HL Deb 24 July 1868 vol 193 cc1701-9

Amendments reported (according to Order).


said, with regard to the Conscience Clause, he ventured to think that the words as they now stood would involve a power of interference by the Governing Body with the regulations of the boarding-houses of the School which he could not approve. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Marlborough) did not think any such power was given by the clause. But all he (Lord Lyttelton) proposed to do was simply to put into the clause what the noble Duke said was already within its meaning. He did not think his proposal would do any harm, and the Bill would work much more satisfactorily if it were adopted. He therefore moved at the end of Clause 13 to add— Provided that no such regulation shall interfere with the discretion of any keeper of an authorized boarding-house in connection with the School in respect of his religious teaching and training of the boys in such house.


opposed the Amendment, which he did not think was required, and which, if made, would not meet the objection of the noble Lord. It was impossible to mix up the religious instruction of the Schools with the regulations of the boarding-houses.


asked whether the Bill would not empower the Governing Bodies to withdraw the boys in a particular boarding-house from religious instruction?


said, that as he understood it there was no such power in the Bill.


said, he hoped the noble Lord would not press the Amendment.


joined in the appeal. The Amendment was really not wanted; and the insertion in the Bill of anything that was not wanted would be injurious. This original clause had been the subject of discussion and of compromise in the House of Commons; and though he did not deny that the intention of the noble Lord pointed in the right direction, he feared that the Amendment, if adopted, would be looked upon as an attempt to get rid of the full beneficial effect of the clause introduced into the other House. He hoped the noble Lord would listen to the advice which had been tendered him, and would not press the Amendment.


said a few words in reply.

Amendment negatived.


said, he would now move the clause investing the Master with certain powers, the consideration of which was deferred by the Committee on Thursday. If their Lordships would look at the evidence which had been collected on this subject they would see that the points embraced by the clause were of the greatest importance in the administration of Schools, which would be more efficient if these powers were distinctly conferred on the Master, and their possession by him would sometimes enable the Governing Bodies to obtain better men. In the case of expulsion, for instance, the Head Master alone was in a position to know all the circumstances of a particular case, and that his hands would be weakened by an appeal to the Governing Body.

After Clause 13, moved to insert the following Clause:— The Head Master should have the uncontrolled Power of regulating the Arrangement of the School in Classes or Divisions, the Hours of School Work, and the Holidays and Half Holidays during the School Time, of appointing and changing the Books and Editions of Hooks to be used in the School, and the Course and Methods of Study (subject to all Regulations made by the Governing Body as to the Introduction, Suppression, or relative Weight of Studies), of maintaining Discipline and prescribing Bounds, of administering Punishment, and of Expulsion.—(The Lord Lyttelton.)


said, that when the noble Lord asked him yesterday what course the Government would pursue in reference to the clause now moved, he answered that the Government would give it their best consideration. They had done so, and his objections to it were unchanged. The first objection to the clause was that it proposed to place specially under the control of the Head Master certain minor arrangements in respect of which it was scarcely possible to conceive the Governing Body would ever wish to interfere by taking them out of the hands of the Head Master—such matters as the prescribing of bounds, administering punishments, and details of that kind and, on the other hand, the noble Lord proposed to give to the Head, Master exclusive power in some important matters, such as expulsion. But even with regard to expulsion the noble Lord felt the weakness of his case, for the Head Master would have no power to expel a boy from, the foundation. [Lord LYTTELTON: He would under this clause. No; the power rested exclusively with the Governing Bodies. Another point of the greatest importance was that of the selection of the books to be used in the School. He was quite aware that that proposal came quite within the recommendations of the Commission; but no Head Master ought to possess the power of determining the character of the instruction to be given in a School, whether secular or religious. If the discretion were limited to the nature of the secular instruction, there might be more said in favour of it; but the case was different with respect to religious instruction. Many eminent and talented persons took different views on religious subjects; and he could not conceive that anything would be more likely to prove injurious to the interests of a School than that its Head Master should have peculiar views on some of the religious subjects of the day, or that he should introduce into the syllabus of School instruction books that might be looked upon by many with suspicion. There was nothing parents were more particular about than the religious instruction of their children, and if books that were objectionable in their eyes were introduced, they would at once remove their children from the School. The matter might come to this—the Head Master might be a man of great attainments, and in every other respect well fitted for superintending a great institution, and yet, if he introduced these obnoxious books, in the exercise of the discretion vested in him, the Governing Body would have no power to prevent his doing so, except at the cost of parting with a man who was in all other respects a most valuable and excellent Master. The noble Lord proceeded on the assumption that this proposal was recommended by the Commissioners, whose words, indeed, he used. That was perfectly true; but the Commissioners never intended that their recommendations should be embodied literally in an Act of Parliament. On the same principle the noble Lord might have taken the very next recommendation, which was that there should be periodical School Councils, presided over by the Head Master; but that the noble Lord omitted altogether. The intention of the Commission was to give a general guidance either to Parliament or to the Governing Bodies, and it was not fair to say that because they recommended anything it ought to form part of a Bill. Another objection to the clause was, that while it placed certain things directly under the uncontrolled and exclusive management of the Head Master, I it left out other things which, from their omission, would be assumed by the Governing Bodies to be not under the control of the Head Master, but under their own. Take the amusements of the School—cricket, boating, swimming, and rifle corps. It was now admitted by everybody that all such things were under the control of the Head Master; but if certain things were by the clause taken out of the control of the Governing Body, and minor matters were not specified, the argument would be that those things which were not legislated for directly and specifically were left to the Governing Body. The result would be that, although the noble Lord wished the Master to have uncontrolled power, the passing of the clause would defeat his object. By placing certain things by statute in the power of the Head Master, and leaving out other things, the noble Lord would raise an antagonism between the Head Master and the Governing Body, as the latter would assume that all powers not vested in the Master belonged to themselves, and the result would be confusion, where there ought to be harmony and peace. It was further highly objectionable to give statutory powers to a Head Master, who occupied the position of a servant, was subject to dismissal by the Governing Body, and had his salary: regulated by them. For his own part, he thought that as long as the Governing Body had the power of dismissing the Head Master, there was security for the good management of the School, and that there was no necessity for the proposal now submitted to their Lordships. On these grounds he must ask their Lordships not to agree to the clause.


said, that two of the School Commissioners were present in the House the other day when the Bill was under discussion, and both were agreed as to the propriety of some such clause being inserted as was now proposed. He did not think that the noble Lord who introduced the clause had been guilty of any inconsistency in adopting one portion of the recommendations of the Commissioners and omitting the other. Every Head Master was in favour of such a proposal as that now made. He himself thought, for instance, that it was essential to the maintenance of discipline that the Head Master should have the power of expulsion. At Sandhurst the Commandant had not that power fully, and consequently his power over the discipline of the pupils was greatly impaired. If that was the case in a Military College, how much more must it be so at the Public Schools? He granted that so long as the Governing Bodies preserved the power of dismissing the Head Master, should he misconduct himself, they would he able to influence him and check him should he do wrong. But he maintained that the point under debate was one of principle and not of detail; and the success of those great institutions for which their Lordships were called to legislate depended very much on their having fit men at their head, and, when such men were secured, in intrusting them with the entire conduct of the Schools. He trusted their Lordships would not reject the clause.


said, that if the Governing Body were not intrusted with a certain amount of power and left a certain amount of discretion, they would in reality be no Governing Body at all. The question was whether in establishing those bodies they should not be placed in a position which would enable them to exercise such a general supervision as would secure for them the respect of the Schools.


observed that it was the Governing Body who would in the first place choose the Head Master, and that if he misconducted himself it would be in their power to remove him. There were common-sense principles applicable to all such cases. A high officer, like a Head Master, should be chosen with all caution, prudence, and judgment; and when a man was appointed to manage important affairs, accompanied by responsibility for their proper management, he must be invested with the necessary authority to insure success. Plenary autho- rity with plenary responsibility vested n one person was, in reality the only way in which truly efficient and satisfactory service could be obtained. The Head Master of a School might be compared with the commander of an army, he Governing Body being his council of war; and their Lordships were aware that no army could achieve glory with a council of war as its commander. If a man were put upon his trial, and he knew that failure in his undertaking would be his misfortune and success his glory, he would exert himself to the utmost. It was only by giving complete authority to the person intrusted with the charge of a School, and making him exclusively responsible for the consequences, that they could expect to see its affairs managed with real efficiency and success.


said, he thought the Governing Body might be intrusted with a very large share of authority, and yet by no means be constantly meddling in the details of daily School management. It was said, "Let them choose the best man as Head Master," but that was what the Governing Body always tried to do; but even if they succeeded in securing the best man he would not be impeccable. He might require advice, and might occasionally have to consult the Governing Body. Public Schools had flourished, in spite of the possibility of the Governing Body interfering; and it had never yet been held that it was necessary to make the Head Master absolute. He hoped their Lordships would not make the Governing Body ridiculous by rendering them powerless, by investing the Master with absolute power. It was to be supposed that the Governing Body would at least have the attribute of common sense, and common sense would teach them to abstain from interference in cases when it would be unnecessary or injurious.


said, he had been struck with the difference between the opinions expressed in regard to the Governing Bodies of these institutions. Some authorities held that they always acted with sense, and never interfered unduly with the Head Masters, while others took an opposite view. He himself believed that the Governing Bodies had, in certain cases, interfered in very minute matters, and thus weakened the authority of the Master. A Governing Body meeting once or twice a year would probably wish to do something to show it had authority, and by its interfering between the Master and the boys the hitter might get the notion that the decision of the former was not final. That would be a great evil, considering that the character of the School must always depend so greatly upon the character of the Master. Moreover, if the Head Master committed very grave faults, the ultima ratio of dismissal must rest with the Governing Body.


was anxious, before their Lordships went to a division, that they should consider what was the real question on which they were about to divide. He thought they were all substantially agreed on the proposition that it was very desirable, if the Governing Body exercised due care in getting the best Head Master they could obtain, that they should give him very great—indeed, the utmost possible latitude; that they should make him feel that he had that latitude, and that they were not going to interfere with him in matters of which he must have infinitely more knowledge than they could possess, and on which he must act almost every day in the year. But the question was whether now, for the first time in the history of their legislation, they would give statutory powers, absolutely uncontrolled, to a person who, standing in the position of a Head Master, however excellent he might be, and however large the discretion vested in him, was, after all, only the servant of the Governing Body. He would put the matter in this way to the noble Lord (Lord Overstone) who had had large experience in extensive banking operations. He had no doubt that the noble Lord, if he wished to set up a branch bank in a country town, would get the most trustworthy confidential manager or clerk he could, pay him a large salary, and say to him—"I look to you for the proper conduct of the business in that town. I give you very great latitude." But if an Act of Parliament stepped in and said that the person thus employed should have such statutory powers that his employer should not be able to interfere with him, he asked, would the noble Lord undertake the government of the bank on those terms? But it was said that if anything went wrong the Governing Body of the School would have the power of dismissing the Head Master. Let him test that assertion. Supposing the Head Master had the statutory power which the Amendment would give him, and supposing he introduced into the School a book trenching on religious instruction and containing principles and doctrines of which the Governing Body highly disapproved, and which might operate very injuriously on the fortunes of the School—then the Governing Body would have no power to interfere. But as it was said they would be able to dismiss the Head Master—supposing they did dismiss him, in that case what would happen when the matter came before the public, as it was sure to do? The Governing Body might allege, on their side, that it was true the Head Master was an excellent Head Master, but they had disagreed with him about a certain book which he had introduced into the School, and thereupon had dismissed him. The answer made to that would be—"What! dismiss him for that! Why, Parliament has given him power to do these things." What then becomes of that great safety-valve, the power of dismissal? A Governing Body could not in the face of public opinion, after Parliament had passed a clause saying these things should be in the uncontrolled power of the Master, dismiss the Master for exercising the uncontrolled power which Parliament had given him.


said, that as the whole responsibility rested with the Head Master he ought to have a power separate from the Governing Body. If the powers were given him by the clause the Governing Body would remove him for exercising that power in a bad manner, as well as for other things.


said, that from his experience as president of one of the largest schools in England—Cheltenham College—he thought it necessary to give uncontrolled power of management to the Head Master. He was removable by the Governing Body, subject to an appeal to the Visitor, who was the Bishop of the diocese. He did not believe that a competent man could be otherwise obtained; but there appeared to be much force in the objection of the Lord Chancellor against making this a matter of statutory regulation. It ought to be imperative, however, upon the Governing body to make regulations under which the Head Master should be elected, giving him freedom in all these matters.


was certain the Governing Bodies would get very much j better Masters if they left them uncon- trolled, and he must therefore press his clause to a division.


addressed the House shortly, but was quite inaudible.

On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents 17; Not-Contents 30: Majority 13.

Resolved in the Negative.

Abingdon, E. Lyveden, L.
De Grey, E. [Teller.] Monson, L.
Granville, E. Northbrook, L.
Lichfield, E. Overstone, L.
Morley, E. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Sydney, V. Saltersford, L.(E. Countertown.)
De Mauley, L. Saye and Sele, L.
Foley, L. Seaton, L.
Lyttelton, L. [Teller.]
Cairns L. (L. Chancellor.) Hawarden, V. [Teller.]
Stratford deRedcliffe, V.
Buckingham and Chandos, D. Strathallan, V.
Mar. lborough, D. Abinger, L.
Richmond, D. Churchill, L.
Churston, L.
Exeter, M. Clinton, L.
Bradford, E. Colchester, L.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Colville of Culross, L. [Teller.]
Chichester, E.
Graham, E, (D. Montrose.) Denman, L.
Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)
Harrowby, E.
Lucan, E. Houghton, L.
Malmesbury, E. Mostyn, L.
Nelson, E. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Powis, E.
Southampton, L.
Hardinge, V.

Further Amendments made: Bill to be read 3a on Monday next; and to be printed as amended. (No. 288.)