HL Deb 29 May 1865 vol 179 cc953-7

Amendments reported (according to Order.)

Clause 1 (A Majority of a Mooting of Three Fourths of Shareholders may Vote Money for Purposes of Education, &c.)

Moved, to leave out Clause 1, and insert the following clause in lieu thereof.—(The Lord President.) Any Joint Stock Company or Corporation may by a Resolution passed by a Majority of not less than Three Fourths of such Members of the Company for the Time being entitled, according to the Regulations of the Company, to vote, as may be present in person or by proxy (in Cases where by the Regulations of the Company Proxies are allowed) at any General Meeting of which Notice specifying the Intention to propose such Resolution has been duly given, and such Resolution being confirmed by a Majority of such Members for the Time being entitled, according to the Regulations of the Company, to vote, as may be present in Person or by proxy at a subsequent General Meeting, of which notice has been duly given, and held at an interval of not less than Fourteen Days and not more than One Month from the Date of the Meeting at which such Resolution was first passed, resolve that any Sum of Money, not exceeding that of which such Notice shall have been duly given as above mentioned, shall be applied, either in gross or annually, for such Period as they may resolve, in providing Education, Worship, or Religious Instruction of the Families of the Persons employed by them, and they may also, by any Resolution similarly passed and similarly confirmed, resolve that any Land not exceeding an Acre in any One Vote shall be granted or appropriated, in perpetuity or otherwise, for any of the Purposes aforesaid; and thereupon the Directors or other Persons authorized to manage the Affairs of the Company or Corporation shall carry such Vote into effect: Provided nevertheless, that any such Resolution shall contain such Orders as shall provide for admitting to the Benefits of the Education which it provides the Children of Parents not in Communion with the Church, Sect, or Denomination, according to the Doctrines or Formularies of which Religious Instruction is by the same or by any previous Resolution of the Company directed to be provided.


regretted that the noble Earl (Earl Granville) should propose to introduce a "conscience clause" into a Bill with which it had nothing to do. The Bill was simply to allow public companies to do what any private persons or firms could do and ought to do at present—to attend to the educational wants and well-doing of the children of their work-people. He was quite astonished to find there was room for a conscience clause within the four corners of the Bill. It was a conscience clause in an exaggerated form, because the conscience clause was essential only where there was but one school in a town. In the ease of a great railway town like Crewe, where the interests of Nonconformists were carefully watched, and where they had already sufficient schools for their children, some one might be willing to give a sum of money to endow a school for his own sect or denomination. He might offer to pay all costs if the company would only give a bit of land; but this trifling gift could not be made if this clause were adopted, unless provision were made in the same order that all other sects and denominations should be educated at the school. But they are supposed to be all provided for already. The Bill was extremely simple in its character, and knowing something of towns where such schools had been established, there having been such places in the diocese over which he formerly presided as well as those in his present province, he could state that in them never had there been any complaints of the children of Nonconformists being excluded. There were many cases in which schools were kept up by the sufferance of companies, and which a single adverse vote would stop; but they never were stopped, because the want of education was admitted by all, and because education was fairly provided for all. He challenged the noble Earl to point to a single case of hardship. He had always understood that Parliament never fettered the action of any one, unless it also conferred privileges. This Bill only sought to cure an omission in railway legislation, but the proposition of this clause would change a simple act of justice into a controversial measure. He would never advocate any system by which the Church Catechism would be imposed upon Nonconformists, nor could he be a party to the infliction of any hardship upon Dissenters, but he could not consent to this needless clause.


said, that the observations of the right rev. Prelate seemed to imply that the object of the Bill was simply to allow railway companies to do that which individuals had the power to do at present; but, in fact, the Bill applied to all joint-stock companies of every description. Joint-stock companies were associations of persons for certain specific objects, and the Bill would give power to a certain proportion of the shareholders to grant for educational purposes money from funds which had been subscribed by the general body of shareholders. Now, the minority of the shareholders might be, and very probably would be, Dissenters; and he (Earl Granville) maintained that if they did confer this compulsory power upon the majority, it was also perfectly fair that they should accompany that power by the admission of a principle which had already been adopted in the Endowed Schools Bill by the right rev. Prelates themselves—that of precluding the minority, whatever their number, from being compelled to subscribe their money towards the maintenance of schools perfectly exclusive in their character, by which course their children would either be debarred from participating in the benefits of the education for which their parents were compelled to pay, or would receive an education contrary in its character to that of which the consciences of parents and the shareholders approved. It appeared to him to be purely an act of common justice, and he was therefore extremely pleased when he saw the most rev. Prelate rise in his place, knowing him to be one of those enlightened churchmen who shrunk, either directly or indirectly, from bringing any compulsion to bear upon those who did not concur in the doctrines of the Church of England, and averse from any proceeding which could by any possibility be regarded as an attempt to cram those doctrines down their throats. The most rev. Prelate, however, objected to the clause because he did not believe that any hardship was likely to occur. If such, then, were the case, he (Earl Granville) could not see the slightest objection to the introduction of the safeguard which he now suggested. If he thought that the clause which he proposed would in any way prevent the railway or joint- stock companies from establishing schools where religious instruction should be given, and that instruction, too, consonant with the doctrines of the Church of England, he should refrain from proposing it; but he felt convinced that the clause could not by any possibility operate in any such way.


trusted that his most rev. Brother would not divide the House on the question, for he thought that after all the question was one in which they might be guided by expediency. If it were really the intention and the practice to admit the children of Dissenters to these schools, he could not see any great harm in acknowledging the fact. He doubted whether a little more agitation had not been excited with reference to this clause from the circumstance that it bore a rather obnoxious name. It did not, however, represent the "conscience clause" of which they had heard so much, but was in reality taken from a measure which at the time of its passing received the sanction of the right rev. Bench.


said, there were other large companies besides railway companies—such as iron companies—which would be affected by the Bill, and he thought it most desirable that they should be relieved from the technical difficulty which now existed. The practical effect of the measure would be the same whether the clause were adopted or not, and he hopen the most rev. Prelate would not oppose the Amendment, because its rejection might jeopardize the measure in another place.


said, he was extremely anxious that the measure should pass; but he would venture to urge upon the most rev. Prelate that he should insist upon the Bill in its original form, and not sanction the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl.

On Question, That Clause 1 stand Part of the Bill? their Lordships divided:—Contents 53; Not-Contents 38: Majority 15.

Amendment negatived.

York, Archp. Bath, M. [Teller.]
Dublin, Archp. Salisbury, M.
Westmeath, M.
Marlborough, D.
Richmond, D, Amherst, E.
Rutland, D. Bandon, E.
Belmore, E. Chelmsford, L,
Carnarvon, E. Churston, L.
Derby, E. Colchester, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Crofton, L.
Delamere, L.
Denman, L.
Hardwicke, E, Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)
Home, E.
Pomfret, E. Heytesbury, L.
Powis, E. Inchiquin, L.
Rosse, E. Kingsdown, L.
Stanhope, E. Lyttelton, L.
Wilton, E. Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.)
Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.) Raglan, L.
Kavensworth, L.
Hawarden, V. [Teller.] Redesdale, L.
Lifford, V. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Melville, V.
Scarsdale, L.
Bangor, Bp. Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)
Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.
Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Oxford, Bp.
Rochester, Bp. Sondes, L.
St. Asaph, Bp. Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)
Bolton, L. Walsingham, L.
Westbury, L. (L. Chancellor.) Annaly, L.
Belper, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)
Devonshire, D.
Somerset, D. Cranworth, L.
Ebury, L.
Albemarle, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Caithness, E. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Chichester, E.
De Grey, E. Harris, L.
Effingham, E. Houghton, L.
Granville, E. Oxenfoord. L.(E. Stair.)
Grey, E. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
Saint Germans, E.
Portman, L.
Eversley, V. Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)
Stratford de Redcliffe, V.
Sydney, V. Seaton, L.
Torrington, V Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Lincoln, Bp Stanley of Alderley, L.
Llandaff, Bp Taunton, L.
London, Bp. Wensleydale, L.
St. David's, Bp. Wentworth, L.

An Amendment made; Bill to be read 3ª To-morrow; and to be printed as amended. (No. 131.)

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