§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time said, that, in laying it on the table, he had stated his views so fully he did not now think it necessary to trouble their Lordships with any additional observations.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord President.)
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
, in moving that the Bill be read the second time that day three months, said, he could assure the noble Duke that he had been most unwilling to take any step which might appear wanting in courtesy to him by the short Notice he had given of his present Motion. He gave his Notice immediately on his return to town—he could not give it before Easter because he did not know what effect the division on the Irish Church Resolutions would have on the Government. He had examined the Bill with great care, and he found in it only two provisions which could not be effected by Minutes of the Privy Council. First, it proposed the appointment of a Minister 1306 of Education who was to be a Secretary of State; and, secondly, it made provision for taking what was called an "educational Census." Now, such a Census would no doubt be a very good thing; but he did not think the machinery provided for taking it was the best that could be devised. Those points, however, did not go to the principle of the Bill, and could be, perhaps, better discussed in Committee than on the present occasion. He was very glad the Government had put a Conscience Clause in the Bill, although he wished they had gone a little further in that direction. He hoped before the Session was over there would be an extended Conscience Clause applied imperatively to every school receiving public money, and that to this end they would have the valuable assistance of the right rev. Bench. He said this because his noble Friend (Earl Granville) had stated that he had been informed by a very rev. Prelate that the great majority of the clergy of the Church of England were in favour of a Conscience Clause, and that it was only a small but active minority who were opposed to it. A very eminent Member of the Government (Sir John Pakington) was in favour of a Conscience Clause much more extensive than that contained in this Bill. The right hon. Baronet had prepared a draft Report in which it was proposed that no building grant should be made to any school in regard to which there was not a Conscience Clause; and further that if, on investigation, it should be found that the children of Dissenters attending a National School had been compelled either to submit to religious teaching to which the parents object, or to attend the Church or the Church School, the Minister should be empowered in his discretion to suspend the annual grant to such school. As to the Bill itself it might truly be said that, with some minor alterations and additions, it was intended merely to embody in an Act of Parliament what was known as the Revised Code. This appeared to him to be not only unnecessary but mischievous; and it was the more remarkable inasmuch as it had been stated by the author of that Code that it never would have passed if it had been necessary that its provisions should be embodied in an Act of Parliament. By one provision of the Bill, schools with uncertificated teachers might receive a grant. Now that could be done a present by a Minute of the Privy Council, and more expediently done 1307 in that way than by Act of Parliament, because, if the arrangement did not answer, it could then be easily altered. He also thought it better to leave the increase or diminution of the building grant in like manner to the discretion of the Education Committee of the Privy Council. He had no objection to the appointment of a Minister of Education, if work enough were given to that functionary to perform, and if they clothed him with active powers. If he had, for instance, the initiative in matters of elementary education, the control of endowed schools and of educational charities, then he might possibly have work enough for a Cabinet Minister; but if he were to be tied down within the four corners of the present Bill, the work might just as well be done by a permanent Under Secretary with an efficient staff of clerks. He was of opinion that it was an objection to the Bill that it was intended, as stated by the noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) in introducing the measure, to make the existing system a national system. While it must be admitted that the present system had effected much good, yet it must be at the same time allowed that it had several grave defects. It was a very extravagant system—it had a needless multiplication of schools and schoolmasters and Inspectors; and he understood that the other night the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the increase in the Civil Service Estimates was partially due to the Vote for Education. There was also inequality in the way in which it pressed on those who maintained the schools, and there was a total absence of that local organization, which the best judges of the matter had always said was absolutely necessary for the efficient working of a national system. Again, the present system did not meet the requirements of those districts which most required assistance; for it was in the great towns, and not in the rural districts that the machinery for extending the advantages of education was most wanted. Neither did the Bill check expenditure, but tended greatly to increase it. He did not wish to see the present system interfered with where it was working well, for it had done a considerable amount of good; but when they were going to occupy new ground they ought to adopt a system founded on a sounder basis, and which would prove more efficient. He thought there was an overwhelming preponderance of opinion among persons well informed on the subject 1308 against the expediency and possibility of extending the present system so as to make it national. Last year it was stated in the second Report of the Scotch Education Commission that—Upon the whole we think it must be admitted that the Privy Council system neither is, nor can it by any alteration be enlarged into, a national system.Two years ago a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the subject of Education at the instance of Sir John Pakington, and before that Committee a great number of witnesses were examined—among others Mr. Lingen, who gave it as his opinion that it would be impossible to extend the present system throughout the whole country; that we must fall back upon local organization of some kind, and that he considered the organization of the parish schools in Scotland a type well worth studying for this country. He went on to say that he should prefer the local organization, which would have the best chance of being adopted in this country. Whether it were based on the county, the union, or the parish he should look upon as a matter of comparative indifference. Again, the Rev. William Kennedy, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors for Lancashire, with an experience of twenty years, declared that he saw no other mode, after long consideration, by which assistance could be extended to neglected districts; that he was of opinion that a feeling was springing up in favour of rate-supported schools, and that he thought it absolutely necessary to constitute local bodies for the management of the schools; adding that he did not see that the religious difficulty need interfere with the plan, provided the Conscience Clause was universally imposed, and that he was strongly in favour of that being done. Such were the opinions not only of an Inspector of great experience, but of a clergyman of the Church of England; and it was not only his individual opinion, but he believed that the majority of the clergy of the Church of England were not opposed to the Conscience Clause, slating it to be the result of his experience, as an Inspector in Lancashire, that he knew only of one clergyman there who would not act upon it in his schools. The noble Earl below him, he might add, then Lord John Russell, submitted to the House of Commons, in 1856, a series of Resolutions, the 7th, 8th, and 9th of which were as follows:— 13097. That it is expedient that in any school district where the means of education arising from endowment, subscription, grants, and school pence shall be found deficient, and shall be declared to be so by the Committee of Privy Council for Education, the ratepayers should have the power of taxing themselves for the erection and maintenance of a school or schools.8. That, after the 1st of January, 1858, when any school district shall have been declared to be deficient in adequate means for the education of the poor the Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the county, city, or borough should have power to impose a school rate.9. That where a school rate is imposed a school committee elected by the ratepayers, should appoint the schoolmasters and mistresses, and make regulations for the management of the schools."—[3 Hansard, cxl. 1971.]Now, such were the Resolutions proposed by the noble Earl twelve years ago, and he had not, he believed, since changed his opinions on the subject. Sir John Pakington was also in favour of rate-supported schools; while a meeting which was recently held at Manchester, at which the compulsory rating principle was advocated, was largely attended by clergymen, by whom no disapproval of it was expressed. For his own part, knowing how well it had worked in Scotland, he must confess that he was strongly attached to the rating principle, and as a landowner, and looking only at the results of the system in a pecuniary point of view, he felt that he gained more by having a well-educated tenantry and labourers on his estate than he should have had to pay in consequence of any charge which was imposed on him to secure that object. If they wished to extend education throughout the country, and they were driven to choose between the Bill of the Government and that of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce) in the other House, he should greatly prefer the latter. The two were totally different in principle—one must kill the other. Entertaining those views, and believing that the Bill of the Government was a complete abnegation of the principle that the State ought to educate the people, he should move that it be read a second time that day three months.
§ Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and insert ("this Day Three Months.")—(The Earl of Airlie.)
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said, that not having been present when this Bill was introduced, and not having had an opportunity before of expressing an opinion upon it, he was desirous of tender- 1310 ing his best thanks to the noble Duke and to Her Majesty's Government for bringing forward a Bill characterized by so many good proposals, and so well calculated to promote the cause of education. He was himself in favour of the Bill, and that for some of the reasons which had been urged against it by the noble Earl (the Earl of Airlie). He looked upon it, in the first place, as a step in the right direction, inasmuch as it placed matters of great importance in connection with education on a somewhat settled footing, so that the promoters of schools might with some certainty know how they were situated, instead of being liable, as hitherto, to the disadvantages arising from repeated changes at the caprice of the Privy Council. As to the Conscience Clause as framed in the Bill, he could only say that it met his own individual views, and he believed the views of a very large portion of the clergy; but he believed there was a large portion of the clergy who would not be satisfied with the Conscience Clause proposed in the other Bill. If by means of such a measure a long vexed question could be set at rest, as he trusted it might, a great benefit would, he thought, be conferred on the Church and on the nation. He was glad, he might add, that rating clauses were not included among its provisions, inasmuch as he was of opinion that their introduction would be premature, until after the proposed general Census was taken, and the educational wants of the country thus accurately ascertained; for there were facts before them which would show, if he were not mistaken, that in the different dioceses of England there was a much larger number of the children of the poor now brought under the influence of education than was supposed. He did not think it necessary to go into the details on which the noble Earl (the Earl of Airlie) had touched; if there were any defects they might be remedied in Committee; but he thought there were some very essential provisions in this Bill, well calculated to help forward the cause of education, and he was prepared to give the measure his hearty support.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, that to a certain extent he concurred in the opinions expressed by his noble Friend (the Earl of Airlie) in regard to the Bill. Some of the details of the measure seemed to be extremely useful, and reflected credit on the Government; but it was much to be lamented that they had thought it necessary to embody the whole system of 1311 education, with all its mass of details, in a Bill. He should have thought that the whole history of elementary education in this country, and the present position of the question of education showed that, at all events, the time had not yet arrived when they could advantageously stereotype all the principles and the details connected with their system in an Act of Parliament. There had been so many differences of opinion and minor difficulties to overcome in the history of elementary education in this country, that it had been mainly owing to the tentative nature of the system that education had been developed to its present extent; and on the whole it had been attended with great success. He regretted, therefore, that the Government now proposed to Parliament such a departure from that mode of proceeding. His noble Friend behind him had spoken with great force as to the inconvenience that would be felt if, when some slight variation was needed in the elaborate management clauses contained in that Bill, or when some other minor change of that kind was wanted, they must come before Parliament with a Bill for the purpose of making it. The most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) seemed to think that great advantage would be derived from the Bill by the knowledge it would afford to the clergy and the ministers of other denominations as to the nature of the rules that were to be followed. He was surprised at that statement, because the existing Revised Code had been fully discussed in Parliament, possessed very much the character of an Act of Parliament, and was as well known to the clergy as any Act of Parliament could be; and he should have thought the information to be found in the one would be as easily found in the other. The most rev. Prelate had spoken with feelings of satisfaction of the Conscience Clause as it stood in the Bill; but, for himself, he thought it was far from embodying the only just principle which should regulate the application of grants of public money for educational purposes. That principle, he held, ought to be this—that in every case where grants of public money were made for the purposes of education, full liberty ought to be given to the children of all denominations to attend the schools without any interference with the conscientious convictions of the parents. He could not understand on what possible ground they could defend a regulation that would apply only to cases in which building grants were 1312 made, and should not be applicable to instances in which public money was given in aid of schools in other shapes. Surely, conscientious feelings were as much entitled to respect in the one case as in the other? With regard to the proposed extension of the grants to districts and schools which did not now participate in them, he thought the Government had taken a wise step, and he did not quarrel with them because they did it in a tentative manner. It was wise to endeavour to remedy those educational deficiencies which existed in poor country districts, where a difficulty was now experienced in providing schools. Another part of the Bill which he wished to notice related to the educational Census. On reading the Bill, when he arrived at Part II., and read attentively the most elaborate provisions which it made for an educational Census, he could not help coming to the conclusion that there must have originally been a third part to the measure, which had since been abandoned; for, after providing a most elaborate machinery for obtaining statistical information as to the state of education in the various parts of the country, there the matter was abruptly left by the Bill. He believed they would never provide a remedy for those defects which were so much felt in those districts where voluntary zeal did not supply the necessary means of education, without having recourse to some form or other of rating. It was said the introduction of rating in any shape would destroy voluntary zeal; but surely this meant no more that a rating system would prove so much superior to the voluntary system that the latter would be abandoned. But he thought they were apt to attach rather too much importance to voluntary efforts for the support of schools, valuable though they were. He never could see how it should be regarded as so extremely satisfactory that in all parts of the country just those persons who were most generous, and who, like the clergy, were called upon from their position to make efforts of that kind, should have the whole burden thrown on them, and that the great mass of the community who were well able to pay should escape from contributing to a charge which was for the universal public benefit. He thought it would probably be wise in the first instance by a permissive Act to enable certain districts to rate themselves for the purpose of education, and the opportunity, would then be afforded of judging whether the system might not be carried 1313 further. He admitted that it would be unfair to those who, under the voluntary system, had laid out their money in providing schools, to turn round suddenly and abandon the whole of the present system; but he thought that where that system had failed to provide a sufficiency of schools it might be supplemented by rating. He could not help thinking that this measure was due to the great stir which had been made in the country on the subject of education, and a consequent resolution of the Government to produce what should appear to be a great scheme. With respect to the appointment of a Minister of Education, he was at a loss to know what was to become of the Lord President of the Council under that proposal. The Lord President of the Council had no overwhelming work to do now; and when his duties as an Educational Minister were taken away, his office would be reduced very nearly to a sinecure. Perhaps it might be intended, after the adoption of this proposal, that the office of the Lord Privy Seal and that of the President of the Council should be combined. He approved of some of the details of the Bill; but, on the whole, he felt it his duty to support the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, he objected altogether to the rating system of education, and thought that at the present conjuncture, when they were about to abolish rating for the support of the Church, it was most unwise and impolitic. If they introduced the system of rating in regard to education, they would be making the minority submit to the will of the majority in a matter which moved men's consciences quite as deeply as church rates did. Moreover, the existing burden of taxation, which was every year being augmented, already pressed very severely on the country districts, and he trusted the Legislature would not, by adopting the proposal of his noble Friend, add another element to the inequality that already existed. He questioned whether a rating system would work satisfactorily; and by reducing the management to a matter of routine we should do away with the social influence which attended the voluntary system. And until they were satisfied that the voluntary system, aided by the Parliamentary grants, had failed they would do well not to have recourse to a system of rating. The deficiencies which existed were not, he thought, so great as was sometimes repre- 1314 sented; for the number of parishes having no school was comparatively small, and mostly contained but a small population. He saw no necessity of superseding the functions of the Committee of Council; and while thinking it desirable to embody some of the regulations, such as those affecting the religious susceptibilities of the people in an Act of Parliament, he thought others should be of a more elastic character, in order that changes might be made in them from time to time. The education of the Irish Roman Catholic population in our towns was a question which ought to be seriously grappled with; for it must be remembered that comparatively few of their fellow-countrymen of the upper and middle classes were settled among us, and that their necessities, therefore, could not be so well met by their co-religionists as was the case with Dissenters. Although he did not approve of the Bill as a whole he hoped it would be allowed to go into Committee, where he thought many of its provisions would be materially amended.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, it was generally understood that the second reading of a Bill implied assent to its principles and to its main provisions; but there were many measures as to which it was difficult to say what were their principles or main provisions, consisting, as they did, of details, though those details might involve principles of a most important kind. The Amendment raised the question, to what category did this Bill belong? The noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) who introduced it, admitted very fairly that it was not a measure of very great importance, but stated that, though in itself of small scope and extent, it was a step in the right direction; and the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) appeared to take the same view of it. Now, he (the Duke of Argyll) should not object to this or any other Bill on the ground that it was a specimen of what was called bit-by-bit legislation, for nothing was ever accomplished in this country in any other manner. Instead of following out some abstract principle to its legitimate conclusions, we waited until evils had accumulated so as to be unbearable, and then adopted some small measure, which was followed up by others, on the ground that such and such principles had already been sanctioned. But he asked their Lordships to consider the position in which England was placed in regard to education. It could not be 1315 said that any national system of education existed in England; and he believed it would, at a future time, be a matter of astonishment that, alone among the enlightened nations of Europe, this country should have advanced to its present stage of civilization without any legislative provision for the education of its people. In Scotland there was a system which, though now inadequate to the requirements of the population, was in theory and practice strictly and truly a national system, enforced by the Legislature for the benefit of the people, and founded upon public rates. No such system had ever been adopted in England; nor was this absence of legislative provision justified by the existence of any other sufficient machinery. We allowed things to go on until we at last awoke to the fact that hundreds of thousands of the people were growing up to manhood without any education whatever, and it was the alarm occasioned by the consciousness of that fact some twenty years ago or more that induced the Government of that time, failing a national system of education, to adopt the principle of rates in aid to be given out of the Consolidated Fund to the various religious bodies. The noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough), in his speech the other evening, quoted some very interesting, though not wholly accurate, statistics to show that through the stimulating zeal of the various religious bodies very great and successful efforts had been made to provide for the elementary education of the people. Now, he (the Duke of Argyll) for one, had never shared in the objections which had been taken to the principle of the Minutes in Council by some members of the Liberal party—namely, that the whole principle was false, as being based upon the principle of what was called sectarian education. It was, in his opinion, perfectly just and natural that the various religious bodies of the country should concern themselves with the elementary education of their own people, and he considered it rather an advantage than otherwise that secular education should be conducted in connection with definite systems of religious belief. That being the case, and this principle having been so long in operation, and vested interests of great magnitude being now established in connection with religious bodies, he was not an advocate for any system of national education which should attempt to upset that system altogether, but would desire 1316 rather, if possible, to supplement it. For, after all, what was the real objection to the operation of the present system? It was not an objection to its principle, it was simply this—that it was inadequate; it would not cover the ground which they desired to see covered; it was insufficient for the education of the whole people. He was afraid that this insufficiency of the denominational system was a state of things which was incident to the condition of our society, and to the relation in which the people stood to the various religious bodies. If it were true that the whole population of this country belonged to one or other of the religious sects, then it might be possible for those bodies to take charge of the religious education of the whole population. But they all knew—indeed, it was a notorious fact—that there were millions of the people of this country who did not belong to any particular religious body, and he was afraid, therefore, that it was in vain to hope that a system rigorously confined to the circle of religious feeling and of ecclesiastical notion could be able to undertake the education of the whole population of the country. He thought his noble Friend on the cross Benches (the Earl of Harrowby) was rather sanguine in thinking that this system, without modification or change, could possibly educate the whole population. His noble Friend had referred to America to show that a system founded on rates involved great evils; but here he (the Duke of Argyll) would observe that a system of rates need not be such as to supersede the efforts of religious bodies. It was quite possible to have a system of rates which should be ancillary to the system of the Churches. But if his noble Friend wished to exhibit to the House the operation of rates, why did he think it necessary to cross the Atlantic and not the Tweed? There they had a system of rates without any of the ill effects to which his noble Friend had referred, though in Scotland the people were divided into many religious bodies, and sectarian animosity had often prevailed among them. With regard to education in the great towns—for, after all, this was the case for which they had especially to provide—and if there was any necessity for education at all it was for the population of our great cities—he desired to say a few words. In Glasgow, one of the largest cities in the kingdom—and though the zeal of the religious bodies was as keen in Scotland as in any part of the kingdom—the 1317 Royal Commission reported that little more than a third of the children of school age attended schools of any kind, and with regard to school accommodation there was less than sufficient for one-half the children of school age. In Glasgow, there were in one district 80,000 children, with only four or five schools. So in England what they had to deal with was the inadequacy of the existing system; it was that that called for legislation, and any Bill whatever that might be passed would be useless unless it was sufficient to meet that necessity of the case. Now, what was there in this Bill to meet that necessity? Nothing whatever. It did not even give the power of assessment; and he would say that the very minimum of what Parliament ought to do should be to give the municipal bodies of our great towns the power to assess themselves for the maintenance of schools. If he had said this a few years ago, or even last year, the answer would have been that the principle of assessment was wholly inconsistent with the principle that secular education must be conducted in connection with the various religious bodies. But he was glad that this year one step at least had been taken by Her Majesty's Government which removed that objection altogether; for he understood the noble Duke the President of the Council the other day to say that the Government had made up their minds to allow purely secular schools—schools not in connection with any religious body, and schools in which no religion should be taught. That was a most important step, involving principles which would be quoted in future, with inference to other measures which would be pressed upon the attention of Parliament. If they had made up their minds to give public money in aid of schools giving purely secular education, what excuse would they have for not going a step further, and giving to the great municipal bodies the power of assessing themselves for the support of such schools? Well, the noble Duke the President of the Council—the greater part of whose speech the other evening, he must say, was occupied with reasons why nothing should be done—had stated with regard to this particular measure that he could not advise Parliament to give the power of assessment to the great cities, because, in many cases, the rates in those places already amounted to as much as 5s. or 6s. in the pound. What was the consequence to be deduced from 1318 that argument? Either that the great cities of England were so poor that they could not or would not educate their destitute children, or that the education of the many destitute children was not an object sufficiently important to justify even a still larger assessment. But did the noble Duke think the great cities of England would object to the necessary assessment, and would be content to leave themselves in their present condition? In his opinion, the noble Duke might leave it to the municipal bodies to judge for themselves with respect to the assessment. In this respect, therefore, the Bill was entirety valueless. But he would go further, and say that the embodiment in an Act of Parliament of the details of the New Code would be not only of no benefit, but would entail positive mischief as regarded education. He had had the honour of being a Member of the Committee of Privy Council which drew up the New Code, and he had no doubt, and never had a doubt, of the essential soundness of the principles on which that Code was founded. The Royal Commission in Scotland had reported to the effect that there were no insuperable difficulties in the way of the practical application of those principles to the education of the people. He held it to be a sound principle that the public money should be given only in support of schools which could prove that they were doing the work that Parliament intended that they should do. But, notwithstanding, he did not wish to see the New Code embodied in an Act of Parliament. He agreed with two of his noble Friends, that, failing a national system, the present was the best they could get; but he was thoroughly convinced, also, of the truth of what his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Airlie) had said, that if it had been necessary to pass those Minutes of Council through Parliament, even that makeshift of a system which now existed they would never have obtained. This resulted from the obvious fact that even a very small party in Parliament possessed a great power of obstruction. Their Lordships were aware that the Minutes of Council, involving as they did the principle of equal and indiscriminate support to all religious bodies for educational purposes, were at first viewed with the greatest jealousy by the great body of the Church of England. But to stereotype all the principles of the New Code in an Act of Parliament was taking a step backward, instead of for- 1319 ward. Turning to that part of the Bill which related to the Conscience Clause, he asked whether that was not also a retrograde step. He could assure the most rev. Prelate opposite who had spoken in support of this Bill, that he entirely sympathized with him and with those religious bodies who claimed to have intrusted to themselves the conduct of the religious education of their own children. An arbitrary interference with the teaching of the children belonging to the various religious bodies would be most unjustifiable; but, on the other hand, he thought that the State had a right to say that the public money should not be given to any school which did not promise that all children who attended it should have the benefit of its secular education without having its peculiar religious tenets forced upon them. The exaction of such a promise as the condition upon which the assistance of the State would be given to any particular school would be not adverse, but in the highest degree favourable to the various Christian Churches in this country. When persons were convinced that secular education was fairly and honestly offered to their children without any religious instruction being forced upon them, they would be all the more disposed to send their children to the school without condition, where they would fall under the influence of that Christian teaching from which they would otherwise be entirely withdrawn. Acting under this belief, he entreated all those who represented the various branches of the Church of Christ in this country to accept the principle of the Conscience Clause, not grudgingly, nor jealously, nor half-heartedly, but freely and willingly. He would remind their Lordships that upwards of a century ago the General Assembly of the Established Church in Scotland decided that Roman Catholic children should be admitted into the parish schools in the Highlands, on the terms that no religious teaching was to be forced upon them, and he trusted that this wise and generous example would be followed by all religious bodies in this country. But, instead of adopting this large and high view, the Conscience Clause in the Bill before the House contained a string of narrow-minded and jealous restrictions, and breathed a spirit, he would say, which was most inimical to the interests of the Church of England. Instead of the Secretary of State being directed to distribute the public money solely among those schools which 1320 promised to give secular without enforcing religions education, it was left to him to exercise his discretion in five or six different contingencies, all of them turning on questions which were rather questions of opinion than of fact. Thus, by the 12th clause of the Bill, the Secretary of State was only empowered to insist on the Conscience Clause in case he found that the school was the only school available for the people. He must then make up his mind whether there were other schools within "convenient" distances, the distance not being specified in the Bill. Next, he must consider whether, within the "convenient distances," there was any "considerable" number of Dissenters, or if there was another school "suitable" for those Dissenters. In all other cases, he might at discretion do away with the Conscience Clause altogether. But while contending that the principle of a Conscience Clause should be adopted in all schools, he (the Duke of Argyll) felt that the carrying of it into effect must be left to the honour and discretion of the religious bodies, and he trusted that it would have the support of the clergy of the Church of England. This Bill was a very small measure; but what was worse, it was a step in the wrong direction. Its faults were the more important when it was remembered that it was the first attempt to legislate upon education, all former proceedings having been based upon the Minutes of Council. The structure of the Bill should therefore be looked upon with the utmost jealousy. It involved a retrograde principle, and, therefore their Lordships should not give it a second reading Should his noble Friend press his Motion to a division, he should feel bound to vote against the second reading of the Bill; but, in any case, he could not refrain from expressing his earnest hope that this measure would never pass into a law nor receive the sanction of their Lordships or of the other House of Parliament.
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
expressed his regret that one clause of the Bill recognized the principle of giving aid to schools taught by an uncertificated teacher. That was called free trade in education; but the noble Duke who had just spoken (the Duke of Argyll) had said in a book he had written that the rules of political economy must occasionally give way to a higher law. The principle of requiring certificates from teachers was adopted in all the most civilized countries of the world; and Mr. Fraser had shown that 1321 considerable injury was done to the cause of education in the United States of America, because there the rule was not rigidly enforced. It was said, however, that there were in this country uncertificated teachers, who were performing their duties as efficiently as the teachers who had obtained certificates, and it was unjust to withhold, in such cases, the public money. Now, he must simply deny the fact. He did not believe there was any considerable number of instances. No doubt there were a number of schools not under inspection; but he believed those who had paid attention to the matter would not be prepared to say that schools not under inspection were likely to be very efficient schools. The diocesan Inspectors visited schools of all kinds, and, in his own diocese, the opinion was that although, perhaps, in each district one or two uncertificated teachers taught very fairly, yet there was no comparison between the efficiency of those who held certificates and those who did not. But if certificates were necessary as tests of capacity in teaching, they were still more important as guarantees of character. The holding of a certificate was a great guarantee of character. No one could have so clean a bill of moral health as the schoolmaster or mistress who held a certificate. He ventured to think they could not afford to part with that security for the moral fitness of a teacher for his work which a certificate supplied. They might depend upon it that, if they introduced the principle of paying for results without requiring a certificate, the number of certificated teachers would very rapidly diminish. The effect in country parishes would be that managers, seeing they could get a grant with an uncertificated teacher at a cheaper rate, would relieve themselves of the burden which now fell on them; the inducement for pupil-teachers to go into training would be diminished, and the price of certificated masters would proportionately be raised, while the standard of education in the schools would gradually, but surely, be lowered. And this they could not afford. He hoped the Government would not press this clause of the Bill.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he was not often in the habit of trespassing long on their Lordships' indulgence, and he had at present personal reasons for not desiring to remain long on his legs. He had stated on a previous occasion what occurred to him with regard to the different provisions 1322 of this Bill, and on further consideration he did not know that he should withdraw anything he then advanced. No doubt there was some difficulty in knowing what to do with the Bill at this stage. Several powerful speeches had been made against the second reading: on the other hand, the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) had supported it, but then he approved it with reference to the Conscience clause only; while the noble Earl on the cross Bench (the Earl of Harrowby) disapproved of what the Bill would do, and highly approved of its not doing anything else. He regretted to perceive that whenever any plausible demand was made, if it could be met by a little increase in the grants of public money, without dissatisfying any particular class, it was too much the tendency of the Government to yield to it. This was a very pleasant process to the recipient, no doubt; and, although the taxpayer might grumble, no one seemed disposed to take on himself the invidious task of checking the needless expenditure which was thus incurred. He was not, however, by any means prepared to express a general condemnation of the Bill. He approved the extension of the grants to secular schools, which had hitherto been, denied that aid. He believed that was just and right, and he was very much obliged to the Government for having so met the sort of prejudice which existed on this subject. He also approved the system of grants to evening schools: he believed that was quite right. The step proposed with reference to building grants was a right step; but it was more doubtful. He believed, however, that it would be a great advantage to have good school buildings all over the country. Then came the most important question of certificated teachers. He felt unmitigated pleasure in hearing what the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Lincoln) said on this subject, and no one was better entitled to speak on the subject of education. He said that infinite mischief would result from what he called the thin edge of the wedge, by admitting uncertificated masters. This he thought a matter of great importance; and though, by allowing the employment of uncertificated teachers, some schools might be helped, they would be very few; for there was scarcely a schoolmaster or schoolmistress at all fit to teach who might not obtain the lowest class of certificate. There had been complaints made against the late Government for instituting the 1323 principle of payment by results; but the fact was that the practice which they had adopted might more correctly be described as that of non-payment for non-results. The object of the existing system was to take care that the money given by the State should be expended for the purpose of securing the greatest possible efficiency. If the necessity for a certificate were dispensed with, a man without any character at all might start a school; and if he were only able to produce children who could read, write, and count, he would get the public grant. Another point of importance had reference to the appointment of a Minister of Education, and the desirability of such an appointment had been very much urged by some of those who took an interest in the cause of education. He, however, had great doubts as to the expediency of an appointment of that kind. He was aware it was said that no one knew who were the Lords of Council, or what was the amount of their responsibility; but he had not the slightest doubt whatever that if any great maladministration were at present to be detected in the Education Committee of the Privy Council, the person who would be subject to the severest Parliamentary censure on that account would be no other than the noble Duke the President of the Council. Technically and practically, the President was responsible for anything that went wrong; and the admirable civil servants belonging to the Department, so long as they acted under their political chief, had absolutely no responsibility whatever. He might be asked how it was—if he entertained that opinion—that Mr. Lowe had resigned while he had retained his office when a Parliamentary censure was passed upon the conduct of the Council? But he believed he could offer a satisfactory explanation upon that point. He tendered his resignation upon that occasion, as Mr. Lowe did, to Lord Palmerston, who requested him to withdraw it. He (Earl Granville) stated that he could not do so unless Lord Palmerston could induce the House of Commons to withdraw the stigma they had attached to the Council. Lord Palmerston effected that object, and he (Earl Granville) accordingly withdrew his resignation; whilst Mr. Lowe, who thought that he had been the subject of a personal censure, refused to adopt the same course. He was conscious that during his tenure of office he had been guilty of many sins both of commission and omission, but on the most 1324 careful reflection he did not believe that he should have avoided any one of them if he had been a Secretary of State instead of President of the Council. In reference to the appointment of a Minister of Education, he might further state that he thought it objectionable to multiply offices giving seats in the Cabinet, which he was disposed to think was already too large; and it was also not without objection to increase the number of the Secretaries of State. That question had some bearing on a point to which two noble Lords had already referred—namely, with respect to stereotyping in an Act of Parliament the largest portion of the Revised Code. The Council were obliged to add supplementary rules after the Revised Code had been issued, and he defied any person who held the office of President of the Committee of the Council, who had a real view to the public interest, not to find himself constantly engaged in making slight improvements and filling up small gaps in the system to prevent it from falling into confusion. He was, on the other hand, aware that the noble Duke at the head of the Department might have felt that the concessions which he was asked to make would lead to concessions much more serious of public money, as well as to a diminution of the check upon public expenditure, and that he might have deemed it advisable to embody the whole of these matters in an Act of Parliament, because such a step might have the double effect of preventing the whole system from going backwards, and at the same time of preventing encroachment. But, be that as it might, he now came to the most important part of the Bill—the Conscience Clause. So important was it, that the considerations connected with it were of themselves sufficient to prevent him from voting against the second reading of the measure. His noble Friend who moved its rejection (the Earl of Airlie) had, indeed, shown that the Conscience Clause, as at present framed, was entirely unsatisfactory, and for his own part he (Earl Granville) thought that the wording of it must be amended, and that its scope must be extended. The whole of the Members sitting on the Liberal side in the House of Commons were, he believed, in favour of a Conscience Clause, and the most eminent Members of the Government had at different times signified their adhesion to that view. The best arguments advanced in favour of such a clause had, he might 1325 add, emanated from the pens of clergymen; while the Commission to which he had already referred had strongly recommended its adoption in the case of endowed schools. But it was of still greater importance that, a Conscience Clause having been proposed by the Government as a Government, the second reading of the Bill in which it was embodied should be carried; for the passing of such a measure, even in its present imperfect shape, would, he felt, stop for ever that non possumus argument which was advanced to show that it was impossible the clergy could conscientiously accept such a clause. Of one thing he felt perfectly sure, and that was, that nothing was of greater importance for the Church of England, and nothing more certain to arrest the secularization of the children of this country, than the sanction by Parliament of a clause which largely satisfied the conscientious scruples and objections of the Nonconformist portion of the population. He was also desirous of voting for the second leading of the Bill because it was, he thought, impossible not to perceive the truth of the observation of the noble Earl on the cross Benches (the Earl of Kimberley) that it was only a portion of a scheme—in fact, the tragedy of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet left out; and if it were sent down to the other House modified and improved in a great many particulars, an excellent measure might be produced, quite consistent with its provisions; or, what was still better, the Bill might be brought back to their Lordships' House with the part of Hamlet re-inserted, and that with the sanction of the Government. His noble Friend (Earl Russell) concurred, he believed, in the view which he had expressed; and he ventured to appeal to his noble Friend behind not to press, under the circumstances, his Motion for the rejection of the Bill to a division.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, the noble Earl who had moved the Amendment (the Earl of Airlie) had adopted the somewhat unusual course of comparing the provisions of the measure under discussion with those of another which had not yet been brought under their Lordships' notice, but was in the other House of Parliament. He should not, however, follow the noble Earl into that comparison, but should confine his remarks to the other points more immediately bearing upon the Bill before the House. The first point to which he would advert was the objection taken to 1326 the proposition to create a Minister of Education. It seemed to be assumed that the proposal had reference simply to those duties which were now connected with Parliamentary Grants and with the administration of education as it was now conducted by the Committee of Council. He (the Duke of Marlborough) must confess that he should not deem it expedient to appoint such an official if his functions were to be confined simply to the performance of those duties. But their Lordships could scarcely fail to perceive that there was beyond the performance of those duties a very wide and important field to be taken into account. He need hardly remind the House of the various Commissions that had been appointed to inquire into the state of education throughout the country, and that within the scope of their inquiries came the primary schools, the Irish endowed schools, the middle class schools, the public schools, and the large grants in connection with them which it was the duty of the Privy Council to administer, and which now amounted to more than £900,000 a year. When they considered how various and important all these subjects were, he thought that Parliament could hardly deal with them except through the agency of some responsible Minister; and he thought the appointment of a responsible Minister of Education, capable of dealing with the subject in a comprehensive spirit, and of framing measures with the view of consolidating and uniting the different branches of primary and secondary education into one great whole, would be likely to be productive of the greatest possible advantage. The noble Earl who had just spoken had asked him, whether he was of opinion that the duties of the Committee of Council on Education could be better administered by a Secretary of State than, as was at present the case, by a President, assisted by a Vice President, and he (the Duke of Marlborough) must say he concurred with the noble Earl in thinking that they would not be so far as those duties went. But then, there were beyond those the important functions to which he had adverted, to which it was impossible for the President and Vice President of the Committee of Council, with the work which they had already on hand, adequately to devote their attention. A notion seemed to prevail that the President of the Council had little or nothing to do but to administer the Educational Grant and to preside over 1327 the Committee of Council on Education. But that was not so. Some time ago he prepared a Minute of what were the duties of the President of the Council which would show their Lordships what were the duties of that Department. Besides the Education Grants, the President of the Council had to attend to the subject of quarantine, the affairs of the Channel Islands, municipal charters and charters to companies and corporations, questions relating to diseases of cattle, University statutes, public health, the Diseases Prevention and Nuisances Removal Acts, the Medical Act of 1858, ecclesiastical schemes and representations, and a great variety of other matters. It might be safely said that if the Department of the Privy Council now intrusted with the administration of public health were enlarged, as it might be, by a consolidation of the statutes relating to that branch of business, an ample amount of occupation would by provided for the President of the Council, irrespective of those great subjects of education to which he had alluded. The next objection to which he would refer was that taken to the embodiment of the provisions of the Revised Code in an Act of Parliament; but their Lordships must understand that that part of the Bill was a necessary consequence of there being a Minister of Education. The Minister of Education took the place of the Committee of Council, and therefore the latter was no longer a body existing for the purpose of making Minutes. Those Minutes, therefore, must be reduced to Regulations and Orders of the Secretary of State; but what was to become of the Minutes which already existed? If the subject of education was henceforth to be committed to a Secretary of State, what legislative sanction could be given to the Revised Code, if it was to continue in force, unless it was included in an Act of Parliament?—for it now had no operation except as being a Minute of the Committee of Council. But it was said the Revised Code, by being placed in an Act of Parliament, would be thrown into the form of a hard and fast measure, incapable of improvement, and not as intelligible as it had hitherto been. Now, he thought their Lordships would admit that if ever there was a concatenation of regulations of an abstruse and complicated character it was the Revised Code in its present shape. It was, he might say without exaggeration, a mass of the greatest confusion, and any person reading 1328 it for the first time would find extreme difficulty in making head or tail of it. What the Government, however, proposed was to bring those parts of the Revised Code which had been proved by the test of experience to be those principles on which Parliament might safely act in the distribution of the Parliamentary Grant into a statute, but at the same time to give as much latitude and power of expansion as might be necessary to the Minister who presided over the Department. The portions of the Revised Code which it was thought could be comprised in the Bill were, first, the conditions on which building grants were made; and it was very requisite that they should be placed in an Act of Parliament. The next portion of the Revised Code to be inserted in the Bill referred to the teachers and the conditions of the Grant to non-certificated teachers. He entirely agreed with the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) as to the immense importance of maintaining certificated teachers, and he trusted that nothing would ever obtain the sanction of Parliament which would at all imperil the present regulations on that point, to which he attached the very greatest weight. Still, he felt quite sure, that if they pertinaciously adhered to an obstructive principle, and refused to make any concession in regard to the employment of non-certificated teachers, they would run an infinitely greater risk of having the whole of that system swept away, than if they allowed concessions to be made in the moderate and guarded manner proposed by that Bill. The rule requiring a certificated teacher to be employed in all cases where the maximum grant was given was a sufficient security against the loss of the principle of having certificated teachers. The next branch of the Revised Code included in the Bill related to the annual grants. Exception had been taken in the course of the discussion to those provisions of the measure, on the ground of the uncertainty they would produce. Now, he believed they would have the very opposite effect, and that, instead of leading to increased expenditure, extravagance and uncertainty, they would lay down definitely, by an Act of Parliament the conditions on which Parliament, was willing to vote money, and also the actual sums which it was willing to vote. It should be remembered that the Vote for Education had attained as large an amount as £900,000, and that in a ratio that was increasing from year to 1329 year; and moreover that that increase had been produced by changes made in the Office to a great extent, and made, he ventured to say, almost without the authority of Parliament; because they had it on the testimony of Mr. Lowe that the Revised Code, though laid from time to time before Parliament, was rarely considered by any one. Those changes were made by a kind of spurious mode of legislation which he thought was extremely objectionable. When, therefore, that was converted into a system based on the authority of an Act of Parliament, they would thereby offer the public the best guarantee that the expenditure for elementary education would not be excessive, and that if it increased at all, it was only through the ordinary and natural increase of the schools applying for assistance, and not through various alterations, made by the whim or caprice of a Minister of the Crown. The next part of the Revised Code was the conditions under which pupil-teachers were employed. Nothing could be more important than the employment of pupil-teachers, and the conditions relating to that subject ought not to be changed, but were worthy of being made a permanent portion of our national system. Again, the conditions on which grants were made to normal schools were sufficiently known and settled to obviate any inconvenience in their being incorporated, as they ought to be, in an Act of Parliament, along with the other great sections of the Revised Code. He was almost unwilling to trouble their Lordships at that late hour by any reference to the subject of rating; but he would remind their Lordships that in introducing the Bill he had distinctly stated that the Government did not regard it as a complete measure. The question of rating was one that had excited a vast amount of controversy in the country; and although several of their Lordships had that night expressed strong opinions in favour of that principle, he was by no means satisfied that the proposals for rating had obtained general concurrence from the public. He believed that a very large section of the community was opposed to rating for education, upon conscientious grounds as well as upon fiscal grounds. It was impossible to see the burdens that were gradually increasing in the large towns and other districts without perceiving that it was very dangerous, without grave consideration, and without being perfectly certain that municipal bodies themselves 1330 were willing to undertake them, to impose additional burdens upon them. When it was urged, as it had been by a noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) that a power might be given to municipal bodies to rate themselves, he might remind their Lordships, by way of illustration, that a few years ago an Act, called the Free Libraries Act, was passed, by which municipal corporations were empowered to rate themselves for scientific and literary purposes; but that power had hitherto proved almost entirely nugatory, the Act having been put in operation to a very small extent indeed, if at all. If rating powers were given to municipal bodies, they would in all probability remain a dead letter, and he did not believe a rating system would successfully provide for elementary education unless the Minister of Education had the power of compulsion. As to the Conscience Clause he was glad to learn that the course pursued by the Government was so strongly approved by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), who thought it of such merit as to justify the second reading of the Bill, notwithstanding his objections to other portions of it. For his own part he thought the principle of a Conscience Clause was a sound one to this extent—that where a child could not obtain secular instruction, except in a school where the religious teaching would do violence to its conscience, or to the consciences of the parents, parental authority ought to be recognized, and there ought to be relief from the disabilities which would otherwise be incurred. The Government had, however, endeavoured to meet the objections of many persons to such a clause by providing that it should be applied only in cases where but one school existed. To apply it to the annual grants would be unwise and impolitic, since large numbers of schools had been built on the faith of a Conscience Clause not being required, and were, in fact, purely denominational schools. Ex post facto legislation of that kind would be very unfair. With regard to an educational Census, the object was to obtain accurate information, and, whether Parliament hereafter agreed to a rating system or continued to rely on voluntary effort, such information would be of the utmost importance. He thought it probable, indeed, that the taking of such a census in any district, and the apprehension that, failing all other means, Parliament would feel itself justified in enforcing a system of rating, would induce a great 1331 amount of educational activity, and would test to the utmost the capacity of the voluntary. System The Government did not pretend that this was a complete measure; but they believed that by the embodiment of the Revised Code in the Act, by the appointment of a Minister of Education, and by the concession with regard to secular and evening schools the utmost expansion would be given to that voluntary action which had already produced such great results. He hoped to see the Bill passed into law during the present Session, and then, when the wants of the country become known, and the results of the various Commissions were reduced into the shape of Acts of Parliament, this might prove one of a series of measures which might hereafter be effective in bringing about such a combination as might result in a great system of national education.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
, in withdrawing the Amendment, vindicated his right of comparing the Bill with the measure discussed at the recent Manchester Congress, and expressed a hope that time would be given before the Bill went into Committee to frame Amendments.
§ Amendment (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.
§ Then the original Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday the 7th of May next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.