HL Deb 15 March 1847 vol 90 cc1326-7

presented a petition from certain Protestant Dissenters residing at Bard Bush, in the county of Wilts, complaining of the proposed Government plan of education as not being equally advantageous for the dissenting body as for other classes in the community. He begged to have it understood that he did not at all concur with the petitioners in their view of the question. He did not think there was any ground for their complaint.


entirely agreed with the last sentiment of the noble and learned Lord. Nothing could be more unfounded than the jealousy exhibited of the Minutes of the Council of Education, or the apprehension that they would give to any one class of religionists an advantage over any other. There was nothing in the Minutes which was calculated to exclude Dissenters from a full participation in the benefit to be derived from the system adopted by the Government. He would not be in the least surprised, nor in the least indignant, at the expressions of uneasiness and jealousy which were contained in some of the petitions which were laid on their Lord- ships' Table, if the statements they contained were true. But the fact was not so. He had seen a circular letter sent round for the purpose of inducing persons to attach their signatures to such petitions as the present; but the statements which this document advanced were totally different from those of the Minutes. The statements in the letter were to the effect, that the Government plan would secure a monopoly for the Established Church in matters of education; but there was no foundation for any such allegation. The fact was, that there was no one benefit which those Minutes were intended to confer on the community at large which was not fashioned in such a manner as to make it acceptable to all sects without distinction. He thought, therefore, that he was justified in asserting that the Minutes were founded on the principles of religious liberty, and that there were no grounds for saying that they secured for the Established Church any advantage which they did not bestow on other classes of religionists.


had also seen the letter the noble Marquess referred to, and was quite astonished at it, as its allegations were directly contrary to the truth. He should, perhaps, be worse thought of than the noble Marquess for saying it; but his objection to the Government plan was, that it did not establish a more general and national system of education, with more interference on the part of the Church. There would not have been a greater clamour against it from these worthy persons than against the present scheme, and the country would have gained something for its trouble, whereas now it got little or nothing. He remembered well that, in the years 1820 and 1821, his Parish School Bill was borne down by similar complaints. The cry was, that the Church supported it, and immediately the Dissenters got alarmed, though the only interference permitted to the Church in that Bill was to give the parson a veto in the choice of the parish schoolmaster. Even this, however, was not permitted in the present educational plan. Between the two parties, Episcopalians and Dissenters, education fell to the ground; for, although both professed to be anxious for it, each seemed more desirous of some petty victory over the other.

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