HC Deb 25 March 1897 vol 47 cc1329-423

moved "That this Bill be now Read a Third time."

MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)

, who was received with Opposition cheers, on rising to Move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months," said: It had been the intention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition himself to move the Amendment which I am about to submit to the House. I am sure I am only giving utterance to the universal sentiment, which no one has reason for feeling noire acutely than myself, when I say that the cause of his involuntary absence is one that excites sympathy and regret from Gentlemen in every quarter. [Cheers.] We have now reached the last stage in the progress of a Measure which, as I believe, is destined to be a landmark in the history of the House of Commons. ["Hear, hear!"] Alike in its inception and its conduct, in the manner in which it was originally drawn and in the methods by which it has been presented and recommended to the House, it creates a grave innovation upon our habitual practice—["hear, hear!"]—an innovation which, if it were allowed to become a precedent, would fundamentally alter—and, in our judgment, alter for the worse—the conditions under which the legislative work of Parliament has hitherto been uniformly carried on. [Cheers] No one can be surprised that Her Majesty's Government, taught by the disastrous and humiliating experience of last, year— [cheers]—should have found themselves under a strong temptation to reduce their present proposals to within the compass of the greatest simplicity, and thereby to curtail the area of relevant discussion, and, as far as lay in their power, to shorten the line of possible attack. That is a natural, and, I do not hesitate to acknowledge, a perfectly legitimate object. The best method of attaining it appears to me to have been strangely misconceived by the authors of the present Bill. They seem to have supposed that if you want to make a thing simple all you have to do is to make it short, and that it is possible for the Government to conceal from the House of Commons the real character of a series of complex and highly contentious proposals by getting the draughtsman to huddle them together, scantily clad in vague and indefinite language, within the four corners of a single clause. I have described these proposals its complex and contentions, but I will add that they are also for the most part entirely novel. In the first clause there are to be found at least three principles—I believe a minute scrutiny might easily add to the number—which, in their character, are new, and for which there is no precedent in any previous legislation or attempted legislation in reference to the subject. In the first place, that clause selects for preferential, and, as far as this Bill is concerned, for exclusive treatment, a particular class of schools, the sectarian as distinguished from the Board Schools of the country, while neither on the face of the Bill, nor from the lips of any responsible Minister, have we had any assurance that to the Board Schools there is going to be meted out equality of treatment. And even now, when we are asked to Read the Bill a Third time, we are entirely without a glimmer of knowledge or conjecture as to what the proposals for the Board Schools are going to be. In the second place, that clause computes the adequate amount of the sum that is to be granted on the basis of the whole number of children in attendance in all the sectarian schools of the country, while the distribution of the dole is to be restricted to schools which are described as necessitous. And here, again, I say that, up to this moment, neither in the Bill itself, nor in the declarations of those responsible for it, have we an inkling of what is going to be the criterion applied by the Education Department in order to determine whether one school is or is not necessitous as compared with another. And, thirdly, and lastly, in the first clause of this Bill you for the first time summon into existence a number of associations, which are to be recruited and kept on foot by an indirect but most effective form of compulsion—associations of whose functions and powers I shall have something to say later on, but as to which. I repeat the complaint I have already made with reference to the two other heads of the clause, that, as far as the Bill is concerned, we are left absolutely in the dark as to what is to be their composition, and what is to be the area of their operations. I say of those three principles, all of which are comprehended in a single clause, that there is not one of them which, so far as my knowledge goes, has ever been put forward, suggested, or even dreamt of until six months ago by any responsible statesman in this country. There is not one of them which finds any recognition or even countenance in the elaborate and deliberate scheme which was submitted to Parliament last year by the Government themselves. Each one of them in turn constitutes an entirely new departure in our system of national education. And yet we are told—we have been told before, and, I suppose, we shall be told again to-night, by way of reproach to us on this side of the House, for endeavouring to elucidate the effect and character of these novel proposals, and by way of defence or excuse of those who, on the other side, made in the course of the Committee unexampled resort to the machinery which our rules supply for the curtailment of discussion—we are told that all this Bill consists of is to be found within the compass of a single clause. I assert without fear of contradiction, that, if ordinary Parliamentary precedents had been followed, the first clause of this Bill would have been expanded—I understate the case when I say—into at least five or six. Does any hon. Gentleman dispute that proposition? If he does, let me invite him to consider what are the topics that are dealt with in this clause. First of all, you assert the principle that, as far as this Bill is concerned, Voluntary and not Board Schools are to be aided. Then you go on to provide for the amount of the aggregate grant. You proceed to make the Education Department the primary authority for its distribution. You restrict the recipients of the grant to those schools which are called necessitous. You introduce in a cursory and shadowy fashion references to the conditions under which the grant is to be claimed and received, by suggesting the condition of efficiency, and in very vague terms the condition of the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions. You then go on to create associations, to settle their functions relatively on the one side to the Department, and on the other to their constituent units. You provide for the distribution of the fund among the schools represented by the associations, and for discrimination between town and country schools. You give to the associations the power of making schemes and subjecting those schemes to the Education Department. You confer on the Education Department the power of excluding a school which unreasonably refuses to belong to the association; and you finally deal with the question of the audit of school accounts. All those proposals, involving and covering as they do almost the whole area of the most controversial side of our educational system, are, every one of them, contained within the compass of a single clause. [Opposition cheers.] Now, if I refer to Parliamentary precedent, as we have been told that we have spent, what is perfectly true, some nine Parliamentary days in the discussion of that clause—if I refer to precedent, let me recall to the recollection of many hon. Gentlemen what happened during the last Parliament in the case of a Bill which was not supposed to be a contentious Bill, a Bill the principle of which was welcomed, or alleged to be welcomed, with equal confidence and satisfaction by both sides—I mean the Parish Councils Bill. In the case of the Parish Councils Bill I remember well that we spent no fewer than seven Parliamentary nights—in what? In discussing the question of the election and constitution of boards of guardians—[Opposition cheers]—and the right hon. Gentle man now Leader of the House, so far from being ashamed of or resenting that consumption of Parliamentary time, took the opportunity, in a letter published in the newspapers, to glory in the amount and length of that discussion, saying that in a matter of that kind—as uncontentious, as non-controversial, as it is almost possible to conceive a Parliamentary topic being—the Opposition had done and intended to continue to do their duty under the Constitution of this country. Seven days we spent on that topic; five days more upon another topic, certainly not so contentious as any one of the sub sections of the first clause of this Bill—namely, the manner in which parochial charities were to be dealt with in relation to the Parish Councils. It certainly does not lie in the mouths of those who conducted opposition on that scale and that spirit, to a non-controversial Measure, to cast any reproach in our teeth for the length of time we have occupied in the elucidation of this complex and highly contentious scheme. To what points have our efforts been directed? They have been two. First of all, to the elucidation of the new proposals which for the first time have been submitted to Parliament in this clause, and in the second place to the introduction of limitations and safeguards, for every one of which, I believe, I do not think I am exaggerating when I say we have been able to invoke the authority either of responsible Ministers of the Government themselves or of the foremost champions and advocates of the denominational schools. By way of making good that proposition let me just remind the House of three or four points which have been urged, and upon which our efforts have been concentrated. First and foremost there was the question which was raised upon an Instruction before we went into Committee—the attempt to procure the power, at any rate in Committee, of recognising in this Bill the principle that schools, largely, mainly, and, if this Bill be passed, in many cases exclusively, supported out of public funds, should have upon their boards of management some representation either of the parents or of the local authority. That was a very modest proposal. There was no suggestion made on the part of those who are responsible for it that there should be introduced into the management of those schools a preponderating element of representation such as would alter the character or imperil the existence of the schools as denominational and sectarian schools. We were perfectly content to make a much milder proposal —namely, that you should have one or more persons upon the board of management, by whose attendance, vigilance, and criticism, the people of the locality could be made assured that the schools were really being appropriated to the purpose for which Parliament intended, that the money which Parliament granted was being expended exclusively upon educational objects, and that no kind of sectarian practice was being infused into their management and character as public institutions. That Instruction, after being debated during part of an evening, was closured by the right hon. Gentleman, and we were not allowed, we were shut out from the very beginning from making any proposal, however moderato and reasonable, for the introduction of the representative element into the schools. Then we came to another point—namely, the question of securing that the large additional sum of money to be granted by this Bill should be applied exclusively in the improvement of education. For that purpose it was necessary, as we conceived—and, of course, I need not quote the authority of Archbishops, Bishops, and responsible Ministers to the proposition—that some level of voluntary subscriptions should be maintained in order to secure that there was at any rate an approximate correspondence between local effort and zeal on the one side and the Imperial subvention and support on the other, and that the money granted should be spent in improving the salaries of the teachers, the equipment of the school, and its general efficiency for educational purposes. On the question of subscriptions we were able to cite the highest authority in the Church and the Conservative Party. On the question of efficiency we were able to appeal to the precedent of the Bill of last year, and the Amendment, in which we sought to embody our proposal was copied verbatim, et literatim from the Bill Her Majesty's Government themselves introduced. The representations which we made on both these points and the efforts we directed to secure that this large additional grant of public money should be appropriated to the purpose for which Parliament had intended were totally unavailing and futile. Let me remind the House of another point on which a short amount of time was spent, and which is of vital moment to the maintenance of the efficiency of our educational system—I mean the position of the teachers. [Opposition cheers] It is a matter which is notorious, and which I will venture to say is even scandalous—[cheers]—that in a very considerable proportion of those so-called Voluntary Schools, not only can no person attain to the position of teacher, or assistant teacher, or even pupil teacher, who does not belong to the church in whose interest the school is carried on; but even when they have passed that test the teacher is required, as a condition of accepting and holding office, to perform extraneous duties in connection with the church which, I do not hesitate to say, that no teacher of self-respect or of the highest educational efficiency would condescend to perform. We have endeavoured to secure, when you are so largely increasing the public subvention of those schools, not that the teacher should not belong to the religious denomination of the school, but that no teacher who hereafter should be appointed in charge of a school of this kind should be required, as a condition of his tenure of office, to undertake those extraneous and irrelevant duties. There again we were met with negation by the Government, and our Amendment was rejected. I have instanced these out of a large number of cases to show that, as regards matters which are strictly non-controversial —matters in the case of every one of which the Amendment proposed from this side of the House might have been incorporated in the Bill consistently with its fundamental principles and without impairing the grant to be made—we have been met with an absolute non possumus on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Efforts made, as I venture to say, not only conscientiously, not in a partisan spirit, to secure an increased level of efficiency for our educational system, have been treated as though they were obstructive and gratuitous interruptions in the passing through of this grant. I now come to another aspect of the case, in which I believe the conduct of this Bill to be entirely without precedent. I pause here to say that, is regards all these practical and administrative matters, we have not received throughout the discussions in Committee a ray of light or a glimmer of guidance from the responsible head of the Education Department. [Opposition cheers] That, again, is a unique feature in the history of this memorable Bill. [Opposition cheers.] Night after night the Vice President has sat on that Bench, or somewhere else, a silent and detached spectator of the process, I will not say of moulding, for it would be irony to speak of Committee on this Bill as a font native process—but, at any rate, of debating and defending proposals on the passing of which the future conduct of his Department must largely depend. In the early stages the spectacle excited the faint but constantly diminishing amusement which is aroused by the frequent repetition of au indifferent practical joke. [Laughter.] But I venture to say that before the end of the Committee it assumed the dimensions of a grave Parliamentary scandal. [Cheers.] I do not know, I do not care, whether the right hon. Gentleman's silence was self-imposed or whether it was imposed by others, whether it was the result of diffidence or discipline. [Laughter.] Every man is, and must be, in the last resort the judge of what is due to his own self-respect and his own feelings; but this is not a personal question with reference to the prestige or self-respect of an individual. [Cheers.] It is a matter in which the House of Commons is concerned. [Cheers.] Here we have a Minister, the only Minister whom we can make responsible for the expenditure of large sums of public money, or the conduct of a great Department in the State; and in reference to that Department a Bill is before us, on the back of which the name of that Minister is printed. It is a Bill which largely increases the sums which pass through his hands and which greatly enlarges the responsibility and action of his Department; and I do not care whether the right hon. Gentleman acted from a spontaneous impulse or in deference to the orders of others, but in these circumstances that the head of that Department should persistently abstain from enlightening and informing the House of Commons is to assume an attitude of gross disrespect to this House. [Cheers.] As to the associations which will be formed under the first clause of the Bill, I am bound to admit, in reference to that matter, that the right hon. Gentleman has, to some extent, broken through the rule of taciturnity to which he has otherwise uniformly submitted himself. On the Second Reading of the Bill he gave us a good deal of interesting light as to what he, at any rate, conceived that the associations might be and might do. He was careful, however, to remind us that anything he said was not to be taken as in any way binding the First Lord of the Treasury or the Government, but he was merely to be regarded as the mouthpiece of that practical body of men the Committee of Council. I observe that the right hon. Gentleman, since the Committee stage was closed, in a different atmosphere from this, in the seclusion of some Cambridgeshire hamlet—[laughter]—and, as far as I can judge, in the company of a skilful reporter—[laughter]—has enlarged still further on the subject of these associations. Here, again I call attention to the right hon. Gentleman's language. I have some difficulty in dealing with the matter, because I observe that he said, "He seldom got the chance of speaking in his own individual capacity." [laughter.] We can certainly bear witness that he rarely gets a chance of speaking in his Ministerial capacity—[laughter]—so that in what capacity the right hon. Gentleman is allowed to speak, who it is that allows him, at what time, in what place, and on what subjects, adds another to the rapidly growing mysteries which enshroud the operations of that obscure body the Committee of Council. [Laughter.] Now, the right hon. Gentleman did tell us some things in his individual capacity about these associations. We have had very great difficulty in understanding—I certainly have, because I have read his speech—how the associations were to get into being at all. I believe that is a difficulty which is shared by hon. Members opposite. We now know front the right hon. Gentleman that they are to spring up with the spontaneity of mushrooms. [Laughter.] These associations are to grow up of themselves; they are not to be founded by the Government, but they are to be the spontaneous growth of the will of the people. [Laughter and Ministerial cheers.] I think that is a very good thing. I think something that grows up of itself is generally very much more stable very much more likely to be suitable than anything which a Department in London can frame for the people. [Cheers.] The associations, then, are to be spontaneous in their up-growth; that is an important and useful revelation. I remember very well how, inn the early stages of our discussions in Committee, the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, who speaks with unrivalled authority as the mouthpiece of the supporters of the denominational system, told us very frankly that, if he were a manager of denominational school, and if he were asked to join one of the associations, he should not do anything of the kind. He said that his conscience would not allow him to do it. Why? Because he was the trustee of the particular school which he represented, and as a trustee he conceived that he would be guilty of a of trust if he were to hand over any of the money out of the taxes which Parliament had granted for the benefit of that school to any other school. These "spontaneous" associations are to be of such a character that, in the judgment of the noble Lord, no one will voluntarily join them! We come to another point about the associations. What is to be their constitution? The, Bill throws no light on the subject; and here we are obliged to form our judgment by a series of negations. We endeavoured when the Bill was in Committee by a series of Amendments to get on the face of the Bill some positive safeguards as to the constituency by which these associations should be elected, and as to the class of persons who should sit on them. In the first place, we asked that there should be a certain infusion of representation of parents. That was refused. We were told that the parents who had already been excluded by the rejection of our Instruction in the share of the management of the schools, were still less entitled to sit on the associations. Then we tried to get representation for the teachers. But the First Lord of the Treasury, with a fine sense of fiscal purity, was shocked by that proposition, because he told us that the teachers would be directly interested in the distribution of the grant, and, therefore, would be unfitted to sit on the associations. But what did the right hon. Gentleman say when he was questioned whether managers of schools should be on the governing body? On March 8 he said:— Take the case of a poor clergyman who is enthusiastic for education in ins parish, and who spends out of his scanty emoluments an amount altogether disproportionate to anything that can properly be demanded of him in support of the Voluntary Schools… I think that is a case in which voluntary subscribers may ask legitimately for some relief from the State. The clergyman who contributes out of his own pocket to the support of the school is to be allowed to sit on the governing body of the association, but the teacher is not to be allowed. Finally, with reference to the constitution of these bodies, we sought to provide that not more than one-half of the governing bodies should consist of clergymen. There, again, we were unable to carry our way, and the fact remains that, so far as anything in this Bill is concerned, the whole of the governing bodies of every one of these associations may consist exclusively of the clerical element. [Cheers.] I come to what is, to my mind, a much more important point—What are to be their functions? Here, again, the Bill is a piece of blank paper. We have to rely—so far as reliance can be placed on a series of incongruous and contradictory proposals—on the assurances from time to time given by Ministers of the Crown. I should like to contrast the statements made upon one side by the Secretary of State fur the Colonies, and on the other side by the Vice President of the Council. The Secretary of State for the Colonies says:— It is an entire mistake to talk about the leaving of power to the associations. It is left to the Education Department, which has the best means of ascertaining the circumstances of the different schools, at different times, through its inspection. The associations are merely to be advisory bodies to submit facts and information to the Department. That is what I call the minimising view of the functions of the associations. Now, let me come to the view of the Vice President, and here, again, I refer to what he said the other night to the villagers of Girton. He said:— I do not know whether you were struck by what the chairman said, but I was. Even a school like this has actually three authorities which interfere in the education given—the Education Department, the Science and Art Department, and the County Council. Now, we are going to have another authority. [Opposition, laughter.] There is a Bill— I pause in passing to notice the extremely dispassionate and disinterested way in which the right hon. Gentleman refers to this Measure— There is a Bill passing through Parliament —surely parental interest was never so skillfully disguised—[Opposition laughter]— There is a Bill passing through Parliament which is going to become law which will enable associations of schools to be formed, and the governing bodies of the associations will be another authority winch will assist the schools. Whereas the Secretary for the Colonies tells us that these associations are to be under the thumb of the Department, and to be merely people who exercise the privilege which everybody has of giving good advice, the Vice President shows us that they are to be a fourth in the Catena of authorities—there are already three—which are to assist the schools. The Secretary to the Colonies tells us that the Education Department has the best means of ascertaining the circumstances of the different schools. How does the head of the Department speak of the body for which he is responsible? He speaks of it as "a Department in London knowing very little of the condition of the country." [Laughter.] I do not quote these passages merely for the purpose of establishing argumentative differences between different Members of the Government. The importance of this passage is this. The right hon. Gentleman is the man who is going to have the forging and wielding of this instrument in the first instance, and, therefore, it is all-important to us to know what his view is of the functions which the associations are going to perform. As we go on the darkness deepens. These spontaneous associations are to grow up because they are very much better fitted, from local knowledge and so forth, than the Department to do whatever they have to do in connection with the school. Then what is the Department going to do with the associations? "The functions of the Government will be confined to watching the growth of the plants as they appear a hove the soil." [Laughter.] But it is apparently a little more than a process of sympathetic vigilance which the Government is going to discharge, because in the next sentence of the right hon. Gentleman's speech I find that they will nip in the bud those which they consider not likely to be beneficial, and they will foster and cherish those which they think will grow into something useful, [Ministerial cheers.] Is that watching the growth of these tender plants? Why, the right hon. Gentleman is to play alternately the part of an incubator and a refrigerator. ["Hear, hear!"] Having summoned these spontaneous growths into existence because they are better fitted than the Education Department by local knowledge to supervise the distribution of this grant, then, the ignorant and incompetent Department is to come in, and, according to its own caprice or discretion, is to nip one and foster another. I have been speaking of the functions of the associations. What are their areas? We sought in vain in Committee to provide sonic statutory definition in the Bill, or by the machinery of schemes to be laid on the Table, to obtain some kind of Parliamentary control for the definition and regulation of these areas. The First Lord of the Treasury told us a week or two ago that in his view it was impossible to lay out local areas, because for the most part associations might be denominational in their character. He instanced the Wesleyan body as a body which might form an association which might extend over the whole of England, and as regards the Church of England the Solicitor General indicated that the associations would probably frame themselves upon diocesan areas. What says the Vice President? I again refer to his latest exposition of the policy of the Committee of Council. He said:— I will tell you one or two things which I hope the associations will do. In the first place, I hope they will be comprehensive. I hope they will not be narrowed down to any single sect. [Cheer.] While the views of those who have been most active with the conduct of the Bill is that the associations may, and probably will, have a denominational character, the hope, at any rate, and probably the expectation of the head of the Department is that they will not be confined to a single sect. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President went on to say—and it is a view that I find hard to reconcile with what the First Lord has said, I do not know whether it is a view which now finds favour with the Government— another thing I hope is this—that these associations will confine themselves within some area in which they can act in unison with the powers already in existence, and he proceeded to indicate as his view of what is a proper area that which is governed and administered by the County Council. I quote these discrepant views of the meaning and objects of the Bill in order to illustrate the proposition which I laid down a few moments ago that we have endeavoured, and endeavoured in vain, in Committee to secure, either upon the face of the Bill or in the shape of some document that would lie on the Table, to be periodically subject to inspection and review by Parliament, that Parliament may have a right to say in future which of these divergent views are to represent the real functions and objects of these associations. These chaotic and contradictory conceptions of the framers of the Bill in reference to the associations find a most appropriate and probably an adequate expression in the blurred and shadowy outlines of the first clause. I want to say one thing more on this subject. I want the House to consider dispassionately what will be the position after this Bill is passed of the Nonconformist parent in any one of the 8,000 odd parishes of England and Wales in which there is no school but a Church of England school, and in which, under pain of fine or imprisonment, he is compelled to send his children to that school. The school is a school the buildings of which may have been added to, and the maintenance of which has been very largely provided out of public funds. We hear a great deal about what are called Voluntary Schools, but it seems to be forgotten that upon these so-called Voluntary Schools, within the last 50 years, in the acquisition of sites, in building the school, in its equipment, and in its maintenance, no less a sum than 50 millions sterling of the taxpayers' money has been spent. [Opposition cheers.] After the passing of this Bill I do not hesitate to say that in a large majority of cases, not 9d., not 10d., but 11d., or even 12d. in every shilling will be found out of the taxpayers' money. In the management of that school the Nonconformist parent will have no representation, direct or indirect, either through his own chosen representative or through some nominee of the district authority. And then, the teacher of the school will not only belong to a religious denomination which is not his own, but in a large number of cases he will be a person who is an active and, I might almost say, a menial officer of the Church to which he belongs. If the child of that parent is a clever child he will find the teaching profession, the avenue to which is through the pupil teachers, absolutely shut—[cheers]—unless he is prepared to forswear the faith of his fathers. He will find that that school—bad enough as are its local conditions from the point of view of freedom and justice—upon pain of losing the additional sum which is to be granted out of the public funds, will be compelled to join the association of schools, probably belonging to the same denomination as itself, and that upon the governing body of that association he and those who think like him, the parents of the children for whose sake, after all, these schools exist, are absolutely shut out from any share of representation or control. ["Hear, hear!"] I ask any fair-minded supporter of this Bill to place himself in imagination and sympathy in the position of a parent. I have described and ask himself the question whether such a Bill as this ought to be acquiesced in as being just and politic, or even as an instalment of a settlement, by those parents. I have only one word more to say, and that is with reference to the conduct of the Bill through this House. ["Hear, hear!"] I desire to show that it is a Measure absolutely as destitute of constitutional authority as any ever passed by the House of Commons. From first to last not a single change has been made, not a word, a syllable, or a comma, has been altered. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, there are some Members opposite who apparently glory in that. ["Hear, hear!"]If no change has been made in the Bill it must be due to one or other of two causes. It may be because Her Majesty's Government look upon it as so perfect, not only in its outlines and framework, hut in its most minute and detailed provisions, when it proceeded from the hands of the draughtsman, that not one of the Amendments, for some of which we had the authority of the supporters of Voluntary Schools themselves, has been accepted. As to this question of "verbal inspiration," I will quote the right hon. Gentleman himself, who said, with, regard to another Bill, that he had heard of verbal inspiration in another direction, but that he had never heard of it in relation to a long and complicated and controversial Measure. What are the claims of this Voluntary Schools Bill as compared with every other Measure which every other Government since the beginning of time has submitted to the House? Is the claim of verbal inspiration going to be set up? I do not think he will submit so preposterous a claim as that. What is the alternative? It is that this Bill was introduced, and has been conducted upon a preconceived resolution that no change— [loud Opposition cheers]—however consistent with the principle of the Bill, however clearly demanded by considerations of justice and of policy, that DO change of any sort or kind should be introduced in its structure. [Cheers.]If that was his object lie has succeeded. What has he gained? He has gained apparently a certain amount of sympathy from one or two hon. Gentlemen opposite. He has gained undoubtedly a good deal of superfluous and rather damaging applause from some of the more sycophantic organs of opinion outside, who congratulate him on his achievement—organs which it is only justice to him to say no man in this House more completely ignores or more heartily despises. [Cheers and laughter.] One more solid and substantial claim which may be put down to the credit of his policy is that he has actually saved, by the omission of the Report stage, two or three days of Parliamentary time. [Cries of "Weeks!"] We had sat in Committee say a week, or, if you please, ten days, and put your Report stage as long as you like. Yes, but what is the price which you pay for this slender and evanescent success? [Cheers.]No one can say the Bill was so pressing as to render it necessary to be passed before a certain fixed day. The price you have paid for this illusory advantage is this—that during the conduct of the Bill the House of Commons has ceased, in any real sense on the term, to be a deliberative Assembly. [Cheers.]It has ceased to be an Assembly in which the minority has had constitutional rights as well as constitutional duties. It has ceased to be an Assembly such as it has always hitherto been, in which room has been given for the free play of argument, in winch, at least, upon matters of detail, concessions have been made to reasonable scruples, and even to objections, and in which the principle of compromise has been admitted upon points of subordinate importance and of doubtful validity. Any Minister who has a majority large enough and docile enough can any day repeat the right hon. Gentleman's tactics. He can do what the right hon. Gentleman has for the tune being done, he can reduce the House of Commons to the level of an automatic machine for registering a foregone conclusion. The worst of an innovation of this kind is that it is apt to become a precedent. Once done by a Government with a majority behind it, as our experience of the closure has shown during, the last ten years, it is almost certain to be repeated by any Minister representing a Government equally eager for the carrying into effect of legislation on which its heart is set. Each succeeding Government comes under an almost irresistible temptation and miller almost an inevitable necessity to resort to the same means. I earnestly trust that the temptation will be resisted, but if the experiment be repeated, if it should become a practice, the right hon. Gentleman will be responsible. If it should become the normal, or, at least, not an abnormal part of our procedure, the result will be that, Debate in this House being carried on under the overshadowing consciousness of its ultimate futility, the individual Member will lose self-respect and the Opposition all sense of responsibility. That course of procedure once initiated, depend upon it that, instead of legislation being regarded as hitherto it has been regarded by the country, however strongly it may have been opposed at the time in principle, as the common property of both Parties, in the formation and moulding of which each Party in the country has some share of responsibility, legislation will come to be looked upon as a Party triumph won through the brute strength off an overwhelming and transient majority. The result will be that, so far front legislation of one Parliament being regarded as the starting point for the next, each Parliament in turn will be engaged in revising or reversing the proceedings of its predecessor. [Opposition cheers.] I ask the House not to give a Third Reading to this Bill. I say it starts from an invidious and unfounded discrimination between the needs and claims of the different classes of schools. It lets loose large sums of public money to be scrambled for by clerical managers, without any regulating principle—["Oh, oh!"]—and without any effective security, either for local or Parliamentary control. [Cheers.] It provides no safeguard for the appropriation of the doles to the improvement of education, for bettering the status of the teachers, or for redressing or even mitigating the injustice suffered by the Nonconformist parents. It has been initiated and conducted through this House by methods and in a spirit which are wholly alien to our hitherto unvaried practice. It is an unjust and unconstitutional Measure. It will go forth to the people of tins country, not as a settlement, but as a provocation, and upon every ground, both of equity and policy, I ask the House to reject it. [Loud cheers.]


who was received with Ministerial cheers, said the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) had offered a very stringent criticism, both upon the framework of this Bill and the conduct of it in the House. He had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have lifted the House out of the atmosphere of detail, in which they had spent the last three weeks, and would have indicated in some way or other the alternative policy he and his friends would have presented to the House. [Ironical Opposition cheers.] He thought the House had some right to expect that his right hon. Friend should have told them how he proposed to carry out that ardent desire which, he said, last year animated himself and his friends to do something to help Voluntary Schools, if, as he added, it could be done on proper conditions. [Ministerial cheers.] Certainly those conditions seemed to have had a great effect on the mind of his right hon. Friend, if he might judge from the entirely negative attitude he had now assumed in regard to helping Voluntary Schools. ["Hear, hear"] His right hon. Friend had attacked root and branch the educational settlement of 1870. [Ministerial cheers.] Of that settlement the maintenance of Voluntary Schools was an essential part. [Ministerial cheers.] It was never proposed that Board Schools should be established for the purpose of entirely displacing Voluntary Schools, and providing a universal system of Board Schools all over the country. If Voluntary Schools were an essential part of that educational settlement, he thought the House had a right to be told what was to be done, not merely for the purpose of maintaining them in existence, but of maintaining them at such a standard of efficiency as would give the parents that education they had a right to expect for their children. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman asked what would be the condition of the Nonconformist parent in 8,000 parishes under this Bill. If this Bill did anything it rather alleviated the condition of such a parent. There was not one hardship imposed by the Bill upon the Nonconformist parent. If any hardship existed, it existed under the Act of 1870. [Ministerial cheers.] He thought his right hon. Friend and his coadjutors very much overlooked the fact that the settlement of 1870 and the effect it had had in the country, was attended, not only with hardship to Nonconformists, but also to Churchmen. There were two sides to the account. [Ministerial cheers.] This Bill was an endeavour to improve the efficiency of Voluntary Schools, and in that way it did something for the Nonconformist parent who had to send his boy to a Church school. ["Hear, hear!"] He wished he could say that the State had been perfectly neutral in the settlement of 1870 as between Voluntary and Board Schools. As a matter of fact the State was not neutral, because the Board Schools had been given the unlimited fund of the rates to draw upon. [Ministerial cheers.] The State endowed the one class of schools, and did not endow the other class to anything like the same extent; yet it was stated in express terms in the settlement of 1870 that the Board Schools were merely to be supplementary to the Voluntary Schools, which it was the object of the Legislature to maintain and keep in an efficient condition. They had been told that the Scotch system was an admirable one, and that it ought to be introduced into England; but it must be remembered that in Scotland the School Boards had full liberty to choose what religious education should be given in their schools. Did right hon. Gentlemen opposite propose to take from Scotland the system of universal Board Schools, while taking away from that principle what rendered it tolerable? [Ministerial cheers.] He did not deny that Nonconformist grievances existed, and no one could have listened to the admirable speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merionethshire without feeling that there was a case of hardship with regard to many Nonconformist parents, particularly in Wales; but surely Churchmen also had their rights, and it would be a piece of outrageous tyranny to say, We are going to impose compulsorily on the whole country a system of School Boards, and at the same time we are not going to extend to those Boards the freedom as regards religious teaching which School Boards in Scotland enjoy. If the House were brought face to face with that problem it would be found that the keenest opposition to giving such a freedom of choice in regard to religious teaching would come from hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Ministerial cheers.] A difficulty with which there had been no attempt to grapple was the enormous increase there would be in the rate if Voluntary Schools were extinguished. Could the Government, in face of the fact that a Commission had been appointed to inquire into the incidence of taxation and the Measures necessary for its amendment, propose a gigantic extension of the burden thrown, not on the whole country at large, not upon the general taxpayer, but upon the ratepayer, without being justly taunted with the grossest possible inconsistency? [Ministerial cheers.] The Government had been taunted with not helping Board Schools, and it was necessary to repeat that the number of necessitous Voluntary Schools was vastly greater than the number of necessitous Board Schools. In the district of London, in the metropolitan area, there was not a single necessitous Board School, because every Board School had the whole school rate of the metropolis to draw upon. ["Hear, hear!"] On the other hand, there were a great many necessitous Voluntary Schools in London; and the problem of aiding Voluntary Schools was an educational one, while the aid to be given in necessitous School Board districts was a ratepayers' question. These two problems were distinct and were properly dealt with in two separate Bills. It should be borne in mind that this was a Bill for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of Voluntary Schools, and that Board Schools, as a rule, did not need any pecuniary aid in order to bring them up to a high standard of efficiency. If Board Schools were more efficient than Voluntary Schools, as hon. Members opposite averred, it was due to their command of the purse. ["Hear, hear!"] In Board Schools the average expenditure was £2 10s. per scholar, while in Voluntary Schools it was only £1 18s. The Board Schools, having more money at their disposal, were able to pass more pupils in the higher standards, and so to earn a larger amount of Government grant. Board Schools also profited more by the fee grant than Voluntary Schools did. In these circumstances, surely it was reasonable for the Government to introduce this Bill first, reserving for subsequent consideration the problem of assisting necessitous Board Schools. The right hon. Gentleman found fault with the Bill because, he said, that an aggregate advance to all Voluntary Schools of 5s. was to be given, while necessitous schools only were to be relieved. He defied the right hon. Gentleman to suggest any better principle of computing the amount of the grant than that contained in the Bill, for the number of children in Voluntary Schools fluctuated from year to year, and it was impossible to say that a grant fixed this year would be adequate next year or the year after that. The Government did not propose that this money should be paid to all schools indiscriminately, for some wanted more than 5s., others less, and others nothing at all. The right hon. Gentleman asked why the Government had not defined the expression "necessitous schools." The reason was that it was extremely difficult to draw up a comprehensive definition which would meet every case which would arise in course of time. All the ingenuity of the Opposition, he might observe, had failed to present to the House any acceptable definition. The Education Department, dealing with each case on its merits, would have no difficulty in determining whether or not a school was reasonably in want of funds for the purpose of maintaining its efficiency. Of course, if school managers endeavoured to create a condition of necessity with a view to obtaining a grant, they might be justly told that they stood on the same footing as if they had had the money and had wasted it. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the associations were to be formed by a compulsion which, though indirect, would be perfectly efficacious. That compelled him to repeat that if schools formed an association, it would be their own voluntary act, and that until such an association had been formed in a district, with the approval of the Education Department, no school could be penalised for not coming in. But when the schools in a district had shown their sense of the necessities of the situation by forming an association, surely it was reasonable and right to say that if a school stood out without reason it might be deprived of the grant which it would otherwise get. It was only when an association had been formed, and had been recognised by the Department, that a school could be put under certain disabilities if it declined without adequate reason to join in the arrangement approved by the common sense of the district. ["Hear, hear!"] Passing to the subject of the time that had been occupied in debating this Measure, the right hon. Gentleman opposite declared that there had been no waste of time. Well, as far as he knew, the Government had never complained of the amount of time devoted to the Measure. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] Certainly they had prevented it from becoming un reasonable—[laughter]—but if they had erred at all, they had erred on the side of mercy—[Opposition cries of "Oh!"]—towards Gentlemen whose eloquence had threatened to submerge the Bill in its flood. He thought that if the Government had not judiciously intervened from time to time there would have been a very unreasonable amount of discussion. As it was, the Bill had certainly been adequately debated. Another right hon. Gentleman's proposition was that the great principle of local control ought to have been recognised in the Bill. That would be a reasonable proposition if the money dealt with was to be provided by localities; but surely, as the money was to come from the Exchequer, the control ought to be that of the central Department. He could see nothing plausible in the contention that ratepayers who did not contribute the money should be entitled to elect the governing bodies. ["Hear, hear!"] The maintenance of subscriptions, to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded, was a matter for which the Government were most anxious to provide. It would, however, he impossible to frame any rigid provision on the subject which would not work the greatest injustice in the case of perfectly deserving schools. The subscriptions fluctuated very much from year to year, and in those circumstances the best thing to do was to provide generally that the Education Department should have due regard to the maintenance of subscriptions. The right hon. Gentleman's complaint that the Government had not repeated the definition of efficiency in the Bill of last year was effectually answered by the Vice-President of the Council when he pointed out that that definition was introduced last year because it was proposed to confide to a certain limited extent the work of supervision to certain local bodies who were new to the work. But, in the name of common sense, why should they, when confiding the work of supervision to the Education Department, which knew more about these matters than any other body in the country, introduce a long section saying efficiency consisted in the provision of good teaching, proper appliances, and other etceteras which go to make up a good school? It would have been a mere waste of time to introduce such a provision. However proper it might have been under the circumstances in the Bill of last year, it would have been entirely out of place in a Bill framed as this was. He had been struck in the course of the discussion with the extreme kindliness with which hon. Gentlemen opposite spoke of the Bill of last year. [Laughter.] But they killed it. [Opposition cheers.] Some seemed to deprecate the fact; others seemed to rejoice in it. But the Bill was dead anyhow, and now that it was fairly dead hon. Members opposite hardly ever referred to it except in terms of eulogy. [Cheers and Opposition laughter.] But hon. Members opposite had not succeeded in killing the present Bill. If they had done so, no doubt on a future occasion they would have spoken of it, as kindly as they bed of the Bill of last year. [Laughter.] Much had been said by the right hon. Gentleman about the associations of schools. He said that the managers of rich schools would not join an association which contained poor schools, because they might be sacrificing their share of the grant for the benefit of their poorer neighbours. But under this Bill no school would have an absolute right to the 5s. grant. There was no vested right on the part of any school to receive the grant under the Bill. If it school were a necessitous school that would be considered, and it would receive such adequate grant as the Education Department might think right with the advice of the association, if there were an association. In this matter the Government appealed to the public spirit of Churchmen and those interested in Voluntary Schools belonging to all denominations. If every meeting of those interested in Voluntary Schools were to be the sort of ignoble scramble which the Leader of the Opposition depicted, and the clerical managers (as he put it) of Voluntary Schools were to I sit on the governing bodies of the associations only to scramble for the largest share of the grant, each fighting for his own hand, then he contended that the future of Voluntary Schools was a very dark one. ["Hear, hear!"] But he thought they might look with some confidence to the public spirit and patriotism of those interested in the maintenance of religious education. They might believe that those interested in a particular school would not confine their view merely to the welfare of that particular school, but would feel that the system of voluntary education had a great opportunity, and would realise that, if the rich and poor would combine, if the rich schools would minister out of their abundance by sacrificing their share of the grant for the benefit of the poorer schools out of the 5s. per head all round, adequate provision might be made for bringing up Voluntary Schools to the high level of efficiency of the Board Schools. The right hon. Gentleman asked why the parents and teachers were not represented on the governing bodies of the associations? The practical difficulty with regard to the representation of parents, a fluctuating body, was never met by any practical suggestion in Committee. The right, hon. Gentleman's answer to the First Lord of the Treasury, who said that the teachers would be placed in a somewhat difficult and invidious position if they sat on the governing body of associations which had to determine the allocation of the grant and matters affecting even their own salaries, was entirely inadequate. They would be in a somewhat false position, which, he was convinced, from the high feeling that distinguished the profession, they would not desire to occupy. The right hon. Gentleman asked, for the hundredth time, what would be the areas of the associations, and whether they were to consist of one denomination or of more than one. Speaking for himself, he should rejoice if several of the denominations were able to combine in the associations. It would be a most admirable thing if they recognised that, while they differed as to the particular mode of teaching they desired should be given to the children in their schools, they were agreed that there should be distinctly religious teaching. It had been said by the hon. Member for East Mayo that Roman Catholic schools were not likely to join such an association. But he himself understood that Catholic schools had already combined with Church of England and Nonconformist schools to raise money on behalf of schools which recognised the principle of religious education. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not see why that should not take place under this Bill, but if it did not, and schools combined according to their denominations, surely everyone would recognise that it would have been simple madness to have inserted in the Bill any particular area to which these associations must conform. Local circumstances all over the country must vary almost infinitely. Seven competing schemes were put forward in Committee, and the work of the Government in resisting the Amendments on this subject was very much facilitated by the civil war that raged among their proposers. If those gentlemen could have been shut up to fight it out among themselves he fancied there would not have been much residuum. [Laughter.] From the mere fact that there were so many competing, inconsistent and conflicting proposals, it would have been perfect infatuation if the Government had said the areas should be counties, dioceses, sanitary districts, or poor law unions. The areas of the associations must, of course, be evolved according to local necessities, and he agreed with the Vice President of the Council that the associations would be a matter of local growth, and it would have been the greatest mistake if the Department had laid down rigid rules in advance as to what the areas should be. With regard to the associations, the right hon. Gentleman opposite said he had great difficulty in finding out what the associations had to do. He would suggest that, after the heat of the Debate was over, he should quietly read the sub-section which related to the functions of the associations. Nothing could be clearer. If an association were formed it had allotted to it a certain share of the aid grant, and that share had to be distributed by the Education Department after taking the advice of the association. If the association prepared no scheme which was approved by the Department, that Department had a free hand to distribute the grant according to the provisions of the Act itself. There was the whole mystery, and if his right hon. Friend had devoted as much pains to understand this Bill as he had to find fault with it, he would have had no doubt on that point. Very severe strictures were passed upon the conduct of this Bill through Committee, and his right hon. Friend had said that this was a new departure in the annals of Parliament—that it meant that the House of Commons was to be reduced to impotence, and that nothing of the kind had ever been done before. He also read again the passage which the right hon. Member for Montrose had read, quoting the words spoken by the First Lord of the Treasury with reference to an Irish Measure. That Measure, however, was not of trivial importance, as his right hon. Friend seemed to think; it was a Measure of very considerable dimensions, and of very great importance. It was a Measure which had been sent to a Standing Committee, and it had never been debated in detail in that House. ["Hear, hear!"] As the passage had been read again he would again give the answer which was given at the time to the right hon. Member for Montrose. The answer was that this was a long and complicated Measure dealing with a matter of vast importance—namely, municipal government in Ireland—and that it had never been debated in that House at all. The present Measure, however, had been debated, and at very great length—["hear, hear!"]—at every stage—on its Introduction, on the Second Reading, and in Committee; the latter stage occupying, he thought, more than a full Parliamentary fortnight. It was said that it was a very monstrous thing that any Bill should go through that House without Amendment. Well, that depended entirely upon what the Amendments proposed were. [Cheers and Opposition counter-cheers.] He was very much, struck with the fact that his right hon. Friend in his peroration, in which he was extremely eloquent on this point, confined himself entirely to generalities. He did not specify any particular Amendment which he thought the Government ought to have accepted, but said it was a monstrous thing that the Bill should have gone through without Amendment.


I specified at least four Amendments. [Opposition cheers.]


said his right hon. Friend had not done so in making this charge. He had himself dealt seriatim with almost every particular point that his right hon. Friend had urged in the course of his speech, and he ventured to say that the Amendments on which he laid the greatest stress were, on the grounds he had submitted to the House, Amendments inconsistent with the Bill, and which could not have been accepted without in some respects impairing the Measure. [Mr. CARVELL WILLIAMS: "How about the audit? That was a case where, as was pointed out, the clause as it stood was perfectly efficacious. The hon. Member could not have been present when the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean pointed out that the proposal to insert "shall" for "may" was a proposal to which he attached not the slightest importance. With regard to the proposal for substituting a district auditor for the auditor to be named by the Department, the Government were able to vouch the authority of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the late Vice President of the Council; and, although the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to deprive the Government of that strong city of refuge by saying he thought he had been mistaken, he himself must venture respectfully to differ from him. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right in the course he took, and they were perfectly right in folk wing it. Moreover, that Amendment was ultimately withdrawn. [Cheers and laughter.] His right hon. Friend denounced this Measure root and branch; he said it was bad in its design, bad in its framework, and that its conduct through the House was bad. [Opposition cheers.] His right hon. Friend and a certain number of Gentlemen on the other side might say that, but the Government appealed from them to the judgment of the country. [Opposition cheers and Ministerial counter cheers.] What was the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to Voluntary Schools? [Ministerial cheers.] It was a policy of barren negation, for while they said they wanted to help Voluntary Schools they opposed and endeavoured to impede the passing of every Measure which proposed to do that. The Government appealed from the criticisms of hon. Gentlemen opposite to the people of this country—[cheers and counter cheers]—and he felt convinced that they would recognise that, although nobody could say that this Measure professed to be a final settlement of this great question—["hear, hear!"]—it was an honest endeavour to maintain in efficient working an essential part of the great settlement of 1870. [Ministerial cheers.]

Mr SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

reminded the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Solicitor General) that there had already been an appeal to the people in certain parts of the country, but the Romford and Walthamstow elections seemed to have produced little effect upon his mind. The hon. and learned Member accused them of having no alternative plan, but it would not be right on the Third Headily, of the Bill to produce or discuss any alternative plan. The question was whether this Measure ought to have the assent of the House on the Third Reading. The basis of the compromise of 1870 was that they would not destroy the Voluntary Schools as long as they continued to show that they wanted to help themselves. The hon. and learned Member seemed to have forgotten that the Act of 1870 said that they must have an equal sum of local contributions towards the maintenance of these schools or they would not have the Parliamentary giant. The first attack which was made upon that settlement was in 1871 by the Conservative Government of the day, when they proposed to give a grant up to the sum of 17s. 6d. per child without having any regard to voluntary subscriptions at all. The last attack, that which was made by the present Bill, would destroy altogether the basis of the compromise of 1870, which was that there were to be local contributions, and local efforts made to maintain these schools. The Government had practically told the country that it did not matter whether there were to be contributions or not, in fact the Bill would render it unnecessary in many plates that there should be voluntary contributions at all. There was, he know, one phrase in the Bill which said that the Education Department should have due regard to voluntary subscriptions, but they were also told that the Education Department was overburdened Department, and this please was merely a pious opinion and would have no effect in the country at all. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, who was one of the warmest supporters of this Measure had called voluntary contributions a species of blackmail. Was it likely that Churchmen like the noble Lord were going to have due regard to the levying of blackmail for the support these schools The hon. and learned Member had said that the hardships which existed now existed in 1870, but surely when they were making a large additional grant they had the right to ask that those hardships should not be aggravated. It rested with the Government to say what were necessitous schools, and yet they had not had a single definition of the term, nor hail they had even a single illustration or case to elucidate the term. The hon. and learned Member said they had no right to ask for public control because the ratepayers themselves contributed no money, and the money came from the Exchequer. But where did the Exchequer get the money from? ["Hear, hear!"] Probably the reason why rate ail was not given by the Government was because when the taxes were in the shape of rates the people realised more keenly the burden. He ventured to think that the reason why the noble Lord and his Friends had not their claim for rate aid instead of State aid conceded, was because rate aid would have to be accompanied by public control; and it was idle for the hon. and learned Gentleman to tell the House that they were to give this £640,000 a year—a sum which might be increased indefinitely ns years went on, and which at present represented a capital sum of over 15 millions sterling; mid that there ought not to be public control because, forsooth, the money came from the Exchequer, and only indirectly from the taxpayer. The Bill was one which the House ought not to read a Third time. His objections to it were five-fold, and he might increase them if he liked to a much larger number. His first objection was that the motive and object of the Bill was sectarian and not educational. The hon. and learned Gentleman had the hardihood to say that the opponents of the Bill were these Voluntary Schools when they called them sectarian schools. The schools were, undeniably belonging to sects, and were, therefore, sectarian. Who had agitated for the Bill? Educationists had not demanded it, and did not approve of it. They should look in vain for any petition spontaneously signed by the parents in favour of the Bill. Indeed, parents generally, instead of asking that the Voluntary Schools should be perpetuated, desired Board Schools instead. The agitators for the Bill, in season and out of season, were the Church Party in the House, and Church functionaries outside the House. The Archbishop of Canterbury, representing the Church of England, and Cardinal Vaughan, representing the Romish Church, Were the chief agitators for the Bill. No other denomination had asked for the Bill. The Members of the Wesleyan body in the House had absolutely condemned it. No one could believe that Cardinal Vaughan was in favour of the Bill, simply because it would promote education; he was really in favour of it because it was a sectarian Bill. The Archbishop of Canterbury, when he was an educationist, had condemned many of the principles which underlie the Measure; but now that he had ceased to be an educationist and had become a cleric, he was in favour of the Bill. The real object of the Bill was to buttress the Church of England and the Romish Church, and to facilitate proselytism in this country. [Ministerial cries of "No!" and Opposition cheers.] If that, were not the object of the Bill why was not a provision inserted making it absolutely impossible for clerical managers of Voluntary Schools to compel pupil teachers to go to Church? The Church of England schools received from education grants in 1895 the immense sun, of £2,785,522, and under the present Bill they would receive, on the average attendance of children in its schools, an additional sum of £463,655. Therefore the Church of England would receive for the purpose of distribution to the managers of its schools a sum of three and a quarter millions sterling every year, and was it unreasonable to ask that this large sum from the taxpayers' money should be accompanied by some Measure of local control and some security that the schools to which it went would be properly managed? The Bill was, in fact, a gigantic additional endowment of the Church of England, and in his humble judgment it was not less objectionable because it was given under the cloak and guise of education. It was not an endowment in any sense to promote the efficiency of the schools. It was an endowment of intolerance, inefficiency, and inequality, and as such the House should not assent to it. He held also that the Bill was objectionable because it provided denominational teaching at the expense of the State. He objected further to giving large sums of money, without State control, to irresponsible Managers and bodies. The President of the Council had not been very active in the Debates inside the House; but outside the House the right hon. Gentleman had dealt very effectively with the question of the necessity for providing security that the money should go to increase the efficiency of the schools and not to relieve subscribers. In The Nineteenth Century of November last, the right hon. Gentleman wrote:— Some plan will have to be devised to secure that the aid will go to the school and not to the subscribers; otherwise it will be swallowed up by the latter, and the former will be no better off than before. Where was the plan that had been devised to secure that the aid should go to the school and not to the subscribers? It was because there was an absence of any scheme of the kind that he objected to the Bill. In the same article the right hon. Gentleman, dealing with the question of public control, wrote:— The managers of the Voluntary Schools must make up their minds to accept along with increased grants of public money increased public control. He commended that declaration to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General, who had declared that they were not entitled to demand public control. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to use those extraordinary words—extraordinary, having regard to his action in the House— if aid come from the State, Parliament is sure to impose conditions, with the view of securing the application of tin special grant to increasing the efficiency of the schools. That was what they had been asking for all through the Debates in Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman, by reason of his position as a Member of the Government, had to vote against those conditions which he himself had declared should be imposed. He further objected to the Bill because it entrusted the ultimate destination of the money to those ecclesiastical bodies called associations, not yet formed, without any schemes for their constitution. It had been said that parents had an inalienable right to see that their children had religious instruction in the schools. Parents had also an inalienable right to see that the money they contributed was properly spent in promoting education. Then what about the inalienable right of the Nonconformist parents? The whole of the Voluntary Schools in the country numbered about 15,000 and to 8,000 of these, with Church of England managers, Nonconformist parents were compelled to send their children, and yet under the Bill no voice was given to Nonconformist parents in the management of those schools. Further, no guarantee was given that the grants would be devoted to promoting education. Nearly all the Amendments moved from the Opposition side of the House had for their object the increasing of the efficiency of the schools by improving the condition of the teachers and giving them the means to obtain assistants. The Government had really been more generous to the Voluntary Schools than the champions of the Voluntary Schools themselves. It had been asked that some security should be given that the settlement of 1870 should be adhered to by the maintenance of voluntary contributions. The late Archbishop of Canterbury only a year and a-half ago used these words:— We do not at, all want to reduce our subscriptions. No one would seriously think that we do. We are willing even to have a certain proportion of subscriptions insisted upon as a condition of the grant. ["Hear, hear!"] But there was an entire absence of any condition of that kind in the Bill, and because subscribers would not contribute voluntarily, the Government said they would make the public subscribe involuntarily. As to the Associations, it was intended by the Bill that these voluntary associations, which were to grow under the watchful guidance of the Education Department, should swallow up the whole of the schools. It was intended to put a premium upon association, and to put all unassociated schools at a discount, because there was nothing in the Bill to show that the unassociated schools—however reasonable they might be in refusing to join the association—were entitled to the 5s. per head. For all they knew they might only get 2s. 6d. per head, and that was, indeed, really the policy of the Measure as once explained by the First Lord of the Treasury. Associated schools were not only entitled to 5s. per head, but to all the surplus which was left; first of all from the fact that some schools had unreasonably refused join the associations, and in the next place from the surplus which accrued from the fact that less than 5s. had been given to any schools. He would not touch upon the absence of any principles to guide the associations, although they were new bodies, because this point had been sufficiently dealt with. He did, however, wish to say something about the method which had been adopted for carrying the Bill into law. If the Bill were so good that it did not require amendment, then the arguments of the Opposition would go. But what was the confession of the Vice President on the matter? Did he suggest that the Bill could not be amended? On the contrary, he suggested most distinctly in the Second Reading, that it could be amended with profit, and assured the House that any Amendment which really goes to secure that this State-aid grant, shall be used really for the purpose of promoting and improving the education of the country will be welcomed by the Government. There had been no Amendment accepted in Committee, and the Bill had been forced through by extraordinary methods. There had been at least four Motions giving it precedence at the beginning of the Session, when there was no pressure of time at all, and when the Government were not proposing to give the money this year at all. There was no necessity for immediately passing it into law, and yet all other legislation had to be stopped in order that this Bill might be put through. As he had said, there had been four Motions of precedence, and the closure had been applied 29 times for a Bill of one clause—although the Solicitor General had admitted that there had been no unreasonable discussion in Committee—and on eight of these occasions there was a comprehensive closure putting certain words of the clause, the result of which was to wipe out important Amendments, one of which was to the effect that inspectors of schools should be asked their opinion on the schemes of the associations for distributing the money. He complained that the Bill would be perfectly unequal and unfair in its operation when it became law. When the Government were calling upon the general taxpayers of England and Wales to contribute to this special aid grant, they were entitled to see whether all parts of the country got fair treatment in the matter. Wales and Monmouthshire which had been treated as a separate educational entity in secondary education and other matters, would receive under the Bill £23,888, upon the present average attendance. But the sum to which Wales and Monmouthshire would be entitled according to population, which was the fair test when they were taking the money which the general taxpayers contributed to the Exchequer, was £37,840, so that every year Wales got £13,952 less than she was entitled to. That showed how unequally the Bill would affect, various portions of the kingdom. He would give one striking instance which would show the House how absolutely unfair the endowment contained in the Bill would be. The parish of Ystradyfodwg provided out of the inhabitants' pockets by rates, education for 10,447 children. That was not the population, but the number of children in average attendance. Ystradyfodwg had as nearly as possible the number of children in average attendance as in the Voluntary Schools in the Isle of Wight, where the number was 10,207, and in Westmorland where it was 9,956. The Welsh parish already provided for the education of the children out of the pockets of the ratepayers, but compare its position with that of the Isle of Wight and Westmorland? Ystradyfodwg would get nothing under this Bill for these 10,000 children; or, if it did, it would get £10 in respect of one Roman Catholic School, where the number of children in average attendance was 43. Therefore, although hard-working inhabitants of Ystradyfodwg, would, as taxpayers, have to provide some of the money which made up the special aid grant, they would receive nothing, while the Isle of Wight would get £1,805 and Westmorland £2,111 a year. Could it be said that a Bill which teemed with inequalities and unfairnesses of this description was a fair and equitable Bill which ought to be passed by the House? Lancashire, with only five and a-half times the population of Glamorganshire, got over 16 times as much special grant. Upon what basis of fairness on equity of taxation could they defend a principle of that kind, in giving money from the National Exchequer by which a place with only five and a-half times the population of another got 16 times as much money? The population of Glamorganshire was 687,218, and its share of the special grant would be £7,000. Cheshire, Gloucestershire, and Lincolnshire had each practically the same population, but Cheshire would get £25,000—namely, nearly four times as much; Gloucestershire £15,000, twice as much: and Lincolnshire over £12,000. Monmouthshire had a population of 252,000, and would receive £3,212 from the special grant Berkshire, Hertfordshire, and Oxfordshire, with similar populations, got sums varying from £6,700 to £7,400. Cardiganshire, with a population of 62,630, would get out of the special aid grant £600 a year; while Westmorland and Flintshire, with much the same population would get, the former, £2,111, and the latter £2,438. The cases of the county boroughs disclosed similar glaring inequalities. The three county boroughs of Wales were Cardiff, Swansea, and Newport. Cardiff, with a population of 128,000, would receive £1,639. Blackburn, Preston, and Birkenhead had practically the Same population, and yet Blackburn would receive £4,478, Preston £4,364, and Birkenhead £3,268. Swansea, had a population of 90,000, and would get £1,096 out of the special aid grant, while with similar populations, Burnley would get £2,064, St. Helens, £3,307, and Wolverhampton £2,170. Newport had 54,707 inhabitants and would get, £799 per annum, compared with £2,154 for Wigan, £2,040 for Bury, and £1,682 for Oxford, three towns with practically the same population. He thought he had given the House a sufficient number of instances to show that the Bill would be absolutely unjust, unfair, and unequal in the distribution of the money. The last ground upon which, he said, the House ought not to give its assent to the Third Reading of the Bill, was because the Measure was not conceived in the interests of education, and would not promote educational efficiency. How were they to compete with their neighbours abroad who gave their children a better elementary and technical education than they did; when at all times in this country every effort was to curb the expenditure of the Board Schools, and not to increase but to reduce their efficiency to the level of that of the Voluntary Schools? These two classes of schools were to be maintained for the purpose of disseminating further religious differences between the children of the country. Their minds were to be filled at an early age with dogmas and dissensions, and to be poisoned with acrimonious dissensions between creed and creed. The children were to be trained to be better Anglicans or Catholics, instead of to be better and more useful citizens.

MR. J. L. WANKLYN (Bradford, Central)

said that his constituents were peculiarly interested in this question, for Bradford was the birthplace of the Act of 1870. On the 2nd of the present month the right hon. Member for the Brightside Division, in a speech at Bradford, expressed surprise that he had not taken part in the discussions on this Bill. The fact was that he did not regard this Bill as an Education Bill in the sense of the Bill of last year—not as a comprehensive Measure establishing any new principles, but simply as a vote in aid of a system already adopted and approved by the majority of the country. The necessity for this Measure was a remarkable tribute to the foresight of Mr. Forster, who, first recognising that the people of this country were really religious, would have nothing to do with schemes of secular education, pure and simple. Mr. Forster foresaw that denominational schools would increase, but he did not foresee that the subscriptions to such schools would be doubled in 25 years, and that the attendance in the schools would be more than doubled. Mr. Forster severed himself from his colleagues, with whom he had been most closely associated, rather than sacrifice the interests of education to Party expediency; and it was to be regretted that there were not more statesmen of Mr. Forster's blood on the Opposition Front Bench. In Bradford to-day there were 31,000 children in elementary schools, and of those 10,000 were in the Voluntary Schools and 21,000 in the Board Schools. The precept for the Board Schools for the present year was £52,000, and that for the year to come was estimated at £54,000. Therefore, if the Voluntary Schools were extinguished, an additional £27,000 would be thrown on the rates, or a rate of 8d. in the pound. Every third, and probably one-half, of the £54,000 was found by the supporters of Voluntary Schools, who got nothing in return from the rates. The Bill would give the Bradford Voluntary Schools £2,500, which would be a welcome, contribution; but he could only regard it as a first instalment. In the West Riding there was a diminishing minority, who wished to disestablish and disendow the Voluntary Schools; but the great majority regarded education as a matter of national importance. They thought that voluntary subscriptions in aid of national schools were as absurd an anomaly as voluntary subscriptions to the Army, Navy, or Civil Service. They believed that as long as a school complied with the requirements of the Education Department it was entitled to as much aid from the rates, or from the State, or from both, as it needed. That was statutory equality; and as to representation on the management, he should be glad to welcome it as soon as the demand for voluntary subscriptions was abandoned. If the public accepted the buildings, endowments, and subscriptions of the Supporters of Voluntary Schools, they must also accept their teaching, management, and association. In Yorkshire they did not understand the waste of the public time which had been brought about by the Opposition in the discussions on this Bill Committee. The hon. Member for the Keighley Division, in a speech at Bradford on the 2nd inst., admitted that he had been put up to talk against time.

MR. J. BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)

Will the hon. Member kindly quote the whole of my speech?


said that he could not so far trespass on the time of the House. The time of the country which had been thus wasted might well have been devoted to the Bill for Necessitous School Boards or to the Employers' Liability Bill. It was the first time in which an English Member—certainly a Yorkshire Member—had deliberately talked against time, and had the cynicism openly to avow it in Yorkshire. Hon. Gentlemen opposite denied that they had obstructed the Bill. It was, however, the fact that in all the stages of the Act of 1870 there were only 31 divisions; while on this Bill there had been no less than 54 divisions, apart from those pertaining to the closure. Hon. Members opposite had sent the fiery cross round to the conventicles. Members had been deluged with printed resolutions prepared in Parliament Street. The Opposition had raged furiously, but they had imagined vain things. One of the most remarkable phenomena in the North of England was that the sectarian strife which was in full blast 25 years ago had almost died out now. The hon. Gentleman opposite might have been warned by the hapless fate of the hon. Member for Flint in moving his Resolution last month in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife was face to face with a serious dilemma in giving his vote on the Third Reading of this Bill. He admitted that this money was necessary for the efficiency of the Voluntary School system, and if he voted for a grant in aid he was lending his countenance to obstruction and waste of time, and if he voted against the Bill he was sacrificing the interests of education to the expediencies of Party. It would certainly seem to a dispassionate reader of the right hon. Gentleman's speech on the Second Reading of the Bill of last year that if he voted against this Bill he would simply stultify his speech. The right hon. Gentleman was the Leader of one of the many groups composing Her Majesty's Opposition. On his shoulders had fallen the mantle of Elijah, and to him his followers looked for prophecy. He was in a responsible position, and had no right to unite in destroying the efficiency of Voluntary Schools until he had declared what he proposed to substitute.

SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said it was his good fortune to take some part in the passing of the Act just referred to, introduced by his right hon. Friend the late Mr. Forster, and the hon. Member who had just sat down could never have read Mr. Forster's life, or looked at his reported speeches, for if there was one thing more than another clear in Mr. Forster's policy, as Members who were associated with Mr. Forster would know—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division was one of them, but there were not many now in the House—it was that while there was to be an excellent system of national education, nothing was to be done to hinder, and everything to promote, the efficiency of Voluntary Schools, not because they necessarily formed part of a great system of national education, but because they were there, and had done excellent and useful work, and the aid they had given could not be denied. But Mr. Forster's leading principle was that he would never be party, and there were many who felt this with him, that he would never be party to mere secular education, or, as he termed it, to a system of education in which the only book to be excluded from the school was the Bible. Had Mr. Forster lived to this day he would have felt that that for which he had so long and earnestly laboured had been emphatically carried out, and upon the testimony of all who had examined it, the religious education in Board Schools, apart from creeds and catechisms, was sounder and better than the education put forward in the national schools. The remarks of the hon. Gentleman had led him into a line of thought with which he had not intended to trouble the House. Not long ago he recommended a friend of his, a vicar in a northern town not very far from the hon. Gentleman's constituency, not to trouble himself with his school, but to hand it over to the School Board of the town and to confine himself to carrying on his Sunday school. His friend told him afterwards that he had taken this advice, that he was confining himself to religious teaching on Sunday, and more than that, he said he had a much larger attendance on Sundays of children much better able to understand the creed and catechism he conscientiously felt it his duty to teach. The hon. Gentleman opposite had spoken of the numbers of divisions on the Education Bill of 1870, and said they were 31, and he had thought as he watched the divisions on the present Bill, how extraordinary Mr. Forster would have thought the conduct of right hon. Gentlemen on that side when they refused to accept any single word of amendment front the opposition. The Debates of that time were for the purpose of perfecting a system of education, and hon. Members who held Conservative views entered with zeal into the question. The Solicitor General told his right hon. Friend, who had opened this Debate, that he would give him an answer with regard to the constitution of these associations of which so much had been said, but all the information the House had was of a wretchedly negative character. How the association was to be formed, how the elective body was to be composed, and how the selection was to be made they had not been told, but they had found out that the parents were to have no representation, teachers were to have no representation, and that there was to be no limit to the representation of parsons on the associations. That was so far as their information had gone, but no more did they know about the constitution of the bodies who were, to distribute this 5s. grant to which no school refusing to associate was to be entitled under this Bill. If no such school was to be entitled to the grant, what was to become of the money? Other schools would be entitled to more than 5s. if necessitous, and no definition of necessitous had been forthcoming, for it was a very difficult thing to define. He was a Voluntary School man, for he had had nothing to do with any other class of schools, and he knew that a school might be necessitous one year and rich the next year. The very act of repainting a school room might make a school necessitous. No light had been thrown on the question how the money was to be distributed, how association was to be brought about. There was a school in his constituency in which his family were interested, a necessitous school; but it was impossible to say how that school was to be associated, or if it was to be bound up with a Catholic school. The Bill of last year he had tried to understand. It was difficult to do so, and he had not succeeded, but de mortuis nil nisi bonum. This Bill he understood at First Reading, was simply a Bill for the endowment of the Established Church. [Cries of "No, no!"] The Government missed a great opportunity for doing a great deal of good, but they had done nothing practically to meet the general demand for better education, but to endow Voluntary Schools. They had left Board Schools so far quite untouched; they had made a grant to a class of sectarian schools of national money received front all classes of taxpayers, unaccompanied by any of those safeguards prudence would suggest. There was no condition for the improvement of teaching or of the position of teachers; no condition as to the maintenance of subscriptions, for the phrase in the Bill, "having due regard," might be turned either way, and might mean the absence of subscriptions should be a condition of assistance.


The words are, "due regard being had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions."


said that might mean that subscriptions having fallen off, the grant should be the larger. He knew what was intended, but how was it to be put into practice? No local control was given to parents or to taxpayers. He had influenced the turning of several Voluntary Schools into Board Schools, for it made little difference whether they were supported by subscriptions or rates, in order that parents might have something to do with the election of those who had the superintendence of education. The experiment had been successful in every case. Parents took a warmer interest in the schools, and the attendance of the children was better than when the schools were under the control of clergymen and a few persons who happened to take an interest in them. What they who were Protestant Dissenters objected to was that in many of those schools doctrines were taught to which they most strongly objected, and yet the taxpayers' money was to be given to those schools to teach Dissenters' children that an undesirable eternal fate belongs to all who do not join the Church of England. He felt very keenly that, while the State gave this money to these schools, there ought to be some control at any rate of the religious teaching beyond that of the vicar of the parish. So satisfied were the people of this Bible-loving country with the Board Schools, that whilst 464,000 children had gone into the Voluntary Schools since 1880, no fewer than 1,109,000 children had gone into the Board Schools, and the parents were satisfied with the education given. Now what was the position of those Voluntary Schools? They were supported by the rich people of this country, the landed interest, to which Parliament made a donation of two millions a year Last Session. Parliament was now giving them £460,000 more to what was pure endowment of the Church of England—a Church that already had something like an income of £5,500,000 per annum. The question of the quality of the teaching in those schools had scarcely been alluded to in the Debates. In London the aid per head for teaching power was £1 1s. 1d. per child; in Manchester it was 12s. 10d. more in the Board Schools than in Voluntary Schools; in Birmingham, 13s. 4d.; Leeds, 12s. 9d.; Sunderland, 7s. 6d.; Newcastle, 9s. 3d. Now in this Bill there was no provision whatever that the 5s. grant was to go for the better payment of teachers. He could not help feeling that this Bill marked a step back and not a step forward in the great cause of education. What we wanted was not these local grants, but a general pushing forward of all our schools. The Bill, instead of giving £650,000 to the Voluntary Schools, ought to have given the same grant to all schools, and let the managers push forward education in every direction. When one looked at the social state of the country, we must all feel that our schools were not being kept up as they ought to be. Those unsettlements of the working classes which one witnessed on every hand seemed to him to arise from the want of sufficient education. He believed the Bill was going to do more harm than good, that it was going to revive those sectarian animosities which had stood so much in the way of sound education in this country, while at the same time the country was losing ground among the nations of the world.


said he never heard of a Church school in which such a doctrine was taught as that alluded to by the hon. Baronet; till he did, he should not believe it was taught. [Cheers.] It would be much more to the purpose if hon. Members, instead of indulging in flights of imagination about what was taught in Church schools, would take the trouble to read the Church Catechism; they would find there nothing in the smallest degree uncharitable to any class of Christians whatever. [Cheers.] They would find in it, moreover, nothing which could be called dry or abstract theology. The theology taught was made, as it ought always to be, subordinate to practical devotion or practical morality, precisely as it was throughout the Bible. He really was at a loss to understand why it was that hon. Members opposite persisted in regarding the Education Department as not a public controlling body; his only criticism of the Bill was that the control given to the Department was of so tremendous and far-reaching a character that he felt some apprehension what the result might be. With regard to the remarks of the right hon. Member for East Fife on the drafting of the Bill and the particular effect it had had on procedure, he could not help feeling that a new system of drafting Bills had been introduced, in which details were left to the discretion of a Department. He could not help feeling that they were being guillotined without being aware of it. He thought it showed that some changes of procedure were urgently necessary; but he could not help feeling that those who regarded the procedure of the House with an almost superstitious veneration, must feel a little uncomfortable. Had they adopted some moderate reform, such as the carrying over of Bills to a future Session, then such a contingency as this would have been avoided. They might look forward to a Home Rule Bill which would be drafted quite simply in a clause or two, saying that "a separate Parliament should be set up in Ireland—[Nationalist cheers]—having due regard to the rights of the Unionists". That would be a simple clause, and would greatly facilitate the progress of the Bill. But he wanted rather to call attention to the great power of the Department from the point of view of the schools. The point of view of the Vice President himself was one which might well occupy the attention of the House. He could not help feeling that, great as were the powers given to the Department, it might not be inappropriate to say that the head of the Department became the Dictator to the Voluntary Schools. Well, uneasy was the head that wore a crown; and there were some circumstances which might make that dictatorship very memorable. One was the probability of entirely satisfying all the schools when the arrangement was to be made; and though he ventured to hope with the Solicitor General that the managers would be as public-spirited as possible, there would undoubtedly be a certain amount of rather harassing criticism levelled at the head of the Education Department, whatever arrangement that Department might make. But it was not only from the managers of schools that he anticipated trouble for his right hon. Friend. It was also very easy to see, when the Education Estimates were under discussion, it would be perfectly open to any hon. Member to move a reduction of so many five shillings in the grant. Whenever a school was suspected of giving sacerdotal instruction, or whenever any other grievance was discovered it was quite open to any hon. Member to move a reduction, and so introduce a long and tedious discussion. The Vice President, when he went home after such a discussion, might feel that, though one was a dictator, there was much to be said for ploughing as a recreation. It was very important to consider the effect on the schools themselves. It was worth observing that the Department to which this great control was entrusted, however great might be the confidence of the Voluntary Schools in this or that particular Government, had not got the regard which inspired great confidence on the part of the schools. It was sufficient to observe, on this point, that two very important Bills which were introduced when a most friendly Vice President was at the head of the Department—he meant his right hon. Friend the Member for the Dartford Division—were anything but agreeable to a large number of Voluntary Schools. The Free Education Bill was, in many respects, anything but what they desired, while the Welsh Intermediate Education Act was acutely felt as a grievance by the friends of Voluntary Schools. So that, if they could not feel very great confidence in the Department even when there was a friend at the head, when there was an unfriendly head that confidence would very much diminish.

He would observe, that while hon. Members opposite had, by the circumstance of the money being voted annually, a very convenient method of harassing Voluntary Schools, that did not apply to the friends of those schools. There was no parallel power given to them to defend their interests on the Estimates, and the only remedy, he imagined, would be to move a reduction of the Vice President's salary, which would not be altogether a satisfactory course to adopt. In this respect the Bill gave greater advantage to the critics than to the friends of Voluntary Schools. He could not help feeling that, though the Department, or a hostile head of the Department, might, under ordinary circumstances, not be a very formidable enemy to the Voluntary Schools, still there was one set of circumstances under which, very possibly, such a head of the Department might be very dangerous, and that was in the case of a majority in that House hostile to Voluntary Schools carrying through a Bill which was unfriendly or destructive in its policy. He believed that such a policy would not be welcomed by the country at large, and he believed, therefore, that, following recent precedents, the House of Lords would probably make itself the interpreter of public feeling, and might reject the Bill. What would then happen? Would not an unfriendly Vice President then use all the powers that this Bill left in his hands to make the position of Voluntary Schools intolerable, and force them to capitulate? If he did not do that, would not some hon. Member behind him rise and force the hands of the Government, by refusing the grant, which they had the power to do, when it came up on the Estimates? But for one circumstance that fear of reprisals would seem to be a very terrible one. It seemed to him less terrible, because he did not expect that such a majority hostile to Voluntary Schools would ever exist in that House, having regard to the attitude of hon. Members around. But he would remind some of his hon. Friends above the Gangway that, owing to their action as critics of rate-aid, the Government had been induced to adopt a method which exposed the Voluntary Schools to greater danger than any method of rate-aid. There was one reprisal which, he thought, threatened very serious danger. Hon. Members opposite might not take away the grant; they might equalise it by giving a corresponding grant to all Board Schools. That would, of course, destroy the effect which the present Bill would have in diminishing the severity of what was called competition, and in a very short time the position of Voluntary Schools would not be less distressed than it was to-day. He thought, from those points of view, this Bill was a legitimate object of apprehension to the friends of Voluntary Schools. Then, there was the question of inadequacy. They did not know how inadequate the relief would be until they saw precisely how the arrangement of giving different grants to different schools would work, but no one who had looked carefully into the matter could doubt that inadequate to some extent it would be. And certainly, if the standard of education went on rising in the future as it had in the past—and there was no reason to expect a slackening—then in a few years they would be as badly off as they were to-day. Those were some criticisms which, it seemed to him, friends of Voluntary Schools were entitled to make in regard to this Bill. But he did not wish to be understood to think that there were not merits of a very transcendent kind in many parts of the Bill. There was the giving of the grant itself at a moment in which the Voluntary Schools were in the greatest possible distress, and without which, there was little doubt, a large number of them would have succumbed. He thought that circumstances had, perhaps, protected his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House from criticisms from his own side during the earlier and more critical stages of the Bill. There was a proverb, "It's ill talking between a full man and a fasting," and it was ill disputing between the Treasury and dying Voluntary Schools. The grant had come at a moment when many of them were at the last gasp. He thought a service of not less importance was done to Voluntary Schools by the provisions in regard to associations. He did not think it could be doubted that in that way a strength of combination would be given to Voluntary Schools, and that they would have, when next this question came up for discussion, a powerful organisation ready to hand which would be the spokesman and defender of the schools. ["Hear, hear!"] It was not true, as hon. Members had so often represented, that the settlement of 1870 had never been infringed until this Bill was introduced. He might say, in passing, that nothing, to him, was more astonishing than the extraordinary reverence with which hon. Members seemed to speak of the settlement of 1870. He did not know of a piece of legislation which seemed to him to deserve it less. It was not the first time that that statute had been infringed. It was infringed when the Education Act was passed; but by a gradual process by which the standard of education had been raised higher and higher, the conditions of the settlement of 1870 had been made wholly different. This was the first important innovation on the settlement of 1870 in the interests of Voluntary Schools, and what had been done once might be done again. They had at last broken through the supposed sanctity that surrounded that statute; and they looked forward with confidence to repeating it. He listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Merionethshire. He thoroughly agreed, and every Churchman would agree, that the case of Nonconformists in rural districts was a hard one. But hon. Members did not avail themselves of the opportunity last year afforded by Clause 27 of obtaining some relief. Was it impossible to induce, the Nonconformists—he meant the religious Nonconformists who sincerely preferred their positive religious beliefs to their political attitude—to abandon the position they had hitherto taken up? Could they not have a new and nobler compromise, which should proceed on the theory of providing religious instruction for every considerable denomination all over the country, or wherever required? He thought that, if the Nonconformists made the experiment, if they entered into negotiation with Churchmen and Roman Catholics on the subject, they would find the terms offered to them would almost err on the side of generosity; they would have almost everything they asked for so long as the denominational schools were secure. They would relieve the present educational situation of many of its difficulties. Neither Nonconformists nor Churchmen on this question were altogether in a comfortable position. Those who acted with the Conservative Party had to face the circumstance that many Conservatives regarded the whole duty of that Party to consist in the defence of property; and those who acted with the Liberal Party contained among them many Liberals who had no interest or affection for religion. Was it not possible that the religious Nonconformists should join with Churchmen in making a lasting settlement of the education question, so as to overcome the opposition of Conservatives who worshipped property and of those Liberals who despised religion? [Laughter.] That would be a settlement which would nearly reach the settlement of the education question which hon. Members professed to desire. Then they would reach a desirable religious peace, which was a very good thing. Now that they had succeeded in carrying the Bill the, game of unsectarianism was up. [Cheers.] The future was a denominational settlement which, would give religious peace and harmony between the different sects, death to none; which would give, in short, life and not death in the interests a justice, equality, and religion itself. [Cheers.]

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

MR. ALFRED THOMAS (Glamorgan, E.)

said the noble Lord had expressed surprise that the hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan should be so eager to have local control, and had suggested that the Department was equal to all that was necessary from that, point of view. But the statement had been quoted earlier in the evening by the Vice President that the Department had no knowledge of the localities, and, therefore, it could not properly take the place of men elected by the ratepayers. He was afraid, from what the noble Lord said, and having regard to the fact that he might be presumed to know a little of what was going on in the inner circle, they could not expect very generous treatment of the Board Schools. His chief reason for voting against the Bill before the House was that it gave the Government the power to apply funds to purposes outside of their administrative functions. He, went so far as to say that a Government had no right to exact a penny more by way of taxation from the people than was necessary to administrate the public affairs of this country. Apart from the question of principle, he would deem it his duty to oppose the Measure, as he believed the effect of such legislation would be to aggravate the worst evils of the present system. Our educational system might be divided under two heads—the Board Schools and denominational schools. In Board Schools no difference was made between one child and another; all were taught alike, and nothing was taught in those schools calculated to prejudice the minds of the children against any section of the community. On the other hand were the denominational schools, where the first thing that was taught was that the creed of the particular denomination that controlled that school was the only orthodox one, and that those outside of that church were schismatics. ["No, no!"] By this Bill it was sought to further endow such schools by five shillings per scholar. Then, it was believed that by the previsions of this Bill the already humiliating position of the teachers in denominational schools would be still worse. It was feared that, added to the danger of being dismissed at the whim or pique of the clerical autocrat, dismissal within the confines of the association would mean no chance for another appointment within that area. If imitation were the sincerest form of flattery, then the friends of the much-derided Board Schools could not but feel flattered that the sponsors of this Bill should set up those associations which, after all, were only School Boards by another name. He recognised in this one of the most retrograde Measures of modern times. While all other countries were advancing they were retreating into the Middle Ages. In the February number of Harper's Magazine was an interesting article on Mexico, in which the educational system is dealt with. The Mexican President was asked whether they taught religion in their public schools. His reply was "No; that we leave to the home." Again, what an object lesson the late general election in Canada must have been to those who wish to force religion into secular schools. That election was fought on the question of national and secular versus denominational schools, and, notwithstanding the strongest and bitterest opposition, the present Premier of Canada achieved one of the greatest victories of modern times. He believed the next General Election in this country would be fought on similar lines, and for that reason he was glad that the Government had introduced the Bill, as it could not but hasten the day when a Measure would be passed through that House, launching forth a system of education worthy of the question and of the age in which they lived. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. JEBB (Cambridge University)

said they had heard inaccurate statements which had been exposed over and over again. It was said long ago that there was nothing like repetition for the inculcation of truth, and no doubt the same applied to the dissemination of error. As to the conduct of the Bill in Committee, he found from The Times reports that between 200 and 300 speeches were delivered from the Benches opposite in the course of 12 days. They made no complaint of that as the questions were important, but it should not be said that there was not a full discussion. About 200 speeches were delivered on the first clause. The Amendments had been of two classes—those that would have been destructive of the Bill and those that were regarded as making no improvement in the Bill. In the latter class there was a tendency to enlarge the discretion left to the Education Department so as to make the burden on it intolerable, or to go in the opposite direction and limit the discretion where it should be left free. Amendments were sometimes, as they knew, accepted with the view to smooth the course of a Debate and to conciliate; but on this occasion there was no reasonable prospect held out that the acceptance of any Amendment would have that effect. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the claim for local control, he could not understand why those who made no contributions should be represented on the associations. The Member for Bodmin spoke of expediency or non-expediency, but there was the main point—justice. The Member for Wolverhampton instanced the case of the police, but there was a local police rate. ["Hear, hear!"] As to defining a "necessitous" school, the Department would have no practical difficulty. Suppose an efficient school was carried on at a loss, that was clearly a necessitous school. If a school was efficient and the teachers were underpaid, that was a necessitous school, and so on. But no abstract definition could cover all cases. Then it was said: "Will not people leave off their subscriptions in order to make their Voluntary Schools necessitous?" In reply to this, he pointed out that the Department had a continuous knowledge, through its inspectors, of each school. It could easily detect a case of such self-induced poverty, and refuse aid. ["Hear, hear!"] The fee grant of 1891 was a gain to many Voluntary Schools in rural districts. Yet it had not been followed by any general decline of subscriptions. Then it was said that there was no security in the Bill that subscriptions would be kept up. The answer to that was that the Department was directed to have "due regard to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions." The objection rested merely on the ground that no hard-and-fast line was drawn. But no universal and rigid rule could be laid down, because there were cases in which the amount of the local subscriptions might fall, without its being the fault of the people in the district, e.g., through the death of a generous squire, or through a villa population being ousted by a working-class population in the suburb of a large town. There were also cases in which the subscriber was entitled to relief, e.g., the poor clergyman whose zeal for education had led him to give much more than could fairly be asked of him, and there were poor districts of large towns where it was extremely difficult to get any considerable amount of subscriptions from the pence of the poor, and where subscription was an altogether precarious source of aid. Nothing was more extraordinary to his mind than the terms in which the proposed associations had been described. The right hon. Member for East Fife, at Bradford, on March 1, described their operation as the "practically unfettered control of private associations, armed, as they would be, with coercive powers, and absolutely irresponsible to Parliament." That description was as full of contradictions of fact as any statement of the same length could be. ["Hear, hear!"] Then the Leader of the Opposition, at Norwich, on March 17, said: They say these voluntary associations are intended to advise the Education Department. No; they are intended to coerce the Department. How on earth did the right hon. Member infer from the Bill that the associations would have power to coerce the Department? As a matter of fact the associations would have no control whatever over the spending of a single, shilling of the grant, and the control would rest solely with the Education Department. They would have no coercive powers of any kind. They were merely to advise the Department, which was not bound to take their advice; and the Department was responsible to Parliament for this money, as for all other money spent on education. It was true that the supporters of the Bill hoped that the associations would indirectly do a great deal of good in their respective districts by stimulating the interest taken in education, but this indirect result of their formation was altogether apart from the direct function of the associations as laid down in the Bill, that, namely, of advising the Department as to the distribution of the grant. A great grievance had been made of the fact that there were to be no parents on the associations. If the function of the associations had been to interfere with the management of Voluntary Schools he would have liked very much to see the parents represented; but the associations would have nothing whatever to do with the management of the schools. Then, in a tolerably large association there would be the practical difficulty of finding room for parents in the case of all the schools concerned, and the average parent would very naturally be interested in the school in which his child was being educated, and that would tend to promote just such a scramble for the money as they would all deprecate. With regard to the representation of teachers he should be very glad to see them represented in a local authority for education in the proper sense of the term—a body, he meant, for the discussion of educational policy. But upon associations like these, whose function was simply to advise as to the distribution of the grant, he did not think it desirable that the teachers should be represented, as they would be interested pecuniarily. The right hon. Member for East Fife had told them that the associations would be, purely clerical, and the Leader of the Opposition said at Norwich the other day:— We know what the Church Party is. It is a sacerdotal party. It is the domination of the priesthood, and it is to endow that, at their discretion, that £600,000, unconditionally, of the taxpayers' money is to be given out of the surplus of this year. He had already referred to a statement made by the right hon. Member for East Fife as one that was full of contradictions of fact, and this statement by the Leader of the Opposition was equally so. It had been proposed by the Opposition that one-half of the associations should be laymen, but it would be very difficult, to tie the Department, down to a certain fixed proportion of laymen, for the circumstances of different districts varied considerably. He believed, however, that the clergy themselves would be the very first to desire to have laymen upon these associations. ["Hear, hear!"] On all existing diocesan associations the laity were largely represented. In Exeter, for example, the number of laymen at the Diocesan Conference was larger than the number of clergy. Therefore, he thought it was certain that the laity would have a very large and important representation on these associations, and the Department would probably require that there should be such representation. With regard to the control of the Education Department by Parliament it ought to be clearly understood that the control of Parliament over the expenditure of the money would be precisely the same as the control which Parliament now exercised over the other funds spent by the Education Department, for the grant would be borne on the Estimates, and could be diminished or withheld at the pleasure of the House of Commons. It was absurd, therefore, to say, as the right hon. Member for East Fife had said, that Parliament was being asked to give a blank cheque to the Education Department. The power given to the Department to discriminate the rates for urban and for rural schools was founded on the deliberate conviction of the Department, formed after long experience, that, taking urban schools as a whole and rural schools as a whole, it would be found that the former were on the average and in the aggregate needier than the latter. But the Department was not compelled to establish a distinction in every particular case; it was only to do so in cases where it held it to be necessary. Urban schools were more needy than rural schools, because there were many children in the former and fewer in the latter, and because the rateable value of rural districts in proportion to the number of children was higher than that of urban districts. Then, urban schools had to bear heavier expenses, because the whole cost of living in towns was higher. The cost of teachers' residences, for example, was greater. Again, a larger number of subjects had to be taught in urban schools than in rural schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Then it was complained that the surplus of the grant would not go equally to associated and unassociated schools, but only to associated schools; but hon. Gentlemen opposite forgot that the proposed distribution of the surplus to associated schools was to be made only if or when the needs of the unassociated schools should have been satisfied. Then with regard to the audit, the House had been told by the Vice President that the Department would regard the word "may" as a positive direction, while the Solicitor General had also said that no one could doubt that the Department, having this power conferred upon it, must regard it as its duty to exercise the power. As to the complaint that the district auditor was not to be employed, he would point out that the district audit would be too expensive for small schools, and out of all proportion to the sum received. The Department would, no doubt, follow the lines of the Blind and Deaf Children Act, 1893, and would employ a chartered accountant, a banker or bank manager, or a professional auditor. ["Hear, hear!"] An Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for East Somerset to the effect that the Department should be officially represented on the association. Those who did not take the hon. Member's view on that point did so, not because they undervalued the worth of the guidance the association would receive from the Department, but because they thought it undesirable to compromise in any way the voluntary character of the association. ["Hear, hear!"] The last point he would touch upon was the 17s. 6d. limit. He was particularly struck by the fact that it was generally assumed that the 17s. 6d. limit operated in the direction of keeping up voluntary subscriptions. He had taken some pains to ascertain from those who were in a position to know, how far that was the case, and he knew that it was the opinion, founded on long experience, of the officials of the Department, that its operation in that direction was exceedingly limited. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the other danger apprehended from its abolition, namely, that too many subjects would be taken up, and that the children would be turned into grant earning machines, the House had been assured that the Department would be vigilantly on its guard against that, and would, if necessary, modify the code to meet any such attempt. He thanked the House for having listened to him so patiently— [cheers]—and he would only say in conclusion, that this money was given to save one element in the elementary educational system from being disabled or destroyed. It was given to secure the parents of two and a-half million of children in the exercise of liberty of conscience, and it was given with due safeguards for the proper use of the money for the purposes of education, and under full responsibility to Parliament. [Cheers.]

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)

thought that he, at least, would escape the condemnation of reiteration and repetition which the hon. Gentleman opposite, in the course of a speech to which the House had been, as usual, charmed to listen, had so comprehensively levelled against hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, for he had not, as yet, opened his mouth on the subject of this Bill. He would have thought that it was impossible that a Bill of this comprehensive character, couched in language studiously vague—[cheers]—could pass muster at the hands of a House of Commons composed of 670 men, presumably of certain diversity of view, and possessing a certain wealth of experience in these topics—he would have thought it impossible that such a product of any Government, however strong and however wise, could pass unamended in a House so composed. ["Hear, hear!"] It seemed that he was wrong. Was he wrong in consequence of the strength or the weakness of the Measure? He rather thought in consequence of its weakness. It was admitted that the Bill had no solidity in it. It was pronounced by its authors to be an experiment of an elastic and fluid character, and the House of Commons and the country at large would, he thought, be of opinion that £600,000 a year was a somewhat high price to pay for an elastic and fluid experiment. ["Hear, hear!"] In one view, Amendments would have been destructive of the Measure, because it was constructed like a castle of cards, which, if any attempt was made to alter, improve, or buttress it up, would have gone to pieces like the Measure of last year. ["Hear, hear!"] But in answer to suggested improvements, what had they had instead of argument? It was expressed in the old, familiar brocard, pro ratione voluntas. It was the will of the Government, it was not argument by which the proposed Amendments to this Measure were met. [Cheers.] Why was this money given in the form of a capitation grant? The 5s. a head had, as expressly avowed by the Leader of the House, absolutely no relation to the necessity in the individual case, and no relation to the number of necessitous schools. Five shillings a head might as well have been given in respect of houses or ships or church steeples, as in respect of the number of scholars in Voluntary Schools. The explanation was that as the Board Schools were depleted and the scholars were enticed away from them in Voluntary Schools, so the grant that was to be given would be increased. [Cheers.] The Bill was framed on capitation lines, because it was meant to sap and undermine the representative Board Schools of the country. [Cheers.] But he had another objection to the Bill, and that was that in an enormous degree there was a dangerous and unconstitutional delegation of Parliamentary control to the Education Department. He was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Cambridge University say that this delegation was the same as in regard to the already existing Parliamentary grants. It was nothing of the kind. ["Hear, hear!"] All suggestions that the Department should frame schemes and thus further set up unity of administration had been rejected, and the Department might distribute this £600,000 according to its own sweet will. In the administration of public money, up to this moment, there had been Parliamentary control, in one or other, of two senses; in the first place, by the express terms of the Act of Parliament itself, and in the second place, notably in regard to education, by schemes to be laid on the Table of the House. The schemes of the Education Department were of enormous value, not in a national or educational sense only, but also in an international sense, because they enabled us, by way of contrast and comparison, to draw the finest lessons in, and so to foster, development and improvement of our educational system. We had not only to fulfil a duty to the children of this country in view of their future citizenship, but, to consider the relation of this country to other countries and to Europe, which was, in point of education, being, in every decade and in every year, more and more artistically and technically trained. He considered it, reactionary in the highest degree that money should be distributed by Parliament and that the House should not be able to know, what in the past it had always known, whether the money was to be contributed to the solution of the difficulties and towards the advancement of our people as an educated nation, or was to be distributed from motives and under the action of influences and forces which they could not determine. Parliament had delegated the distribution of the money in a way which he considered a constitutional danger. [Cheers.] What, in the first place, was to constitute a "necessitous" school? The hon. Member for Cambridge University said a necessitous school would be a school which had been carried on at a loss. How did he know? Did the Bill say so? Not a bit. He also said a necessitous school was where the teachers were underpaid. This might be due to the stinginess or greed of past contributors. Did the Bill afford any guide or rule to prevent greed or stinginess being rewarded? Not a bit. The Bill was absolutely vague. The right hon. Member for East Fife cited precedent after precedent for the enumeration in Acts or schemes of the conditions under which the Parliamentary grant was to be earned. What was the answer of the Leader of the House? He passed lightly over every precedent except one, and he took up one which, of all others, was the most unfortunate for the Government of the day, that by which powers were given to County Councils and local authorities under the Technical Education Act. The answer to that was, that the present Bill would be improved enormously if the power under it were delegated, as in that case, to representatives of the people of the locality. But he was not satisfied even with that, because, in citing the case of the Technical Education Acts, the Leader of the House cited a case which, in the view of all educationists in this country, was the worst case known. Out of £800,000 or thereabouts granted, under the scheme for technical education, to local authorities, they had impounded, for the relief of their own rates, no less than £153,000 per annum. Never was the vague delegation under this Bill condemned in such scathing terms as those used by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. But why did he not assist the Opposition when they wanted to make clear and absolute the conditions upon which the grant was to be earned? The noble Lord did not give a whit of assistance in that direction; and now he deplored the absolute power which might be vested in an Education Department which might not always be in accordance with his views. Then, the Bill called into existence what in Scotland would not be tolerated for an hour— [cheers]—a series of associations; and it was impossible to understand whether these bodies were to be advisory or more. He came to the governing bodies of the associations. It was now settled that they would not be representative of the parents whose children were attending the schools, or of the electorate who, in their localities, as taxpayers contributed to the funds, or representative of the teachers. Seven-eighths of the governing bodies of the associations would be connected with the. Church of England—clerical advisers, without doubt. Every Amendment which would have introduced the representative element or even a proportion of laymen into the governing bodies had been refused. He said, advisedly, that the Government could have made no worse selection, speaking comparatively, than to choose, in a matter of this kind, a body of clerical advisers. What this nation needed in its competition with other nations and peoples was a more highly educated standard of producing citizens. We wanted higher technical, commercial, and even artistic experience. But at this juncture what had the Government done? It had selected its advisers for one of its own Departments, from a class of men who, of all others, were unacquainted with the world and inaccessible to the range and impact of modern ideas. [Cheers.] The Bill was a triumph for sectarianism. This proselytising Episcopacy, by the dictation of overbearing England, was an old and bitter story in Scotland. There was no Englishman with a knowledge of the relations of the two countries who did not think of it with shame. [Cheers.] Those memories would be revived, and the Solicitor General would pass as the modern version of the gentleman known as Claverhouse in Scotland. He did not use the methods of antiquated diplomacy. He did not demand their lives, but their money, and Presbyterians in Scotland were to be taxed pro tanto to bring up little Episcopalians in England. The Scotch system should never have been mentioned. As far as that system was denominational, he did not defend it. His own view was, "Let Churches and the individual conscience pay and provide for their religion, and let the State teach its citizens civic rights." In Scotland they had a School Board system everywhere. Did the Government dare to imitate that? In Scotland they had liberty everywhere, through the parents and ratepayers who chose their own form of education. Did the Government dare to imitate that? [Cheers and Ministerial counter cheers.] What they had done was to endeavour to stereotype a system in which there was no liberty of choice. [Cheers.] They had publicity everywhere in Scotland. Dared they imitate that? [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Certainly."] If that publicity was to be imitated, why were not the schemes to be published? [Cheers.] The surest antidote to bigotry was publicity. He had seen both English and Scotch catechisms, and there was an extraordinary contrast between them. He did not refer to what English catechism might teach, such as the doctrine of prayers for the dead, the doctrine of transubstantiation— [cries of "Oh!"]—but he did refer to this, that they taught as a vital distinction that between Church and Dissent. ["Hear, hear!"] In Scotland they had nothing of the sort, for in their catechism, which was that of Canada, the United States, and Australia, there was no such thing as Church and Dissent taught or even mentioned. It was proposed that Scotch money should go to support a system of sectarian teaching under which the whole body of Presbyterians as such were outside the Church of Christ. [Cheers, and cries of "Oh!"] This Bill was a triumph, not for education, and not for the Government, but for the two noble Lords opposite; but it was only an instalment of what they wanted. What they wanted was the limitless power of the Church over the limitless purse of the State. [Cheers.] He contended, however, that the first step which was necessary in educational progress was to de-clericalist education by securing that educational management should be vested in the whole body of the people. The Government was taking a downward, instead of an upward, course. The Bill was reactionary in spirit, unconstitutional in plan, and in its results it would be, in some parts, futile to the point of ridicule, and in the main injurious to the cause of education. [Cheers.]

MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

said it would be charitable to assume that the hon. Gentleman's knowledge of English education was limited strictly to unauthorised editions of certain catechisms. There was repeated evidence in his speech that he knew practically nothing about English education. ["Hear, hear!"] He had suggested that the motive behind this Bill was the depletion of the Board Schools. There were many districts in which there were no Board Schools, and where the village schools were Church schools. Was there anyone so fatuous as to suppose that there were voluntary subscribers who would erect a school at a probable cost of £1,500 in order to earn an annual grant of £25? Those impassioned appeals to sectarian prejudice would never make for that religious peace, under which they could alone hope for the success of the national system of education. It was those sectarian hatreds which made the people able to say, "How these Christians hate each other," and which had militated against educational progress. He had hoped that the day was approaching when the religious fanatic, whether of the Anglican Church or of the Dissenting, Churches, would have passed out of existence. But speeches such as that to which the house had just listened contradicted that hope. That speech was in marked distinction to the exceedingly temperate speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, who had moved the rejection of the Bill. During the delivery of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman many of them were, no doubt, entranced with the admirable manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had constructed his arguments. But a few moments of cool consideration would serve to convince them that no arguments were ever so skilfully erected with such slender material. The central principle of the Bill was not denounced by the right hon. Gentleman for one moment. The Voluntary Schools were not even mentioned. The speech was devoted to the methods by which the Bill had been struggled through Committee; to certain details of machinery which the right hon. Gentleman had not condemned, but which he said were vague and too elastic; and recourse was also had by the right hon. Gentleman to a speech of the Vice President of the Council in a Cambridge village. He wondered where the right hon. Gentleman would have been had it not been his good fortune to have discovered that speech, for the most of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were founded upon that speech, and not upon what had transpired in the House, or what was in the Bill itself. [Ironical Opposition cheers.] He would endeavour to deal with that. [Ironical cheers.] He regretted that the Bill had passed through Committee, altogether unamended. [Opposition cheers.] He had voted for some of the Amendments, and he did not in the least regret having done so. He believed the Bill might have been improved in some particulars; but common honesty compelled him to declare that no encouragement whatever had been given to the Government to accept Amendments, or even to duly consider Amendments. [Opposition, laughter and Ministerial cheers.] He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife that there were three or four points in regard to which the Bill might have been improved; but the Amendments that had been proposed were directed, not to three or four questions, but to 44; and it only needed a limited acquaintance with the procedure of the House of Commons to appreciate the difficulties that would be placed in the way of the ultimate passing of the Measure if any concession whatever had been made by the Government. [Opposition laughter and Ministerial cheers.] The Bill had been fought line by line—aye, word by word, not in an endeavour to improve it, but in an endeavour to defeat it. [Cheers.] He had no doubt that during the Easter Recess hon. Members opposite, who had used excessive industry in framing Amendments, would go down to their constituents and declare, with self-congratulation, that they had attempted to defeat the Bill by bringing forward no end of Amendments, and they would dwell largely on the fact that the Bill had been pushed through without Amendment. But he believed that the electors of the country would realise that, regrettable as was the fact that the Bill had gone through Committee unamended, a large part of the cause, if not the entire cause, was due to the frivolous Amendments that had been moved, and moved with the sole desire of destroying the Bill. A large part of the discussion had been directed, as in Committee, to what was not in the Bill—namely, the unfavourable position in which Nonconformist bodies existed in the matter of primary education. A constant repetition of that grievance had marked the Debate. He admitted that grievance. No one was more familiar with it than himself, but he would point out that that grievance had not arisen from this particular Measure. It had been in existence before the Bill was introduced. There were two grievances. One was that the sons and daughters of Nonconformist parents would not, in many Voluntary Schools, be accepted as pupil teachers. One would imagine that there were hundreds of thousands of Nonconformist parents who were desirous that their sons and daughters should become pupil teachers. As a matter of fact, it was exceedingly difficult in the country districts to obtain pupil teachers at all. [Cries of "Why?"] He admitted the grievance existed, but it was not extensive in its nature. Again, it had not arisen under the Bill. It had existed since the arrangement of 1870, which those who complained of the grievance asked should be still observed. He had a firm belief that the great mass of the electorate took no interest whatever in the sectarian battles over this religious question, whilst no subject was more popular with them than the wellbeing of the children. They were determined that their little ones should have a better start in life than they had themselves, and they would brush aside the whole of the arguments constructed on Nonconformist grievances and Anglican bigotry, and would look to what the Bill would do to improve the secular education of the children. In his opinion the Bill would do much to improve the condition of secular education throughout England and Wales. Many of the Voluntary Schools were as well equipped, staffed, and as liberally managed as the best of the Board Schools in the country, but on the other hand there were many Voluntary Schools which, if they did not receive immediate pecuniary relief, must close their doors, and the ordinary ratepayer and elector who examined this Bill would examine it from that point of view alone. He would seek to discover whether the Bill would contribute to the improvement of the education of the children, and prevent the cost being thrown upon the shoulders of the local ratepayers. In both these examinations the answer must be a distinct affirmative. He believed it was utterly impossible with an enlightened Education Department to make further pecuniary grants to any of their schools without, in some degree, benefiting the education of the children in the schools. For the proper expenditure of the money in the promotion of education, they had now greater safeguards than ever they had before, not one of the least being the arrangement for an efficient audit. He felt it was exceedingly desirable that not only should satisfaction be given to the parents in the education of their children, but it was essential to the interests of the ratepayer, particularly of heavily burdened School Board districts, that those schools should be kept going without any part of the burden being thrown on local ratepayers. He was glad the Government had decided to avoid the principle of rate aid. Whatever Lancashire and Cheshire might think of the matter, the South of England was practically dead against rate aid, and the imposition of such a principle would have been attended with serious injury to education, would have led to a revolt on the part of the ratepayers, and would not merely have rendered the passage of the Measure impossible, but would have led to the defeat of a Government which attempted to set up such a principle. He rejoiced, therefore, that an attempt had been made to increase the State rather than the rate grant. He noticed that in the Bill the last relic of local contributions was being swept away in the abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit. He was not sorry that that limit was going, but let the House clearly see where they were leading. He believed that one result was obvious and inevitable, and that was that at an early date the entire cost of maintenance would be thown upon a central Exchequer. He did not believe many men in the House would regret the day when that result arrived. There were many safeguards suggested for maintaining voluntary contributions, but the only real and effective safeguard was the interest taken by Churchmen themselves in the maintenance of their own schools. He believed it would be impossible in some districts to maintain voluntary subscriptions at a satisfactory level. That might be a matter of great regret, but with it would come the inevitable change whereby their present dual system of education would be swept away and a national system established, in which the distinctions of Board and Voluntary would be entirely removed. When that day did come they might rest assured that the country would never assent to any system of national secular education which was not based upon and permeated with religious training. If their Debates had made one thing more clear than another, it was that there was a deep-seated determination on the part of parents to have as the basis of all education a sound, fixed religious training for their children attending the elementary schools. The Voluntary Schools and the great majority of the Board Schools were now supplying that education; those were the schools that received the support of the ratepayers, and he believed they on that side of the House need have no fear in facing the electorate on the terms of this Bill. He believed they had the country entirely with them in the attempt to support the Voluntary Schools, though he admitted the grant was not sufficient in certain cases. The country was not yet ripe for a complete scheme; but it would be in favour of the present Measure until the Chancellor of the Exchequer was ready to take over the entire burden. He might regret some of the Amendments which had been lost in Committee, but he still felt justified in supporting the Third Reading of the Bill. His great object was to see the children of the country well educated, and the parents fully alive to the benefits of such in education. No question of armies and navies could compare in importance with the advantages of a well-educated electorate. At present, he knew, much of the expenditure on education was wasted because malingers were starved. This Bill would do something to raise the level in the inefficient schools, and to do away with the disadvantages of the poorest communities. It was not an Anglican Bill. [Cries of "Oh!" and ironical laughter.] Many of the Voluntary Schools belonged to the Catholics and Wesleyans, and almost every Non-conformist sect had its own schools. It was not a Bill for the endowment of the Church; it was an honest attempt—[cries of "Oh!" and cheers]—if not an extensive attempt to raise the poor up to the level of the rich, and it would tend to the progress of national education, to the welfare of the children and to the satisfaction of the electorate at large. While regretting the absence of some improvements, he felt bound to support the Bill in the House and in the country, and to try to clear away some of the misconceptions which had been assiduously sown by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)

said that the Opposition must be thankful for such small mercies as the admission of the hon. Gentleman that the Bill might possibly have been amended in some particulars. He quite believed with the hon. Member, however, that if the Bill had been touched at all, the whole structure would have tumbled to the ground. If the House had begun amending the Bill, it would have been difficult to stop. The hon. Member for Cambridge University implied that all the objections to the Bill came from the Opposition side of the House. He forgot that some of the most serious and important objections had been raised from the Ministerial Benches. But the country would certainly not forget that a Measure of this consequence, and touching issues so vital, had been forced through by the brute weight of a majority without being amended in a single particular. The chief ground of complaint, after all, was not with the Opposition, but with the supporters of the Government who had been compelled to follow the Government in docile obedience. Members of the greatest weight and experience had had their advice treated with contempt, and the great Conservative Party had been regarded as the humble instrument of Ministers. That was the picture of hon. Members opposite which would live in history, and be present in the minds of the electors when next they were consulted. A remarkable overture had been made earlier in the evening by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, who said that he was in favour of "a new and nobler compromise." The noble Lord said that if the interests of religious education were safeguarded—if the denominational schools were supported and maintained—the opponents of this Bill might do what they liked. There were some who would be prepared to meet the noble Lord on grounds of that kind; but they would want to know which denominational schools and how many of them the nation was expected to support as the condition of having citizens' schools accessible to every citizen. If the noble Lord would tell them that all he wanted was that those who honestly felt that they could not allow their children to go to the ordinary citizens' school, but that they must have religious education of a denominational kind, should, as far as practicable, have provision made for him for the teaching of his own creed, then there were grounds upon which the claims of the noble Lord might be met, and a compromise effected. But the first condition of any settlement was that in every district throughout the land, in every corner of the land there should be schools to which men of every belief and of no belief should be able to send their children, and over which they should exercise a certain amount of control—genuine public citizens' schools. If the noble Lord would concede that, they on that side would be prepared to deal fairly with the denominations, not grudging to the person who conscientiously believed that the education of his children was bound up with particular religious teaching, such satisfaction as it was possible to afford.

SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)

hoped he might be forgiven for interposing, not at length, before the last episode in connection with the Bill, or rather the two Bills, before the House, closed. He referred to the Bill introduced by Her Majesty's Government, and, in the second place, to that mere phantom of a Bill conjured up by the active imaginations of hon. Gentlemen opposite throughout these long Debates. It was difficult to recognise, even to-night, in many of the speeches, that hon. Members who had been discussing this question had ever read the Bill before the House. It would seem that they had not fairly discussed in Committee the clauses of that simple Measure, but that their criticisms had been founded on inference, prophecy, and denunciation of some other Measure, but not the Measure before the House. There had been some curious speeches that night. Among all the weird, strange productions he had heard during his Parliamentary career, the curious lucubration of the hon. and learned Member for Hawick stood prominent. Time would not permit him to follow that strange production, and he would only say this—that it was difficult to say in which that speech most excelled, in the endeavour to stir tip to the utmost and bitterest extent sectarian or religious strife, or the extraordinary ignorance shown of the Bill before the House and the whole educational question in England. The hon. and learned Gentleman wound up his extraordinary effort by stating that the Bill, forsooth! was not so much that of Her Majesty's Government as of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester and his brother the Member for Greenwich. If ever there was a ridiculous statement in regard to the educational controversy it was this. His noble Friend and his gifted brother—Arcades ambo!—for months past had declared that the special Measure they wanted was one giving rate aid to Voluntary Schools, and not the Bill before the House. There had also been a very able Parliamentary effort from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, and it contained the usual amount of fireworks and combustible material so amply supplied throughout the Debates by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen Opposite. But when the speech came to be examined, and its argument sifted, it crumbled to pieces and withered away. In a magnificent sentence of excellent English, incisively delivered, the right hon. Gentleman asked what would be the position of the unhappy Nonconformist parent after this Bill became law? A terrible question to ask, it seemed; but, analyse the Bill and test its provisions, and he defied any man to show that, with one small exception, with reference to the possibility of a reduction of subscriptions—and this was only prophecy which the Free Education Act had amply falsified—with that small exception, he defied any man to show that the position of the Nonconformist parent in England and Wales would be other than the position he had occupied since 1870. The whole of this denunciation was worthless, for under that same system, with all its disadvantages, and he admitted them, the Nonconformist had continued for 26 years. ["Hear, hear!"] The House had been told that was a sectarian Measure; the same argument applied to the full to the settlement of 1870. He would not occupy time by going over the conditions of that compromise and settlement, but on both sides it was felt in 1870 that, while there were grievances and difficulties—and, alas! they still existed—while the religious element was the big difficulty and stumbling block in any system of education, while there was a grievance in Nonconformists having to send their children to Church Schools, the efforts of the pioneers of National education, and of those who took it in hand when no one else would, must be recognised, and those who made such great sacrifices for education in ancient days now asked for relief for necessitous Voluntary Schools in a Measure that on both sides of the House hon. Members were pledged to support. ["Hear, hear!"] He deeply regretted, in common with all hon. Members, not only the absence, but the cause of the absence, of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and although he should allude shortly to something the right hon. Gentleman urged in his speech at Norwich, he hoped, if he read his remarks, it would not cause his temperature to rise in the slightest, [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman was in excellent form, and in that speech for sheer recklessness of assertion he surpassed himself. This was his description of the Bill as he had cut it from The Times:—It was a grant of public money from the pockets of the taxpayers of this country to private bodies, without any reasonable condition as to the proper application of the money. The Bill said:— The grant shall be distributed by the Education Department to such Voluntary Schools and in such manner and amount as the Department thinks best for the purpose of helping necessitous schools and increasing their efficiency. The Education Department was now intrusted with the expenditure of no less a sum than £7,306,910, and yet, forsooth, the addition of just over half-a-million to the expenditure for which the Department was responsible was to be looked upon as an innovation and educational revolution. A greater absurdity was never heard. And if by "private bodies" the right hon. Gentleman meant the associations, he was entirely wrong in his criticism, because not one single half-penny would go to the associations; the money would be paid to the managers of each individual school on its merits. ["Hear, hear!"] So much for the extraordinary statements, or rather misstatements, given by way of so-called description of the Bill. No more absurd travesty was ever put before any body of our fellow-countrymen in regard to any Bill whatever. [Cheers.] They were told this money was to come out of the pockets of the taxpayers. This whole question was before the constituents at the last election, and the large majority which supported the right hon. Gentleman, and which had supported this Bill by a majority of over 200, was on one basis alone, and it was this, that it was advisable, not only for educational purposes, but for a great fiscal reason which affected the pockets of every taxpayer, that these Voluntary Schools should, at all hazards, be maintained; and it was mere clap-trap—nothing more nor less—to say that this money was dragged out of the pockets of the taxpayers, because the only alternative to the breakdown of the Voluntary system would be, not to take a few hundred thousand pounds out of the pockets of the taxpayers, but to bring on the ratepayers a burden of many millions of money. What was more, he was quite sure that by the time the Bill had been in operation for three or four years under the guidance and supreme control of the Education Department, no future Government, whatever its majority, would ever dare to upset it. Great complaint had been made of the absence of a definition of a necessitous school. In his opinion, to have placed a definition of a necessitous school would have taken away, perhaps, 50 per cent. of the advantages of the Bill itself. It was utterly impossible to give a definition front day to day of a necessitous school, for what was a necessitous school in 1897 would, or might, under the operation of this Bill, cease to be a necessitous school in 1899. The object of the Department would always be to apply this money where it was most needed, and when a school began to reap the benefit of the aid-grant, the Department would move that grant from that school and apply it in another case. He would like to say one word with regard to the associations. He had no doubt in his own mind that these associations must partake largely of a lay element. It was said that these associations were to be associations for fostering and bolstering up Church schools. There never was a statement wider from the fact than that. Let him give the House an instance in support of that assertion. Some years ago the schools near where he lived were in monetary difficulties. There were two British schools representing the Nonconformists, and two Church schools. For many years he was Chairman of a committee, which was really the association of these four schools. The Nonconformists and the Church-people worked hand in hand under a sevenpenny rate, in the management of the schools. The Church endowment was thrown into one common pool for the management of the schools, and they were managed with great success, and earned a good grant. What happened in one case might easily happen again. The question of subscriptions had been raised now, as it was raised at the time of the Free Education Act, when it was urged again and again that the first effect of that Act would be the vanishing of subscriptions. This prediction had been utterly falsified, because subscriptions had increased rather than decreased under that Act. The Department could bring pressure to bear on each individual school. It knew the position and the requirements and the precise amount subscribed; and if subscriptions decreased the Department would ask for a valid reason for their absence, giving, at the same time, an indication that unless good reason was shown no grant would be forthcoming. The more he had heard of the discussion in and out of the House the more he was convinced that, difficult and intricate as the circumstances were, this Bill proceeded on the only possible lines of dealing with a tangled and difficult subject. He prophesied that before it had been in operation five years it would be so successful and so popular, and so much increase the value of our educational system, that no Government, whatever its majority, would ever dare to touch one of its provisions. [Cheers.]

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)

The House has just listened to two speeches front the other side. Those speeches differed a good deal in character, and they differed in source. The hon. Member for West Ham favoured us on this side of the House with a lecture—[cheers]—drawn from his ripe Parliamentary experience—[laughter cheers]—as to the method in which Bills ought to be opposed, and in which Bills ought to be carried by those in charge of them. I believe I am right in saying that the hon. Member's experience of seeing a considerable Bill carried through this House is limited to one single Bill. I think, therefore, that we may bear with composure the censures he has passed on us, and we may regard with some wonder that he should have thought a certain number of Amendments on the Paper justified the Government in forcing—I think that was his phrase—the Bill through, while justifying himself and those who think with him in what he admitted was the regrettable course of not pressing the Amendments on the Government, and the Government's not accepting them. [Cheers.] My right hon. Friend opposite has had a very different experience from the hon. Member, and he has spoken in a vein and in a tone which the House always likes to hear. He has the great gift of holding earnest views and of expressing them with energy and vigour without producing what he referred to as a rise of anybody's temperature. [Laughter.] I was rather struck with one inconsistency on the part of my right hon. Friend. He scolded us because, as he said, our opposition to the Bill was not supported by argument, but only by inferences and prophecies. My right hon. Friend has been in the House a great number of years, and he must have learnt the lesson that most Debates consist of inferences and prophecies on both sides; indeed, he concluded his own speech with a prophecy. [A laugh.] I am not partial to prophecies as to what the country will say and do, but, when my right hon. Friend says that we are trying to make political capital out of our opposition to the Bill, may I ask what he will be doing when he fulfils his own announced intention of, on an early day, going to the country and assuring them that this is one of the best Bills which has ever passed through Parliament? [Sir W. HART DYKE: "That is a defensive operation!"] [Laughter.] My right hon. Friend favoured the House with a piece of history which, unfortunately, was wholly incorrect. I have no desire whatever to lessen the credit that is due to the clergy of the Church of England for the interest which they took at a certain point in our national history in education; but When the right hon. Gentleman says that the Anglican clergy were the first persons to take up the cause of national education—[Cries of "No, no!"]—


Perhaps I was not as precise as I ought to have been. I was referring then the pioneers of the voluntary system of education. If I did not use the word voluntary I intended do so.


I do not want to labour the point, but my right hon. Friend is mistaken. All education was voluntary in those days—[Opposition cheers]—and the pioneers of anything like a national system of education, voluntary or otherwise, were not the Anglican clergy. [Opposition cheers.] But I will not pursue that point. My right hon. Friend did what was almost a work of supererogation—he read What he considered the most operative part of the Bill, but he stopped at a certain point. It was, no doubt, very convenient for the purpose of his argument—["hear, hear!"]—for him to do so, but he conveyed an entirely erroneous impression as to what it is that we particularly object to. If the Bill had stopped where the right hon. Gentleman stopped in his recital of the contents of the Bill—that is to say, at the end of Sub-section (2) of the first clause, there would have been very little criticism to offer to it, but it was after the point at which my right hon. Friend left off that we came upon the debateable ground. It will be agreed by those who have heard the speeches to-night, that one of the most remarkable speeches was that made by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. The noble Lord made a series of remarks of very great importance and significance. I am not going through them all, but I will draw attention to one of them. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dartford said that the noble Lord and the Member for Rochester were arcades ambo. [Laughter.] I do not know how far that is a happy application, but we listened to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich with great interest, and I ask the House to bear in mind what the noble Lord called a digression; it was a most interesting and significant digression. There is a saying that wisdom comes out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. The noble Lord, in a Parliamentary sense—certainly in no other—belongs to that category, and to-night undoubtedly wisdom came from him. What did he say? Remonstrating with Gentlemen who sit behind the Ministry, he said, "We have witnessed an extraordinary and remarkable and much-needed"—I think he said—"change of procedure." That is the point with which my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife began and ended his brilliant and masterly criticism of the Bill. [Cheers.] The noble Lord said, "We have been guillotined without knowing it." He said that in the time of the French Revolution. [LORD HUGH CECIL: "I spoke of a mediæval period," and laughter.] Anyhow, he spoke of the head being severed from the body without, the person knowing what was being done. I think that a very weighty and pointed illustration of what the noble Lord meant, and I suggest that the noble Lord takes exactly the same view of the procedure to which the First Lord has resorted as the right hon. Member for East Fife. But, unlike my right hon. Friend, he thinks this great change in procedure was urgently needed, and he congratulates the House and his Party upon the quietude and calm with which that great change has been effected. What is the change? The Bill is conducted with the deliberate view to the suppression of a particular stage of discussion, which, by the wisdom of our forefathers and by the almost unbroken usage of this House, has been thought an essential stage in the discussion of any important Bill. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman will be able to show a single exception to the contrary. I have always looked upon the First Lord as one of those who would protect the usages and practices and customs of the House as soon and as earnestly as anybody. It is quite true that there have been occasions in which the right hon. Gentleman has taken part when the practice of the House suffered some violence. There have been only four occasions, so far as I know, of what is called guillotine closure. For two of these occasions the right hon. Gentleman is responsible, and for two of them I am myself responsible.


There was guillotine in 1882.


I was not in the House then, but I submit there was no guillotine closure in 1882 on the scale and by the methods resorted to by the right hon. Gentleman in 1887 and 1888, and by ourselves in 1893 and 1894. I am not arguing whether any one of these four closures was justified or not; I am only pointing out that it will not do for the right hon. Gentleman to take up the position that the opposition given to this Bill was anything like the opposition given to any one of these four Bills. These Bills—the Crimes Bill, the Special Commission Bill, the Home Rule Bill, and the Evicted Tenants Bill—certainly three of them involved important constitutional changes. My point is that in a Bill where there is no constitutional change, which does not excite, as these four Irish Bills did, a violent and a passionate opposition, justified or not, the right hon. Gentleman by the procedure he is adopting, is setting a precedent which will apply to any Bill whatever. [Cheers.] I confess I regard with the greatest apprehension and with the deepest regret the precedent which the right hon. Gentleman has set. Some reference was made by the right hon. Member for East Fife to the words of the right hon. Gentleman as to Bills being passed through Committee without amendment. The Solicitor General did not at all deal with the point. What the right hon. Gentleman said in 1895 was that it would be nothing short of a miracle of verbal inspiration for a Bill to be so drafted that it should be passed without amendment. He says the Bill went before a Grand Committee, but that is not the point at all. He has laid down the doctrine that it is impossible to hold that a Bill that is complex, and with a great many details, can go through a Grand Committee without amendments. Of course, that is so. I will call attention to the language of the Vice President of the Council, and the House will see how far the Committee was fairly dealt with. Our charge is that the Committee was unfairly dealt with. What does he say in his speech? He says:— He was quite certain that the Government—he did not know that he had a right to speak for the First Lord of the Treasury—but so far as the Committee of the Council were concerned, any Amendments which really would go to securing that this State-aid grant should be really used for the purpose of promoting and improving the education of the country would be welcomed. ["Hear, hear!"] There were many other Gentlemen who said much the same thing on the Second Reading. They indicated points on which they thought that Amendments were possible, and, in fact, they hoped and anticipated that Amendments would be moved. Talk of "verbal inspiration." Not only has this Bill been produced by some process of that kind, but hon. Gentlemen opposite have for some reason invisible to us, suddenly, as soon as the Bill entered the Committee stage, withdrawn from the views they expressed and advocated before the Bill reached that stage. ["Hear, hear!"] Their Amendments all disappeared from the Paper, and, with a few trifling exceptions, not a single Amendment was moved from the other side of the House. I must notice one other matter and that is, the admission made by the Solicitor General, and it is one which I hope when hon. Members go to the country they will not forget. He admitted to-night that there has not been in our attitude to this Bill obstruction.


What I said was that we never had complained that the Debate had been unduly prolonged, for we prevented that by the proper use of the closure. [Laughter.]


"Unduly prolonged" is a polite way of describing obstruction. Whatever the operation may have been, whatever the cause may have been, there was no undue prolongation of Debate. According to the hon. and learned Gentleman, when it was thought that the Debate was going to be unduly prolonged, then down came the closure and prevented it. That is very interesting to us, for very different language was used by the First Lord of the Treasury, no doubt when under some irritation. It was upon the occasion when the Member for Bodmin supported a Motion to report progress. Then the First Lord of the Treasury said that "if the scale on which right hon. Gentlemen opposite and his right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin desired to discuss the clauses, sub-clauses, lines, words, and commas"—here there were cries of "No," which is one crude form of expressing dissent— "were to be pursued, I do not, see how legislation is to be carried on in this House." But, Sir, something has been whispered, and rather more than whispered, of the intention of the Government to make certain concessions. which they have refused to make to us in this House, in another place. In order to show that that is not a mere hollow rumour, I will just read what was said by an hon. Member sitting opposite. He said:— The Bill of the Government was a wise and sensible Bill. The provision as regards associations, however, was rather dim and misty. It should, however, be remembered that we had a House of Lords, and that there were some extremely clear intellects there who, when the Bill reached that House, would manage to define its provisions much more clearly than the House of Commons. Therefore, if the House of Commons failed to define these provisions sufficiently, there was reason to hope the House of Lords would. Well, Sir, it would be an extraordinary spectacle if that expectation is fulfilled and if concessions are made in another place which the right hon. Gentleman has himself refused to discuss here. [Cheers.] After the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife, it is not necessary for me at this hour to make any attempt to go through the various objections we entertain to this Bill, but there were one or two points raised by the Solicitor General with which I should like to deal very shortly. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that it was unreasonable of us to ask the Government to define a word which is really vital to the Bill—namely, the word "necessitous"—and he said that no one on our side had attempted to define this key word of the Bill. To show the difficulty of defining the word one need only recall the excessively infelicitous attempt to do so made by the hon. and learned Member for Stroud, and I only quote it to show what are the difficulties that will confront the Department when they are invited to enter upon this delicate, invidious, and probably impracticable task. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member's definition was this:— A necessitous school is one in which the funds are insufficient to provide for an efficient education, having regard to the cost of education as far as that school is concerned. I defy any layman and most of the lawyers in this House to explain what such a definition as that can possibly mean—[cheers]—and to hand over the working of this Bill to the Department with a definition lurking in the mind so vague and impracticable as that I have read shows that we were right in denouncing the failure of the Government to provide a definition. ["Hear, hear!"] The Solicitor General said that we proposed no reasonable Amendments, and that was the reason why the Government could not accept any of our Amendments. There were, at least, four Amendments we proposed which, in view of the declarations made by Gentlemen opposite, all deserved the consideration of the Government. ["Hear, hear!"] The first point was that there should be representation on the board of managers. There were many Gentlemen on your own side of the House who, throughout the Debates on the Resolution and on the Second Reading of the Bill, all agreed that if some plan could be devised for introducing a representative element they would cordially welcome it. We could not bring a plan before the House for the very good reason that, by resisting and overthrowing the instructions we put down on going into Committee, you took it out of our power to lay before the House any particular plan by which our object could be carried out. The second point was as to the teachers. We proposed that they should be represented on the governing body and that they should not be required and compelled to undertake extraneous duties. With that proposal I am sure many hon. Gentlemen opposite sympathised, and yet merely because the Government had made up their minds that no change should be made in Committee that reasonable proposal was rejected. The third proposal was that Parliamentary control should be brought into play by means of schemes relating to the formation of associations. If the Bill had been conducted with a desire to make concessions and to arrive at a reasonable compromise that, again, was a proposal which would have been accepted. Then we brought forward an Amendment on the subject of efficiency. That Amendment consisted simply of the words of your own Bill of last year, and its object was to make sure that efficiency should be regarded. These are the proposals, and there were several others which would have been acquiesced in by the Government if this Bill had been conducted in conformity with Parliamentary usage and precedent. The Solicitor General says that we have no alternative policy, and do not desire to aid Voluntary Schools. He does us great injustice, and strangely and flagrantly misrepresents the view which we have taken on this side of the House. I defy the hon. and learned Gentleman to point to any Amendment which showed any desire whatever on our part to deprive the Voluntary Schools of an aid grant. It is quite true that there were some Gentlemen who would have preferred the figure of 4s. to 5s., but there is no ground whatever for any such charge as that made against us by the hon. and learned Member. ["Hear, hear!"] None of us have shown any desire to deprive the Voluntary Schools of an aid grant. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!" and cheers.] When the hon. and learned Member says that we have no alternative policy, he forgets that we did propose distinctly that the grant should be 5s. all round. That was our alternative, and what we said, and say still, is that your machinery is unworkable and will cause endless friction, which will impede the object which you have at heart. Our plan, by which the Education Department would distribute 5s. all round by means of the existing machinery, we say would be a preferable method to your cumbrous and unworkable plan of proceeding by association. The Bill will undoubtedly alter for the worse the character of the Education Department, which will be called upon to perform a number of invidious, I will even say odious, duties, to make all kinds of delicate personal discriminations, and to undertake an amount of work which it is by no means fitted to discharge. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich wound up his speech with a very important and impressive appeal. He asked why Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Nonconformists could not unite and present in this great educational controversy a common front against the regard for property in the Conservative Party and the contempt for religion, as he called it, in the Liberal Party. "Let us resist," he said "the scepticism and secularity of our time." I do not agree with the noble Lord on many of these great issues, but as to the existence of secularity I certainly do. But I ask him and those who share his convictions whether you are likely to get Nonconformists to join Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and present the united front the noble Lord desires when he approaches them with a Bill like this in his hand, which does not remove from the Nonconformist any of the grievances he feels so bitterly? The noble Lord's ideal is a generous ideal. But I must say there is another ideal which I do not believe is less generous, and which in many respects is a far higher one. I mean the ideal of a system of education which shall be religious, yet shall recognise to the full perfect civil equality, shall impose no disabilities or drawbacks upon Nonconformists or anyone else, because of their religious opinions or the want of any. That would be a far higher ideal for a free country at this time of day than the ideal of the noble Lord, eloquently and impressively as he sketched it. I will say no more than this—that, whether from an educational or constitutional, Parliamentary or social aspect, we regard this Bill as a mischievous dial reactionary Measure, and as such we shall vote against it. [Loud Opposition cheers.]


Mr. Speaker, it is with some feelings of natural diffidence that I rise to address the House, because I really feel that Wales and Scotland have had an almost undue share in the Debates on a Bill which principally relates to English education. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General is a Scotchman and a Scotch Member. I am myself a Scotchman, though not a Scotch Member. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is a Scotch Member. The right hon. Gentleman who initiated the Debate is a Scotch Member; the only other Member of the front Opposition Bench who has addressed the House is a Scotch Member, and almost everybody else is a Welshman. [Laughter and cheers.] I feel in these circumstances that the mass of English Members may rightly say that their due share in the Debate has been somewhat curtailed by those who doubtless take a deep and reasonable interest in the concerns of English education, but who are, either by birth or representation, not immediately connected with England. Now the accusations brought against the Government on the Third Reading divide themselves into three heads, differing very much as between each other and also in importance. On the first point I do not mean to say much. The Government and my right hon. Friend have been accused of not taking a sufficient part in the Debate. But I must point out that it is an entirely novel Parliamentary doctrine that the Leader of the House of Commons is not entitled to take charge of any Bill brought forward by the Government of which he is a Member. ["Hear, hear!"] He is emphatically so entitled, and I make no apology to the House whatever—[cheers]—for having taken the chief part in the conduct of the Measure now before the House, and certainly my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council may well feel flattered at the attention which he has drawn upon himself from hon. Gentlemen opposite; for certainly if I have made five or six speeches to his one on the Bill, the attention devoted to his speech by hon. Gentleman opposite has been more than five to one—[laughter and cheers]—that they have devoted to mine; and, if I could flatter myself that any utterances of mine in the House, on the platform, or in the magazines— [laughter]—could exceed half the interest my right hon. Friend has excited, I should feel I had well earned the position I occupy. I pass from that small matter to what is of far more vital and permanent importance in connection with this Debate, and that is a point in no Sense connected with the merits of the Bill before us, but solely and simply directed towards the manner in which this Bill has been carried through the House. We have been accused, and I individually and personally have been accused, of acting a tyrannical part, of forcing this Measure through the House without adequate discussion or adequate Debate, and by such a process of having permanently injured the procedure by which the House of Commons is carried through, and of having given an incurable wound to Parliamentary institutions. [Opposition cheers.] That accusation has not been, as far as I know, levelled, or even suggested, by any Gentleman on this side of the House except by my noble Friend who made so brilliant a contribution to our Debate in the course of the evening. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, speaking of my noble Friend's utterances in this connection, said that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings came wisdom, according to the ancient text. But, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman misquoted the ancient text— [laughter]—the text is that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise—[laughter]—and I confess, whatever else came out of my noble Friend's mouth, I did not notice that the amount of praise he bestowed was either large in quantity or very special in its quality. My noble Friend, no doubt, is a critic, a favourable critic, but still a critic of the Bill, because he is in the position of having a rival scheme of his own, and he naturally, and I may say properly, prefers it to the scheme of the Government, as he is its author. He will forgive me, however, if I say, in reply to him, that although I think there is a great deal to be said for the method of rate aid which, with such perseverance, such conviction, and such eloquence, he has advocated in this House and out of this House—great as are the merits of that scheme, much as there is to be said for it, I do not believe it could be proposed in this House by any responsible Government—[cheers]—though that Government had behind it a majority, not of 150, but 200, or 250, without, in the present position of public opinion, ruining the Government that proposed it, and indirectly, and as a secondary but not less inevitable effect, ruining the very cause of which my noble Friend is so ardent and eloquent an apostle. [Cheers.] I have been betrayed into that parenthesis on my noble. Friend's views—which I think the House would always do well to consider—by his obiter dictum upon the methods by which this Bill has been conducted through the House. What is the gravamen of the charge which has been brought against the Government by the Opposition as a whole, backed up by the opinion of my noble Friend? It is that we brought in a Bill, imperfect as they say, and as other Bills might necessarily be supposed to be; that we have not admitted one Amendment; that this course has been dictated not merely by the fact that we objected to the Amendments brought before us, but that we were resolved to deprive the House of Commons of its privilege of rediscussing the whole of the Bill on the Report stage; that in so doing the liberties of the House have suffered curtailment—[Opposition cheers]—and that a precedent has been set which may be followed by other Governments—[Opposition cheers]—and other majorities—[Opposition cheers]—under other circumstances, in a manner fatal to the liberty of Debate. [Renewed Opposition cheers.] Sir, I absolutely repudiate any suggestion of that kind. [Ministerial cheers.] In the first place, I decline to be criticised on such matters by right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon the front Opposition Bench. [Ministerial cheers.] They are altogether out of Court when the question before us is the liberty of Debate. [Ministerial cheers.] They have in their time done too much to curtail the liberty of Debate; they have exercised too often the tyranny of majorities—[Opposition laughter]—to make their criticism worth considering for a moment— [cheers]—when such a question as this is before us. Since the year 1880, when Mr. Gladstone came in with an overwhelming majority in this House, I believe—leaving on one side that famous incident in which the House passed certain resolutions for dealing with its own procedure, after having turned out every Irish representative who sits on the other side—[cheers and laughter]—but, leaving that little episode in the history of Parliamentary Government out of account—I say, without that, there has been since 1880 by Conservative Governments three stages of Bills closed by peremptory orders. There was the Committee stage and the Report stage of the Crimes Act of 1887—[Nationalist cheers]—and the Committee stage of what is known as the Parnell Commission. [Renewed Nationalist cheers.] Of the Parnell Commission I say nothing, as the circumstances are too long to detail. But of the Crimes Act, I would say that if the Bill were justified at all—perhaps it was not justified (hon. Gentlemen opposite say it was not; we say it was)—but if it were justified, it was absolutely imperative that it should be brought into existence without delay for the protection of property, life and order. [Cheers.] If ever the peremptory closing of a Bill was justified, it was justified in regard to the Bill of 1887. [Cheers.] That is the Conservative and Unionist record. The record of hon. Gentleman opposite is that since 1880 no fewer than eight stages of Bills, as compared with three, have been closed by hon. Gentlemen opposite in the same manner, and of these but a comparatively small number were justified by the motives to which I have referred as adequate grounds for the action we took in 1887. [Cheers.] No such ground could be taken with the Home Rule Bill— [cheers]—no such ground could be taken with the Evicted Tenants Bill; and, therefore, though I think I am bound to justify to the House of Commons the action that we have taken upon this Bill, I do not think I owe either justification or explanation to the Gentlemen who sit on that Bench. [Cheers.]


Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly give us particulars of the eight stages? ["Hear, hear!"]


There were two Coercion Bills brought in.


In what year?


One in 1881 and one in 1882. In each case both stages of these Bills were ended by peremptory means. That is four. Then the Committee stage and Report stage of the Home Rule Bill were ended.


After how many days?


The Committee stage and Report stage of the Home Rule Bill were alike ended by peremptory measures. That is six. The Committee and Report stages of the Evicted Tenants Bill were both ended by peremptory order. That is eight, and that is the total I gave. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman has his particulars, and I hope he is satisfied. [Laughter and cheers.] But, Sir, though I owe no explanation, no apologies, and no excuses to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, I think I am bound to justify to the House anything which may be exceptional, or which may seem exceptional, in the course which the Government have pursued on this Bill. One would suppose, from what hon. Gentlemen opposite have said, that Bills that have been contested never get through this House without amendment. Of course, the smallest experience will convince hon. Gentlemen that no phenomenon is more familiar. My right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Brodrick) has, I think, just passed a Bill without amendment. ["Hear, hear!"] I quite agree that when a Bill is long and complicated, it is almost certain that you will find in it inconsistencies and defects which will not stand examination, and which the Government, whatever their disposition may be, must for very shame correct. That I grant. I also grant it is a most familiar experience of those who have the conduct of Bills that it constantly happens that suggestions may be made in a Bill which is being treated in a friendly spirit on both sides of the House—suggestions which are not improvements, which may be even in some small degree the reverse of improvements, but which, for the sake of peace and of getting on with the business, the Minister in charge of the Bill is prepared to accept. But, Sir, to lay it down as a proposition that in a Bill as brief as is this—for the controversial part was not so much as a page—that the Government are bound to accept Amendments of which they disapprove, or to which they are indifferent, which they do not regard as improvements, for no other purpose than that of conciliating an unconciliatable Opposition, for no other purpose than to secure agreement which is not given, for no other purpose than to save time which will not be saved. To lay that down as a proposition governing Parliamentary procedure is an absurdity. [Cheers.] The old bogey has been dangled before gentlemen on this side of the House—"What will happen to you when you are in Opposition? Then the time will come when we, the present Opposition, will profit by and, it may be, improve on the example which you have set, and will mete out to you the measure which you have meted out to us." Sir, we have had so much worse treatment in the past—[cheers]—that we are not likely to be frightened by imaginary spectres of this kind. We, who have been subjected to the guillotine in one Bill after the other—[cheers, and Opposition cries of "No!"]—feel no unduly nervous tremors at these threats. [Ministerial cheers.] But this I will say, that if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will promise, when the day of their power comes, to treat us no worse upon any Measure than we have treated them upon this Bill, I shall be fully content, and I shall consider that we have done a great deal, not to shake, but to establish, freedom of Parliamentary discussion. [Laughter and ironical cheers.] Let me remind the House exactly what amount of time has been taken over this Bill. Recollect, the Bill, for controversial purposes, is confined to the first clause. Not one word has been uttered by any speaker to-night about the second, third, or fourth clause of the Measure. [Cries of "Yes," "Gray," and "Hart-Dyke."] Well, if five minutes have been occupied on ally other clause, it has been the outside, and not one Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite has alluded to any other clause but the first. For controversial purposes, therefore, it is a one-clause Bill, and that single clause, which is not long, has been the subject of controversy at every stage while the Bill has been before the House. That clause was discussed two days on the Resolution bringing in the Bill. [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] Then what did hon. Gentlemen discuss during those two days? Two days were occupied, and the only subject of debate was the proposals contained in this clause. [Opposition cries of "No!"] Hon. Gentlemen were either discussing what they understood or what they did not understand, and I assume that they understood what they were talking about. [Opposition cries of "We had never seen the clause!"] What sticklers hon. Gentlemen are! [Laughter.] I will put it in a way which will please them. They spent two days in discussing the propositions which, when they saw the Bill, they were fortunate enough to find were actually in the Bill. [Laughter and cheers.] Then they spent a day on the Report stage of the Resolution in discussing the same propositions. On the Second Reading they spent three days more, and then they spent one day on an Instruction. That is seven days. Then 12 days were occupied in Committee, of which it would be no exaggeration to say that ten were spent on the first clause. That altogether is 17 days spent on discussing proposals contained in one page of the Bill which I hope will be Read a Third time to-night. [Cheers.] I make this bargain with Members opposite, that when the wheel of fortune makes its turn, and when we or those who succeed us are sitting on those Benches, we shall be perfectly content in being allowed to discuss Bills introduced by right hon. Gentlemen opposite at that length. [Cheers.] To tell me that freedom of debate in this House is curtailed by methods of this kind, that there has not been adequate discussion of this bare and outworn subject after 18 days' debate, is to advance a proposition that the natural common sense of the House and of the country will not for a moment accept. [Cheers.] Let me say parenthetically, before leaving this subject—and as a comment on the methods pursued by hon. Gentlemen opposite—that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose has just told us that the first two Sub-sections of the Bill were each in their nature uncontroversial. ["Hear, hear!"] That he said in answer to my right hon. Friend behind me, and on these two uncontroversial Sub-sections there were 13 pages of amendments. [Ministerial "Hear, hear!" and laughter.] Let the House and the country judge of the methods by which this Bill has been opposed. [Ministerial cheers.] I leave the important point of Parliamentary procedure for the very few observations I shall make, or that it is necessary for me to make, on the substance of the Bill after the frequent, if not lengthy, speeches I have been obliged to address to the House or Committee on every stage of the Bill since its introduction. The only point with which really it is necessary for me to deal, after the exhaustive speech of my learned Friend on my right, is the assertion that the Bill is an injury to Nonconformists. It has been represented as if it is intended to take from Nonconformists something they already have, and to give to Churchmen, as contrasted with Nonconformists, something that Churchmen have not and ought not to have. A more preposterous proposition was never advanced in this House. ["Hear, hear!"] At all events this will be admitted, that, except for such, and I hope it will be a very small, fraction of the money which will go to the relief of subscriptions, the whole of this money will go, in the nature of things, to the improvement of education. In that education doubtless Churchmen will benefit, but by the very contention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who continually I complain of the number of Nonconformists who, under the existing law, have to send their children to schools under Church management—by the very contention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, any improvement in Voluntary Schools is for the benefit not of the Church of England, or of Roman Catholics or Wesleyans alone, but of every child who attends those schools. It is therefore a benefit, among others, to the Nonconformists, whose cause hon. Gentlemen opposite think it their duty to advocate. But, in the second place, let me remind the House that this Bill does not alter in the slightest degree the legal status or position of managers of Voluntary Schools, or the position of children who attend them. If there be a grievance, the grievance dates from 1870; if there be a grievance, that grievance was accepted by the representatives of Nonconformists themselves— [Opposition cries of No!"]—as part of the compromise of 1870. [Ministerial cheers.] I do not see how that can be denied, but if we probe to the bottom what hon. Gentlemen mean by the grievance of Nonconformists—or, perhaps, I ought to say, that portion of the Nonconformist body who think that the education in public elementary schools should be secular in its character—[Opposition cries of "Oh!"]—well, should never contain any religious teaching of a definite character. [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] Very well, the thing that underlies the grievance of which they complain is that the process of squeezing the Voluntary Schools out of existence will be arrested by the present Bill. That is not a grievance. They have no right to say, "We find a system in existence which exercises such pressure upon Voluntary Schools that we see that, within a measurable time, they will be compelled to strike their colours, and the Board Schools will in the vast majority of cases be substituted for them." They have no right to say they have a vested interest in any such system. They have no such vested interest. We have a claim to come forward, and say that in the interests of the old arrangement, be it good or bad, that was come to with the consent of the Non-conformists themselves. ["No!"] Do not let it be supposed that the compromise of 1870 was a favour to Churchmen. Like all compromises, it took from both sides something which both sides valued, and which, in my judgment, they had a right to value. ["Hear, hear!"] Such as it was, we come forward and, in the interests of that compromise, say, We have a right to keep alive that which in 1870 was regarded by the authors of the Bill of 1870 as an essential part of our national system of education. [Cheers.] And then comes forward the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Hawick Burghs, who attempts to thrust Scotland down our throats. He, never having read the Church Catechism in his life— [laughter]—talks as if it was a document directed against Nonconformists. Sir, let me tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that before he comes down and compares the denominationalism which universally, or almost universally, prevails in Scotland with the only denominationalism which the English Church desires to see in England, he ought to compare the Shorter Catechism taught in the Scottish Schools with the English Catechism in English Church Schools—[cheers]—and I am confident that, whatever taller result is borne in upon his mind in that comparison, he will not come to the conclusion that the English document is the more dogmatic of the two. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not think anybody who reads with impartiality the English Catechism—excluded from every English Board School, although the Scotch Shorter Catechism is permitted in every Scotch school—will find that the English Catechism compares with its Scotch companion in the dogmatic character of its teaching. ["Hear, hear!"] I need say nothing more upon this Bill, on which it has been my fortune so often to address the House. I desire to make no undue claim on its behalf. I admit now, as I have admitted throughout, in the first place, that it is a modest Bill. I admit it does not do all that those interested in Voluntary Schools desire to see done. I admit that what it does is insufficient to meet the case. I grant all that. In the second place, I am also prepared to admit that the Measure is not only a modest Measure, but that it is an experimental Measure. [Opposition cheers.] The success of the experiment depends only, in the first instance, upon the skill, or want of skill, as hon. Gentlemen opposite perhaps think, in the drafting and the framing of the Measure, and only, in a secondary success, upon the action of the Education Department. Its success depends primarily and essentially upon the action which the Voluntary School managers themselves are prepared to take in putting the Act in force. I still cherish, after all these Debates, and after, I hope, an impartial consideration of all the criticisms addressed to me from both sides of the House—whether from those who are represented by my two noble Friends the Member for Rochester and the Member for Greenwich on the one side, or those represented by Gentlemen opposite on the other—the hope that, if the managers of the Voluntary Schools will set themselves to work in a spirit, not of separatism or of isolation, but with regard to a common good and a common object, to use for the best advantage this not inconsiderable grant which the State is now giving them, it will prove not insufficient to meet the great and, I grant, the growing needs of our Voluntary Schools. [Cheers.] If my prophecies, perhaps my optimistic prophecies, are fulfilled, and if the managers of these Voluntary Schools, to whatever denomination they may belong, set themselves to work in this broad and liberal spirit to deal with the advantages we are now conferring

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Barry, A. H. Smith- (Hunts) Boulnois, Edmund
Aird, John Bartley, George C. T. Bousfield, William Robert
Allan, William (Gateshead) Bass, Hamar Bowles, Major H. F.(Middlesex)
Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Brassey, Albert
Ambrose, William (Middlesex) Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John
Arnold, Alfred Beach, W. W. Bramston (Hants.) Brookfield, A. Montagu
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Beckett, Ernest William Bucknill, Thomas Townsend
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull Butcher, John George
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bemrose, Henry Howe Campbell, James A.
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Carlile, William Walter
Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth Bethell, Commander Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Bhownaggree, M. M. Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbyshire)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Bigham, John Charles Cayzer, Charles William
Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness) Bigwood, James Cecil, Lord Hugh
Balcarres, Lord Bill, Charles Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.
Baldwin, Alfred Blundell, Colonel Henry Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.(Birm.)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Bond, Edward Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry
Balfour, Gerald William (Leeds) Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Charrington, Spencer

upon them, I am convinced not merely that a great deal, perhaps enough, will have been done permanently to preserve as an element in our great educational system the Voluntary Schools of this country, but that we shall have performed not an inconsiderable work in improving the education in our elementary schools, both in country and in urban districts, that education on which such high hopes are built on both sides of the House, and which, whether they are destined to be realised or not, every one must admit are calculated to produce immense benefit to the children, not merely of Churchmen of Roman Catholics, of Wesleyans, or other sectarian bodies, but of the whole body of children to whatever communion their parents may belong. [Cheers.] These seem to me to be sufficient reasons why the House, after these long and animated Debates, should affirm by a large majority, so far as we are concerned, at all events, that this Bill should be adopted as a permanent part of our statutes. [Loud Ministerial cheers.]

Question put.—The House divided:—Ayes, 331; Noes, 133.—(Division List—No. 147—appended).

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Barry, A. H. Smith- (Hunts) Boulnois, Edmund
Aird, John Bartley, George C. T. Bousfield, William Robert
Allan, William (Gateshead) Bass, Hamar Bowles, Major H. F.(Middlesex)
Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Brassey, Albert
Ambrose, William (Middlesex) Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John
Arnold, Alfred Beach, W. W. Bramston (Hants.) Brookfield, A. Montagu
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Beckett, Ernest William Bucknill, Thomas Townsend
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull Butcher, John George
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bemrose, Henry Howe Campbell, James A.
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Carlile, William Walter
Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth Bethell, Commander Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Bhownaggree, M. M. Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbyshire)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Bigham, John Charles Cayzer, Charles William
Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness) Bigwood, James Cecil, Lord Hugh
Balcarres, Lord Bill, Charles Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.
Baldwin, Alfred Blundell, Colonel Henry Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.(Birm.)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Bond, Edward Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry
Balfour, Gerald William (Leeds) Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Charrington, Spencer
Chelsea, Viscount Goschen, Rt.Hn.G.J.(St. G'rges) Maclean, James Mackenzie
Clare, Octavius Leigh Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Maclure, John William
Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth) Goulding, Edward Alfred MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Graham, Henry Robert McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Gray, Ernest (West Ham MacCalmont, Maj.-Gen.(Ant'mN)
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Green, Walford D.(Wednesbury) McCarthy, Justin
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) McGhee, Richard
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.) M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Gretton, John McIver, Sir Lewis
Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd) Greville, Captain McKillop, James
Cox, Robert Gull, Sir Cameron Malcolm, Ian
Cranborne, Viscount Gunter, Colonel Manners, Lord Edward Wm. J.
Crean, Eugene Halsey, Thomas Frederick Marks, Henry Hananel
Crilly, Daniel Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo. Martin, Richard Biddulph
Cripps, Charles Alfred Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.
Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Hardy, Laurence Max well, Sir Herbert E.
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Hare, Thomas Leigh Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)
Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W.) Havelock-Allan, General Sir H. Melville, Beresford Valentine
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Heath, James Milbank, Powlett Charles John
Dalbiac, Major Philip Hugh Heaton, John Henniker Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Dalkeith, Earl of Helder, Augustus Milner, Sir Frederick George
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter Milward, Colonel Victor
Daly, James Hoare Edw. Brodie (Hampstead) Monckton, Edward Philip
Darling, Charles John Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Monk, Charles James
Davenport, W. Bromley Hobhouse, Henry Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)
Davitt, Michael Hogan, James Francis Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.)
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Hornby, William Henry Morrell, George Herbert
Dillon, John Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Mount, William George
Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. Dixon Howard, Joseph Muntz, Philip A.
Donelan, Captain A. Howell, William Tudor Murdoch, Charles Townshend
Doogan, P. C. Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle Murnaghan, George
Dorington, Sir John Edward Hozier, James Henry Cecil Murray,Rt. Hn. A. Graham(Bute)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S. Hudson, George Bickersteth Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Doxford, William Theodore Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice- Myers, William Henry
Drage, Geoffery Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.) Nicol, Donald Ninian
Drucker, A. Isaacson, Frederick Wootton Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Jebb, Richard Claverhouse O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)
Edwards, Gen. Sir.James Bevan Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)
Fardell, Thomas George Johnston, William (Belfast) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Farrell, James P. (Cavan, W.) Jolliffe, Hon. H. George O'Kelly, James
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Kemp, George O'Malley William
Fergusson Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manch.) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Kenny, William Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Fielden, Thomas Kenrick, William Parkes, Ebenezer
Finch, George H. Kenyon, James Parnell, John Howard.
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Pease, Arthur (Darlington)
Fisher, William Hayes Kimber, Henry Pender, James
Fison, Frederick William King, Sir Henry Seymour Penn, John
FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose Lafone, Alfred Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Fitz Wygram, General Sir F. Laurie, Lieut.-General Pierpoint, Robert
Flannery, Fortescue Lawrence, Edwin (Cornwall) Pinkerton, John
Flavin, Michael Joseph Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Fletcher, Sir Henry Lecky, William Edward H. Plunkett, Hon. Horace Curzon
Flower, Ernest Legh, Hon. Thomas W. (Lane.) Pollock, Harry Frederick
Flynn, James Christopher Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Folkestone, Viscount Leighton, Stanley Power, Patrick Joseph
Forster, Henry William Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a) Pretyman, Capt. Ernest George
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. (Essex) Pryce-Jones, Edward
Fowler, Matthew (Durham) Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Purvis, Robert
Fry, Lewis Long Col. Charles W.(Evesh'm) Pym, C. Guy
Galloway, William Johnson Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool) Quilter, William Cuthbert
Garfit, William Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Rankin, James
Gedge, Sydney Lorne, Marquess of Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lond.) Lowles, John Renshaw, Charles Bine
Giles, Charles Tyrrell Loyd, Archie Kirkman Richardson, Thomas
Gilliat John Saunders Lucas-Shadwell, William Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W
Godson, Augustus Frederick Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson
Goldsworthy, Major-General Macaleese, Daniel Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Gordon, John Edward Macartney, W. G. Ellison Round, James
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Macdona, John Cumming Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)
Russell, Sir George (Berksh.) Strauss, Arthur Wharton, John Lloyd
Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L.)
Saunderson, Col. Edw. James Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Savory, Sir Joseph Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.) Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard Sutherland, Sir Thomas Williams, Joseph Powell (Bir.)
Seely, Charles Hilton Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Seton-Karr, Henry Talbot, John G.(Oxford Univ.) Willox, John Archibald
Sharpe, William Edward T. Thornton, Percy M. Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks)
Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) Tollemache, Henry James Wodehouse, Edmond R. (Bath)
Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.) Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Skewes-Cox, Thomes Valentia, Viscount Wylie, Alexander
South, Abel (Herts) Verney, Hon. Richard Greville Wyndham, George
Smith, Abel (Christchurch) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand) Wanklyn, James Leslie Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Spencer, Ernest Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent) Younger, William
Stanley, Lord (Lanes.) Warr, Augustus Frederick
Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset) Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras) TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Mr.
Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth) Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of Wight) Anstruther and Lord Arthur
Stewart, Sir Mark J. McTaggart Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E. Hill.
Stone, Sir Benjamin Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Acland, Rt. Hon. A. H. Dyke Fenwick, Charles Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham
Allen, Wm. (Newc.under Lyme) Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Perks, Robert William
Allison, Robert Andrew Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Arch, Joseph Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (Wol'tn) Pirie, Captain Duncan Vernon
Asher, Alexander Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John Price, Robert John
Ashton, Thomas Gair Goddard, Daniel Ford Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Gold, Charles Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Atherley-Jones, L. Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley Randell, David
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Griflith, Ellis J. Reckitt, Harold James
Bainbridge Emerson Haldane, Richard Burdon Rickett, J. Compton
Baker, Sir John Harrison, Charles Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. Blair (Clackm.) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Robson, William Snowdon
Barlow, John Emmott Hazell, Walter Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hedderwick, Thomas Charles H. Schwann, Charles E.
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Holburn, J. G. Scott, Charles Prestwich
Billson, Alfred Holden, Angus Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Birrell, Augustine Horniman, Frederick John Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Souttar, Robinson
Brigg, John Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Spicer, Albert
Broadhurst, Henry Joicey, Sir James Stevenson, Francis S.
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea) Strachey, Edward
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Burt, Thomas Kearley, Hudson E. Tennant, Harold John
Buxton, Sydney Charles Labouchre, Henry Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Caldwell, James Lambert, George Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)
Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow) Langley, Batty Ure, Alexander
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land) Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Leng, Sir John Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Leuty, Thomas Richmond Walton, John Lawson
Causton, Richard Knight Lewis, John Herbert Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Channing, Francis Allston Lockwood, Sir Frank (York) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Clark, Dr. G. B.(Caithness-shire) Logan, John William Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
Clough, Walter Owen Lough, Thomas Wills, Sir William Henry
Colville, John McEwan, William Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)
Cozens-Hardy, Herbert Hardy McKenna, Reginald Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Crombie, John William Maden, John Henry Woodall William
Dalziel, James Henry Morgan. J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Woodhouse, Sir.J. T. (Hud'rsf'ld)
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan) Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Woods, Samuel
Davies, W. Rees-(Pembrokesh.) Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose) Yoxall, James Henry
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Mundella, Rt. Hn. Anthony John
Dixon, George Norton, Captain Cecil William
Dunn, Sir William Nussey, Thomas Willans TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Mr.
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Oldroyd, Mark Thomas Ellis and Mr.
Evans, Sir Francis H.(South'ton) Owen, Thomas McArthur
Evershed, Sydney Paulton, James Mellor
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb)

Bill read the Third time, amidst loud Ministerial cheers, and passed.