§ Order for Consideration of Lords Reason read.
§ The PRIME MINISTER and FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)
I beg to move that this order be discharged. It is not very long since we had these Amendments among us before; and now they return to us again, after a somewhat difficult career in another place. We sent them up en masse to the other place, and there has been no small display of real or simulated indignation on that account in the other place. There has even been some talk of our action being unconstitutional. But, Sir, I hold that the course to be taken by the House of Commons in dealing with Amendments coming from another place is a question for the House of Commons, and for the House of Commons alone. This House may be guided by rule and precedent. If so, it will be its own rule and precedent; or, if circumstances require it, the House will exercise its own discretion in following a course of procedure, which may be novel, according to the dictates of its own common sense. I imagine that in saying this of the House of Commons I say no more than would be true of the House of Lords also. In fact, imagination need not be brought into play, because although we were so blamed for sending up the Amendments en masse, we find the compliment is paid us of our example being followed by the other place. They refused to go seriatim through the Amendments which were suggested on the part of the Government in another place, and they have sent these old Amendments back in the lump. Surely, it cannot be that that in the Lords is but a choleric word which in the Commons is flat blasphemy. We are accustomed to this mock heroic. But we are not alarmed by it, whether it comes from the House of Lords itself or from some one sitting on the Front Opposition Bench. I ask the House to recall the debate in which we dealt with these Amendments when they were before us. What was its chief characteristic and note? Surely it was the desire evinced in all parts of the House, among supporters of His Majesty's Government, among the leading members of the free Protestant Churches, among 1736 the Leaders of the Irish Party—nay, even among some members of the regular Opposition—the desire for negotiation, conciliation, and peace. That desire was, as we all know, a faithful reflection of feeling in the country. Who can doubt that a sense of weariness, and nausea, and a dislike of clerical and sectarian squabbles have spread from one end of the country to the other? We were all for conciliation. There was at the close of the debate but one jarring note. One Member—whose absence from among us to-day we deplore, especially for the reason of it—and but one Member, unfortunately raised a jarring note, and his sentence, at least—as on a memorable occasion in poetry—was for open war. I do not know whether it was dictated by any part of the spirit that seems to have lost for him the paradise of the Treasury Bench; but I am sure of this, that it is not by the exhibition of that spirit that paradise will be regained. The Government in that debate, by mouth of more than one Member, declared its willingness to make material and generous concessions for the sake of peace. The only complaint made was that they were not sufficiently definite in describing them. Yes; but that complaint has at least been put an end to now, because Lord Crewe, whose praise is in everyone's mouth, placed on the Paper of the House of Lords the very words of the Amendments we were willing to accept. Be it remembered that these were not—as some not well acquainted with the facts of the case would have imagined—the first concessions. The Bill as it left this House—aye, the Bill as introduced to this House—was packed full of concessions, concessions that put a heavy strain on the conscientious convictions of many of our friends both in this House and in the country, and a strain which we should never have put upon them had we not thought it necessary. And why did we put that strain upon our friends? And why have we gone on accumulating the intensity of the strain upon our friends? Because of the deep realisation that we had of the urgent importance of securing such a settlement as would bring into play the national forces which are necessary to secure for the childhood and youth of our country that full and sound measure of education which ought to be their birthright. We made 1737 many and great concessions. But let me say this. After all I do not think it too much to say that when a Government deliberately introduces a great measure, carefully designed and contrived to accomplish a certain purpose, especially when that purpose has quite recently received the approval of the electors of the country, some regard at least in the consideration of the measure, and in the attempts to amend it, should be paid to that purpose. If those who criticise a measure in either House do not approve of the purpose, let them vote against the Second Reading; but, if they do not vote against the Second Reading, let them at least make some decent show of homage to the main purpose of the measure. Now I ask the House to consider for a moment how the matter stands in the latest phase with which we have now to deal. There are two conspicuous clauses in this Bill, Clauses 3 and 4. I speak of them alone to save time in going over others. Those clauses do not cohere very closely with some of the other parts of the Bill. No one can pretend that you can deal with an illogical and somewhat inconsistent system of education such as we have, except in a measure which is in itself on that account somewhat illogical and inconsistent; but those clauses were introduced to meet exceptional cases and demands, which we thought not unreasonable demands, with the view of obtaining a settlement. The Amendments which Lord Crewe described to the House of Lords and placed upon the Paper were designed and calculated to give reality and fulness to the concessions already made in those clauses. The details of what we were willing to do were placed on the Paper in defiance of tactics. It was bad tactics to put them on the Paper, but we thought it only right there should be this last chance, and that we at any rate should not stand in the way of its success. Why were the Amendments rejected? I wish to turn the attention of the House especially to that. They were rejected because of demands made which they would not fulfil. And what were these demands? The demand was solemnly avowed that in the hitherto denominational schools, the non-provided and the transferred schools, according to the nomenclature of this legislation, specific.sectarian religious teaching should con- 1738 tinue to be given by all the teachers, if willing, in every school, large or small, in town and country alike, irrespective of the assent of the local authority. That is a plain description of the demand. Now what is this but the perpetuation and extension and consolidation of the very system which our Bill was designed on the whole to put an end to? And these demands are not more persuasively commended to us by the fact that this new, aggravated, and consolidated denominationalism is to be accompanied by rent paid by the State for the use of the schools which it is obliged to support. The same teachers are to teach the same things to the same little children in the same schools, whether the local authority like it or not, and the public purse is to pro vide a rent for the schools which they now enjoy rent free. Sir, I say that is enough. For such a Bill—to use the everyday, but very good expression of my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education—we have no use. Why have we no use for it? Because our aim is, on the other hand, to secure a national and not a denominational system, public and not sectarian, on the general basis of a common Christianity instead of a sectional Christianity, to make our educational system the handmaid of the community and not the handmaid of any church or sect, and to prevent the common schools of the country, which are maintained out of the public purse, from being provided and worked with two doors, as we heard in the last Parliament—and I hope we shall never forget it—one bringing in the poor little children from the streets, and the other ushering them into a particular church. Well, Sir, the contrast between these two ideals is enough to show the real inward character of the Amendments, and as they involve an absolute perversion of the whole purpose of the Bill, and as, in spite of attempts at conciliation and negotiation, they are persisted in, the discharge of the Bill from our Order-book becomes a mere necessary formality. It is a formality consequent on the action of the House of Lords, who destroyed the Bill, and of one in this House who incited them to do it. The Motion means no more than that the dead body of this measure which they have left at our door may be carried away out of the sight of men.
§ Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I thank the hon. Member for his kindly cheer. Now the question we have to ask ourselves is—Is the general election and its result to go for nothing? I turn here from the educational to the general question. This education question has been before the country since 1902, and even earlier. It has been discussed and re-discussed. The Act of 1902 has been the cause of intense bitterness and dissatisfaction. The grievance created by it and the flaws in its administrative structure in many respects are such that there can be no peace, no settlement, no ordered progress in the work of education until the law is altered from its present condition. No one denies it. No one denies that that was the opinion which helped to return the great majority sent by the constituencies this time last year. No one denies the strength of the reflection of that opinion in this House. Who could deny it, when these very Amendments were returned to the House of Lords but a few days ago by a majority of 309? Well, Sir, at the bidding of a Party which was condemned at the general election, condemned as no Party was ever condemned before, the House of Lords has obliterated all this. I desire to speak with perfect moderation and calmness, but it is difficult to reconcile such action on the part of the other House with that calm and impartial revision of hasty legislation which is assumed to be the greatest merit of that Assembly. Perhaps it is even harder to see how that action justifies the claim that they are the true interpreters of the feeling and desires of the people of this country. But even if it were so, what is the good of maintaining a representative system? It is not as if this House of Commons were old, stale, and worn out; if that were so, there would be some reason we could understand in the argument; but there is no reason in the argument to-day. It is plainly intolerable, Sir, that a second Chamber should, while one Party in the State is in power, be its willing servant, and when that Party has received an unmistakable and emphatic condemnation by the country, the House of Lords should then be able to neutralise, thwart, 1740 and distort the policy which the electors have approved. That is the state of things that for the moment—for the nonce—we must submit to. A settlement of this grave question of education has been prevented, and for that calamity we know, and the country knows, upon whom the responsibility lies. But, Sir, the resources of the British Constitution are not wholly exhausted, the resources of the House of Commons are not exhausted, and I say with conviction that a way must be found, a way will be found, by which the will of the people expressed through their elected representatives in this House will be made to prevail.
§ Motion made and question proposed, "That the order be discharged."
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said that with the opening remarks of the Prime Minister all would agree, and no one more heartily than himself, in which reference was made to the absence of his right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition. He was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman was sincere in his expression of regret for that absence and the cause. Following that, it was to be regretted that the Prime Minister had found it necessary to attack his right hon. friend, to refer to his speech upon the last debate on this subject as the only jarring note, and to say that his right hon. friend alone had declared for war. He reminded the House that what his right hon. friend said on that occasion was what had been said by more than one speaker on that side of the House—namely that anxious as he was that there should be peace, he would rather have war than peace in the shape of the Bill as it was sent to the other House. The charge made against his right hon. friend, without qualification, was that he preferred war. The Prime Minister had now told the House that the one object they ought to have worked for was to secure peace, and that the Government were anxious to make very large concessions to arrive at peace; but what guarantee was there from evidence at their command that if the concessions had found their way into the Bill there would have been peace after the passing of the Bill? The history of the Bill had been remarkable. It had gone through many 1741 difficulties, and there had been many explanations of its intention; but in the speech of the Prime Minister they now heard the object of the Bill frankly declared. He had frankly, plainly stated, without leaving room for doubt, that the object of the Bill was anti-denominational. He (MR. Long) asked the House to think of the debates they had listened to, of the assurances given on behalf of denominational teaching, of the assurances given from time to time that Clauses 3 and 4 would be made really effective and would, as it was said, leave denominational teaching in a better condition than it had been, and what became of those assurances in the light of the latest declaration that the real object of the Bill was anti-denominational? The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill in its general provisions had been approved by the country. But what Bill? What was the Bill upon which the country had been consulted and of which the country had approved? Was it the Bill as originally brought in? Was it a Bill upon which the President of the Board of Education made his opening statement which was not borne out? Was it the Bill as it left the House? Was it the Bill as it would have appeared after the Amendments had been introduced to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred? They had been told that there would have been peace with the passing of the Bill, but he did not believe that in his funeral oration the Prime Minister had one sincere mourner behind him. The concessions referred to by the Prime Minister were not real concessions, and they were worse: they seemed to offer concessions to one or two great denominations but to the exclusion and injury of another. What was the reception given to those concessions; were they welcomed by hon. Members behind the Government? By those entitled to speak for the feeling in the country they were stated to have strained the allegiance of the followers of the Government. It was said the Bill would not be worth having. He was entitled to assume that the Prime Minister in his remarks was referring to the Bill as it would have been with the amendments affirmed by the Government imported into it. That was a 1742 Bill which had no genuine support, and they were asked to believe that it would have produced peace and have established national education on a satisfactory footing. He did not believe that the hon. Member for North Camberwell, who knew as much about the education question as anybody in the House, would be prepared to say that the Bill in its amended form would have settled controversy and maintained peace in the future. It was idle to charge the Opposition with having failed to secure peace. There must first be held out reasonable indication that peace would have been secured before the Opposition were blamed for not sharing the Government view and for preferring the view expressed by the Amendments made in another place. The Prime Minister said that Clause 3 was a real concession with which the Opposition ought to have been satisfied. Throughout the whole of the debates in the House there was no subject upon which there was more general agreement, no subject that had a larger body of opinion in its support, and which found expression in an Amendment introduced in another place, than that Clause 3 should be made a reality and effective for the purpose for which it was intended. But the Government insisted upon provisions in connection with the teachers which took away the only means by which the clause could be made effective. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of the peace the Bill would have produced, but it would have added to the controversies. Under Clause 3 the only means of making teaching effective was by the employment of teachers able and willing to give that teaching; but the Government proposed to leave this to the local authority, and all the horrors of controversy would have been aroused by a clause which was intended to allay them. With Clause 4 there would have been a similar result. This clause, which the Prime Minister had said was to meet the case for denominational teaching, had been referred to by speakers from the other side of the House not so much as an exception to a general principle as an excrescence upon the Bill; it was received in sullen silence or with manifest hostility, and round it had raged the bitterest, angriest part of the controversies upon the measure. What right had 1743 they to assume that at the local elections and in the council chambers a different spirit would prevail from that which had prevailed in the debates in this House? During the passage of the Bill the Government had made alterations in Clause 4. They had the alternative of a mandamus and the alternative of an appeal to the central authority. He ventured to say that an appeal to a central authority was likely to add to the bitterness of the controversy at local elections. It had been the invariable experience that where a central department had forced the local authority to perform some duty they did not want to perform, that question was made a paramount one at the next election, and it was made the one question upon which those who sought election asked for the confidence of the electors. This was the power which, according to the Government, would have brought peace and put an end to the controversy. Whether the Lords were right or wrong in the Amendments which they introduced into the Bill, it was idle to pretend that peace was the real point at stake. The fortunes of the Bill might have been at stake. The Government contended that the Lords Amendments interfered with the real principle of the Bill. He confessed he found it difficult to understand why there was such strong opposition to the alterations that had been made. Clauses 3 and 4 had been made as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite had always said they meant their to be—effective, practical, and real. The Prime Minister has said it was an interference by the other House with the rights and privileges of the elected Chamber, and in a memorable passage he had indicated what were the views of the Government in regard to this branch of the question. If the object of the Government was to pick a quarrel with the other House, and to found a charge against them in order to deal with the difficulty which had arisen out of their action, he would only remind them of the brilliant speech delivered by the hon. member for North Louth the other day, in which he warned the Government that, if that was their object, they were not going the right way to secure their end. If that was to be the object, let them fight, not upon the Education Bill 1744 but upon the right of the other House to interfere with the legislation of the House of Commons. It had frequently been made a charge against the other House that their interference was actuated by a desire to defend the rights of property and the privileges of a class. He did not think the wildest opponent of the Upper House could charge them on this occasion with having been animated by feeling of that kind. It could not be doubted that the object they had in view was to maintain an educational system in this country in conformity with the wishes of the parents, a system of education which would make the children of the country good citizens, and give to all denominations equally the same opportunities and the same privileges. He admitted there was one Amendment made at the last moment dealing with the parents' consultative committee which was certainly remarkable. They understood that under no circumstances would the Government allow an Amendment to stand which would give a veto to the parents' committee, but they found in the Government's proposed Amendment to Clause 8 these words—The local education authority shall appoint persons acceptable to the parents' committee to be teachers in the school.If that was compared with the original Amendment introduced in another place it would be found that there was very little difference, if any, between the phraseology or the effect of the two Amendments, and if that did not in practice give the parents a veto he did not know the meaning of it.
§ The PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION(MR. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
Do you object to it?
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he did not object to it at all. It was understood in the course of their debates that that Amendment would be particularly acceptable to the great body of Roman Catholics in this country. It never was suggested that it would meet the difficulty in connection with Church schools. The Prime Minister had moved that this order be discharged. The right hon. Gentleman had no more hearty supporter of his Motion than himself. He did not like the Bill when it 1745 was first brought in and he did not like it in its amended form. He did not believe that the passing of the Bill, in any way they could amend it, could have produced peace throughout the country. It would not have satisfied any one who was really dissatisfied with the present system. It might have lessened for a time the bitterness of the controversy, but it would not have produced peace, and it would have produced fresh controversies and difficulties in connection with our system of local government which would have caused enormous confusion and a vast amount of bitterness. Therefore he rejoiced that the Prime Minister had moved this Motion. The right hon. Gentleman claimed that the responsibility for the loss of the Bill must rest with those in another place, and he said that was known by the country. With regard to the feeling in the country, every man was entitled to his own opinion. The country would have an opportunity later on of expressing its opinion, and they might very well wait until that time came. It was a little dangerous to make forecasts, and the Prime Minister might find that he had not been so accurately informed as he believed himself to be. It was impossible for him to vote against this Motion, because it had his entire sympathy. In his opinion the responsibility for the fate of the Bill rested with those who were responsible for its production and its passage through this House, who must have known what were the difficulties they would have to contend with. They produced a measure which would not have got rid of those difficulties and would not have produced an improved condition of things. They had the power and the knowledge, and if they had dealt wisely with this question they might have produced a settlement which would have put an end to the controversy. They had chosen to deal with it in a very different fashion; and if to-day they had to commit their own infant to the grave with their own hands, they would find they would have to bear the responsibility for a Bill which had led to that result.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he had to express on his own part and on the part of his colleagues their deep disappointment at the breakdown of the compromise and the loss of the Bill. 1746 They had at any rate the satisfaction of knowing that the Nationalist Party had done its best to bring about a compromise, and no share of the responsibility for the breakdown rested upon them. In a difficult, critical, and delicate position they had endeavoured to adopt a kindly and reasonable attitude. They were bound to stand forth in defence of the Catholic schools of this country. They had never pretended to speak in the name of the Catholics of England, but they did claim to speak in the name of the Irish Catholics in England, who were probably 90 per cent. of the whole Catholic body, and the poorest of the poor among the population. They were themselves or they were the sons of people who had been driven out of Ireland by that system of law aid of government which, so far as the great majority was concerned, this House abhorred and was resolved to put an end to. These men had been driven out of Ireland and into all the great centres of industry, all the great factories and workshops of this country. They had lived their lives of hardship and privation; they had lived under conditions which might easily have driven from them every sense of religious obligation. But these men kept their faith, and so deeply imbued were they with devotion to their faith that out of their poverty they had spent millions of money in the erection of their schools, and to-day it was a true saying with them that they regarded the faith of their children as their dearest possession—a possession for which they would, as their fathers did in the past, make any sacrifice; for which they would fight; and for which, he believed, if need be, they would die. Under those circumstances he and his friends who represented the Irish race in this House were bound to stand forth in defence of these schools. But they shrank with horror from the idea of the Catholic claim that they represented being obtruded as an obstacle in the path of the educational reforms demanded by the democracy of England. They shrank with horror from the idea that the Catholic claim should be dragged into the midst of the great religious controversy between two sections or more of the Protestant people of this country. They desired that their claim should be associated in no degree 1747 whatever with the grievance of any section of Protestants, and he would say especially of Nonconformist Protestants. He said "especially" because there was enough common to the history of Nonconformity and their history in the shape of persecution for faith's sake to make them shrink from the possibility, if they could avoid it, of having their claim mixed up with the maintenance of any grievance of Nonconformists. Above all, they shrank from having their case mixed up with the question of the House of Lords, and therefore it was that while they put forth their Catholic claim strongly, he hoped—sincerely, he knew—at the same time they endeavoured to put it forth with moderation and with reason, He admitted that the attitude they had taken up had been reciprocated by the House generally. The Bill as it was introduced must undoubtedly have meant the death of the overwhelming majority of the Catholic schools of the country, because they could not, owing to conscientious beliefs, take advantage of Clause 3 and send their children in for Cow per-Temple teaching. Therefore the Bill as it was originally introduced would undoubtedly have meant the death of the majority of the Catholic schools of the country. He and his friends therefore proposed at the commencement of the discussion a series of Amendments which would in their judgment have made the Bill at least tolerable to the Catholics of the country. He did not say that those Amendments would have made the Bill completely satisfactory to them. There had been no education Bill which had been completely satisfactory to Catholics. He believed that from the very nature of things it was impossible that a great Protestant nation creating an educational system for itself could at the same time make a completely satisfactory system for Catholics. The Bill of 1902 for which they voted was certainly not entirely satisfactory. He did not claim, therefore, that if the Amendments had been carried the Bill would have been completely satisfactory in the sense in which a Bill would be which they themselves drafted. But those Amendments would have made the Bill tolerable, and would have enabled Catholic schools to continue in existence. The position in which he 1748 found himself was this, that those Amendments had been in substance conceded by the Government. The concessions that had been made completely fulfilled the promises that were made by the President of the Board of Education in his famous speech to the Jews. As he had mentioned the President of the Board of Education, he would like to say that whoever might consider that what had happened was a defeat, the right hon. Gentleman ought not. The President of the Board of Education had created for himself a position in this House occupied by few statesmen in the past. For himself, he would say that as he listened to the right hon. Gentleman's conduct of the Bill, to his good humour and wit and patience, to his kindliness, and conciliatory tone towards opponents, his admiration for him grew night by night. And he could, speaking for himself and all his colleagues, say that they thanked the right hon. Gentleman sincerely for the conciliatory way in which he had dealt with their claims, and for the fact that he had by his recent Amendments completely fulfilled the promises he had made. He alluded specially to the Amendment dealing with the question of teachers in Clause 4 schools, and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman and the Government for their Amendment. From their point of view it was a fur better Amendment than that of Lord St. Aldwyn, and therefore he for his part, speaking on behalf of large Catholic interests in this country, welcomed the fact that Lord St. Aldwyn's Amendment had been rejected and that the Amendment proposed by the Government which they had a chance of getting in this compromise was a far better one. Under that Amendment the great bulk of the Catholic schools of this country would have remained Catholic schools with a Catholic atmosphere and Catholic teachers. He had read an interesting interview published in one of the evening papers to-day from a distinguished dignitary of the Catholic Church, the right Rev. Monsignor Brown, Vicar-General of the diocese of Southwark, in which, speaking of the amended Bill, he said—As amended by the Government the Education Bill would have been a working 1749 measure. Of course it would have carried with it certain risks, but unless administered in a hostile spirit by the local authorities the Catholic schools would have remained Catholic in every sense of the word.Under these circumstances his colleagues and he who had opposed the Second Heading and the Third Reading of the Bill had to consider this very grave question—whether on the production of these Amendments, which substantially gave them what they had been asking for, they should facilitate the compromise and the passage of the Bill, or whether they should join with the Leader of the Opposition and with the House of Lords in wrecking the measure and facing all the perils and uncertainties of the future with a light heart. It was not without the very gravest deliberation and consideration, and it was not without consultation with those who were best entitled to speak on behalf of the Catholic body in this country, that they had come to the conclusion that in the interest of these Catholic schools it would be unwise for the Catholic representatives in this House to make themselves in any degree responsible for the wrecking of this measure. The Government had gone a long way to meet them. At the lowest they had made the Bill tolerable for the Catholic body. The great bulk of the Catholic schools would have been saved; and, on the other hand, the future of the Catholic schools, which were the schools of a small minority in this land, was full of uncertainty and doubt, and no man could foretell what those schools might not have to suffer in future if they now rendered this settlement impossible by insisting, or trying to insist—because they could not successfully insist—on what they regarded as the full measure of their rights, and by joining themselves with the House of Lords at what, in all human probability, was the commencement of a great constitutional struggle between the enfranchised democracy on one side and a hereditary and irresponsible Chamber on the other. Under all these circumstances they had decided that they would do what they could to promote this compromise and to pass the Bill into law. He repeated what he had said at the commencement of his remarks, that they could say with perfect truth that no particle of responsi- 1750 bility for the wrecking of this Bill rested upon them. He was glad to be able to state that in taking this course they were acting not only in consultation with, but with the concurrence of, the responsible heads of the Catholic Church in England. He would say this one word in conclusion: Was it too much for them to hope that, in the future developments of this struggle both in the administration of the Act of 1902, rendered infinitely more difficult and embittered as it must be by what had happened, and also in any further legislative proposals that might be put forward for a settlement of the education question, their attitude in reference to this Bill might be remembered, and that the Protestants of this country who were in an overwhelming majority, and of course could do what they liked in spite of their protests, would act in the future with not only toleration but with perfect fairness and even generosity towards this small minority in their midst made up of poor, hard-working, and self-sacrificing men?
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
said that he and those with whom he was associated regretted that such a futile termination should be the result of the long and weary labours in which the House had been engaged. Apart from the sectarian clauses of the Bill upon which there was so much difference of opinion, and which were responsible for the final wrecking of the measure, the Bill was one upon which there was a general consensus of agreement. Many of them foresaw that, even if the Bill were passed, it would still leave what was known as the religious difficulty unsettled. In that belief the Labour Party had asked the House to accept what they more than ever believed to be the only possible settlement of this question, the elimination of religious instruction from the public schools of the country. But, having failed to obtain the assent of the House to that proposition, they had loyally and cordially co-operated with the Government in endeavouring to get the measure through, because of the good it contained. They were prepared to support the Government in any compromise that might be come to between the two 1751 opposing sections. Now he would suggest that what, without meaning offence, he would call the humanitarian clauses of the Bill should be resuscitated at the earliest possible moment. He was aware that it could not be done this session; but surely such matters as the provisions for the blind and deaf, for vacation schools and recreation, for medical examination and inspection, and for enabling intelligent children to have an opportunity of passing into higher grade schools, might at an early date form the subject of another Bill which could be passed with the unanimous consent of the House. If they could not agree how to treat the souls of the children, let them try at least agree in the treatment of their bodies. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin had asked what Bill it was that the country approved of at the general election. His experience of the general election was that the Bill demanded by the electorate was one which would give the public free and unfettered control over all schools paid for out of public monies. This Bill set out with that intention, and everything else in it was an excrescence. The Government's attempts to conciliate conflicting opinions had led to the Bill's being abandoned. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford had paid a well-deserved compliment to the Minister for Education. No man in the House had ever shown more sweet reasonableness and more genuine human feeling in his desire to conciliate opponents than the right hon. Gentleman. Therein lay the weakness of the case. Had the Minister for Education put more steel into his composition, and had he refused concessions, the Church Party would have understood that unless they accepted a reasonable compromise worse things were in store for them, and they would not have pressed their demands so strongly in another place. Surely the logical deduction from the failure of the attempt at compromise was that no settlement of this religious difficulty was possible. There were other questions involved. If the Education Bill was dead the institutions responsible for its death might find that they had wounded themselves in a vital place. The question would be asked—By what right or authority did an irresponsible and an unrepresenta- 1752 tive assembly interfere with the expressed will and opinion of the people of the nation? He was loth to see a great constitutional conflict entered into with another House, but if this method of treating Bills which passed this House continued—and they had had two examples this session—the country would be left no option but to take up the challenge thrown down by the Lords. He was aware that Labour Members had small reason to complain of the action of the Lords in connection with Labour measures. He had seen it stated that this tender handling was due to a desire to conciliate the working classes and keep them from joining in a crusade against the Upper House. It was not for him to interpret the motives of the other House, but if that was their intention, to bribe the masses of the country into tolerating a system of government which was an insult to their intelligence by assuming that some power outside the people was necessary to hold the people in check, the attempt would miserably fail. The Bill was dead from an overdose of sectarianism, and the moral was that there was no halting place between secular education pure and simple and meeting the claims and demands of every section of the Christian Church, and he hoped that lesson would be borne in mind. Millions of children required to be educated and looked after, and yet there was all this squabbling as to the words to be used in imparting religious instruction. Surely if religion underlay the opposition to this Bill it would find its highest expression in sinking creeds and caring for the bodies and the minds of the children and making them fit dwelling places for the image of the Creator. The Labour Party had no responsibility for the wrecking of this measure. If the heads of the Established Church joined their fortunes with another place so much the worse for the Church. If his own voice or opinion had any weight with those responsible for the wrecking of this measure his advice was to make peace quickly with the enemy while yet he was in the way.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
said that, speaking from a strictly educational point of view, he was filled with the bitterest disappointment. He 1753 thought the path was full of the promise of peace, though not of a settlement at once. He had expected that something could he done which would lead to a settlement, but instead of that the path was strewn with the greatest difficulty, perplexity, and anxiety. He would state in two or three sentences exactly what they had been prevented from doing. They desired to set up full and complete public control over every public elementary school. That was an enormous reform which would have touched three out of every five elementary schools. They desired that all the school managers should be the nominees of the public, that all public elementary school teachers should be municipal servants, and they desired especially to free the villages of the country from ecclesiastical control, and to substitute municipal and communal concern. That was exactly where they had failed. The entrenched forces—the territorial and the ecclesiastical forces—had been too much, for them. They had prevented them for freeing the villages for the moment, but it would be the worse for them in the end. They insisted on having as teachers the denominational volunteer "under compulsion." Again, the Bill provided for the first time in English educational history that any teacher in any school teaching any form of religion should be relieved, without prejudice to his office as teacher, from the task of giving religious teaching, if he had conscientious grounds. He would have thought that such a proposal, which would have clarified and perfected religious teaching, would have commended itself to the friends of religious teaching on the other side of the House. The Bill also said that no payments should come out of public funds for denominational teaching. That was accepted without comment by both Houses, and yet the contrary remained the law of the land. It would be the duty of the Government to set that right as soon as possible. They desired to set up a great scheme of medical inspection and treatment for the unhappy suffering little scraps of humanity in the slums of our cities, one of the greatest evils ever brought before the House for reform. Even that was sympathetically supported by the Leader of the Opposition, whose absence they all deplored, not only for its 1754 cause, but because they would have liked to tell him that they thought of him. They proposed to set up a scheme of compensation for the denominational teacher who would have been displaced by the operation of the Bill if it had become law. In 1902 the Tory Party—the friends of the denominational teacher—would not look at that proposal, and not a single bishop could then be found to provide a single farthing of solatium for the men and women who were declared to be devoted servants of the Church. He trusted that the teachers who had written him offensive letters—well, he would not use the word offensive, but strongly wordedletters—against some of the views to which he had given expression would bear that in mind, that the present Radical Government had gone out of their way to find compensation for them. To secure the reforms which he had enumerated the Government had offered very large, generous, and far-reaching concessions. Lord Stanley of Alderley had said that the concessions went too far and would strain to the utmost the loyalty of the rank and file of the Liberal Party. He himself thought they had gone far enough, but he was one of those who would pay a long price for peace. But stiff as was the price offered by the Government it was not stiff enough for the Leader of the Opposition, and nothing would have been stiff enough for him. The right hon. Gentleman did not want the Bill to pass under any circumstances. He wanted to wreck the Bill. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had been extremely short-sighted in the advice he had given, and never had the friends of denominational teaching teen more grievously misled. The Bill offered large concessions to denominationalists which they would never get again, and the responsibility rested with those who for petty Party machinations had wrecked the measure. In conclusion, he wished to add a word of admiration for the President of the Board of Education, who had conducted the Bill with grim purpose, unflinching courage, unquenchable faith, and sterling honesty, qualities which they admired in all parts of the House, and all of which had been lit up by the rarest flashes of wit and good humour. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman felt the failure of these long weary months of work. They could not give him his Bill, but they 1755 could tender him their respectful thanks and sympathy. He had lost the Bill, but he had gained their esteem and affection for his probity and devotion. He himself would rather have scored this failure than he would have won the success, the contemptible success, won by the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Sir ALFRED THOMAS (Glamorganshire, E.)
said he wished on behalf of the Welsh Members to say that they felt the fate of the Bill very keenly. If the Bill had been carried in the House of Lords as it left the House of Commons Wales would have been very much the gainer. There should have been set up in Wales a Council of Education. He and his hon. friends regretted that the proposal would not be carried out. The Welsh people felt that the Government had gone far be yond what they would have expected, and what they had a right to expect when the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons. He had no hesitation in saying that it was the personal esteem which was felt for the Prime Minister and his right hon. friend which led the Welsh Members to give way to the concessions without further protest. Now that the Bill had fallen through, he could not disguise the fact that he viewed the situation in Wales with some apprehension. But whatever happened, he believed that the Welsh would not fail to uphold the character of Welshmen as a law-abiding people, and he hoped that his right hon. friend would not strain the law in favour of sectarian as against council schools, and that he would allow to the councils that minimum of control which was left to them by the Bill of 1902. He understood that the Minister of Education was about to reorganise the office and to set up a Welsh department in the Board of Education. Of course he and his friends would very much have preferred to have a Council chosen by the Welsh people, but they recognised that what was now proposed was a great advance towards securing autonomy in educational matters in Wales. He begged to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the proposal.
§ The PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (MR. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
I think it is generally understood by everybody in the House that the time for speech has for the moment disappeared. Silence best befits the death chamber. Our Education Bill, upon which there has been expended ability, time, labour, thought, and pains has been killed in another place, though not, as we think, at the particular instigation of any member of that Assembly, but by the will and decree of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, whose absence from his place we deplore, both for its reason and for the injury it does to ourselves. I do not affect to deny—it would be foolish were I to do so—that I am much moved and disappointed by the defeat of all our hopes. In saying that I am not thinking so much of myself—for through the whole of the struggle I have done my best, at all events, to obliterate myself as much as possible—but I am thinking of the time and labour and trouble that have been bestowed upon the Bill by hon. Members on both sides of the House, who have given hours of time and much consultation with their friends in all parts of the country. I refer especially to the devolution clause, which, if an agreement had been arrived at, would have been of enormous benefit to the cause of education, which would have secured to a large extent local zeal and interest, and it would I believe have revivified what I am afraid in many cases is a dying cause. Reference has also been made to the medical inspection clause, which passed with general consent in this House, and gave great hopes, not only to those who are scientifically interested in the subject, but to all who believe in the manhood of our race as being the one thing to preserve and the only real hope for the future. I also derived great pleasure from the thought that this Bill would have done something to organise the playgrounds of our children, to give to the children of the poor what perhaps is almost the best education they anywhere can get, that of acting in manly and friendly co-operation one with another. Well, all these hopes are for the moment vanished, and we have lost our labour, and have, so far as the Statute-book is 1757 concerned, nothing to show for thirty long and weary days spent upon the Bill in its various stages. All that is gone, recklessly gone, unnecessarily gone, and I still think at the bidding of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I do not want in his absence to say much about him. Of course we all recognise that he is somewhat of an amphibian and breathes equally on land and in water. If he is persecuted in one House he flees into another. Applying the words of George Canning, he calls the House of Lords into existence to redress his balance in the House of Commons. Here his balance has long been overdrawn. Any cheques he drew in this House must have been dishonoured, and probably they will return to him with the words written across them, "Account charged; apply to the House of Lords." Well, it is irritating—who can deny it? It is more than irritating, it is mortifying, that the first fruits of the general election should have been destroyed by action of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin asked me fairly enough what was the sort of Bill that the country authorised and supported by the votes cast at the last election. I can tell him. The kind of Bill the country had in view was a Bill without Clause 4 and with very little of Clause 3 in it. And it is simply because the Government, animated by a desire which I and all my colleagues have felt, that no portion of the children of the country should, if we could possibly help it, stand outside the national system—it was for that reason, incurring for ourselves great unpopularity, running no small risks and dangers, that we nevertheless put those clauses into our Bill and stuck to them to the end, although the very persons who might have been expected to support them were the first to jeer and laugh at us for doing so, asking us how we could reconcile such clauses with the pledges we were supposed to have given. That is no encouragement for any politician in the future, although I trust such will still be found, to be animated by a passionate desire that no portion of the children of this country should be excluded from the benefits of the national system. Well, the future will be what it will be. It is not for me to say what it 1758 holds within its grasp. That will be revealed as time goes on. But one thing I can say, as far as I am concerned or any future colleague of mine who finds himself at the Board of Education, that he will administer the law fearlessly without predilection, and with a perfect bloodless indifference, to see that the due course of law is observed, and that the cause of education is maintained at its proper level. We shall all of us have difficulties to face. The Church will have difficulties to face. Nonconformity will have difficulties to face. A condition of things which is perhaps almost impossible has been perpetuated by gentlemen opposite and by their political allies and friends in another place. They have admitted all the Nonconformist grievance, and they recognised our right to cure it. They have taken care that we should not cure it, but that it should remain a sore in our social life. I therefore can only say for myself that I look forward with much apprehension and a deep sense of personal responsibility to what lies before us. I profoundly regret, both for the cause of education and still more for the cause of religion, that this Bill, which did more than any future Bill by any possibility can do to preserve under certain conditions the rights of denominational schools and the right of parents who demand religious education for their children, to maintain them as a walled city in the midst of an undenominational system—that all those things you have rejected. You have wilfully thrown them on one side. And what do you look forward to in the future? The swing of the pendulum is the fetish you worship. Possibly it may swing some day in your favour; but do you think it will ever swing far enough to enable you to disregard the Liberal, the Radical, and the Labour Party and those who favour the secular solution? Do you imagine you will ever be strong enough by the votes of your own Party to force upon this country a denominational system which it has so pronouncedly rejected? You must fail; and I believe that when that day comes you will deeply regret, every one of you, from the bottom of your hearts, that you rejected a measure which I still maintain was honest, which I am certain was courageous, and which 1759 could only have been secured wit the utmost difficulty and the loss of great popularity. You have cast your hopes upon a dim and distant future. All can say is that when that dim and distant future comes we and those who represent the principles you oppose will be there too. I say for the last time that, having rejected this Bill, I believe you will live to regret it still more.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
The unexpected speech of the right hon. Gentleman calls for a very brief reply. I associate myself in the fullest measure with all that has been said by the Members for Waterford and Camberwell as to the manner in which the Minister for Education has conducted this Bill. I can assure him on behalf of myself and my colleagues on this side of the House that our compliments in that regard are sincere. There is, however, one statement which we cannot allow to pass—namely, that the Leader of the Opposition has, of his own mere will and motion, acting independently on grounds which have been described as petty, killed the Bill which otherwise promised a settlement of the religious education question. Sir, we associate ourselves with the action of our Leader, and I will point out that the Minister for Education has altogether ignored the action of the Government in this matter. He speaks as if our Leader had induced the majority in another Chamber to carry out his wishes. On that I have a question to ask. When the Minister in charge of the Bill in another place asked that his Amendments should be accepted in order that the Bill might be an agreed Bill, was he speaking only to noble Lords there, or was he speaking to the party as an official organisation? We were invited to accept the last proposals of the Government as a party, and by accepting them to say that this was a settlement of the religious difficulty. As honest men we could not do it, because we did not believe it. The Bill in the shape in which it came down to this House from the House of Lords was not a Bill which we could call an agreed Bill. It was a Bill against which we should have protested in the country on the ground that it did not carry out the verdict of the country. We do not believe that the 1760 electorate at the last general election voted for completely recasting the whole educational system of the country. We do not believe that they voted to this effect, that those who prefer denominational education are to pay for it, and those who prefer undenominational are to have it paid for for them. But we were prepared to accept those two large changes, inimical only to those with whom we agree, to make a settlement. But when we were asked to go further and to accept this one-sided system and at the same time to admit other exceptions, we were unable to accept such a compromise as an agreed Bill. When the Minister in charge of the Bill himself provided a loop-hole for authorities who did not carry out his own wishes—a loop-hole in the shape of State-aided schools—we would not be any party to such a reactionary step, bringing in all the educational evils which by general consent were remedied by the much attacked Act of 1902. If the Government required an alternative method to meet cases in which the local bodies did not carry out their ideas of fair play why did they adopt this method instead of proposing some way of dealing impartially both with those who liked denominational education for their children and those who liked undenominational teaching? Had the Government adopted the principle of impartiality on the part of the State, however qualified or voluntary the form, I believe the position would not have been hopeless as it now is. If I am asked, Are we on this side of the House relying on the swing of the pendulum, and whether we think that the Conservative and Unionist Party will ever be powerful enough to force denomination the country, I reply, No, we do not wish to do that. It is because we wish that those who in their hearts and consciences desire denominational education should as parents and citizens have it, and receive just so much and no more countenance from the State as those who wish their children to have undenominational education that we press this matter. In our desire to effect this, we do not trust to the swing of the pendulum; we trust to the love of justice in this country.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N.W.)
said he would not have addressed the House except for the fact that a number of gentlemen whom he represented had endeavoured from the introduction of the Bill to treat it in a favourable and conciliatory manner. He thought it had not been realised that looking upon the Bill as they did as a great advance upon anything contained in the previous Education Bill, they were bound to try to understand what the difficulties of the Government were in dealing with a measure which they desired should establish a really national system of education. Some of his friends were hostile to the Bill from the very outset, but he confessed that many others saw in it provisions which would provide a real escape from the position in which they had been so long placed, of being dominated by one Church and being subject to the teachers' test—two of the great questions before the country at the last general election. In many other ways, upon which he did not intend to enlarge, the measure would have been a great advance upon the present system of national education. Therefore they came to the conclusion that it was worthy of their support. Of course they regarded the Bill from a Free Church standpoint, and there were many things in it of which they did not approve, but it was marvellous to him to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin endeavouring to make capital out of the fact that hon. Members on that side of the House were not very warm supporters of the Bill. They felt that the Government had made an honest and manly attempt to meet and deal with the difficulties before them. The facilities in Clauses 3 and 4 were not, as the President of the Board of Education had said, the principles upon which the Government were returned to deal with education, but he was convinced that there would have been no real difficulty in commending the Bill to the country if it had passed in the condition in which the Government left it and if it were understood by the country at large. The wisdom of the course which they had pursued, in attempting to assist rather than to hamper the Government had, he thought, been justified by the result. It had now been plainly seen, however moderate the Bill was, however much they endeavoured 1762 to meet the objection of a certain denomination in the land, no concessions sufficient to ensure the support of the House of Lords, and especially of the right rev. Prelates in that assembly, could be made, and when they realised the intense I opposition with which the proposals I of the Bill had been met at the hands of these Prelates, they might justly assume that the Government had brought in a Bill which contained many elements likely to produce a good system of education. The Amendments sent down to them by the Lords were absolutely subversive of all the main principles of the Bill, and they could not have been recommended to the country by any Government professing to deal justly and to carry out the principles of religious freedom. But some considerable concessions were made in the Bill as it left this House in order if possible to get it through. He confessed I that he regarded the loss of the Bill as a great misfortune, but if all the concessions which were offered in the other Chamber had been accepted and the Bill had been passed with them embodied, there would have been a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in the country among the supporters of His Majesty's Government. He was quite sure, however, that there was on the basis of these principles a settlement which would have been much better for religious education, the best interests of religion, and the welfare of the country than would result from the whole Bill being withdrawn. He had, with many others, to thank the Government for the many I efforts which they had made to bring the Bill to a proper and just conclusion, and he thanked them for having in the last resort resisted the temptation to make further concessions. He would especially in this regard refer to the Minister for Education. Although the concessions given were not altogether approved by hon. Members on that side of House, it would stand to the credit of the Government in their record that they had done their best in the interests of education and had most honourably failed. The situation to his mind was a most serious one. He would not offer any observations upon the constitutional question. They should be the first to admit the demands of 1763 denominationalists, but he was a passive resister under the Act of 1902, he was still in that position, and must remain so. He thought the number of passive resisters would be enlarged by the action of the House of Lords. They were willing to give the country and the Government an opportunity of removing the grievances which existed. The opportunity had been thrown away, and that form of resistance must be continued. He ventured to ask the Government to be wise and bold. He did not want them to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves: wisdom was a great merit in a statesman, but courage was a greater virtue than wisdom, and he had almost said that reckless courage was the best attribute for the present condition of affairs. The people of the country were solid behind the Government, and whatever might have been their small differences in regard to the details of the Bill, they had by common consent to resist the demand of the House of Lords to force denominational education on the country. Therefore they called upon the Government to be brave. They had been heartened by the words of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman had said just the words they wanted him to say, and those words would encourage them to go on demanding the old religious liberty which was the right of every parent citizen. Whatever the result of this controversy might be, it must result in the triumph of these principles, however long that triumph might be delayed. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil had said that they on that side were to be blamed for wrecking the Bill, because they did not adopt the secular principle. He was not going to enter upon the secular discussion, but he did not think that was a fair charge to make. He had always supported the reading of the Bible in our schools as he regarded it as the best and oldest piece of literature in the world. He could not join in the crusade to keep the Bible out of the schools, but he was willing to say, if they were willing to accept it, that the Bible should be its own witness in the school free from clerical interference or domination. He could not agree that if the Government had made the basis of the Bill 1764 secular they would have been relieved of these theological squabbles, as he thought the country was not ripe for that form of settlement. The case immediately before the House was how they were, in the face of the rejection of this valuable Bill, to deal with the constitutional question which had arisen. They would deal with the education question after dealing with that. There were no doubt many parts of the Bill which the House of Lords could and would accept, including even those to which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education had referred. But he felt quite sure that the general system of education would never be dealt with properly until they had dealt with the constitutional question. He assured the Government of the support of the country and of hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House. He could not sit down without joining in the chorus of praise that had been given to the President of the Board of Education. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman had felt that he (MR. White) had put his views before him on the question of education too often, nevertheless the right hon. Gentleman had always received them with the utmost courtesy and with his great sense of justice had endeavoured to treat these views with the respect that he felt they deserved. He hoped the President of the Board of Education would not be discouraged. The principles for which he was contending were immortal principles. No vote of the House of Lords or of the Bishops could destroy them or wean from them the affections of the great majority of the people of England. Therefore he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not give up the struggle or his belief in his ability to carry a Bill that would be a blessing to the childhood of the nation and would add to the greatness and prosperity of the country.
§ MR. ADKINS (Lancashire, Middleton)
said it had been truly remarked that this was the end of the battle but the beginning of the war. He ventured to hope that the intense ardour with which hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House would throw themselves into this war would not prevent these provisions in the Bill relating to the health of the children, and other 1765 parts of the Bill upon which there had been general agreement, becoming law at an early date. The fact that they now had debates and disputes not only on the education question but on the constitutional question made it all the more necessary that those provisions which would stimulate self-government and education, which would help the children and enlarge the scope of local administration, should be passed into law as soon as possible. The Opposition to the Bill in this and the other House had been based not only on the theological considerations of which they had heard so much, but also on the difficulties of its administration. Time and again they had been told that the proposals of the Government were unworkable, but however difficult it might have been to carry out the Bill as it left this House and as it was further modified by the Amendments in the House of Lords, the difficulties would have been no greater than these connected with the Bill of 1902. Whether this dispute resulted in the victory of church over chapel or chapel over church, sooner or later it was inevitable that the dual system of education must come to an end. Those who had supported the Government through all the stages of this Bill were certain that in the next chapter of the controversy more and more stress would be laid upon what was absolutely necessary from a businesslike point of view to provide that education was properly administered, and he believed that the people of the country and Members of this House would rally in ever-increasing numbers to the support of the solution which the Government had proposed during this Parliament. He joined in the thanks which had been showered on the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education for the endless kindnesses and courtesies which they had received at his hands and for the way in which he had treated the House, and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister for the way in which he had referred to the constitutional question. He believed there had been no instance in history since the days of the great speech of Lord Halifax in the time of Charles II. in which when great constitutional crises arose between the two Houses they had 1766 not been decided in favour of the House of Commons. He believed that hon. Members of this House were determined that the predominance of the House of Commons which was won ages ago should be maintained in the face of the present crisis, so that the will of this House should be the final determination by which the people of the country should be governed.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said he differed entirely from the hon. Member for Middleton. If the country was behind the Government in this matter why did they not go to the country? Why all this thunder against the House of Lords? Right hon. Gentlemen opposite had the remedy in their own hands, but did not dare to use it. They knew perfectly well they did not dare to go to the country upon this Bill. The action of the House of Lords in this case had been quite right, because the Bill had never been a fair one. In the case of the Catholics alone, although some little extra advantage had been given to them, they would lose 200 out of their 1,060 schools, and even in the schools where their teachers were allowed to give religious instruction, they had not only to pay for their own teachers, but also to pay towards the religious instruction given in other schools in a religion which they conscientiously disbelieved. It was a far worse thing than was done under the Act of 1902, because in this case the schools had been built by the denominationalists, and the Government proposed not only to take away these schools, but in some cases not to allow the teachers to give religious instruction in their own schools.
§ MR. MADDISON (Burnley)
said it must be obvious that this House had the strongest case against another place. The House of Lords had treated with contempt not some strong measure affecting their own interests which might have given them ground for alarm and fear, but a very moderate measure which from its inception was intended to conciliate rather than to obtain an educational settlement on strong national lines. The treatment the Bill could not have been worse if it had been a most 1767 revolutionary measure. The hon. Member for Norfolk had asked what was really meant by secular education; he could only speak for the view of these whom he represented in this matter, and a secular solution meant simply this—
I am afraid this is quite irregular. I fail to see what the meaning of "secular solution" has to do with the question that this Order be discharged.
§ MR. MADDISON
said he felt that they were at the very beginning of a great victory, both for education and for something still wider. What had another place done with reference to this Bill? Had they stood for religion? Was there a man in this House who could say that the Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman did not safeguard religion at every point? Indeed, it went further than merely safeguarding religion. It did something for sectarian religion, and yet, in spite of that, it was received with the greatest opposition, and that opposition was led by these Peers who were called spiritual. He listened the previous night in another place to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he was bound to say the sophistry used was enough to deceive the very elect. They were given to understand that noble Lords and right rev. Prelates stood for the two cardinal points of popular control and abolition of tests for teachers, and yet every one of the Lords Amendments upon that part of the Bill violated these two great principles. But some of them did not expect anything much better from the spiritual Peers. It was said that they represented the spiritual voice which was to calm the savage feelings of ordinary humanity—that they were to take them from the sordid quarrels of politicians and to let into these quarrels the Heavenly voice. Well, their record was very earthly, and the whole record of the Bishop's, whether it was in softening the criminal law or giving justice to Nonconformists, Jews, or Roman Catholics, had alike been reactionary and always in favour of monopoly and tyranny. War had been declared by the Bishops and other Peers, and he for his part 1768 welcomed that war, because he believed out of it would come far greater good to the cause of education than would have resulted from a Bill weakened by compromise after compromise.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Order discharged accordingly, and Bill withdrawn.