HL Deb 19 July 1855 vol 139 cc1034-50

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

THE DUKE OF ARGYLL moved the second reading of the Bill, the object of which, he said, was to extend, to increase, and, to a certain extent, to consolidate the means of education in Scotland. He was sensible of the difficulty of the position in which he was placed; for he know that many of their Lordships were keen opponents of this particular measure, and, though it had had some warm friends, he could not hope to insure for any measure on the subject of education any general or party support. He trusted, however, that their Lordships would recollect this fact—that, of the many measures on this subject which had been introduced during the last few years, this was the only one which had successfully fought its way through the other House and come up for their decision; and he trusted, therefore, that they would calmly and dispassionately consider this measure, not with reference to party interest or sectarian prejudices, but solely with regard to its own merits. He asked their Lordships to bring to bear on this measure the following consideration—that all measures of national education must more or less be measures of compromise. He was told that this was a measure which pleased no party in Scotland. This was true; but, so far from deeming this a disadvantage, he considered it a recommendation; for by pleasing parties, they meant pleasing the leaders of parties, who, from their position, were generally obliged to exaggerate their principles, to express them in extreme language, and to adhere to them with extreme pertinacity. He believed that there was a majority of all classes and of all persons in Scotland who would be delighted to see their Lordships sanction this measure, and thereby settle this difficult and complicated question. He was also anxious that their Lordships should dismiss from their minds the supposition that this measure stood in any connection with the many, as he thought, unfounded and exaggerated charges which had been brought against the parochial system of Scotland, for he knew from experience what an effect such a supposition would have on the decision of their Lordships. He had defended, and was prepared still to defend, the parochial schools from many of these charges. This Bill, as stated in the preamble, proceeded on the ground that the parochial system was consonant with the religious feeling of the people of Scotland, and that it must be made the basis of any alteration or extension of the means of education. He might be asked, if he was so satisfied with the parochial system, why did he introduce the present change? It had been admitted that certain changes were rendered necessary from causes which had long been recognised, and partly from causes which had lately arisen. It had long been admitted, firstly, that the salaries of the parochial schoolmasters were insufficient; secondly, that there was a great want of power to dismiss delinquent or inefficient schoolmasters; and, thirdly, that there was a want of retiring allowances for masters who might have been efficient, but who, from infirmity or old age, were incapable of continuing to teach, and who ought to be allowed to retire without losing their means of living. He had heard it objected that this increase of salary was not only unnecessary, but would in some respects be hurtful. He was happy to be enabled to state from the evidence which was given before the Committee of their Lordships' House, appointed to inquire into the duties and salaries of the parochial schoolmasters in Scotland, by Mr. Gordon, Dr. Muir, and others, that the state of education in the parochial schools was just such as to indicate plainly that it was necessary to increase the income and to raise the status of the schoolmaster altogether. With regard to the absence of power over delinquent or inefficient schoolmasters, as the law at present stood, the schoolmasters were nominally placed under the authority of the presbyteries of the Established Church, who could only dismiss them for one of the three following causes,—for immorality, cruelty to the children, or wilful neglect of duty; but for all other causes of inefficiency the presbyteries were precluded from dismissing the schoolmasters. There was another cause which rendered a change absolutely necessary. The salaries, which were declared inefficient in 1845, fell considerably in 1853, because the statute by which the salaries were provided gave them not in money, but in grain. The salary which had of late years been given, on the average which had been struck on the prices of grain for twenty-five years, had been reduced from 34l. to 24l., and if this Act continued in force, the salaries would be still further reduced. It might be said—why, instead of remedying existing evils, do you introduce a measure which will upset the parochial system altogether? But he would ask, did this measure upset the parochial system altogether?—did it not rather extend the system and correct some of its defects? Under the parochial system, the heritors and the minister of a parish had the power of electing the schoolmaster, who must declare himself to be a member of the Established Church. The present Bill continued these electing powers in the heritors and minister of a parish, with this important difference, that it proposed to place in their hands the optional power to elect the best schoolmaster they could find, even though he should not be a member of the Established Church. There were strong reasons for giving this optional power. He would not go into the question of the comparative numbers of Dissenters and of the Established Church in Scotland, with respect to which there had been a good deal of exaggeration on both sides; but this he would say, that there could be no doubt of the increase of dissent, and its peculiar distribution in Scotland. In some counties and parishes dissent had made but little progress, and the parochial system had continued to work satisfactorily; but in other parishes and counties the state of affairs was very different. He found that in Caithness there were nine parish schools, attended by 499 scholars, and forty-one dissenting schools, attended by 2,968 scholars; in Sutherland, eleven parish schools, attended by 462 scholars, and forty dissenting schools, attended by 2,716 scholars; in Ross and Cromarty, twenty-eight parish schools attended by 1,497 scholars, and eighty-three dissenting schools, attended by 5,943 scholars; and in Inverness, thirty-two parish schools, attended by 2,165 scholars, and forty dissenting schools, attended by 3,350 scholars. [A NOBLE LORD: Whence did the noble Duke obtain his figures?] The returns were obtained from Mr. Horace Mann's Report of the Census. [A NOBLE LORD: Then they are not worth a pinch of snuff:] If these returns were not to be relied upon, he did not know on what returns they could rely; but the case did not merely rest upon this Report, as it was well known that in different parts of Scotland the Established Church had ceased to be the Church of the majority, and the parish churches and schools were almost deserted. He contended that the effect of the proposed change would be advantageous to the interest of the Established Church in Scotland, and also to the promotion of religious teaching. Notwithstanding all the strong language which had been used on the subject, he was prepared to admit that the teaching of the parochial schools had been eminently liberal and unsectarian, and that, of the two, there was more danger of the denominational schools becoming sectarian in their teaching; but there could not be a doubt that the present system of educational grants from the Privy Council had given great encouragement to the establishment of denominational schools, in many cases out of a spirit of rivalry to the parochial schools, in close proximity to them, and without any reference to the educational wants of the district. The result was, that the denominational schools had contrived to secure for themselves a considerable amount of the public grants; and, even in the lowland counties, a very large proportion of the purely denominational schools belonged to the Dissenters from the Established Church. This certainly was not a state of things at all favourable to the Established Church, and a system which would gradually comprehend all schools would be much more preferable for her interests. He did not fear that the effect of the change would be detrimental to the interests of religious teaching in Scotland, because the election of schoolmasters was left exactly in the same hands as at present, and there was no reason to suppose that they would elect men who were unfitted for the office. At present there were a great number of schools in Scotland entirely unconnected with any religious bodies, under the control of mixed bodies; in all of these precisely the same system of religious teaching was adopted, and he could not understand, therefore, why it should be supposed that merely giving an optional power of election to the heritors would have the violent effect of suddenly changing that which had always been the practice in the parochial schools, and which was also the practice in schools entirely unconnected with them. Neither did he believe that the effects of the change would be detrimental to the general interests of education in Scotland. Some persons thought that the abolition of the examination of parochial schoolmasters by the presbyteries and ministers was objectionable; but, without implying that the presbyteries had neglected their sacred duty in this respect, he must say that country clergymen were not the most competent to judge of the abilities of those coming before them as candidates for teaching. Dr. Muir, of St. Stephen's Church, Edinburgh, a most distinguished minister of the Established Church, and inclined to take a favourable view of the existing state of things, stated before the Committee of 1845, that it was quite evident that ministers, long removed from the great towns where improvements in education were going on, were not in all cases the best judges of the fitness of the candidates for the situation of schoolmaster. This opinion did not rest on theory alone. In 1828, a gentleman connected with Scotland, who had made a large fortune in the West Indies, left, by a singular bequest, 180,000l., to be distributed to the parochial schoolmasters of three counties in Scotland—Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray—stating that his object was to raise the literary character of those schoolmasters; and the trustees, in order to carry out the intention of the bequest, felt it necessary not to accept the presbytery examination, but to institute an examination of their own, which had been attended with the happiest result. One of the trustees was examined before the Committee he had just referred to, and stated that the presbyteries were obliged to admit a schoolmaster if he possessed the minimum amount of qualification, whereas the object of the trustees was to obtain the best qualified. The Bill, therefore, proposed to remedy this defect by the establishment of a central Board of Education, which appoint proper inspectors for the purpose of ascertaining the efficiency of the masters. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he believed the examination and election of parochial schoolmasters would proceed much as it had done for the last 150 years; perhaps, in a few cases, the master elected might not be a member of the Established Church, but he was quite convinced that the effect of the measure would be to extend the system of parochial schools. There was a provision in the Bill, to the effect that complete statistics should be furnished to Parliament every year of the state of education, and, wherever the inspectors found the means of education deficient, power was given to the Privy Council, following strictly the analogy of the old law of Scotland, to issue directions in reference to the establishment of a school and its support. Ample provision was also made for retiring salaries, partly by the contribution of the Privy Council, and partly by the local authorities. Where new public schools were erected, either by the absorption of existing denominational schools or otherwise, those schools were to be supported by a rate levied on all property in the district; for no one would contend that, because land was the only source of income some 200 years ago, therefore it should now continue to be the only kind of property assessed for public objects. It was, of course, provided that, where a school was erected and supported by rates, in the main the ratepayers should be the parties connected with the management of the school and the election of the schoolmaster; but under the Bill the heritors would have a seat at the Board, both in the capacity of heritors and of ratepayers. Under these circumstances, he did not think that the enactments of the Bill need raise any alarm on the part of those who wished to continue in the main the existing system of teaching in the schools of Scotland. He frankly admitted that no violent or immediate effect would be produced by the Bill, but he thought that no argument against the Bill, but a recommendation in its favour. With respect to the denominational schools, the Bill did not immediately suppress them; but it would extinguish, to a great extent, those set up merely for the purpose of rivalry. What would be the consequence if their Lordships should reject this measure? Let the House remember that it was not a scheme which they could reject merely with the view of falling back on the existing law as satisfactory. They could not stand still on this question, and would be compelled to have recourse to Parliament to pass a measure of some sort. Now, he appealed to those who were hostile to the present Bill, whether a prolonged continuance of the dispute was not likely to prove injurious to the best interests of the country? It was his conviction that the contest, if prolonged, would result in a change much more complete than that now proposed—a change greater than he, for one, would wish to see. His desire was to see the parochial schools of Scotland continued as much as possible in the same hands that now managed them, and he hoped their Lordships would adopt the provisions of this Bill, which were temperate and acceptable to the great body of the people, rather than leave the question to future agitation. In considering the character of the measure before them, he would direct their attention to the divisions upon it that had taken place in the other House. He found that on the second reading thirty-three Scotch Members voted in favour of the Bill, and fourteen against it; that, on going into Committee, thirty-one Scotch Members were in favour of so doing, and fifteen against it; while on the last division that took place—when twenty-four Scotch Members were absent—there voted eighteen in favour of, and eleven against the Bill. This was a proof that their Lordships could not, on any future occasion, expect that a more satisfactory measure would be sent up by the other House of Parliament. With these observations he left the Bill in the hands of their Lordships. Many measures of great importance and utility had been passed by that House during the last fifty years, and he must say that young Members like himself might well be surprised at the debates that had taken place on some of those occasions. On looking back to those debates he had often been struck with the fact, that objections were taken to those measures by wise and good men—men as wise and good as ourselves—but that the arguments they employed bore a strong family likeness to those we were now accustomed to hear with reference to such measures as the present. Nevertheless, those measures had been attended with the greatest advantage to the country, and had produced none of the evils predicted by them. The conviction, he must confess, was growing stronger and stronger in his mind that, with reguard to this question of education, we had all been deterred by difficulties which were not real, and by fears that would pass away.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


said, he considered himself called on by a sense of duty, being so closely connected with Scotland, to propose an Amendment to the Motion now submitted to their Lordships, and he felt himself perfectly at liberty to take that course, as no one who had a knowledge of his character, and of the interest he had always taken in education, would for a moment suppose that he was indifferent to that subject. It was a question which, even if he had not taken an interest in it for a quarter of a century, would have forced itself upon his attention; for when he was in Scotland, seldom a week or a fortnight passed without the subject of education and the working of the existing schools being brought under his notice. He was, therefore, well conversant with the subject; and, being so conversant, he could not help noticing that the noble Duke had, in the speech just delivered, made a most singular omission—an omission so singular that he thought he must have wished to avoid the subject—he never touched on that which came closest to the hearts of all Scotchmen—the nature of the education to be given. It was religious education that had been the foundation of the parochial system in Scotland; not merely an education which told a man that he should be honest, or he would be punished, that if he committed murder he would be hanged; but an education which improved his moral and religious character. This religious teaching ran through the whole system, and was not shut up in a corner, as proposed by this Bill, to be taught only at certain stated hours—as if secular education must be the great object of man's life and existence. The great end in view was not merely to make a man a good mechanic, a good chemist, or a highly gifted man, but to give him a moral and intellectual training, such as would enable a Scotchman to hold his place in every portion of the globe. In that respect the Bill was strikingly defective. To work out the provisions of the Bill there was to be a Board, the most wonderful ever proposed to be constructed; and this Board was to have the most monstrous powers, not merely with regard to education, but the taxation of the country. To the establishment of this Board he had the most decided objection. He entertained strong objections to the Bill, on the ground that it afforded no security with regard to the religious instruction to be afforded in the schools which were to be established under its provisions; and he had presented to the House a large number of petitions, signed by persons of all religious denominations, all of whom he believed excepted to the measure on the same ground. His noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) had referred to the authority of Mr. Horace Mann and the Registrar General with reference to the number of schools and scholars in Scotland; but it must be remembered that the Returns being entirely voluntary were necessarily incomplete. A large number of day schools in connexion with the Established Church of Scotland were omitted from the census return, and one-fourth of the number of Sabbath schools maintained by that Church were also omitted—and, in fact, this gentleman's returns were unavoidably defective, both in point of omission and commission. Anybody who knew anything about the subject would bear him out in this—that it was not so much the want of schools that was felt in Scotland as the want of scholars. He had himself several schools upon his estates, but he found great difficulty in inducing parents to send their children to them, and very few children remained at school sufficiently long to receive anything like a good education. This difficulty was experienced, not so much in the rural districts as in those parts of the country where mining operations had been commenced, where large masses of people had been collected, not only from all parts of Scotland, but from England and Ireland as well, and where the great object was to gain money, without any regard for religious or secular education. These persons were too much bent on obtaining money out of the labour of their children to be cognisant of the importance of education. In the case of his own properties he had set his face against this avaricious spirit; and he only regretted that all proprietors similarly situated did not follow the same rule. There were, he must say, some few and honourable exceptions to this rule, in the case of persons who had made provision for the education of the children of those whom they employed. It had been said that the existing parish schools were sectarian in their character; but he would meet that assertion by the statement that 67 per cent of the scholars attending the parish schools were the children of Dissenters from the Church of Scotland. It was a great mistake to suppose that because the parish schools were in connexion with the Established Church, they were of a sectarian character. The great value of the religious test which had existed in the case of schoolmasters was to obtain security for the proper teaching of religion in the schools—there was, at all events, under the old system, a security that the schoolmaster would teach what the people believed to be right. He believed that the feeling against this Bill was daily becoming stronger amongst all parties in Scotland. He disputed the noble Duke's proposition, that if they waited until the next Session, they might have a worse measure proposed to Parliament. It was not quite certain that the existing Government would be in office next Session, and he warned their Lordships to be cautious how they adopted this measure, which had been brought forward by pressure without, and forced on by obstinacy within:—for many Members of the Government would have been delighted if the Lord Advocate could have been persuaded to make those alterations in the Scotch parochial system which might be required in one Bill, and to deal in another with the legislation that might be needed for large towns and populous districts. It would not then have been proposed to destroy the Scotch parochial system, and Parliament would have been united upon the principle at issue. He had taken the warmest possible interest in the subject of education in Scotland, and it was with positive pain and annoyance that he had watched the progress of this Bill, and seen the opportunity thrown away of passing a measure which would have been a real blessing to the country. Their Lordships might, it was true, amend the Bill in Committee, but it would then be too late for another place; he therefore entreated them not to give a second reading to this Bill, and he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.

Amendment moved, to leave out "now," and insert "this day three months."


expressed his regret that upon this the first measure which had come from the other House of Parliament to provide for popular education he was obliged to feel some doubts, although he would not go so far as to oppose it. He was bound to state that he apprehended some difficulties from this Bill; and he hoped that either—if it were not too late to ask—the noble Duke would consent to withdraw the measure for the present, or else, if it were impossible to do that, that their Lordships would give it a second reading, with a view to making such alterations in Committee as would, he was afraid, inevitably lead to its rejection elsewhere. What he (Lord Brougham) would have approved of, was the introduction of two measures—one relating to parish schools in the country, and the other relating to schools in towns and boroughs; two distinct measures, adapted to entirely different circumstances. Last year he suggested this to the noble Earl at the head of the late Government (the Earl of Aberdeen) and he believed it had, so far, the noble Earl's concurrence. But he (Lord Brougham) was not so obstinately wedded to his own view, as to reject a measure having much good in it in other respects, merely because the course which he should have preferred had not been adopted. But there was another important difference between this and other Bills for education. The great thing to be avoided, when we provided the means of planting schools or supporting those already planted, was the risk of diminishing the schools planted by voluntary efforts, or of diminishing the disposition of parents to send their children to school, and the charitable, humane, and useful exertions of the friends of education, who strove to obtain the consent of parents to having their children educated. If care was not taken to avoid this, we should be doing more harm than good. The plan he had always suggested, with regard at least to the burgh schools, was, that their establishment should be perfectly voluntary; that the means of having schools should be within their reach, but that they should not be compelled to establish them, or be compelled to raise the means for establishing them. The voluntary principle was singularly departed from in this Bill. The Educational Board had the power to direct town councils to make a rate for schools; and if they refused, the Board could apply to the Court of Session, and that court could give the Board power to levy a rate. He objected to that action of the Court of Session, as being an unprecedented judicial proceeding. That court would, in fact, have the power of bringing in a Money Bill at the request of the Board, and of arming the Board with the power of carrying it into execution. The consequence of this measure would be to make education unpopular in Scotland, inasmuch as it would connect with it the idea of compulsion; and, whatever might be the case in Germany, it would happen in Scotland, as it would in England, that the moment you interfered with parents' authority, and proceeded to raise money compulsorily for the purpose of education, you would make the system obnoxious. That was his fundamental objection to the Bill. Besides that, there was the objection that, their Lordships could not make any alterations in the measure which were likely to be adopted by the other House, and it would be impossible at this period of the Session to pass any other measure on the subject. He, therefore, entreated the Government, not to press this Bill to a division, but to bring in a Bill in their own House next Session, which would not be liable to the same objections as the present, and to leave the pecuniary part of the measure to the other House. This Bill had not conciliated the favour of the people of Scotland; the whole of the Established Church was against it, and the General Assembly had pronounced un unmistakeable opinion upon it. The other body, the Free Church, was by no means unanimous in its favour, and the landowners were also against it. He hoped that his noble Friend would not press it to a division. If he did, he (Lord Brougham) would not vote against it, relying on the bare chance that in Committee they might be able to mould it into a better form by Amendment, which would receive the sanction of the other House.


said, he should oppose this Bill to more purpose than the noble Lord who had just sat down, for he meant to vote against the second reading. If he thought that the Bill was calculated to encourage a more wide-spread and wholesome system of education in Scotland than now existed, nothing should induce him to vote against it; but he believed that it would have a contrary effect, viewing it as he did as no party question, and looking at it by no means as a bigoted advocate of the rights of the Established Church. He opposed it because he believed that the best interests of Scotland were involved in its rejection. It was proved that this was no party question, by its being opposed by the noble Duke (the Duke of Buccleuch), who did not belong to his (the Earl of Eglinton's) party, by the cheers with which the noble Duke's observations were greeted by the noble Lords opposite, and it could be proved by the votes against it of many of those noble Lords, as well as others who sat on the cross benches; besides which, out of sixteen Representative Peers for Scotland, fifteen were opposed to it; and as the sixteenth was in India, he could not be expected to know much about it. The effect of this measure would be to overturn the whole parochial system of education—a system which had worked most admirably for two centuries—and to secularise the whole educational system of Scotland; and no sufficient grounds were shown for such a dangerous experiment, and such a radical change. The parochial schools were an integral part of the Church of Scotland, were necessary to her maintenance, and were never in a more flourishing state than now. There was one of these schools in each parish, and the average attendance seventy children in each of them. Was it, then, asking too much, or was it unreasonable that it should be asked that those schools should be retained by the Established Church—that one-fifth of the schools should be retained by that establishment, it having within it one-third of the population of Scotland? The members of that Church admitted the desirableness of establishing public schools, and they were ready to assist in instituting them; but they were almost unanimously opposed to this Bill. By this Bill all schools were placed under the control of an Educational Board at Edinburgh, and by one of its provisions a single heritor could apply to the Board, and easily cause a parochial school to be changed into a public school. Then as to this Educational Board—he could not conceive any body more incongruous or less likely to realise the expectations held out than a body so constituted; without local knowledge and bound to administer the schools according to the strict letter of the law, instead of the mild and practical manner in which they were dealt with by the parochial clergy. So much for the parochial schools. Then as to the public schools. He had one prime and insuperable objection to the provisions of the Bill with regard to them, and that was the appointing of different hours for the religious instruction of children of different denominations; thus adopting the Irish system, which had not worked well, and had caused much religious discord. The proposal, too, for the abolition of all religious tests in regard to the persons to be appointed masters was one to which he could not agree upon any account whatever. Again, he objected to the mode in which the school committees were to be constituted. The effect would be, that the whole management would fall into the hands of the elected members, who would drive out the heritors; and the result would be only strife and discord, and a disturbance of the state of religious feeling in Scotland. It could have no other result. He believed the deficiency of the means of education in Scotland had been greatly exaggerated. There were 5,200 schools for a population of 3,000,000, and the average attendance at the schools was one in seven; and when it was recollected that in Edinburgh and Glasgow 84 per cent of the children went to school, it must be plain that it could not be owing to the want of means of education that all the children were not educated, but that it arose from the neglect of worthless parents to send their children to school. Who asked for this Bill? The landed proprietors were opposed to it; the Established Church of Scotland was opposed to it; a large proportion of the United Presbyterians, the third largest religious denomination in Scotland, had declared that no teacher of their communion could act under the Bill. The Dissenters objected to the powers of the Board as opposed to civil and religious liberty, and they also objected to the expense of the system. Who was it, then, that asked for the Bill? It was only the members of the Free Church, and even they were not united in their approval of it. The noble Earl, in conclusion, urged the total absence of the religious element in the Bill, and said, that as he thought that education without religion was rather a curse than a blessing. He hoped their Lordships would save his country from the imposition of a measure which was obnoxious to the greater part of its people, and would be injurious to the best interests of education.


said, he could not allow their Lordships to come to a division on the question without expressing the regret he felt at the fate which evidently attended the Bill at their hands. It was a matter of concern that a measure relating to the great question of education was not to be discussed in its details, but should be rejected at once. It had been stated that Scotland required no Education Bill at all; but he was one of those who held the opinion—an opinion which was spreading every day in Scotland—that under the present system of education, whether it was by the parochial system, by endowed schools, or by the voluntary principle, Scotland, as a country, was going back in respect of education. The deficiency of education there, was manifest in respect of quality as well as in that of quantity. Whatever might have been the past effect of the parochial system, that system was now doing little to promote Scotland in the ranks of education. It provided no retiring pensions for the schoolmasters, and contained no power of discipline over those masters. As to the tests which the Bill proposed to abolish, he would remind their Lordships that those tests had been already abolished for some two or three years in the Universities of Scotland, and no noble Lord had ventured to say that any detriment to religion or education had ensued in those institutions. The Bill had been called an irreligious Bill—so irreligious that the noble Lord who looked upon religion as one of the bulwarks of Scotland's freedom and safety could support it to the least extent. But in the preamble of the Bill the religious instruction of Scotland was boldly and prominently set forward; and every one acquainted with Scotland knew that no system of education would be acceptable to any class of persons in that country which did not carry with it the religious element. There was at present no law in existence which required religious instruction in the parochial schools; why then should they enact by Act of Parliament that which already existed without any Act, and which must always depend on the good feeling and religious sentiments of the people? He (Lord Panmure) looked to the good sense and the religious feeling of the people of Scotland to guard religious instruction in their schools, far better than could be done by any law, no matter how stringent. Instead of overthrowing the parochial system, this measure would strengthen it. It would also have a tendency to reconcile religious differences. So long as the children were educated in denominational schools, so long would sectional denominations rise with the rising generation; but if you could contrive that all the children should be educated together on a common system, there would be a chance that something like uniformity of religion might be restored. Whatever might be the fate of this Bill, he was satisfied no educational measure would prosper in Scotland which did not at least empower the people to have a voice in the election of a schoolmaster. Great stress had been laid upon the compulsory provisions of the Bill. In his (Lord Panmure's) opinion, education would never be completely carried out until the attendance of children at the schools was made compulsory. He hailed this measure with satisfaction, as the first Education Bill which had passed the other House of Parliament. He believed that the principle on which it was based was popular with the majority of the people of Scotland, and though their Lordships might refuse to pass the present Bill, he was satisfied that eventually a measure of this kind would be carried. A great majority of the Members of the other House belonging to Scotland, and a vast majority of the laity of that country, were in favour of some measure similar to this, and he thought that the Established Church would do wisely in not continuing its opposition. The more opposition there was raised to it, the greater would be the prejudice excited against the National Church, which, though he dissented from it, he was not anxious to destroy. By making a claim to the exclusive control of the whole national education, that Church would do more to pull down her own walls than any hostile hand could possibly effect.


said, he should like to know where his noble Friend (Lord Panmure) got his law, when he said that there was no law to make religion be taught in the parochial schools? It was, at any rate, the law of the Church, [Lord PANMURE: Hear, hear!], and had been always observed, and he was informed that there was an old Scotch Act, setting forth that religion should be taught in the schools. It was provided by statute that the schools were to be under the direction and control of the Established Church, and, therefore, it was plain that the teaching of religion was obligatory.


said, he had in one respect been disappointed with the discussion on this Bill, because it had not, as he had expected it might, given the people of Scotland to understand to what sort of measure the House would assent. The objections of his noble Friend extended to all the principles on which it was possible to found a national system of education. At the same time it could not be denied that a number of conflicting Amendments had been introduced into the Bill in the other House, and that the effect was that some of the clauses did not run together. It was perfectly true that there were several of those clauses which, in Committee, their Lordships might see it right to amend, and, certainly, they ought not to be precluded from doing so. With reference to the question of religious education, and the demand that a fixed principle should be laid down on this point, he begged to say that no Government would ever be able to carry a measure through both Houses of Parliament which would settle by statute what particular catechism was to be taught in the schools. Then, as to dividing the Bill into two, such a proposal would never be satisfactory to the people of Scotland, for a change was required both with respect to burgh and parochial schools. Would noble Lords opposite allow an optional clause by which heritors might elect a Dissenter as schoolmaster to a parish school if they thought fit? If not, then the conclusion was, that they were willing to pass a measure for burgh, but not to pass the same measure for parochial schools. Looking at the various objections that had been taken, and the improbability of their being able to carry through the measure, being satisfied, at the same time, with the discussion that had taken place, and not wishing to damage the cause of education by unduly pressing the question, he begged to withdraw the Bill.


then put the question, observing that, since the Motion had been made for the second reading, and the Amendment for reading the Bill a second time that day six months had been proposed, leave had been asked to withdraw the measure.


objected to the withdrawal of the Bill.

On Question that "now" stand part of the Motion?

Their Lordships divided:—Content 1; Not-Content 86: Majority 85.

Resolved in the Negative; and Bill to be read 2a on this Day Three Months.

House adjourned till To-morrow.

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