HC Deb 10 May 1906 vol 156 cc1504-64


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [7th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Which Amendment was—; To leave out the word "now," and at the end of die Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—;(Mr. Wyndham.)

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

Mr. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

As this House is already aware, my colleagues and I of the Irish Party intend, as this Bill now presents itself to us, to vote against the Second Heading, and I am anxious before we come to a decision to make some sort of answer to the very forcible and plausible appeal which has been made to us in part across the floor of this House and more fully in very many communications that I have received from admitted friends of Ireland in various parts of the country, who have asked me whether it is necessary that the Irish Party should take this action in view of the following facts—;firstly, that this Bill is promoted by a majority admittedly friendly to Ireland; secondly, that it is opposed by that Party in the House which is, I may say, the traditional enemy of Irish popular rights; thirdly, that our support of the Education Bill of 1902 alienated the friendship of many friends of Ireland and that, so far as the interests of the Catholic schools of England are concerned, that we did them no service, and that in point of fact the Act of 1902 made the presentation this year of a similar Bill inevitable; and, finally, we are asked whether we, claiming to be Home Rulers, and asking that we should have sole control of purely Irish affairs—;we are asked whether we, taking up that position, ought to interfere in a matter of this kind affecting England and Wales solely, and whether we ought not to abstain and leave English and Welsh Members to settle it for themselves. No doubt that is a very forcible and plausible appeal to make to us, and I admit to the full that there is a great deal of truth contained in it. But I respectfully submit to hon. Members in all parts of the House that if this Bill contravened, as we rightly or wrongly believe it does contravene, a fundamental principle to which Ireland is and always has been devoted, to sustain which our constituencies have elected us to Parliament, and a principle which has been supported by every Irish Party which has appeared upon the floor of this House—;if that be so, then I respectfully say that I am sure no man will be found in any part of the House to say to us that we should palter with a great principle to which we are devoted, that we should sacrifice a great principle to which we are devoted, because of the fear, or, if you like, of the certainty that by so doing we would alienate the sympathy of some friends, or even, to put an extreme case, that we would postpone the concession of justice to our country. We in the Irish Party have always hold the view that in the long run Ireland has nothing to lose, nothing to fear, by standing boldly and frankly by her principles, even though by so doing from time to time a temporary prejudice may be aroused against her cause. This Irish Party is not a Party of opportunism or of expediency. Had it been so, how different would have been our attitude on the Boer War. Remember what happened. Then we stood alone in this House. [Cries of "No."] I am not forgetting anything. I say we stood alone in this House in protesting against that war, with a few honourable exceptions, but so few that my statement is substantially accurate. We united against us both the great Parties in this House. [Cries of "No."] We had the courage of our convictions, and went into the Division Lobby—;and that is the test—;in opposition to the Vote of the money necessary for the carrying on of that war, though I admit there were Liberal Members who supported us. Still, I repeat the statement that, broadly speaking, we united both the Parties in this House against us, and some of the very best Home Rulers in Parliament, and some of the very best and most sincere friends of Ireland in this Parliament appealed to us again and again, and warned us that if we persisted in that course we would do irreparable injury to the chances of the concession of Irish rights. We stood firmly by our principles, and to-day I make bold to say that we are not weaker; I believe we are stronger because, in that trying time, we had the courage of our convictions, and proved our consistency. To-day, I do not really believe that Ireland will lose a single friend, though I admit there may be some irritation—;temporary irritation—;among some of our friends. I do not believe Ireland will lose a single friend by open and candid adherence to principle. On the contrary, knowing, as every man in every quarter of this House does know, what our principle upon this education question is, it does seem to me that we should receive, and we certainly should merit, the contempt of every honest man, if we sacrificed that principle because we thought that adherence to it would lead us into temporary conflict with these who we know are the best friends of Ireland upon the great question of self-government. This is not an occasion on which there can by any possibility be any evasion or deceit. We who represent Ireland are, and always have been, denominationalists in principle upon this elementary education question. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that religion is not only a necessary part, but the most necessary of the education of children. That with us is a fundamental principle; it is a fundamental principle of the religion which is the religion of the majority of our Members, though not of all. It is more than that. It is, I believe, the fundamental principle of the whole Irish people of all creeds and clauses in Ireland. When hon. Members talk about the importance from a practical point of view of settling the great education question on denominational lines, I point to the fact, as was done by the Member for Cambridge University, that in Ireland, whatever you may call it, in practice you have a great denominational system of elementary education. And I say that if this Bill were directed against that system in Ireland, if the attempt were made to uproot that system in Ireland, you would be confronted with a union of all creeds in Ireland to resist such proposals to the utmost. We have been told that a settlement on denominational lines is impossible. For myself I do not admit it and I do not believe it. We are old it is impracticable, but I notice that while great stress is laid upon the example of what are called the new democracies in the-Empire, and upon the example of America, nothing is said about the example of one of the greatest of the new democracies of the Empire, namely, Canada. What is the case to-day in Ontario and Quebec? There is in these great provinces to-day the denominational system in force. There are different sets of schools supported by the State; the ratepapers in these cases when they are paying their rates are obliged to fill in a form stating to what denomination they desire their money to go; then it is collected and given to that denomination, and if it is found at the end of the year that any particular denomination has not received sufficient for the needs of its school then the deficit has to be supplied by the denomination itself. That in Quebec and Ontario has proved a settlement. I do not know whether you will say it is an impracticable settlement here, even if you have no objection to the principle; but I do say that, so far as Catholics are concerned in this country, a system of that kind would meet their case. It is a very remarkable fact which I have gathered from statements made to me by persons high in authority and with good knowledge to enable them to give a correct statement—;it is a remarkable fact that I am told that the rates and taxes—;the educational rates and taxes—;paid by the Catholics of England, would, if pooled together, be sufficient to provide for the wants of every Catholic school in England. That is a statement worth testing, and I invite some examination of it. If the statement is true, then what becomes of the argument that you cannot give us what we want because the Protestants of various denominations will not agree to pay for the teaching of a religion they do not believe in? If my statement is true, no Protestant of any denomination is asked to pay one single sixpence for the teaching of the Catholic religion at these schools. And so strongly am I impressed with the accuracy of the statement I have made that I do not hesitate to say that the Catholics would take the risk, and that if you could tomorrow ear-mark all the educational rates and taxes paid by the Catholics in England, and devote them to the assistance of the Catholic schools, then if that were not enough, and there was a deficit, we would take the risk. We would bear it ourselves. It has been said repeatedly that because we on these benches are Home Rulers, therefore we ought to let England decide this question for herself Let mo say, we do not want to interfere in the slightest degree with any decision which the majority—;the Protestant majority—;of England may come to as to the control, management, and teaching of the schools. If the majority of the Protestants of England—;in which term I include the various denominations—;choose to set up in their schools a system of simple Bible teaching under what is called the Cowper-Temple clause, we do not object. So far as I can make out—;I say it with great diffidence, and I hope I will not give offence unwittingly to anybody representing any section—;as far as I can make out from what I have read and heard in this debate, there does not seem to be any real or vital or fundamental objection to this simple Bible teaching on the part of any Protestant—;Nonconformist or Churchman. I know that when the hon. Member for East Mayo made a similar statement yesterday it was pointed out that certain Churchmen only accepted this Bible teaching as a foundation, a something better than nothing. I beg, as I say with great diffidence and with not full knowledge, but from what I have heard, to say that, so far as this House is concerned, the great majority of the Protestant Members are satisfied to put this simple Bible teaching into the schools, that so far as the minority are concerned, they say, "We are not satisfied with that, though still admitting that this simple Bible teaching is better than nothing." That is not the position of Catholics on this matter. As the hon. Member for East Mayo said yesterday and I repeat his phrase, there is an impassable gulf between the Protestant Communions and the Catholics. With us, it is not at all a question of the sufficiency of this teaching; it is not at all a question of its adequacy; it is a difference—;a vital difference—;of principle. We regard this simple Bible teaching given under the Cowper-Temple Clause—;not as inadequate or insufficient; rightly or wrongly we regard it as bad, as hostile; we regard it as abhorrent to our religious convictions and in great part as hostile to our religion. Manifestly the overwhelming majority of hon. Members will think we are quite wrong and will entirely disagree with us. That is not the point. If we conscientiously believe that the teaching is not merely inadequate but bad and opposed to our religious convictions and to our religion, then I say most respectfully that to come to our children and to say to them, first of all, you must, under a compulsory system, go to school, and secondly, when you get to that school you must submit to this simple Bible teaching or go without religion altogether, is nothing short of religious tyranny. We, therefore, interfere in this matter not to prevent in the slightest degree the Protestant majority of England doing what it chooses in the schools, but to prevent a system being forced upon the Catholic minority which that minority declares violates its conscientious convictions.

The Act of 1902 imposed certain disabilities and grievances upon the Nonconformist body in all single school districts. The President of the Board of Trade handsomely admitted the other night that in endeavouring to ward off that mischief the only section from which the Nonconformists got any assistance was the Irish Members; and he paid a handsome compliment to the hon. Member for East Mayo who did make a proposal at that time which, at any rate, would have mitigated this grievance. There is not a man sitting on the Irish Benches who did not admit that grievance and regret it; and I need not say that any legislative proposal to lift that burden off the shoulders of the Nonconformists will have the unanimous support of the Irish Party. But we ask you as well, in removing this grievance, as you are entitled to do, that you should not impose a fresh grievance upon others.

We have another right to interfere. This Catholic minority in England of which I am speaking is an Irish minority. There are, of course, English Catholics; they are not very numerous; they are a small proportion of the Catholics of England; they are for the most part rich men, men high in station and in wealth. That is to say, they are not men who would, in their own persons and the persons of their children, suffer from this Bill, because they have ample means to provide religious education elsewhere than in these schools for their children. I say, speaking of the Catholics of England who will be personally hit by this Bill in the country—;whose children go to these schools, they are all Irish. They are people who have been driven from their own country to these shores by that very system of misgovernment which you today repudiate and condemn. Their presence in England seriously affects more than one English problem. Their presence in England affects your industrial policy; it affects the question of the unemployed; it affects to some extent this education question. I ask you not to forget that these men are here at all because they have been driven from their own land where they have been unable to earn a living—;that land whose industries over 200 years ago were deliberately suppressed by Act of the English Parliament. And do not forget, further, that these people out of their poverty—;and no one will deny they are the poorest of the poor—;have spent in the building and maintenance of the schools for their children between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000. Do not forget the impassable gulf to which I have alluded between their religious convictions and yours, and then do not expect us, who feel we represent them in this House, to abstain from aiding them in their effort to maintain a system of religious training for their children. The plea is made that as Home Rulers we ought to abstain and let English Members settle the matter for themselves. This far I may certainly go. So far as I understand it, the Welsh clause moves in the direction of Home Rule for Wales in educational matters, and I think the President of the beard of Trade and the Welsh Members may take it from us that when that proposal comes up, if we understand it properly now, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman correctly interpreted it the other night in his speech, he will not find any objection from us to placing in the hands of the Welsh people the control of their education. But the proposal to ask us to abstain altogether from discussion and opposition will not hold water. Let hon. Members remember we are here against our will. Give us control of our own Irish affairs and we will be only too glad to give up all possible interference in the managing of purely English or Welsh or Scotch affairs. Remember it rests with you, but so long as you insist upon keeping us here as Members of this Imperial Parliament, and refuse to let us control our own affairs, do not complain if we interfere and act upon the merits of questions such as this when they come up.

I was arguing the other day with a very powerful Noncomformist on the question of further University facilities for Ireland. He was a Home Ruler; he was a man who had been an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893, under which the Irish people would have had the power given them to settle this University question according to their own ideas. I asked my friend why it was that having voted in favour of those Bills he still refused persistently to consent to this University question being settled according to our ideas in the Imperial Parliament? And he replied by saying—; Oh, I was willing and am willing to give you Home Rule and to let you settle this question for yourselves, but so long as you remain Members of the Imperial Parliament I must judge this question on its merits, and I am against a new University for Ireland. Now, I say, with the greatest respect, what right has a gentleman who takes up such a line of argument with reference to this question, to say to me that I am bound as a Home Ruler to abstain from interference in the settlement of an English question? I am a Home Ruler and the Irish Party are Home Rulers. We want to go back to the management of Irish affairs in Ireland, and to leave the settlement of these English affairs to English representatives, but you insist upon keeping us here, and you refuse to let us manage our own affairs. In the circumstances you cannot complain if, on occasions such as this, we exercise our rights in examining measures of this kind, even if they affect only one portion of the United Kingdom.

Now, Sir, what is our claim? That claim was put before the House yesterday by the hon. Member for East Mayo in very precise and accurate form. He felt it his duty to place this claim upon paper, and he read it out to the House. That was a claim put forward on behalf of the whole Irish Party in the House. Let me repeat it in more general terms and without any pretence to the precision used by the hon. Member for East Mayo. Let me say, first of all, what it is we do not ask, and then what it is we do ask. I have said that we do not ask to dictate to the majority or to any section of the Protestant people of England as to the teaching they should give to their children. If they desire to have the Cowper-Temple teaching in their schools, if it meets their wishes we will not attempt to prevent them from having it. Further, we do not object to local control of secular education. There is a great deal of talk about mandate. I will not be guilty of the hypocrisy to pretend that the Liberal majority did not receive a mandate from the country on the subject of local control of secular education. I admit that they did, and I admit further that they received a mandate to the effect that a man's creed should not be an absolute bar to his employment as a teacher. But I deny altogether that there was any mandate from the country that there should be local control of the religious teaching to be given to children, or that there was any mandate forcing the Government to the folly, the grotesque folly, of putting Protestant teachers into schools to teach Catholic doctrines, or putting Christian teachers into Jewish schools to teach Jewish doctrines. We do not, therefore, object to local control of secular teaching, we do not object to what you call the abolition of tests in the teaching profession so long as the provision of that is guided by reason and common sense, and so long as there are adequate safeguards to prevent the grotesque absurdity of sending into schools a Catholic teacher to teach Protestant doctrines or vice versa. Sir, we claim that that clause of the Bill should be made a reality. I do not know whether the Minister of Education has got so tired of hearing his own words to the Jews quoted that he will resent my quoting them again. My position is this, that if the right hon. Gentleman in that speech accurately represented and interpreted the intention of the Government, then all he has to do is to put that intention into the Bill and he will meet the really crucial points in this case. What did he say? He said—; Assuming the provisions of Clause 4 with reference to non-provided schools not to be illusory (and of course if they were illusory they would be a fraud), the Jewish body would benefit more largely than any other body. But it was pointed out that it was not a complete protection, because it was not obligatory on the local authority to pay attention to the deputation's demands. It was obligatory on the local authority to ascertain the facts, and if four-fifths of the parents of the children desired facilities it was an obligation upon the local authority. Of course, the local authority, if so minded, might disregard the fair intention of the statute and obstinately hold aloof from doing anything further. He would take care that their view that a statutory obligation should be imposed upon the local authority to do its duty was put before his colleagues. On that part of Clause 4, the right hon. Gentleman clearly states what the intention of the Government is. He equally clearly stated that the intention may be thwarted under the Bill, and intimated that he would press upon his colleagues the necessity to make this statutory and obligatory so that the intention of Parliament might not be thwarted or trampled under foot where the local authority might be governed by cranks or bigots. Do not let any man who hears these words misunderstand them. I have confidence in the elected public bodies of this country. I do believe honestly that in the overwhelming majority of cases, guided by the advice from the Education Department, they would in all probability carry out the intentions of the Government, but I cite the Education Minister himself as my witness when I say that in all human probability there would be exceptions. What country in the world is there that is free from cranks and bigots? What country in the world is there where you will find no local authority temporarily giving way to the noise of cranks or bigots, and so long as that loop-hole remains in that portion of The clause I think we cannot be expected to accept it as satisfactory. Let me come now to the next portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the Jewish teachers, he said—; the words in Clause4 might require strengthening. Will the House pay attention to this—; But the intention was that the schools should be carried on just as they were now. He agreed that there was a loophole for any amount of pigheaded obstinacy, and denominational bigotry, and jealousy, and unfairness, but it was certainly the intention of the clause that the teachers should remain the same as they were, these who were alone qualified to give the particular religious instruction which hitherto had been given in the school. Is that a test? [Cries of "Yes!"] Then that is the intention of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman says that the intention of the Government is that this teaching shall be carried on by these alone qualified to give it, that is to say by the present teachers, and it must necessarily follow that where vacancies arise from death or illness these vacancies will be filled up by men equally qualified. These are the claims upon Clause 4. I repeat that if the right hon. Gentleman's speech really and accurately represents the intentions of the Government all ho has to do is to put it into the Bill and certainly upon the crucial points he will satisfy us.

But, Mr. Speaker, the trouble is, it is not in the Bill. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will make any statement to-night or not, but as the Bill stands, that avowed intention of the Government is not carried out, and so long as this is the case we are bound to go into the Division Lobby in opposition to the measure. I do not know, as I say, whether the right hon. Gentleman will speak, and if he does I do not know whether he will consider it wise to make any statement upon this question. But what I ask is, do his words as reported and quoted represent the real intention of the Government, and if so, is he prepared to maintain that that clause is to give effect to it? If this is made right, I have no hesitation in saying that I believe an accommodation can be arrived at with reference to the numerous other questions where we see great objection to the provisions of the Bill as it stands. I had intended to have spoken on some of these points, such as the question of the four-fifths, the question of the 5,000 limit, the question of the exclusion of rural areas, and also the vital question of the treatment of trusts, and above all of endowments. I do not, I confess, thoroughly understand how they are affected by the clauses in this Bill, but so far as I do understand the matter, and as far as I have been advised, the Bill stands at the present moment in a most unsatisfactory condition upon these points. I would have been glad if I had the opportunity of speaking for a few moments upon these matters, but I must bring my remarks to a close, because these matters, always of vital importance, I regard as subsidiary in this sense, that if we can be met in Clause 4 in the way indicated, I am convinced we shall have no difficulty in Committee in arriving at a fair settlement upon the other points.

Let me conclude by making a very brief appeal to the great Liberal Nonconformist majority in this House. I would say to them that their power is enormous. I heard the threat that was levelled against them yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, I heard the right hon. Gentleman threaten them with the House of Lords, I heard him threaten them with what the House of Lords would do, and I heard him prophesy that when the House of Lords drove them to the country upon this Bill their majority would be dispersed.


So it would.


"So it would," says an hon. Member here. I take leave to say to the great Liberal Nonconformist majority that if they are only magnanimous and moderate in this matter, they can afford to despise the threats from West Birmingham. I believe they are strong enough to disregard these threats. I do most earnestly beg of them not to forget that the Catholic Irishmen of Great Britain at the last general election trusted them and contributed something, at any rate, to build up that great strength which is at their disposal to-day. You Liberal Nonconformists' have something more precious than great electoral and Parliamentary strength. You have a proud history associated with heroic struggle in defence of civil and religious liberty. You have a glorious tradition in brave endurance of persecution for conscience' sake. Again I beg of you not to forget that these men for whom we speak have similar traditions—;aye, traditions of even greater persecution for conscience' sake going on through centuries in the past. Do not forget—;may I beg hon. Members not to forget—;that religious intolerance is not characteristic of the Catholics of Ireland. Let me read for you a few words of the great Protestant historian, Mr. Lecky—; Among Irish Catholics, religious intolerance has never been a prevailing vice, and these who have studied closely the history and characteristics of the Irish people can hardly fail to be struck with the deep respect for sincere religion in every form which they have commonly evinced. Their original conversion to Christianity was accompanied by less blood-shod than that of any equally considerable nation in Europe, and in spite of the fearful calamities which followed the Reformation it is a memorable fact that not a single Protestant suffered for his religion in Ireland during all the period of the Marian persecution in England. Sir, I appeal therefore on behalf of a people who have some claim for assistance and sympathy from the Ministerial side of the House. I appeal on behalf of a small and poor Irish minority in this land. I appeal on behalf of the children of men who were driven to your shores as I have already said by that very system of misgovernment which you acknowledge and which you repudiate and denounce. In exercising and putting in operation your enormous, your giant strength, I beseech of you by the very tenderness of the deepseated Religious convictions of these men—;these men, whose fathers sacrificed property and liberty and life in defence of their faith—;these men who themselves to-morrow, if the need arose, would be prepared to make equal sacrifices to maintain the religious training of their children.


I think the House may be congratulated on the moderate and reasonable tone which has been the general characteristic of this debate in all quarters, and which has never been more conspicuously illustrated than by the moving and powerful speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. We have had, I am glad to think, no echo, or only the faintest echo, within these walls, of the intemperate and violent language which reverberated through the country during the Easter recess. I am far, of course, from drawing the inference from the relatively low temperature which has happily distinguished our discussion that there is either any lack of sincerity or slackening of determination in the hostility which is felt in some quarters of the House to the Bill; and my object in intervening—;an intervention which I am glad to say will be of the briefest—;is to endeavour, if I can, even at this stage, to remove honest misconceptions that still prevail both as to the intentions and as to the effects of our proposals. I start with the admissions made yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—;whom I am sorry not to see in his place—;in a most important and striking speech, a speech in which the right hon. Gentleman, no doubt, said many hard things about this Bill, but which, at the same time, contained almost the strongest testimony that has been offered in the course of this debate—;all the more effective because it was only half-conscious—;both to the necessity and to the essential reasonableness of this legislation. What were the right hon. Gentleman's admissions? The first was that the Act of 1902 created and left behind it a grievance which it was the obvious duty of statesmanship to take the first opportunity to remove. Stated in a sentence, that grievance is this—;that as regards a large number, indeed the majority, of the elementary schools, which were henceforward to be maintained exclusively at the public cost, the public authority was to be represented only by a minority upon the management; that with respect to religious teaching there was to be no alternative between sectarian instruction on the one side and no instruction on the other and that, as regards the profession of teaching, to be remunerated henceforward entirely by the State, and by the State alone, the teacher was, or at any rate might be, debarred from employment and promotion by the application of denominational tests. And what is the remedy for this grievance? I will not attempt the task of disentangling the various composing strands of the mandate that was given to the majority at the last election. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that this country could give only one mandate for one purpose at one time. From that I entirely differ. I think this House of Commons came back from the country clothed with authority to accomplish a number of reforms. But as regards the education question, I venture to say there is no one that followed the course of the election who will dispute that the remedy for the grievance was to be found, in the opinion of the vast majority of the doctors, in the adoption of the two principles which are called popular control and the abolition of tests. The point I want to put to these who are opposing the Bill is this. Of course, if you will not accept popular control and the abolition of tests, this Bill cannot possibly approve itself to you; but if you will take for granted as the starting-point of the argument that these two principles have to receive legislative embodiment, then starting from that point of new departure, I want to say, not in reference to the details, which are no doubt capable of amendment and improvement, but if you look to the main lines, the essential features and the fundamental previsions of the Bill, there is no other practical way of attacking the problem.

Let me try to make that good. First of all, as to popular control. If there is to be popular control in any effective sense that clearly involves the transfer not, indeed, of the property, but of the management and direction of every elementary school which depends on the State for its support, from a private to a public authority. No one can dispute that. Well, that is done by the earlier provisions of this Bill. There is no interference with property at all. But provision is made that, on five days of the week, and during the school hours of each day, the school premises shall be at the disposal of the local authorities for the purposes of public elementary education, the trustees of the school retaining not only the property, but the complete, undivided, and exclusive user of it for every other purpose of their trust at all other times. That is what is contemplated in the normal case, when agreement is made after negotiation between the trustees on one side and the local authority on the other. And what is the consideration First, there is to be an adequate rent; next, there is to be a complete transfer from the trustees to the local authority of the whole burden of maintaining the fabric for all purposes; and, finally, it may be made a condition of the arrangement by the trustees, if they are so minded, that facilities should be provided for the instruction of the children, whose parents require it, in the special creed or formularies of the sect to which the school belongs. I was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham yesterday say that under this Bill, while the teaching of what is called Cowper-Temple religion is compulsory, the granting of facilities to denominations was permissive. Exactly the reverse is the case. There is no compulsion of any sort or kind to teach Cowper-Temple religion. The local authority need not provide facilities for it if they so please. The teacher is under no obligation to teach; the child is under no obligation to attend. But as regards the facilities to ho granted to denominational trustees, in respect of the use of their premises for educational purposes, these facilities may be made a compulsory part of the bargain as between the two parties.

Mr. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

That is not Section 4.


I am speaking of Clause 3. I say the trustees can stipulate, if they please, as one of the conditions upon which the school is to be transferred to the local authority, that these facilities shall be granted, and if the local authority does not agree, then the trustees need not transfer the school.


Yes, they can stipulate.


I say the Bill contemplates that the normal case will be one in which an arrangement will be made on that footing between the trustees and the local authority. But suppose a case—;which I hope will not occur—;in which the trustees, however reasonable the terms offered, refuse to come into any bargain at all, and the local authority, therefore, would be faced with the alternative of having to provide, at the expense of the rates, another school for the parish, there is a school already there, which may have been built, to a considerable degree, by the aid of contributions from Government funds, which is held under an educational trust, and which has been maintained for the last four years exclusively out of the public rates and taxes. Would it be a reasonable thing to say that, in these circumstances, if the trustees choose to take up a non possumus attitude, the local authority is to go to the expense of providing an entirely new school? I do not think it would. Under the machinery of the Bill it will be open to the Commissioners, only provided they come to the conclusion that the educational trusts cannot be more adequately or so well performed in any other way than by transfer and user of the school for this purpose to the local authority, to make a scheme. I do not hesitate to say that no such scheme would be made by any reasonable body of men which did not provide proper and adequate terms both as regards rent and facilities for the denomination. How is that to be done? It is to be done by the Commission. We have heard a great deal of hard language about this Commission. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover spoke with indignation of the three commissioners as a triumvirate. The right hon. Gentleman is steeped in classical lore, and he knows very well that the term triumvirate is associated in the minds of students of Roman history with a more or less unscrupulous partnership who carried on the work of spoliation and sometimes of sacrilege. That is what the term triumvirate is intended to suggest. Some of the right hon. Gentleman's clerical associates outside the House have gone one better, and have declared that this Commission will combine all the worst features of the Star Chamber and the Inquisition. Now, Sir, why do we suggest the appointment of this Commission? There is no sinister motive behind it. It is because we want to provide a tribunal which shall at the same time be cheap, prompt, accessible, and convenient for all parties concerned. And how is it to be constituted, and what are its powers and duties to be?

Mr. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

Like the Parnell Commission.


So far, I agree with the hon. and learned Member that its members will be named in the Act of Parliament, they will not be anonymous. Therefore their nomination will be subject to approval by both Houses of the Legislature. In the second place, they are required to give their decisions not according to some rule of thumb; they are required to give their decision in accordance with the rules of equity which prevail in the Court of Chancery in the administration of charitable trusts. And as the Chancellor of the Duchy has pointed out, from whom do the objections to this Commission come? They come from a party which only last year appointed in Scotland, in regard to an ecclesiastical matter which, I assure the House, stirred the conscience and feelings of the people of Scotland quite as much as this question can affect the people of England, a Commission to adjudicate upon a number of most delicate proprietary and other-questions as between the United Free Church and the Free Church. I believe that was a triumvirate. [An HON. MEMBER: Five.] Well, in all other respects, except that it consisted of five persons, that Commission had powers quite as large, a discretion quite as unlimited, and restraints less clearly expressed in the statute, than is the case with this Commission. If you accept the principle of public control as I have denned it, it would be impossible to show a more scrupulous regard for equity, the rights of property, and for continued user of the buildings for all the special purposes of the trust, than are shown in the provision of this Bill.

I have said that the second principle which, in obedience to the mandate of the country, we were bound to introduce was the abolition of tests. I am relieved from much argument on that by another and still more remarkable admission which was made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham last night. I think it would not be difficult to show that tests in any department of the public service are noxious and useless. In the case of honest men tests are unnecessary and by dishonest men they are evaded. I need not labour the point, because we beard last night the right hon. Gentleman say as to the principle that no religious test should be exacted from the teaching profession, "I think we all agree." The right hon. Gentleman used the first person plural more than once, and apparently not always in the same sense. At one moment "we" stood for the whole Unionist Party—;I do not think for much more than one moment; at another moment "we" represented the seven stalwarts who came from Birmingham; and at another moment "we" stood for that indefinite and immeasurable quantity, the number of persons who happen for the time being to agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Let us who sit in these benches rejoice. This is almost a red-letter day in our history. For once we are embraced in that number. The Bill enacts that for the future no teacher shall be required to subscribe to any formulary, to attend the services of any particular religious communion, or even to give religious instruction if he is not minded so to do.

But now I approach the point where controversy becomes more acute. The teacher is not required to give any religious instruction, but he is empowered to give what has been called undenominational teaching—;teaching, that is to say, that is recognised in the sense of not being prohibited by the Cowper-Temple Clause of the Act of 1870. I shall be asked—;and I want to try and give a fair answer to the question—;what is the justification for allowing your teacher to give this so-called undenominational form of religious teaching? I will admit that even the simplest form of religious teaching cannot accurately be called undogmatic. In a sense that is true. Indeed I go further. I will not qualify my proposition. It is true that the most elementary propositions as to the relations of man to a Higher Power and to an unseen world involve a dogmatic element. As a mere matter of logic you may urge, I agree, without any extravagance of paradox, perhaps without paradox at all, that such propositions, for instance, as these which assume the fatherhood of God or the existence of a future state are as much dogmatic as the doctrine of the Eucharist or the Immaculate Conception. But, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham very properly pointed out yesterday, the Cowper-Temple Clause does not profess to proscribe or exclude from our elementary schools dogmatic teaching. There is no such provision in the Act of 1870, because the framers, who knew what these things meant, were, we may assume, perfectly aware that to exclude dogmatic teaching in the widest sense of the term would be to exclude religion altogether. What it does is something quite different; it pro-vents the rate-aided teaching of formularies and creeds which are distinctive of some particular religious denomination. The two things are absolutely different one from the other. You may say that is very illogical, and in a sense I agree that it is. I never professed, and I do not believe any of my right hon. or hon. friends have ever professed to reduce the Cowper-Temple Clause to terms of strict logic. But we are living and moving in this matter not in a world of abstractions, but in a world of human beings, and, in particular, in a world of Englishmen and Englishwomen, and, above all, of English children; and the. Cowper-Temple Clause, although-it is illogical, is a thoroughly characteristic specimen of a workable English compromise. And when I use the term "workable" I point to the experience of a generation. And what has that experience shown? Two very remarkable facts. In the first place, that the local authorities of this country, representative of and responsible to the ratepayers and the parents of the children, although under no obligation to prescribe the use of any form of religious teaching in their schools, have, with relatively few and insignificant exceptions, adopted this form of teaching. Another fact equally remarkable, and pointing exactly in the same direction, is that the parents of the children have not withdrawn their children to any sensible extent from this kind of instruction, not oven in places where there was an alternative school to which, if they pleased, they could send their children. These two facts are pretty good evidence in support of my proposition that the Cowper-Temple Clause has proved a very workable arrangement. What is the inference? My inference is this—;that this system of simple Bible teaching does not as a rule offend the conscience of the average Anglican parent. Further, it is well fitted to the intelligence of the smallest child; and lastly, and perhaps most important, considering the smoothness and ease with which the system has been worked, it is capable—;as every one, from the Archbishop of Canterbury downwards, has admitted—;of being supplemented, and, if you please, enriched at home, in the Sunday School, and in the Church, by the addition of these more complex and more controverted matters which make up, if I may so describe it, the distinctive liveries of the various religious denominations.

If that is so, we come face to face with a new metaphysical figment—;namely, the supposed inalienable right of the English parent to have his child taught at the cost of the State the particular creed which ho himself professes. Whore does this right come from? It is a new addition to the family of supposed natural rights. What is its parentage, and, above all, what is the date of its birth? It was not known to the framers of the Act of 1870. Why? Because they provided that if you wanted this privilege of denominational teaching for your child you could not have it at the expense of the rates, but you must go to a school supported by the voluntary subscriptions of the denomination whose creed was there taught. So that the right was clearly unknown in 1870. But this inalienable right found no recognition from the framers of the Act of 1902. What about the 8,000 parishes in which the choice of the Nonconformist parent lay, and at this moment still lies, between the Anglican teaching and no religious instruction at all? Where is this inalienable right of the parent to have his child brought up in the creed that he himself holds? It is a pure fiction; it has no home and no pedigree, either in the book of nature or in the statute law of the realm.

What is the alternative? There is only one alternative to permitting the local authority to continue this undenominational teaching. I say it deliberately, although the right hon. Member for West Birmingham seemed to think that there were two alternatives. I say there is only one, because I brush aside absolutely as being unworthy of consideration the universal and unlimited right of entry by the sects into the schools. I venture to ask the House, to ask these who are most honestly keen for denominational teaching in our schools, what could be more fantastic in conception, what could be more unworkable in practice, and, I may add for myself, what could be more repugnant to the best interests of religion, than that in the public elementary schools you should erect a set of sectarian pens, and that you should take these poor children, and having first put them through the process of interrogation, brand each of them with a letter which indicates its father's denomination, and then herd them off—;["Oh, oh." and "No, no!"]—;each little group to its own separate compartment, to be taught—;what? Surely not to lie taught the Gospel lesson of one fold and one shepherd, but rather to encourage them from their earliest years to attach a supreme and capital importance, not to the things as to which all Christians are agreed and believe, but to ho things about which Christians are at war. There is one real alternative which the hon. Member for Leicester in his admirable speech mentioned—;namely, to confine the function of the State to secular teaching and to leave the provision of religious training for your children to be done outside the school. I am not sure that we have yet got to a clear definition of what secularism means. Take the position of the Bible. The Bible, I imagine, under a secular system might be still admitted to the school as a literary model, possibly—;although I am not sure as to this—;as an historical manual. But here the hon. Member is assigning a totally different place to the Bible from what it has held, and still holds, and what according to the wishes of the majority of the people it ought to continue to hold, in our schools. I will not argue the merits or demerits of the secularist solution. I say two things of it. It is not illogical, as I admitted a few moments ago, Cowper-Templeism may be said to be. I think, further, that it is not impracticable in the sense in which an unlimited universal right of entry would be. But it has one fatal drawback from the point of view of practical politics. The experience of a generation has shown that it is not suited to the genius and that it is contrary to the wishes and the predominant opinions of the vast majority of English parents.

I will add another word as to the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford about Clause 4. I admit that Clause 4 extending the facilities is an exception to the general scheme, grafted on the framework of this Bill. It leaves the matter to the discretion of the local authority. In other respects undoubtedly it constitutes an exception to the general scheme of the Bill. But to what case does it apply? It has two safeguards. In the first place, it can only be put into operation at the instance of an overwhelming majority of the parents in a particular school; and, in the next place, it can only be applied where there is an alternative school to which children whose parents do not desire to see them exposed to this ecclesiastical or sectarian atmosphere can be sent, instead of sending them to the sectarian school. It is said that this clause was put in with a special view to meet the case of the Roman Catholics. Who denies it? I do not hesitate for a moment to face the fact. But where similar conditions prevail with regard to any other religious denomination the same treatment will apply, and it gives the same advantage to them. I admit to the full what has been said about the peculiar position of Roman Catholics in this country with regard to education. I shall never be inclined to undervalue in any degree the enormous services which the clergy and the laity of the Church of England have rendered to education in days gone by, in the building of schools and in carrying on pioneer work in every direction. Yet no one will dispute the truth of what I say when I state that there is no denomination which, in proportion to its means and opportunities, has done so much for the education of its poor children as the Roman Catholic. And the condition of the Roman Catholic population is such that difficulties have arisen and will continue to arise in the country parishes of England, unless legislation of this kind is carried out. They have no existence in other communities, but in almost every case the thing must be worked out in detail, and we shall be glad to listen to the particular arguments used in reference to each case. But speaking broadly and generally of the Roman Catholic school in a district, there is an alternative school to which children may be sent. It is the same in the case of the Jew I defy any one to produce an Education Bill which will be a perfect specimen of logical symmetry, and I may add that if you produced it it would be totally unadapted to meet the real wants of English education. It is only by elasticity, by adaptation, by recognising the special exigencies of particular places and particular causes that you can bring your legislation into harmony with the real requirements of the people. I hold, therefore, that the insertion of Clause 4, if we are to do justice to the real necessities of the case, was absolutely forced upon us. My colleagues and I are perfectly ready in Committee in all matters of detail to listen to reasonable suggestions, and, I hope, to come to harmonious adjustments. But with regard to the main provisions and the fundamental principles which I have endeavoured to explain to the House, dictated, as we believe them to be, by justice, and approved as they were by the vast majority of the electorate, to these main provisions we shall resolutely adhere.


NO one who has listened to the speeches made to-day and on preceding days on this measure, so important for the future educational and spiritual life of this country, can question that the debate has been worthy of an illustrious and reverent assembly. On many occasions I have been reminded of the debates of twenty years ago on the Home Rule Bill of 1886, and I think no one in any quarter of the House, or any part of the country outside, can deny that from all sides the attention has been given to this matter which its importance deserves. At the same time it must be remembered that we are laymen, and that from this House are excluded every cleric, both of the Church of England and of the Catholic Church, and I believe all ministers in active communion with any sect. We must remember that we are dealing with the minds of children, plastic and receptive, who are to be the future fathers and mothers and directors of this great Empire, and when we, with our mundane views, our mundane prepossessions, and our temporal interests address ourselves to this matter, I venture to think we are not able to bring these considerations to all parts of the question which do go to the root of this great educational matter. At this stage I must heartily protest against the view that whether in this matter of education, or in any other concern with which we have to deal, clericalism is the enemy. I protest against it. I say it is not true. It was not true when it was first spoken, and it is certainly not true in this matter of education. I do not rise, however, for any purpose of wrangling or contention with Members on the Front Bench opposite. I rise rather for the purpose of saying that I have listened with some attention to the demand which has been made and the proposition put forward by responsible Gentlemen on the Irish and Catholic side of the question, and have failed to notice any response whatsoever thereto. I know very well that Parliamentary government cannot be carried on merely across the floor of the House of Commons. I know very well that there are Gentlemen upon this side of the House to whom Party is more than religion, and I know very well the reticence that is requisite and necessary in dealing with a great and complex question, but in the main I must say that my sympathies have been aroused by the speeches of the Tory Party in this matter, and I think it does them credit that they have not been ashamed to get up in this mundane and sometimes cynical assembly to protest with vehemence and passion in favour of principles similar to these which we as Catholics profess. I am old enough as a Parliamentarian to make allowance for this reserve upon the Government Benches, and also I know well the strong pressure which is put upon them from their own side of the House, largely from men of small acquaintance with Parliamentary traditions, some of them new to the House, some outside the House, who little know what goes to the making of a contentious British Act of Parliament. It is said that the late election gave birth to a mandate. From what the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests it gave birth to twins or triplets. I must admit at the outset that the Nonconformists of England have a distinct grievance. I believe that their spiritual concerns have been prejudicially affected, and their conscience far strained, if not outraged, by the existing state of affairs. But the question is this: Does this Bill merely remedy that, or does it take occasion to go far beyond the necessities of the case? We all know the consecrated phrase, "Go and teach all nations." I think the preamble of this Bill might be, as far as this doctrine is concerned, "Go and teach all nations, with the consent of the county council." Having given careful consideration to this Bill I can see no propriety in a large portion of its provisions. I can see no occasion for them, in so far as relief to the Nonconformist Party is concerned, and I should construe it as a new Act of Conformity. I never read the Act of Conformity passed in the time of Charles II. until this Bill was introduced. I was astonished to find, ignorant as I am, that the Book of Common Prayer was only the schedule of an Act of Parliament. I went into the House of Lords. I looked, so curious was I, at the original of the measure, and there I found actually interlineations and Amendments in the handwriting, I suppose, of the Clerk at the Table and the other persons who assisted at religion in the making. And when I saw that the Ordering of Deacons was prescribed by statute, together with such matters as the Communion and other sacred subjects of that kind, I understood the meaning of Nonconformity, and I realised how strong must be the feeling of these Gentlemen opposite, who starting with the proposition which the Church of England originally announced as against the Catholic, that the Bible was to be the sole book and ground of faith, rejected the proposition that religion might be taught or enforced by Act of Parliament. But what is this Bill? It is the new Act of Conformity. It is the Nonconformist Act of Conformity. Who was Cowper-Temple? One of the new British Apostles? I can well understand when we get into Committee on this Bill, if it retains its present form, Church of England gentlemen playing the same game as against the Nonconformists, through the medium of a schedule, as was played in the time of Charles against the Catholics. For instance, happy Hampshire has been referred to by the President of the beard of Trade, who announced that the Hampshire formula was one agreed to by the Catholics, Protestants, Nonconformists, and atheists of Hampshire. Supposing when we come to this question of special instruction the Conservative Party say, "Let us do what our forefathers did, and put into the schedule of this Bill this simple Bible teaching which Nonconformists are willing to accept, and not leave it to the tender mercy of, say, the Hampshire County Council. For even the most reverent minded or irreverent minded must desire that on this great matter of public instruction you should not have men able to say, 'I belong to the York-shirists,' or In religion I have Lancashire leanings.' All sects of Protestants accept the Bible, and as it is from this House that the Bible is authorised to be taught in Churches, we should put into this Bill the simple Bible teaching dear to the hearts of all of us." What would be your answer to that? Will you say, "Oh, let us leave it to the London County Council," so that the body which is elected to look after drainage will have in the future the right to deal with doxology. I do want, therefore, gentlemen of the Nonconformist faith who take so strong a view with regard to the Catholic position to understand the tremendous differences and difficulties which lie along the road in dealing with this great and important subject. The Irish Secretary said yesterday that once you have public control you must not have tests. I looked up what was the root of that proposition, and I find that it is absolutely incorrect, because in a number of cardinal matters where you have public control this House has insisted upon sectarian teaching. The Catholic convict, the Catholic pauper, the Catholic soldier, and even the Catholic corpse is looked after with extraordinary punctilio by the great Parliament of England. But before I come to that, I wish to disclaim from my heart the opinion that the English people, so far as I have met them in this House, are bigoted against my own religion. I wish to add this in addition. A story has gone with extraordinary effect throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. It was the case of a poor soldier wounded in the South African War and crying for a priest to hear his last confession and give him absolution. No priest was within 700 miles of him; but the authorities sent a special train 700 miles to bring a Catholic priest to hear his dying confession. How could we Catholics, knowing what is the modern feeling of Englishmen with regard to our creed, approach this question from any point of view of suggesting that you desire to deal unfairly with us? When you had these difficulties to deal with in former days how easily, specifically and circumstantially, you met us. Take the case of the Poor Law. You have full control over the Poor Law, yet Catholic children must be reared as Catholics. If they are brought into the workhouse, they must be put under a specific head of the denomination; they must be taught by a Catholic teacher; they must be taught the Catholic religion; they must go to Mass on Sunday; and the guardians, either inside or outside the workhouse, must see that these children receive Catholic instruction. Where is the difficulty there, and yet you have popular control. Now I come to the industrial schools under the control of local bodies. Where a child is committed by the magistrate to these schools, it is provided by law that the magistrate must send a Catholic child to a Catholic industrial school. If the father or mother are so ignorant or so criminal that their children are driven to the streets, the country takes them before a magistrate and commands that magistrate to send them to get a good Catholic education at the expense of the local authorities. So I must be either a pauper or a foundling in order that the rites of my religion may be conserved. Then how do you provide for the pauper carcass? One would think that when we die you would throw our bodies into a common fosse. That is how they deal with a dead Catholic in some places. But it is illegal under one of the provisions of the Public Health Act to bury a non-Catholic in a Catholic plot. One might say, "What harm would it do to bury John Jones and Paddy O'Rafferty side by side?" But such is the spirit of your legislation that without any practical demand from united Irish sentiment, and from mere equity, which is after all the one thing that this House most prides itself upon, you made that tender provision for these poor people to lie in the dust only with members of their own creed. It is said it would outrage Protestant sentiment to provide money for non-Protestant teaching. But you provide money for Mohammedan teaching in Khartoum; and you actually provide money for the Jesuits in Ireland, though perhaps you do not know it. It is illegal to have anybody but Catholic priests to officiate in Catholic plots; it is illegal for any but a Catholic burial service conducted by a Catholic to be carried on therein. Is not this question you have to deal with in connection with one small denomination a measurable and handable question? I know and intensely feel the meaning of this great conflict between the various Protestant communities. But, what have we done to deserve being drawn into the mill? There was an unfortunate battle between the Protestants and Catholics in the days of Henry VIII. We were beat, and for three centuries the Papists were like a toad under the harrow. They have gradually emerged, and, relying on the faith of British tradition and of British statutes, they have under the shadow of the Protestant church, Methodist chapel, or Quaker place of worship, erected their humble and sometimes their squalid churches and schools. Catholics never dreamt that they would be involved in the controversy between the Protestant sects. Up to 1870 Catholics never asked for a subsidy; they never dreamt of it. They erected their schools and kept them unaided and without troubling you in any way. But after the German War it was decided that there must be universal compulsory education, and it was at once found necessary to provide school rates. That was in the economic days of Mr. Gladstone, who believed in compelling people to pay rates to make this provision. At once the Catholics found themselves rated to provide education for Nonconformists, the Church of England being already sufficiently provided for. That is what has given rise to this entire controversy. Consequently in 8,000 parishes you want this inexorable Bill as a straight-jacket to torture us. Why; it is absurd. "Oh," it is said, "you must have logic." This phrase about logic is like a football. We are assured that the British constitution is not logical and that human life cannot be conducted on principles of logic. That is when it suits you to say so. When some proposition is put forward to mitigate a hardship you yourself suffer, you say, "Oh, we must be logical." This Bill, which deals with 20,000 schools, proposes to affect 1,000 Catholic schools in which not one Nonconformist or one Churchman takes the smallest interest whatever. The life of England would not be affected, so far as English national life is concerned, if these 1,000 Catholic schools had never been established, or if they were swept from the face of the earth. Why, then, interfere with them? The Spanish Armada is not on the Channel. There is an entente cordiale with the French. The Pope is in the Vaican; the Italian Government have him pretty well in safe custody. And, therefore, in this great conflict between Anglicans and Nonconformists, why, when you have made us pay for our own schools for three or four centuries, do you now propose a new Act to put a prescription upon these unhappy Catholic schools? It would be, of course, easy for us to speak in matters of this kind in language of emotion. I desire, if I can, to avoid anything of that kind, and, above all, I wish to avoid making protestation of religious opinion. But I will say this, I would rather have my children learn to say "Our Father" than to learn the use of the globes. I would rather they understood their religion in the provision for the eternity which is to come than that they should become rich and prosperous, and educated in the things of this world. I would give very little for your education. I cannot spell myself. I cannot parse tin English sentence. I cannot do the rule of three. I am supposed to know a little law, but I think that is a mistake. But if there is one thing which I and mine have got a grip of, it is the belief in the Infinite Christ to come; and the belief that our children, whatever be their distresses, whatever be their misfortunes, whatever be their poverty in this world, if they have listened to the teaching of the Church, will reap a rich reward in putting into practice the lessons of Christianity which they receive in the Catholic schools.

Mr. PAUL (Northampton)

I am too old and too hardened an Erastian to be too much shocked at the hon. Gentleman's description of the Parliamentary origin of the Church to which I belong. I know that the religion of Protestant is fair game for the racy humour of my hon. and learned friend and these who belong to the Church of which he is a member. I have listened to the speeches of the hon. Member and to these of the hon. Members for Waterford and the City of Cork, and I could not help thinking that while theoretically we were hopelessly asunder, practically the difference between us was very small indeed. There is no human method of bridging the gulf between one who, like myself, believes in the principle of private judgment in matters of faith, and these who believe, like hon. Members from Ireland, that it is a matter of authority. Which of us is on the right side of the abyss God only knows, but I cannot think that the question of how to adjust the conditions of these denominational schools can be beyond the capacity of this House. I rise in the first place to respond to a peculiar challenge which came yesterday from a very remarkable source. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, speaking for the first, and I hope not for the last time, as the champion and spokesman of the Church of England, attacked me and some of my hon. friends here under the impression that we were triumphant Nonconformists, dancing upon the prostrate body of a communion to which we did not belong. I do not know how long the right hon. Gentleman has been a member of the Church of England, but I have been a member of it ever since I was born, or at all events since my baptism, which I cannot remember, and I take the liberty of denying that the Church of England is opposed to this Bill. I have no more right to speak for the Church of England than the right hon. Gentleman has to speak for the Unionist Party when he denounces tests, but I would remind him that the Church of England does not consist exclusively of venerable and vituperative ecclesiastics. The Church of England consists for the main part of laymen and nine-tenths, and I believe I may say nineteen-twentieths, of the members of the Church of England are entirely satisfied with the religious education given in the provided schools of the country. They do not regard it merely as the foundation upon which the superstructure may be built; they think it is sufficient and complete in itself. What is undenominationalism? I should answer that question in one word—;Christianity; and if I were asked to give a specimen of undenominational religion I would give with all reverence the Sermon on the Mount. There is no dogma there; there is no difficulty in understanding it; the difficulty is to live up to it. And where, I should like to know, do these dogmatic gentlemen send their own sons. The hon. Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, in the less gloomy of his vaticinations, predicted that one result of this Bill might be the substitution of private for public schools, but the fact is that gentlemen opposite send their sons to public schools. There is only one of these institutions that I know anything about, but I have no reason to suppose that in any respect it is not typical of others, and the only dogmatic teaching I ever learnt there was that the New Testament was written in very bad Greek. But I learned a great many much more valuable things, and I sent ray son there, because I thought he would be made a Christian and a scholar, and not a sacerdotalist or a theologian. I noticed the other night that when the names of Canon Henson and the Bishop of Hereford were mentioned in debate there were sounds of dissent. But are not they and many others who support this Bill to be reckoned as Churchmen? If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen wish to destroy the Church of England, which they cannot do, there is no better step they can take than to identify it with a political party. I do not think that the Liberal Party have any monopoly of, and perhaps they have not a majority in the Church of England. Certainly they have no monopoly in the Church, but neither have right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Church of England is a national institution, and all political opinions are quite well represented within its boundaries. I have been told in this House and out of it that this Bill has taken the country by surprise, but I think I could give very simply and shortly a conclusive piece of evidence to show that that is not the case. I have had occasion to present several petitions against this Bill from my constituency—;not many and not very numerously signed, hut they are all drawn in the same language. I do not quite know what it is called, but it is not the English of scholars; it is not the English of the working man; it is not the language of Christian, Pagan, or of man. It is a jargon only used by the ecclesiastical petition-monger. But the fact is that these petitions were drawn out before this Bill was introduced and the language is not altered by a sentence, or word, or even a comma, in the petitions which followed after its introduction, so that I do not think that the gentlemen who got up these petitions could be surprised at the nature of the Bill. No intelligent man or woman who took part in the last election or watched its progress could be at all astonished at the main features of this measure. I know that what I am now going to say is very unpopular, and equally unpopular on both sides of the House. I do not believe in the doctrine of the mandate. I regard it as part of the extreme Continental Jacobinism which cannot be fitted in any way into the British Constitution. If it were carried to its logical extreme we might as well shut up the House of Commons, and have a museum of automatic voting machines run by a company promoted, not on Party lines, by the hon. Member for South Hackney and the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet. In this Protestant country nine-tenths of the people who have any religion at all believe in private judgment, in the open Bible, and in the principles of the Reformation. From whom does the opposition to this Bill come, and by whom is it promoted? The opposition comes from a small knot of High Church clergymen and ecclesiastical laymen who would, if they could, Romanise the Church of England and do all in their power to assimilate it to the great Church which despises them. No doubt there will be criticism on parts of the Bill, and no perfect Bill was ever introduced into this House, but there will be no general, certainly no fanatical, opposition to the main principles of the measure. I heard the other night my hon. friend the Member for Leicester plead very earnestly for the principles of secular education, but I believe that the exclusion of the religion of the Bible from the elementary schools of this country would be the most inexpressible calamity which could befall the nation. I support this Bill because I believe it does equal justice to all classes and creeds, because I believe it is founded on the principle of Erasmus that the sum of religion is peace and gives statutory authority to the principle that religion should have a vital and prominent place in the system of elementary education in this Christian country.

LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

I rise, like the hon. Member who has just sat down, as a member of the Church of England, and after some of the language which he has used and which has been used by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House I feel that I ought to apologise for a member of the Church of England taking part in this debate. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth in the extremely interesting and brilliant speech which he recently addressed to the House referred to the great toleration which the Government of this country had extended to members of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and I was very glad to hear him refer to that, as it forms a matter which Englishmen contemplate with the greatest pride. But if that great and good tradition is infringed it will be the result of special privileges being accorded to the Roman Catholic religion which are not accorded to the Church of England. I do not desire to keep the attention of; the House any longer than I can help, and it therefore necessarily follows that I must omit a great number of criticisms upon this Bill which I should like to make. I do not propose to touch upon the question of public control or the question of tests to teachers to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred. Only one observation will I make upon that matter. I cannot help thinking that right hon. Gentlemen; opposite very gravely misunderstood the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman does not belong to the same Church as I do, and I freely admit that it was with some surprise and a great deal of pleasure that I found myself in almost entire agreement with all that fell from his lips, and particularly with regard to this matter of tests for teachers. The only provision in this Bill which touches on that is Clause 7, Sub-section 2, which provides that—; A teacher employed in an elementary school shall not be required as part of his duties as teacher to give any religious instruction. That is not the question of test at all. That is something that happens to him after his appointment—; And shall not be required as a condition of his appointment"—; and this is the test—; to subscribe to any religious creed or to attend or abstain from attending any Sunday school or place of worship. That may be a proper principle or not, I am not going to discuss it, but it has nothing to do with the contention put forward by members of the Church of England or of the Church of Rome that it is an outrage to permit a teacher, who does not believe in the religion he is appointed to teach, to teach that religion. If it were to be a test that he should attend certain services, then I think we should all of us be equally opposed to it. There is one aspect of this Bill to which I do think I ought to call attention, and that is what I may call the uncertainty of the policy which underlies it. Take the clause which the right hon. Gentleman referred to this afternoon, the clause which provides for ordinary facilities. One would think, looking at that casually, that there was some, security that ordinary facilities will be granted to the non provided schools which are transferred. There is no security whatever. It is quite true that if the trustees and the local authorities come to an agreement to that effect then such facilities will be given. But the local authority is not bound to come to such an agreement or to take the school over at all. And if no agreement is come to the local authority can go to the Commission who may or may not grant such facilities. That is characteristic of the whole Bill. There is a suggestion thrown out that the local authorities are going to be tolerant and grant the facilities which denominationalists demand, but when you come to examine the Bill closely you will find time after time that that promise is not carried out very fully.

I pass over a large number of instances which I could give the House and come to the main grievance which the members of the Church of England have against this Bill. Take the case of Bible teaching. Almost every Member of that side of the House has said, "We are going to give you Bible teaching in your schools, why are you not satisfied with that?"

Sir, there is not any security that there is to be any Bible teaching. We had a description of the Cowper-Temple clause from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He described it as a thoroughly English working compromise. But what the Cowper-Temple clause does is not to provide that any kind of religious teaching is to be given, but that one kind is to be given in the schools. Then we are told it may be one of the facilities, and that we must look at the history of the last thirty-five years. That is the favourite reply made. I have endeavoured since this debate began to look into the history of the last thirty-five years, and there is, so far as I can see at present, only one official document to assist us, and that is the Return given in 1895 of the religious instruction given in the board schools. I heard with great surprise from the Chancellor of the Duchy that in only seven boards religious instruction had not been given. I looked up that point. I know how difficult it is to be always accurate in giving these statistics. We heard a great deal about the want of accuracy in dealing with figures in the fiscal debate, but I do not think there was ever so great a want of accuracy as this. I found that instead of seven there were fifty-seven boards in Wales where no religious instruction was given, and that in no less than 316 boards the Bible was read without comment. Now to read the Bible without comment is practically equivalent to giving no religious instruction at all. In the overwhelming majority of cases no examination or test of the religious instruction given in these schools took place. It is not impossible to say that school board religion is a wonderful thing, and there are certain people whose word is entitled to respect who have said so. But so far as the Return and the statement are concerned there is no justification whatever for the statement. There is even a more serious thing than that to consider, and that is the nature of this Bible teaching; the nature of the fundamental Christianity of which we have heard so much. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland is the only person, with the exception of the hon. Member for Northampton, who has ventured to give a definition of what he considers to be fundamental Christianity. In the course of the speech he made yesterday, he said—; The only form of Christian teaching that can properly be given to a child is in those few fundamental truths in regard to which Christians agree. These fundamental truths are the goodness and kindness of the Creator, the duty to love Him and keep His commandments and the sacred precepts of the New Testament, especially those precepts delivered by Christ Himself; precepts delivered in expressive language, so simple and beautiful, that it touches the imagination and emotion of a child, and goes home to his heart. [Cheers.] I hear that cheer, and I would say nothing to show the slightest disrespect for that religion. The only thing I say about it is that the essential doctrine of Christianity is conspicuous by its absence. And it is the same in a manner with the definition of the hon. Member for Northampton. He says, "Teach the Sermon on the Mount." I have no objection at all. The Sermon on the Mount is part of Christianity, but it is not the whole of Christianity. The morality of the Sermon on the Mount would be, I believe, accepted by almost every person in this country as part of their religious belief, but it is grotesque to tell me it is fundamental Christianity. I say I regard such teaching as that as absolutely worthless from the point of view of Christianity. Let me be quite clearly understood. I speak now and I know that I speak with the full assent of a large proportion of the members of the Church of England. Be that as it may, I do not wish to be unduly dogmatic. But if we are to have Christianity at all we must have Christianity, and we cannot substitute for it the teaching of Christian morals and the historic teaching of the Bible. So much for the history of the last thirty-five years. Then we are told to look at the admirable syllabus constructed by the Hampshire County Council. I proposed to say something about that subject, but what I intended to say is quite unnecessary after what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for North Louth. I would, however, like to say something with regard to what the President of the Board of Trade was so indignant about, namely, the statement that the teaching of the Hampshire syllabus was the teaching of Nonconformity. I venture to say it was the teaching of Nonconformity. After all, what is Nonconformity? I have had an opportunity of looking at a document which was treated with scant courtesy by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade; a document that was agreed to by all the leading churches of Nonconformity. I can tell the House exactly what it is called, "A declaration of the United Churches' convictions," and it is signed by the heads of all the Free Churches. Now what is that document? If I might venture to summarise it, I should describe it as a declaration of Church of England doctrine without the distinctive feature of Church of England doctrine. It is not so much that that document contains much that the Church of England actually disapproves of as that it omits much that the Church of England believes and insists on. What is the distinction between the Church of England Catechism and the Free Church Catechism, speaking generally? We have been told by the President of the Board of Trade that this Catechism is the very foundation of the undenominational teaching in the Liverpool board schools. Your Cowper-Temple clause says you are to have no formulary or creed distinctive of any particular denomination. Does this contain any formulary? [Cries of "No."] I agree. Therefore this can be taught in your provided schools, the Church of England Catechism cannot. I was charged by the President of the Board of Trade With some degree of annoyance because I ventured to suggest that substantially the leading sects of Nonconformists were agreed upon that head. I think I have satisfied the House that that was a perfectly just observation to make, and the fact remains that this Bill, which we are told is not to be in the interests of Nonconformity, which does not give any special privileges to Nonconformity, has been welcomed with effusive gratitude by every Nonconformist in the country. [Cries of "No."] I know they do not like Clause 4, but I am talking of those provisions which are not designed to assist other creeds than their own. Let me read what the hon. Member for the Louth Division of Lincolnshire said. He said—; In its essential feature it carries out the education scheme for which Wesleyan Methodists have been contending for fifteen years. The main provisions in the Bill may almost have been taken from the minutes of the Wesleyan Conference. Does the right hon. Gentleman still assert that this Bill does not give privileges to Nonconformity? But as to their syllabuses, whether they are admirable or not, the essential fact remains that they are not part of this Bill. There is nothing to compel any local authority whatever to teach the doctrines contained in those syllabuses. May I ask why they are not put in the Bill? Why?—;because you know quite well you would not have a chance of passing the Bill if you put in any one of them, and for the reason hon. Members opposite would not have the hardihood to get up then and say that this is not a Bill in favour of one particular sect. You are not going to do it yourself, but you are going to say to every county council in the country, "You may do it if you like." That is really what this Bill is. I confess that the form of legislation which says that the House of Commons is not to be trusted to settle the Christian teaching that is to be given in the provided schools of the country, but says that the county councils are to be trusted with it, is one which I admit is of a very surprising character indeed. The real truth is—;it may seem a harsh saying—;the Members of the Government do not care one way or the other on this question. [Cries of, "Oh."] I assert it is so. The President of the Board of Education in introducing this Bill said it was not an Education Bill at all, but a Bill to settle that ill-omened subject the religious difficulty. It is not the most important aspect of education—;that was the attitude of his speech right through. The President of the Board of Trade denned the policy in the Bill—;a phrase I hope that will not be readily forgotten—;as being based on the principle that "clericalism is the enemy." In order that there might be no mistake as to what he meant he referred to the history of France, to show exactly the sense in which he was using the phrase. What has been the result in France? Is there simple Bible teaching in French schools? Everybody knows that in the State schools of France every vestige of religion has been excluded, even sacred images and pictures. ["Why?"] Because they say clericalism is the enemy. What about America? A book has recently been published by Mr. Shadwell on educational efficiency. He has examined this question there, and he says—; The religious difficulty has been disposed of, and that is true. There is no religious question in the public schools and no religion. Dogmatic—;that is denominational teaching—;was given up to appease sectarian animosity, and Bible-reading substituted. That has been actually dropped by degrees, and the foundations of Western morality have, in effect, disappeared from the public schools. Part passu attendance at Sunday school has dropped off. It is easy to dispose of the religious difficulty by disposing of religion. In like manner, the educational difficulty has been disposed of in the Andaman Islands. That is apparently the ideal of the President of the Board of Trade, when he sums up the policy of the Government as "clericalism is the enemy." I do not want to pose in any way, but I do say that Members of the Church of England do care exceedingly about this question. They regard religion, not as a valuable adjunct to education, but as the foundation on which all education must rest. They say that by the legislation of 1870 and the legislation that has followed, the State has taken over the education of the children. It has made it free, and it has made it compulsory. If it has taken over the education of the children, it must provide the religious education as the foundation on which the secular education must rest. That is what we mean by the inalienable right of parents. We do not suggest that if the State left the question of education alone, they would be bound to give religious education to the children. But if they take it over, and take the place of the parents, as they have in this matter, then they are bound to give religious instruction, and the only religious instruction they can fairly give is that which the parents desire. That is the position which the Church of England, in spite of the sneers of the President of the Board of Trade, honestly takes up. The right hon. Gentleman ventured to suggest that this right of the parents was merely trotted out as a kind of stalking horse, in order to secure some privilege for the Church. That is an observation which ought never to have been made. And may I say this to right lion, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have come back with enormous power, flushed with the victory of the polls? They think they are irresistible. Do not let them underestimate the forces against them on this question. The hon. Member for Northampton, with characteristic vigour of expression, suggested that the only people who were really against this Bill were the section of the Church of England which he described as of a romanising tendency. That is absolutely the reverse of the fact. I do not hold with that section myself. If I belong to any section it is that of the old High Church. Of that section I can say they are determined in their opposition to this Bill. I had an opportunity of attending a meeting of Evangelical clergy the other day, and to a man they were as vehement and as uncompromising in their attitude. The Ritualists, it is conceded, are opposed to the Bill. You have substantially the whole Church of England against you on this question. I do not mean to say you will not find Churchmen here and there who differ upon this matter, but, speaking as a practical politician, you have the whole of the Church of England against you, and let right hon. and hon. Gentlemen carefully consider the situation. The Church of England has not in this country had so much perhaps to put up with as the Church of Rome, but it too has suffered some amount of persecution. Wherever that persecution has been attempted it has tailed, and the Church which did not yield to the dragooning of Cromwell's soldiers will not yield to the departmental persecution and the tyranny of this Bill.

* MR. WHITBREAD (Huntingdonshire, Huntingdon)

I ask leave to take a very short part in this debate, not only as one who represents a constituency which for the first time for twenty years has returned to this House a Member to support a Liberal Government, but also as one who has for the past three years presided over a county Education Committee which has been loyally endeavouring to administer the Act of 1902 in the true interests of the children of that county. I say at once that although the Party to which I belong found in that Act many things to object to, yet the Act has proved itself during the past three years in many respects a great step in advance in the cause of education in our country districts. After the debate to which we have listened for the last few days, and in particular after the very remarkable speech delivered by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, I do not think it is necessary to do more than mention three propositions which I look upon as practically admitted or, at all events, to which all effective opposition has gone by the board. Those propositions are, first, that the Act of 1902 left behind it a grievance which was widespread and well founded; and that there is only one way in which to remedy that grievance, namely, by giving force to the principles of the Bill now before the House, that where public money is taken for an object, public control must necessarily follow, and that all posts in the teaching profession should be open to every person who is qualified, regardless of the particular denomination to which he may belong. We are told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that this is an act of confiscation. They declare that they will not give up their schools, and I understand from what I have read that the managers of denominational schools throughout the country are prepared, like the clerical party in France, to oppose to the last the action of the executive Government when they attempt to carry out this Bill. I hear that they are saving up the chimney soot of the last spring cleaning with which to greet the officials who come to take possession of their school buildings. I think the position with regard to the alleged confiscation of voluntary schools would be made much clearer if we kept in sight one simple fact, that a school and a school building are two distinct and independent things. A school is an institution which has a continuous life, independent of whether or not it is housed in any particular building. This House would still be the House of Commons if these buildings were consumed by fire, and the public elementary school will continue to be a school whether it is allowed to carry on its work within the walls of any particular building or not. As far as schools are concerned, voluntary schools have been given up long ago. From the first days of building grants, fee grants, and aid grants, right up to the Act of 1902, the whole course has been to shift the burden of the maintenance of the voluntary schools on to the shoulders of the public, and to take the corresponding burdens off the shoulders of the denominations to which the schools belonged. With regard to the school buildings, no one contends that they are not private property, and no House of Commons would ever dream of taking them over without an adequate and proper consideration. The consideration in this case is, I believe, more than adequate, and I find confirmation of that statement in the fact that hon. Members sitting on the Opposition side have more than once accused the Government of erring on the side of extravagance. Therefore, it hardly lies in the mouth of objectors to this Bill to raise the double objection that this is an Act of confiscation, while at the same time they allege that the consideration that is offered for the use of the schools is an extravagant use of the taxpayers' money. It is all very well for them to say that they are the aggrieved parties, and have the right to the choice of the weapons, but that does not entitle them to use both weapons at the same time.

After the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, I desire to touch very briefly upon the question of religious teaching in the schools. I have been told that Cowper-Templeism, or the simple Bible teaching given in the schools, is a colourless religion. It has been called a new religion. The right hon. Gentlemen the Member for West Birmingham upon a former occasion used that expression, but I gather that he has now withdrawn it. The right hon. Gentleman is not one who easily withdraws what he has said, and just in proportion as his withdrawals are unusual, so we are grateful. What is this new religion? One is almost tempted to wonder, if it were possible for the late Mr. Cowper-Temple to re-visit this House, what he would think of its being said that what he introduced was a new religion. Mr. Cowper-Temple was a stout Churchman, who passed many years of his life in this House, and afterwards went to another place. It might be said that he lived and died in orthodoxy. What is to-day the teaching that is derided as Cowper-Templeism, which itself was the result of a very small amendment, introduced at Mr. Cowper-Temple's instigation into the Act of 1870? I have here a copy of the instructions issued by the Education Committee, over which I have the pleasure of presiding, and I will venture very briefly to quote some of them to the House, because I think an ounce of fact is worth a ton of abuse. The first instruction runs—; The Bible shall be read, and there shall be given such explanation and such instruction there from in the principles of the Christian religion and morality, as are suited to the capacity of the children. Provision is made for offering prayer find using hymns at the proper time, and for that purpose we have to provide a snail collection of hymns and prayers which I should have no hesitation in offering for the approval of any hon. Gentlemen opposite, so carefully have they been compiled. And then, in case we should be accused of being narrow or sectarian, we have enacted—; That any head teacher who wishes, instead of adopting our syllabus, may adopt the Scripture of the Oxford or Cambridge junior local examination syllabus, or that of the Ely Diocesan Council. Hon. Members who have any acquaintance with the Ely Diocesan Council will be able to appreciate the length and breadth of that concession. For the infants and lower standards we have the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the Ten Commandments, the Gospel according to St. Mark, lessons from seven selected parables, the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, the Acts of the Apostles, and so on. Is this a new religion? I would venture to make two statements with respect to it. First of all, this religious instruction, administered with ordinary average ability and loyalty by the teachers in our elementary schools, is in itself a sound and a good foundation for any doctrinal instruction that may follow. In the second place, it is in my humble opinion such religious instruction as you can profitably and conveniently instil into the minds of the average children between the ages of five and fourteen years. Whilst on the subject of the rights of parents, I will say that any parent who finds this syllabus insufficient, may be safely trusted to look after the further final religious instruction of his child. This simple Bible teaching has stood the test of a generation, and it has commended itself to persons high in authority in the Church of England, who in the early days viewed it with suspicion and dislike, but who have come now to speak of it with a warm tribute of praise. It is said that you have no guarantee what will be taught. What guarantee can you have as to how the education m our schools is administered, except our knowledge of the earnestness and loyalty of those who devote themselves to the profession of teaching in our schools? If it is a question of guarantee, what guarantee has the Church of England in regard to the teaching that goes on in her Sunday schools? How often has it been the experience of hon. Members that the teaching in the Church of England Sunday schools has been left as a kind of safety valve for the exuberant zeal of the younger members of the clergyman's family? I believe that the persons who enter the teaching profession and find a sphere of usefulness in our elementary schools are not Agnostics or indifferent to the value of Christian teaching. They are, I believe, if I may describe them by such a term, a very conventionally minded class of persons. Most of them are, as a matter of fact, members of the Church of England; all, or most of them, take up their profession from a real and earnest love of the children they have to teach. I believe that teaching such as I have ventured to indicate to the House may be left with great confidence to the teachers whom we find in the elementary schools. At any rate, what I believe to be most important in promoting Christian charity and harmony among the people in our agricultural districts and in towns is that we should have a system under which every little Anglican, every little Wesleyan, every little Evangelical, and every little Calvinist may sit on the same form and learn together their duty towards one another, and, as regards their higher duty, may learn something of the great lessons of order, reverence, and good conduct, which may be drawn from such teaching. I know that in a Bill containing forty clauses there must be room for amendment. I listened with great interest and instruction to the speech of the hon. Member for North Camberwell, and I found myself practically in agreement with him as to the necessity of various Amendments in the Bill. If I might particularise for a moment I would turn to the clause which authorises the delegation of powers. "Devolution" is a word much in vogue at the present time. There appears to be an almost Mesopotamian blessedness in the word "devolution," except in one place which we must not mention, and that is Ireland. I look with some alarm and misgiving upon the proposal to delegate powers from the education committees as they are at present constituted, to smaller and perhaps less capable and less responsible local bodies, but that may be made the subject of an Amendment, and I know that this is not the stage for dwelling on defects of that character. I shall vote with confidence and absolute conviction in favour of the Second Reading of the Bill, which I look upon as an earnest and genuine attempt, full of hope for the future, to improve the educational system of this country. I appeal to hon. Members opposite not to take up the uncompromising attitude of hostility to this Bill which is shown by some of their friends and supporters outside the House.

* MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

The hon. Member for Northampton said in addressing the House that he had no right whatever to claim to speak for the Church of England, and almost in the same breath he proceeded to state what he asserted to be the views of nineteen-twentieths of the members of that Church. He stated that they were in favour of the principle of this Bill. He quoted in support of his contention a Churchman whom we all know to be opposed to us in politics—;the Bishop of Hereford. He quoted him as a supporter of the Bill. The Bishop of Hereford in a letter which appeared in The Times of Monday last indicated certain Amendments which he considered were necessary in order to make the Bill acceptable to him. If the Government are willing to accept these Amendments, all I can say is that they will go far to remove the objections of Churchmen, and of those on this side of the House. The Amendments would also incidentally destroy the whole basis of the Bill. The President of the Board of Trade resented with much vehemence the imputation that the Bill is directed against the Church of England. But I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of what was said on August 30th last year by the Leader of the Welsh Party, of which, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman is still a Member—; Wales possesses in this education fight the greatest opportunity she has ever hail or is ever likely to have for securing once for all full civil and religious liberty. It has placed disestablishment once more within the range of practical politics, and actually within our grasp …. It is not the Education Question per se which appeals to me so much as the fact that this fight must lead up to disestablishment. In view of that utterance I think we are justified as Churchmen in feeling some apprehension as to the ultimate effect of this Bill. Churchmen, rightly or wrongly, regard this measure as a religious reprisals Bill. They believe its effect must be to alienate from the Church of England the support of its own rising generation, and thus to facilitate the grand assault that will ultimately be made upon the Establishment. The part of the Bill to which I most strongly object as it stands is Clause 4. I think it rightly gives offence because of its cynically partial character. It is an artful bid for the support of the two sects whose creeds are most antagonistic to the Free Churches—;the Roman Catholics and the Jews—;but who are so strong politically that they have to be placated. The true effect of this clause has been strikingly shown by the figures which have been supplied to us in answer to a Question which I put to the Minister for Education a few days ago. I do not want to impute motives, but there is a discrimination against the Church of England in this clause which rightly alarms every member of the Church. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool spoke of 250 schools being taken away from the Roman Catholic Church. But no less than 8,800 schools will be taken away from the control of the Church of England under this Bill. Could there possibly be a more complete exposure of the partiality, and the intentions of this clause? I think I may fairly say that that is the intention after the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that the clause was put in specially for the Roman Catholics and the Jews. He said that the clause had been forced upon the Government. Forced upon them by what? By political exigencies. [Cries of "No."] Well, I venture to contend that that is so. The President of the Board of Trade was not afraid to say the other day that all the Government asked for was "fair play and absolute equality in the eyes of the law for all well-behaved citizens. Their conception of absolute equality in the eyes of the law is shown by the figures in the Return supplied by the Minister of Education. But what did the right hon. Gentleman mean by "well-behaved citizens"? Are only the citizens who profess to belong to the Nonconformist churches well-behaved citizens? Are passive resisters well-behaved citizens? [Cries of "Yes."] These were the words used by the right hon. Gentleman. I come now to the language of the Minister for Education in reply to the Jewish deputation. When the deputation said to the right hon. Gentleman that they would still be at the mercy of the local authorities, the right hon. Gentleman said—; You must trust the local authorities. I believe the local authorities will do their duty under these proposals to the Roman Catholics and the Jews, and I trust also to the Church of England. Yes, but the right hon. Gentleman was not sure in the case of the Church of England! That remark really revealed what is the attitude of mind of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the protest of the Church of England. He makes no provision in his Bill for the improvement of education, or for its more economical administration. The right hon. Gentleman devotes forty clauses and two schedules to this special legislation for the benefit of two powerful sects, as was admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he has done this in the hope of squaring their opposition. I do not know how far he has been successful in squaring that opposition, but I fancy it will prove as difficult as squaring the circle, and is likely to be attended with about the same success. This four-fifths clause, as it is called, is not a fair description of it, because that suggests that the Government is merely seeking to safeguard the rights of overwhelming majorities and is even offering them privileges which they do not enjoy already. It ought rather to be designated a one-fifth clause, because it is designed to enable an infinitesimal minority, which has no special claims, not only to force its views upon the vast majority, but to deprive that majority of privileges which it has earned by great personal sacrifices and which it has long enjoyed—;to deprive it, indeed, of control over property which had been erected and maintained for specific purposes and for the benefit of children of all denominations.

The only other point to which I wish to refer is with regard to the optional character of religious instruction whenever it is to be given. Mr. Gladstone said that in the case of religious education the desire for it was least where the need was greatest. I say that if religious instruction is to be absolutely optional, if there is to be no compulsion, that will be equivalent to making no provision for religious education at all. Whatever the result of the denominational fight may be, I hope the Minister for Education will see his way to remedy this serious defect, or if if the right hon. Gentleman favours secular education let him say so honestly, and leave the name of religion out of his Bill altogether. At present it is difficult to know what his attitude of mind is as to what the religious instruction should be. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be balancing between two opinions, and looking for a working compromise between religious and secular education. He must know that a religion cannot be re-hashed or created by legislative ingenuity. The Japanese tried it, and sent a Commission of theologians all over the world to investigate every religion, and to make up one bringing out the best points of each.


I am content with the Christian religion.


But the right hon. Gentleman cannot get all sects to agree as to what the Christian religion is. We all know that Mr. Gladstone described this kind of religion, which the right hon. Gentleman is favouring, as a "popular imposture." I almost tremble to think what language Mr. Gladstone would apply to this Bill. At any rate, whatever the Bill is, it is not "popular," it is an unpopular imposture; and I hope the good sense and honesty of the House will prevent its passing in anything like its present form.

* MR. SNOWDEN (Blackburn)

I cannot join in the hope expressed by the noble Lord, the Member for East Marylebone, that this measure when it passes into law will put an end to educational controversy. No one can have listened to this debate without feeling the hopelessness of the prospect of reconciling the conflicting interests in regard to education. And I do not hope therefore that anything I can say to-day is likely to bring nearer together these different views. However, I want to endeavour to place before the House the opinion of what I know is a very large section of the working classes of the community. During the last thirty-five years there has been a very great change in the opinion of the working classes in regard to education. To-day there is a far keener appreciation of the importance and necessity of education than existed thirty-five years ago. The return to this House of those with whom I am associated is one evidence of that change. There is no sentiment more heartily applauded at a public meeting of the working classes than a reference to the disinherited condition, from an educational point of view, of the working classes. That is a recognition of the fact that from an industrial and social point of view their minds tend in the direction of a better education. I want, therefore, to endeavour, as far as I may be able, to interpret to this House what I believe to be the overwhelming volume of opinion of the working classes on this education question. I take it that the intention of the present measure is to deal with the difficulties and shortcomings which have been manifested in the working of the existing Acts, and that any amending Education Bill introduced into this House should be based upon our experience of the operation of preceding Acts The noble Lord said that so far as he was aware there was only one Return published giving the result of the experience of the working of all the Education Acts since that of 1870. We have an unrecorded, but nevertheless large measure of experience of the working of these Acts. The Education Act of 1870 established two principles, which are not disputed by any section of opinion represented either in this House or outside it. The Act of 1870 was passed as a result of the conviction that the State must take its stand on the civic education of the children of the State. That Act laid it down as a principle that it is the duty and the interest of the State to see that all its future citizens are provided with at least a minimum of education to enable them when grown up to discharge their social and industrial duties. That is what we might call civic education. The other principle was that it is not the duty of the State to require compulsory religious instruction. Nevertheless, the Act of 1870 did provide opportunities for satisfying the desires of that part of the population who wished for religious education. We have had thirty-five years experience of that, and what is the result? I should be very sorry to say one word that would wound the feelings of any person who holds the opinion that religious instruction should be given in the public elementary schools; but it is our duty to have the courage to declare the facts, however unpalatable they may be. Surely if religious teaching has an effect upon moral character it will have an effect upon the conduct of the children who receive the instruction. What do we find? A Return was presented to this House only a few days ago giving the religious training and the religious faith of all the prisoners in His Majesty's prisons on a certain day two or three months back. From that we find that out of 21,000 prisoners in those prisons upon that particular day more than 20,000 had been trained in the religious atmosphere of the sectarian school. More than 16,000 declared themselves as associated with the Church of England, while only 1,100 declared themselves to be Nonconformists, or to profess no religion at all. I submit that that is exactly what one would expect as the result of teaching theology to children. The very last thing to be taught to children is theology. No child can understand it, and even grown up men cannot. We have something like 400 different sects of theologians in this country, and they all give a different interpretation of the same teaching. I submit that the last thing in the world we should resort to for the development of moral character is theological teaching. The teaching of creeds is founded largely, if not mainly, upon superstition, and the teaching of them does not tend to develop moral character. The teaching of these creeds gives the child no intelligence to deal with the problems of this age. What is morality? According to the syllabus of the London County Council schools the children are to go for their morality to the lives of Abraham and of the other patriarchs, and to the lives and ethical knowledge of a people emerging from barbarism. What is called religious teaching is, I submit to the House, not religious teaching at all, and there is no connection between the teaching of theology and the teaching of true religion. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone refuses to accept the doctrine that true religion consists of helpfulness and unselfishness, and that charity and love are the foundations of Christian teaching. What is Christian teaching? Surely if there be an intelligible declaration of Christian teaching you will find it in the first declaration made by Christ himself, in which He said that He came to bring good news to the poor and liberty to the bruised. What is religion? The only religion you can teach the children is to be good, to be kind, to be pure, to be helpful, and there can be no higher religion than that. The teaching of theology has had a most serious effect upon the efficiency of the civic part of our educational institutions. I do not share the opinion expressed by more than one Member of this House that our thirty-five years experience of the school board system is that it has achieved satisfactory and substantial results. I can speak with a certain measure of authority in regard to this question. The only education I ever had was given in a board school; I served for some years as teacher in a board school; I have served for many as a member of a school board; I know the working of the schools, and I am prepared to state, as a general statement, that in spite of all the money which was spent on our elementary schools during the last thirty-five years, the mass of the people to-day are little, if any, better educated than they were forty years ago. It is quite true that there are a larger number of people who can read and write, but in the absence of the moral inclination of the teaching given their example has been mainly to prove the truth of Ruskin's declaration as to the results of the present system of education. The instruction now given is of such an insufficient character that, in the majority of cases, after the children have been away from school for six months they have practically forgotten everything that they had learned. What is the reason for that? I submit that the main reason for the inefficiency of the secular part of our education is to be found in its association with sectarianism. My experience of the school board system has been that elections are fought out, not as between educationalists and non-educationalists, but between sectarians of one form and sectarians of another form, who try to get control of the local administrative machinery, in order that they may have an opportunity of inoculating the children with their particular theological ideas. Under the old school board system men were elected who knew nothing about education but upon sectarian grounds, and I myself know of the case of a man who could neither read nor write, who was elected a member of a school board simply because he happened to be a very substantial supporter of the local church. The evil influence of a system like that is incalculable. When the administration of education is in the hands of the local authorities the municipal elections are mainly fought on the question of religious education, with the result that the thousand and one important matters of social life and higher education are subordinated to the candidate's opinion upon teaching the children the incomprehensibilities of the Athanasian Creed. This position is absolutely intolerable, and it is the duty of this House to devise some means which will relieve us of it, and once and for ever release secular education from association with anything of a denominational character. Can this be done? I venture to think it can. We are agreed that it is the duty of the State to provide civic education. but we are not agreed that it is the duty of the State to provide religious instruction. That is, in my judgment, an individual matter. I do not think that I need attempt to answer the clerics who say you cannot have any development of moral character unless you have the teaching of religion. They have a perfect right to hold that opinion, and I believe they are perfectly right to use every means at their own expense, and in their own spheres of influence, to propagate their opinions. But that is only the view held by sectarian people. It is not held by the majority of the people, and therefore a sect has no right whatever to impose its own opinions upon the majority. I think we shall all agree that it is the duty of the State to provide those things by State organisation and State expenditure upon which the majority of the people agree, or for which the voice of the people is unanimous in thinking that there is a public necessity. We do not agree that the teaching of theology or what in this controversy is called religion is a social necessity; therefore, instruction of this sort ought to be given by those who believe in it, though I think the State should permit every opportunity and give the fullest liberty to every sect to teach its own creed at its own expense and in its own time. It seems to me, therefore, that the solution of the question is quite plain. Let the State confine itself to teaching those things upon which we are all agreed, leaving to individuals or to associations of individuals the responsibility of teaching those things upon which we are not agreed. How far does the Bill before the House carry out this proposition, and how far does it redeem the election promises of the Party now in power? What was the election programme of the Liberal Party? I think no hon. Member associated with that Party in this House will dispute the fairness of what I am about to say. The Liberal education programme at the late election was public control of all schools, no sectarian tests, and no public money for the advantage of sectarian creeds. Those were the three points. How far does this Bill redeem those election pledges? Does it give us public control? What do we mean by public control? An hon. Member who addressed the House this evening expressed an opinion which he said he did not expect would meet with a large measure of approval in this House. He said he did not believe in the rule of the majority. I am a democrat, and I am unable to see any better way of ruling than by the majority. But there are certain things which I maintain a majority has no right to do. A majority has no right to interfere with individual action or individual opinion when that individual action or that individual opinion is not manifestly inimical to the welfare of society; therefore I think public control over education must be safeguarded by such provisions that even the rule of the majority shall not be permitted to violate individual right of liberty. What is going to happen if this Bill passes into law? The bitterness of the sectarian struggle for municipal votes is going to be increased a thousandfold. It is going to be the one thing upon which elections will be fought. What happened in the old school board elections? Different sects put forth their whole energy and strength to obtain votes, and they succeeded in getting sectarian teaching which did not represent the opinions of the majority. We shall have the same thing happening in the municipal elections. We shall have the control of the predominant sect to teach in the schools creeds which are not in harmony with the views of the people. It is declared that by the Cowper-Temple clause it is perfectly legal to teach a particular creed and we are going to have that. Then with regard to the sectarian tests. I know that half the differences of opinion in the world are due to the want of clear definitions. One hon. Member in a speech, which from the Christian spirit it displayed, must have touched the heart of every Member of this House, while admitting that inquiries should be made into the religious conviction of the applicant, denied that that was a religious test. What is the use of an inquiry unless it has a purpose? And what is the purpose of the inquiry? To ascertain the religion of the applicant, and unless the inquiry results in showing that the teacher belongs to the particular denomination, he stands no chance of getting the appointment. There are nearly 5,000 schools in the country that may come under the four-fifths clause. In those schools you will probably have not less than 25,000 teachers. Therefore, under this Bill, when it becomes an Act, you are going to have sectarian tests imposed on 25,000 civil servants. With regard to the third part of the Liberal programme that no money should be given for teaching in sectarian schools, does this Bill redeem that pledge? It does no such thing. We are told by the hon. Member for North Camberwell that it will cost £750,000 for the annual rent of the buildings of the voluntary schools and £750,000 for their maintenance, and therefore you are going to give £1,500,000 to the teaching of sectarian religion. The three cardinal points in the Liberal Programme are not redeemed by this Bill. I will not detain the House further upon that.

We have been told repeatedly by hon. Members that the secular solution is the logical solution of this question. I should not think of basing an appeal to my colleagues in this House for any proposal on the ground that it is logical, and I do not base my contention for secular teaching in the schools on that ground; I base it on the ground of common sense and practicability. The secular solution will not inflict any outrage on the conscience of any individual in the country. The secular system would only teach those things which the State has decided it is right to teach. We do not differ about teaching the children to read and write and the other subjects which are compulsory under the Education Code. There is nothing in the teaching of those things which is opposed to the honest convictions of a Catholic, an Anglican, or a Dissenter; all of them regard these things as necessary. It is quite true many of them regard something else as necessary, as a supplement to education. They can have perfect liberty to supplement it in their own way, with their own money. Hon. Members who have spoken have declined to support any immediate proposals for giving effect to the secular solution on the ground that, although it is the logical solution, there is no public opinion in favour of it. No public opinion in favour of a secular system of education! At the Trade Union Congress, representing two millions of the most intelligent of the thinking portion of the working-class population, they have over and over again unanimously expressed their demand for a secular solution of the education difficulty. The Labour Representative Conference only a few weeks ago gave a practically unanimous vote to the same effect. But the working-classes are not alone in making this demand. The President of the Board of Trade, while admitting that the secular solution was the logical solution, said it could not be carried out because there was no body of opinion in its favour. If the right hon. Gentleman were in his place I would direct his attention to a quarter with which he will agree. The Congregational Union of Wales met eighteen months ago; the executive had prepared a Resolution on the Education question, but an Amendment was moved in favour of the secular solution. And in this conference, where the religious feeling was very strong—;it was composed largely of ministers—;according to the newspaper reports the recommendation of the Executive Committee was rejected and the Amendment was carried by an almost unanimous vote amidst resounding cheers. I am informed that the right hon. Gentleman was present at the gathering. May I quote here just a word of one of the most influential men in the free Churches to-day? A few months ago Dr. Horton said—; More and more it seems to me the whole difficulty lies in the State attempting to give religious instruction. If education is to be efficient it must go on its way unhampered by the religious question. Another eminent Nonconformist divine expressed similar views recently in the Fortnightly Review. I know there is an enormous feeling among the lay and ministerial members of the Free Churches in this country in favour of secular education. One hon. Member who spoke pointed out that it was quite wrong to say that the Catholic section of the Church of England was in favour of this Bill. The ritualistic section are in favour of secular education, and often publicly express themselves upon it. If the only difficulty of Members opposite is the fear that there is no public opinion In favour of this secular solution, let them disabuse their minds of it. The working men of this country would welcome it. As to the statement of the hon. Member for North Camberwell, repeated by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that if there was no religion taught in our schools what would become of the poor waifs, surely respect for the work of the Christian Church ought to have prevented such a statement as that. What are our thousands of churches and thousands of ministers doing? What are the tens of thousands of Sunday School teachers doing to-day, and why are millions being spent on spreading Christianity abroad, if in a land boasting of a Christian people there are thousands of children in our slums who do not hear a word of the gospels except in the secular schools? If the statements of the hon. Members are correct, keep your money at home and spend it in Christianising your own people. If religious education were excluded from our schools, there would be a revival of energy and zeal on the the part of the Christian Church. I submit that this solution is not only logical, but common sense; it is the only practical way to treat this question, and that treatment, I am sure, will be received with hearty approval and satisfaction by the working classes of the country. And, after all, this is their question. It is not the question of nineteen out of every twenty Members of this House. I was surprised to hear the objections from the other side when the hon. Member for East Mayo was speaking yesterday, and an hon. Member opposite gave the House the information that the President of the Board of Trade sent his children to the elementary school. If the right hon. Gentleman does that he is a unique example of the middle class democrat. There are not two Members out of fifty in this House who send their children to these schools. I was struck when in obtaining some information upon the administration of education I discovered that nine out of ten of those who had been elected to administer the board schools were not sending their children to them. This is a working man's question. Hitherto the working classes have been asleep in their ignorance; they are now awake, and are not content to leave the education question to be the sport and plaything of the parson and the priest. No settlement will ever be permanent which is not settled by the people themselves. We feel keenly upon the question. We want all this sectarian strife out of the way, so that education shall no longer divide men, but that men of all religious opinions may unite in providing for the coming generation the best education possible. Realising as I do the disadvantages suffered for the want of a better education, the claims of the children appeal to me with special force. They are so poor and so helpless, and their future will be what we give them the opportunity of making it, and if we only give them what in justice is theirs, then I am quite certain when they grow up to be men and women what we see through a glass darkly they will see with a clearer vision. I am sure that by their education they will lay the foundation of a great country, an Empire whose foundations shall not rest then upon the ruined lives of its little children, but a nation and an Empire whose foundation shall be upon the health and the happiness of its people; whose wealth shall be in that merchandise which is better than the merchandise of silver and of fine gold. We shall come to that time, and I believe it is not far distant, when, as the greatest seer of the nineteenth century saw with prophetic vision, England as a Christian mother shall at last attain to the dignity and grandeur of a heathen one and be able to lead forth her children saying "these are my jewels."

SIR CARNE RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)

Will the House allow me to say half a dozen words from the point of view of an agricultural Member? I have very great diffidence in saying anything on this subject, because I know very well I am not an enthusiast, a crank, or a fanatic on the subject of education in the agricultural districts. To speak plainly, I detest it so far as I am concerned. I am here simply as an agricultural Member, principally to keep the rates down, and particularly the rates for education. I remember in this connection that when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education was in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility, when he sat on this side and we sat on the other, he told us that we were a lot of Tony Lumpkins speaking of what we did not understand, and that we would rather have the money that was spent on education spent on artificial manures. The President of the Board of Education was not very far wrong from our point of view. If hon. Gentlemen opposite think that their Bill is going to bring the millennium, or a new heaven or a new earth, or anything of that kind, I should like to tell them they are very much mistaken. What we want is to have the enormous expense of education taken off the back of the land and the whole charge put upon the back of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the Government would do that they would do a great act, because they would be able to get rid of these advisory committees dotted about all over the country, who seem to lead sleepless nights and laborious days seeking how they can put another penny on the rates, and manage the whole thing from an office in London. If the late Government had taken my advice and put the burden of the cost of education on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they would not have had any grumbling about religious or denominational education, because what people do not pay for they do not grumble at. There is another question to which I should like to allude, and that is the question of the pious founder. It seems to me he comes very badly out of this Bill. Another question to which I would call attention is one from a purely agricultural point of view. I never can understand why, with the galaxy of talent at the disposal of the Education Department, they cannot alter their syllabus or curriculum so that the children shall be taught that which will be of some little use to them in after life. Why cannot they be taught the difference between barley and oats, and a mangold wurzel and a turnip? Instead of that they teach them what Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, calls Shakespeare and the musical glasses. An agricultural labourer's children, when they leave school, know little of the practical work of life. There is another matter. Would it not be possible if you modified the curriculum in the schools to allow the agricultural labourer's child to leave school a little earlier? An agricultural labourer is not a rich man, and an extra sixpence a week means a good deal to him, and there is no reason why he should not get it if the curriculum is modified and made to include useful work. We do not object to education. We can stand a certain amount of it, and we respect the prejudices of our well-meaning neighbours and friends, but we do not want to be ruined by it in the agricultural districts. We do not want to be butchered to make an educational holiday. As to the education part of the question, it seems to me rather odd that the Education Department cannot take a leaf out of the Army List, as it were. In the Army, at least in my time, the Roman Catholic came into the schools at one time, the Nonconformist at another, and the Church of England parson at another. We never had any dispute. I know the Government will not put the charge of education on the back of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as many of us think they should, but I do hope that some notice will be taken of my suggestions that the agricultural labourer's children should be allowed to get away a little sooner from school, and that they should be taught something that will be useful to them when they have left school.

And, it being a quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down, by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, understanding Order No. 8, further proceeding was postponed without Question put.