§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
My Lords, I rise, in pursuance of notice, to move an Address for the Evidence on which the Part of the Report of the Education Commissioners which relates to ragged schools is founded. My Lords, this subject may appear to you to be minute, and not worthy of consideration; but I think I shall be able to show that it well deserves the best attention which your Lordships can give to it. When your Lordships bear in mind that in London alone no fewer than 25,000 children are receiving education in ragged schools, and that so strong is the feeling on the subject among the less wealthy classes that they have contributed during the last two years a sum very little short of £250,000 for the purpose of advancing the ragged school system, you will see that the subject is one worthy of attention, because it is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. The Education Commissioners have recently published a Report, part of which is assigned to ragged schools. That Report I hold to be the Report of the Commissioners who have attached their names to it, and whatever I find quoted in that document without reserve I maintain they have made their own by having adopted it. I shall, therefore, 1912 treat it as the work of the Commissioners. I am anxious to know the evidence upon which the statements and opinions embodied in the Report are founded, because when I look through the Report I neither see evidence in detail nor am I referred to evidence in any other quarter for the guidance of my judgment. There is another ground upon which we have a right to come before this House and to request the attention of your Lordships. A public accusation has been made against the whole system of ragged schools, and I maintain, therefore, that we are entitled to a public defence. We are the more entitled to it as we depend altogether upon voluntary contributions for the support of our system, and a strong condemnation coming with the authority of the Education Commissioners cannot but tend to dry up the source of those voluntary contributions on which we depend, and compel us to drive many thousand children again to the streets from which we have rescued them. I undertake to prove that the Report of the Commissioners, as far as it relates to ragged schools, is untrue, unfair, and ungenerous. I am not saying it is willfully untrue, but I do say it is actually untrue; and I do say, moreover, that it is untrue, inaccurate, and incorrect to such an extent that I must believe an explanation will be found of the statements about to be made, because, if no explanation can be given, I must say that a more flagrant abuse of public authority never yet was perpetrated by any body of functionaries.
I shall begin with the statistical part of the question—the number of those who are taught in the various ragged schools throughout the kingdom. Returns are given by the Commissioners for 1858, and I shall test them by the returns for the same year which were furnished to the Commissioners by the Ragged School Union. I find it stated by the Commissioners in their Report that the total number of Sunday Ragged Schools in the whole of England and Wales is 356, with an attendance of 23,157; that the number of Weekday Ragged Schools is 192, with an attendance of 20,909; that the number of Evening Ragged Schools is 14, with an attendance of 707. What were the statements furnished by the Secretary of the Ragged School Union to the Commissioners at that very time? The Ragged School Union state that in London alone the number of Sunday Ragged Schools in 1858, was 178, 1913 with an attendance of 23,288—actually more than the Commissioners give for the whole of England and Wales; that the number of week-day schools was 151, with an attendance of 15,075; and—I hope your Lordships will specially mark this—that the number of evening schools, which the Commissioners state for the whole of England and Wales at 14, with an attendance of 707, was no less than 187, with an attendance of 9,465 in London only. The returns for the present year show the great and increasing interest which is felt in the ragged school system, and prove that we are not so insignificant a body as the Report of the Commissioners would make us appear. In London alone we have now 207 Sunday schools, with an attendance of 25,178; 151 day schools, with an attendance of 17,230; and 215 evening schools, with an attendance of 9,753. Again, the number of counties in which ragged schools are known to exist is 27; but the list given by the Commissioners comprises 12 only, omitting 15. What dependence can be placed on the figures adduced by the Commissioners, when you see so remarkable a deficiency in point of fact—when you are told that 15 counties are not mentioned by the Commissioners, and that London alone contains more schools and scholars than the whole of England and Wales, as stated in the Report? The Secretary of the Ragged School Union informed the Commissioners that the income of the central committee, a body which receives and distributes funds for general purposes, was £5,243 in 1858. That fact is stated by the Commissioners in their Report; but I look in vain for the other fact, also communicated by the Secretary to the Commissioners; that the local efforts in the same year amounted to £31,545. I should like to know why that fact, which shows the deep interest that the poorer classes take in the ragged school system, was kept, back by the Commissioners, while the smaller sum expended by the central committee is given in their Report? Let us now see how the provinces are dealt with. Here is a sample of the accuracy of the provincial returns. The Commissioners state that in the whole of Lancashire, with its numerous towns and teeming population, the number of day ragged schools in 1858 was 6, with an attendance of 927. The return of Sunday, evening, and Industrial ragged schools in Lancashire is summed up in one word—"None." What were 1914 the facts furnished by the people of Liverpool themselves in 1858? The Sunday schools in Liverpool were 11, with an attendance of 1,515 children; the day schools 11, with an attendance of 1,478; the evening schools 29, with an attendance of 3,379; the industrial schools 2, with an attendance of 210; the total number of schools in the town of Liverpool alone being 53, with an attendance of 6,582, whereas it appears from the statement of the Commissioners that the number of schools was 6, with an attendance of only 927 children. A great increase in the schools in Liverpool has since taken place, for it appears that, for the present year their number stands as follows:—Sunday schools 13, with an attendance of 1,711 children; day schools 13, with an attendance of 1,644; evening 26, with an attendance of 3,451; industrial 3, with an attendance of 460; making a total of 64, with an attendance of 7,678. That being so, I should like to know how this statement of the Commissioners is to be explained. For my own part I cannot but think it must admit of explanation, for I can hardly conceive that such a statement, put forward in a document which bears the signature of a noble Duke who is a Member of the Cabinet, and which is made upon the authority of gentlemen who are persons of credit, could be thrust upon the public without some good reason for the proceeding. But, be that as it may, it is to be inferred from the Report of the Commissioners that the schools in only two towns were examined. I do not say that a more extensive examination was not made, but on the face of the Report such does not appear to have been the case. Plymouth and Bristol, two provincial towns, then, were the only ones examined, and in the former there were found to be three ragged schools, while in Bristol there are, I believe, eight. Of Bristol, however, little need be said, because, as far as I can make out, not a word is mentioned in the Report against the schools which it contains. Against the schools in Plymouth there are some statements of opinion, but not a tittle of evidence to support the justice of the reasons on which that opinion is based. I may further observe, that if the provincial towns examined were ten, instead of being only one or two, the question at issue would stand unaltered, inasmuch as London has not been brought at all into the category. As it is, a single provincial town furnishes the whole of the foundation on which the 1915 same accusations to which. I am referring repose. Now, I am not going to defend Plymouth—it can defend itself—and I may state that I have received letters from it in which the statements of the Commissioners, so far as its schools are concerned, are entirely denied. The people of Plymouth will be prepared to address your Lordships by petition, and, I have no doubt, you may expect appeals from every ragged school throughout the kingdom, praying that evidence in reference to the charges made against them might be taken before you on oath. Now, I find in the Report a variety of statements embodied which the Commissioners have made their own, and on which I will, with the permission of the House, briefly comment. They, in the first place, say—In good schools discipline and cleanliness are considered essentials, and the gross neglect of these lead to rejection, punishment, or expulsion; but the ragged schools overlook these essentials. The boy or girl may attend when he pleases, he may be regular or irregular, and may come with filthy hands, undressed hair, and a costume no matter how odoriferous.This is a general statement applied to every school in every town and county in the kingdom, and of that statement I confidently maintain the reverse is the truth. I do not, of course, mean to deny that, owing to the peculiar character of the population which they represent, and its special necessities, we do not invite children to come as they are into the ragged schools. On the contrary, we say to them, "Enter—do not wait till you are clothed or washed;" but then our invariable system is, once they have entered, to encourage among them order and cleanliness, and to take care, as far as we can, that they are properly clothed. In securing these objects we have been wonderfully successful, and I can assure your Lordships our success is to us a source of considerable detriment—to this extent, that those who visit the schools are sometimes astonished at the condition of the inmates—their cleanliness and the way in which they are clad—and leave under the impressed that those children cannot belong to the poorest classes of society, withholding in consequence the assistance which they might other by se be disposed to render. We do, therefore, endeavour to clothe these children, and we effect our purpose partly by means of their own manufacture, and partly through the agency of the penny clubs. The statement to which I am al- 1916 luding is, then, so gross a libel that it will, I believe, excite indignation throughout the whole country.
The Report then goes on to say—The bulk of the scholars appear to be children of parents who can send their children to paying schools, and would do so were there no ragged schools.How any person who has visited the dens of poverty which exist in our large cities, and who has gone over those schools as I have done, day by day and hour by hour, could make such a statement as that I cannot understand. So far as Plymouth is concerned, at all events, its accuracy is, in the letters which I have received from that town, most solemnly denied. Where did those children go, I would ask, who now are received into the ragged schools before those institutions were established? Have we not seen them wandering about the Metropolis, forlorn and forsaken, with nobody to care for them either in body or soul? Did they find a refuge in the National or in the British schools? No such thing. They would not be received into them. We know very well that if these poor, shivering, naked creatures were admitted in the higher class of schools the only result would be that what I may call the "respectable" children would be withdrawn from them by their parents lest they might by communicating with the others incur disease, or be imbued with some moral taint. I, therefore, say, my Lords, in the most solemn manner, that I believe in my conscience this statement of the Commissioner to be fallacious and unfounded.
But the Report proceeds as follows:—The only efficient mode of reforming such children is to separate them from their families, and to subject them to the strict discipline of the industrial schools.Now where, I should like to know, are the funds to come from to enable those children to be sent to industrial schools? This, when you have to deal with some 25,000 children, would be rather a grave undertaking. Where are industrial schools to be found capable of receiving so large a class? Besides, I cannot conceive anything more mischievous than the wholesale exoneration on the part of parents from the discharge of their duties towards their children which you would by this means produce. One great advantage of the ragged school system is that through the children the managers of the society are 1917 able to get their parents. I could bring hundreds of teachers and persons conversant with the subject to bear testimony to the deep, lasting, and vital influence brought to bear on degraded and besotted fathers and mothers, simply and solely through the agency of their children returned home from these schools, teaching, as it were, a new mode of life, and causing them to be ashamed of the course which they were pursuing. The story is a homely one, but you may go among these poor people, enter the habitation of some one of them, and there perhaps meet a drunken woman, whom, after she has been exposed to the influence which I have mentioned to you, you may revisit and find clean and orderly, and who, if you ask to what cause this altered state of things is to be attributed, will probably say to you, "My little daughter has of late been coming home to me from school with her lessons and her hymns, and I was ashamed of her to go on as I used to do before." Thousands of parents are reached in that way and rescued from their vicious course of life whom you could not reach by means of missionaries, or, indeed, through any other agency than that to which I am referring.
But to return to the Report, I find that the Commissioners state that "the children are withdrawn from ordinary day schools," and in some of those ragged schools there may, no doubt, be children whose parents could afford to pay a trifle for the purposes of their education—just as there will be found in all charitable educational establishments children who have no need of the aid which those establishments offered. If you turn to the Bluecoat Hospital, where education of a first-rate character is given, you will find there a largo number of boys whoso parents could very well afford to pay for their instruction; so that the argument of the Commissioners on this head is one which applies to other and far higher institutions than ragged schools. To show that this subject has not escaped our notice I may state that before the present Motion was in contemplation we, believing that in some few ragged schools there were children who properly ought not to be in them, sent down two inspectors, who instituted a most searching inquiry-into the history and condition of the children in those schools; the result being that out of 256 boys who attended there were only three whom it was deemed right to remove.
1918 The Report then says that the promoters of ragged schools might better effect their object by supplying the children with clothes, and especially shoes, necessary to enable them to attend the ordinary day schools. If the Commissioners had known anything of the state of society among the parents of these children they would never have given such counsel. In the twinkling of an eye every particle of clothing supplied to the children would go to the pawnbrokers and be converted into money, to be spent in many instances at the ginshop; and the recommendation that the children should be supplied with shoes, which they would not keep, instead of education, which they do keep, certainly exhibited extreme ignorance of the habits of the class in question.
It is also denied in the Report that any beneficial effect whatever is produced by the institution of ragged schools. Now, I must say that when a charge of that kind is made it should be made only after close investigation, and after the examination of those most competent to give evidence of the state of things; and yet, if such evidence exists, it is not adduced in the Report. On the other hand I believe I can adduce the strongest testimony in refutation. We are told that no permanently beneficial result has proceeded from the institution of ragged schools. Now, the first thing I look to is this: what effect have ragged schools produced on the state of juvenile delinquency? I have a return of the number of criminals under twenty years of age summarily convicted, and tried and convicted, within the metropolitan district within the last five years, and I find that the numbers were in 1856, 10,194; in 1857, 10,755; in 1858, 9,826; in 1859, 7,860; and in 1860, 7,580; showing a decrease in five years of 2,524 juvenile offenders. This, be it borne in mind, is within the metropolitan district, where an increase of population is produced both by natural causes and by immigration; the latter bringing in a vast amount every year of pauper and uneducated people. From the Mansion House return it appears that the number of juvenile offenders was in 1856,167; in 1857,133; in 1858,97; in 1859, 86; and in 1860, 58; being a diminution in one court alone of 109 in five years. It might have been supposed that, for the purpose of obtaining accurate information on the subject, the Commissioners would have gone to the police. I have in my band returns from the seven- 1919 teen superintendents of the seventeen districts of police, given in reply to questions as to the effect of ragged schools in diminishing offences. Division E says—"Any improvement is but partial;" but all the rest join in this representation—"The streets are much quieter than formerly, and the morals and the habits of the boys are greatly improved." The Rev. Smith Warleigh, late chaplain of Park-kurst Prison, informed me the other day that he left that establishment simply because the number of boys there was so reduced that there really was not occupation sufficient for a chaplain. He states that while he was there, out of 1,000 boys he had examined, only six had passed through a ragged school. There is another point to which I wish to call your Lordships' attention. The magistrates sitting at the police courts are men of sound judgment, great experience, and high character. Some of them have written to me, stating that juvenile delinquency has been reduced, but that they have not paid attention to the question whether or not it was caused by ragged schools. One gentleman, however, Mr. Leigh, writes from Worship Street Police Office, and his testimony is valuable. He writes—There are a great many ragged schools in the district of the Worship Street Police Court, under excellent management; and I entertain no doubt whatever that these, in conjunction with the system of committing to reformatories instead of to gaol tend materially 10 the diminution of the number of juvenile offenders. Previous to my appointment as a magistrate at this court I held for fourteen years the office of stipendiary magistrate for Wolverhampton and part of the mining district of South Staffordshire, and was for twelve years actively enganed, in conjunction with a Committeee, in the management of a large ragged school institution established at Wolverhampton. We took boys and girls from all parts of South Staffordshire; and I can state, as a matter of fact, founded on my own experience there, that there was a very considerable diminution in the number of juvenile offenders in that district in consequence of the successful operation of the Wolverhampton Ragged Schools. The change was so marked that we received letters from Major Fulford, the govern or of Stafford gaol; from Colonel Hogg, the chief constable of the county constabulary force; and from Captain Segrave, the chief constable of the Wolverhampton Borough Police, all testifying to the fact, and attributing the diminution in the number of juvenile offenders to the ragged schools. We saved many boys from a life of crime.I cannot say that it is fair or just, when such charges are made as appear in the Report of the Commissioners, that the great Metropolis should not have been 1920 brought into the account, and that all the evidence it is capable of affording should not have been placed before the public. It may be otherwise; but I cannot see in the evidence supplied by the Commissioners that, beyond the mere figures giving a statement of the number of children in the schools in 1858, any further information was sought after. If proper inquiries had been instituted in London the Commissioners would have been able to give such a picture of the means employed in London by the ragged schools to humanize and educate the people as the statement which I am going to read presents, and which was furnished to the Commissioners by the Secretary of the Ragged School Union, and is applicable to the year 1858. The industrial schools were 115, with 4,293 scholars. Now, industrial classes are praised in the Report when attached to other schools, and I should like to know why they are not praised when attached to ragged schools, particularly as they are a source of great expense. The ragged churches were 102, and the attendance 4,077. The parents' weekly meetings were 67, the attendance 1,787. The voluntary teachers were 2,668. Persons of all ranks and conditions devoted their time to this great work; yet they were not thought worthy of mention by the Commissioners. The paid teachers were 369 in number; the paid monitors 371. The scholars sent to situations were 2,327. Now, I beg your Lordships' attention to another circumstance connected with ragged schools—that their rule is never to lose sight of the children so long as it is possible to keep an eye upon them. Some were sent out as emigrants, others were entered in the navy, and others went into the army. Let me say for those in the navy that we have had reports from the captains to whom they were consigned, and they state that they never had boys so well disciplined, so orderly, and so trustworthy as those who have passed through the ragged schools. The number of scholars promoted to the shoe-black brigade was 336, most of whom are earning a good living; of those who became voluntary teachers 70. The number of penny banks attached to these schools is 64, and no one who is conversant with the operations of these banks will doubt their usefulness in teaching thrift, order, and economy. The depositors in these banks were, in 1858, 15498, and the amount of their deposits £4,373. These returns of 1858 were furnished by the Secretary 1921 of the Ragged School Union to the Commissioners, yet they do not appear in their Report. There is no diminution of interest in ragged schools among the people, as undoubtedly there would be, were it true that these schools were mischievous things and did more harm than good. I have already referred to the increased attendance of scholars in 1861. The voluntary teachers in that year had increased to 2,972, and the paid teachers to 407. The earnings of the shoeblacks reached the sum of £4,647. The rewards awarded to children for remaining in some situations for twelve months with a good character were 1,215 in number. The receipts in the penny banks had increased to £11,703, being an increase of £9,374 in five years. The number of depositors had increased to 31,503, being an increase of 21,366 in five years. The clothing clubs were 58, and the contributions of the children amounted to £1,006. When all these things were stated to the Commissioners, and their humanizing effect on the public, had we not reason to be grieved when we are told, in a sneering manner, that our best way was to give them clothing and shoes instead of sending them to school, and that these children would go to paying schools if we did not take them in? I say, from long experience, and much intercourse with the mass of the working people, that ragged schools have produced an effect of which your Lordships can hardly be aware over the mass of the population. I have the testimony of those living in the worst localities in London, who themselves have derived no immediate benefit from the system, that the people have been humanized and softened by the very presence of ragged schools. The poor regard them as a testimony of respect to their class, and as a recognition that they are of the same blood for time and eternity as ourselves. And although they may derive no immediate benefit from these schools themselves, I am assured that these schools have had a tranquillizing effect on many of the most abandoned and disturbed localities in the Metropolis.
We have been engaged in this work for seventeen years, and what, I may ask, could have induced us to undertake this most onerous, painful, and offensive labour? It is not by making speeches on platforms, or even by addressing your Lordships in this House, but by diving into the deepest recesses and dragging these children out into the light of day, that this work can 1922 be done. We have rescued numbers of miserable, forgotten, and neglected children who were roaming about the streets, no man caring for their souls, or whether they perished in life or in eternity. Many declared that they were altogether outcast, and must be left to their fate—some to the gaoler and some to the hangman. We determined, however, to address ourselves to this great evil, and see what we could do for these wretched children. My Lords, you will never get rid of these ragged schools as long as you have a ragged class; and you will have a ragged class as long as the lower classes of your population are left in their present domiciliary condition. The main and master evil is the domiciliary condition of these people—the miserable and fœtid atmosphere in which they live, the disgusting and filthy courts whence many never emerge into the light of day. Borne down by the pestilential atmosphere, the whole physical system is so reduced as to produce an unnatural craving for stimulants, in order to keep up the semblance of life. It is impossible that anything of the decency of domestic life can prevail where from ten to twenty persons of both sexes live in the same room, where every function of nature is performed in public. In these rooms children are born—no, I will not say born, but spawned—into existence, and who, from that hour until they come under our inspection, are left to themselves, living in filth and misery, hearing nothing but oaths and blasphemy, witnessing the most diabolical scenes of outrage, the beholders of every crime and act of obscenity that could prostrate the heart of man, offend his moral sense, and reduce his physical capacity. From a population in this condition you must expect to have a ragged class, and if you have ragged schools you should cease to decry those who are doing without fee or reward that work from which you shrink with so much dignity and abhorrence. Mark this, that while learned men and various Governments have been for years deliberating about the best system of education we have been acting. We said, "Let them deliberate, but we will not lose the precious time until something perfect is struck out." I never said that our system was perfect, but I do say it was the best that could be contrived under the circumstances. Since we began more than 300,000 children have been placed under our tuition, and can you come to the conclusion that some real effect has not been 1923 produced upon that large mass? We will persevere in the course we have begun. We have not asked for the public money. If it were offered us, we would reject it. We have not asked for the countenance of the State. On the contrary, we altogether repudiate it. But we do ask that we may be left alone to pursue our own course, and to do what we think right before God for the advancement of the truth of the Gospel. We also, in the most fervent and solemn manner, appeal to Almighty God against the vile accusations brought against us, and we now submit our cause to the judgment and sympathy of your Lordships and the public. The noble Earl concluded by moving an Address for the Evidence on which the Part of the Report of the Education Commission which relates to ragged schools is founded.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, before I say a word in answer to the speech of the noble Earl, I may ask whether any considerable portion of your Lordships have been able to devote sufficient time to the consideration of the Report now on the table? If even a few of your Lordships have been able to do so, I would ask them whether there is one word in this book, from the beginning to the end of it, to justify the impassioned speech of the noble Earl, and the attack which he has made upon the Commissioners? The noble Earl began by saying that he rose to repel a public accusation. I deny that there is one word in the Report that can be construed into a public accusation against ragged schools. At the same time let me congratulate the noble Earl that he has somewhat modified the language he recently used with regard to the Commissioners when speaking in another place some five or six days ago. One would suppose that the noble Earl had no conception of the duties undertaken by these gentlemen, when, at the request of the Government, they entered upon a most laborious, responsible, difficult, and, after what has fallen from the noble Earl, let me add, thankless task, if he thinks it is decent not merely to say that their Report was untrue, unfair, and ungenerous, but that it exhibited the most flagrant abuse of public authority he ever recollected to have been committed by any public body. These words, however, are "mild as mother's milk" compared with those which he addressed to the Commissioners when speaking in another atmosphere, where he addressed an audience who applauded 1924 every word, and where there was no one to answer him—I mean Exeter Hall—where, in that grandiose style in which the noble Earl is accustomed to indulge, he accused the Commissioners of being, not only guilty of wilful falsehood, but guilty of malignity—and asserted that not only were their statements incorrect, but that they with all their assistants had engaged in a wilful and combined malignant effort against the cause espoused by the noble Earl. I may say, as regards the. gentlemen who composed the Commission, that I do not believe any one of us had the slightest hostility to any scheme brought under our notice; and of this I am certain, that we do not put forth on our part that hyper-papal claim to infallibility or that ultramontane intolerance of private judgment which the noble Earl exhibits. Is the noble Earl to assail without good grounds seven gentlemen who undertake an onerous public duty? One of those Commissioners is here to answer the noble Earl; but he knows well that none of the six other gentlemen has a seat either in this or the other House of Parliament. It was at the request of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) that I consented to enter upon this inquiry. Some of these gentlemen who have been my colleagues I never saw before I entered the room in which we first met; with others I had only a very slight acquaintance; but of them all I will say that I never saw exhibited in any body of men such a spirit of entire impartiality, or a more ardent desire to carry out the great object contemplated by the Government in instituting the inquiry. And yet these are the gentlemen who have been assailed by the noble Earl. I say, to use the noble Earl's own words, it is unmanly and ungenerous to make such attacks upon those gentlemen as have been made in this House and in Exeter Hall.
The noble Earl began with attacking the statistics of the Report. Before replying to that attack let me say that we were instructed by the Royal Commission to make a two-fold inquiry—to inquire into the present state of popular education in England; and to consider and report what measures, if any, are required with a view to the extension of sound and cheap elementary instruction to all classes of the people. We took the utmost possible pains to get information on both these points. We applied to the noble Earl who was at the head of the 1925 Government when our labours commenced to ascertain if he thought it expedient to procure statistical information on the subject through the medium of a complete educational census, or whether we should get from societies and other bodies the best returns we could. The noble Earl, exercising a sound judgment upon the question, gave it as his opinion that the time for taking the decennial census was so near it would not be desirable to attempt that course, and wished the Commission to endeavour to carry out the other alternative which they had put of getting returns from as many sources as possible, with a view to guide them in their inquiries. The Commissioners, accordingly, communicated with all the educational bodies they found on inquiry to exist, and drew out various forms to obtain returns; which, generally, speaking, were received in the best possible spirit. The noble Earl's accusation against the Commissioners implied that they had falsified the returns sent to them. [The Earl of SHAFTESBURY intimated dissent.] He could have meant nothing less than this; for when he repeatedly put the question why we had omitted this point and inserted that if not to diminish the power and influence of ragged school operations, he could only have meant it to be implied that there was a falsification of the returns. If the Report is incorrect in reference to the statistics of ragged schools, the Secretary of the Ragged School Union is alone responsible for the inaccuracy, and not the Commission, for it was from him the returns were obtained. I have the paper here, and here are the figures on which the Report regarding ragged schools is founded. In Exeter Hall the noble Earl stated the number of scholars in ragged schools to be 24,542; but the last published Report of the Ragged School Union for 1860 gives the total number of scholars at 15,430, and the number of schools at 146. The noble Earl says we have endeavoured to depreciate in every respect the exertions of the supporters of ragged schools, and charges us with having omitted, in our statement of their income, all the local efforts which have been made; he says we have put down the income of the London Ragged Schools Union as £5,142, and altogether omitted to mention those great local efforts which have raised £31,500. But if the noble Earl looks into the Report, he will find that the Commissioners gave returns only of 1926 the public funds throughout the country, not of the lagged schools merely, but of the National Schools, British and Foreign Schools, Wesleyan Schools, &c. Had we put down the voluntary contributions to those ragged schools, we must have also put down the enormous sums contributed to the National Schools throughout the country; but neither course was within the scope of our duty. The noble Earl complains of the provincial returns. I think it highly probable that he is correct in saying that we have not got a complete return of the ragged schools in the provinces; hut, again, I say that the fault is that of the ragged schools themselves. If we have not got it, all I can say is that we applied to the Ragged School Union to give us the best return they could. We applied to them, precisely as we did to other bodies, to furnish us with the names of gentlemen connected with the ragged schools throughout the kingdom; and it is the fault of the gentlemen with whom we communicated, not once but often, if those returns were not made as full as possible. One would have thought that it was the interest of those gentlemen to make the returns complete. We have no right to assume that they were unwilling to take that course, but on the noble Earl's showing they neglected to do so; and, therefore, I assert that any fault on this head must attach to the body with which the noble Earl is connected. I think I have said sufficient on the subject of these statistics; and I shall dismiss it by observing that having taken the utmost pains to collect our materials, we have availed ourselves of them, and that the whole of those returns, such as they were given to us, are now before the public.
The noble Earl then goes on to what he calls our public condemnation of the ragged schools; and here I would remark that I wish those who have not read the entire of our Report would peruse the few pages which refer to these ragged schools. Our Report—this public accusation, this condemnation of the ragged schools—amounts to this, that we do not consider that they are a good permanent element in the national education of the country. We take the same view as that which has been taken by the Privy Council for some years past; and, after weighing the advantages and disadvantages of those institutions, we say that "we think that ragged schools in which industrial instruction is not given, though they may in some spe- 1927 cial cases be useful, are not proper subjects for public assistance." And why did we report against that public assistance? Why, for this reason—that to give the ragged schools a large amount of public money would be to alter the character of the assistance given to the other schools of the country. We do not say that the ragged schools may not have done good in their way, but we do say that the parochial and other schools of the kingdom are of more importance, and that it would be impossible to give the ragged schools public assistance without altering the conditions of the assistance given to those other schools. In cases where there is a large expenditure of public money it is necessary to lay down stringent rules which should not be departed from; and I should like to know to what extent the annual grant of £800,000 would go if the Privy Council admitted those ragged schools and all those schools which should be taken in with them to a participation in this grant? Why, that sum would swell to treble the present amount. If you adhere to the rules which have been laid down for your guidance in those matters, you cannot make an exception in the case of the ragged schools. They may be fitting objects for the generosity of individuals; but it would not be right to give them public assistance if our so doing would be detrimental to the other schools of the country.
The noble Earl proceeded to say that our Report is derived entirely from the example of one town. If the noble Earl has arrived at that conclusion from a perusal of the Reports of the Commissioners who made the inquiries, his investigations on the subject must either have been very unfortunate or very cursory; for your Lordships will find in those Reports constant reference to ragged schools. We have taken evidence on this point by various means and from various parties. We sent ten Commissioners to different parts of the country, and every oue of them reported adversely to the extension of ragged schools. Mr. Cumin was one of the first to report to that effect; and in order to test his report we drew a set of questions on the report furnished by Mr. Cumin, and submitted them to an excellent and charitable lady, who has taken as much interest in ragged schools as the noble Earl himself—I allude to Miss Carpenter; and that lady, in defending the ragged schools, though I am quite sure giving her evidence with the strictest impartiality, has 1928 stated what, in my opinion, is sufficient to justify that passage which I have read from our Report. The noble Earl complains that a reference was made to the dirtiness of the children in the ragged schools. Before I heard the complaint I was not aware that such a reference would even by the noble Earl himself be considered a charge against these schools. What is the meaning of the term "ragged schools?" I always thought that those schools were intended for dirty children—for children who were dirty and ill-clad. I think that in construing this into a charge the noble Earl must have been actuated by that morbid feeling which seems to have influenced him in all his remarks on the course taken by the Commissioners, for in a subsequent part of his speech he himself drew a picture of a delicate shivering child in all its dirt, which would not be admitted into any of the ordinary schools, but for whom the ragged school was open. He says we recommend that the 25,000 children at present in the ragged schools should be sent to industrial schools; and he then asked could anything be more absurd—could anything show more gross ignorance of the system on the part of those gentlemen—than that they recommend that these children should be boarded and lodged in industrial schools? We never did any such thing. I defy the noble Earl to point out a line in the Report which bears him out in that assertion. What we said was that there was a certain class of children who derived little or no benefit from ragged schools, and that in industrial schools we believed they would derive advantages. What I am now going to say I beg distinctly to observe is my own opinion. It is one that goes further than anything in the Report, and it is this—I believe that though those ragged schools may at first have done a great deal of good, they are not calculated to form a part of our great system of national education, and that a portion of the children in them might, with much greater advantage, be absorbed into the ordinary schools of the country. I am confident, notwithstanding the ridicule which the noble Earl has thrown on the suggestion, that if part of the money now expended in support of ragged schools were applied to the clothing and due preparation of these children, they would be received into the ordinary schools, and be there subjected to discipline of more excellent character, be suffered to roam less about the streets, and 1929 be compelled to attend at more regular hours, than they are required to do in the ragged schools. Then, again, a number of them might be absorbed info reformatories, and there might be a more general extension of industrial schools, which, as far as they have yet gone, I believe to contain hardly anything but unmixed good. And, fourthly, they might be absorbed into a species of schools which we have dealt with extensively in our Report—I mean district schools for the pauper children of this country. That Report has had one small success already, for I learn that in one considerable city, where a struggle has been going on with regard to the establishment of a school for the separate education of these children, the guardians have been so satisfied by our Report, that they have determined on founding a school upon our principle. Then the noble Earl says—"You accuse us of drawing into our schools a great many children who could afford to pay in the ordinary schools. Can anything be so unjust? We have investigated and found that out of 250 children, only two or three ought to be removed in consequence of their ability to pay." The noble Karl will forgive me for supposing that, with his invariable hesitation about everything that we assert, he manifested a little delicacy in his inquiries about the number of children that ought to be removed from the school. But he goes on to say, "Your Report is all one-sided; what do you say about the higher classes of schools and about the Bluecoat School?" Now, if the noble Earl had devoted his time to reading this Report, he would have found that we said exactly the same thing of the Bluecoat School, and that we have given a good deal of offence by dealing with the higher class of schools, We made precisely the same recommendation with regard to them that we did in reference to the ragged schools. The Commissioners have honestly performed their duty, without fear, favour, or affection, and the observations of the noble Earl on that point, therefore, fall to the ground.
The noble Earl proceeded to say that we made a most superficial investigation; and he quoted an immense array of figures, which no doubt produced an effect till you sifted and subjected them to mental examination. One would really have supposed from the statement made that ragged schools were the great invention of the age, that they had completely obliterated crime, and that the general progress which education has been making during the last 1930 five years was wholly beside the question. Post hoc, propter hoc. The noble Earl was a little more fair when he said, "Why did you not apply to the police?" That is exactly what we have done, and I will read to the House the opinions which a few magistrates and police officers have expressed on the question. Mr. J. S. Handcock, superintendent of the police of Bristol—the town to which the noble Earl was so anxious that we should direct our attention—says, "I know of no fact which should induce me to say that ragged schools have diminished juvenile crime." Acting in the same fair spirit which the Commissioners have shown towards ragged schools, I have no wish to pick out these extracts in order to make up an indictment against ragged schools; but when the noble Earl says we have not done our duty, we must defend ourselves by stating the facts as detailed over and over again in a mass of evidence, and it is for this purpose and in self-defence that I read these extracts. Mr. Handcock proceeds—"From my experience in London I have no doubt that the parents, if they chose, could afford to pay 1d. a week for each child capable of going to school." And that is precisely the experience which we ourselves have of the school near the Charterhouse, where 800 children of the class of costermongers are educated—precisely the class that would be educated in these schools at the cost of 1d. a week per child. Another gentleman, naturally a very charitable man, with a great predilection for these ragged schools, says—I am clearly of opinion that if the parents chose they could pay 1d. a week for each of their children sent to the school. I make no doubt, from the manner in which the children are dressed, the parents could afford to pay for their education.The noble Earl asks why we did not go to the Metropolis and to Wolverhampton. The reason is very simple. We took specimen districts in order to test the general returns, and Wolverhampton did not happen to be one of those specimen districts; but in the Metropolis we did make investigations. We appointed assistant Commissioners, and we divided the districts between them, and they investigated the subject of education in the Metropolis most laboriously and completely. One of these gentlemen, Mr. Wilkinson, says—My examination of them has convinced me that they furnish another illustration of the general principle that, where anything very cheap and good is provided, the class which takes advantage of it is not so much that for which it is specially 1931 designed as a superior class, which does not actually need, but is glad to avail itself of the benefit. I obtained lists of the occupations of the parents in several ragged schools, and found them to differ in no appreciable degree of competency to pay from similar lists obtained at ordinary public schools; but upon inquiry into the moral character of the parents I found a material difference.Mr. Wilkinson expresses his concurrence in the following passage, occurring in the Report of the St. Pancras Boys' Home—In viewing ragged schools the Committee felt that their plans and modes of working were deficient in the element which alone can elevate the 'ragged' boy to self-respect; that is to say, his reception into his new home as a member of 'a family,' to be fed, educated, and trained into a future 'working man.'And Mr. Wilkinson thus sums up his Report—The short result of my inquiry upon this branch of my instructions is, that in my district ragged schools do not sufficiently retain the distinctive features with which they were originally instituted, and that thus, while they give instruction to those who desire to receive and often use it for a bad purpose, they do not supply a moral and mental education to those who most want it.The other Assistant-Commissioner for the Metropolis was Dr. Hodgson, and he says—It is not so clear how far they are frequented by children whose parents can, and without these schools would, pay for their schooling elsewhere. That the fact is so to a considerable extent I have heard admitted by some teachers and denied by others; of two teachers who admitted it, one declared that all was done that could be done to make the conditions of admission stringent; the other expressed satisfaction that some children of a better sort were admitted, as they did good to the others and were useful as monitors.I will put it to your Lordships whether I have not refuted the noble Earl's accusations; whether—I am really afraid to use the word which seems to be perfectly allowable in the mouth of the noble Earl—whether I have not shown his assertions to be perfectly untrue? He says our Report was based on information derived from one single town. I have shown you that we have Reports in precisely the same spirit from both our Assistant-Commissioners in the Metropolis. I am unwilling to trouble your Lordships with lengthened extracts, but I am in some degree compelled to do so, remembering that the characters of seven gentlemen are involved. Every word which I have quoted—and which the noble Earl has been unfortunate enough to overlook—will be found supported a thousand times over; and it is really a pity that the noble Earl had not a little more leisure for investigation. In the Report of the Rev. Thomas Hedley I find it stated— 1932Schools called 'ragged' have been recently set on foot at Doncaster and Newark. At Doncaster a few persons have raised subscriptions, hired a room, and engaged a master, and have gathered a good number of children off the street?. At the time of my visit, when the school had only been open a few weeks, the number was forty or fifty. The children who most needed it were supplied with clothing. The persons interested in the school made it their business to look for children, and induce them to come to school. One or two of them expressed the opinion that there are 200 or 300 children in Doncaster who might be gathered into the school. There is no doubt that the exertions of these persons bring many children to school who would not come there of their own accord, and also that in supplying clothes to the ragged they remove one obstacle which would have excluded the children from education. But when the children are thus sought after and brought to school there is no reason why they should not attend with regularity; there is nothing, in fact, to make a separate school and master necessary. The same means which bring the children to a ragged school would, if applied, bring them to any of the schools already existing. And there is at present room enough in them. I do not, therefore, perceive that circumstances require a special school for the lowest class of children in a town of the size of Doncaster; and I doubt whether the exertions and funds for carrying on such a school will be permanent. In Newark three schools have been at work about a year, which are called ragged schools. They are, however, held in an evening, only once a week; they are open to persons of all ages, and to children who are at the same time attending a day school. They are, therefore, only in part doing the work of ragged schools. All these schools are, doubtless, doing good, and giving a little education to some who would otherwise go without any. But in parishes where every family has a settled home of some sort, and where all the children may be found and identified, there does not appear any reason why the efforts of benevolent persons might not as easily bring the children of the lowest class into the schools already established as create new schools on purpose for them. District visitors would have no difficulty in becoming acquainted with the children and watching them; and the fund now collected would servo to clothe the ragged and pay for their schooling. In provincial towns there does not seem to be any necessity at all parallel to that which suggested ragged schools in London and other large towns.What says Mr. Winder on this subject? That gentleman took the Rochdale and Bradford, Lancashire and Yorkshire districts, and he says at page 202, vol. 1—There remain the ragged schools, which provide instruction and food to about 370 children. Unquestionably the greater portion of these are very poor, and probably but very few of them would be at school at all if it were not for the ragged schools. But it must be remembered upon what conditions a respectable man sends his children to an institution of this kind. He must submit to let them associate with the sweepings of the street, with the children of the most depraved and vile of mankind. Consequently, as I was assured by one of the masters, many parents who stand urgently in need of the assistance of a cha- 1933 rity school, will not make use of the ragged school; though it is equally true, on the other hand, that there are numbers of people well able to pay for education who will smuggle in their children if they can.Well, then comes Mr. Cumin's report. That gentleman appears to have so dreadfully frightened the noble Earl that I am almost afraid to shako his nerves by any further quotation from his report. I will, therefore, spare the noble Earl, remarking only, that it appears from the letter in to-day's papers that Mr. Cumin is very well able to deal with the noble Earl upon this question. Mr. Henry Ewers, master of the Charles National School, Plymouth, said—I have been in the Cattle Street ragged schools three or four times, and have discussed the subject with the master and others, but cannot say that I should refuse to receive the ragged school children into the Charles School, from their dress and personal appearance. From my experience as a schoolmaster, I should not think it possible to educate the numbers I have seen there with the ordinary ragged school staff. We have lost boys from Charles School to the ragged school. Some have alleged they could not afford to pay; but the majority left from caprice or the distance of Charles from their homes. One boy,—,has left this very week after paying 2d. a week for two years. In discussions in the Schoolmasters' Association the master of the ragged school has been constantly told that the boys admitted by him are the sons of parents perfectly able to pay. I never knew any instance in which a boy who presented himself for admittance into the ragged school has been rejected. This, however, the master alleges to be the fact. I think that if no ragged school existed the most of the children who attend that school would be absorbed by the other schools. In many cases in which a child cannot afford to pay the school-pence in Charles School some charitable person pays for him or her. I think the building arrangements as sanctioned by the Committee of Council are excellent.I have many others to the same effect, but I will trouble your Lordships with only one more—it is the testimony of the Dean of Bristol—Do you think that ragged schools are necessary as supplemental to the ordinary schools?—Not for the pauper, for the law provides a remedy in the case of the pauper child; nor yet, in one sense for any other child, for I presume the money spent on the ragged school in rent, salaries, and all other incidental expenses, would pay 'the pence' for the schooling of all the children who attend it at some ordinary school. But in another sense I can conceive a school, something of the nature of a ragged school, being useful.In what sense?—In no case do I mean gratuitous schools. But I believe in all densely populated places there are labourers, some honest enough, some painstaking enough, but others careless, others dissolute, who cannot afford to pay many pence for education, cannot afford to well clothe their children, cannot afford to lose all the time of their children, are willing to send them to 1934 school, but are unwilling to send them among better-clad children, or to send them when their attendance must be systematic and almost continuous. On the other hand, I fear that the ordinary schools are becoming raised in the scale of children they only educate, that the teachers daily become more prone to exclude the very poor from the schools, and more adverse to have the regularity of their system intrenched upon by the necessary irregularity of the children of the most struggling and heaviest-weighted of our poor. Unless very great care be taken to maintain an impartial system of general education in our parochial and analogous schools, and unless these schools can be made, without impairing their usefulness to the general body of the labouring classes, to accommodate themselves to the condition, habits, and necessities of the lowest rank of that class, I do not see how we are to provide for the universal education of our people without providing some school of the nature of the present ragged school.You speak of a fear of the scale of the ordinary school in respect of the position or condition of its scholars being raised. What leads you to entertain it?—The tendency to raise the fees. I have heard of schools in which the fees have been gradually raised from a sum merely nominal to 2d., to 3d., to 4d., and I believe, in one instance, 6d., the larger sum being paid for extra lessons. I grant that I have been assured that the whole amount of fees under the larger scale has always been greater than under the less; that this has not been obtained through a fewer number paying more, but that the number of scholars has not decreased; that, on the contrary, it has increased; that it has not increased by the accession of scholars of a higher class, while those of a poorer class have been forced to leave the school. Yet, nevertheless, I confess myself unconvinced that a high rate of fees, or one ungraduated to the varied and shifting condition of the poor, will not exclude many of the poor from our schools. I as yet believe that very many cannot afford to pay more than a light fee, and would, by its being raised, be forced to take their child from school or hurry it still more than is already too much done in any remunerative work that presents itself. I as yet believe that there are very many, far too many, utterly careless of what their children acquire at school, and sending them there simply to get rid of them from home, or as a refuge from the streets, who would without hesitation subject their children to any dangers rather than pay the additional pence. If there would result such withdrawal of the poorest or of the most depraved from our schools, it appears to me that we should be exactly overlooking and missing the very chiefest end, to obtain which the community should be called on to interfere at all. Either, therefore, we must not allow the doors of the present schools to be shut on the poor, or else we must provide others.You have said in no case would you have the schools gratuitous; but how is the neglected child of the dissolute parent to be educated?—The gratuitous education of a neglected child would, no doubt, be a premium on negligence; but unless the Government can with, to me almost inconceivable, ingenuity devise the definition and the statute which shall enable the law to distinguish the criminally negligent and to attach their earnings, I do not see how these neglected children of 1935 parents not being paupers can be educated except gratuitously.Perhaps it may be said that a master of one of these schools would be a prejudiced witness; but I do not know that the noble Earl will find much to his comfort in reading the answers of Mr. Bennett to Mr. Cumin's questions. I think he will find that the general tendency of that gentleman's evidence is very much in accordance with that of those whom the noble Earl has characterized as the enemies of ragged schools—What means are taken to confine the class of children in ragged schools to that for which they are intended?—The means taken to insure this object are personal inquiries by the masters and mistresses, and by the members of the committees into the actual condition of the families to which the children applying for admission belong, keeping attention alive to any improvement which may from time to time occur in the circumstances of the parents whose children are already entered on the books.Suppose a man earns 30s. a week, and has two children, but gets drunk every week, ought the child of such a man to be admitted into a ragged school?—This question is already answered in my reply to the second question. The managers do not think it is the capability of the parent to pay for his children's instruction, but the fact (be the cause of it whatever it may) that his children are not sent to school, and are uncared for at homo, that constitutes a valid claim on the part of the child to the benefit of this charity. It is immaterial, therefore, in this view of the case, whether a parent gets 30s. a week, or more, or less, if, get what he may, he spends it all at the pot-house. The question is, are the man's children growing up in ignorance, vice, and vagrancy? If they are, let the parents' circumstances be what they may, such children must not be rejected by the ragged school.Can you produce any facts to show the good effects of the ragged school?—I wish hero to state what I mean by a ragged school. It is not simply a means for giving elementary instruction to a number of children. It is an institution for bringing a moral influence, educational, domestic, and personal, to bear on the character of a neighbourhood.Do you know any cases in which boys have been turned from vagrancy to industry by the mere influence of the teaching of the masters, without being fed or clothed or withdrawn from contaminating influences? If so, state them. I know of no such cases except those to which I have before generally adverted. The schools appear to me rather calculated to save the children from falling than to recover them after they have become thieves or vagrants.But the noble Earl has made another accusation. He says, we have not taken any account of voluntary teachers and penny banks which have been established by the ragged schools. I do not pretend that we have. But I defy the noble Earl to point to a single word in this Report which would imply that ragged 1936 schools have done no good. It is, no doubt, true that we did not refer to voluntary teachers and penny banks. Why? Because they were totally irrelevant to the subjects of our inquiry. We were required to investigate the subject of elementary education, and, therefore, we had nothing to do with voluntary teachers and penny banks. We might as well have inquired into the general question of savings banks.
I stated, my Lords, at the commencement that, while we express an opinion upon the whole as adverse to public assistance being given to ragged schools, properly so called, we have in an equally strong manner advocated the establishment of industrial ragged schools; and even the gentleman who has excited the ire of the noble Earl in so remarkable a degree, Mr. Cumin, gives a very favourable view of the Evening Ragged Schools, which are managed by voluntary teachers from the higher ranks in life, while the others are conducted by paid teachers. All I can say on this subject is, let the noble Earl read this book fairly and impartially, and he will find testimony precisely similar to that of Mr. Cumin. The noble Earl talks of an inquiry by this House. My Lords, after the strong language he has used on this subject, and which I cannot help thinking was very absurd, I am confident that neither the Commissioners nor those who assisted them in the inquiry need fear any examination on oath, either by this House or elsewhere. I am certain that the plain and honest verdict of every one who reads this Report will be that the Commissioners have dealt with the subject intrusted to them with the greatest possible impartiality. We do not claim the infallibility which the noble Earl arrogates to himself. We do not say, because this is our opinion, no honest man can entertain an opposite opinion; but I am certain that the universal opinion of your Lordships and the public will be, on reading this volume, that this is one of the fairest, most honest, and impartial Reports that ever was laid on the table. With a sort of sneer against the Commissioners, the noble Earl has said that while we for our amusement, or to gratify a vindictive feeling against him, were deliberating—and we devoted two years and a half to minute inquiries on this subject—the noble Earl and his friends were acting. Well, my Lords, we did deliberate, and I shall be much disappointed if these deliberations 1937 of ours do not lead to very considerable good in regard to the education of the country. I have already been assured of this by several persons of competent knowledge. But, while the noble Earl talks of the friends of ragged schools acting, are they the only people that have been acting? What has the Church of England been doing? What have the Dissenting bodies been doing? What has the whole population of England been doing? Ragged schools have done their part; but they have not done the only work. While ragged schools have been spending their £25,000, we and other bodies have been spending millions. The noble Earl says that ragged schools have not asked public money; that they scorn and repudiate it. The noble Earl may do so for himself; but, unless I am very much mistaken—and I do not want to expose myself to a charge of wilful falsehood from the noble Earl—he formed one of a deputation with Sir John Pakington to the Council Office, in 1857, for increased grants of public money to these schools. I must say, however, that whatever may be the opinion of the noble Earl, the friends and supporters of ragged schools generally are not indisposed to receive public money. They do want public money; they have demanded it lately, and the noble Earl is not entitled to come here and speak in their name. Surely the noble Earl will recollect one great meeting in particular, which was held at Birmingham on the subject, and at which Mr. Adderley, to his great praise, expressed openly and candidly his aversion to the extension of the public grant to them, for the simple reason that it must inevitably lower the standard of public education. All that we say in our Report, and what I now again repeat, amounts to this, that the Government do not look on ragged schools as part of a permanent system of national education, and, therefore, cannot recommend the extension of the educational grant to them.
I must again apologize to your Lordships for having occupied so much of your time; but I could not do less than I have done for a body of gentlemen, my six colleagues in the Commission, who gave themselves to the performance of an important public duty with an ability, a devotion, an industry, and a generosity which deserve a better return than the noble Earl has given to them; and I sit down with entire confidence that, whatever you may think of ragged schools, your Lordships 1938 will not agree in the most unfair attack which the noble Earl has made upon the Education Commissioners.
§ LORD PORTMAN
said, that the Reports of the Commission were very able and important public documents; but they contained recommendations which he doubted very much whether their Lordships or the House of Commons would ever consent to carry out. With respect to the ragged school part of the question, he was convinced that they were too important to be spoken lightly of; but, at the same time, they could not be reduced to such a system as would entitle them to have a portion of the educational grants, although he quite admitted that they were invaluable as inducing a large class of children who thronged our courts and alleys to enter a school, and obtain the first rudiments of education, which they otherwise never would have obtained at all. He might, perhaps, be allowed to call their Lordships' attention to the proposition of the Commissioners that education might be supported by charges on the county rates.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, the subject now mooted by his noble Friend was so distinct from that under discussion, and the proposition actually made by the Commissioners was so completely misunderstood in many quarters that, as he should not have the opportunity of speaking again, he hoped his noble Friend would reserve his remarks for some future occasion.
§ LORD PORTMAN
said, his object was merely to call attention to the point, and to urge that the Government should consider the matter well before they brought forward any proposal to lay a charge on the county rates.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I have no doubt that as the Motion before the House was only made for the purpose of enabling the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) to make a statement, and as the papers have already been presented, your Lordships will not be asked to divide. I also venture to express the hope that the debate will close without any ill-feeling on one side or the other. It was natural that the noble Earl should feel some warmth when, as he thought, an attack was made upon institutions to which he has devoted much time, and which he believed to be calculated to promote the interests of education. On the other hand I should not have been surprised if the noble Duke had spoken with even more warmth than he has done on the present occasion, consi- 1939 dering the accusations made in the speech of the noble Earl, and the still more personal remarks directed against the Commissioners not long ago in Exeter Hall, in which the noble Earl called the noble Duke Philosophus, and assured the audience that every one of them was superior to all the Commissioners in every quality of the head and heart which made a man a good Christian. But I trust the discussion will end without any feeling of asperity between two such staunch friends of education. With respect to the remarks of the noble Lord who spoke last, I may state that, of course, a considerable time must elapse before the Government can take action upon the Report of the Commissioners. I may say, indeed, that there are statements and recommendations in the Report which I should not be ready to adopt at once; but having read the Report with great care—though I have not gone through the evidence—I have been struck with the ability and industry of the Commissioners, and with their sincere and single-minded endeavours to arrive at the truth, and to convey it without disguise to the Government and the public. As connected with the Education Department of the Privy Council I am exceedingly gratified by one part of their Report. In 1856 the Education Committee passed a minute which gave many advantages to ragged schools; but in a subsequent year that minute was cancelled and the grants to ragged schools were curtailed. I have heard great complaints of that change; I have received deputations and letters on the subject; and, therefore, it was satisfactory to me to find that the Commissioners, after long and careful inquiry, had come to the conclusion that large grants of public money ought not to be made to ragged schools. I accept the declaration made by the noble Earl, but it is not desirable these institutions should receive systematic assistance from the State, while it is impossible to deny that in individual cases, and where they have been superintended by active and energetic men, thoroughly up to their work, they have done much good.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
replied, and said that what he wanted to know was on what evidence, on what figures, or on what documents the Commissioners founded their Report? It was not enough to give the mere results. He wished to know on what the results were founded. The noble Duke had given no 1940 explanation of the fact that the Commissioners stated that there were only fourteen ragged evening schools in England and Wales, whereas there were 151 in London alone.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, that the discrepancy probably arose from the fact that the Commissioners, who were appointed to inquire into the elementary education of the children of the poor, did not include the schools for adults. If there was any error, it was the fault of those connected with the ragged schools themselves, for the Commissioners inserted all the returns which had been furnished to them. With regard to the evidence which the noble Earl asked for, it was impossible that it could be furnished. The Commissioners sent out ten assistant commissioners to make personal inquiry, and their reports constituted the evidence on which the Commissioners reported. He had every reason to believe that the reports they furnished were correct, but they took no formal evidence. Their reports were the results of personal inquiries.
§ Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter before Five o'clock.