§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said: My Lords, I am quite sure that none of your Lordships who have given any attention to the subject will differ from me when I say that this measure is one of the greatest importance, whether we consider the subject-matter of the Bill—the middle-class education of this country—or the number of the institutions and the magnitude of the endowments with which it proposes to deal. I must remind your Lordships that those institutions are between 2,000 and 3,000 in number, and that they possess endowments the gross annual income of which amounts to nearly £600,000, while the net income applicable to educational purposes is about £340,000. It is my duty to explain the grounds on which Her Majesty's Government have introduced this Bill, the reason why it has thought that the present state of these schools is far from satisfactory, and what is the machinery by which they propose to remedy the evils that exist. Your Lordships will remember that, in 1818, a Commission was first appointed, at the instance of Lord Brougham, to inquire into endowed schools and other charities; and that since that date several Commissions have been appointed, by which the condition of various charities has been inquired into, and that some measures have been passed to remedy the evils which those inquiries had laid bare. In 1840 the Grammar Schools Act was passed; and since that time the existing Charity Commission was established with the view of dealing not merely with endowed schools but with endowed charities generally. Notwithstanding those measures, however, it was felt that the endowed schools of the country remained in a very unsatisfactory condition; and this conviction forced itself so strongly on the Government of Lord Palmerston, that in 1864, on the proposal of my noble Friend (Earl Granville), who then occupied the post which I have now the honour to fill, Lord Palmerston appointed a Commission, at the head of which was my noble Friend behind me (Lord 608 Taunton). That Commission prosecuted their inquiry for three years with the greatest assiduity, and ultimately presented a Report, which I think none will deny to have been one of the ablest and most interesting Reports ever laid before Parliament. The inquiry, indeed, as all will admit who have read—I will not say the numerous volumes containing the Appendices, but the volume containing the Report itself—was of the most exhaustive character, and it showed the present state of these schools to be in many respects most unsatisfactory. No doubt there are some schools that are working extremely well, and which could not probably be advantageously interfered with; but there are others which have been altogether perverted from their original intention, and which have fallen into a condition of almost entire abeyance. In fact, a large proportion of them are in a state of somnolence and lassitude, resulting partly from the system under which they exist, and partly from the fault of those intrusted with their administration, which has deprived the country of the advantages which the funds placed at their disposal ought to confer on the public. It is true that means already exist by which the evils may be remedied; but the Report of the Commissioners points out that neither the Court of Chancery, with its slow, cumbrous, and expensive machinery, nor the more rapid and less expensive jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners, can strike at the root of the evil or apply to it any sufficient remedy. Neither of them, it must be remembered, can move except when put in motion; and they can only deal with cases individually, having no means of considering the nature and requirements of the schools as a whole, their sphere of action in that, as in many other respects, being very limited. The Bill, therefore, proposes to substitute a new authority, which shall have the power of making changes in the administration of the schools. The Bill, as originally framed, consisted of two parts, one providing a temporary machinery for the purpose of revising the administration of the Governing Bodies, and the other machinery of a permanent character for the purpose of giving security as to the future appointment of Masters. The Select Committee, however, to which it was referred, very judiciously as it appears to me, di- 609 vided it, in order that the temporary provisions might be passed this Session, and that the permanent organization might be considered at a future time. The object of the Bill, therefore, which is now before us, is the preliminary one of examining the existing state of each school, and of placing its administration on a sound basis. Of course the first matter which the Government had to discuss was what body these powers should be intrusted to. The Commissioners recommended that the Charity Commission should be the central body, and that in each district a local commission should be appointed to prepare a scheme in the first instance. Now, with regard to the Charity Commissioners, I am glad of this opportunity of bearing testimony to the manner in which the duties intrusted to them, under the limitations which Parliament imposed, have been performed, to the zeal and intelligence they have manifested, and to the large amount of public confidence which they have acquired. The Commissioners, however, represented that their duties had become so extensive and multifarious that their existing machinery scarcely sufficed for the discharge of them, and that they could not undertake any new duties without changes which would have been equivalent to a complete re-organization. They said, moreover, that they have no special educational element; and the work to be performed being of a temporary character, it appeared better that it should be intrusted to a distinct Commission. With regard, moreover, to local commissions, there were difficulties to which the Commissioners had themselves called attention, and the Government found that there were at present no means of making such bodies really representative; while it would not have been convenient for the Government to have selected such Commissioners in the different Registrar General's districts or in the various counties on their own authority. We therefore thought it better to intrust the preliminary work to a single Commission. We felt, however, that Parliament would justly require for work of that description distinct Parliamentary responsibility—and I must say that inconvenience has sometimes arisen, even with respect to the proposals of the Charity Commissioners, from the want of such responsibility; 610 for I have occasionally observed that when Bills sanctioning schemes of the Commissioners have been laid before Parliament by a Member of the Government they have not received from him so much support as might fairly have been expected. Now the Bill provides that the schemes to be prepared by the new Commission shall be submitted by them to the Committee of Council on Education, who, if they approve them, will lay them before Parliament on their own responsibility. Thus, there will be an officer of the Government in both Houses responsible for any proposals that may be made. We propose, moreover, to follow the system introduced with regard to Oxford and Cambridge, and which was extended to the Public Schools Act of last year, by providing that all schemes shall be laid before Parliament for forty days, and shall not take effect if objected to by an Address to the Crown from either House. The Bill proposes to intrust the Commission with very large powers—for the Charity Commissioners—working with the best intentions and with the greatest energy—have been hampered by the want of such powers, without which the Bill would, I am confident, prove quite ineffectual. The Bill, at the same time, insures ample security for the full consideration of all objections and suggestions. In the first place, it provides that in the case of every charity the annual endowment of which exceeds £ 0,000—these, of course, being very few in number—the present Governing Body may within one year, as in the case of the Public Schools Act, propose their own scheme and may submit it to the consideration of Parliament. Charities whoso income exceeds £ 1,000 a year are allowed six months for the same purpose; while with regard to minor charities, which have not this right of initiative, the Commissioners on preparing a scheme must send it to the Governing Body, and make it generally known in the district—being bound also to receive and consider any alternative scheme or suggestion that may be offered. Charities will thus have a power of appealing to the Government of the day, represented by the Committee of Council; and ample opportunity will be given when the Bill is before Parliament to every interest affected of bringing forward any plans, or making any representations. 611 It was the intention of the Government that the scheme of the Commissioners should come direct from them to the Committee of Council. It has been deemed advisable to make certain exceptions. In the first place, the seven principal foundation schools to which the Act of last Session was applied are excepted. All endowments of less than £50 a year and all schools in the receipt of annual grants from the Privy Council are likewise excepted, as also the schools belonging to the National or the British and Foreign School Societies which have no actual endowments except school buildings or teachers' residences. The Bill takes particular notice of the education of girls. The endowments have of late years been almost entirely employed for the benefit of boys; but in many cases this was not their original intention, and the education of girls is just as important for the country as that of boys; while with regard to girls of the middle class it is at present very inadequately provided for. There is, consequently, a clause which, without unduly fettering their discretion, directs the attention of the Commissioners to that subject. Another clause, in which great interest is felt, enables the Commissioners, under certain limitations, to deal with charities which are not strictly of an educational description. The original proposal was that this should be done with the consent of the Charity Commissioners; but the Select Committee of the other House thought it better that the consent of the Governing Body should be substituted, so as to guard the charities from any compulsory or coercive action. Such being the machinery proposed, let me call your Lordships' attention to the nature of the work to be performed, and to the principles on which it is desirable that these schools should be organized. Now it will be the duty of the Commissioners to pay every respect to the claims of the particular localities in which these charities exist; but they will not, I should imagine, overlook the importance of endeavouring to bring these scattered institutions into a more harmonious system of working than at present. A map which I have prepared shows that these charities are spread over the length and breadth of the land—that these school endowments exist from the North of England to the Land's End. 612 Then came the question of the application of these endowments. A question which is of very great interest is that of gratuitous education. A great many of the schools are at present bound by their statutes to afford gratuitous education to the inhabitants; but I am sure that no one who has read the Commissioners' Report will doubt that great evils have resulted from that system, and that it has had the effect of lowering the character of the schools and the standard of the education given in them. When, moreover, the Master's salary is provided by endowment, exclusive of any dependence on fees derived from the students, it tends to take away all stimulus. I hope, therefore, the Commissioners will keep before their minds the importance of making only a portion of the salary depend on a fixed endowment, and of making it chiefly depend on fees to be paid by the scholars. Now these schools may be divided into three classes. Some of them give instruction of a similar description, and to the children of persons occupying a similar station as those to which the Public Schools Act was applied—they are on the same footing as the exempted schools; they are not confined to any locality, but are extended all over the country. Another class educates the children of professional men and persons engaged in trade and commerce; while the great mass of them—equal, probably, to the other two classes put together—are intended for the education of children of the lower middle class, and of skilled artizans. Now it is well known that the class whose education is at present in the most unsatisfactory state is the lower middle class, and it is very important that schools intended for their benefit should be improved; but the labouring class must also be considered, for it was the intention of many of the founders of these schools to afford the means of a good education to intelligent children of that class. No one would resist more strongly than I would any attempt to take away from them any opportunity of rising in life and; obtaining the benefits of a higher description of education; but I am confident that the gratuitous indiscriminate education of children of that class in schools where the education ought to be of a higher standard than that given in primary schools will not really benefit them, but rather the selection from that class of the most intelli- 613 gent children, and by affording to those the means of a higher education. This may, and I trust will, be done by the application of the system of Exhibitions to primary schools, and by the winners of those Exhibitions being sent up to the secondary schools. Such a plan, if well worked, will enable children of all classes, from the very bottom of society, to enter the secondary schools, while it will also have the effect of stimulating the National and primary schools. Such being, then, the object of the Bill, and such the machinery by which it is proposed to effect it, you Lordships will see that there is a good work to be done. Some of these ancient endowments have, in the lapse of time, become grossly misapplied, and others have been rendered almost useless for any practical purpose by what I may term a slavish adherence to the letter of the founders' bequests, coupled with an utter neglect of the spirit, while they exist, as I may almost say, by accident, and work with no regard for each other. We hope to infuse new life into them, and to adapt them to the altered condition of society, so that they may still perform the noble task—a task of universal and perpetual application—for which they were designed, and may benefit all classes of the community.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord President.)
said, he thought the measure one likely to give an improved education to the children of the middle classes, and, at the same time, to admit a portion of the children of the working class to its benefits. Many of these institutions had been founded at so distant a date that, in considering the question at the present time, they must divest themselves of sectarian prejudices and look at the matter in the broad light of Christianity. He was glad, therefore, to find that the Bill proposed to secure the denominational, which to his mind was another name for the religious, education of day scholars in these schools. Indeed, it had been said that the whole Bill was a gigantic Conscience Clause. For himself he believed there would be no real education without a religious or denominational education, and there could be no real system of denominational education without a comprehensive Conscience Clause. He had not heard in the speech of his noble Friend any rea- 614 son for not going still lower in the scale of endowments; he could not make out why his noble Friend exempted schools with very small endowments, or those in receipt of Parliamentary grants, from the operation of the measure. There was no class of educational endowments which did more harm in many cases, and in others less good, than the endowments in these small schools; they did not provide any better education than unendowed schools, and only saved the pockets of persons in the neighbourhood. What was wanted was the lowest step in the ladder, by which boys in the working classes might be able to rise. He hoped these endowments would be handled by another Commission; and that, by some such plan as by converting these small endowments into scholarships, a boy of the working class might be enabled to rise from one step to another, passing from school to school, till he might get to the University. By this means they might be repaying an old and a great debt. Such means were formerly afforded by the monastic institutions, in which persons of the lower class were enabled to enter the Church; so that in the times of the Henries and Edwards many persons of humble origin played important parts in the government of the country. Unfortunately, under the Reformation, the monasteries were destroyed, instead of being reformed, and that condition of things came to an end; and when through the suppression of the monasteries and the extension of education among the middle classes the clergy lost their exclusive position, the status of the lower classes proportionately declined. He considered, therefore, that if the grammar schools were made, as it were, a step in the ladder, so as to give the lower classes the means of raising themselves in the social scale, the country would only be paying back to those classes what was due to them, by recompensing them for the loss of the monastic educational institutions which had been so rudely and rashly taken away. He quite agreed with what had been said by the noble Earl (Earl De Grey) with respect to gratuitous education. Primary education alone gave boys of the working classes no opportunity of rising to a higher position; and his own opinion was that, by giving even small scholarships to the sons of the working classes, a great sti- 615 mulus would be given to education. He was convinced that if such a plan were carefully carried out a good and sound system of education would be established; people would be induced to endow still more; and others would be induced to supplement the endowments by annual subscriptions. In the main he gave the Bill his hearty support; but he felt strongly that it would not accomplish all which it might have done had the small endowments belonging to the parochial schools been dealt with.
THE BISHOP OF ELY
said he was very far from offering any opposition to the Bill, for the necessity of some such measure had been universally admitted; but he desired to point out that if the Bill passed in its present shape, the power given to the Commissioners would be so great, as very greatly to endanger the religious character of our grammar schools. A very large number of these were founded in the 16th century, and he believed that the basis of every school founded in that period was religious, the intent of the founders being that secular should be subservient to religious teaching. Now the 10th clause empowered the Commissioners to remodel the Governing Body; the 17th provided that except as hereinafter-mentioned, no person should be disqualified for the Governing Body by religious profession or opinions; the 18th affirmed that a Master need not be in Holy Orders; the 19th enacted that no new scheme should make any provision respecting the religious instruction or attendance at religious worship of the scholars, "without the consent of the Governing Body." The Commissioners and the Governing Body might, therefore, make any alteration as to religion that they might desire, and the former might change the Governing Body, and put in persons who were disposed to agree to such alterations. He did not wish to attribute any such intention to them, and he hoped the feeling of the country would always prevent education from being altogether divorced from religion. For his own part, he would rather see education based on some form of Christianity with which he did not agree than see it with no religious principle at all; and therefore he insisted that, in giving such large powers to the Commissioners, care should be taken to guard against the possibility of such powers being abused, especially in 616 the direction of undermining the religious character of the instruction. To guard against such a contingency, he should in Committee move Amendments in accordance with the suggestions he had thrown out.
§ LORD TAUNTON
tendered his thanks to the Government for the very prompt manner in which it had given effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission that had inquired into the subject; and, as Chairman of the Commission, was gratified to find that those recommendations were likely to result in something useful. Although composed of persons of diverse religions and political opinions, the proceedings of the Commission had been characterized by perfect unanimity; all its members were alike bent upon the single purpose of doing their utmost to advance the great cause of education, and their investigations were conducted to the one end of seeing how the endowed schools could be improved, and how they could be made more effectual for improving and elevating the general education of the country. That there was great room for improvement no one could doubt. Their attention had been first attracted by the abuses of endowed schools, the enormity of which was such that many persons—some of them of great authority—had recommended their abolition altogether. With this proposition however, he (Lord Taunton) did not agree, although he quite believed that there were many and great evils that required immediate remedy. The Commission, therefore, considered the matter with a view to recommend some plan for using endowed schools to educate the middle classes. He believed there was something inspiriting, both to Masters and scholars, in being connected with ancient places of education where honourable associations abounded; but he was prepared to admit that, rather than permit endowed schools to continue as at present, with all their perversions and abuses, he would have them swept away altogether. Instances were not uncommon of a sinecure Master driving away scholars from his school because they added to his labour without increasing his income, and of schools so ill-conducted that they had only sufficient life in them to prevent the establishment of competitors. Surely it was time to put an end to such a state of things, and he was glad to 617 see that the Government had seriously applied themselves to this great and necessary work. The clauses of the Bill would be better dealt with in Committee; but he could not help remarking that the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Ely) must be mistaken in supposing an opening had been left by which the religious teaching of the schools might be affected. He (Lord Taunton) did not believe such would be the case. At present there was no difficulty in the way of imparting the religious instruction, Dissenters being found quite willing to allow their sons to attend the religious teaching given in accordance with the forms of the Church of England; and he saw no reason why difficulties should arise in the future. With reference to the remarks of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Nelson), one of the chief objects of the Commissioners was to establish some system under which Exhibitions might be obtained by the most able boys, whatever their social position might be. He would think ill of any system which would not permit a boy to achieve the highest rank, if he had the ability and wanted only education to do so; indeed, it should be the object of statesmen to utilize whatever talent the lower classes afforded for the benefit of the State, as it was the object of many of the founders of the schools with which the Bill dealt. Dealing with the question of examination, he (Lord Taunton) advocated the competition not only of scholars with scholars, but schools as against schools, in the belief that such a course would stimulate Masters. Well-conducted schools had nothing to fear from such examinations; it was only the bad schools that would be prejudiced by them. The Bill came before this House under most encouraging circumstances. It had passed through the other House without a party division; and the leading men on both sides of the House had vied with each other in supporting Amendments to increase the efficiency of the Bill. The same excellent spirit had been manifested both on the second reading and in Committee. Much was due to the good sense and the conciliatory qualities of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) who had charge of the Bill in the other House, to his thorough mastery of the subject, and to the statesmanlike manner in which he had handled its details; and it was no slight success 618 which he had achieved in sending up the Bill in its present shape to their Lordships' House. He hoped this opportunity would not be lost of putting an end to a great scandal and a great evil, and of laying the foundations of a system which would not only put these schools on a proper footing; but would ultimately lead to the still more important end of effecting a permanent improvement of the middle-class education of the country.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I desire, my Lords, to re-echo the expression which fell from my noble Friend who spoke a few minutes ago (Lord Taunton), when he congratulated Her Majesty's Government—and he might also have congratulated himself, considering the large share which he has taken in this question—on the fact that, in a Session when so many exciting subjects have been brought forward, one of a quieter and calmer nature should have successfully passed the House of Commons, and should now be in a fair way of receiving your Lordships' assent. One of the most difficult and important points that this Bill deals with is, of course, connected with those numerous difficulties which beset our path when we endeavour to ascertain the intentions of founders. No one, I think, can have considered this question without having come to the conclusion that legislation is necessary. Of course, where circumstances remain much the same as they originally were, where the object which the founder had in view was a good object, and is one which can even now be faithfully and satisfactorily carried out, we must all be desirous that there should be no interference with the founder's wishes and intentions; but where as is the case with so great a number of endowed schools, the objects for which the funds were originally given are now impossible, or are such as it is not desirable to carry out, the consequence is that the schools are neglected, where the Schoolmaster is unconscientious, or where the funds have been misappropriated, in such cases, I believe that it is not only the right but that it is the duty of the State to exercise its power of interference. But few, I think, who are at all acquainted with the history of these foundations, can doubt that in most instances it was the object of the founders to afford the means by which a number 619 of men could be raised up, as they themselves frequently expressed it, "to do good service both to Church and State," and to place within reach of the poorer and the humbler classes those facilities which naturally do not fall within their grasp, but by means of which they might raise themselves higher and higher in the social scale. I think, also, that there can be little doubt that in the majority of cases, through change of circumstances and other causes, these intentions have miscarried. But no one can possibly doubt that the necessity for education is as great as it was in times past, and that it is just as important now as it was then to deal with this particular class of schools, and just as important to afford the particular class in the country for whom these schools were intended those facilities which the founders originally intended they should enjoy. When you come to deal with the clauses there are some few points which I think require attention, but generally and in substance I heartily approve this measure. I cannot sit down without saying that, from what I have heard, the successful conduct of this Bill is to a great extent due to the tact, judgment, and spirit of conciliation displayed by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Education (Mr. W. E. Forster). Everyone was already aware of the ability of that right hon. Gentleman; but he is entitled to the highest praise for the eminently conciliatory manner in which he has dealt with the measure, and with which he not only met but in a great degree disarmed all opposition to its progress. That is the spirit in which such a subject, necessarily involving as it does much difference of opinion, ought to be handled, and in which it ought upon all sides to be considered. I hope my noble Friend the President of the Council will at once let us know on what day he proposes to take the Committee on the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
congratulated Her Majesty's Government on having conducted so important a measure to its present stage. It was, no doubt, a just matter of congratulation to the noble Lord (Lord Taunton) to see the result of his four years' hard labour as Chairman of the Commission embodied in a measure of this character—which he regarded as the commencement of a 620 reform of what was a national reproach and a national scandal. He must express, too, his gratification at the manner in which the measure had been conducted through the House of Commons. He believed the Government had shown in the progress of the Bill through that House that they were actuated solely by a desire to promote a great national object irrespectively of all party or sectarian feeling. He was happy to be able to add that Parliament and the country might, in his opinion, place the strongest reliance in the ability and character of the Commissioners to whom the supervision of the new system was to be intrusted. The Bill did not pretend to be a new code of education; it did not attempt to dissociate religion from education; it simply provided that religious feelings should be respected; and in respecting them it would not, he felt persuaded, impair the fervour of religious convictions. He hailed the introduction of the measure as the advent of a better era, of which the principle was that religion should be the basis of every kind of teaching, but that a large allowance should be made for differences of creed. He hoped that an arrangement would be adopted under which throughout the different districts of the country the endowed schools would be classified, so that they should not all be attempting to do the same thing imperfectly; but that there might be a gradation in the character of the education imparted, so that a scholar might pass from a lower to a higher class of institution. In that manner young men of the humbler class might find their way to the Universities; and although such a system would involve some sacrifice of local feeling, he trusted that mere local jealousies would not be allowed to prevent the attainment of so desirable a result.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
said, that as one who had taken a deep interest in this question, he concurred in the expressions of congratulation to the Government, and not less to the Opposition in the House of Commons, on the success which had hitherto marked the progress of this valuable and important measure. At the same time, as one of those who attached the greatest value and importance to local self-government, and who disbelieved in the permanent vitality of any central bureaucratic arrangements, he must express his regret that the Government 621 had found it impossible to carry out that part of the able and exhaustive Report of the Commissioners which related to the establishment of local educational Boards. Having himself a strong county feeling, his preference was for a County Board; but he thought the Commissioners had given very good reasons why they should start with the larger registration district as the basis of the organization. He still hoped that the establishment of some system of local self-government would not only be entertained, but before long be successfully carried into effect by the Legislature. This Bill was an enormous stride, of great value; but he would not look upon any measure as permanently complete without the establishment of a local educational Board, or Governing Body, but with a certain amount of superintendence from a central Board in London, to deal primarily with educational endowments within their area. Instead of this Bill being a violent assault upon the principle of endowments, or inflicting a shock upon the principle, he looked upon it as the removal of a great scandal and evil, and the salvation of the principle of endowment, as rescuing it from disuse and disgrace. It was formerly said that the worst use a man could make of his money was to found a permanent endowment—that it would be sure to be followed by a misapplication of the funds, and that it would be an evil rather than a good to the county or town which he intended to benefit. This reform had come in good time to rescue the principle of endowment from discredit, and to encourage those who had money at their disposal, without stronger claims upon it, to found endowments, in the confidence that their wishes would only be superseded when they ceased to be useful owing to the altered circumstances and requirements of a later age, and that charitable and educational trusts would be administered in conformity with the spirit and liberality of the donor for purposes of public good, instead of purposes which were useless, and too often worse than useless. He thought that the Bill might probably be improved by further consideration on the part of their Lordships in Committee.
THE BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER AND BRISTOL
said, it might be considered disrespectful to their Lordships if one or two members of the Episcopal Bench did not say a few words upon a Bill of so 622 much importance, and so largely affecting the interests of the Church. He came down to the House strongly impressed with the feeling that it was undesirable that the Commissioners appointed by this Bill should have the very wide powers which were conferred upon them; but he frankly owned, after the remarks made by the noble Earl who introduced the measure, and after the valuable comments of the noble Lord (Lord Taunton) who was Chairman of the Commission, that he was in a great degree converted. The noble Lord had alluded to the state of the grammar schools in small towns; and, being acquainted with many of these schools in his diocese, he (the Bishop of Gloucester) must express Ms concurrence to a very great extent with his remarks. If the task of the Commissioners was to resemble the labours usually assigned to the legendary hero of all strength, and to be of a very cleansing character, the Commissioners must be armed with corresponding powers. With regard to the religious question, he concurred to a great degree with the generously-expressed views of the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby). He recognized in this Bill certain necessary provisions, and he concurred with the noble Earl in respect to the general teaching of religion by the present Masters of the existing grammar schools. The clauses relating to religious education would require some consideration. There had always been a tacit agreement between the two parties most divided in opinion on this subject, that if there was a free power on the part of the parent to withdraw a child from any portion of the religious teaching, there should also be a free power on the part of the teacher of expressing in other lessons his general sentiments, without any fear of being called to account for it. He perceived, however, with some slight anxiety, that one clause of this Bill gave the power to the Governing Body to interfere with a teacher who should persistently teach at a lesson other than a religious lesson that which was disapproved by the child's parents or guardians. He trusted that their Lordships would give some attention to the subject; but he admitted that this was a matter for Committee. In common with all the speakers in this debate, he must own that he recognized the general liberality of the tone of the Bill, and he by no means opposed the 623 principle, although he reserved to himself the power of suggesting any Amendment in Committee. He must tender his sincere felicitations to the noble Earl (Earl De Grey) on the manner in which he had introduced a Bill containing in it so much of good, and calculated to settle so many difficult questions. On behalf of some most rev. and right rev. Prelates who were unavoidably absent, he wished to express their desire to have taken part in the debate, and their hope that they would not be precluded, on the Motion for going into Committee, from noticing the general aspect and principle of the Bill. He trusted that the noble Earl would concede that privilege to his absent brethren.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
said, he could assure their Lordships that the result of this discussion had been highly gratifying to him. It was most satisfactory to find that this Bill had met with so large a share of approval, so far as its main principles were concerned, on both sides of the House; and the fact, he hoped, afforded some prospect of a measure which had been so long needed being passed during the present Session. He would not detain their Lordships by entering into detail upon the points alluded to by the various speakers, with the single exception of that put by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Ely). He could assure the right rev. Prelate that the clause to which he alluded, with reference to the powers of the Governing Body, was by no means intended to bear the construction he had placed on it. At the same time he would re-consider the matter, so as to remove any doubt as to the powers conferred by the Bill. He was extremely gratified by the tone of the observations made on the Bill by his noble Friend at the table (the Earl of Harrowby). With respect to the time when the Bill would be taken in Committee, it was difficult to speak with certainty, having so much important business before them this week. He would now name to-morrow week for the Committee, and hoped before then to state precisely on what day it would be taken.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House, on Tuesday the 6th of July next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.