanics and dynamics? Would the child understand them? Of course not. Would you choose a teacher to instruct a child who showed his total ignorance of those principles? No; principles react on teaching, whether used in teaching or not. I do not deny that Christian sects have too often worked into barriers between themselves and fellow Christians dogmas and doctrines which should never have been allowed to be the cause of schism. I do not think those who advocate this Bill are open to any charge of that kind. I confess, when I heard speeches such as that delivered by one hon. Member, I was amazed at the recklessness with which theories like these are established. If the differences between that hon. Gentleman and the Church of England are so small, why is there any schism, and what is there in the rationale of dissent at all? If the doctrines that divide Nonconformists from the Anglican Church are of so little importance, it matters not whether you teach children of 14 or whether the teachers of the children have imbibed these dogmas or not, there is insufficient ground for schism from the National Church which has been productive of incalculable harm in the history of this country. [Opposition cries of ''No!"] I do not say they were right or wrong. I only say that the effect of our unhappy religious differences must, to the most careless observer, have been productive of a number of harms—social, political, and religious. [Cries of "No!"] I have indicated, I think, with sufficient brevity some of the grounds which induce the Government to bring forward this scheme. We believe it is a great educational reform in local government; a great measure of official decentralisation, and that on all these grounds, every educational reformer in the House should give it hearty support. We believe that, in addition to all these great claims on the assent of the House, it has the striking merit of doing something, if not enough, to support that element in our educational system which is absolutely necessary unless we are to allow our whole method of local primary education to leave behind it religious teaching in its vital aspect, and not to bring forward to the dead level which may, unfortunately, be attained if you insist that in no school in the country supported out of public funds shall any religious formula be taught. I am disappointed with the reception which the Second Reading of this Bill has received on the other side of the House. Hon. Members opposite, apparently, came to its discussion with a determination to oppose it at every stage. [Cheers.] They professed that anything which would increase the inefficiency of the Voluntary Schools would have their heartiest support; but, when they thought we were going to support the Voluntary Schools, they announced their intention of opposing it. Opponents like that are not easy to be conciliated, but I cannot help hoping, although they will divide against the Second Reading, that the arguments I have brought forward to-night, drawn from European experience—[cries of "No!"]—rightly or wrongly—may do something to persuade Gentlemen opposite, who look with no love upon denominational teaching, that at all events this Bill deserves support from another set of considerations to which they attach more weight—namely, that aspect which would induce every patriotic Member of this House to do what he can to improve the organisation by which the children of the poor are to be taught the elements of learning. [Loud cheers.]

MR. CHARLES SHAW (Stafford) rose to continue the Debate, but, owing to the loud cries of "Divide" with which the hon. Member was received, his observations could not be heard. After one or two ineffectual attempts to obtain a hearing he moved the Adjournment of the Debate, whereupon


claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."[Ministerial cheers.]

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes, 379; Noes, 198.—(Division List, No. 138.)

Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes, 423: Noes, 156.

The announcement of the figures was received with loud Ministerial cheers.

(Division List, No. 139, appended.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Bir.) Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.) Firbank, Joseph Thomas
Aird, John Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Fisher, William Hayes
Allsopp, Hon. George Charrington, Spencer Fison, Frederick William
Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.) Chelsea, Viscount FitzGerald, R. Uniacke Penrose
Ambrose, William (Middlesex) Clancy, John Joseph Fitz Wygram, Sir Frederick
Arnold, Alfred Clare, Octavius Leigh Flannery, Fortescue
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth.) Flavin, Michael Joseph
Arrol, Sir William Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Fletcher, Sir Henry
Ascroft, Robert Coddington, Sir William Flower, Ernest
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Coghill, Douglas Harry Flynn, James Christopher
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cohen, Benjamin Louis Folkestone, Viscount
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Forster, Henry William
Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Forwood, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur B.
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Combe, Charles Harvey Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis
Baillie, James, E. B. (Inv'rn'ss) Compton, Lord Alwyne (Beds.) Fry, Lewis
Baird, John George Alexander Condon, Thomas Joseph Galloway, William Johnson
Balcarres, Lord Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Garfit, William
Baldwin, Alfred Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd) Gedge, Sydney
Balfour. Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D. Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. (City of London)
Balfour, Gerald William (Leeds) Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.
Banbury, Frederick George Cox, Robert Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Cranborne, Viscount Giles, Charles Tyrrell
Barry, A. H. Smith- (Hunts.) Crilly, Daniel Gilliat, John Saunders
Barry, Francis Tress (Windsor) Cripps, Charles Alfred Godson, Augustus Frederick
Bartley, George C. T. Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Goldsworthy, Major-General
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Cruddas, William Donaldson Gordon, John Edward
Bass, Hamar Cubitt, Hon. Henry Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) Gosehen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (S. Georges)
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol) Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Goschen, George J. (Sussex)
Beach, W. W. Bramston (Hants.) Currie, Sir Donald Goulding, Edward Alfred
Begg, Ferdinand Faithful Curzon, Rt Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W. Graham, Henry Robert
Bemrose, Henry Howe Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.) Gray, Ernest (West Ham)
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Dalbiac, Major Philip Hugh Green, Walford D. (Wdnesbury)
Bethell, Captain Dalkeith, Earl of Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)
Bhownaggree, Mancherjee M. Dalrymple, Sir Charles Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs)
Biddulph, Michael Daly, James Gretton, John
Bigham, John Charles Darling, Charles John Gull, Sir Cameron
Bigwood, James Davenport, W. Bromley- Gunter, Colonel
Bill, Charles Davies, Horatio D. (Chatham) Hall, Sir Charles
Blake, Edward Davitt, Michael Halsey, Thomas Frederick
Blundell, Colonel Henry Denny, Colonel Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.
Bolitho, Thomas Bedford Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.
Bond, Edward Dillon, John Hanson, Sir Reginald
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Hardy, Laurence
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. Dixon Haslett, Sir James Horner
Boulnois, Edmund Donelan, Captain A. Hatch, Ernest Frederick George
Bousfield, William Robert Donkin, Richard Sim Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex) Doogan, P. C. Hayden, Luke Patrick
Brassey, Albert Dorington, Sir John Edward Healy, Maurice (Cork)
Brodrick, Hon. St. John Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Heath, James
Brookfield, A. Montagu Doxford, William Theodore Heaton, John Henniker
Brown, Alexander H. Drage, Geoffrey Helder, Augustus
Brymer, William Ernest Drucker, G. C. Adolphus Hickman, Sir Alfred
Bucknill, Thomas Townsend Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arthur (Down)
Bullard, Sir Harry Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart Hill, Rt. Hn. A. Staveley (Staffs.)
Burdett-Coutts, W. Edwards, Gen. Sir James Bevan Hill, Sir Edward Stock (Bristol)
Butcher, John George Engledow, Charles John Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampstead)
Byrne, Edmund Widdrington Fardell, Thomas George Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)
Campbell, James A. Farquhar, Sir Horace Hobhouse, Henry
Carew, James Laurence Farrell, James P. (Cavan, W.) Hogan, James Francis
Carlile, William Walter Farrell, Thomas J. (Kerry, S.) Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh
Carson, Edward Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Hornby, William Henry
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Fergusson,Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Houston, R. P.
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Drbyshr) Field, William (Dublin) Howard, Joseph
Cayzer, Charles William Fielden, Thomas Howell, William Tudor
Cecil, Lord Hugh Finch, George H. Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Finch-Hatton, Hon. Harold H. Hozier, James Henry Cecil
Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Milton, Viscount Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Hudson, George Bickersteth Milward, Colonel Victor Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Hulse, Edward Henry Molloy, Bernard Charles Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.)
Hunt, Sir Frederick Seager Monckton, Edward Philip Simeon, Sir Barrington
Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice- Monk, Charles James Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.) Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Smith, Abel (Herts)
Isaacson, Frederick Wootton Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies More, Robert Jasper Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)
Jameson, Major J. Eustace Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Morrell, George Herbert Spencer, Ernest
Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Morrison, Walter Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Jenkins, Sir John Jones Mount, William George Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)
Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Mowbray, Rt. Hon. Sir John Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)
Johnston, William (Belfast) Muntz, Philip A. Stephens, Henry Charles
Johnstone, John H. (Sussex) Murdoch, Charles Townshend Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Murray, Andrew Graham (Bute) Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Kemp, George Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Stock, James Henry
Kennaway, Sir John Henry Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Stone, Sir John Benjamin
Kenny, William Myers, William Henry Strauss, Arthur
Kenrick, William Newdigate, Francis Alexander Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Kenyon, James Nicol, Donald Ninian Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Kilbride, Denis O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Kimber, Henry O'Brien Patrick (Kilkenny) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
King, Sir Henry Seymour O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Talbot, John G. (Oxford Univ.)
Knowles, Lees O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.) Tanner, Charles Kearns
Knox, Edmund Francis Vesey O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Taylor, Francis
Lafone, Alfred O'Kelly, James Thorburn, Walter
Laurie, Lieut.-General O'Malley, William Thornton, Percy M.
Lawrence, Edwin (Cornwall) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Tollemache, Henry James
Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Lecky, William Edward H. Oswald James Francis Tritton, Charles Ernest
Lees, Elliott (Birkenhead) Parkes, Ebenezer Tully, Jasper
Legh, Hon. Thomas W. (Lanc.) Pease, Arthur (Darlington) Usborne, Thomas
Leighton, Stanley Pender, James (Northants) Valentia, Viscount
Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset) Penn, John Verney, Hon. Richard Greville
Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn(Swansea) Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Lockwood, Lt. -Col. A R. (Essex) Pierpoint, Robert Wanklyn, James Leslie
Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Platt-Higgins, Frederick Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)
Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Plunkett, Hon. Horace Curzon Warde, Lt. -Col. C. E. (Kent)
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool) Pollock, Harry Frederick Warkworth, Lord
Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Warr, Augustus Frederick
Lorne, Marquess of Power, Patrick Joseph Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Pretyman, Capt. Ernest George Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of Wight)
Lucas-Shadwell, William Pryce-Jones, Edward Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Purvis, Robert Wharton, John Lloyd
MacAleese, Daniel Pym, C. Guy Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Macartney, W. G. Ellison Rankin, James Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Macdona, John Cumming Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Maclean, James Mackenzie Redmond, William (Clare) Wickham, William
Maclure, John William Renshaw, Charles Bine Wigram, Alfred Money
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Rentoul, James Alexander Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.) Richards, Henry Charles Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm.)
M'Calmont, Col. H. (Antrim N.) Richardson, Thomas Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
M'Calmont, Capt. J (Antrim, E.) Ridley, Rt. Hon Sir Matthew W. Willox, John Archibald
M'Carthy, Justin Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson Wilson, John (Falkirk)
M'Dermott, Patrick Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Wilson J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)
M'Donnell, Dr. M. A. (Queen'sC.) Robinson, Brooke Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
M'Ghee, Richard Roche, Hon. James (East Kerry) Wodehouse, Edmond Robert
M'Hugh. Patrick A. (Leitrim) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
M'Iver, Lewis Rothschild, Baron F. James de Wortley, Charles Beilby Stuart-
M'Killop, James Round, James Wylie, Alexander
Manners, Lord Edward Wm. J. Royds, Clement Molyneux Wyndham, George
Maple, Sir John Blundell Russell, Sir George (Berkshire) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Martin, Richard Biddulph Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Rutherford, John Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Maxwell, Sir Herbert E. Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Young, Samuel
Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire) Saunderson, Col. Edw. James Younger, William
Melville, Beresford Valentine Savory, Sir Joseph TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Sir
Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard William Walrond and Mr.
Milbank, Powlett Charles John Seely, Charles Hilton Anstruther.
Mildmay, Francis Bingham Seton-Karr, Henry
Milner, Sir Frederick George Sharpe, William Edward T.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)
Acland, Right Hon. A. H. Dyke Griffith, Ellis J. Perks, Robert William
Allan, William (Gateshead) Haldane, Richard Burdon Pickard, Benjamin
Allen, Wm. (Newc. under-Lyme) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Allison, Robert Andrew Harrison, Charles Pirie, Captain Duncan Vernon
Arch, Joseph Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Price, Robert John
Asher, Alexander Hazell, Walter Priestley, Briggs
Ashton, Thomas Gair Holburn, J. G. Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Horniman, Frederick John Randell, David
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Bainbridge, Emerson Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Reckitt, Harold James
Baker, Sir John Jacoby, James Alfred Rickett, J. Compton
Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. Blair (Clackm.) Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw. Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Joicey, Sir James Robson, William Snowdon
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Birrell, Augustine Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Schwann, Charles E.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U. Scott, Charles Prestwich
Brigg, John Kearley, Hudson E. Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Broadhurst, Henry Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Kitson, Sir James Shaw, William Rawson (Halifax)
Bryce, Right Hon. James Labouchere, Henry Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Lambert, George Souttar, Robinson
Burns, John Langley, Batty Spicer, Albert
Burt, Thomas Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land.) Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Buxton, Sydney Charles Leng, Sir John Stevenson, Francis S.
Caldwell, James Leuty, Thomas Richmond Strachey, Edward
Cameron, Robert Lewis, John Herbert Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Causton, Richard Knight Lloyd-George, David Tennant, Harold John
Cawley, Frederick Lockwood, Sir Frank (York) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) Logan, John William Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)
Clough, Walter Owen Lough, Thomas Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Colville, John Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Trevelyan, Rt. Hn. Sir Geo. Otto
Compton, Earl (Barnsley) M'Ewan, William Ure, Alexander
Cozens-Hardy, Herbert Hardy M'Kenna, Reginald Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Dalziel, James Henry M'Leod, John Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Maden, John Henry Walton, John Lawson
Davies, W. Rees- (Pembrokesh.) Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dilke, Right Hon. Sir Charles Mellor, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Yorks.) Wayman, Thomas
Doughty, George Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir G. O. (Denbs.) Wedderburn, Sir William
Dunn, Sir William Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) White, James Martin
Ellis, John Edward (Notts.) Morgan, W. Pritchard (Merthyr Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Williams, John Carvell (Notts)
Evans, Sir Francis H. (South'ton.) Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose) Wills, Sir William Henry
Evershed, Sydney Morton, Edward John Chalmers Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Mundella, Rt. Hn. Anthony John Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Fenwick, Charles Norton, Capt. Cecil William Wilson, John (Govan)
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Nussey, Thomas Willans Woodall, William
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Oldroyd, Mark Woodhouse, Sir James Thomas
Fowler, Sir Henry (Wolverh'n.) Owen, Thomas Yoxall, James Henry
Fowler, Matthew (Durham) Paulton, James Mellor TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Mr.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Pearson, Sir Weetman D. Thomas Ellis and Mr.
Gold, Charles Pease, Henry Fell (Yorks, N. R.) McArthur.
Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)

Bill read a Second time, amid renewed Ministerial cheers, and committed for Monday next.