§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 4:—
§ (2.35.) MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
moved to leave out sub-section 1. He said that this sub-section made it impossible for a local education authority to require that any school or college assisted by them should be undenominational. That raised the whole question of whether the State should pay for religious instruction. As a Nonconformist he would take that first opportunity of contending for this fundamental principle that it did not fall within the right—and he would go so far as to say within the province—of any Government to teach religion to the people, and he did not see how any Government could undertake to do so without falling either into injustice or into immorality, on the ground that either the State, assuming to be a higher judge of religious truth, must make a selection of the church or churches to be established, and must, in so doing, discountenance and injure other churches in proportion to the favour shown to the members of the selected communion—and he said that was manifestly unjust—or else, assuming that all doctrines and rites are of equal value, it must patronise all alike, and that would be eminently immoral. He thought he had very good grounds for this contention, and he would like to support his contention by a very short quotation from a speech delivered by an authority who certainly would be recognised in the House as a high authority. Though the speech was made some years ago, it was just as true and as vital, and had as great a bearing on the subject today, as it was, and had, the day it was delivered. These were the words—Let the State keep to its own proper work and fit its children to take their places as citizens of a great Empire, and let us leave 541 their religious training and fill that concerns their education for the kingdom which is not of this world to the care of the churches and the responsibility of parents.These were words uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies at a meeting of Nonconformists in the county in which he resided, and were words which he had always cherished as exactly carrying out the views which he personally held on this great question. He wished the Colonial Secretary were in the House today to reiterate those words, which came from him then with so much force and would come from him today with greater force. In a great debate in the House in 1847, Mr. Bright made a very strong speech in reply to a charge that the opposition of Nonconformists was "clamour out of doors." He thought he had heard that same charge made in regard to this Bill, and he thought he had heard the First Lord of the Treasury even asserting that such clamour as there was was only on public platforms outside and really did not exist in the House. Mr. Bright said—Just recollect, when the whole Nonconformists are charged with clamour, what they mean by being Nonconformists. They object, and I object, to the principle by which Government seizes public funds in order to give salaries and support to the teachers of all sects of religion, or of one sect of religion, for I think one plan as unjust as the other. Either the Nonconformists hold this opinion, or they are an imposture; they object to any portion of public money going to teachers of religion belonging either to the Established Church or to Dissenting bodies; they object to receiving it themselves; their very principle is that the Government has no right to appropriate public funds for the purpose of religious instruction.These were very strong words. He admitted there were men amongst the body of Nonconformists who did not agree with him wholly, but he thought they would agree that Mr. Bright was considered to have fully understood what were the views of Nonconformity when he spoke these words, and that he earned the cordial gratitude of Nonconformists by the courage and earnestness with which he avowed and defended them in the face of the House of Commons. The principle Mr. Bright laid down in the House was as true today as it was then, and it was an opinion held by millions in this country today. It was the same principle which Nonconformists contended for when they so strenuously resisted the payment of church rates. They contended 542 for that, not because the amount of these rates was a burdensome amount; in many cases it was a mere trifling thing. Nor did they contend for that because the money they would have to contribute through the rates was applied to support forms of teaching which they held erroneous, but simply and solely because they disallowed the right of the State, or of any authority empowered by the State, to make compulsory exactions for religious purposes at all. This principle, in their judgment, lay at the very root of the doctrine of religious liberty, for if the State was given the right to compel one man to pay for the teaching of another man's religion, or, as was done under this Bill, compelled everybody to pay for the religious instruction of everybody else, and to enforce this as it must be enforced, or else the Bill would be no use at all, against recalcitrant conscience, by penalties of law, by fines, distraints, and even imprisonments, they passed at once; into the region of religious persecution. If it was said in answer to this contention that this right had been admitted in some directions already, he said that was no reason whatever why it should be recognised and consecrated anew by fresh legislation. It was one thing to acquiesce in an anomaly which had come to us through years, it was quite another thing to re-enact it. That was what they were doing in this subsection. There had been many apostles of the principles he advocated that day, and amongst them there was the veritable pioneer in the great education, war of this country, the late Dr. Dale, He would like to put this truth before the House in words he uttered. He said—We forbid no man to give religious instruction to his own children. If we did, we should violate the principles of religious liberty. We forbid no man to pay other people to give religious instruction to his children. If we did, we should violate the principles of religious liberty. We forbid no man to receive religious instruction gratuitously from those who are willing to give it for nothing. If we did we should violate the principles of religious liberty. But we do not acknowledge the right of the parent to require the community to pay rates towards the support of schools not under the control of the ratepayers, in order that his child might be taught a sectarian faith.That was exactly the position in which they stood in regard to this sub-section. No one denied the right of the Church 543 to provide for the religious instruction of its own adherents. What they did deny was the right of the church to demand the assistance of public money in order to enable it to make that provision. He believed these words expressed the feeling which was in the minds of Nonconformists all over the country on this matter, and especially did they feel the hardship in regard to the training colleges which were dealt with under this particular Clause. There had been abundant evidence given of the grave injustice of sustaining denominational training colleges out of national funds. Although about one-fourth of the original expenses in erection was provided by the State, and nearly three-fourths of the annual income came from the same source, yet these institutions had been conducted on the most narrow and exclusive principles. Dr. Bruce of Huddersfield had pointed out that pupil teachers from board and undenominational schools, Nonconformists, and others having a strong desire and evident talent for serving their country as educators of youth, had been prevented from entering upon their profession with full qualifications because they could not be admitted into the existing colleges without violating their consciences by conforming to religious ceremonies and accepting religious creeds of which they did not approve. He held, and he felt sure he was speaking the minds of a great many others, in saying these training colleges ought to be national institutions open to all and absolutely without any kind of tests. Yet it was proposed to perpetuate the grievance which had existed already too long. He would only say in conclusion that it was not they who had raised this question. They had not sought this controversy. They were the provoked party. They were challenged. The gauntlet had been thrown down in their faces, and they would be cowards and traitors if they did not defend themselves and their principles. He was not concerned to defend the personal rights of Nonconformists or their prestige, but what he was concerned with was the rights of conscience, the rights of the people, and the cause of civil and religious liberty. He desired to lay down this broad principle, that education, elementary or secondary, aided by the 544 State, paid for out of the taxes, should be popular, unsectarian, free from the teaching of creeds and catechisms, and free from the control of priests and churches.
Amendment proposed—In page 2, line 9, to leave out sub-section (1)."—(Mr. Goddard.)Question put. "That the words 'A Council in the application of money under this part of this Act' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
said he joined with his lion, friend in his earnest, eloquent and consistent protest against the Clause. This was a matter which affected the conscience of Nonconformists far more deeply than any other question in the Bill. The section raised the whole religious difficulty, and would create much feeling throughout the length and breadth of the land if insisted upon. It would do injury to the Church of England which was little dreamt of. During the past few years the question of Disestablishment had fallen into the background, but persistence in this section would resuscitate the whole demand for religious equality throughout the State—the demand for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of England. He did not know whether the authors of this Bill had contemplated what their work was likely to do in that direction. If they had not realised the never-dying fight which the proposal would provoke in the land, it was time for them to do so. This was a matter which aroused more bitter animosity in the minds of Nonconformists than any other portion of the Bill, and those who thought the Nonconformists were likely to accept the section, knew little of the Nonconformist spirit. The contentions raised by it were such as had not been experienced since the days of the old church rate system. He remembered those days, for his father was one who suffered persecution and loss. The spirit which animated Nonconformists in those days was not yet dead. How could they expect to secure truthful men and women to teach in their public schools if they insisted, as a condition of their employment that they should repudiate the faith of their fathers and the 545 church of their ancestors? The, Government were going, by public funds, to teach principles of religion to which probably half the nation did not subscribe. It a poor youth or girl required to go into the teaching world they must either subscribe to religious creeds they die] not believe in, or they would be ejected from their employment.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I rise to order. I wish to ask whether the line of argument of the hon. Member is relevant to the Amendment.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I see nothing in this sub-section having reference to tests for teachers. There is an Amendment later on which raises the question of schools for teachers.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
I understand my hon. friend's argument to be that the section if adopted, would lead to the establishment of a large number of sectarian schools, and students would be excluded from them if they did not happen to belong to a particular denomination.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I think that it is a very far-fetched argument. It might possibly apply to an Amendment later on, but it does not seem to me pertinent at the present stage.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I would submit that the Clause is so drawn that it would prevent the local authority from saying that the rules of a particular school or college are so exclusive and illiberal that they ought not to aid it.
§ (3.0.) THE VICE-PRESIDENT of the COMMITTEE of COUNCIL on EDUCATION (Sir JOHN GORST,) Cambridge University
said that that was exactly what this Clause did not say. What the Clause did say was that the County Council was not to give a grant to any school on the ground that some particular form of worship was practised in that school.
* THE CHAIRMAN
said that as he understood the matter, by this Clause the local educational authority would take no thought whatever in the distribution of the money as to the particular 546 form of religion that was taught or was not taught in any school; in other words, that they should not insist on any religious test being applied.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said he should not enter into any contention with the Chairman on this particular matter.
said that as he understood his hon. friend, his Amendment was to give the power to the local authority to say whether a religious test was to be imposed or not.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said that, in his judgment, under this Clause there would be religious oppression, and that teachers of both sexes of Nonconformist faith would be excluded from pursuing their employment. If the Government intended so to amend the Clause as to make that impossible, then his argument would fall to the ground. His contention was that in pushing a Bill of this kind through the House, the Government ought to say that there was no possibility of a disqualification for the employment of teachers on religious grounds. What was wanted was equal rights to all religionists in regard to employment in the service of the State, and that there should be no disqualification on religious grounds imposed on young people entering the teaching profession. He sincerely trusted that the First Lord of the Treasury, who had shown a desire to conciliate opinion in all parts of the House, would now take this opportunity of giving an assurance that the language in no part or section of the Bill would he applied to disqualify teachers on account of their religious convictions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said it would greatly conduce to the proper discussion of the very difficult and thorny questions, raised by this Clause, if they were as far as possible to dissociate one problem from another, and proceed to discuss them seriatim. That was not a very easy thing to do, but he hoped the Committee would second any efforts ho might make in that direction. He would therefore 547 venture to deprecate the bringing in at that stage of the question the question of training colleges. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester had asked for an assurance from him that there should be nothing in the Bill to make it difficult for the children of Nonconformist parents anxious to enter the teaching profession, to have the necessary training without violating their consciences, or giving up the faith of their forefathers. He had spoken very often on the subject of the training of teachers in the course of these discussions, and had insisted, over and over again, that one of the great advantages of the system established by the Bill, as compared with the existing system, was that under it there would be ample opportunity for the training of the children of Nonconformists for the teaching profession—a training which he recognised was not now adequately given in certain parts of the country. So far as the general spirit of the Government was concerned, there should not be any conflict between the hon. Gentleman and them, although there might not be absolute agreement as to the means by which that object was to be attained. Really, the issue raised by the Amendment was whether they should or should not lay down in an Act of Parliament, dealing with a secondary system of education, that no aid should be given to any school in which religion of any kind, sort, or description was taught. That was what the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment said it came to. The principle laid down by the hon. Member was a plain and simple one, and that was that according to the Nonconformist view, as he represented it—although he thought there were a great number of Nonconformists who would not agree with the hon. Member—no aid whatever ought to be given out of the public funds to secondary schools in which religion in any shape, denominational or undenominational, was taught. He thought that the hon. Gentleman in laying down that principle ran counter to the whole feeling of the community and the whole feeling of the parents, to whatever sect these parents belonged. He would respectfully suggest that, in dealing with the education of children, some regard should be paid to the feelings of the parents of these children. He wished to 548 say a word in regard to the educational aspect of this question. They were now dealing with secondary schools which, to a large extent, were boarding schools, in which the children, having left the immediate guardianship of their parents, were put under the guardianship of the schoolmasters. Were they to lay down that these children were not to be taught any religion at all? [HON. members on the Opposition Benches: No one said so.] Was that doctrine to be preached? He did not want to put up an idol in order to knock it over again; but that was what the hon. Gentleman was really trying to lay down. He did not wish to argue a thing which no one maintained, but he understood that the mover of the Amendment said that no school in which any religion at all was taught should receive aid.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that there was a conscience Clause for the day schools. The question of the conscience Clause could be raised later on. But what was raised by the Amendment was that no school was to be eligible for aid if religion was taught in it. [HON. MEMBERS on the Opposition Benches: No, no! and Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear!"] He had already told the House that that was an outrage on the parents of this country. He now said that that would be the ruin of education in this country. Was that the way to coordinate secondary education in this country? Whether they looked at it from the point of view of the parents, or from the point of view of education, he hoped they would all agree not to lay down so ruinous a proposition as that no public aid should be given to any secondary school in which religion was taught. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment accused the Government of having thrown down the gauntlet and of having raised this controversy; and he said that he and his friends would be cowards if they did 549 not take up the challenge. He would most earnestly and respectfully beg the hon. Member to consider whether it was possible, in dealing practically with education in this country, to avoid this controversy. Did the hon. Gentleman think it was within the compass of the wit of man to try to co-ordinate a great system of primary and secondary education in this country without raising this question? The difficulties were very great, so great, indeed, that he observed that the Secondary Education Report, produced by the Commission of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen was chairman, never alluded to it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that that contradicts what I said just now.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
You said you were not going to refer to it.—The right hon. Gentleman's interruption at all events gave him this comfort, it had been found possible, under the existing law, including the Welsh Act, to give aid to secondary schools, in which religion was taught; and the system wo ked smoothly. That was also found possible under the Technical Instruction Act in England. It worked smoothly and harmoniously, [and yet] the Welsh Act was as great a violation of the dogmatic principle laid down by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment as anything in the Bill before the Committee. Under those circumstances he ventured to suggest to the Committee to come to a decision on this preliminary question as 550 to whether they were to exclude religion altogether from rate-aided secondary schools. Then the way would be clear to discuss the more difficult, and as he ventured to think, the more controversial proposition as to the precise limitations under which that aid ought or ought not to be given.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
said that the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him to have misrepresented, not only the speech of his hon. friend, but the Clause in his own Bill, because he put it distinctly to the Committee, with great emphasis, that what was now proposed was that no money should be given to any public school where religion was taught. That had nothing to do with the Clause in the Bill, which said that a council should not require that any particular form of religious instruction should or should not be taught or practised in a school. When one of his hon. friends pointed that out. there was a laugh on the other side; but everyone knew that if religion were taught at all there must be a certain degree of form in it. Everyone knew on the other hand what was meant by such an expression as "any particular form of religious instruction." That was any particular form of instruction in the Christian religion which would exclude or except the members of one particular sect. The whole question lay in that. There were different ways in which one could regard the great question of teaching religion in the schools. There were those who said that it was so impossible to teach religion without trenching upon conscience that it was better not to attempt it at all. That was one class of opinion on the subject. There was another class of opinion which said "Let us allow no teaching according to the exclusive tenets of any particular sect; but allow teaching of such a kind as shall be conformable to the principles, and in accordance with the sentiments of the great mass of professing Christians in the country." That was the solution which had been followed, and had been dictated by the feeling of the people of the country. They were always told that the parents of the children and the general sentiment of the people insisted upon this particular form 551 of religious instruction. All the Opposition said was that in the Clause it should not be laid down that a council should require that any particular form of religion should be taught. By abolishing the sub-section altogether, they left to the council power to say that they would not approve of the application of money under this part of the Act where a particular form of religious instruction or worship was practised. That was the principle he approved; and, therefore, he would support the Amendment.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said he had never heard a more extraordinary speech than that to which they had just listened. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that religion could be taught which had no particular form. He should like to ask what religion that was. The right hon. Gentleman said it was to be some sort of religion, of which the majority of the people approved, and apparently the right hon. Gentleman would limit it to the Christian religion. There was no such limitation in the words of the Clause. The religion which the right hon. Gentleman desired to see taught might be any religion whatsoever. It might be Mahommedanism plus Catholicism or Buddhism plus the Baptist religion. It was perfectly clear no such religion could exist. The point simply was that the Clause was one giving absolute freedom. It said that a school was not to be disqualified, either because a particular form of religion was taught, or was not taught. That was simply freedom and equality. Who were in favour of religious equality? Surely it was those who said that a school should not be disqualified from being a part of the educational system of the country, because a particular form of religion was or was not taught in it. The people who were the enemies of educational progress were those who said that a school, which was voluntary in the sense that children were not compelled to attend it, should be disqualified because a particular form of religion, which a large number of people wished to have taught, was taught in it. He could not conceive anything more narrow-minded or bigoted than the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman. For his part, as a friend of educational progress, he would 552 allow any parent to give the child an education, whether elementary or primary, according to the doctrines in which he believed. The Clause was perfectly free and open, and ought to be supported. If they wished to make progress they ought to bring all schools, whether elementary or secondary, up to a proper standard; and as long as that was done, they ought to allow the parents to choose what religion was to be taught to the children. He did not see why any school should be penalised because it taught, or did not teach a particular form of religion. He hoped the Government would stand to the principle in the Clause, which was simply an additional safeguard for religious equality and educational progress.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea, District)
said he thought some difficulty had arisen because the Committee had not fully grasped the true construction of the Clause. When he first read the clause, he thought it was a concession on the part of the Government to the Nonconformist opinion of the country; but he thought a moment's consideration would convince the Committee that the structure of the Clause was such as would not carry out that intention, if that were the intention. What was in the mind of the draftsman? By Part I of the Bill the local education authority was created, by Part II certain powers over higher education were given to that authority, by Clause 3 concurrent powers were given to these districts. That was the position if Clause 4 had no existence. What then could the County Councils do in the districts to which he had referred? There were either endowed schools of a fairly good character or else private schools of a bad character and bad efficiency. Take the case of a very deserving school carried on perhaps by a Roman Catholic which had 100 boarding scholars and 150 day scholars; would it not be in the power of the County Council to give some assistance to that private adventure? If that was the case, then it appeared to him that the very evil which it was desired to avoid did arise, because this Bill gave power to the County 553 Council to frankly subsidise schools which were teaching a particular form of religion, and this Clause, which he thought at first was a substantial concession, turned out to be no concession whatever. The Clause simply said the County Council should not act on its own motion as the acting propagator of a particular form of religion. It did not get rid of what they wanted to get rid of, which was aiding a school in which one particular form of religion was practised. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that the question of leaving out the sub-section did not enable the Committee to have a substantial discussion on whether there should or should not be aid given to schools teaching one form of religion.
§ *(3.38.) SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said that he objected to this Amendment because it disturbed that peace which, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen had truly said reigned at the grammar schools, owing to the circumstance that the recommendations of the Commission have been carried out to a large extent by the Acts of 1869 and 1873. The Amendment was not in favour of liberty. The Clause said that the Councils should not require that any particular form of religious instruction or worship should or should not be taught or practised in any school or college. The Amendment was to enable the Councils to say that they would refuse grants because in certain schools there was practised a certain form of religion. In Bradford they had a Church institution which had on more than one occasion received honour at the hands of South Kensington, and on one occasion the very highest that institution could confer; and he wished to know why the educational authority in Bradford was to be compelled to take away the grant of £100 given to the Church institution, whilst a grant to do exactly the same thing should be given to another institution. The work was good, and he protested altogether against its being stultified. Leeds Church Middle Class School received a grant of no less than,£500. Why was that school to be penalised because it taught the doctrine of the Church of England as part of its curriculum? At Sheffield a Church of England institution received a £100 grant; why was that school to be fined 554 because the teaching was in accordance with the doctrine of the Church of England? To confiscate these grants would be an act of injustice, he might almost say persecution. He thought the Clause was in favour of liberty, and therefore he would support it. Those who favoured the Amendment were not in favour of liberty.
§ MR. BRYCE
desired to correct a misapprehension into which the two hon. Members who had spoken from the opposite side of the House seemed to have fallen with regard to the nature of the Amendment. What the County Council was not to say was, "we will not give you a grant unless you unsectarianise your teaching." The other part of the subsection was that the County Council was not to be permitted to inquire into or consider the merits of an institution on the ground that that institution was sectarian. The sub-section forbade the County Council to take into consideration the question of whether an institution was denominational or not. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment objected to the second part of the section only. The real question was, ought it to be in the power of the County Council to make a grant to a sectarian institution because it was sectarian. If that were so, the Amendment would not have the effect which hon. Members opposite hoped. This Clause was not a Clause of freedom. It did not, it was true, penalise the schools, but if it penalised anybody it penalised the County Council. He did not intend to discuss the question at this stage, he simply put before the Committee the meaning of the Clause. If the Amend-mend were accepted it would leave the hands of County Councils absolutely free. It was the object of the Amendment to untie the hands of the County Councils, for the reason, he supposed, that they could trust those authorities, if they thought a sectarian school was the best school to aid, to aid that sectarian school, and if they thought it was not the best, then they were not compelled to aid it.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
said that the effect of the first subsection of this Clause might be divided into two parts, viz., the attitude of the 555 new authority towards existing schools and colleges, and its attitude towards schools or colleges it might itself erect. The description given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to the attitude of the authority to existing colleges was practically correct. The proposal would set the council free; it might penalise the school. But the attitude of the authority towards colleges it might itself build was a very dubious one under the Clause. With regard to existing institutions, the effect of the sub-section was that, upon an application being made for a grant, the County Council should not take into consideration whether or not religious teaching of a particular form was given. He had in mind a county grammar school of practically world-wide reputation. The County Council at present gave to that institution a subsidy of £50 per annum, but had stated again and again that if they had the funds they would make an increased contribution. That was the attitude of the existing council. But the complexion of the Council might be changed triennially, or annually, and the effect of the Amendment would be to leave every school or college at the mercy of a fluctuating majority on the County Council. That majority might be Church in its tendencies one year, Nonconformist the next, and possibly care for neither in the third, so that the grants might be made one year and withheld the next, according to the character of the majority of the council. Surely that could not be said to be to the advantage of popular education. The clause provided that the council should leave the question of religious instruction severely alone. This was not a question of day scholars. It could not here be urged that the religious instruction should be given in the home or on the Sunday. The children were in these schools month after month, and they would either have to have the religious instruction or be separated from it altogether. The plea put forward was as fallacious as could be imagined, viz., that a form of religion should be devised which might be taught in all schools without offence to anybody. It was the religion known as Undenominationalism. One of the most eloquent speeches he ever heard in the House was delivered by the late 556 Dr. Wallace, when he pointed out that it was impossible to avoid being dogmatic unless they were dumb; that the moment they laid down a single tenet of the Christian faith they were as dogmatic as they could be, and that there was no separating religion into two classes—one dogmatic, and the other not. An hon. Member on the other side had said that what they objected to was the subsidising of dogmatic instruction. The instruction in the Board schools today was as dogmatic as anything could be. Did that give peace and contentment to all? Members declared they would be content to aid schools in which the foundations of a common Christian faith were taught. Did they recollect the disturbances in the London School Board a few years ago, when an attempt was made to define the word "Christian"? Where did the Unitarian come in then? If an attempt was made to satisfy one single section, the Committee would be driven to one of two conclusions. One was that they must banish religious instruction from the school entirely. But any House of Commons who attempted to do so would be overwhelmed by public indignation. The great majority of the parents of the country might be apathetic as a rule, but when stirred on this question, they were determined that their children should couple secular with religious instruction. The only other position was fully to recognise the right of one and all. There was no medium plan. There was no common religion which all could accept. Nonconformists protested against Anglicanism, Churchmen protested against Nonconformity, and Catholics protested against both. Moreover, one form of religion would not satisfy all Nonconformity. As a friend of his from Bethesda said, in 1896—You people in the House of Commons are dealing with one Churchmanship and one Nonconformity; but we in Bethesda are seven, and if you satisfy one section, the other six will be discontented.It must be laid down that the authority should shut out of its purview the particular form of religion taught in a school, and give a subsidy if good secular work was being done, whether the school was associated with the Church of 557 England, the Catholics or the Nonconformists; or professed no religion whatever. There was no alternative. What was there unfair in that position? if one section of the community was called upon to help pay for the existence of a particular form of religion there might be something unfair in it. But, at present, all contributed to the various forms, and one told against the other, so that the unfairness did not arise. As the right hon. Gentleman, had said, peace prevailed in these schools. Let them leave the County Council free—[Opposition cheers]—yes, but not free to do ill deeds, to shut out an excellent institution because it taught no religion, or to shut out another because it taught a religion. It was all very well to say that the County Councils were fair, just, and considerate. Doubtless the majority of them were, but clauses of this kind had to be designed to meet unreasonable sections, and he was not prepared to leave these colleges at the mercy of a changing majority, which might give the grant one year and withhold it the next. The Board of Education had no difficulty in paying out of taxation the Science and Art grants to schools in which Church of England or Nonconformist doctrines were taught, and, therefore, he could not see why there should be any difficulty in awarding the grants under this Bill. There was one other point to which he desired to refer. What was to be the attitude of the authority towards a school or college which it might itself build. The clause declared that the council should not require that any particular form of religious instruction should or should not be taught. But if a council built a college it would lay down its own regulations. Could it lay down the regulation that the college should be denominational, or that it should be undenominational? On the strict reading of the clause it could do neither; it could not require that a particular form of religion should be taught, or that a particular form of religion should not be taught; therefore he assumed the principal of the college, when appointed, would teach whatever he thought fit. He was glad to find there was a prospect of this exceedingly thorny question being dealt with with a view to secure fair play all round. From long 558 experience of the work in these schools he knew how little discontent there was among the parents, and how exceedingly trifling was the trouble inside the schools; and he ventured to hope that there would be the same quietude and the same respect for each other's opinions inside the House as was found between the governors, teachers, and parents concerned in the schools.
§ (4.0.) MR. WALLACE (Perth)
said that a great many hon. Gentlemen opposite were mistaken in supposing that by this Amendment they were asking that the County Councils should be prohibited from making grants to sectarian schools. They were asking for nothing of the kind. He was a strong supporter of religious instruction in schools. What they were asking for was that the County Council should have perfect liberty in regard to this matter, and should be enabled to say whether a grant should be made to any particular school, whether it be denominational or not. He should have thought when they were giving such full and complete powers to the local authorities they would at least have granted them this power of discrimination. He felt perfectly certain that, whether the clause or the Amendment stood, or not, the councils would exercise their own discretion and make the grants wherever they thought best. There was nothing to prevent a County Council from refusing to make a grant to any particular sectarian school. Therefore, whether the clause remained or the Amendment was carried was of small importance, but it was important that the Committee should affirm the principle for which both sides had been contending of trusting the local authorities and leaving this question to their discretion.
§ * MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
hoped the Government would stand to their original determination upon this point. He heartily concurred with the view expressed by two hon. Members opposite that they should endeavour to secure freedom of religious belief to everyone alike. He certainly desired, and he was quite sure the First Lord of the Treasury also desired, to achieve that end. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen, with his usual clearness, explained what this sub-section 559 would do, but be omitted one very important liberty which would be taken away, namely, the liberty to oppress any particular school. He could not for the life of him understand why those who desired to protect their own communities should support an Amendment, which would take away the particular charter which was calculated to secure and preserve those rights for all time.
§ * MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
drew attention to the attitude of County Councils to schools of a secondary nature which they had partly constructed. It was clear from the working of the clause that a County Council, having built a secondary school which was to be of the nature of a boarding school or hostel, would be prohibited by the terms of the sub-section from declaring that that school should be an undenominational school. At the present time, in all cases in which the County Council had come into play under the Technical Instruction Act, it had been prohibited from constructing a denominational school. There was now a new departure. It might be right or wrong. It was not a question of whether a school should give religious instruction or not. The point was—a public authority hitherto, out of rate money, had not been able to construct a denominational school, but by this section in future the public authority would be able to do this out of public money. A County Council would not be able to prevent itself from constructing or aiding a denominational school. The sub-section prevented them from requiring that any school to which they gave money should not be denominational. Take a school built by a County Council with the intention of being undenominational. A single governor, or a teacher, or a parent could, under this sub-section, compel the authority to make it a denominational school. They would all be willing that an endowed school or a grammar school should receive what it could not now receive if it adopted for all students a conscience clause. He agreed that peace did prevail in existing secondary schools, and he did not suppose that there was much difference in the chapel at Rugby and the Chapel at Mill Hill; but a conscience clause would remove all difficulties.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I quite recognise the importance of the discussion which we are having, but it prevents us from coming to close quarters, and I think it would help us considerably if we could dispose of this Amendment.
§ * MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
said his intention was expressed most clearly by his right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen. It was to set free the local education authority from any disqualification or disability with regard to this question and leave it absolutely free. He wished to put a question upon the interpretation of those words, which seemed to him to be a very grave matter. This sub-section would practically preclude the local education authority from providing, where it thought necessary,-an undenominational college or school of any kind whatever, including training colleges. It was absolutely, impossible under this sub-section for the local authority to exercise any discretion in the matter. They had all been reading an interesting letter addressed by the First Lord of the Treasury to a Nonconformist within the last few days. In reference to the power proposed to be conferred on the central education authority, he said—It enables that authority, when necessary, to supplement them by undenominational schools.In that letter he could see no reservation that that expression of opinion was confined to elementary education. It seemed to him, if it was not restricted to elementary education, to cover the point which he now laid before the Committee, namely, that these words as they stood would render it impossible for the local education authority to carry out what the right hon. Gentleman had expressed in his letter, as to the intention of the Government to provide undenominational schools, whether technical or whatever kind it might be. It seemed to him that these words would preclude the County Council or the local education authority from using that discretion which he was certain all moderate minded men must wish to see vested in them.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that is not the intention of the words of the Clause. If there is any doubt I will put them right.
MR. LABOUCHEUE (Northampton)
said he intended to vote for the Amendment if there was a division, because he agreed entirely with the speech of the hon. Member for Ipswich. His hon. friend spoke as a Nonconformist. He did not flatter himself to be a Nonconformist strictly. He was what he would call rather a universalist. He respected all sects; he was an adherent of none. He stood by the principle laid down again and again on this side of the House, that the business of the State was to deal with secular education, and that the State had got no right to make a grant of money for any species of religious education whatever, he did not care what it was. It seemed to him that the most logical and the most cogent speech that had been made, with the exception of that of the hon. Member for Ipswich, was the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman clearly stated that in his opinion the State ought to concern itself with the religious education of children.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
What? If the right hon. Gentleman was a convert to his views, if he really would get up in this House and tell his friends on that side he was an opponent of the State having anything to do with the religious education of any child, he would welcome him with open arms, but he doubted whether the right hon. Gentleman would say so. He was praising the right hon. Gentleman, he was not attacking him. The right hon. Gentleman had asked, "Do you wish no religion in State aided schools where there are boarders and non-boarders?" The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that when a boarder was placed in a school he was separated from his parents, and he must be given the religion of his parents.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said that was all very well, but if that was a State-aided school the money granted was for the religious education in question. He did not hesitate to say that so far as he was concerned he could make no distinction on the broad principle of State payment, for religions education between boarders and nun boarders. If a boarder was sent to a school and his parents wished him to be instructed in a particular religion, some person probably lived in the town who should be, allowed to give him religious education in the tenets hold by his parents. The hon. member objected to the State paying money for religious education, and to the teachers whom they paid giving that religious education, whether it was general or particularly sectarian. He thought the hon. Gentleman, who spoke from the school masters' standpoint, was right when he said there was no such thing as undenominational religion. Religion was a question of dogma. Undenominational religion could not be taught, and he thought that one of the greatest humbugs over palmed on Dissenters—and he was surprised at their agreeing to it—was what might be called, the. School Board religious teaching in this country, he was at Eton. There was a great deal of talk about that college belonging to the Church of England. He received an undenominational religious education. What was that education? Once a week the class to which he belonged went before the master and read the Greek Testament. What happened? Was he taught the tenets of the Christian religion? Not one. If ho had been living on what he learned at Eton, he should have known nothing about it. On a student reading from the Greek Testament, immediately the master shuddered and said, "What Greek is that What would Thucydides have said in the circumstances?" He confessed that he did not know what Thucydides would have said, but he could assure the House that that was all the religious education he received at college, and it was quite equivalent to the non-sectarian religion taught in the board schools. Let those who believed that the State should under no circumstances teach any religion abide 563 by the great principle. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said this was unfair to the parents, and that the parents would not send their children to school. Whom was the money taken from? It was not taken alone from those who desired that their children should receive undenominational religious instruction. It was; levied from the other taxpayers and; ratepayers of the country as well, and -there were a vast number among those, who, rightly or wrongly, did object to the religious education which was given at a particular school. In the case of the training colleges, what was the amount paid by the denominations generally? About one-tenth. Nine-tenths were received by fees from the scholars, or grants from the central Government, the County Council, or the public generally. But in respect of that tenth which the denominations gave, the Committee were asked to say that they had the right in these training colleges to teach the religion of their own particular sect. What was the object of a training college? It was to teach youths who wanted to become schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, and they were, it seemed, to be impregnated with one particular religion at the expense of the entire community. It seemed to him that the hon. Member for Ipswich, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and himself, were the only three logical persons in the entire House. The hon. Member for Ipswich and himself objected to any money being given for religious teaching in this country on the broad ground that they considered that the State had got absolutely nothing to do with it. Under these circumstances he did not shilly-shally, as some of his hon. friends seemed inclined to do. When the First Lord of the Treasury asked, "Do you really wish no religion taught by the State in those schools?" they said, "Yes, we want religion to be taught." Where went then the principle which they had been fighting for when they said that no religion should be taught. They might be told that they were in a minority in the country. He believed that he and those who agreed with him were in a minority, but that was no reason why they should abnegate their views, or why they should not state 564 them openly and fairly. If they were in a minority they would accept the fact, having satisfied their consciences by expressing what they honestly believed.
(4.28.) MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said the question raised by the Amendment was not whether they desired no religion at all in the secondary schools and training colleges, but simply whether the education authorities appointed by the County Council under this Bill were to have a free hand in regard to the giving of grants to these institutions. The Leader of the House had frankly said that the prevailing sentiment of this country was in favour of religious teaching being given in these schools. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imply by the form of words he used that there was more interest taken in the question of religion by those who supported this Bill, and especially by the members of the Church of England, than by the great mass of Nonconformists. He seemed to think that because Nonconformists moved Amendments of this kind, and desired that no particular form of religion should be taught in these schools that they took less interest in the vital points of religion. He was certain that was not the impression which the right hon. Gentleman meant to convey. Those who spoke in favour of this Amendment, representing the great mass of Nonconformists of the country, might rightly claim that by their his for, and the facts surrounding the development of their organisation, they could show they had made as much sacrifice for true religion as any other denomination in the State. The First Lord of the Treasury said that no complaint had ever arisen as to the religious teaching given in the schools. That was perfectly true. He had been very much interested in listening to the speech of the hon. Member for North West Ham, who imagined that hardship might be inflicted by enforcing this Amendment. The hon. Member had instanced a school which already received a grant from the county authority, and he seemed to think that if this Amendment were carried that grant would not be given again. He would ask the hon. Gentleman whether that school was open to any lad.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
said it seemed to him that there was nothing to prevent a County Council making a grant to such a school. What he and his friends objected to was that when public money was given to a school a religious test was imposed upon the scholars and the teachers. A most important issue was raised by the principle of this Amendment. The question was whether by this Bill, and by this sub-section particularly, the present sectarian system of education in this country was going to be stereotyped in reference to secondary education. Of course he knew that he was not expressing the unanimous view of the House, but he felt very strongly that a perpetuation of sectarian differences in educational matters would be fraught with disastrous consequences. What was wanted was free education, without any barrier, religious or otherwise. He desired to give the Amendment his heartiest support.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said be was not in favour of giving the County Council absolute freedom in an important matter of this kind. Although he was a strong believer in devolution, he did not consider that that principle necessarily required one to set up a large number of absolutely independent authorities dealing with such important matters as religious instruction without any kind of direction from the Imperial Parliament, or under Imperial control. What was the position? He would like to know whether the word "council" meant the County Council, or the councils included under section 3; because if it did not the position would be a curious one.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that that meant, then, there would be about 1,200 councils which would have the absolute right of organising secondary education within their own districts, including 566 higher grade schools. Wherever they set up secondary schools they could, if they liked, support sectarian institutions throughout the country. He thought it a very serious thing to give such powers to a little urban council. It was all very well to give such powers to such a co in by as Lancashire, with its two million inhabitants, but it was quite a different thing to give these powers to a small cathedral town where the clerical interest was very strong. A good deal had been said about Wales, and he would not again draw attention to the Welsh system; but he would call attention to the educational system in New South Wales, where they turned out tine specimens of manhood. He did not hesitate to say that, taking any test whatever, the people of New South Wales were as religious, if not more so, and characterised by as much sobriety of conduct as the people of this country. [An HON. MEMBER: There are denominational schools there.] He knew that, but Church of England teaching was not obtruded on the children. Then he would turn to Manitoba. What was the state of things there? or in Holland, or in Ontario? The school was controlled by the local authority, and secular teaching was given by the teachers, but every facility was afforded to the parents of the children to call in their own minister at a particular hour to teach the special dogmas of his sect. That was a compromise which had the support of all the people in Manitoba with the exception of a few extreme clericalists. Why it could not be adopted here he could not understand. What he objected to was that the appointment of the teachers was still left in the hands of one sect. In Wales they gave no discretion to the County Council; they said, "You will not teach the religion of any sect." He invited the hon. Gentleman to inspect any secondary school in Wales and compare the religious instruction given in it with that imparted in a sectarian school in England, and he ventured to say that he would find as much earnestness, fervour, devotion, and everything that produced a religious tone and temper as in any Anglican school. The mistake that was generally made was that it was assumed there could not be any religion unless 567 there was something to quarrel about, and the religion of some hon. Members began just at the point of contention. It was all very well to say that a parent had a right to have his child brought up in the doctrines which he believed, but he had no right to have the doctrine taught, if it was obnoxious to his neighbour, at that neighbour's expense. The vast body of Christian teaching which really affected the character of a child was absolutely non-contentious. There was no dogma that divided one faith from the rest which was not a dogma held by a minority of the people, and the parent therefore had no right to call upon the majority of the people of the country to teach a doctrine which was obnoxious to them. He thought the best way to make the scheme work was to adopt the system in force in New South Wales, or in the alternative the system of Manitoba, in order to secure competition for teacherships for the secondary schools. It was not an easy thing to find good teachers for the secondary schools, and, under either of the systems which he had suggested, they would be able to pick the very best men, instead of having the worst possible selection, as they had at present.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
read the sub section to mean that if a council gave a grant to a school it should not do so on the condition of an alternation in the religious formula or religious instruction in the school. That depended on the preceding "if." It did not remove the discretion of the council to give or with hold the grant from the school if it pleased. A liberal reading of the Clause would show that the only thing the subsection laid down was that if they gave
§ the grant they must not interfere with the religious teaching. The question still remained as to whether they would give or withhold the grant. That being so he thought the fears expressed by some of his friends were not justified.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N.W.)
asked whether this was the place to raise the question of denominational draining colleges.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE
said, that being so, and if the question could be raised in another part of the Bill, he would not now occupy the time of the Committee.
MR. HAEWOOD (Bolton)
said he could not support the Amendment because it seemed to him to contravene what he understood to be a fundamental principle of our legislation. It would allow County Councils to lay down the rule that they would not grant these subsidies to secondary schools which taught religion. That was contrary to the whole spirit of the Bill, and to one of the main objects of hon. Members on that side of the House, which was to coordinate secondary education. Though personally he would prefer a system where the religious problem was left out, they must face facts as they found them, and no one there could suppose that within his lifetime the people of this country would be content with schools where religion was not taught.
§ (4.58.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 278; Noes, 122. (Division List No. 261.)571
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bigwood, James|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Bair J, John George Alexander||Bill, Charles|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Balearres, Lord||Blundell, Colonel Henry|
|Aird, Sir John||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A J. (Manch'r||Boland, John|
|Allhusen, August's Henry Eden||Balfour, Capt. C B. (Hornsey||Bond, Edward|
|Ambrose, Robert||Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Banbury, Frederick George||Bousfield, William Robert|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bartley, George C. T.||Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex-|
|Arnold Forster, Hugh O.||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Bowles, T. Gibson (Lynn Regis|
|Arrol, Sir William||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Brassy, Albert|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Beckett, Ernest William||Brown, Alexander H. (Shrops.|
|Austin, Sir John||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Brymer, William Ernest|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Beresford, Lord Charles Willi'm||Burke, E. Haviland-|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Bignold, Arthur||Campbell, Rt Hn. J. A (Glasgow|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Harwood, George||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath|
|Carew, James Laurence||Hayden, John Patrick||Myers, William Henry|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Heath, James (Staffords. N. W.||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Heaton, John Henniker||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Holder, Augustus||Nolan, Col. John P. (Glaway, N.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Henderson, Sir Alexander||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.(Birm.||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T,||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Wore'r||Higginbottom, S. W.||O'Brien, Kendal(Tipperary Mid|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hoare, Sir Samuel||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Chapman, Edward||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hope, J.F. (Sheffield, Brightside||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W)|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hornby, Sir William Henry||O'Dowd, John|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Horner, Frederick William||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||O'Malley, William|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Hoult, Joseph||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Howard, John (Kent, Fav'rsh'm||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow.||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||O'Shee, James John|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd(Bolton)||Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.)||Penn, John|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Percy, Earl|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D(Chatham||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Delany, William||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Dewar, T. R. (T'rll'mlets, S. Geo.||Jordan, Jeremiah||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Joyce, Michael||Purvis, Robert|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||Rankin Sir James|
|Donelan, Captain A.||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Raseh, Major Frederic Carne|
|Doogan, P. C.||Knowles, Lees||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Doughty, George||Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm.||Reddy, M.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Redmond, Jno. E. (Waterford)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lawrence, William F. (Liv'pool||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lawson, John Grant||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Durning-Lawrence Sir Edwin||Leamy, Edmund||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybr'dge|
|Dyke, Rt Hon. Sir William Hart||Lecky, Rt Hon. William Edw, H||Ridley, S. Ford (Bethnal Green|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareh'm||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thom.|
|Emmott, Alfred||Lees, Sir Elliot (Birkenhead)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mane'r||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Robinson, Brooke|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Finch, George H.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S.||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lowe, Francis William||Rutherford, John|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Lundon, W.||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Macdona, John Cumming||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Flower, Ernest||MacDonnell, Dr Mark A.||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Flynn, James Christopher||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sharp, William Edward T.|
|Forster, Henry William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ,||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh W||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Garfit, William||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Gordon, Hn. J.E.(Elgin & Nairn||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Gore, Hn. G.R.C Ormsby-(Salop||Manners, Lord Cecil||Sturt. Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- (Line.)||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Sullivan, Donal|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Maxwell, W. JH (Dumfriesshire||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Meysey-Thomson, Sir H. M.||Talbot, Rt Hn J.G.(Oxf'd Univ.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Middlemore, John Throgmort'n||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Milvain, Thomas||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Valentia, Viscount|
|Groves, James Grimble||More, Robert Jasper(Shropshire||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Morgan, David J. Walthamstow||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||Morrell, George Herbert||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Morrison, James Archibald||Welby, Lt. -Col. A C E (Taunton|
|Hain, Edward||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptford)||Whiteley, H. (Ashtonund, Lyne|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F||Mount, William Arthur||Whitmore. Charles Algernon|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Lrd G. (Midd'x||Murphy, John||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Murray, Rt Hn. A. Graham Bute||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E R.)|
|Wilson, John(Falkirk)||Wolff, Gastav Wilhelm||Younger, William|
|Wilson, John (Glasgow)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Wilson, J.W.(Worceotersh. N.||Wylie, Alexander||TELLER FOR THE AYES—|
|Wilson-Todd, Win H.(Yorks.||Wyndham-Quinn, Major W. H||Sir William Walrond and|
|Wodehouse, Rt. Hon. ER,(Bath||Wyndham-Quinn, Major W.H||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Horniman, Frederick John||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Allen, Charlos P. (Glouc, Stroud||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Runciman, Walter|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Jacoby, James Alfred||Russell, T. W.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Joicey. Sir James||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Jones, David Brynmor(Sw'nsea||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Black, Alexander William||Kearley, Hudson E.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Brigg, John||Kitson, Sir James-||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Brown, George M.(Edinburgh||Labouchere, Henry||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Lambert, George||Spew, John Ward|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Langley, Batty||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants|
|Burns, John||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Tennant, Harold John|
|Burt, Thomas||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.|
|Caldwell, James||Levy, Maurice||Thomas, David Alfr'd(Merthyr|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lloyd George, David||Thomas, JA(Glomorgan, Gower|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lough, Thomas||Thomson, F. W. (York, W.R.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall||Tomkinson, James|
|Cawley, Frederick||M'Crae, George||Toulmin, George|
|Crombie, John William||M'Kenna, Reginald||Treveleyan, Charles Philips|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Wallace, Robert|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Morley, Rt. Hn. John(Montrose||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Newnes, Sir George||Weir, James Galloway|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Edwards, Frank||Palmer, Sir Charles M (Durham||Whiteley, George(York, W.R.|
|Elibank, Master of||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Partington, Oswald||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Paulton. James Mellor||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)||Wilson, Chas. Henry(Hull, W.|
|Grant, Corrie||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk Mid.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Perks, Robert William||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hn. Sir William||Price, Robert John||Wood, James|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Priestley, Arthur||Woodhouse, Sir JT(Huddersf'd|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Rea, Russell||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Rickett, J. Compton||Tellers for the Noes—|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Mr. Goddard, and Mr.|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Broadhurst.|
§ *(5.12.) MR. CHANNING
said the Amendment he desired to move was one of very great importance. It was to provide that a council, in the application of money under this part of the Act "for the training of teachers, shall require that in any school, college, or class so provided or aided no pupil shall be excluded on the ground of religious belief." Ho did not wish by the Amendment to raise the question of religious instruction, but to restrict his observations entirely to this question. He hoped the Amendment would be accepted, in the first place because of the letter of the First Lord of the Treasury, which had been referred to, and in which the right hon. Gentleman had disclaimed any idea of crushing 572 the Nonconformists, but had said that the machinery of the Bill would rather increase the opportunities of Nonconformists to obtain a share in the work of education, and would give power to the authority to supply opportunities of training for those desirous of entering the teaching profession, altogether irrespective of Church or creed. Ho would not labour the point; everybody was acquainted with the great grievance of the Nonconformists with regard to their disability to enter the teaching profession. The real difficulty was the regulations which now existed in most, if not all, of the denominational training colleges. The Nonconformist who succeeded in the King's Scholarship 573 examination, even though he might take the highest place, was not, therefore, entitled to access to a training college. On the contrary, such a young man or young woman stood in a relatively disqualified position as compared with a member of the Church of England, the Wesleyan, or the Roman Catholic community, who enjoyed much greater facilities and opportunities for entering on the teaching profession. With the exception of the training colleges of the British and Foreign School Society, there were practically no places available for Nonconformists. The Church of England training colleges required their students to be communicants of the Church; and, in strictly denominational institutions, such a regulation was perfectly natural. Hut in a national system of education, affecting a composite society, in which there must inevitably be persons of different religious faiths, it was altogether wrong that these opportunities for training should be confined to one or two religious bodies. Nobody could regard with satisfaction a condition of affairs in which many Nonconformists were compelled by the necessities of the case to abandon their faith in order to secure access to one of these colleges. A person who began his career by such an act of insincerity, as it sometimes was, could not be regarded as the most desirable teacher of the young. He believed that in some Church of England colleges a somewhat more generous spirit prevailed, and that mere attendance at religious forms and ceremonies was accepted in the case of clever pupils as a personal concession. That, however, was not a satisfactory way of dealing with a question of this kind. He desired to assert the right of those who, by their secular attainments, were qualified to receive the advantages of the training college to secure access to those institutions without those unreasonable restrictions. There was a considerable divergence of interpretation of this clause; but, as he understood it, the local education authority was absolutely debarred from laying down a rule that students admitted to any college or class assisted by that authority must be of a particular faith, or that assistance to any such school or class would not be given without the modification of any such requirements on the part of the managers. Unless, however, some such words as he 574 proposed were inserted, the County Council would be powerless, and the present state of things would remain. That state of things was a grave injustice. By the very breadth of the constitution of the British and Foreign School Society the chances of Nonconformists wore still further narrowed, because no less than. one-third of the students in the training colleges of the Society were members of the Church of England. He had moved the Amendment with a wish to carry out the intentions expressed in the letter to; which he had referred, and he hoped the concession would be made to the largo and deserving class for whom he spoke.
Amendment proposed—In page 2, line 10, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'for the training of teachers shall require that in arty school, college, or class so provided or aided, no pupil shall be excluded on the ground of religious belief, and.'"—(Mr. Channing.)Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A.J. BALFOUR
said it was evident he could not accept the Amendment, because what the hon. Member had done was to endeavour to effect his object by taking a sub-section, general in its form, and intended to apply to all institutions aided by the local authorities, and, by a strange process of inversion, turning it round and making it applicable only to training colleges. On the point of form, therefore, he thought the Committee would agree that the Amendment could not be accepted, and he hoped the hon. Member would not press it. Perhaps the object of the hon. Member would be adequately met if he stated that he fully adhered to the statement made in the letter, an extract from which had been read. In his view, one of the greatest needs was further provision for the training of teachers, and the class who most needed that further provision, for reasons well known to the Committee, and upon which he need not dwell, was undoubtedly the Nonconformists. If there was anything in the clause which would prevent a County Council building an undenominational training college, certainly that defect would have to be remedied. It was never intended that County Councils should be so prevented. On the contrary, he had always held that one of their 575 duties would probably be to erect such colleges. He did not know whether that declaration would be sufficient to meet the views of the hon. Gentleman, and whether, as he had made it in explicit language, he would be content to withdraw the Amendment.
§ (5.26.) DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
regretted that the First Lord's Statement did nothing to remedy a very real grievance. Perhaps, as an old pupil teacher, who had to travel a great many miles to enter a college because of it, and as having been for three years chairman of a Pupil Teachers' Committee, dealing with the training of 1,200 pupil teachers, he might be permitted to point out what the grievance was. He agreed that there was no substantial difficulty in the schools themselves, but there was an acute and irritating grievance in the matter of the teachers. With the existing grievance the First Lord did not deal at all. At the end of their apprenticeship 12,000 young pupil teachers submitted themselves to the King's Scholarship Examination. If they secured a place in the first or second class they wore nominally entitled to go to a college largely maintained by the State, and to proceed to the full teacher's certificate by means of State assistance. But what were the actual facts? Of those 12,000, one half might be dismissed as either failing outright or passing only in the third class. With the grievance affecting the remaining 6,000 the First Lord did not deal.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
thought he would be able to show that it did. In the residential colleges there were 2,083 places open every year, and in the day colleges 730–2,813 in all, or.3,000 in round numbers. But here was where the acute grievance came in. Not only were there only half enough places for those who secured first or second classes—that might be met by the future authorities if they had the money and the right to provide undenominational training colleges—but, of the existing 3,000 places, all the day places were undenominational, and of the 2,000 residential only 397 were undenominational, so that out of the entire 3,000 available places, only 1,127 were 576 undenominational. This was the way these 2,000 denominational places were distributed: Wesleyans, 117, Roman Catholics, 136, and the Church of England roughly 1,500 open every year. Therefore three-fourths were entirely in the hands of the Church of England; but, over and above that, of the 1,000 undenominational places half of them were filled by members of the Church of England. At the present time at the Borough Road undenominational college 43 per cent, of the students were members of the Church of England, and they were admitted quite freely, although they narrowed down the available accommodation for Nonconformists, who deserved what they had earned. At the Bangor undenominational college, 20 per cent, of the places were filled by members of the Church of England, and at Stock well 41 per cent., Darlington 33 per cent., and Swansea 25 per cent, were members of the Church of England. Out of 3,000 places, 2,000 were in the hands of denominationalists, and of the remaining 1,000 not more than 200 were open at any moment to Nonconformists. That was a problem with which the First Lord of the Treasury did not attempt to deal. The experience of a large number of young people who passed the King's scholarship examination high up in the list was that they had no means of getting into those 200 places. He knew of nine admirable young people in one year who passed very high in the King's scholarships who could not get in at all, and who could have got in, had they been members of the Church of England. He once heard the Rev. A. W. Jephson say that at more than one examination some of these young people had come to him to be admitted by Baptism and confirmation to the Established Church, in order to enjoy the privileges of the scholarship. He was sure that that was a state of things which not a single member of the Committee desired to perpetrate. He would take for the purpose of illustration a Church of England, a Wesleyan, and a Roman Catholic College. H He would mention first the Oxford Diocesan Training College. What was the claim of this college to super-impose over and above the qualifications set by the Government a further claim in regard to religion? Last year the income of this college from subscriptions and all 577 other sources of a private character was £117, which included subscriptions of a general character from the Diocesan Board. The income from grants, from the Government, from fees paid by students, and money charged for books was £1,800. Therefore the claim was that in a college where they got £117 from private sources, and £1,800 from the public, the authorities were entitled to set a ring fence round and exclude persons who did not happen to belong to the same denomination, and this in a college where 94 per cent, of the income came from the public, and 6 per cent, from that particular denomination. He did not think that that was a substantial claim at all. He would consider next the case of the Wesleyan Training College at Westminster, where they also super-imposed a denominational claim over and above the qualification of the King's prize. Their income from subscriptions and private sources was £456, and from Government grants, fees, and books, £7,300. So that 6 per cent, of private subscriptions as against 94 per cent, of public contributions justified the Wesleyan body in putting this ring fence round the college. He protested against this claim. To the eternal credit of the Roman Catholic colleges the subscribed to them handsomely from private sources. In the case of the Catholic college at Hamersmith the income from private sources was not £117, but no less than £1,500, as against £2,700 contributed by Government grants, fees and books. In other words 30 per cent, of the funds came from private sources. He contended that if the student paid he ought to have religious liberty. There was another claim which ought to be examined. It was said that these denominations built these colleges and had sunk a lot of money in them. Supposing that was so? Because a religious denomination forty or fifty years ago, or because some benevolent person or Diocesan Board found the money to build a college, was that for ever to constitute a lien upon the consciences of the people who wished to be trained there? When were they to work off that obligation? These colleges had been maintained year by year out of the public funds, and all that appeared to be necessary in order to maintain for all time out of the public funds, and to super-impose religious tests 578 upon the students, was simply to lay the foundation by building an institution. He did not, however, admit that these denominations built the colleges. The Church of England did not build these colleges with their own money. As a matter of fact, the total cost of erecting Church of England colleges was £293, 160 4s. 5d. towards which the State contributed £97, 474 10s. 3d. People were too ready to forget that very large sums had been contributed by the State to these buildings. What he contended was that there should he a conscience Clause for these training colleges. Then the Church of England colleges would get a better class of student than they now got. He had endeavoured to show that the proposals of the First Lord of the Treasury did not touch this grievance. He did not suggest that these colleges should cease to be denominational, but whore a student desired to enter them who did not belong to that denomination he ought to be admitted under a conscience Clause. Such a student could attend the common form of worship in the college, but on the Sabbath instead of going to the general college chapel he ought to be allowed to go to his own denominational place of worship and produce to the pastor of the college a certificate that he had attended there from time to time. From his own experience he could tell the Committee that this system had worked admirably. It would be an immense improvement in Church of England colleges, instead of practically saying, "We cannot admit you unless you change your religion" That made that person disaffected for all time against the Established Church. If his system were adopted, and if the Nonconformists in the Church training college were allowed to go to the church to which he or she belonged, he ventured to say that at the end of two or three years training that young person, instead of having a sense of injustice and grievance would have a feeling of affection and goodwill towards the church which had dealt so handsomely by them. The Vice-President of the Council knew how acute" this difficulty was. He expected from what the First Lord said on the Second Reading of the Bill that before the Committee disposed of this particular Amendment they would have a statement not only that local authorities might build 579 further undenominational colleges—admirable so far as the proposal went—but that, having regard to the large sums these colleges received from public funds, the time had now come, irrespective of the original claim; set up in respect of the denominations having built the colleges, to admit young teachers to the benefit of a conscience clause, as in the case of children entering school.
§ (5.47.) LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
said the hon. Member for North Camberwell had made a very interesting speech, which the House had listened to with the greatest possible attention, as coming from one with special knowledge on this important subject. It was certainly true, as he said, that no one in this Committee would desire that there should not be ample accommodation for every person who desired that an undenominational college should be provided. He understood his right hon. friend to say that if, in a proper form of words, an Amendment was necessary for that purpose, the Bill would be amended, so as to allow adequate provision in this respect. But the hon. Member went further and proposed to upset the existing colleges, as well as seriously to alter their character. The suggestion was that no State money should go to colleges which had an exclusively denominational character. He dissented from that principle.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said his view was that, having regard to the large amount which these colleges now received from public funds, they should, while continuing their denominational character, also admit others under a conscience Clause who might not belong to them.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said that the proposal would seriously alter the character of the college and its religious influence; it would also affect those who, supposing the college to be confined to those desiring that religious influence, ought to be let alone. It would modify it by the introduction of a different element in the college in the way of a number of students of a different way of thinking. The question was one for experts in this form of education; but the unanimous opinion of those concerned with Church 580 training colleges was that such an alteration as that which the hon. Member suggested would seriously modify their character, and interfere with the effectiveness of their Church influence by introducing a foreign element, and in preventing them from being distinctly denominational. Churchmen were willing to meet any grievance felt by those who were not members of the Church of England, as he believed were the Roman Catholics or Wesleyans to meet grievances on the other side; and as long as they had not proper training college accommodation, they were of one mind that they ought to have it. But if these bodies were better off in this respect it was not due to any special favour from the State, but because they had come forward with their money, and had been more liberal in its supply than those taking the opposite view. It should be remembered that this money was contributed under an implied contract, and on the understanding that these colleges were to be of a certain character. Now it was proposed to take advantage of this money and to alter the character of the colleges by utilising the money for a purpose for which it was not originally intended. This was treating the colleges, not so much in the way of meeting a grievance, as to urge a hypothetical view and a mere theory that State money ought not to be given because a college had a peculiar denominational character. If an Amendment of that kind were introduced in the Bill he should protest that it was unreasonable and unfair to those who had subscribed for the colleges.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I cannot think that the noble Lord has even endeavoured to meet the just character of the grievance which the Nonconformists feel in this country. I was hoping that the First Lord of the Treasury, who is in charge of the Bill, had some comprehension, at least, of what I would venture to call the bitter injustice which has been revealed to us by the hon. Member for North Camberwell. In my opinion a more gross and palpable injustice, which deserves to be resented and will be resented by every Nonconformist in the country, it would be impossible to state. 581 Here you have a large number of training colleges, for which a large proportion of money has been supplied and is being supplied from public funds. Here you have a system by which these colleges so existing shall have the power of excluding persons, because they happen to be Nonconformists, from deriving the benefit of education at those colleges with the money supplied by the taxpayers of the country. Then we are told, "Oh! you may build your own colleges." Would they be built? But whether these colleges be built or not, are you going to call upon the County Councils to furnish out of the rates money for the purpose of building new training colleges when there are already colleges in the country able to receive pupils? We know perfectly well that it will not be by this means that the grievance will be remedied. The noble Lord is always betraying the spirit which governs the policy he pursues. He spoke of every one who is not a member of the Church of England as "a foreign element." That is the keystone and the secret of this Bill. The noble Lord is always frank, and we understand thoroughly what he means. The Government, however, are more prudent.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said that the right hon. Gentleman had misrepresented him. He used the word "foreign" in a strictly accurate sense, which the right hon. Gentleman was quite well informed enough to understand. He meant foreign to the character of the school.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
That is exactly what I understood. In those schools which are paid for by public money everybody who is not a member of the Church of England is a foreign element. That is the spirit of the policy, and that is why Nonconformists are determined from first to last, in this House, and after the Bill has passed this House, to resist a policy which is unjust on the face of it, as well as intolerant and bigoted. Of course we always knew it, but the noble Lord has the happy gift of conveying his views in phrases which are always intelligible.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The "foreign element" will be the label of this Bill. It is its characteristic; and it is because in respect of national education we are determined to recognise no such "foreign element" that we take the line of saying that no form of religious opinion should be treated as a "foreign element." Now, what is it that is asked here? It is not asked that we should destroy the denominational character of the schools, but, as the hon. Member for North Camberwell said, that a man should not be excluded from the schools because he happened to be, not a foreign element, but a member of a denomination that was not the Church of England.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said yes, but he did not want to have a foreign element in any school. He was not speaking of one sect more than another. He maintained that no plan deserved the name of national education in which tests of this character were to be applied to the teachers. That was really the matter at issue. That was the religious difficulty; and it was because this Bill, so far from relieving the difficulty, aggravated it at every point, that they offered resistance to it. He admitted that the great deficiency in education in this country was the paucity of teachers. There was no doubt that, from their greater facilities for higher education, the Church of England had a greater number of candidates for entrance into the teaching profession than the Nonconformist bodies; but still there were a large number of men in the Nonconformist bodies perfectly qualified and highly fitted to be teachers in the schools, but who would be excluded, as the hon. Member for North Camberwell had shown, from earning their living in the public schools in the country by this religious test. Did this House desire that they should make use of every possible source of supply of teachers for the country? He supposed everybody would say so; but why were they to say by this Bill that the source of supply of fitting men was 583 to be excluded by a religious test? A more scandalous state of things than the position in relation to training of teachers it was impossible to conceive. They started with the whole of their system disabled by these religious tests. He maintained that that was unstatesmanlike, unjust, and anti-national; it was denominational in the worst sense of the word. It was contrary to every plan of national education. And what was the alternative? Why, that they should call upon the community for further and unnecessary expense to build new schools when there were schools that might be used for the work. [HON. MEMBERS on the Ministerial Benches: They are all full.] All full! But on what grounds? The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury laughed, and said he could not understand that there was any grievance.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Why then, did the right hon. Gentleman laugh at the grievance that he said he understood? There were many hundreds and thousands of persons who did understand the grievance and who did not laugh at it. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had used language of a character in referring to this Bill very different from what the right hon. Gentleman was in the habit of using. He did not complain of the right hon. Gentleman's laughter if he was in the humour for it, but he hoped the Committee would obtain from the right hon. Gentleman what the view of the Government was in regard to this matter. They knew the view of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich; and if the noble Lord expressed the view of the Government, then they would know exactly where they were.
§ (6.10) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he thought the Committee might now be allowed to go to a division. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was in marked contrast, in more than one particular, with the speech of the hon. Member who spoke second in the debate, in a very interesting survey which he had made with regard to our existing advantages in the way of training teachers. But the hon. Member for North Camberwell knew his subject, which was more than could be 584 said for the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and he was sincerely desirous of finding some method by which an admitted grievance could be met. He was not sure that he could say even that much of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman denounced the grievance of the insufficient opportunity for the training of teachers as if it was a grievance introduced and fomented by the present Government. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends had been in office for years, and the grievance was just as great then as now, and he was not aware that he had ever made any effort to meet it.
§ MR LLOYD-GEORGE
They made great improvements in the educational system; but what we are referring to is the training colleges.
§ MR A. J. BALFOUR
said that that was not the grievance that the right hon. Gentleman had denounced. The grievance which the right hon. Gentleman had denounced had been in existence for years, and which it was hoped that this Bill would do much to remedy. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Camberwell had dwelt on the hardships of the existing system on Nonconformists, but these hardships were not confined to Nonconformist teachers or pupil teachers, but were due to the fact that the number of men who desired to enter the teaching profession could not be accommodated in the training colleges. Evidently the grievance would not be cured, even if the remedy of the hon. Gentleman opposite were adopted to its fullest extent. Suppose they were to throw open every denominational training college in this country, Roman Catholic, Church of England, and Wesleyan, they would still leave outside their walls, and would fail to give opportunities to, a very large number of men and women who were qualified for the profession. They would distribute the burden somewhat differently, but the burden would 585 evidently remain. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that the only way in which the difficulty could be met was not to redistribute the accommodation in the existing training colleges, but by increasing the number of these colleges. Though there was a general grievance, that grievance pressed more hardly upon Nonconformists because the Church of England and other denominations had taken the trouble, or had thought it to be their duty, to use the opportunities given them by the State to build training colleges. He really put it to the House whether it was reasonable to try to remedy this grievance by a method which would not remedy it even if it were carried out, and which, in the attempt to carry it out, would produce new grievances of an aggravated character. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken with a light heart of depriving Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Wesleyans of the training colleges which they had partly built. It was perfectly true that the State had contributed very largely to these training colleges. If these training colleges had unoccupied places which members of the Church that erected them did not require, he could understand that it would be worth while to make such arrangements as would enable these vacant places to be used for other purposes; but that was not the case. These various denominations had built these training colleges for persons of their own persuasion, they were filled with persons of their own persuasion, and they were still not large enough to accommodate persons of their own persuasion. Yet it was deliberately proposed by way of producing universal religious peace, without compensation, without taking any steps to mitigate the evil, simply to confiscate all that had been given. That could not be the right method. He thought the proper way to deal with the question was for the education authorities to fill up the admitted vacuum in two ways—partly by the erection of undenominational training colleges suited to the Nonconformist view of these things, and partly by the erection of hostels or boardinghouses from which it would be perfectly possible for persons of any religion or no religion to get the full advantage of the 586 training college as it stood. That was not a new suggestion; it was not an untried plan. The plan was being most successfully tried in some of the training colleges in London. He believed that in connection with one of the Anglican training colleges on the south side of the Thames, there was a hostel which was largely used by Jewesses. He was not a special admirer of the system of segregation, but that was not the point. What we had to do was to deal with the practical grievance, and there were only two ways of dealing with it. One was by the system of undenominational hostels; the other was by adding to the number of undenominational training colleges. Nothing else could set the matter right. If we were to indulge in the most extensive system of spoliation tomorrow and deprive Roman Catholics, members of the Church of England, and Wesleyans of their training colleges, the matter would remain pretty much where it was at present. By the plan he proposed, we attacked the root of the evil, left no seed of bitterness, and no one would feel that he had been ill-used or unjustly treated. It was on these lines alone that one of the greatest blots on our present educational system could be removed, and our present educational system improved, and on those lines alone.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid)
said everyone would recognise the difference between the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with this matter, and that adopted by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich when speaking in this debate. The right hon. Gentleman had said quite candidly it was a great grievance and one of the greatest blots of our educational system, but it seemed to him that the First Lord of the Treasury was unable to provide any adequate solution of what he admitted; to be a grievance. It was no use speaking of hostels or adding to the training colleges. It would be the work of years to add to training colleges out of the limited amount to be given to the County Councils. The right hon. Gentleman showed that he was willing to do something, if he was allowed to by the Party behind him, so 587 he would not make any further remark upon that matter. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of spoliation and confiscation. Confiscation of what? Nonconformists only desired that some degree of toleration should be shown to Nonconformist students. These colleges, which had been built out of public funds, were maintained almost entirely by the State, and some toleration ought to be given to the Nonconformists. Something had been said with regard to the amount given to the Church of England for the building of these colleges; but the money was only given in the name of the Church of England; it was subscribed by all sections of the people. If the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich wanted no foreign element to come into these colleges, let him maintain the colleges himself. Why did the noble Lord desire this policy of segregation, which was thrown over by the First Lord?
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
disclaimed having said anything of the kind. What he said was that those who managed those colleges attached great importance to the whole atmosphere being of an denominational character.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said he understood that the noble Lord referred to the atmosphere of the Church of England, and would not allow it to be clouded, contaminated, or disturbed by any foreign element.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said that in that case he did not understand what the noble Lord had said about the atmosphere of the Church of England.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said that if the hon. Member did not understand what he had said he had better leave what he had said alone.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
said that if his poor intelligence was not able to grapple with the statements of the noble Lord, perhaps the noble Lord would assist him. But until he had further enlightenment he was unable to see, except from 588 the narrow and bigoted point of view which the noble Lord always adopted, what the noble Lord meant when he said that he desired to keep out any "foreign element." The noble Lord belonged to the set of people who would have no privileges at all extended to the Nonconformists. He would, if he had lived in those days, have voted against the abolition of the tests for the Universities. The abolition of the religious tests had not, however, disturbed the atmosphere of Oxford and Cambridge; quite the contrary. This grievance was of long standing, but the policy of the right hon. Gentleman did not make it more tolerable. The longer it remained the more intolerable it became. They did not look for anything unfair or unjust; they did not ask for the confiscation or destruction of these institutions. The question was not merely one of excluding men who refused to be false to their consciences, but of the destruction of excellent material for teachers which the State ought to have. He had supplied himself with an extract from a great authority, if it was wanted. Speaking on this matter some years ago, from the educational point of view, the Colonial Secretary said—Sectarian colleges are mainly supported by public money, and the enormous grants they receive from the common purse are thus devoted to support institutions whose chief effort is directed to the preparation of sectarian teachers. They are unfit on that very account to promote a national unsectarian system.He would like to adopt another set of phrases of the same authority as expressing his own position in this matter—This iniquity I have resisted and will continue to resist, holding the opinion that in schools and colleges supported by rates denominationalists have no right and should not be allowed to interfere.
§ MR. JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Brightside)
wished to test the solutions which had been submitted for the purpose of dealing with this question. It was admitted that there was some grievance in this matter, and he desired to be a little more clear as to the working of the alternative scheme. As he understood the suggestion of the First Lord of the Treasury it was that the local authority should be entitled to establish hostels at which Nonconformists and 589 others might reside and get the benefit as day scholars of the denominational colleges in the neighbourhood. He wished to ask whether the scheme was to apply to existing colleges, or only to new colleges, and also whether it was to apply to colleges whether they got aid from the local authority or not. He should protest against its being applied to existing colleges, and if it was he thought there ought to be some compensating grant from the local authority.
§ MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
expressed the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman had offered no practical suggestion for putting Nonconformist bodies on an equality with the Church of England. It appeared to him that the proposal now made was a postponement for many years of anything in the nature of equality. It was the intrenching of one religious community in a position of authority and power in connection with training colleges which they ought not to occupy. So far as the Wesleyan Methodist Church was concerned, he admitted that in bygone years there was foundation for the charge made against them by the hon. Member for North Camberwell. They did impose a sectarian test on members of other Nonconformist Churches who wished to enter their colleges. But directly the disability was put under the notice of the governing body of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, that condition was swept away. What was the position it was proposed by this Bill to perpetuate? There were thirty-one Established Church training colleges, and two or three Catholic training colleges, which it was not necessary to consider for the moment, because no Nonconformist would care to be educated in them. During the last thirty or forty years the money received by those thirty-one training colleges from the public funds had grown enormously. It had risen from 10 per cent. to 73 or 74 per cent. added to which there were the contributions of the teachers themselves. In the great County of Lincolnshire, which was very largely a Nonconformist county, 80 per cent. of the children attending the national schools belonged to the Methodist Church, and many cases had been brought before him 590 where girls had had to submit to confirmation in order that they might obtain training in the colleges of the Church. That was a grievous injustice. What Nonconformists asked was, not that the remedying of their grievance should be postponed until new training colleges had been erected, but that all such establishments, which were so largely maintained out of public funds, should be thrown open to Nonconformist children under the protection of a conscience Clause. Nonconformists did not intend to be crushed. They would be quite able to hold their own under the provisions of this Bill, though they were harsh, intolerant, ungenerous and unjust. While they believed that the Bill would not accomplish the object which the First Lord of the Treasury said he had in view, and while they did not believe the right hon. Gentleman had made any concession of real moment to Dissenters, they were not afraid of the operation of the measure. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to brush aside the notion that because he made it possible under this Bill that County Councils should in future set up undenominational training colleges, he had therefore remedied on this particular point or in one single degree the Nonconformist grievance.
(6.45.) SIR JOHNKENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
said he was glad of the assurance of the hon. Gentleman opposite that he did not mean to be crushed even by this Bill, and that Nonconformity generally had no such intention. But what had amazed him was that so large a body of representative men among Nonconformists had expressed that fear, and had lead the country to believe that they would be practically crushed out of existence, whereas it was shown by the First Lord of the Treasury that Nonconformists would in future have greater opportunities than they ever had before. Turning to the point immediately before the Committee, if they were to come to any satisfactory solution of this question they must try to look at the matter, not only from their own point of view but from that of their opponents. Hon. Gentlemen opposite dwelt almost exclusively on the amount contributed from public funds to those training colleges 591 and education generally but they gave very little credit for the large sacrifices which had been made by Churchmen during the last few generations for the purpose of giving good education in the country in accordance with the principles in which they believed and which they desired to maintain. Justice must be done to those who had made those sacrifices. Their efforts must be acknowledged and nothing in the nature of confiscation must be attempted. They had a right to ask with regard to these training colleges that they should be maintained in the atmosphere of the Church of England. As they had been founded and worked by the Church of England, so they should remain, and the Church of England should have the right, without proselytising, to teach their own children in their own schools and colleges in the doctrine in which they believed. The question arose under this Amendment whether the admission of the principle of a conscience Clause would vitiate that just claim. They should go back to the history of elementary schools and the resistance that was offered to the introduction of the conscience Clause then. It was denounced by some as an absolute breath of faith, and as being ruinous to all elementary schools. The result had proved that that fear was exaggerated. The Clause had, in fact, been made very little use of, and he believed it had been honestly carried out, and that parents of Dissenters had had little reason to complain of unfair treatment under it. The question now was whether in view of this plea and of the alleged injustice done to Nonconformists that principle of the conscience Clause could not be extended to these training colleges without injuring the maintenance of the atmosphere of the Church of England, or the teaching of her distinctive doctrines. This was a matter of very great anxiety because of the hot and angry feeling that had been excited. He felt that they on that side and hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to find some eirenicon, as far as possible, by which they would be able to smooth matters without damaging any distinctive principles. He for one, in view of the great length of time that must elapse before new undenominational colleges could be erected, was prepared to concede the principle that children of Nonconformists who had a claim should be admitted under a conscience Clause 592 to these colleges, because he believed that the Church of England would be strengthened and not weakened by that being done; and also because of the necessity of settling the matter as far as they could on broad and liberal lines, provided none of their religious principles and just claims were violated.
§ (6.53.) SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said the right hon. Baronet had given one of the best examples of how to practise in debate that art of Christian charity which was so much more often preached to them than practised. While his personal support of the Amendment was exceedingly valuable, the tone he had imparted to the debate was even more so, and he (the speaker) would endeavour to do nothing to disturb the feeling of compromise and conciliation which the right hon. Baronet had introduced into the discussion of this very difficult subject. He could assure the right hon. Baronet that there was not the least desire on that side of the House that there should be anything in the nature of spoliation of money given privately for denominational purposes. That was the fear expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. If this Amendment were carried, the denominational teaching would still be preserved. The object of the endowments given to these training colleges was to guarantee a particular form of denominational teaching in them, and that would continue. The Committee had not only to ask whether it was a question of improperly using private money for purposes for which it was not intended. If that had been the whole story the noble Lord's argument might have held good. But it was not only a question of private money; it was also a question of whether public money was being improperly used. On that side of the House they had the feeling that to give public money, and to give it in increasing amounts, to particular institutions to which a large part of the population must remain a foreign element, was to make an improper use of public money. Why was public money given to any institution at all? Because it was doing something in the nature of public work. If it was doing something in the nature of public work it must give up 593 to a certain extent its exclusive ideas. Its origin might have been exclusive, and as long as it was supported out of private funds it had a perfect right to remain exclusive; but directly it began to accept public money, and in proportion as it continued to accept public money, it must more and more resign its own exclusive ideas. He agreed that the suggestion of the First Lord would be a way out of the difficulty if it were practicable, viz., that of founding other undenominational colleges and undenominational hostels from which students could be day-students at denominational colleges. But what chance was there of such a scheme being realised soon? The Committee had to deal with the existing state of things, and it was not likely that the present hardship would be soon remedied. Was it likely that such a scheme would be carried out? How was it to be carried out? The County Councils were to have only limited funds The noble Lord wished the scheme to be carried out, and he was anxious to see liberal provision made for undenominational pupils. Under those circumstances, the noble Lord doubtless voted for doing away with the limitation of the county rate, because as long as that limit remained there was no prospect of such a scheme being carried out. If the First Lord, even in making his statement with regard to the public money to be given from the Treasury in aid of education, had been able to state that a portion of the money was to be given for the purposes of higher education, his argument about providing hostels would have come with more force. But the money was not to be available for the purpose of providing hostels or undenominational colleges. It was just for these training colleges that money from the Treasury was wanted, because it was most difficult to say that they served to satisfy a local purpose and should therefore be put on the rate. If a training college was established in a given district, how was it to be ensured that that district should have the, benefit of the pupils trained in that particular college? He could imagine a ratepayer saying, "I am asked to vote rates for a training college in my own county, but the better that training college is the more will the pupils trained in it be scattered over the country, and the more difficult it 594 will be to secure that they shall be available for teaching purposes in my own county." It was one of the cases in which it would be most difficult to get support from the rates, and in which, therefore, there was the more need of aid from the Treasury, but yet it was just one of this cases excluded from the benefit of that grant. The situation being what it was, and the hardship being what it was, at the present time the prospect of remedy was remote. He joined entirely with the right hon. Baronet in the opinion expressed that the existing institutions should be taken in hand with an endeavour to make the best and widest use of them for the purpose for which they were intended.
§ *(7.10.) SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
endorsed all that had been said by the First Lord of the Treasury in his appreciation of the existing position. There was an established grievance and one which they must recognise. They were in a very difficult position, but it was not an uncommon one. With a little more money from the Treasury, they might be able to tide over the difficulty. He would dismiss the Amendment, because, in his opinion, it would not meet the difficulty they had to face. What had they to face in regard to the training of teachers? This was a most obvious necessity which would stare every County Council in the face, and it would be the very first question which they would have to deal with.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
Therefore the very first endeavour of these new bodies would be to secure the further supply of a better class of teachers both for primary and elementary education. They had to ask themselves how that could be brought about by the Bill as it was at present drafted. He acknowledged the Nonconformist grievance. First of all, let them consider what these county authorities would do. In the first place they would increase the system, which was now largely extending, and that was the system of having day scholars in training colleges. He acknowledged that for many years past it had been a great hardship and a grievance among Nonconformists that the only recognised 595 colleges for them to enter belonged to the Church of England. He acknowledged freely this old grievance, and no man would more readily vote for any fair and just proposition to remove that grievance than himself. Already they had sixteen or seventeen of these day training colleges in existence, teaching about 1,400 students, and each and all of them receiving grants from the State. So far as the Nonconformist grievance was concerned, he thought it was to the establishment of non-sectarian training colleges that they must look for the removal of their grievance, and not to the existing training colleges which were now full and could admit no more students. The whole solution of the question must be in the establishment of other training colleges of a non-sectarian character. No doubt at first the county authorities would support schemes for the increase of day training colleges, because it would be found to be less expensive. His right hon. friend had referred to the limitation of the rate, but he would remind the Committee that, with the aid of grants from the State, day training colleges might be established very cheaply indeed, because in nearby all the counties now some technical institute or school buildings could be fixed upon where only evening classes were at present held, and the local authorities could easily make arrangements to use such buildings as day training colleges for teachers. Before this Bill passed the Report stage he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give a little more money for this purpose, for no hon. Member would be more pleased than himself to see this grievance swept away from our educational system.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury to approach this question in a broad and tolerable spirit, and to endeavour to find some moans of reconciling the views of his ordinary supporters with the views of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. He found himself in a somewhat difficult position. In the first place he supposed most hon. Members heard the very remarkable and impressive figures which had been given to the Committee by the hon. Member for North Camberwell. The First Lord of the Treasury had paid a well-deserved testimony to the lucidity, ability, and moderation of that speech. 596 He thought this was a question upon which hon. Members opposite ought to be ready to listen to the voice of compromise. This was a question upon which anybody who spoke should only do so with the very greatest solicitude and consideration for the religious views of their opponents. Take the case of the Oxford Diocesan Training College. In this college the voluntary subscriptions were £117 and the public subscriptions were £1,800 as given by the hon. Member for North Camberwell. Could they wonder at Nonconformists, who constituted at least half the nation, being discontented and feeling that they had a legitimate grievance, when they were to a large extent excluded from a college to which £1,800 was subscribed by the public and only £117 by that particular denomination. He was glad to hear the First Lord of the Treasury declare himself opposed to a policy of segregation in training schools, though it was approved by many hon. Members opposite. If he were a Protestant and an Englishman, he would resent in the strongest manner the anti-national and anti-Christian division of forms of religion by walls of bigotry and prejudice. The practical difficulty was that the colleges were crowded already, and by the force of facts the House was driven in the direction indicated by the First Lord of the Treasury. If the First Lord of the Treasury would make a definite promise that the Nonconformists' grievance, which he admitted, would be really met, the difficulty might be overcome. What was the use of telling them that the denominational colleges were open to Non-conformists? He did not suppose that many Protestants would enter a Roman Catholic training college, and if they did, he believed they would be Catholics before leaving them. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to let this Clause pass without doing something more than he had done to meet the Non-conformist grievance. What was the use of putting this duty on the County Councils? Did they suppose that the County Council of Lancashire was going to spend money to train teachers in order that they might go off to teach schools in London or elsewhere? The First Lord of the Treasury saw the difficulty, and said he was considering 597 whether he could devise a way of meeting it, but the Nonconformists were left without a single promise on which they could rely that their admitted grievance would be in any way met by the Government.
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
said that in supporting the Second Reading of the Bill he appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury to make sonic concession with respect to the matter now before the House. There was no question connected with the Bill on which there was a stronger feeling in the country than that with reference to the pupil teachers. Nonconformists felt it a grievance that they were practically excluded from the denominational schools, and they protested against Nonconformist pupil teachers being kept out of the training colleges. These colleges would receive under this Bill grants towards the education of pupil teachers, and that being so, it was only right that the public of all classes should have access to those colleges if they were in other ways fitted for the work. He was a loyal supporter of the principle of this Bill, and he was in favour of doing justice to the voluntary schools, but he would not be a party to doing injustice to the Nonconformist pupil teachers. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to make some concession which would relieve them of the necessity of voting for the Amendment.
§ * MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)
thought that after the appeals made from both sides of the House the Government could hardly leave matters as they stood. After the admission made by the First Lord of the Treasury he ought to show the Committee some practical means of remedying the grievance—a grievance which was riot merely sentimental but practical, touching both the self respect and the interests of Nonconformists in the strongest possible way. He was bound to offer a remedy as real as the grievance was real. He did not wish to approach this question in a controversial manner. The remedy suggested by the noble Lord the Member 598 for Greenwich was no remedy at all. He told them that accommodation could be provided by the education authority under the powers of the Bill, but, as had been pointed out already, not merely was it the case that the County Councils had not the money for the purpose, but it was really no part of their duty. This was a national and not a local work—a work that concerned the whole community—and, therefore, there could not be a stronger case than this for aid from the National Exchequer. It appeared to him that the remedy proposed by the Amendment was admirable so far as it went, and really no adequate argument had been advanced to show why the conscience Clause should not have a place here. The noble Lord opposite said he wished to preserve the present atmosphere of the colleges. He did not think the preference of the noble Lord, to which he had a perfect right, was shared by the First Lord of the Treasury and the majority of hon. Members on his own side of the House. It seemed to him that the argument was irresistible for opening these institutions to the whole nation. This had been done in the case of the universities with infinite good to all concerned. These teachers were public servants, and why in the name of common sense and tolerance should they be compelled to associate with one particular sect only? Such a policy was irrational and illiberal. If a concession were made on the lines of the Amendment which would make these colleges national institutions it would greatly smooth the passage of the Bill. If that could not be done it was the absolute duty of the First Lord of the Treasury to make an alternative suggestion, and the difficulty would be met to some extent by a proposal for assisting the local authorities to discharge a duty which was not their duty, but the duty of the State.
It being half-past Seven of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.