HL Deb 08 July 1861 vol 164 cc484-506

begged to ask the President of the Council, whether the Government intended to propose any Measures in Parliament, or to issue any Minutes of the Committee of Privy Council on Education, in pursuance of the Report of the Education Commissioners; and to draw the attention of the House to some parts of that Report? The noble Lord said that he purposed to detain their Lordships on the first question but a very short time, inasmuch as he presumed the intention of Her Majesty's Government on the Educational question would be made known in the other House of Parliament when the Votes for educational purposes came on for discussion. As that might, however, be at a period somewhat distant it might be useful to obtain from the head of the department in their Lordships' House some notion of what the Government intended to do. The measures which had been suggested by the Education Commissioners in their Report were of two classes. Some of those measures—perhaps only a few—required the interference of Parliament to en- able them to be carried into effect; while the second class might be effected through the action of the Committee of Privy Council on Education. One of his objects was to obtain from the noble Earl an assurance that in regard to questions of difficulty there would not be at present any important alteration. Every one who had read the Report of the Commissioners must be aware that there were points raised in it upon which very great differences of opinion existed, and with respect to them, he was very desirous to hear that it was not in the contemplation of the Government to make any important alteration, at all events, until the next Session of Parliament. He was afraid that some uncertainty and want of confidence still existed with respect to the Committee of the Privy Council in consequence of a practice which had been sometimes pursued of making an Order in Council on educational subjects soon after the rising of Parliament, when there was no opportunity given of questioning its expediency. It would be very satisfactory both to the House and the country to know that no such course was intended to be adopted on the present occasion. Not only was the Report of the Commissioners in itself a very long document, but it was accompanied by five bulky volumes of evidence, and by a most able treatise from the pen of Mr. Senior, which it had given him (Lord Lyttelton) the greatest pleasure to read; but it was impossible that many of their Lordships, and least of all his noble Friend the President of the Council, should have had time to wade though that mass of evidence. He wished to advert to some few of the topics dealt with by the Commissioners, and to some omissions, but not in any hostile spirit, as he considered their Report to be one of the most able and luminons documents ever presented to Parliament. He was ready to express his almost unqualified approval of the whole of the recommendations contained in the last five paragraphs, and with regard to the last, referring to State schools, as there could hardly be any difference of opinion about it, he should rejoice to hear that something was being done in order to carry it into effect. As was said by Mr. Senior, the question of pauper education was peculiar from the magnitude of the evil and the certainty of the remedy by the establishment of pauper schools. Nothing was wanted but to take away the option from the boards of guardians, and by the authority of the Government or the Poor Law Board to establish these schools throughout the country. He had a doubt with regard to the 37th Section of the recommendations of the Commissioners, relating to what was known as Denison's Act, enabling guardians to pay for the education of children of paupers. What the Commissioners and Mr. Senior dwelt upon was that the Act was erroneous, and, indeed, futile, inasmuch as it prevented boards of guardians insisting upon children being sent to school as a condition of outdoor relief. They suggested that the guardians should be required to insist upon children being sent to school as a condition of out-door relief, and in this he agreed. The objections raised against the recommendations of the Commissioners were in a great measure confined to the first and second chapters. The noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) would remember that sometime ago, in a debate in that House on the ragged schools' education, the question of county rates had been raised incidentally, and he might be glad of the opportunity of dealing with it. In the section of the Report bearing on this point it was not very clear whether the general conditions under which the Government now gave assistance were to to be continued under the new system. It seemed that the Report recommended that the grants made to the public should be divided into two classes—the first according to the present system, which came out of the general taxation of the country, the second out of the county rate. And that no school should participate in those grants which did not comply with certain conditions, which conditions, were drawn out in a somewhat imperfect manner. He believed, however, that while the schools now in connection with the Government were to remain as they were, and the inspector was not only to report upon the state of the school with regard to secular, but as regarded the Church schools with respect to religious education, it was intended that other schools should be inspected by a different class of inspectors, to which alone the charge upon the county rate should refer. With respect to them there was to be no condition whatever with respect to religious teaching, but the children were to be examined in reading, writing, arithmetic, and plain work; and if these conditions were complied with the school was to receive a very considerable subsidy, indeed, out of the county rates. Assuming that to be the basis of the sys- tem, the question was whether such a plan would avoid the well-known objections to the rating system. Those objections were very clearly stated both by Mr. Senior and Sir James Kay Shuttleworth. He must say, however, that when it was said to throw the expense of the education of the children of a county upon the county rate would lead to something like the confiscation of the property of ratepayers. If there were no other difficulties in the way, if there were nothing but the interests of justice to consider, nothing would give him greater pleasure than to see this confiscation—which would amount to something like 2d. In the pound—carried into practice, because they must all be well aware how scandalously the charge of educating the poor was evaded by much of the property of the country, and thrown only on those who voluntarily undertook it. Mr. Senior conceded the whole principle when he proposed that in what he called the apathetic districts there should be rates for education; but if that were once begun they would not be able to exempt any place from rating for this purpose. He (Lord Lyttelton) should be glad if he could see that it was possible to throw some part of the burden upon the rateable property of the country, but practically there were known to be very grave objections to it. How, it had been asked, could such a charge be levied without a change which would transfer the educational management to the ratepayers? In a paper drawn up by the Dean of Carlisle among the evidence before Commissioners he said that he stood aghast at any man who, knowing what he knew of the retepayers of the country, proposed in any manner to throw any part of the care and management of the education of the people upon them. He (Lord Lyttelton) believed that there was much truth in that. Beside the objections to introducing a rate of this kind, it was a very serious question whether it was right to hold out such very great benefits to these schools upon such very low conditions. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth said this form of grant would be found operating, as far as it went, as a premium on discarding certificated teachers and pupil teachers, and on the limitation of instruction to reading, writing, and arithmetic. With regard to the last recommendation of the Report, he thought it of doubtful expediency. It was stated with great brevity in these words:—"Certificates are to bear no pecuniary, but only an honorary value." At present the certificates which bore a pecuniary value were mostly attained in training schools by pupil teachers, who had served their apprenticeship, and had undergone a severe examination; and, as the result of those certificates, they became reasonably sure for the time of their service of a certain fixed increase to their salaries received from the Government. The Commissioners proposed that those certificates should be simply honorary, and should give them no claim on the Government whatever; so that they should be left to make their own bargain with the school managers, receiving nothing direct form the Government. He could not believe that such a regulation, if adopted, would apply to the present schoolmasters, though, of course, the Government would have the right to apply it in the case of future schoolmasters. He thought, however, that such an arrangement would be looked upon by the schoolmasters as taking away almost the whole value of their connection with the Government. At present they received a fair salary form the managers besides what they obtained from the Government; but if this proposal were adopted their salaries would be likely to be ground down by the school managers, while they would get nothing form the government. In the interest of the training schools he confessed that he looked with apprehension upon the recommendation, believing that these establishments would be deprived of the chief source from which they obtained their pupils; and on this point he should be glad to have some explanation from his noble Friend. He would now touch on one or two points which were omitted form the Report. A point of great importance, originally suggested by Mr. Chadwick, and adopted in the work of Mr. Senior, was an alteration in the arrangement of the school hours, by which about one-half of the time now given to ordinary school pursuits would be devoted to certain physical exercises, military drill, and occupations of that sort. On this point he expressed no opinion, as he did not see his way clearly; but some striking evidence had been collected by Mr. Chadwick, and possibly some change in this respect might at a future time be considered desirable by the Government. There was another omission on a subject which occupied a whole chapter in Mr. Senior's work, and had reference to what that gentleman called "the unre- gulated trades," meaning thereby those trades to which the Factory Acts did not apply in respect of education. The Commissioners found themselves obliged to limit their inquiries to certain specimen districts, in which it happened that the worst cases of these unregulated trades were not included. They were chiefly the glove, lace, and stocking manufactories of Notinghamshire and Leicestershire. He was not acquainted with the details of the subject, but it was impossible adequately to express the disgust and indignation that every one must feel on reading Mr. Senior's description of the condition of the children in these manufactories. Mr. Senior was not a man to employ rhetorical or exaggerated language; but he said, "We look with indignation on the pictures of American slavery; but I believe that the children on the worst managed plantation are less overworked, less tortured, better fed, and quite as well instructed as these unhappy infants." He regretted that these trades had been exempted from the regulations of the Factory Acts. He believed that the evidence on which these statements were made was collected some years age; but Mr. Senior asserted that the same evils till existed. He did not know what might have prevented the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) who had taken such an interest in the former Factory Acts form applying his mind to these trades; he was unable to see any difference between these works and those that had been regulated, or why the same provisions should not apply to one as to the other. He hoped that before long this question of the unregulated trades would be brought fully under the consideration of the House.


was understood to say that he would only answer the questions as to the intentions of Government, and would leave his noble Friend the Chairman of the Commission (the Duke of Newcastle) to reply to the noble Lord's observations on the Report. The department with which he was connected had carefully considered the recommendations of the Report. He concurred in many of the observations of the noble Lord, but he did not think that the recommendation as to borough and county rates had been thoroughly considered, and there was no intention at present to bring in any Bill to carry out the recommendations of the Commissioners in that respect. With regard to the better administration of the system he had felt some difficulty how to act; but what he proposed to do was this, which he thought would be satisfactory both to Parliament and the country. He thought he should be enabled in a short time now to lay on the table of both House of Parliament a Minute framed on certain recommendations of the Commissioners, and that Minute would be chiefly directed to the simplification of the business of the Council Office as related to schools and the appointment of teachers; and they hoped to be able to suggest something which would meet a crying evil, and give assistance to schools in what were called the poorer districts in the country. The Government, however, in preparing this Minute would do so with any intention of taking immediate action, but with the purpose that it should be laid before both Houses of Parliament for consideration.


was in favour of a borough rate; but, in the question of public education, there had always been a great difficulty on this point. He had himself brought in two or three Bills on this subject, an one Bill was proposed by Lord John Russell; but these measures were confined to a borough rating only, and did not refer to a county rate. The difficulty was in the disposal of the rate, and the restrictions under which it should be applied. By his Bills the municipal body of the town empowered to raise it were to apply it under the control of the Government, as represented in the Education Department of the Privy Council. The short time system for children would be of great advantage for the promotion of education. Some forty years ago he had made use of an expression which had since become proverbial, that "the schoolmaster was abroad." and last year, at the meeting of the Social Science Congress at Glasgow, he added to that expression by saying that not only the schoolmaster, but the workmaster also was abroad. That expression had given effence to some manufacturers, who understood it as implying that they were unfriendly to the cause of education. That, however, was not so, but the expression was intended as a lamentation over the children and their parents, who could not afford to keep them at school for a sufficient time. A half-time system for children would be of vast importance, because if they were allowed to attend school three hours a day less than at present there would be less temptation to the parents to keep from school. The children could then spend three hours a day at school, but even two hours a day would be of great use. Mr. Chadwick's name was well known to their Lordships form his great and most useful services in the establishment of the New Poor Law, and afterwards in the Sanitary Department. He had acted as President of the Education Department in the Social Science Congress at Bradford two years ago; and in presiding over their discussions had brought forth much valuable information. This he printed in a Report, which being shown to one of the Commissioners whose Report was now before their Lordships, and who attended the Congress at Bradford, he requested Mr. Chadwick to prosecute the inquiry and attend at the meeting of the department. Mr. Chadwick did so, and went over the whole West Riding, examining every school and manufactory and communicating with both the great manufacturers, and the school inspectors, and medical men. The result was an ample confirmation of the opinions expressed at the meeting of this department, that three hours spent at school were amply sufficient; and even two hours, if taken early in the day, very beneficial; while the other three hours of the day taken form work should be spent in healthy exercise. The result of his inquiries and observations was communicated to the Commission, who said it was worth all the other information which the Commission had received. Unfortunately it was given in too late to be inserted in the Report, but Mr. Chadwick's paper had been moved for by his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle), and would very soon be in the hands of their Lordships. There was another subject of great importance to which he wished to call attention—the subject of middle-class education. The Session before last he had presented 120 petitions, signed by 40,000 persons, claiming for middle-class children better schools, and that there should be an extension of the system of inspection to grant certificates of ability and good conduct to schoolmasters for the middle class. The noble Earl upon that occasion raised a very reasonable objection on the score of want of funds; but still it was of the utmost importance that middle schools should be better managed, and that all the benefits should accrue to them which did accrue form a system of inspection. He made a calculation that the number of children of the middle class was 120,000, taking the middle class to represent those with incomes between £120 and £1,000 a year. A right rev. Prelate had objected that the range was too wide, and suggested £150 and £500 a year, and which would show about 80,000 or 90,000 children. The middle class was the class most neglected of all in respect to the means of a good education. Men were not allowed to practise as physicians, surgeons, or apothecaries without undergoing a full examination as to their qualifications for the duties they undertook to discharge. Was it less necessary that those who engaged in the task of instructing and training the young should be subjected to some public test of their fitness for their most important vocation? The extension of the compulsory principle now applicable to factory children had been recommended by some; but that was a point surrounded with considerable difficulty, and the Government had, perhaps naturally, hesitated to deal with it. The suggestion. however, which he was now making was of a very different nature, because he did not propose that every middleclass school should be compelled to come under Government inspection; but merely that any such school placing itself under the Privy Council should enjoy all the Privileges and results of their system of inspection. A scheme propounded by Mr. Chadwick for the union of parishes into districts, with a view to the improvement of the education of their children, was of the highest importance; and his report threw valuable light on that subject. To show the difference between the schools carried on under the old plan and those conducted under the new system, in which the reduced number of hours and other improvements were combined, he might mention the fact, based on the evidence of Mr. Tufnell, that of the pauper, orphan, and other children who had passed through the former class of schools, as many as 60 per cent were found, on tracing their subsequent careers, to have lapsed into habits of mendicity, and sometimes even worse; whereas, under the new and improved schools, the proportion of scholars who had turned out ill was only 2 or 3 per cent. Mr. Hastings, the Secretary of the Social Science Association, had printed a report from the Law Amendment Society some years ago strongly recommending that which the Report of the Commission now before their Lordships Proposed—namely, the transfer of inquiry as to charity abuses from the Court of Chancery to some other tribunal. Vice Chancellor Page Wood had presided over the meeting which adopted that report, and he recommended sending these cases to the Charity Commission. But the Society's report preferred the Judicial Committee.


—My Lords, I can assure your Lordships that it is as satisfactory to as I am confident it will be to those who have been associated with the Education Commission to have heard the ample and generous testimony to their labours which has been borne, both by the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down, and by my noble Friend who has introduced this discussion. I may say at the same time that, although in some instances there has been, in my judgment, somewhat of ever-suspicion of the motives and intentions of the Commission, yet on the whole their Report has been received by the public generally with a candour an fairness most honourable to the country as it is gratifying to the Commissioners. The testimony given by my noble and learned Friend is especially important, as coming from one who has for upwards of forty years laboured so earnestly in promoting the cause of education, and who espoused that cause in days when the education of the lower classes was by no means so popular as now, and, by doing so, gave it a powerful stimulus. My noble Friend near me (Lord Lyttelton), too, has bestowed much attention on this subject, both theoretically and practically, and has furnished, as will be seen from the volume on your Lordships' table, most valuable answers to a series of questions which were sent out by the Commissioners to different persons. Before proceeding further I may, perhaps, touch on what the noble and learned Lord and my noble Friend seem to think are omissions form the Report. First, my noble and learned Friend complained that the Commissioners have omitted all reference to middle-class education. But, my Lords, if that question has not been dealt with by the Commissioners, it is not from any want of appreciation of its importance, but simply because it did not properly come within the scope of their instructions, which were directed to the mode of improving the means of elementary education. My noble and learned Friend has lately presided at a public meeting, the measures proposed at which will be influential in improving and developing middle-class education—a matter which certainly has been of late somewhat over-looked in the earnest and laudable zeal that has been shown in regard to the instruction of the humbler classes. Both those noble Lords have also complained, or rather re- marked, that the Commission has omitted all reference to the short-time system, as proposed by Mr. Chadwick. Now, not only did the result of Mr. Chadwick's labours come before the Commission rather late, but the subject itself has not attained that state of completeness and maturity in which it could have been advantageously dealt with either by the Commission or by the Committee of Privy Council. The noble Baron who introduced this discussion has himself confessed that he does not see his way to any practical results on this subject. The question is, doubtless, most important and interesting, but it is yet full of difficulty. One of its difficulties, in particular, ought certainly not to be lightly regarded. Mr. Chadwick's scheme was that the instruction of the children in the schools should henceforth be limited to three hours a day. Mr. Chadwick, of course, felt that the question immediately arose, "What is to be done with the children during the remaining hours of the day? Are they to be allowed to run loose about the streets?" I am not now speaking of children employed in factories or engaged in other industrial pursuits. Mr. Chadwick proposed that the children should spend three hours more in drill, gymnastics, and similar exercises. At present there are in most of our great towns schools which have attached to them no such provision for the exercise or recreation of the children, and unless it could have been arranged how such cases were to be dealt with, it would not have been becoming in the Commissioners to throw out haphazard a number of recommendations for which they saw no practical result, and leave to others to carry them out. The third point noticed by my noble Friend is, that the Commissioners have omitted to make any recommendations as to what are called the non-regulated trades. My noble Friend has referred to the work of Mr. Senior. I have not been able to read that book, but, having sat so long as the colleague of Mr. Senior, I am generally acquainted with his views upon this particular subject, to which he had paid so much attention that probably he might be better prepared than were any of the other Commissioners to make recommendations upon it. My own opinion is that the Commissioners, although they have have not overlooked the subject, did right in making no specific recommendations for the extension of legislation to the non-regulated trades; but they have shown in their Report that the subject was not lost sight of. The course of legislation upon this subject has been gradual and progressive. When legislation was first attempted it was not only distasteful to, but was actually dreaded by, employers of labour. Now, however, a different feeling prevails, and we have gained experience which promises to secure a safe and gradual advance in that course. Last year that legislation was extended to collieries and mines, and there is now before the House of Commons a Bill extending it to lace factories, which has been introduced with the consent of the lace manufacturers themselves. My noble Friend who introduced this subject said that to the large proportion of the recommendations of the Commissioners he gave his entire and cordial support, In making that statement, he appears to have referred to the fifty-one specific recommendations at the end of the Report, and to have, to a certain extent, separated them from the Report. Those recommendations are, however, based upon the body of the Report, in which the reasons and arguments in their favour are set forth, and where the noble Baron will find any explanation of them which he may desire. Those fifty-one recommendations are ranged under nine heads. The first head deals with evening schools, to the extension of which the Commissioners attach great importance. The second relates to charities, a subject which I hope will attract so much attention form the public that the Government may be able to deal with it before very long; because I believe that there are many charity funds which are now misapplied—indeed, applied to evil purposes—which might be diverted to making provision for the general education of the people, to their great advantage, and incidentally to the great relief of the public purse. The third head of recommendations relates to children employed in factories; the fourth to pauper children; the fifth to vagrant and criminal children; and the sixth to those schools which are supported by the funds of the State for the education of the children of soldiers and sailors, With all the recommendations included under these heads the noble Baron has expressed his concurrence, except one as to the education of pauper children in district schools. My noble Friend has asked whether, under the plain as proposed by the Commissioners, the religious inspection of Church of England schools will be continued as it has heretofore existed? My reply to that is, that, under the scheme proposed by the Com- missioners, that inspection will be continued. A majority of the Commissioners have recommended that the Privy Council inspection should be confined, as in Dissenting and Roman Catholic schools, to the general efficiency of the establishment, and that the inspection of the religious teaching should be left to the diocesan inspectors who were already or would shortly be appointed in all the dioceses of the country. It is right, however, to mention that, while four of the Commissioners held that view, three were of opinion that the proposed system would not secure proper inspection, and would lead to a disregard of religious instruction. My noble Friend has also referred to the recommendation of the Commissioners that the certificates given to teachers by training colleges should bear no pecuniary value, but should be mere honorary distinctions; my noble Friend asked whether this recommendation was to apply to existing schoolmasters, and appeared to be, as he understood many of the schoolmasters also were, under the apprehension that injustice would be thereby committed. The recommendations of the Commissioners were as follows— One alteration in the nature of the certificates given to the students in the training colleges will follow from the recommendations which we shall make and explain in the subsequent part of our Report, that all annual grants be paid to the managers in a single sum, to be expended at their discretion for the purposes of the school. They will then make their own bargains with the master, and the certificate, instead of having a money value, will be a testimonial of conduct and ability, issued by an impartial and competent authority. My noble Friend must of course bear in mind that, while it is right that the schoolmasters should be dealt with fairly, the usefulness of the schools is the main point to be considered. The Commissioners had the strongest evidence that a certificate, though always regarded as a proof of acquirements, was not is every case a test of the efficiency of the holder as a schoolmaster. Mr. Cooke, one of the Inspectors, reported that some of the best teachers in his district had either no certificate or else an old one, and that some, not remarkable for efficiency, had comparatively high certificates. Mr. Jones also stated that in Wales a certificate was "no sure index of the merit of the holder as a schoolmaster." It is further very important that all the funds given by the State should be concentrated into one grant, to be placed at the disposal of the managers. I believe that no injury will be done to the holders of certificates by the proposed arrangement, because they will obtain the same amount of money under the new system, though in a different form, as at present. I readily admit that, if that should not be the case, the interests of the schoolmasters who are already appointed ought to be considered, as it would not be fair to place them in a more disadvantageous position than when they entered the service. With regard to the rating plan, the main reasons upon which the Commissioners made their recommendation were as follows:—The first was the expense of the present system and the probability of its eventually creating such a feeling in the country and in the House of Commons as would lead to its sudden break down. The second was the necessity for a simplification of the machinery of the office, if the system was to be extended. The third, and by far the most important reason, was that in the opinion of the Commissioners the so-called "national" system was by no means national in its extent, as large districts were left unprovided for, and as the schools which did not receive any benefit from it were far more numerous than those which did. As to the first of these reasons, if the question were merely one of the expenditure of a million or so, which could certainly be maintained under all circumstances, I believe no money could be better spent, and that it might safely be drawn from the Imperial Treasury. The tendency of the system has been, however, towards annual increase. There has been a slight decrease, no doubt, of late, but that diminution will be rapidly turned into a further increase. After a most careful investigation, the Commissioners, presuming that the system was to continue as at present, arrived at the conclusion that the extension of the general system to the whole country would cost £1,300,000 if the unassisted public schools alone were brought under it. If the system were extended, as they thought was necessary in order to make it complete, to private schools, the expense would amount to £1,620,000, which, making allowance for an increase of 20 per cent in the number of scholars, would soon rise to £1,800,000. Including the capitation grants which were commenced two or three years ago, and other expenses which must naturally arise in course of time, the whole expense may be estimated at not less than £2,100,000. That calculation is rather under the mark than over it, Dr. Temple being disposed to estimate the cost at £5,000,000 yearly. The great thing to be feared is a sudden suspension of supplies. We must remember that, as Sir Robert Peel has said, the House of Commons is subject to hot fits of violent extravagance, when they will vote money for any purpose; and to cold fits of economy, when they cut down Votes without regard to the character and requirements of the service for which they were asked. I, for one, fear that the House of Commons, in one of its cold fits, is quite capable of reducing the Education Vote of £2,000,000 to £1,000,000, and thus paralyzing partially, if not completely, the education of the country. I, therefore, wish the whole system to be established on as economical a basis as can be devised. Sir James Key Shuttleworth, who objected to the recommendation of the Commissioners with respect to rating in a letter to the President of the Council, has acknowledged that it was his sense of this danger in the existing system which led him to support the introduction of the Manchester system, which involved rating. Then as to the second point. Mr. Lingen, who is a most competent authority, and to whom we are much indebted for the management of the present system, has expressed his opinion that it could not be carried further without danger of breaking down, unless material alterations were made. The whole of their inquiries on that subject satisfied them that some change was necessary. I now come to the third and most important consideration—the inadequate number of schools assisted. I feel confident that your Lordships, or at any rate those of your Lordships who have not looked into the statistics or read the Report, will be surprised at the facts and figures which I shall now state to you. The number of public schools assisted by the Committee of Privy Council is 6,897, containing 917,255 scholars. The number of public schools unassisted is 15,952, containing 654,393 scholars. But this is not all. As long as private schools are not abolished, they are recognized as good of themselves, though not, perhaps, as good as public schools, and it should be the object o the State to give encouragement to the improvement of those schools, which is now entirely wanting. The private schools, also unassisted, contain 573,536 children. I may add to this the Birkbeck schools, the factory schools, and that class of schools which has attracted so much attention—the ragged schools, and others, also unassisted, which contain 671,393 children. So that we have upwards of 1,800,000 children in schools totally unassisted by the funds of the State, while the scholars in assisted schools number only 917,000. Is not this a proof that some alteration is wanting? I do not say that the alteration which we recommend is the best. It is the best which has occurred to us after most careful consideration. But I do say that we ought to search for some scheme, and that if we find a scheme, good in itself but surrounded by difficulties, we ought to encounter those difficulties and endeavour to carry out such a scheme to a succesful issue. The schools to which no assistance is given exist not only in the large towns, but to a much greater extent in the country. I am sure your Lordships will be equally surprised to hear a statement of the small number of assisted schools in parishes with less then 600 inhabitants—a state of things arising from their being unable to meet the State requirements. In Oxfordshire there are 339 such parishes, and only 24 schools receiving Government aid. In Hereford there are 130 such parishes, and only five schools; in Devon there are 245 such parishes, and only two schools; in Wiltshire there are 159 such parishes, and only nine schools; and in the county of Somerset 280 such parishes, and only one school receiving Government aid. This is not a state of things in which we can maintain that the present system is perfect, or that we ought not to seek material alterations. My noble Friend who brought forward this question said, in one of his answers, there are immense tracts of country in which Government aid is utterly unknown. He stated this without the facts being before him which we have collected and I have now given, and in doing so he made a completely accurate statement. The cause is that the Committee of Privy Council have been unable to adapt their requirements to meet the wants of what are called the "poor parishes." They may go by any name you like. They are not poor as regards rental in many instances, but they are poor as regards the means of coming to the Committee of Privy Council. Whether it arises from actual poverty, from apathy, or any other cause, they do not provide the means which are required by the Committee of Privy Council as conditions for their aid. We have tried over and over again to devise means of meeting these cases, but it is found impossible to render aid without transgressing the regulations and conditions by which the Committee of Privy Council are bound. These conditions cannot, I believe, be materially reduced if we are to keep within any decent bounds the amount of expenditure. The endeavour to provide something for these schools was the origin of the capitation grant. It has met the evil to a certain extent, but it has created evils of itself; and, moreover, it has proved that you cannot reduce the requirements of the Privy Council in particular districts without reducing them in others. You must bring down the requirements of the richer parishes to those of the poorer. You cannot maintain one system for one and another system for the other, because the line of demarcation is so narrow that, bit by bit, the distinction would disappear, and ultimately you would have to pay out of the funds of the State the whole expense, a large proportion of which is now met by the contributions of benevolent people and the children's pence. These are the reasons, and more especially the last, why we seek for some alterations of the existing system. You are rightly told that the system of parochial rating was proposed on various occasions. My noble Friend, differing greatly from myself and other Members of the Commission, thought that such a system was practicable. I confess that I early abandoned any notion of the kind—believing that the system of parochial rating would be attended with such great evils in itself that, for the cause of education, and for the sake of the social condition of the country, we could not possibly recommend it. We felt that if we adopted a system of parochial rating the ratepayers would rightly claim so material a portion of the management of the schools as to raise that fruitful source of difficulty, the religious question. We felt sure that a dispute would inevitably arise between the clergy and the Dissenters, the clergy desiring to have an important control over the schools in which they were concerned, and the voluntaries, with their particular views, of course objecting to such a system. Without entering into many of the objections which may be raised against parochial rating, I think I have stated quite sufficient reason why we could not recommend that system. But we felt that the objection, however great it may be, is not so much one of principle as one of form. We felt that the system of parochial rating is unobjectionable in itself, but that it brings consequences which cannot be separated from it, and that, in order to be effectual, teaching must be left, as now, to the religious denomination to which each particular school belongs. We thought that we might obviate the evil of material interference with the management of the schools by the body of retepayers—which of course would tell in some instances in favour of the Church, and in others in favour of the Dissenters—by adopting a larger area and throwing the expense on the county rates. We thought that by so enlarging the area as to cover the whole county and by establishing a county board, we should establish an authority much less liable to interference than if we were to confine our operations to more restricted localities, and we would then leave the general management of the schools in the hands of the members of the religious denominations to which they belong. We thought that by these means we might meet one of the great difficulties of the present system, and obviate one of the great evils of parochial rating. We have studiously avoided any recommendation that contributions should be made out of county rates for building schools. That would be as bad in practice as parochial rating; but, while leaving the contributions for building schools to come as heretofore form the Committee of the privy Council, our proposal is, that the county funds shall be applied to assist in the maintenance of the schools. The results to be obtained by contributions form the funds of the county, which would not greatly exceed 1d. in the pound—no very large tax, though it would produce a considerable amount—would be, we believe, that a vast number of public schools would obtain that assistance which they never can obtain from the Privy Council; that many of the private schools, by the inducements held out to them, would gradually qualify themselves for obtaining aid: that a considerable amount of local interest would be created in these schools, without which it is vain to hope for those voluntary contributions, which we believe will be promoted instead of discouraged by county-rates; and lastly, that the efficiency of these schools would be increased, and the minimum of education at present given would be raised throughout the whole of the schools. In our Report we say— Such a plan, we believe, would act directly upon most of the smaller schools of the country, not only by encouraging them to improve their teaching, but by giving them that pecuniarylocus standi which is what they may justly require as the means for raising themselves to the higher level of the Government grant. Thus a school of fifty boys, which should obtain £8 or £10 from this examination would receive both an aid and a stimulus, which would induce it to make greater exertion. Many persons, I believe, have apprehended that we proposed this as a substitute for the Government grant—or, at any rate, that it would become a substitute for it. That is not out proposal—quite the contrary; but it is obvious that such never could be the result, because the mere fact of a school obtaining this minor assistance would stimulate it to obtain the larger assistance given by the Privy Council. In our Report we say— Nothing could more tend to bring the many neglected districts where the assistance to education is given scantily and irregularly under the legitimate influence of the public opinion of the neighbourhood. The reports of the inspectors can hardly be said to have any public circulation, but Boards of Education in counties and boroughs would publish their annual reports of the examinations of their schools and would secure a more judicious attention ot the condition of such schools than any other tribunal we could suggest. A little further on we say— From the plan of an examination we anticipate the double advantage that, while it will maintain the only sound principle upon which schools ought to obtain additional aid, it will at once stimulate and improve the charaeter of their teaching. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth and many others who have discussed this subject have objected to what they call the injustice of substituting for an assessment on property of the estimated value of £550,000,000 a charge on the county rate, assessed only on £86,000,000 of property. They say that it is most unjust to relieve the payers of the £550,000,000 of the burden, and throw it upon the smaller contributors. That objection, however, would apply to every species of local taxation—to the police rate and all other local rates. You cannot arrive at a completely just assessment of taxation, either local or general, for any purpose, and I do not, therefore, attach much importance to that objection. I would ask Sir James Key Shuttleworth, or any other person who has considered this question, whether the present system can be said to be altogether a just one? Can it be just that a vast number of parishes, which contribute to the Privy Council funds through the general taxation of the country, should derive no benefit whatever form them? If you go into the question of abstract justice, I defy any one to say that the last injustice is not infinitely greater than the first, and that it is not most unfair on the enormous proportion of parishes that they should contribute funds for the benefit of the richer and smaller number without deriving any benefit themselves. No doubt, a small additional burden would be thrown on the ratepayers; but, on the other hand, I believe that an improved system of education would greatly relieve the rates. By increasing the intelligence of the people and promoting those virtues which may fairly be said to follow improved education the poor rates and other local taxes would be diminished. Some apprehensions have been expressed as to the feelings of the ratepayers; but, though I should not be inclined to trust them too far at present, yet at the same time I think those apprehensions have been carried to an undue extent. A right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) said the other night in the debate on the Bill for the Subdivision of Dioceses that we were unduly apprehensive of the representatives of the people; that for these purposes they were the people themselves, and that if the people desired an extension of the episcopate their representatives would not refuse to assent to such an extension. The same thing, I think, may be said of the ratepayers. They are an important and influential class of the people, and, though I do not say that in their present state of feeling with regard to the dangers of non-education it would be safe to trust them, yet, in the course of years, if we could arrive at an Utopian system, I do believe that it would be far better that the central system should be brought to a close, and that the education of the country should be managed by the local interests rather than from the neighbourhood of Downing Street. We have contemplated no such state of things arising in our time, but we do believe it desirable to engage local interests in the cause of education, while by this plan we maintain all the advantages of the present system. I am afraid that an opinion has been expressed—I hope by very few—but I have heard of it being expressed in the House of Commons, that a disregard of religious teaching has been exhibited throughout by the Education Commissioners, and that it appears in their recommendations. I deny the accusation in toto. I am certain it is not a fair charge as regards their language and recommendations, but I am still more confident that it is unfounded as regards their feelings and wishes. Let me call your Lordship's attention to the language of our Report. At page 310 we say— We think also that the existing plan is the only one by which it would be possible to secure the religious character of popular education. It is enough for our purpose to say that there is strong evidence that it is the deliberate opinion of the great majority of persons in this country that it is desirable. Some evidence has already been given upon this subject of the feelings of the parents of the children to be educated. Those of the nation at large are proved by the fact that, with hardly an exception, every endowment for purposes of education, from the Universities down to the smallest village school, has been connected by its founders with some religious body. A couple of pages further we express our opinion that— The leading principles of the present system are sound, have shown themselves well adapted to the feelings of the country, and ought to be maintained. Is not that explicit? But your Lordships will perhaps allow me to read a few lines more. We say— Not only does it seem to us certain that the members of all religious bodies would be dissatisfied with any change in this respect, but the fact that religious education has been working with success upon this basis during the last twenty years had given to this principle a position in the country from which any attempt to dislodge it would destroy much that has been gained, and would give a dangerous shock to our system of education. Now, I think I may be content to rest on them quotations, and your Lordships and the public will probably hold us discharged form the imputation which has been cast upon us by a right hon. Gentleman who usually takes immense pains with subjects of this description, and who does not generally hazard observations without having made himself master of the subject. But, even if I had not been able to quote these particular observations, what is it that pervades the whole book? Do we not recommend the continuance of the denominational system? And what is that system? Is it not a system of education based entirely and exclusively upon religious teaching imparted by the particular denominations in the schools belonging to them, uninterfered with by the State and unmeddled with by the Committee of Privy Council? In recommending this payment from the county rates is it to be supposed that we are departing form some practice of the Committee of Council which has heretofore prevailed? No doubt, we recommend that in the case of this particular grant from the county funds an examination shall be dispensed with except as regards the elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic. But what is now the case in the schools which we want to draw into this system? We say that in those schools, which we think should receive preliminary assistance from the county rates, leading to the greater and more important assistance from the Privy Council, it is desirable that there shall be no examination except in certain elementary particulars. These schools are at present subject to no examination at all, and we want to draw them into a new sphere, introducing in the first place no further examination than that which I have mentioned. It is apprehended by some persons that we are making an inroad upon the present system— that system which, save in its want of sufficient power of extension, to which I have already referred, is working so efficiently and so well. Now, all that is at present required is that the Bible shall be read in those schools which avail themselves of Government grants. So far as the Government are concerned there is nothing in the system at this moment which would prevent a Mormonite school from claiming and obtaining assistance from the Privy Council; it is a system under which those who deny the vital principles of Christianity itself— the Jews—are at this moment receiving assistance. Is it right, then, to make it a charge against the recommendations of the Commissioners, as though they were introducing some frightful innovation, and were proposing some departure from those religious principles which had hitherto guided the education of the poor in this country? The fact is, that it is not the rules of the Privy Council which have created a feeling in favour of the necessity of religious education; it is the religious feeling of the people of England, which has led them to adapt the rules of the rules of the Privy Council to religious teaching. I believe not only that the people are in favour of religious teaching, but that they will not submit to any system which does not embrace religion as its foundation, and I say that we have recommended nothing throughout this Report which would prevent the free manifestation of this religious spirit. On the contrary, although we may not throughout this Report have indulged in any fanciful or eloquent phrases upon the value of religion, we have not lost sight of this most import- ant point, but to the best of our judgment we have made such recommendations as in our conscience we believe will most surely attain the desired result.


explained that his observations which had been commented on applied only to schools in large municipal towns.


having said a few words,


in answer, said that what was proposed was that the Government Inspector should in all cases be a member of the county boards. With regard to the schools to be supported out of the county rates, it was proposed that an examination, not an inspection, should be made. The persons who should make those examinations would not be selected from the high class out of which Inspectors were chosen: they would be schoolmasters appointed on account of merit, and those persons would examine the schools in the elementary branches.

House adjourned at a quarter past Eight o'clock till To-morrow, a quarter before Five o'clock.