HL Deb 24 March 1868 vol 191 cc105-38

rose to call the attention of their Lordships to the subject of Public Elementary Education. The noble Duke said. My Lords, I rise for the purpose of bringing before your Lordships the important subject of which I have given notice, which has occupied the anxious attention of Her Majesty's Government, and to which I now entreat your Lordships' calm and patient attention. On a matter of this importance I cannot do better than commence by quoting a passage from Her Majesty's Speech at the opening of Parliament. Her Majesty said, she trusted that Parliament "would approach the subject of popular education with a full appreciation both of its vital importance and its acknowledged difficulty." My Lords, there is scarcely any subject which ought to be so tenderly treated as that of education. Whether we consider its vital consequences, or whether we consider the vast amount of feeling and voluntary efforts that is enlisted in its support, we must upon every side acknowledge that it is one in which the minds of very many persons are deeply interested, and therefore, if we should take a false step, or arrive at a hasty conclusion, we might commit an irretrievable error, and we might, instead of forwarding those objects which we must all have at heart, retard the progress of elementary education in this country, and do irremediable mischief. Many are the advantages which follow from the conflict of parties in this country. It cannot be doubted that these conflicts are productive, to a great extent, of public freedom and the elucidation of truth, and are, upon the whole, conducive to wise and prudent legislation; but if there ever were a subject upon which I might claim and entreat that the views of public politics might be laid aside, and that the hatchet of discord might be buried, it is upon this subject of public elementary education. I believe that many of your Lordships will coincide in that opinion, more especially as noble Lords opposite have at the present moment raised a question of vast importance, and one which will occupy party discussion for some considerable time to come. I trust your Lordships will approach this subject free from these party feelings, and that you will give to it your unbiassed consideration, with a view to the promotion of the real interests of the country. The Government, in considering this question—one to which they felt their attention was imperatively called—have felt that, in order to propose any measure to Parliament which should be of a satisfactory character, it would be necessary not to look merely at one phase of it, or that which embodied or embraced its most salient features, but to take a view of the whole subject, and that whatever measure the Government might propound for the consideration of Parliament, it ought to bear upon the face of it something of the character of a national system—a system which might become a part of the permanent legislation of the country. Your Lordships are aware that we are not for the first time beginning to deal with this question—we are not, as it were, attacking a desert ground, or implanting a system of education in this country; our task is to review what is now in existence, and to endeavour to frame a plan which shall be the foundation of a national system. In bringing this question before your Lordships, it is necessary that I should trespass for some time on your time and patience, for the purpose of stating what may be assumed to be the present state of education in this country. In asking you to change to some extent the present system, it is only fair to consider at the outset what is that system, and what are the wants which we have to supply. Now, in the discussions which have taken place on this subject, the Report of the Royal Commissioners of 1861 seems to me to have been strangely overlooked, yet I do not suppose a more exhaustive investigation was ever made into any subject than was made into education by that Commission, commonly known as the Duke of Newcastle's Commission. According to that Report, the number of children whose names ought at that date, in proportion to the population, to have been on the school books, was 2,655,767; while the actual number on the books was 2,535,462, showing a deficiency of 120,305 who were supposed to be without any school instruction whatever. They added that 321,768 of the 2,535,462 were above the condition of those commonly comprehended in the term poorer classes, and therefore were beyond the range of their inquiry. Deducting these from the number on the school books, there remained 2,213,694 children of the poorer classes who were then receiving elementary instruction in day schools. They then compared these figures with the proportion in foreign countries—particularly in Prussia, which is supposed to have attained great results in consequence of the operation of a compulsory system—and they reported that whereas in that country 1 in 6 of the population attended school, in England 1 in 7 or 1 in 8 of the population were at school. They proceeded to point out the remarkable progress which had been made since the commencement of the present century. They stated that in 1803 the estimated number of day scholars was 524,241, or 1 in 17½ of the population; in 1818, 674,883, or 1 in 17¼; in 1833, 1,276,947, or 1 in 11¼; and in 1851, 2,144,378, or 1 in 8.36; while in 1858, according to their own Returns, the proportion was 1 in 7.7. With this statement before us we cannot deny that great progress has been made in education, and I think we should be committing a very great error if we should run away with the notion that the wants which have to be supplied are so great as to demand any violent or extraordinary remedy. I believe those wants are being investigated, and will become fully known; but I deem it right to combat the idea that the educational wants of this country are so enormous as have been represented, for such statements give the go-by to all those efforts which have been and are being made throughout the country. I will now refer to a more recent Return obtained by the National Society, which is accustomed to prosecute a decennial inquiry into the state of education in Church of England schools, and the results which have lately been disclosed are, on the whole, very satisfactory. It is true that they relate exclusively to Church schools, but the position occupied by the Church of England in the field of education is such that the statistics of these schools afford a very good criterion of what is being generally done for the promotion of education. I will take three specimens of counties, which I have selected more or less at random out of this Return, to show the progress that has been made. First of all, taking an agricultural county, Berkshire, I find that in 1856–7 the number of day scholars at Church of England schools was 15,125; in 1866 it was 18,469; or in the former year 1 in 11.2, in the latter 1 in 9.7 of the population. In the county of Chester, which is partly agricultural and partly manufacturing, I find that in 1856 the number of children at those schools was as 1 in 17 of the population; in 1867 it was as 1 in 14. Taking a county which is the type of a great manufacturing one, where perhaps the Church might be supposed to have less influence and educational establishments to be less prominent than in other and more agricultural counties, I find that in Lancashire, in 1856, the proportion of children in Church Schools was as 1 in 23; in 1866 it was as 1 in 19. These Returns show the great progress which has been made with regard to Church of England schools. I will not detain your Lordships at any length by quoting more extracts than may be necessary; but there is one which I would wish to read with regard to Cheshire, in which Returns have been obtained, not only from Church of England, but also from undenominational and Nonconformist sources. The statement of the National Society with respect to that county is this— Returns to the National Society's statistical survey have been received from all the parishes and ecclesiastical districts in Cheshire except eight. Eighteen parishes are destitute of Church, national, or parochial week-day schools; three, however, of these have dames' or cottage schools, four are provided with education in schools in neighbouring parishes, while in the remaining eleven parishes there arc, so far as the Returns show, no Church week-day schools of any kind, nor do the Returns specify the means, if any, by which the children obtain education. A complete numerical statement of week-day education at this moment in Cheshire is easily attainable. In Church week-day schools there are, as ascertained by actual enumeration, 36,970 scholars; in Roman Catholic week-day schools there are at the present time 5,669; in Wesleyan (Old Connexion) weekday schools 4,382; in British and all other weekday schools in Cheshire, under committees, there were in 1858, as ascertained by the Royal Commissioners, 6,291 scholars, which for the present time is, of course, much under the actual numbers. The total number, therefore, in all weekday schools under committees is 53,312. But the scholars in private adventure week-day schools must be added. Taking the proportion of such scholars to those in schools under committees, as ascertained by actual enumeration by the Royal Commissioners, and adding the result—namely, 27,377—to the above-mentioned 53,312, the total number of children in week-day schools of every description in Cheshire may be safely taken at not less than 80,689, which in a population of 536,364 for Cheshire, as estimated by the Registrar-General in December, 1866, gives a proportion of 1 week-day scholar to every 6.6 of the entire population of the county. That may be considered a somewhat favourable statement, but it is one to which some attach very considerable importance, and which we may fairly enlist as an argument in support of the contention that the state of education throughout the country, though deficient in some respects, is not so deficient as to call for those alarming and perhaps over-strong measures which have been proposed in order to afford a complete and efficient remedy. In looking at the various modes in which it is proposed to supply the educational wants of the country, there are three heads under which we are brought to consider them. The first of these is that great system which is already in operation — namely, that of voluntary efforts aided by Government grants; the second is that system which may be applicable to the same ends, either in substitution for the first or as auxiliary to it—namely, a system of voluntary initiation which, instead of being supported by public and private subscriptions, would be maintained by public rates; and the third would be one which would depend more upon Government action. Instead of leaving the initiation with respect to education to individuals, it would throw it rather upon the central Government, which should take under its cognizance the general educational wants of the country, and of itself apply the remedy, if not applied by local and private efforts. I am bound at the outset, in stating the views of Her Majesty's Government to your Lordships, to say that we have had very fully under our consideration the second of these systems—namely, that of providing for education by means of voluntary efforts aided out of the public rates. My Lords, it is impossible to deny that there are great difficulties connected with the adoption of that system. I do not say that such a system may be ultimately impossible. I do not deny that hereafter, perhaps, if all efforts fail, it may be necessary that some such system be put in practice. But I think I am bound to state the great difficulties which encounter such a proposal—difficulties which it is impossible not to recognize, which it would be the extreme of impolicy to ignore, and which any Government framing a measure for the public benefit would fail in its duty if it did not take into its most serious consideration. In drawing your Lordship's attention to this subject I must again advert to those very valuable investigations which were conducted by the Duke of Newcastle. The subject of local parochial rating was one to which the Commissioners directed their especial attention, and the conclusions they came to are contained in this passage— It is undoubtedly true that a compulsory system of parochial rating would establish school buildings, and supply the means of payment for education in all parts of the country more rapidly than any other system. But though those advantages are great, they would not necessarily secure the means of imparting a good education; there is no reason to doubt that they might be obtained, though not so immediately, by a different method; and the very fact of their being gained immediately might give rise to the evils which attend upon the premature establishment of a system for which the country is not prepared. Parishes arc, indeed, seldom unprovided with school buildings, though they often require improvement; and little would be done, either by an increase of buildings, or even of educational funds, unless it were accompanied by the establishment of an efficient system, unless the management were placed in the best hands, and unless security were taken for the ability of the master and the energy of his teaching. My Lords, they sum up their objections to the local parochial system of rating under the heads, first, of want of local interest. They say that— Rates are also a proper fund for expenses in respect of which it is desirable to exercise vigilant and minute economy, and they are accordingly charged with the support of paupers. The support of a good school does not fall under either of these heads. No doubt it is a matter of immediate local interest and advantage, but it is not at present felt and acknowledged to be so by the great majority of persons contributing to the rate. The whole history of popular education in England shows that the contrary is the truth. What has been done towards its advancement has been done by a charitable and enlightened minority, assisted by the Government. That goes to the point of the initiation of schools depending upon local rating and the will of the ratepayers. They then go on to state what will be patent to most of your Lordships, that if we look to the administration of rates generally it is not characterized by that liberality which would be necessary to secure a supply of good and efficient schools. There is another point also to which they draw attention, and that is with regard to the appointment of teachers. On this point they say— The experience of the majority of workhouse schools leads us to fear that the consequence of putting the management of the schools into the hands of the parochial bodies would be that trained teachers and pupil teachers would in a great measure cease to be employed, and that the whole standard of elementary education would be lowered. There exist, indeed, some excellent schools for pauper children; but in most cases it is only under pressure from the Poor Law Board that the Boards of Guardians have been induced to appoint competent teachers. When left to themselves, they almost always made unsatisfactory appointments; and though there are special difficulties connected with pauper education, the way in which it has been generally managed by the Boards of Guardians is certainly not encouraging as evidence of the fitness of similar bodies to undertake the management of elementary schools. There is another difficulty which I must mention, and that is the religious one. We know, my Lords, how strong is the feeling that religion should always form a part of elementary education. I believe that is a feeling so engrained in the minds of the people of this country that nothing can remove it, and I fear that no system of education that could be proposed would be likely to be accepted or be successful in its application if it ignored that great fact upon which the Church of England and the Dissenting communities alike insist—that religion should form part of the education of children. Bearing this feeling in mind, the Commissioners state that very great difficulties would arise if a system of general rating were adopted, which would involve questions relating to the management of schools in which religious matters would have to be entered into. They state that— The clergy of the Church of England look upon their own denomination as the established religion of the nation, and they would feel that that fact gave them a right to a leading part in the management of any general system of education established by the State. A large proportion of the Dissenters, on the other hand, disapprove any connection between the Chinch and the State, and entertain conscientious objections to conferring upon the clergy, as such, any official connection whatever with public education. If such a position were conferred upon them by law, it would be felt to be exclusive, and the exercise of the powers which it conferred would be scrutinized with jealousy, and would be a constant occasion of bad feeling and disputes. If, on the other hand, it were withheld the clergy would feel themselves aggrieved, and would consider that the State had not recognized their claims. They would thus dislike the system, and would probably be reluctant to give to it that cordial co-operation which would be so important as to be almost indispensable to its success. In the view of these difficulties, which presented themselves to the Commissioners of 1861, the plan they proposed was not one which derived funds from local rates. Looking to the difficulties of management, as well as the probable illiberality of ratepayers, they felt it absolutely necessary to spread their system over a wider area, and they proposed that whatever aid was to be given to schools deriving aid from the State should be given on the area of the county rate, and that the county rate should be the fund from which the payments should be made. But the Commissioners also kept in view the great fact that whatever was to be done should not in any degree interfere with the support given to schools by subscriptions and by the school pence, and that the aid given should supplement the funds thereby obtained together with the aid given by the State. How that system was likely to be received in Parliament, and what was the opinion of it entertained by the Government of that day, may be gathered from the words of Mr. Lowe, in reply to a question which was put to him when he was giving evidence before the Committee presided over by Sir John Pakington. The plan then under consideration, it should be remembered, was one likely to succeed, if any plan could succeed; it was one framed upon the largest, the most moderate basis, and one which, if they had thought it possible to carry, would have been certainly adopted by the Government of that day. But your Lordships shall hear what was Mr. Lowe's answer when asked why it was not carried out. The question was— Have you ever considered whether the extension of education throughout the country might be assisted by any form of local organization? Answer.—Yes, in the form which was suggested to us in the Report of the Royal Commissioners, when it was thought that it would be proper to form county boards, and to have a sort of supplementary agency out of the county rate. We decided that that plan was impracticable; we thought it would be impossible to persuade the House of Commons to agree to it. Mr. Lowe afterwards added in the House of Commons— That being so, I am not, I confess without my doubts as to the figure I should make if I were to come down to the House and propose to impose this burden on the county rates, and I should, I must admit, much prefer that the task devolved on some one else. That was his opinion as to the feasibility of the moderate plan proposed at the time. Since then a different system has been put forward. The result of the Commissioners' Report was the production of the Revised Code. By means of that Code the aid which the Commissioners contemplated giving out of the county rate was granted from the public Exchequer, and it was supposed that by this system of paying for results, in addition to subscriptions and the school pence, an average of 15s. per child would be provided for the purposes of national education. What has been proposed now in view of a general system of rating? It would not be proposed, as in 1861, to allow rates to supplement that which was already in existence in relief of the public funds, but it would be proposed to establish rates in lieu of private subscriptions, and in many cases the school pence. Now, I will trouble your Lordships with a remarkable Return which has been prepared for me showing what these local efforts are, and what is the amount of school pence under the present system, which, in these two particulars, would be almost entirely superseded if you adopted a system of general rating. From this Return I find that in the purely agricultural counties there are 2,010 schools, with an average attendance in the year ending August 31, 1867, of 195,136 scholars; the average amount of school pence paid per scholar is 6s.d., and the average amount of voluntary contributions per scholar is 9s.d.; the total being £64,478 5s. 5d. a year of school pence, and £92,103 7s. 7d. of voluntary subscriptions. In the manufacturing districts, the average school pence per child was 9s.d., and the average private subscriptions 5s. 5d., making a total of £100,256 1s. 1d. in school pence, and £57,810 3s. 10d. voluntary contributions, showing a much larger amount of school pence and a smaller amount of voluntary contributions than in the agricultural counties. In the mixed districts, the school pence averaged 7s. 10¾d. per child; the voluntary contributions, 8s.d.: showing a total of £74,625 6s. 2d. in school pence, and £82,259 12s. 11d. in voluntary contributions. This was for the Church of England schools. In the British schools, the average of school pence per child was 10s.d.; voluntary contributions, 5s.d.: giving a total amount paid in school pence of £94,989 13s. 3d. and in the voluntary contributions, £50,843 17s. 1d. The Roman Catholic schools showed an average of 4s. 11½d. per child in school pence, and 6s.d. in voluntary contributions: making £13,674 6s. 10d. paid in school pence, and £17,118 5s. 8d. in voluntary contributions. The grand total for England and Wales is — average school pence per child, 8s.d.; average voluntary contributions per child, 7s.d.: total school pence, £390,907 13s. 11d.; total voluntary contributions, £351,598 8s. 4d. My Lords, I contend that in the face of these facts it would not be proper to establish any system that would have the slightest risk of imperilling the continuance of those great efforts which show how strongly impressed are the minds of both parents and benevolent persons throughout the country with the value of education, and how, in fact, this feeling has created and maintains a most inestimable system at the present day. No doubt, other plans have been proposed. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell) brought in a Bill in 1855 for rating in boroughs; and many years ago Sir John Pakington proposed to introduce a general system of rating. All these plans invariably had in view the desirability of not imposing a system of rating upon those schools which did not wish to put themselves in union; but, at the same time, they devised a plan by which certain school unions might be created; certain schools putting themselves in union with other schools, and becoming participators in the rate. That might have been very well and plausible in theory, but the result must inevitably have been that the system would in a short time have absorbed all schools into its action, and have destroyed the voluntary contributions received in the district. Few people, when obliged to pay rates for educational purposes, will be inclined to contribute by voluntary subscription towards the same object. The result will be that these subscriptions will fall off. Schools before supported by voluntary aid will compare the flourishing rate-aided schools with their own; they will abandon the system of voluntary effort and self-management under which they have hitherto existed, and will be driven by a process of starvation to come into union. If that is is done, we shall have come to that system of local rating which the Commissioners of 1861, after lengthened inquiry and patient consideration, declared to be inadmissible and detrimental to the best interests of education. The only other point I have to notice is the plan proposed of raising rates over limited areas, and merely for local purposes. Here we are met with a very great difficulty in regard to what shall be the denomination of the schools. I see no conclusion, no escape out of the difficulty that would be created by such a plan, other than that of the schools being secular schools. That is the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) who has, I think, fairly viewed the difficulties of this position. He has seen that if you have schools supported by local rates, whether they be few or many, it would be exceedingly difficult to escape from the position that they must be secular schools. I do not think we are at present prepared to adopt a system of purely secular schools supported out of public rates. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell), in the proposals he has made from time to time in regard to the provision for education in boroughs, has made out a very strong case for the adoption of remedial measures. The case of boroughs, however, is to a great extent different from that of rural districts. In boroughs you have teeming populations of children in conditions of life to which they are rarely subjected in rural districts. Let it not be forgotten that in boroughs the case presents great pecuniary difficulties. In boroughs, the burdens already imposed upon the ratepayers are very great, and of an increasing character. The burdens which press very heavily on the ratepayers include the poor rates, borough rates, lighting and watching rates, general district rates, rates levied by Improvement Commissioners, burial rates, water rates, and, in some instances, church rates. By way of illustration, I may state that they amount to the sums named in these boroughs: — Blackburn, 3s. 2d. in the pound; Devonport, 5s. 3d.; Gateshead, 7s.d; King's Lynn, 5s. 11d.; Poole, 6s.d.; and Plymouth, 6s. 11¼d. The pressure of administrative burdens is, in many instances, augmented by the interest upon the large sums which the boroughs have from time to time borrowed for local improvements. It may not be altogether in form to allude to a speech made in the other House of Parliament a few days ago by a right hon. Gentleman who has paid the greatest possible attention to the subject. Mr. Goschen states that, out of 211 corporate boroughs in 1856, 169 made returns, and in 1866 only 75 did so. From these he gathered that in Bolton the borough rate had risen from £7,500 in 1857 to £10,500 in 1866; that the debt had risen in the same period from £188,000 to £270,000; that in Warrington the borough rate had increased from £6,000 to £10,000; and that Bradford, Birmingham, Oldham, and one or two other towns exhibited similar results. Sanitary measures are being pressed upon corporate authorities. Under Acts that are passed and passing they will be obliged to incur considerable outlay; it may therefore be inferred that the burdens on borough ratepayers, even the poorest, are on the increase; and it therefore becomes a serious matter to propose any augmentation of the burdens borne by the inhabitants of populous places. We have already various educational enactments, such as the Industrial Schools Act, which applies to boroughs and rural districts, the Reformatory Schools Act, and Workhouse Acts, by which children are educated in workhouses out of the rates. The Industrial Schools Act may be extended, and the necessities of the country may hereafter require a further resort to rates in the interests of education; but under present circumstances we should be exceeding our duty if we proposed any additional compulsory burden for the purposes of education. There is another reason why we should pause before we make such a proposal. It is well known that there is a very large amount of property in charitable endowments, and there ought to be no delay in enquiring how far these charitable endowments may be made applicable to education. From information furnished to me the other day by the Charity Commissioners. I find they consider that about £160,000 a year of charity income may be applied to the purposes of elementary education. The amount already applied to schools is over £1,000,000 a year. The value of many charities injuriously applied in gifts to persons who do not require relief will give another large sum, which may with advantage be applied to the purposes of elementary education. Having before us all these facts—the Report of the Commission of 1861 as to the difficulties of a general system of rating, the differences of opinion that exist upon the subject, and the impossibility that there would be of enforcing a system of compulsory attendence.I do not think that the country is ripe for either a partial or a general system of compulsory rating. Whatever future investigations may prove to be necessary, or future exigencies may prove to be desirable, the Government are not prepared now to propose a compulsory system. Having stated what we are not at present prepared to do, I will ask your Lordships' attention to that which we propose to do. I would first direct your Lordships' attention to that great system which has been in operation for nearly forty years promoting the education of the country. No one can consider the effects that system has produced, how it has won the national sympathies and popular estimation, how it has been the parent of all that has been accomplished in the way of education, without feeling that that plan was founded in great wisdom, and that it is worthy of being retained as part of a national system. In a remarkable summary of what has been effected by it, the Commissioners of 1861 say— Although essentially a voluntary system, and demanding great previous exertions as a condition of giving aid, it has within twenty years of its commencement either led to the foundation of or greatly improved 9,388 schools, or about two-fifths of the entire number of existing public Schools, which contain 1,101,545 scholars, or about half the number now under instruction in the whole country. It assists largely in supporting thirty-two training Colleges, the greater number of which it helped to establish; and while the Government has itself expended on national education, in round numbers, £4,400,000, it has been met by voluntary subscriptions to the amount of £3,800,000. Its system of inspection has raised the standard of education, and by the careful training of its teachers, and, above all, by the introduction of pupil-teachers, it has supplied the best means for teaching in schools. Passing on to a more recent date, I will quote figures bearing upon the same results from a remarkable pamphlet by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth. Speaking of the Minutes of 1846, which gave a permanent character and stamp to the Committee of Privy Council on Education, he says— A great impulse was thus given to the exertions of the religious bodies. The majority of them entered earnestly into this co-operation. The whole sum of the Parliamentary grants, which had amounted in the seven years between 1839 and 1840 to only £305,000, rose to an outlay of £6,405,862 in the sixteen succeeding years. The sum of the grants for building, enlarging, and furnishing schools amounted in 1866 to £1,608,100, and with this aid 6,801 schools, capable of accommodating 915,516 scholars, had been built. The annual grants towards the expenses of maintaining elementary schools since 1839 bad become in the aggregate £5,297,210, of which £3,714,899 had been directly applied to the keeping up of an efficient staff of teachers. These aggregates represent only one-third of the actual expenditure, which exceeded £20,000,000. At the last annual inspection 1,234,491 scholars were present. The grants towards the support of training Colleges — which were in the ratio of two-thirds of the annual outlay—amounted in 1866 to £1,046,443. All notice of some small subordinate objects of expenditure is omitted. The cost of administration has been £912,647, of which the greater portion arose from the inspection and examination departments, by which the efficiency of schools was so greatly promoted. I will also trouble your Lordships with some figures, in order to show you what has been the aggregate amount contributed up to the present time by way of school pence and other private and voluntary subscriptions, in aid of the system administered by the Privy Council. And first of all I must state what is the number of scholars in attendance in schools aided by the State compared with the number who attend unaided schools. The number of public schools is now about 60 per cent of the whole, and therefore it will be been that the proportion of one-half has been on the increase. Looking at the statement of the outlay for buildings, &c., from 1839 to 1867, I find that there has been granted out of the public purse £1,362,450, while there has been subscribed from local sources £3,126,442. In regard to normal schools there has been granted out of the public purse £118,627, whereas no less than £278,842 has been privately subscribed. And in regard to the annual expenditure of schools in the year 1867 the public purse grained £390,486, while the school pence and voluntary contributions amounted to £856,376. The total amount granted out of the public purse for buildings and maintenance amounted to £499,434, and the private contributions to £833,008. We must also bear in mind that the system already in existence has by no means done its work completely, for there are a number of unaided schools which require its assistance, and which ought to be gradually brought within its operation. It is estimated that on these private schools £453,885 is expended annually in the form of private contributions and school pence. My Lords. I have also figures which prove how steadily the system administered by the Privy Council has extended its operations from 1859 up to the present time. In 1859 it appears there were 5,531 institutions brought under its operation; but in 1867 this number had increased to 7,577. Again, in 1859 there were 5,225 certificated teachers employed in these schools, while in 1867 there were no fewer than 10,510. Then I find that in 1862–3 the number of voluntary contributors who subscribed £5 and upwards was 8,281; but in 1866–7 their number had swelled to 11,051. In the former year the number of voluntary subscriptions under £1 was 70,285; and in the latter 99,875. Therefore, in considering the present system, we are bound to ascertain how far it maybe possible to make it a part of a national system, and also to discover its peculiar defects, which it will be the duty of Parliament and of the Government to remedy. In the first place, it cannot be denied that there is some disadvantage in the present system, from the fact of its being liable to change. The system of the Code is a complicated one, and although it is true that the Code is annually laid on the table of both Houses, yet, in point of fact, the changes annually introduced into it very often escape the observation of Parliament. There is also another point which the Government have under their consideration, and I trust your Lordships will give your most earnest attention to it. The administration of public education in this country is not carried on as it ought to be. The great defect of the existing system is that it is not initiative, but merely follows in the wake of voluntary efforts. Now, my Lords, it is impossible, looking to the vast importance of the Department of Education, not to be struck with the fact that it is desirable to make some change in this respect, either immediately or at no very distant date. At present, the Educational Department has not only to administer the Grant voted annually by Parliament—which is done by the Committee of Council on Education—but also to superintend the very large and increasing Science and Art Department. This system is capable of vast expansion, and I have no doubt that considerable demands will be made from time to time on the Government of the day to extend and develope it. For instance, new Museums, or portions of those now existing, may be transferred to that Department. In addition to this there is the great subject of Scotch education, which must shortly engage the attention of Parliament. Then there is the system of Irish education, which cannot be said to be at present in a satisfactory state. Practically, the Government has no control over the large grants annually voted by Parliament for Irish education. They are administered by a local Commissioner, who is not directly responsible to the Government. The endowed schools of Ireland likewise offer a vide field for legislation. These schools were reported on many years ago, but no action has yet been taken in the matter; and, coming to a later period, we find that a most voluminous Report of the Middle Class Schools Commission has lately been laid upon the table. On the present occasion I do not propose to go into that Report, which embraces subjects of the widest and most important character. It would, indeed, be impossible for any Department of the State to take up the matter, unless it were specially organized for the purpose, and unless there were persons appointed by the Crown to take this great subject under their cognizance, and to initiate measures on their own responsibility. Having fully considered the subject, Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that there is enough work and a sufficiently large field of enterprise to engage the attention of a special Department of the State, and it is therefore the intention of the Government to propose that Parliament shall empower Her Majesty to appoint a Secretary of State who shall have the whole range of educational matters under his consideration and control. We propose that he shall not only administer the grants now administered by the Privy Council, but also, on his own responsibility, look into the various subjects connected with the education of the country, and propose to Parliament such schemes as he may think are calculated to promote the cause of national education. Therefore, the first change we propose is to enable the Crown to appoint an additional Secretary of State for the Educational Department. In making this change we feel that it would also be desirable to give a greater permanence and a greater degree of security to those conditions on which the Parliamentary Grant is distributed. We therefore propose to put into an Act of Parliament those portions of the Revised Code which relate to the terms on which the Grant is dispensed. The Revised Code, as far as regards the grants made in aid of education out of the public purse, has now been some time in operation. It has worked well and given satisfaction to the public; and I believe experience has shown that the rate at which the funds of the State are applied in assisting voluntary efforts and on the results of examinations is not excessive. We propose that Parliament and the country should have the security of knowing what is the amount of public money that will be given for the support of elementary education; and that any increase of that amount should be regulated, not by any change which may from time to time be proposed by the individual Minister, but simply by the increase in the number of schools gradually brought under the operation of the system. At the same time we also feel that there are certain other changes which will be of a very important and very useful character. The first of these to which I will allude is this. It has long been felt—and I will not detain your Lordships by going over the figures, for I fear I have detained you long enough—it has long been felt that there are a large number of schools in existence which do not partake of the public grants. It has been our endeavour to discover the causes that have prevented those schools from sharing in the grants, and I think that two main causes have operated to a great extent in that way. One of them is that there are a great many Nonconformist congregations who have a strong opinion that the State should have no connection whatever with religious teaching; that it ought not to inquire into and ought not in any way to promote the religious teaching of the schools. Those bodies are not themselves in favour of a system of secular education; they conduct their schools according to their own religious tenets, yet they at the same time feel that from their conscientious convictions they are shut out from participation in the public grants, and they have failed to apply for the public aid which is afforded to other schools in consequence of their belief that the State, in requiring a connection with some religious denomination as a condition of receiving a share of the grants, is interfering with that which ought to be left entirely to their own free and voluntary initiative. The number of bodies who have been thus excluded is very considerable. At the same time, it those bodies were enabled by any change in the system hitherto followed to avail themselves of the public grants, it appears that they would do so to a very large extent. Mr. Baines (who represents the views of a large number of Congregationalists) delivered recently an address on the subject of elementary education, in which he said— Our primary schools are supported not for our own advantage, but for that of the clashes who are less favoured by fortune; at least nine-tenths of the school hours are devoted to the indispensable branches of secular education, and the payments made by the Government are exclusively for the successful results of that secular teaching, ascertained by individual examination of the children. Ought we to cripple and destroy our schools rather than accept those payments? I honour the motives of those who reply in the affirmative, but my own deliberate and revised judgment answers in the negative. Our own subscriptions pay much more than that part of the expense which is entailed by the religious instruction, and I think we may properly receive aid out of the taxes to which we ourselves have contributed for the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic to the children of our poorer fellow-countrymen… There can be no doubt that the intention of the Minutes of Council was to aid only schools in which religious instruction was given, and a school which is purely secular in its supporters and its teaching would be denied a grant. To this restriction and condition most, if not all, Congregationalists object,—not that they do not most highly value religious instruction, but that they think it ought not to be forced upon day schools as the condition of receiving grants. My Lords, we have carefully considered the great change which has been made in the system of public grants by the Revised Code of 1861. That change established the principle that payments were to be made for the results shown by examination in secular subjects. Yet the noble Earl opposite, (Earl Granville) who is thoroughly conversant with this matter, will, I believe, bear me out when I say that in some of the schools, according to the management clauses, the Inspectors are bound to inquire into the religious instruction; while in regard to certain other schools they are not so bound. Therefore we feel that the great change introduced by the Revised Code in 1861 practically comes to this—that you do offer payment to the schools on the results of the secular teaching. We have therefore arrived at the conclusion that the modification which may be made in the Revised Code, as it will be embodied in the Bill which I shall have the honour of laying on your Lordships' table, should be to leave out the existing condition which requires all schools aided by the State to be in connection with some religious denomination. We propose to give payments for results in reference to the secular teaching alone. We propose that where the Inspectors are bound not to inquire into the religious teaching of the schools they shall continue not to inquire into it. At the same time, where the Inspectors do inquire into the religions teaching, according to the management clauses which have been the subject of so much controversy, and which have been settled, we do not propose to interfere with those clauses, but to let the investigation into the religious instruction of such schools continue to take place. But we have come to the conclusion that when a school offers itself to be inspected, complying with the conditions as to sanitary arrangements, space, and all other requisites prescribed for its due conduct and management—when such a school offers its scholars for examination, when it passes that examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and when it satisfies the other requirements as to certificated and pupil-teachers, it ought not to be denied the benefit of the Grant. But in order that no mistake should exist on this subject, which is one of great interest to those who feel the importance of connecting religious teaching with education, and which is especially important in regard to Church of England schools, we propose to insert in the schedule of the Bill the management clauses which relate to inspection both in respect to Church of England schools and the schools of all other denominations. In fact, the management clauses of the Church of England, of the Wesley an, the Congregational, the Roman Catholic, the Jewish, and other schools will be embodied in the schedules of the Bill exactly as they stand and are at present used by those various bodies. The only change which will be made will be this, that if a purely secular school presents its scholars for examination, the State will not refuse to examine and pay for the results of their teaching. I believe that will cause a large increase in the applications for a share in the grants. We have reason to believe that the number of schools brought under inspection by that alteration will be very great, but it is now impossible fully to estimate them. They will be mostly schools promoted by the Nonconformist bodies. I believe the impulse which will thus be given to education amongst those bodies will be very great, because, owing to the religious scruples to which I have referred, they have hitherto failed to build schools and to exhibit that amount of educational enterprize which, when they feel that the assistance of the State is within their reach, they will undoubtedly display. The next point on which we feel that some change is desirable is in regard to the poorer districts. I have already spoken of the schools supported 03' bodies which are more or less wealthy, and which are not receiving State aid; but there is another class of schools — namely, those in the poorer and small rural districts. There we find at present existing a very large number of unaided schools. Sir James; Kay Shuttleworth says— The unassisted public schools are far more numerous than those which are assisted, amounting to 15,952 schools, exclusive of 115 factory schools, containing 17,000 scholars, whereas the assisted public schools are only 6,897. They are inferior, however, in the number of the scholars; those on the books of the assisted public schools being 917,255, those on the books of the 15,952 unassisted public schools only 654,393. Some of these schools are unassisted because the managers or patrons reject assistance, either from religious scruples or because their patrons dislike interference. These obstacles, however, are comparatively rare, and are rapidly diminishing. The great cause which deprives schools of Government assistance is their non-performance of the conditions on which that assistance is offered, a nonfulfilment of which the principal causes are poverty, smallness of population, indifference, or, as it has been lately called, apathy. Now, it cannot be denied that some of the conditions which are imposed on schools seeking to obtain assistance from the State press somewhat severely on the small rural parishes; and we are led to the conviction that one principal cause of those schools not receiving Government aid, and of the difficulties which they experience, is the condition with reference to certificated teachers. We do not propose to abandon the system of certificates. We regard that system as of the most essential and vital importance. We are of opinion that if we were to abandon the system of certificates altogether a great part of the sum voted for public education would be wasted. One conclusive argument against such a change is the necessity of maintaining the pupil-teacher system. The system of certificates exists in almost every country that has placed the education of its people upon a satisfactory and intelligible basis — in France, Switzerland, Prussia, Germany, and Holland. In all these countries the conditions with respect to teaching are more strict and severe than in this country. In some of these countries no persons are allowed to teach, either in public or private schools, unless they hold a Government certificate. Another objection to abandoning the system of certificates is that we should thereby lose that guarantee for good character and morality which it is most essential that teachers should possess. While we wish to see this system of certificated teachers maintained, I do not think that what I am about to propose will impair its efficiency. A good many schools in small parishes find a difficulty in complying with the requirements of the certificated system. We propose to take a limit below which schools may receive a portion of the annual Grant without the employment of certificated teachers. I say "a portion," because it would not be fair for them to receive the same proportion as the others. If the change we propose is carried out, it will not supplant the system of certificated teachers, but it would act as an inducement to those parishes, and enable able them to start their schools, and when they have had experience of the advantages of the Government Grant, it will encourage them to obtain a larger share of the Grant. We propose to take the limit which is adopted in what is called Mr. Corry's Minute, which was laid before Parliament last year, and which gives a grant of 1s. 4d. per head for passing in an extra subject. That Minute requires that a pupil teacher shall be maintained for every forty scholars after the first twenty-five, instead of after the first fifty, as in other schools. The object of that Minute was to aid the smaller schools. We propose to take the same limit, and to direct that schools below sixty-five shall be enabled to apply for inspection. When the school Inspector has reported that a school is suitable to be inspected by reason of its cleanliness, its building, and its space, the school will be allowed to present its scholars for examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and to obtain payment of 2s. 8d. for each subject, the further amount of 4s. being only paid in schools which have a certificated master and mistress. This arrangement will, we trust, be the weans of bringing many of the smaller schools into participation with the Parliamentary Grant. We also propose to make some addition to the Building Grant; and I will ask for the attention of your Lordships to a very remarkable Return on this subject. I find that in the year 1853 the Building Grant was 4s. per square foot of the school buildings. In 1860 it was reduced to 2s. 6d., and a very remarkable falling off ensued. Between 1850 and 1860 the Grant for building increased from £34,713 to £111,274. Between 1860, when the amount was reduced to 2s. 6d., and 1867, the amount fell off to £21,656. No doubt there were other causes to account for this reduction, because as so many schools had been built fewer remained to be erected. We consider, however, that it will be desirable to recur to the allowance of 4s. per foot for the Building Grant. Another change we propose to make regards evening schools. It is not very important, but we believe it will be of considerable benefit, as at present evening schools can only be inspected when they are held in the same premises as day schools which are already under inspection. We think that all evening schools which are properly reported upon, and which comply with the usual conditions, shall be open to inspection, and shall receive the grant whether they may be in connection with a day school or not. There is one other change of considerable importance. I refer to the Conscience Clause. Your Lordships are aware of what has hitherto been the practice in regard to the Conscience Clause. That has never been universally applied, except in cases where only one school can be supported in a parish, and where there is a sufficient proportion of Dissenters to make it apparent that their interests ought to be regarded. It was thought that a population of 900 and under could only support one school, and if it appears that one-sixth of the children at such school are the children of Dissenters, it has been thought equitable to apply the Conscience Clause in such cases. I think that where only one school is maintained in a parish the principle of a Conscience Clause is just and equitable. We think that the adoption of the Conscience Clause ought to depend upon there being only one school in a parish. We must remember that we are aiding denominational schools. We have never imposed, either upon the Church of England or upon the Wesleyans or the Dissenters, conditions that they were not disposed to accept. We have, on the contrary, desired to pay deference to their religious scruples. On the other hand, the Education Department, where only one school is maintained, in great part at the public cost, think that the Conscience Clause should be inserted in the deed. Objections, however, have been taken to the existing form of the Conscience Clause. I find, however, that the form has been taken from the Endowed Schools Act, which was passed with the sanction of the heads of the Church, and which enacts that— The trustees or governors of every endowed school are from time to time authorized and bound 'to make such orders as, whilst they shall not interfere with the religious teaching of other scholars as now fixed by statute or other legal requirement, and shall not authorize any religious teaching other than that previously afforded in the school, shall nevertheless provide for admitting to the benefit of the school the children of parents not in communion with the Church, sect, or denomination, according to the doctrines or formularies of which religious instruction is to be afforded under the endowment of the said school.' The Wesleyan school precedent was to the same effect. It provided that— No child shall in any case be required to learn any catechism or other religions formulary, or to attend any Sunday school or place of worship, to which respectively his or her parent or guardian shall, on religious grounds, object; but the selection of such Sunday school or place of worship shall in all cases be left to the free choice of such parent or guardian, without the child thereby incurring any loss of the benefits or privileges of any school or schools the trusts whereof are hereby declared. In the Jewish schools the clause is to this effect— The religious instruction in the said school to be given according to the principles of the Jewish religion, but not to be made compulsory upon any scholar whose parents do not profess that religion. In the Free Church of Scotland it is provided that no child shall be required to "learn any catechism or other religious formulary" to which his parents or guardians may object. In the undenominational schools the same words are used—"any catechism or other religious formulary." When, however, we come to the Church of England we find a grave distinction—namely, the insertion of the word "doctrine." The Conscience Clause in Church of England schools provides for the exemption of children whose parents may desire it "from attendance at the public worship, and from instruction in the doctrine or formularies of the said Church." Now, it is felt, and I think with much justice, that the word "doctrine" is a word of so undefined a character, and may have such a wide range of meaning, that it is unfair to apply it to Church of England schools when it is not applied to others. If a child cannot be required to learn a catechism or formulary, everybody knows what the exemption is; but if it is laid down that a child shall not be instructed in the "doctrine" of the Church of England, we may exclude religious teaching from the school altogether, for it may be said that the great doctrines of the Trinity and the Atonement are doctrines of the Church of England, though they are held by most other religious bodies. Considering that other denominations which have never objected to the principle of a Conscience Clause have felt it necessary to avoid the employment of the word "doctrine," and considering that in the case of the Wesleyan schools it is expressly stated that religious instruction shall always form a part of the school teaching, I think it is unwise and unfair to insist on the use of the word in the case of Church schools. The Government have come to the conclusion—which we believe will be generally accepted by the public—that in those cases in which it is desirable upon public grounds that a Conscience Clause should be inserted in the trust-deed of a school, two great principles should be observed—liberty on either side, the liberty of teaching and the liberty of withdrawal. Carrying out these principles, it is important that we should have a definite form of clause, not subject to change according to the opinions of any set of men who may be in office, but sanctioned and ratified by an Act of Parliament, which shall express, with the authority of Parliament, what it is by which the children shall be bound, and to what liberty they shall be entitled. The form we propose will be applicable to all cases where only one school exists, its object being to provide that the religious teaching shall not be interfered with, and that every parent shall have liberty to withdraw his child from teaching from which he dissents. It is to this effect:—It provides that the Secretary of State shall not have power to interfere with the religious instruction given in any school towards which a building grant has been made, unless the school be the only one available for poor children residing within a convenient distance, or unless there be any considerable number of children for whom no more suitable means of education are likely to be provided, and whose parents are likely to object to the religious instruction intended to be given, or to the worship intended to be used. In that case the trust-deed must provide that no child resident within the assigned limits shall be excluded from the school or deprived of its benefits and privileges on account of the religious persuasion of the said child, or of the parent, guardian, or other person having the custody or care of it, or on account of the withdrawal of such child from any part of the instruction given or worship held therein under the provisions hereinbefore contained, and that no such child shall be compelled to attend any Sunday school, or church, or other place of worship on Sunday as a condition of receiving instruction on week days; and any such parent, guardian, or other person as aforesaid shall have a right to withdraw such child from any lesson given, or form of worship used, or religious instruction given, in such school, upon giving notice to the principal teacher of such school that he objects to such lesson, or form of worship, or religious service on religious grounds. That is the Conscience Clause we propose, and such are the principles by which we have been guided. It only remains for me to mention a concluding provision in the Bill which we think of great importance. Although we have not deemed it proper to provide for a compulsory system of rating or for compulsory attendance at school, we think the Secretary of State should have the power of obtaining accurate information respecting the educational wants of the country, so that it may be laid before Parliament, and may indicate what measures are necessary to provide for any well-defined want. The Educational Returns that have from time to time been made have been admittedly imperfect, and we propose that the Secretary of State shall have power to order an Educational Census to be taken in any specified district. He will have the power of fixing the limit of value of the houses within which all children under a certain age are to be returned, and of requiring information of what school they attend, and what system of instruction is pursued. These Returns will be collected by means of the Registrar General's Department, and we regard this as an important step for facilitating any educational action that may be called for in the future. Constituted as the present Department is, and presided over by the President of the Council, who has many varied duties to perform, it would be difficult to set on foot such inquiries; but the change we propose will remove any difficulty on this head. Such, my Lords, is the measure which the Government propose, and which I now beg to lay on the table. We do not consider that it is a complete measure, because under the present state of circumstances it would be very difficult to frame a complete measure. We believe that we are proposing that which will lay the foundation of an ample system of education. We propose to confirm and place in a definite shape that which is already in existence. We propose to create a Department which shall have the responsibility of initiating measures that may be for the benefit of the country, and we propose to put into the hands of the new Minister all those powers which will be necessary to enable him to perform those functions. I trust that the plan is one that will be found to work well, and that it will be admitted to be as much as under existing circumstances can be provided. The noble Duke concluded by laying the Bill on the table.


It will no doubt be more convenient to discuss the details of the Bill on the second reading; but perhaps your Lordships will allow me to offer a remark on one or two points. For more than twenty years I have heard the complaint constantly preferred by the Opposition against the Ministry, that Bills of importance have not been produced in this House, so that they might be considered by us in reasonable time. I remember Lord Aberdeen remarking that for fifty years he had been familiar with the same complaint. Now, the noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) has presented a Bill which, though I am not quite sure I can call it a very important one, is a Bill on a most important subject, and he has given us a most legitimate mode of discussing the question of education, which I think this House is fully competent to do. I am bound, therefore, to thank him for having introduced it in this House. The noble Duke made an appeal to this side of the House not to treat the Bill in a party spirit. My desire is not to do anything of the kind. Over and over again I have stated, publicly and privately, that I thought Her Majesty's present Government have peculiar opportunities for dealing with this subject; and I rejoiced, when I read the last Report collected by the noble Duke, that he had come into office at a time when the question was universally asked, whether we would allow the spread of primary education to become simply a question of time, or would adopt measures to accelerate it? I rejoiced when I heard the emphatic sentiments on this subject which had been put into Her Majesty's mouth by Her Majesty's advisers, and I rejoiced still more when I read in the papers the declaration of Lord Stanley on the subject—though I am bound to say that Lord Stanley has been somewhat unfortunate in prognosticating the spirit of the measures which the Government with which he is connected were about to introduce—wherein he stated in such strong and unmistakeable words the educational measure about to be introduced. But as soon as the noble Duke began his very full description of the present state of things it was evident that some change had come over the intentions of Her Majesty's Government. I can hardly think that some of the most distinguished Members of Her Majesty's Government will be of opinion that this is the answer which ought to be given to that inquiry which the noble Duke so fully described as arising from all parts of the country—namely, "What are the measures to be taken to accelerate the progress of education?" Circumstances have contributed to make this question of education one of vital importance both to political and non-political persons, For my part I do not feel that the measure introduced by Her Majesty's Government, unless great alterations be made in it, will serve to give a satisfactory answer to that inquiry of the country. The noble Duke referred to the statistics of the Royal Commission with respect to the amount of education given in this country; but he referred to facts, the fallacy of I which has already been pointed out. The noble Duke said that, while in Prussia, one in six of the population were educated, in England we had arrived at the rate of one in seven or eight. Well, that would be a very satisfactory advance, though I do not see why any difference should exist. But what are the facts of the case? In our account we estimate all that are on the roll, and also take into account the infant schools; but that is not the way the calculation is made in Prussia. The consequence is that, in reality, we stand with respect to Prussia, not as having 1 in 7 or 8 receiving education, but 1 in 15. The noble Duke asked us not to treat this question as a desert — not to destroy, but to supplement. In that sentiment I entirely agree. I quite admit all the good that the Minute of 1846 effected in the education of this country. I admit that a large number of schools have been brought under the system which otherwise would never have found admission, and that the great class of certificated schoolmasters has been created. There is no complaint against the Minute of Council; but when I came first into the Council the noble Earl (Earl Russell) and Lord Lansdowne told me that they did not consider the system as a really national one, but the object should be to stimulate and improve it. That has been done; but yet it is not a national system. I do not care whether you take 100,000 children here or 100,000 there, and add them to the number; for I say that it is impossible for any of us who have read the Reports of bodies who have examined the matter, not only in Manchester, but in other places—in the diocese of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) for example—not to see that the educational destitution is something quite alarming, whether we consider the present or the future of this country. What I want, therefore, is to supplement; but I say that the scheme of the noble Duke, however well-meant and broad in some points, will utterly fail. I think the noble Duke mentioned seven points in his scheme. The first thing which I regret to see is that it is proposed to convert the Revised Code into an Act of Parliament. I think that is a mistake. These Minutes have been changed every year, and certainly not without necessity. It is almost impossible that, in a system like this, some changes from time to time should not be needful. The noble Duke says that Parliament has no control over it, that though presented every year the public do not attend to it. I believe that is a perfect mistake. The Code is published, and all the alterations in it are marked; and I believe if there is one document presented to Parliament more examined than another it is this, which affects the pecuniary Interests of some people in all the counties of England. This I will say, that if you convert this into an Act of Parliament you do more to stereotype the present state of things than by any course you could take. The second proposal, I think, was the creation of a Secretary of State for Education; but I would rather refer to that after I have gone through the other points. The third was with regard to additional grants for building schools. I believe that proposal is good. I am anxious that there should be great economy in the administration of the Parliamentary funds; but I think it is evident that when you have built schools in those parts of the country which are best able to pay for them there could be no objection to granting aid to those places which are not so well off. With regard to the Conscience Clause, I must thank the noble Duke for having adopted its principle. For myself, I should very much prefer to see that wherever aid is given by the State the Conscience Clause should be adopted. There is one proposal which I am sorry to see made; I mean that with regard to certificated masters. The noble Duke, in his Report to Parliament, said that he regarded the plan of certificated masters as the keystone of the system; and he spoke in the highest terms with regard to it. In that I quite agree. With the exception of Mr. Walter, who has certainly paid great attention to the subject and done a great deal for education, and one or two others. I do not know a single manager of schools who does not think the system of certificated teachers one of the most valuable results of the Minute of 1846. To do away with the necessity of a certificated teacher would destroy the efficiency of the school just at the very moment you wish to extend it. The change contemplated in this respect is one which I am afraid will tend to upset the present system. It is all very well for these people to get a grant and have a certificated master; but in these schools the temptation of a cheap school is very great; and without some condition of this sort established by the Central Office you will have them getting rid of the certificated master, and engaging an inferior one. Your Lordships must bear in mind that the uncertificated master who has conducted a school successfully can apply to be examined, and he need only pass in such subjects as are absolutely necessary as proofs of competence. I think it is quite illusory to suppose that any little concession of this kind will have much effect in the country districts; and as to London and the large provincial towns, it will produce no effect whatever, while it gives no initiative, which is the great vice of the present system. With regard to the proposed appointment of a Secretary of State, I know there has been a general cry for such an appointment; but I think there has been some misapprehension on this score. Objections have been made that there is no responsibility at present, and that the Education Department is administered by the Committee of Council, and not by the President of the Council. This is all a mistake. I am sure that the noble Duke considers himself responsible for the Department of Education, and that he administers the office by the help of the Vice President. I am sure that he only calls the Council together on those sorts of occasion when a Minister would call the Cabinet together, and a Committee of the Cabinet would be appointed to consider subjects of detail. You, therefore, have an advantage in being able to take this advice. At least I know that, having administered the office of President for a long time, I felt it an advantage to be able to consult at times the first-rate men who were in the Department, and a man of great genius who acted as Vice President. There is a confusion, I think, in the public mind as to the place where the responsibility really rests. It is impossible, of course, that the Vice President should not share the responsibility. But that is a real advantage in the system, because, having at your disposal a somewhat higher office than that of an Under Secretary of State, you have your pick of persons out of the Cabinet, and can command for that office the services of men of high official position to explain and defend the policy of the Department. I congratulate the noble Duke on the very easy life he will lead when this Department is taken from him; but the House of Commons will not, I think, be inclined to create a sixth Secretary of State, with an additional salary, and probably with some additional officers, whose only duty "at present"—because that was a term frequently used by the noble Duke—will be to turn the Minutes into an Act, thereby relieving himself of all trouble in that respect; to make certain concessions, which will also make it much easier to administer the Department; and to do with respect to the Conscience Clause what, once done, is done for ever. I am sure that you cannot create such an office as that of Secretary of State without bringing forward much more important measures for the promotion of education than are now proposed, and without meeting the demand which is now becoming so general throughout the country for a more extended and complete educational system.


I have a few words to add before this debate closes. My noble Friend (Earl Granville) has expressed his gratitude to the noble Duke for introducing this Bill into the House of Lords. I wish also to express my thanks to the noble Duke for avoiding a danger which he himself has pointed out. He said that there is great danger in making mistakes with regard to education, and that, by taking a false step, we might do much more harm to education in this country than we could do by taking a step of admitted wisdom. I am glad to see that, speaking generally, the noble Duke has avoided any false steps upon this subject. The system which now exists is one which I have always watched with great interest from the time when Lord Lansdowne introduced it in 1839–40, and afterwards, when it was extended and improved. The view which Lord Lansdowne took of the subject—and it was at the time a just view—was first to improve the quality of the education, thinking that the quantity might be increased afterwards. Three or four measures were brought forward with this object. One was that Inspectors should be appointed, men of literary talent and of excellent education—men who were likely, by communication with the clergy and laity, to improve the character of the schools throughout the country. Another measure provided for the training of pupil teachers, who might afterwards become schoolmasters; and the third provided for the appointment of certificated masters, thereby furnishing the country with a great number of competent schoolmasters. These were great measures, and I am sorry to see that the number of pupil-teachers has greatly decreased of late years, so that the efficiency of the system has been impaired. That seems to me an additional reason why the House should agree with my noble Friend that it is not desirable to stereotype all the regulations of the Committee of Council. If you think it proper to appoint a Minister of Education you should give him the power of altering the Minutes from time to time; and I say this because, although I think that the Revised Code effected great good, I feel that the diminution of the pupil teachers was a very great evil, and that means should be taken to raise them to their former number. There is another question upon which the whole country takes an interest, and that is the question of rating in districts where schools are deficient. I think that without some machinery for levying rates our educational system never could be complete. There are two reasons why the system is not adequate to supply the wants of many parts of the country. One is the poverty and inability of the people; the other is the unwillingness and the apathy of the people. I observe that Mr. Norris, a most competent Inspector, who has had great experience, when asked before a Committee of the other House what is the reason why in certain districts there are no schools? answered that it is on account of the unwillingness and apathy which prevail among the people there on the subject of education. If that is the case, the question naturally occurs—How are we to remedy that evil? It would not be right for the State to give an increased grant in such instances, because that would be to give an advantage to persons who were unwilling and indifferent. For my own part, I see no other course than that of imposing a rate in such districts by the authority of Parliament. I certainly contemplated that a Minister of Education might be appointed at the same time as you established a system of rates; and, though the noble Duke has rather put the cart before the horse in creating a Minister of Education first, I trust that this Minister, taking, as he must, a great interest in the subject, and surveying the whole state of the country, will be the cause of the introduction of a system of rates into this Bill. I think that even in the present year we might empower boroughs, if they thought fit, to impose an education rate. By-and-by we might make another step in that direction; but even now, if such towns as Manchester and Birmingham were willing to take this course, they should be empowered to do so. This matter of primary education is one of the greatest importance; and I own I am very much struck with a declaration made by a gentleman who was at the head of an educational association at Birmingham, who thus ends his Report— The general conclusions to which these facts seem to lead are, that we need some far more comprehensive measure than we at present possess, in order not only to bring all children into school, but to make them attend with regularity, and remain after they have learnt the arts of reading, writing, and ciphering—long enough to become accustomed to the use of them as instruments of self-culture. … At present they are not prepared for a step in advance. Most of then have as yet no footing, and I fear that it will be in vain to form them into classes for the study of special higher subjects. The lecture is but the handmaid to the treatise, the class-room (except for drawing) is but the ante-room to the study; and technical instruction will make but little way amongst the artizans of this country until they are better prepared for it by a more thorough system of 'primary education.' This is a fact which lies at the foundation of the whole matter. If you have classes for technical education and classes for higher instruction, and those who go to them have not been well grounded in primary education, in reading, writing, and arithmetic, you will find that technical education will make no progress. That being the important part of the matter, I cannot but wish that such towns as Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester should have powers to rate themselves. The noble Duke accused me of having a party object when I stated my views on a previous occasion. I can assure the noble Duke I wish rather to help him in passing this Bill than to put obstacles in his way. I am glad that he has at least taken a step in advance, which will be for the public benefit, and I can only hope that it will lead to something better hereafter.


, with due deference to the noble Earl below him (Earl Granville), ventured to think that hardly any portion of the noble Duke's statement would be received with greater pleasure by the country than that which related to the admission of schools to inspection, whether the principal teachers were certificated or not. This would be the case more particularly in the West of England, where there were a number of small parishes the clergymen of which took the greatest interest in education, and in many cases defrayed the expense of it out of their own pockets.


said, he also approved the proposal that schools need not necessarily be conducted by certificated teachers, referring to remarkable instances within his own experience, in which the relaxation of the present rule would be followed by beneficial results in securing assistance to schools that depended too largely on the exertions of the clergyman. As to apathy in the matter of education, much had been done already that would tend to diminish it, and we must wait for the full effect of it. He believed the measure of last year would have an immense effect.


said, it would not provide schools.


said, that indirectly it would stimulate people to provide schools where they did not exist. Employers of labour, when they found difficulty in availing themselves of the labour of children because they were not educated, would find the means to educate them. He hoped the arrangement suggested with regard to the Conscience Clause would have a soothing and conciliatory effect, and that it would tend to show the groundlessness of the alarm manifested by some of the clergy. Under what was called Mr. Denison's Act, permanent power was given to guardians to pay for the schooling of children of out-door paupers. He would suggest that that provision should be made compulsory, and he was told that if it were 1,600 outcasts would be removed from the streets of Birmingham. In this way much of what was sought by compulsory education might be accomplished, and the streets relieved of spectacles that offended the moral sense. In conclusion, the noble Earl was understood to say that nothing was proposed that would reach the uncared-for children of the dense Irish populations in our larger towns.


said, that reference had been made to Returns as to the state of education in his diocese, which were of a most appalling character, and which would lead to the belief that apathy was by no means confined to the rural districts, but that it existed to a large extent in this metropolis. He must express his thanks to the noble Duke for the way in which he had dealt with the difficulty of the Conscience Clause. He could affirm from his own experience that the noble Duke would find that on that subject the clergy were extremely reasonable. It was true, however, that there was a small body of clergy who were not very reasonable in their demands; but he believed they were in a minority, and were by no means so important as their declamation would lead some to believe.

In reply to Earl GRANVILLE,


said, he proposed to take the second reading of the Bill after the holidays; but at present he was unable to name the exact day.

Motion agreed to. A Bill to regulate the Distribution of Sums granted by Parliament for Elementary Education in England and Wales—Was presented by The LORD PRESIDENT; read 1a. (No. 53.)