§ On the Order of the Day for the House to go into Committee on this Bill.
§ LORD ST. LEONARDS
said, that before the House went into Committee he wished to say a few words on the principle of the measure, The preamble of the Bill told them that its object was to remove or modify existing restrictions upon the Government and teaching of these schools. He would address a few words to their Lordships upon each of these topics. The improvement in the government, he apprehended, was to admit the children of Dissenters of all classes into endowed schools, which were instituted for the purpose of giving education in connection with the Church of England. It was now asked by this Bill that these schools might be opened gene- 1208 rally to Dissenters by what was called a "conscience clause," but which in this Bill might rather be called a Dissenters' clause. Independently of the first clause, there was a subsequent clause which stated what was to be the course of action with regard to schools which were wholly maintained by voluntary subscriptions. Why, this would let in nearly all the national schools in England, and would entirely alter the base on which education was given in these schools. When a child was admitted into one of these schools he was not asked whether he belonged to the Church of England, or to a Dissenting denomination. He was not compelled to attend a Sunday school, nor was the child of a Dissenter prevented attending chapel with his parent. The children of Dissenters, therefore, were admitted into these schools without any shock to the consciences of their parents. [Lord CRANWORTH made an observation.] My noble and learned Friend says the Bill is not intended to apply to national schools, whether endowed or not. Do I understand that this Bill is entirely confined to endowed grammar schools? [Lord CRANWORTH: Yes!] That was a different thing. And now what was the machinery of the Bill? It provided that the Attorney General or any person interested in any of these endowments might apply to the Court of Chancery by summons to show cause why a "conscience clause" should not be inserted in the scheme for the government of such institution. It was impossible to say as the Bill now stood who might or who might not apply to the Court. Now what might happen? In all the endowed schools of England they would be having in every parish, applications to the Court to admit this conscience clause with a new scheme. The Bill particularly provided that the orders of the Court of Chancery should be subject to appeal in like manner as other orders were. The consequence would be that in every parish they would have litigation, and not only would the cases be brought before one of the Chancery Courts but they would be taken by appeal to the Lords Justices and to that House, and as the costs might be paid out of the endowment money, these endowments would be swallowed up in costs. When the question of church rates was before the House and the Dissenters complained that they were suffering under a grievance, inasmuch as they had not only to maintain their own places of worship but those of the Esta- 1209 bished Church also, he for one was willing to redress that grievance; but when he found that they declared that the removal of their own grievances would not satisfy them, and that they demanded that church rates should be abolished, and that Churchmen themselves desirous of maintaining the church should not be allowed to do so, he then said that such a demand was wholly unreasonable and could not be complied with. So here if the Dissenters asked to have their children educated in these endowed schools that was a question that demanded grave consideration; but when he found that, according to the preamble, their object was to improve and to alter both the government and the education of these schools— when he found that they demanded to have a portion of the government of these schools—then he asked if they had any ground for the demand. He contended that clearly they had not. But, observe, there was a sort of mockery of an intention to do homage to the intentions of the founder, and it was said that the intentions of the founder, where they could be ascertained, should have full operation. The admission of the Dissenters by a conscience clause was all that they could possibly ask, and he had shown a disposition, when he had the power, of admitting Dissenters into these schools. When he had the honour of holding the Great Seal, a case came before him in which he, as visitor for the Crown, allowed the Dissenters to have the benefit of an endowment, and he introduced a clause into the scheme to that effect; and he would to-morrow, if he had similar powers, exercise them in the same manner. But the object of this Bill was not only to give to the Dissenters the benefit of endowments never intended for them, but to give them the power and privilege of directing and controlling the mode and character of the teaching in these schools. If they looked to the Dissenters' Chapel Bill they would find that twenty-five years of possession was considered a limitation in order to admit Dissenters to the rights which they might consider they had. It gave to them the benefit of the time during which they had enjoyed the foundation. No doubt possession for a quarter of a century would give some colourable claim, and some such limitation might be inserted in this Bill. Then if they looked to the Charitable Trusts Act, which was passed a few years ago, they would find that it contained a clause that 1210 nothing contained in the Bill should affect church property. That showed the care that he took in making provisions respecting these endowments. For these reasons, as at present advised, he thought it his duty to oppose this Bill. He had indeed originally intended to oppose going into Committee at all; but seeing the numerous attendance of right rev. Prelates who took a great interest in this measure, he would not persist in that intention.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 1 postponed.
§ Clause 2, Judge of Court of Chancery may issue summons to show cause why a "Conscience Clause" should not be inserted in scheme.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said, he was opposed to this clause, as he feared its effect would be to raise litigation in many parishes where at present there is no dissatisfaction. He was quite ready to admit the children of Nonconformists to the benefits of those schools, and so to grant them all which under the change of circumstances they might justly claim. But he could not admit that the Nonconformists should have a share in the government of the Schools, nor could he consent that the doctrines of the Church of England should be set aside in favour of other doctrines which might be variable, inconsistent doctrines, according to the views of the Trustees for the time being. He desired to preserve the foundation as it stood at present, and has always stood; whilst he allowed individual parents to enjoy all the advantages of the school, without any sacrifice to which their consciences may be opposed. He trusted that this proposal would meet with general concurrence as fair and equitable, reserving to one party what they have a right to maintain, and giving to the other party as much as they could reasonably require. He therefore proposed as an Amendment, that:—It shall be lawful for all Trustees of Endowed Schools, from Time to Time, as they shall see fit, to make such Orders, as, whilst they shall not interfere with the religious Teaching of the other Scholars as now fixed by Statute or other legal Requirements shall provide for admitting to the Benefits of the School, the Children of Parents not in communion with the Church, Sect, or Denomination, according to the Doctrines or Formularies of which religious Instruction is to be afforded under the Endowment of the said schools.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
said, if the effect of the Amendment proposed by the most rev. Prelate would be to enable Dissenters 1211 to send their children to receive their education in endowed schools, he should prefer the Amendment to the original clause: but as he was persuaded that for the purposes proposed it would have no effect whatever, but would leave the evil just as before, he could not accept the Amendment. In discussing this question much depended upon the point of view from which it was treated The point from which he viewed it was that it was most important and most desirable to induce Dissenters as much as possible, to send their children to the endowed schools. If he were proposing to take anything from the Church of England he could understand that he should incur the reprobation of the right rev. Bench. But what he asked took nothing from the Church—according to an illustration as old as Cicero —if I let a man light his candle at mine I have still as much light as before. He could see no injury the Church would derive from the admission of the children of Dissenters to these schools, but on the contrary, believed it would rather derive benefit. Some persons were apprehensive lest the presence of children whose parents did not conform to the doctrines of the Church, might tend to weaken the attachment of the other pupils to that Church; but he thought it more probable, by joining in the same studies and sharing the same amusements with their fellow pupils, members of the Church of England, the children of Nonconformists might be induced, in after life, to modify their dissent, if not to become churchmen. He regarded the admission of Dissenters' children to these schools as an advantage to all, and not least to the Church itself. There was another consideration which, though addressed to less noble motives, ought yet to be taken into account. He had been reminded that in many endowed schools there was a capitation fee paid by all the scholars, and therefore an increase in the number of pupils would be an increase of the school funds. That was very desirable in itself, but it would operate beneficially in another way. In many schools the emoluments of the master were made to depend to some extent upon the number of pupils in his school, and nothing could be a greater stimulant to zeal and activity on his part than the knowledge that he had the whole community from whence to attract pupils. It appeared to him therefore that the introduction of Dissenters into these schools was a thing eminently to be desired. But the clause proposed by 1212 the most rev. Prelate merely declared that it should be lawful for a majority of the trustees to let such children in. Now, in ninety-nine out of one hundred cases the majority of these trustees were Churchmen; some of them, no doubt, had a strong feeling against any such provision —indeed, the petitions which had been presented to their Lordships' House against any such provision showed how strong the feeling was, so that if it were left to them to exclude whom they pleased, the benefit as regarded Dissenters might be altogether an illusory one. He therefore thought that the clause as it stood was better than the proposed substitute. His noble and learned Friend (Lord St. Leonards) on the other hand, proposed that Dissenting children should be admitted to endowed schools only where they had enjoyed a prescriptive right of admission for the last twenty-five years. Of course, if their Lordships wished, with this exception, to exclude Dissenting children, the clause was properly framed to accomplish that object; but, for his part, he could not see why any class of the community should be shut out from the privilege of a good education because they had not enjoyed it during the last quarter of a century. It was true that such a limitation had been inserted in the Dissenters' Chapels Bill. There the question was what doctrine ought to be inculcated in each particular chapel in the kingdom, and it was absolutely necessary to cut the knot by providing that if certain doctrines had been taught in a chapel for a certain time they should be deemed rightly taught. But what had that to do with the principle of admitting Dissenters to endowed schools? There was no reason why, if excluded heretofore, they should be excluded now. When the Court of Chancery believed it was empowered to allow Dissenting children to share in these privileges, the Judges never asked whether any prescriptive right existed; it was then the invariable rule to let Dissenters in, the feeling of the Court being that, if the schools had been established now, instead of in the reign of Edward VI., the founders would have excluded no one from the benefits conferred there. The Judges were evidently of opinion that the law as it was now interpreted was a harsh law. Perhaps it would be a relief if it were possible in the Bill to dispense altogether with the machinery of the Court of Chancery; but the right of Dissenters to enter these 1213 schools could only be settled by some general enactment applicable to every case, or by authorizing some tribunal to say whether such admission was or was not expedient. On this subject the measure contained ipsissimis verbis, the clause which came from the Select Committee of the House of Commons of last year, and was sanctioned there by Sir Hugh Cairns, the present Attorney General, Sir James Graham, Sir John Pakington, and other high authorities.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
seeing that the most reverend Prelate had expressed his desire to act liberally towards the Dissenters, and that the noble and learned Lord thought it would be a relief if the interference of the Court of Chancery could be dispensed with, suggested that the clause should be refrained, with a view to meet the views of both parties.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON
said, that the right rev. Bench had no objection to a modification, providing the new phraseology was satisfactory. He wished to state, on behalf of himself and his right reverend Brethren, that the noble and learned Lord had mistaken the spirit and feeling of the Bishops if he supposed that they had the slightest objection to persons not of the Church of England receiving the benefit of education in these schools. What they were anxious to maintain was, that in these institutions, which had existed for centuries, and in which the pure doctrines of the Church of England had always been taught, there should be no deviation from this teaching with regard to the children of members of the Church. But if the benefit of the ordinary education of the people could be extended to others, it should be done in the best possible manner. That evening he had presented a petition from a school of which he was a visitor—the school of Highgate, founded by Sir Roger Cholmondeley, formerly Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, with the assistance of Bishop Grindal, of London, and which had gone on ever since as a Church of England school. But, with that liberality which had, he thought, generally characterized Church of England schools, Dissenters had been admitted to the benefit of that school. It was his belief, then, that by leaving it to the trustees to make such arrangements as they might think best for the children of Dissenters, it would be done better than by the introduction of what were called "conscience clauses". These provisions 1214 rested on the fallacy that all the religious instruction given to the children was given when they were repeating the Church catechism and the Thirty-nine Articles; and of the "conscience clauses" were admitted it would be still competent for any Church of England master, if he chose to do so, to inculcate on the children of Dissenters instructions as distasteful to their feelings as the Articles or the catechism. The great King Edward's School at Birmingham had not been a school for the education of children of members of the Church of England only. Dissenters had always been admitted, and, included in that designation, many children of Jews. From such examples he concluded that trustees would endeavour to make the education more wisely comprehensive without than with the "conscience clauses," and that therefore the Amendment of the most rev. Prelate was in reality the more liberal proposition, which, moreover, if it were adopted, great litigation and a cumbrous procedure would be got rid of.
§ EARL GREY
said, it appeared that there was no real difference of opinion in the House. They all desired that the children of Dissenters should be admitted to the endowed schools, consistently with a due regard to the just rights of the Church of England education. It also seemed to him that a general desire existed to omit the clauses of the Court of Chancery. All the House had to do, then, was, to omit one or two words from the clause, so as to make it in effect declare that "all trustees of endowed schools shall from time to time make such rules and orders, & c."—thus pointing out distinctly that it was their duty to draw up the necessary rules.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
was sure his noble and learned Friend who introduced the Bill would rejoice with him in seeing what was now likely to be accomplished. All that was desired was that the children of Dissenters should have the opportunity of availing themselves of these schools, as in all probability they would be permitted to do, were the founders now instituting the endowments. He thought it better that the forming of the necessary rules should be left to the trustees, under such directions for the guidance of their judgment as the House might provide; for after all the improvements in the Court of Chancery, he thought it better avoided, as it could not be approached without considerable expense, and there was no knowing when one would get out of it. Let the 1215 matter be left by the Bill to the trustees, but with some directions for their guidance.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
suggested that the Bill ought to be referred to a Select Committee, for assuredly if exact directions were not framed for the guidance of trustees throughout the country there would be much discrepancy in their proceedings.
felt the greatest possible satisfaction, indeed the utmost gratification at the course which this discussion had taken. The proposition of the most rev. Primate was extremely liberal; and the suggestion of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) well adapted to carry it into effect. It was of the utmost importance that the basis of this measure, which was to be found in the present clause, should be carried with as little dissent among their Lordships as possible, so that it should appear to be the general wish of both sides of the House to remove, as far as possible, the differences between Churchmen and Dissenters, both as to the children attending the schools and as to the trustees having their management. A little concession on either side would be highly expedient for the purpose of securing unanimity in that general principle. But he could not agree to any such concession as would leave the whole matter entirely in the hands of the trustees, without any compulsion, and much less without any direction, to take the step or not, and if they took it, to take it with such modifications and conditions as they might themselves choose. He thought that some such suggestion as that of his noble Friend on the cross benches (Earl Grey) would furnish a solution of the difficulty, but he should propose to add that no compulsory direction should be given when by deed, will, or other instrument, there was an exclusion of any particular sect. He could by no means go along with the view that the Court of Chancery had taken of this particular subject with reference to the admission of Dissenters by assuming that where there was no express direction given, an endowed school should be held as established for the promotion of education according to the doctrines of the Church of England, and consequently closed against Dissenters. But what had we done even in cases where the founders had indicated their intentions in the plainest possible language? Had the intentions of the founders been scrupulously executed, and their regulations observed? On the con- 1216 trary, we had frequently taken the thing into our own hands, altered the course prescribed, and confiscated the funds to our own use. This was the case in the reign of Edward VI., where all property, real and personal, and which was intended for "superstitious uses," was confiscated. It was doubtful whether at this hour there was an Act of Parliament perpetually and entirely prohibiting superstitious uses or gifts. The statute of Henry VIII. only proscribed these uses for twenty years, and the statute of Edward VI. was entirely retrospective. Acting on the principle that these uses were illegal, the Court of Chancery had refused to execute the trusts and condemned them as being superstitious; and when they discovered that the intention of the founder was charitable, but the use was superstitious, the trust fund had gone to the Crown, and the Court of Chancery had directed the disposal of the property. Sir W. Grant expressed it thus.—We considered that the author of the instrument intended charity, but we required that he should be charitable in our own way, and not only applied this fund, whether real or personal, to purposes not within his intentions, but in direct opposition to those intentions. This had even been carried so far that in a multitude of cases the charity had been appropriated in a direction absolutely adverse to the intentions of the founder. So that if a Roman Catholic bequeathed property for performing mass or other ceremony, his very object was frustrated, and the children educated according to Protestant principles and in abhorrence of the Roman Catholic faith. He would therefore suggest some modifications in the Bill to prevent any interference with the declared intentions of the founder. What he desired was that in all cases where there was no positive prohibition of Dissenters or exclusive preference of Churchmen, endowed schools should be thrown open. It was not a small matter with which their Lordships were dealing. There was, happily, an enormous number of endowed schools—upwards of 4,000, and he was gratified to find that since 1833 the number of children attending those schools had increased from 180,000 to 360,000. He believed that the peace of the country and of the Church would be materially aided by the course which their Lordships were now recommended to take. There was no hostility on the part of Dissenters personally to the Church. If there was, he should be the last man to partake of that hos- 1217 tility. The Church of England he held to be distinguished by all the good qualities which could give stability or do honour to an ecclesiastical establishment. It was as learned as the Romish, as evangelical and pure as the Calvinist Church, while it had over both the high advantage in a limited monarchy of being friendly in its constitution to the cause of moderate freedom, equally adverse as that cause was to the ordinary despotism of some countries and to the popular tyranny of others. Above all, it surpassed other churches in tolerance. He well remembered hearing his learned and excellent Friend, the late Dr. Shepherd, of Liverpool, himself a conscientious Dissenter, rebuking a member of his own sect who had made an attack upon the Church of England. "Not a word more against the Church of England," said the doctor; "for rely upon it, that though we differ from her and renounce the regiment of bishops as much as the Presbyterians of Scotland themselves, we never shall have so wise, so peaceable, and so great a neighbour."
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
had felt inclined to support the clause proposed by the right rev. Prelate, because he considered that it conceded everything that Dissenters ought to have. He preferred the permissive form in which the clause originally stood to the shape of compulsion which it had now assumed; but as it was not opposed by the right reverend Bench, it was impossible for him to resist it, because he knew they would be supported by the majority of the House. If, however, the 7th clause, with reference to the admission of Dissenters as trustees, was inserted, it might so happen that Dissenters might come into authority, and they would of course take care that the law as set forth in this section should be set in motion, and the consequence would be that the Church of England would in time be stripped possibly of her entire authority over these schools. If the 7th clause was omitted he would have no objection to support the Bill.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
said, that if this clause were made imperative in the simplicity in which it was now proposed, it would render impossible the foundation of schools of a purely Church of England character—a result which none of their Lordships could desire; and it would therefore be necessary to insert words to prevent its having such an operation. For instance, there was a school in his own diocese founded by trustees, and which particularly 1218 provided that the training and teaching should be that of the Church of England, and no other. Would it be consistent with ordinary justice to compel such trust to be altered? His right reverend Colleagues had intimated, that for the sake of unanimity, if the House were favourable to the clause, they would accept it; for they felt that the great object to be had at heart was to preserve the managing power of Church of England schools in Church of England men. If without injuring the interests of children of the Church of England, they could extend the benefit of all these schools to our Dissenting brethren, he had not the slightest wish to exclude them, but on the contrary, desired to see them admitted, provided all such guards and regulations were introduced as to prevent concessions defeating the primary objects of these schools—that of training the children on Church of England principles. What they felt to be the one only security for it was that the trustees who were to have the management should be members of the Church of England. The clause, he thought, would be far better permissive than imperative. In all cases where it was carried into effect without injuring the primary character of the schools, the permissive clause would be sufficient. The permissive clause, he thought, would accomplish all that was desired. If that clause were made imperative, and if the trustee clause were not carried, he should be prepared to vote against the whole Bill on the third reading.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDBRLEY
thought it probable that, if the children of Dissenters were allowed to come to the Church of England schools, a large portion of them might become members of that church. They would not be likely, at all events, to become its bitter antagonists. He was glad to observe the spirit in which the Bill had been received by the Episcopal Bench, and he had no doubt that his noble and learned Friend (Lord Cranworth) would not object to insert in the Bill a clause to exempt from the operation of his Bill, schools which by special endowment were founded for the benefit of children of the Church of England.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
was understood to suggest that the second clause should not be struck out, but that, according to the provisions of Sir Hugh Cairns' Bill, its operation should be regulated by the usage of twenty-five years. If during twenty-five years the endowments had been 1219 enjoyed by Dissenters, although their admission had not been provided by the founder, then their right should not be disturbed.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
could not but think it was rather strange, after notice had been given of a very important alteration in the Bill, to be proposed by the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) that at the very commencement of the debate, when their Lordships were beginning to discuss a proposition which he believed would meet with the general concurrence of the House, they should suddenly be startled by being informed that the right rev. Bench agreed to a principle entirely different from that of which the right rev. Prelate had given notice. If it were the opinion of the right rev. Bench generally that it was consistent with policy and the interests of the Church of England that it should be compulsory on all managers of Church of England schools to admit Dissenters in those schools—perhaps even to the exclusion of the children of Churchmen themselves—if it were the opinion of the right rev. Bench that such an alteration in the existing state of the law was distinctly called for and desirable, he (the Earl of Derby) thought it would hardly be the duty of laymen, on whatever side of the House they might sit, to dispute the question, or contend for the maintenance of the principle which appeared to have been thought unnecessary by those who ought to have the greatest weight in such matters. He had come down to the House disposed cordially to support the proposition made by the most rev. Prelate, which appeared to him to remove a grievance of which Dissenters fairly complained. So far he was perfectly willing to go; but it was not without doubt and hesitation that he could bring himself to acquiesce in making it imperative upon all trustees to admit Dissenters in their schools under all circumstances, and give them equally with Churchmen an absolute right to claim such admission. But if Dissenters were to he admitted to such an absolute right that was an additional reason why in Church of England schools, the managers should be members of the Church of England.
THE BISHOP OF ST. DAVID'S
hoped their Lordships would not suppose that the proposal of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) proceeded from any unanimous opinion or any preconcerted agreement in its favour on the part of the right rev. Bench. No such agreement ex- 1220 isted, for none of his right rev. Brethren had been consulted by the right rev. Prelate, and it was merely a suggestion of the moment. The only consideration which would induce him to vote for the proposal was his desire that they should come to some general understanding on the subject; but speaking for himself only, he should have considerable reluctance to accept such an arrangement. He decidedly preferred the permissive clause to the imperative proposition of his noble and learned Friend, and he believed it would be a great and substantial boon to the Dissenters.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
thought it would be highly desirable that their Lordships should decide clause by clause rather than discuss the whole measure; remembering, after all, there were several other stages of the Bill in which noble Lords who had acted under a wrong impression would have an opportunity of rectifying their mistake.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON
said, it appeared that the statement he had made had been in one respect stronger than he had intended. What he had meant to state was, that he understood his right rev. Friends were agreed, and their Lordships generally were agreed for the purpose of settling this important question, to accept the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl (Earl Grey).
LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
had spent a large portion of his life in a country where religious dissensions prevailed to a very lamentable degree. He had witnessed the disadvantages resulting from these differences when they were maintained in a spirit of acrimony, and he could not but concur in the deep gratification expressed by a noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Brougham) at the prospect which he entertained of a favourable settlement of the important question before the House. He hoped that this was the precursor of still greater manifestations of liberality worthy of the Church to which they belonged, and which, if exercised with judgment and prudence, could not fail to promote the interests of religion. He hoped that the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl would be accepted by the House, and then the other propositions could be considered in their turn. It would be a subject of deep regret if the present opportunity of doing away with a great cause of religious acrimony were allowed to pass away without being taken advantage of by the House, and that by a unanimous vote.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
intimated that be would move the rejection of the 7th clause when they came to it.
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
thought, that the object which they ought to seek to attain was, that they should maintain the principle on which schools were founded, without being exclusive; that the governing body should be confined to the religion enjoined by the founder, but that the greatest liberality should be manifested in extending the advantages of the schools to children of every denomination. He would vote for the Amendment first proposed.
§ On Question, resolved in the negative.
§ Clause struck out.
It shall be lawful for all Trustees of Endowed Schools from Time to Time, and they shall be bound, to make such Orders as, while they shall not interfere with the religious Teaching of the other scholars as now fixed by Statute or other legal requirement, shall provide for admitting to the benefits of the School the Children of Parents not in communion with the Church, Sect, or Denomination according to the Doctrines or Formularies of which religious Instruction is to be afforded under the Endowment of the said Schools; Provided that in the Will or Wills, Deed or Deeds, or other Instrument or Instruments regulating such Endowment, nothing be contained expressly requiring the Children educated under such Endowment to learn or to be instructed according to the Doctrines or Formularies of such Church, Sect, or Denomination.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 3, 4, 5, and 6 struck out.
§ Clause 7, (Unless otherwise expressed in Will or Deed, Trustee not ineligible on account of his Religion).
§ LORD CRANWORTH
said, that the effect of this clause was simply to declare that Dissenters were not ineligible as trustees. The Bill in the other House of Parliament contained a clause to the effect that if it had been the practice to elect Dissenters for the last twenty-five years such practice might continue, but not otherwise. He thought that utterly indefensible; and what he simply suggested was, to declare in general terms, that Dissenters should not be ineligible, but that they should be put on the same footing as of necessity a great many important schools in the kingdom wore now put as the law now stood. At present the government of certain endowed schools was vested in the Corporation or in the Companies of London, of which many of the members were Dissenters. If Dissenters were not, under this Bill, to be eligible as trustees of endowed schools, how could their 1222 Lordships stop short and leave in their present post those Dissenters who were now trustees. The question was, whether they would now settle this, question once for all, or leave it to be raised again in some other and more inconvenient form. He was sure that the Dissenters would be grateful to them for the clause which had been proposed by the most rev. Prelate; but if they were to say that Dissenters were not to be eligible as trustees, he feared they would, to a certain extent, still leave a grievance to be redressed. In fact, it seemed to follow logically from what they had done that they ought to admit Dissenters to protect the rights which this clause had conferred on them. There was another point well worthy the consideration of their Lordships. There was a time when Dissenters were excluded from the exercise of a great number of public functions; among others, from those connected with municipal corporations. But how were we now to ascertain whether a man was a Dissenter or not? He trusted it would never be said that no man was to be eligible as a trustee who, as was provided by the now happily repealed Test and Corporation Acts, had not taken the sacrament of the Lords' Supper according to the rites of the Church of England within the year. That was intelligible; but he trusted none of their Lordships wished to revert to that most objectionable test. How, he repeated, were we now to ascertain whether a man was a Dissenter? Was it to be by common reputation? Did the going occasionally to a Dissenting place of worship make a man a Dissenter? He contended that there was no adequate means of deciding such a question; and if their Lordships began to legislate as to who was or was not a Dissenter they would enter upon an endless discussion.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, he was not going to discuss the question of the twenty-five years' prescription. The case had entirely changed during the discussion, and he now thought, notwithstanding the arguments of his noble and learned Friend, that it would be extremely desirable to omit the clause altogether, and not to allow Dissenters to be trustees under any circumstances. Observe how his noble and learned Friend followed up one concession by demanding another. His noble and learned Friend had drawn a logical deduction that, having conceded to the children of Dissenters the right of admission to endowed schools, they were bound now to admit Dissenters as 1223 trustees of those schools, in order to protect the rights and privileges which had just been conceded to them. That might be logical, but it seemed a dangerous invasion. He (Lord Chelmsford) thought, on the contrary, that, having made large and liberal concessions, they were bound to protect the schools against the possibility of Dissenters becoming the governing body and interfering with the religious instruction prescribed by the founders of these schools. The noble and learned Lord proposed that no one should be ineligible for the office of trustee unless there was an express declaration in the foundation deed that the trustees should be members of a particular church or sect; but the fact was that, as regarded the great majority of endowed schools, there was nothing expressly limiting the office of trustee to members of the Church of England, but the fact of the school being one in which the doctrines of that Church were taught was sufficient to mark its character. He should move the omission of the clause without proposing any substitute.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
reminded the noble and learned Lord that his noble and learned Friend (Lord Cranworth), in introducing this clause, was merely following in the steps of the Solicitor General of the late Government.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, that the first Bill was introduced by Mr. Dillwyn, and was referred to a Select Committee, of which the late Solicitor General was a member. In introducing the second Bill, his hon. and learned Friend acted merely as the instrument of the Committee, and was not himself responsible for the clause.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, however that might be, he was anxious that no party spirit should be shown with regard to this Bill. He felt the more strongly on this point, as he had been acting for the last two years as the chairman of a Commission on the subject of education, and he could assure their Lordships that if there was one thing more than another that struck him in the course of the investigation, it was, that with the great bulk of the population attending schools in this country what was called the religious difficulty did not exist; and he had come to the conclusion—and, he believed, he might say for his colleagues, though they had come to no formal resolution on the subject—that if the sectarian differences of clergymen and ministers of religious denominations could be kept out 1224 from the question of schools the religious harmony would be almost co-extensive with the attendance in schools. A most admirable example of the moderation and liberality which was so desirable had been shown that evening by the right reverend Bench, and he was confident the Dissenters would deeply feel and strongly appreciate it. It was a pity that that spirit should he marred by subsequent differences, and therefore he would suggest to his noble and learned Friend that this clause had better be omitted, and that the Bill should be made to stand on the clause agreed to by the right rev. Bench.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
deprecated the unqualified rejection of the clause. If the exclusion of Dissenters from the office of trustee was to be maintained, how was it proposed to deal with those cases such as the Bradford Charity, where Dissenters had already been appointed trustees? If it was decided to be against the wish of the founders to appoint Dissenters, was it intended to disqualify Lord Panmure and Lord Aberdeen from the offices they now filled as governors of the Charterhouse? He should regret extremely that any course should be adopted which would not only exclude Dissenters for the future, but would deprive those gentlemen who had been already selected for the office by their fellow townsmen, and had performed the duties to the satisfaction of all parties.
said, that although it might be that Sir Hugh Cairns was only a Member of the Committee of the other House, and had nothing personally to do with the clause, yet he found on a Bill which bore Sir Hugh Cairns' name on the back a clause to the effect that where Dissenters had been admitted to the office of trustee for a space of twenty-five years the right should continue. The clause under consideration was the same except that it omitted the necessity for twenty-five years' usage. That Bill, also, effectually admitted the children of Dissenters to all these schools unless they were excluded by the endowment deed. He should greatly regret if Dissenters were not to be admitted as trustees, from which office they were excluded, not by legislation, but by the effect of a recently-pronounced legal decision. The law, till that decision was come to in Chancery some time ago, admitted Dissenters. That was now held to he contrary to the presumption of law. It was laid down that if no sect was mentioned in an educational endowment, the Church of England 1225 must be presumed to be intended; and the effect bad been just that of an Act of Parliament to repeal the previously existing law. The noble and learned Lord near him (Lord Chelmsford) was much alarmed at the prospect of Dissenters becoming first trustees of endowed schools, and then by and by increasing to a majority, and then overruling the Churchmen and taking possession of the direction of the education of the country; but he overlooked the discontent and disappointment which would be felt by the Dissenters, by that great body of religionists scattered all over the country, large in numbers, and eminent in wealth, and talents, and endowments, by the rejection of this clause—a discontent and a disappointment much greater than the comfort arising from the concession offered by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. The evil in one case would be great and pressing, and present; in the other, it would be inconsiderable and distant. But his noble and learned Friend indulged in the habit not uncommon with alarmists at reform and every kind of progress of using his telescope at both ends; and, having seen at one look a remote object magnified and brought near, he next applied the other end to the near objects, and thus made them appear remote and insignificant. The distant and small peril he made appear near and great, while the near and great peril he made look insignificant and remote. It was well for him that he had not taken the same liberties with his glass while he was the ornament of another profession. If he had on his quarter deck found his telescope the wrong way, when our enemy's vessel was near, he would have made no preparation for defence, and their Lordships would have been deprived of his presence in their House.
§ LORD ABINGER
said, the House had been told that having conceded a clause to the Dissenters, they, as a body, would feel worse off than they would have been had the concession not been made; and this question he would be glad to discuss after that of church rates had been settled. Was the concession intended to conciliate? In his experience he had never found any good result from an attempt to conciliate a decided enemy, and he could not help regarding Dissenters as decided enemies to the Church. In a free country every man's commerce with his God ought to be free; but Churchmen should be true to themselves, and not admit a preference to be 1226 given to scruples of conscience over plain duties, one of which consisted of a reasonable obedience to the law and a support of existing institutions.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
said, he could not conceal from the House or from himself that he was placed in a very difficult position. He had been asked by a number of most respectable gentlemen who were Dissenters to take charge of this Bill, and he knew that they felt their exclusion from the school trusts to be a great grievance. Still, he should not have acceded to their request if he had not sympathised with their feelings, and if he had not been conscious that their sentiments were not wholly without foundation. At the same time, he was quite alive to the force of his noble Friend, the noble Duke's, remark, that a great concession had been made in the earlier clauses which had been passed. Those clauses would be regarded as a great boon, and might carry with them all which was desired, and he was unwilling that the grace of that boon should be lessened by any angry discussion upon other parts of the Bill. Doubting, therefore, whether he was taking a proper course, he would consent to the omission of the clause; but he should reserve to himself the right of reintroducing it in a modified form at the bringing up of the Report if he saw any prospect of his being able to carry it.
§ Clause struck out.
§ Clause 8 (Act not to apply to certain Institutions in Ireland) agreed to.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ Report of Amendments to be received on Thursday next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Eight o'clock, to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.