HL Deb 04 April 1862 vol 166 cc536-8

THE BISHOP OF OXFORD rose to move for the production, if it could be produced, of any Correspondence with the Committee of Privy Council on Education, or Memorials to the Committee, in which are stated the Objections of Her Majesty's Inspectors to the Examination individually of Scholars as being impracticable, as stated in Mr. Lingen's examination (Answer 425). The right rev. Prelate said, that under the present aspect of the question he should not have troubled their Lordships with any observations, but that his noble Friend the President of the Council had questioned him on a late occasion as to the accuracy of certain figures he (the Bishop of Oxford) had adduced to their Lordships when he had last the honour of addressing them on this subject. This was the first occasion on which he had an opportunity of mentioning the subject, which he thought, out of respect to their Lordships, he was bound to do. He was not himself in the House at the time when his noble Friend made that reference to the remarks which had fallen from him; but, upon referring to those organs which told them with such accuracy what took place in the course of their debates, he was surprised to find that his noble Friend had, in two instances, questioned the figures he had quoted. In the course of the remarks he ventured to make, he (the Bishop of Oxford) referred to the importance of the subject, and sought to measure that importance by showing the marvellous increase during the last fifty years in the education of the country. He stated from the evidence of the Commissioners themselves that in the year 1803 the number of scholars was 524,241, or 1 in 17½ of the population; whilst in the year 1858 it had reached 2,535,462, or 1 in 7 and a fraction. His noble Friend appeared to think that he (the Bishop of Oxford) was referring to a period of fifteen instead of fifty years; but that was an error into which it was hardly possible that he (the Bishop of Oxford) could have fallen, specially as he was at that time referring to the Commissioners' Report. The second point was that he (the Bishop of Oxford) had been erroneous in saying that so great had been the response to the movement cre- ated by the Government grant, that the sum now spent on education was £2,000,000. This statement, again, was taken from the Commissioners' Report. From that Report it appeared that the income of the elementary schools was £1,121,981, and that the Government added to that sum a grant of £800,000, making together £1,921,981. This was the amount which in round number he had called £2,000,000. But in that statement it turned out that he was really below, rather than over the mark, for by other expenses for the diocesan schools and others, the total sum spent on education considerably exceeded £2,000,000. In either case it appeared to him that there could be no doubt that his statement was substantially correct. He had been anxious to make these explanations to their Lordships.


was understood to say, that from what their Lordships had just heard it appeared that he had fallen into a mistake as to the number of years mentioned by the right rev. Prelate on a former occasion. It would seem that the reporters had fallen into the same mistake; for in the printed report of the right rev. Prelate's speech, he was represented to have said "fifteen years." With respect to individual examinations, in connection with the payment of capitation grants, it had formerly been proposed by the Committee of Council that there should be an individual examination. Meetings of Inspectors were held for which the Committee was in no way responsible. At one of those meetings a very general opinion was expressed, not as the right rev. Prelate had stated, that it was impracticable to examine the children individually, but that it would not be practicable to examine them individually if they were grouped according to age, as was at that time proposed. On a representation to that effect he (Earl Granville) had agreed to a modification of the rule. Afterwards he was sorry that he had done so, although he had no doubt that the representation had been made in all sincerity; because further reflection convinced him that there was no difficulty whatever in an examination of that character, and that it would merely involve more time. He was confirmed in that opinion by what had recently been stated by a venerable Archdeacon and by other competent authorities. It appeared that various experimental examinations according to the Revised Code had actually been made, in some cases with very creditable results, in others with results not quite so satisfactory. He trusted that this information would satisfy the right rev. Prelate, as there were no papers on the subject that he could lay on their Lordship's table.


, before the discussion closed, wished to ask his noble Friend the President of the Council when their Lordships might expect to see in a tangible form the final Resolutions of the Committee of Council. A very clear statement as to the general character of these Resolutions had been made by a right hon. Gentleman in another place; but there were one or two points which that right hon. Gentleman had left in doubt:—for instance, he had left in doubt the proportion of the grant that was to be paid on inspection. Great interest and anxiety on this subject prevailed throughout the country, and he thought a detailed statement of all the provisions of the new Code—especially in reference to the proportions of the grant to be given upon examination on the one hand, and on the character of the schools from the reports of the Inspectors on the other—at the earliest moment possible would be very desirable.


said, he could quite understand that much interest was felt in the subject referred to by his noble Friend. The arrangement of the details of the alterations to be made in the Code would necessarily take some little time. It was not desirable to have any piecemeal arrangement of the matter; but he was very anxious to be in a position to place the proposed rules in a complete form before their Lordships; and if possible, he should do so before their Lordships separated for the recess.


said, he had founded his Motion on a statement in the examination of Mr. Lingen, showing that the Inspectors had expressed a strong opinion as to the impracticability of the individual examination which they had been required to hold. He admitted that the noble Earl the President of the Council was quite borne out by the printed report of his speech on a former occasion; but the context showed that the word "fifteen" in that report was a mistake, and that what he must have said was "fifty." As his noble Friend said there were no papers that he could produce, he should withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn.