HL Deb 08 March 1850 vol 109 cc523-5

said, that he was about to lay on the table of the House a number of returns on the subject of national education, and that, before doing so, he wished to state the reasons which had induced Her Majesty's Government to order that these returns should be furnished. A discussion had recently taken place in this House on the subject of national education and the bestowal of Government grants for that purpose; and during that discussion reference bad been made to certain statements lately put forth by a learned gentleman of the greatest eminence in the profession of the law, and bearing so deservedly high a character, that to any statement made by him there must always be necessarily attached the highest degree of importance. This gentleman had been the chairman of a meeting recently held at Willis's Rooms, and in consequence of what had lately occurred in this House, he had addressed a letter to him (the Marquess of Lansdowne), of the terms of which he had no reason to complain, but impugning certain statements which he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had made, or was supposed to have made, in this House. Now it was undoubtedly true that one of the statements to which he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had referred, as having been put forth at that meeting, he conceived to have originated with the hon. and learned gentleman himself; and if the reports of the terms in which he spoke had been correctly given in all the reports of the meeting, he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) conceived it to be a matter of public importance that statements so made should be contradicted in the most authentic form in which they were capable of being contradicted, namely, by the official papers which he held in his hand. The statements made by the learned gentleman in question he took from two different reports—the two fullest reports of his speech—and these reports represented him as using almost the same words. In the Times, he was reported as having said— Not a shilling of the public money voted for the specific purpose of education was given to any school, unless it adopted the clauses arbitrarily imposed by the Committee of Privy Council. In another newspaper, called the Guardian, the report ran thus:— Is it not the truth that at this very hour not one shilling of the public money can be claimed by Church schools unless they adopt the clauses imposed by the Committee of Privy Council? Now, in the letter of the learned Gentleman he did not positively state whether these words had or had not been used by him—at all events, he did not deny having used them; but he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) was willing to believe that if the expressions had been employed by the learned Gentleman, they had been uttered in consequence of misinformation, and without any intention of misleading the public. Still, as the expressions in question had been circulated Under the sanction of the most respectable name of the learned gentleman of whom he spoke, it was of importance that statements so made should be contradicted, if they admitted of contradiction, as they did, and as they were, by the papers which he held in his hand—papers containing an account of 400 or 500 schools, not having subscribed to the management clauses, but which had, notwithstanding received Government grants—as also accounts of a great many schools which still received assistance from the public purse, and which had come into existence before the clauses had been drawn up.


had not read the report of what had taken place at the meeting at Willis's Rooms. It was, however, notorious that a great many schools which had been established previously to the promulgation of the recent orders had received large grants of public money; and it might be also perfectly true, though he was not aware of the fact, that schools not adopting the clauses had received assistance in the nature of sustentation grants. But what he thought his learned friend had stated, and what undoubtedly was the subject of complaint amongst a large body of the clergy, was, not that at no time had Church Schools received assistance without subscribing to the clauses; but that at present there was an imperative restriction on the part of the Committee of the Privy Council preventing new and non-subscribing schools from receiving assistance. There might, therefore, have been an error in the reports; and what his learned friend might have meant to state, and with truth, was, that it was not now competent to Church schools to receive assistance as regarded the building of these schools, unless they had subscribed to the management clauses.


said, that the noble Lord avowed that he had not read the report, and that, therefore, he could not be aware of what the statement was to which he (the Marquess of Lansdowne), by the papers he now laid upon the table, gate the most complete refutation.

Papers laid on the table.

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