HC Deb 09 March 1899 vol 68 cc296-7
MR. HUBBARD (Lambeth, Brixton)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the admittedly unsatisfactory working of the Conscience Clause, the Government will, in the interests of religious liberty, bring in a Short Bill at an early date to amend the Education Act, 1870, and provide that any child withdrawn from religious teaching at an elementary school under the Conscience Clause may be also withdrawn from the school during such period for the bond fide purpose of obtaining religious instruction elsewhere?


I agree with my honourable Friend that there are cases in which the Conscience Clause does not work satisfactorily. Perhaps they are not so great as is sometimes supposed, al- though they undoubtedly exist. If I understand my honourable Friend's proposal right, it is very much on the lines of a clause we introduced in the Bill of 1896, and, therefore, naturally, I am disposed to look at it with sympathy and favour. I cannot, however, promise legislation on the subject. It is impossible in the present state of legislation to add to our programme, and though no doubt it might be in our power to bring in a short Bill, I can hardly guarantee on that Bill that the discussions would be equally short.