HL Deb 26 July 1861 vol 164 cc1616-8

Order of the Day for the House to be put into a Committee, read.


begged to repeat what he stated on the last occasion, that the Bill was a compromise, and if either of the two Amendments which had been suggested were agreed to, he should feel himself compelled to abandon it altogether. The salaries of schoolmasters in Scotland were notoriously insufficient, and there was no provision for their retirement. There was a nominal discipline, but the powers of the authorities were practically nugatory. On the whole he admitted that the education of the country had been tolerably satisfactory; but it was impossible to shut one's eyes to the changed circumstances of the times. The amount of religious division had unhappily become such that it was impossible to procure the assent of the other House to the alterations which were required, unless the schools gave up something of their exclusive character. The compromise which had been agreed upon was to abolish the exclusive test, but to retain a declaration which was in conformity with the opinions of all the Pres- byterian bodies in Scotland. His noble Friend (the Earl of Minto) said that this was only giving up one test for the sake of substituting another. Formerly, the test consisted in signing the Confession of Faith, which contained articles on the subject of civil government; whereas the Shorter Catechism which was to be substituted for it was a purely religious document. His noble Friend seemed to argue that if they had a test at all, the more absurd it was made the better, and on that ground he preferred the old test to the new one. Perhaps that was the meaning of his noble Friend; but he felt certain that their Lordships would prefer a test that was as moderate and reasonable as possible. What was now proposed was merely that the schoolmaster should sign a declaration that he was willing to give moral and religious education in conformity with the Shorter Catechism, a document which was received by almost every ecclesiastical body in Scotland except the Roman Catholics and the Episcopalians. The measure was generally approved by the heritors, on whom the increased taxation would fall. It must be recollected that an extensive system of schools in connection with the Privy Council had sprung up; and as these were in many cases better than the national schools, they were running them very hard, and, in some cases, beating them on their own ground; but he appealed to their Lordships to pass a Bill which would tend to put a stop to a rivalry so wasteful and so absurd.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee on the said Bill.


should like to know how the compromise referred to by the noble Duke had been brought about. The truth was, Members of the other House had been threatened with a more stringent measure unless they agreed to the present. He denied also the noble Duke's assertion that the heritors were in favour of the measure. It was said that the House of Commons would not agree to any Bill which did not destroy the Church of Scotland. But they had never been tried. His own opinion was that the present Government with the aid of the party opposite could carry a very different measure. He (Lord Kinnaird) was not a member of the Church of Scotland, but of the Church of England; and he thought that members of the latter body ought not to stand by and see an attempt like the present made upon a sister Establishment.


moved an Amendment, to leave out from ("the") to the end of the Motion, and insert ("shorter catechism, referred to in the Bill, be laid upon the Table of the House.")


hoped the Amendment would not be pressed, as it might endanger the progress of the measure.

On Question, Resolved in the Negative.

Then the Original Motion was agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

Clauses 1 to 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 (Parochial Schoolmasters not to be required to sign Confessions of Faith or Formula, but to make a Declaration and to undertake to conform to the Shorter Catechism),


moved to omit the new Declaration.


opposed the Amendment; and, after some discussion,

Amendment negatived.

On Question, Whether the said Clause shall stand Part of the Bill? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 37; Not-Contents 28: Majority 9.

Resolved in the Affirmative.

Report of the Amendments to be received on Monday next.

House adjourned at a quarter past

One o'clock, A.M., to Monday

next, Eleven o'clock.