HL Deb 08 March 1869 vol 194 cc805-25

My Lords, in calling attention to the accounts of the sums voted by Parliament for Public Education in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and to the Reports of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland for 1866 and 1867, it may be convenient to state what are the subjects to which I shall not call the attention of the House, I will, first of all, premise that I have no intention to question the propriety of the decision of Her Majesty's Government not to introduce any great measure on the subject of education for England and Wales in the present year, and next that I do not propose to refer to Scotland, for I am satisfied by the statement which has been so ably laid before you by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (the Duke of Argyll) that the education of Scotland is placed upon a firm basis, and that the improvements recommended by my noble Friend will prove beneficial. But it is obvious that the question of education in England and Wales and also in Ireland must attract your Lordship's attention next Session, and it is advisable that we should know exactly where we stand and in what direction we ought to proceed. I may, in the first place, state that the present system of grants—if it can be called a system—originated in 1839; when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and the Bishop of Salisbury, on the part of the Church of England, with Lord Lansdowne, then President of the Council, and myself, at that time Secretary of State for the Home Department, agreed upon certain conditions on which grants should be made by Parliament for educational purposes. The Bishops, it was then arranged, were to be consenting parties to the appointment of inspectors for National or Church Schools in England and Wales, and the reports as to religious instruction were to be made to them in the first instance; while with regard to other denominations, assistance was to be given them for both secular and religious education; but no inquiry was to be made and no interference to be attempted with respect to the religious instruction. The only society to be assisted by grants, not denominational, was the British and Foreign School Society, which taught Christianity pure and simple, without any catechism or formularies. Now, that system, it is obvious, depended upon local resources, and on the aid given by the National Society and other institutions, and did not depend primarily on Parliamentary grants. I was curious to see what proportion of the funds, during the last ten years, had been derived from local subscriptions and school-pence, and what proportion from grants out of the public revenues. Well, I find by the Returns for England and Wales—for none have been yet issued for Ireland—that about two-fifths or 40 per cent is the proportion which has been derived from Parliamentary Grants, and three-fifths, or 60 per cent has been derived from local resources. In 1868, out of a total of £1,604,978 £583,794 came from the Treasury, and £1,021,184 from local sources; while in the ten years 1859–68, out of a total of £15,061,640, £6,070,135 came from. Parliamentary grants, the remaining £8,991,405 coming from local sources. It is obvious from this Return that the conditions agreed to by Parliament were conditions depending in a very great degree on local sources—upon the willingness of residents to give subscriptions, and on the amount to be derived from the payments of the parents. It was not a State scheme of education originated by Parliament, but a plan of giving aid and assistance to local efforts and to the exertions of the Church of England, the various Dissenting bodies, and the British and Foreign School Society. That is, of course, quite different from a State plan of education. Looking back over the length of time during which that scheme has been in operation—about thirty years—it strikes me that while great good has been effected by the increased spread of education, and more especially by its improved quality, it cannot be said that the plan has been a success as regards the general education of the country. Comparing England with other countries, both in Europe and America, such as Prussia and Saxony, and the New England States, or even with Scotland or Ireland, education in England is not generally and universally spread among the people. Instances in proof of this have lately been given, both by individuals and from public sources of information. A gentleman, whom I have the pleasure of knowing, the Rev. Canon Girdlestone, vicar of a parish in North Devon, lately addressed a letter to The Times, in which. He said that he had a school in his parish, which cost £130, having 130 children, and, therefore, very cheaply conducted; but that only £25 could be raised by local subscriptions, about £24 17s. was derived from school-pence, and £56 from the Parliamentary Grant, he being himself obliged to supply the remaining £22 or £23 from his own resources. The living was what would ordinarily be called a good one, but it was subject to very heavy charges in the shape of poor rates and other burdens; and Mr. Girdlestone naturally described as a very great hardship on him, that in a parish, the valuation of which was £15,000 a year, he could collect no more than £25 in local subscriptions for the school. I have since seen Mr. Girdlestone, and he informed me that since his letter appeared in The Times he has had many communications, and that in particular the secretary or treasurer of a charity—Belton's Charity—which assists schools of the Church of England with small subscriptions of £5 or £10 each, had informed him that the complaint among the clergy is general. They say they cannot find willing subscribers among the landowners, and are obliged to contribute very largely in proportion to their resources in order to keep up their schools. I feel for them, for I must say that the conduct of the parochial clergy of the Church of England has been most admirable. They have subscribed to the utmost of their means for the promotion of education, solely, as I believe, from a desire to make their parishioners better men and better Christians, and for the general welfare of society. Having thus exerted themselves, it is very hard that so great a proportion of the burden should be cast on them. I have other information as to the unwillingness to subscribe. A return has been sent me by another gentleman, with whom also I am acquainted, the Rev. William Beal, vicar of Brooke, near Norwich, who has made inquiry among the Boards of Guardians in Norfolk as to the aid given to a particular class of paupers—children between five and fifteen years of age. An Act was passed, not many years ago, called Denison's Act, because it was introduced, I believe, by the present Speaker of the House of Commons, which enables Boards of Guardians to give relief in the matter of education by sending children who receive out-door relief to school and paying for their instruction. Going through the thirty-three unions of Norfolk, Mr. Beal finds that only five unions have adopted that Act in any degree, and one or two give scarcely any assistance—that the King's Lynn Union is the worst in the county, and that there is great unwillingness to put the Act in force. Mr. Beal has calculated the expense which would be involved, and he states that the education of the pauper children in Norfolk—upwards of 3,000 in number—in many unions would not exceed half a quarter of a farthing in the pound, and in others would be only half a farthing, while there is only one where it would exceed a halfpenny in the pound. Now that is a striking proof of the general unwillingness of the landowners and farmers of the country to promote education, notwithstanding that the Committee of Council have issued Orders which would enable them easily to do so. Mr. Girdlestone, indeed, states that two-thirds of the country are without schools. Possibly there may be some exaggeration in that estimate, but the general effect of the existing practice is that the country is dotted about with very good schools, well managed, with able masters and mistresses, while in a great part of the country there are no schools whatever, or only dame schools of a miserable description. Such being the case, I am persuaded that it will be necessary next year for the Government and for Parliament to establish a good and general system of education in England and Wales. I do not want to enter into the vexed question of rating, but I am glad to see that the Prime Minister has declared the intention of himself and his Colleagues—when the very heavy business now before them and other pressing affairs have been disposed of—to undertake the consideration of the whole question, and to endeavour to base taxation on principles of equity for the welfare of the whole community. Upon their decision on the question of local rating must in a great measure depend the solution of this question of national education. If it should he thought proper to continue the present amount of rating—which I trust will not be the case—it will be hopeless to expect fresh rates to be imposed and accepted for the purpose of education; but if the rating for certain objects, such as gaols and police, should be greatly diminished, it may be very possible to have rates for educational purposes. In the former case it would, I think, be necessary to provide, as in Ireland, sufficient funds from Parliamentary Grants for a general system of education, thereby relieving large numbers of persons who are now willing subscribers and placing the burden, where it ought to be placed, on the willing and the unwilling alike. There are two great questions connected with education—the one relating to the financial part, the other relating to religious instruction. With regard to the latter, I do not think there would be any great difficulty, for with a system of rating, it would be possible to give the control to the ratepayers, while with a system of public grants it would be the right of the State to maintain some control over the schools to be established. It would be right, also, to consider the case of those who have subscribed largely for many years and ought not to lose all the power over the school which was originally allowed them. It is a matter of contract with them, and for a certain time at least they should be allowed to retain some power. The rule should be nearly the same as that which exists in Ireland, where the situation is totally; different from what it is in England, There is a considerable demand in Ireland for the substitution of denominational education for the present system. Now, that depends in a great degree on the financial question. If people who advance, as in England, three-fifths, or 12s. in the pound, ask the State for aid, it is only reasonable that they should expect a certain power over the management of the school, and should give directions as to the religious instruction to be given therein; but in Ireland, according to the Reports of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland for 1866 and 1867, I find that the local subscriptions and school-pence only amount to about 7 per cent. 93 per cent, being contributed by the State. For people, therefore, who raise only 3s. in the pound themselves, and ask for the remaining 17s. from the State, to demand that the schools shall be entirely subject to their control and conditions is by no means reasonable. In Ireland, according to a plan first proposed by the late Lord Monteagle, and set on foot by a noble Lord opposite (Earl Derby) the rules and regulations of the National Board provide that the religious instruction shall be at separate hours, either before or after the secular instruction, and that every parent may withdraw his child from it if he desires to do so, a board being put up to announce the hour for such religious instruction. Parents may thus withdraw their children, whether few or many, and may obtain from the clergyman of the parish, if they are Protestants, or from the priest, if Roman Catholics, such religious instruction as is in accordance with their belief. That is a great security. But the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland have proposed that with regard to all schools containing no Protestant children, and to other schools which contain 24,000 Protestant children, they should be allowed the entire direction of the education, so as to have Roman Catholic emblems in the schools, and to have the education conducted entirely according to their own views. Now, it seems to me that, by this scheme it would be in the power of the Roman Catholic body directing the education either to make proselytes of the Protestant children, who would be obliged to bow and do reverence to those emblems, or to drive them out of the schools where they are now educated. These evils are very forcibly pointed out by the Board of National Education in their Reports for 1866 and 1867; and I hold in my hand, an opinion, in which I entirely agree, given by Archbishop Whately in 1843, when the system was much younger than at present, as to what would be the result of separate grants. Archbishop Whately said:— Now, what would be the result of this system of separate grants of, suppose, £7,000 or £8,000 to Protestant schools, and £70,000 or £80,000 to Roman Catholics? In those numerous districts of the South of Ireland where there are in each school not above five or six Protestant children to, perhaps, 80 or 100 Roman Catholics—from the smallness of the proportion of poor Protestants to the population—these poor children would either remain untaught, or, more likely, go to schools under the unrestricted control of Roman Catholics; and throughout Ireland the far greater part of the Roman Catholic population would be brought up in a system, it is to be feared, of bigoted jealousy against the Church, and alienation from their Protestant fellow subjects. Now, with regard to "bigoted, jealousy against the Church," we in England at this time need not be very anxious on that score; but with regard to "alienation from their Protestant fellow-subjects," it would be one of the greatest evils you could inflict upon Ireland. In short, it seems to me that, whereas, since 1829, we have been endeavouring by every means in our power to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants in the same education and in the same pursuits, with a view to diminish and finally destroy those feelings of alienation and ill-will which have so long been the curse of Ireland, I cannot conceive a mode in which the alienation and the ill-will could more certainly be revived than by having a separate denominational system of education introduced into Ireland. Much as I shall rejoice to see that system of tyranny and oppression called Protestant ascendancy put an end to in Ireland, I should not rejoice if I thought that Roman Catholic ascendancy was going to be established and to be accompanied with oppression of Protestants. I have nothing more to say than to impress upon the House that a more general system of education ought to be established in England, and I look forward with great anxiety to the measures which may be proposed for that purpose. I hope that when a measure is brought forward it will be as complete and as clear as the Government measure lately explained to Parliament and the country.


None of your Lordships will have been surprised that my noble Friend, who for so many years has devoted so much attention to this subject, has brought it under your Lordships' notice; and I am exceedingly glad to find that the noble Earl does not blame Her Majesty's Government for not undertaking to deal with this matter by legislation in the course of the present Session. I am not surprised that my noble Friend acquits us of blame, because no one is better acquainted than he is with the magnitude and importance of the question; and I am confident that if it is to be dealt with by legislation it is necessary that it should be at a time when Parliament can give to it that large share of its attention which the importance of the question demands, and which could not be accorded during the present Session. It would have been very ill-advised on the part of the Government to bring forward a measure on this subject without a fair prospect of having it fully discussed in both Houses of Parliament and passed into law; and therefore it was, though with considerable regret, that Her Majesty's Government determined that it would be their duty not to deal with the general question of education during the present Session. Although I regret the necessity for postponing a measure which I admit to be to a considerable extent urgent, I am not sorry that delay will afford my right hon. Colleague and myself an opportunity of considering the question in all its bearings. Under these circumstances, my noble Friend will not expect that I should now declare to the House in detail what are likely to be the views of Her Majesty's Government upon this question. I agree with my noble Friend that there is ample evidence to show that the present educational arrangements in England are not altogether such as we could desire them to be. I believe that there are large portions of the population in our great towns whom our system of education very inadequately reaches. I believe that there are also portions of the country in the rural districts where, from the very nature of the system and the principle upon which it rests—that of aiding only those who aid themselves—it has a very limited application, and where it does not meet the real and just requirements of the country. At the same time, I think my noble Friend spoke in perhaps somewhat too disparaging a tone of the effect of the present system and of the great work which it is doing. With respect to the present state of matters, I have some details of a later date than those on your Lordships' table, and they show that the present system, imperfect as it is, is extending year by year in usefulness. The number of schools inspected in England, Wales, and Scotland in the year 1868 was 15,572, being an increase on the previous year of 981; the number of children present at inspection was 1,527,665, being an increase of 136,565; the average annual number attending was 1,241,780, which shows an increase of 94,317; the number of certificated teachers was 13,387, showing an increase of 774; the number of assistant-teachers was 1,279, being an increase of 76; and the number of pupil-teachers was 13,185, being an increase of 1,668. Now a system which provides education under the stringent regulations of the Privy Council, and under strict inspection, for an average attendance of 1,241,780 children, is a system which is doing a good work in the country, and which—whatever arrangements we may make ultimately—we ought not hastily or rashly to interfere with. It is one of the difficulties of this question that we have at work in this country at the present time so many and such various educational appliances. My own feeling is that, so far as they require to be supplemented in order to meet the wants of the country, supplemented they ought to be; but it would be unwise on the part of the Government or Parliament to throw aside or to waste any of those means of education which are now at the disposal of the country. A Return which lies upon your Lordships' Table shows how large an amount in England and Scotland was derived from two sources, distinct from the Government Grant—private subscriptions and school-pence. You may divide the income of these schools, not quite, but almost equally into three parts—the Government grant, voluntary contributions, and school-pence. In the latter there has been a steady increase during the last ten years. In 1859 in England and Wales the school-pence amounted to £229,000, and in 1868 to £430,000. During the same period voluntary subscriptions have fluctuated in amount, being sometimes more and sometimes less; but I am glad to say that at present the income derived from voluntary subscriptions is the highest received during the last ten years, or, I believe, at any previous time in the history of education. That is ample proof that there is a deep interest felt in this question by all classes in the country, and that those who have the means are not inclined to disregard their duties in respect to it. My noble Friend (Earl Russell) has, indeed, pointed out that there are many cases—and they are far too many—in which the burden of voluntary subscriptions and contributions to education is practically cast upon the clergy; but, although that is true in too many cases, I am confident my noble Friend will be the first to admit that there are in other instances very marked exceptions to the description he has given, and that there are many landowners in this country fully alive to their obligations in this respect, who subscribe munificently to educational objects. It is to be observed that the sum put down in the column as derived from subscriptions is intended to represent, as far as we are able, only the annual fixed subscriptions to different schools; and the sums which are contributed in many cases—sometimes by a clergyman, sometimes by a landlord—to make up a deficit at the end of the year fall under the heading of "other sources" in this particular Return; so that £500,000 of subscriptions represents pretty well £500,000 of regular and permanent income. With respect to that portion of the subject which relates to Ireland, on which the noble Earl has touched, it is not my intention to enter into any details at present, for, as my noble Friend knows, it is now being considered by a Royal Commission. My noble Friend has asked me why the Returns from Ireland have not yet been laid upon the table of the House. My noble Friend should remember that it takes longer to get Returns from Ireland than it does from this country. The Department with which I have the honour to be connected is not responsible for the delay; but I am pleased to be able to state that the Returns to which my noble Friend referred have been laid upon the table this evening, and will, I trust, by tomorrow or the next day be in your Lordships' hands. There is no doubt that when they are examined those Returns will prove the accuracy of the description given by my noble Friend. The main burden of education in Ireland is borne by the State, and the major portion of the remaining funds is derived from the school-pence, the amount realized from voluntary assistance being absolutely insignificant. Under these circumstances, I can only say in conclusion, as I began, that the subject will receive the fullest consideration at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. As your Lordships know, the matter has been inquired into by various Commissions and Committees, and it will be our duty—and from the great interest I feel in the question it will to me be a labour of love—to devote ourselves to the consideration of the facts developed in the course of these inquiries, with a view, not to overturn the system which already exists and does its work well, but to supplement it where it is imperfect, with the object, as far as possible, of bringing the means of education within the reach of the labouring population.


It was with considerable gratification, my Lords, that I heard the noble Earl the President of the Privy Council state his high appreciation of the work of national education as now administered by the Department over which he presides, and I cannot but think that my noble Friend, the more he sees of that system, which has now been administered by the Privy Council for nearly thirty years, the more he will find the advantages of the system in calling forth the voluntary efforts of the country, and in maintaining what has contributed so much to the religious education of the people—the denominational system. As to the complaints that are made of the educational deficiencies in this country, I believe it will always be found that the investigations have proceeded on erroneous data, and almost all the conclusions arrived at have been drawn solely from the knowledge within the reach of the public office, which is, of course, confined to the schools in receipt of annual grants. But that is a very inadequate view of the extent of educational movement in this country. It must be always borne in mind that there is an enormous amount of education conducted by voluntary societies—by persons who do not bring themselves under the control of Government by submitting to the receipt of grants, and this fact is generally lost sight of, or very inadequately appreciated. I hold in my hand a Return which I moved for at the end of last Session, and which resulted from the labours of the National Society. They have a decennial examination into the state of Church of England education throughout the country. I find in the Return which has only recently been printed, that out of a total of £8,991,405 expended in England and Wales in the course of ten years upon education, no less than £4,554,333 has been the result of voluntary subscriptions. While, too, I find this remarkable result on the face of the Return, I find also that from a total of 11,261 Church of England schools which have been included in the Return of those paid by the National Society, the number of those receiving aid from Parliamentary grants was 4,690, and the number that are not receiving Parliamentary aid is 6,571. When we think of the amount of voluntary effort which is represented by these subscriptions, which amounted in 1868 to £499,782, as regards schools receiving Parliamentary aid, what must be the amount of voluntary effort which exists in the Church of England when we find that there are 6,571 schools actually in operation, and attended by a large number of scholars, of which no notice is taken by the public office? Very little of this educational effort is shewn in the educational papers. In addition to that there is a large number of schools which belong to Nonconforming bodies, and which, when I had the honour of filling the office now held by the noble Earl opposite, were gradually perceiving the advantage of the assistance derived from the annual grants. For a long time there has been on the part of these bodies, what I cannot but look upon, to some extent, as a sentimental objection—not because the religious instruction they gave might be interfered with by the Government, but recognizing as they did the necessity of religious instruction—they had a sentimental objection to availing themselves of any assistance from the public funds. I am happy to say that, owing to the representations that were made, those objections had greatly decreased before the late Government went out of Office, and the great part of the increase in the number of schools receiving the grant, and of scholars under examination, is due to the removal of those objections; for the Nonconformist bodies are now beginning to feel the advantages that are to be derived from the public grants, and the disadvantages to which they have hitherto been put for the want of them. It is because I should be very sorry to see any steps interposed by the Government of the day which would at all imperil the success attending voluntary efforts, which are of the greatest importance to the religious education of the country, and to the denominational system upon which I believe so much of the religious education of the country is founded and based—it is because I should deprecate any State interference in that direction, that I hope Her Majesty's Government will remember, in any measure they may propose, that they are dealing with a matter of the highest importance to the country, and refrain from doing anything which may imperil a system which has been attended with such beneficial results.


rose to corroborate what had been stated by the noble Earl (Earl Russell) who introduced this question, as to the great indifference with which education was regarded by the agricultural classes. A meeting was held not long ago in the county in which he resided on this subject of education. Unfortunately, the Chairman put the question before the meeting, which comprised all classes, in the interrogative form—"Are you content with the present state of education, and with its results?"—and the cry came back from the agriculturists—"Yes, yes, quite;" and the reason was that they thought though education was of direct service to the manufacturing classes, in the agricultural counties education might be a pleasure to those who received it, but it was of very little advantage to them—it did not help them to get on in the world. Another reason of the indifference with which education was regarded by the farmers was this—that though it might be an advantage it had not been shown to tend to the diminution of crime. This was a very important subject. He wished his noble Friend had been able to bring forward some Returns tending to show that the decrease of crime corresponded with the increase of education. If he had any Returns to show that, the sooner he could put them into circulation the bettor, for he believed that one great reason why the farmers depreciated education was, that they did not see how the increase of education tended to the suppression of crime. In the preparation of any scheme for a general system of education, he hoped his noble Friend would never resort to a compulsory rate. Far from increasing education, he believed such a course would greatly tend to diminish it, for it would make the whole subject most unpopular, especially among the agricultural classes. He made these remarks on the state of feeling in the midland counties but must not be supposed to be in any way himself unfavourable to the progress of education.


I am afraid that my noble Friend's greed for Returns has led him in this instance to ask for a Return which, when obtained, will be of very little service to him. I agree with the noble Lord opposite (Lord Lyveden), that not only has crime not decreased in proportion as education has increased, but I am afraid that an inquiry into the matter will reveal some awkward figures the other way. At one of the quarter sessions in my county the other day, the chief constable not only maintained that crime had increased in the county during the last ten years, but that it had increased very nearly in proportion to the spread of education. My Lords, I never could see myself what possible connection there is between the diminution of crime and the spread of education. Education does not alter a man's nature. You may alter the nature of the crime; you may change the paths by which the criminal will proceed; but crime is a consequence of moral depravity, and the mode in which it will be committed will be a matter of calculation with the criminal, no matter what the amount of education that may be given in your national schools. You cannot alter his nature, but you may give him more power, and greater skill in selecting the means by which he can pursue a course of crime with the greatest effect. The one way to diminish crime is to diminish pauperism; and I believe that, by the spread of education, pauperism may be very greatly diminished among the agricultural population. Every one must know that in respect of availing himself of opportunities the agricultural labourer is utterly helpless. He is utterly incapable of making use of any chance of bettering himself which may be presented to him, and consequently he remains in his low social position. Until we have a more general system of education you will never be able to induce him to help himself. But I must say I quite concur with my noble Friend (Lord Lyveden) in asking the Government to pause and consider before they make up their mind to introduce a general system of education based on general taxation. I am not insensible to the deficiencies of the present system; but I think the noble Earl opposite was rather hard against the landowners—to represent them as being opposed to the spread of education is somewhat hard; but I think matters would be still worse if only a limited area of the wealth of the country were made responsible. The noble Earl (Earl Russell) stated the case of King's Lynn, and of a parish there in which he thought the guardians were singularly insensible of the value of education. Now I know nothing of King's Lynn except that it is a port. Being a port and nothing else it derives its wealth from its harbour. Its property is centred in ships. What hope, therefore, have the guardians of raising a rate from the wealth of King's Lynn, seeing that if they make a rate for the purposes of education they must assess it on the same basis as that on which similar rates are assessed in other parts of the country? They cannot levy a rate on ships, and they may not like to throw what they would regard as an undue pressure on land, and where they see the rate operating so unfairly they would naturally grudge every additional farthing to be added to the rates. That very place, King's Lynn, would appear to me to afford an illustration of the danger which the Government would have to face in adopting anything like a general rate for the purposes of education. This is a point to which the Government must look in any reform of local taxation". At present you have no equality in local taxation—I doubt whether you can have it—but I should be glad to see the introduction of such a system of assessment as would make those five-sixths of the wealth of the country which now escape liable for that contribution to that taxation of which they ought to bear their share. But if in addition to the other burdens which land has now to bear you assume that it should also bear the expenses of national education, you will create a spirit of resistance which will secure for your system an amount of unpopularity which no improvement you may make in education will be able to counterbalance. I do not know what scheme may be floating in the mind of my noble Friend the President of the Council; but I do know that to a great extent the Government have pledged themselves to the principle of rating, and therefore I would ask my noble Friend to remember two things. First, that the moment you appeal to rates you kill voluntary subscriptions. People when rated for national schools will no more think of supporting a school by voluntary subscription than they would think of maintaining a workhouse by voluntary subscription. In the next place, I would ask him to remember that you cannot increase an already too heavy burden of taxation on one class without creating a feeling of distrust and a sense of wrong in the minds of those whom you wish to co-operate with you. For myself, I must say that I view with much suspicion any system of education based on anything like compulsory rating, unless the Government have first seen their way to removing the anomalies and the injustice now existing in respect of the taxation imposed on property, in which I include houses as well as land. I earnestly hope my noble Friend will take these matters into consideration before introducing his Bill. However great its other merits may be such a measure would have the effect of destroying a system of voluntary munificence, and that not from the richest class, such as no other country in the world has ever seen. If the Government were to frame any scheme which would have the effect of destroying this system, they will discourage allies whom they can never replace, and they will introduce a feeling of hatred and disgust on the subject which will effectually prevent all cooperation on the subject of education, until its promoters will be driven to find the whole funds for education out of Imperial taxation.


I must protest against the statement of my noble Friend (Lord Lyveden) who drew his illustration from Northamptonshire, being supposed to be a correct representation of the feeling of the agricultural population in regard of education, and the invidious distinction he drew in this respect between the agricultural and manufacturing districts. It may be true that in my noble Friend's part of the country there is an indifference to education, that the proprietors and farmers may be indisposed to encourage it, and that the labourer may not find his material prosperity advanced by it; but I can only say that if this is a correct account of what exists in Northamptonshire it is totally unlike the state of things I have had the happiness to know in the north of England. In the north of England, the desire to promote education is general on the part of the proprietors and occupiers of land, and the desire to obtain education is still more general among the working population. I need only refer to the interesting Report of Mr. Henley, one of the Assistant Commissioners for Inquiry into the employment of women and children in agriculture, which has lately been laid before Parliament. The Report I refer to shows that among the population of the north, education is practically universal. For myself, I can say I never remember seeing in Northumberland an agricultural labourer who could not read and write; and, as a general rule, they are highly intelligent, as all who know them will bear witness. The farmers are quite well aware that their own interests are promoted by having labourers of intelligence and some amount of education. They have largely availed themselves of machinery, the introduction of which is greatly facilitated by the intelligence of the labouring men, who, on their part, find that their education helps them to better places and better pay. That being the state of things among agriculturists in the part of the north of England with which I am acquainted, where I believe the population to be more generally and better educated than they are in our great commercial and manufacturing towns, I must protest against the invidious distinction sought to be drawn between the agricultural and the manufacturing districts.


My Lords, it seems to be generally supposed that the extent of education is to be measured by the Returns of the Privy Council. But the only schools which appear on the books of the Privy Council, and consequently only those which appear in their Returns, are schools which receive Government aid in some form or other. But beyond these there is a large number of schools of which, for various reasons, the Privy Council takes no cognizance. Now, my Lords, though I am not prepared to contend that a great many of these are not very indifferent schools, and although I have often regretted to see benevolent persons wasting their money upon them, I know that, on the other hand, some of the schools not under the Privy Council are very satisfactory schools indeed. Beyond Government inspection there is spread over the country a system of diocesan inspection which was far from inefficient in the diocese with which I was recently connected. In that diocese, last year, 311 schools underwent diocesan inspection; and that not in a cursory manner, for the Government forms were used, and the returns were made almost in exactly the same form and character as those returned to the Council Office by Her Majesty's inspectors. Some few years ago I had an opportunity of testing the value of diocesan inspection, and I found that in the case of schools subject to Government inspection the returns made by the Government inspectors and by the diocesan inspectors were almost identical; and the conclusion I drew from that fact was that I might safely take the returns of the diocesan inspectors respecting schools not under Government inspection as reliable. Before I sit down I must venture to express my surprise at the observation of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) that education had done nothing, and could do nothing to diminish crime. If that be the case surely we are spending our money upon education to no good end. Statistics may, undoubtedly, show that the noble Marquess is perfectly right in stating that the increase in crime has kept pact; with that of education; but it has yet to be shown that those who form the criminal classes are recruited from among those who are educated in our schools. On the contrary, I believe, it has been shown that a large proportion of those found in our gaols either have been in no school at all, or have been at school for so short a time that the amount of education they have received is almost nil. No doubt, some particular branches of crime may be fostered by education—that is to say, education puts into the hands of an unprincipled man an instrument which he can use for the purpose of fraud; but that is not the case with crime in general, and, therefore, I must make my humble protest against the doctrine that there is no connection between education and the diminution of crime.


said, he was glad to hear that, although it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a measure upon the subject of education during the present Session, it was not because they undervalued the importance or the pressing nature of the subject. With reference to the statement of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) that crime had not diminished with the spread of education, he might say that, in his opinion, if education were limited to merely teaching the mechanical processes of reading and writing, the effect would be rather to increase than diminish crime; but if to that mechanical teaching they added moral training, the result would be widely different and of a most beneficial character.


said, he wished to draw their Lordships' attention to a point which was of great importance, although it had not been referred to in this discussion. It was true that large sums were munificently subscribed for the purposes of education, and that a great number of children attended our schools; but he feared that the results were not so satisfactory as was generally supposed. He believed the case to be that, of all the children attending these schools, only a small portion derived full benefit from what they had been taught. Too frequently they left the school before they had been well grounded in the rudiments of education, and after a short period they altogether forgot what little knowledge they had acquired, and the money expended upon their education was in a great measure thrown away. Of the children who had actually attended school, he believed it would be found that only a comparatively small proportion of them had learned to read and write well; and he feared that very few of those who were unable to read and write with case troubled themselves to keep up those arts in after-life. He believed that, in this respect, this country would bear no comparison with such countries as Scotland, Prussia, and Saxony, which had been referred to in this debate. No doubt it was a matter of the utmost importance, and one upon which we had every reason to congratulate ourselves, that vast numbers of children attended, school in the present day, and also that such vast sums were raised by private subscription; but it was not less important to discover what results followed from all these efforts, and how far they succeeded in accomplishing the objects which were aimed at. It was notorious that on referring to the calendars of criminals it would be found that by far the larger number of those committing offences were persons who had been imperfectly educated.


said, he did not dispute the fact that children too often left school at a very early age, but it was almost impossible they could remain long enough to obtain all the advantages which were desirable. The education question was mixed up with the labour question, and a time arrived when parents naturally required the assistance of their children in earning a livelihood for the family. At the same time, he was bound to say that in the districts with which he was best acquainted there was an anxious and growing desire, even on the part of the agricultural population, for the education of their children. In the north of England this was more especially the case. In the south of England, wages, generally speaking, were not equally high, though they had increased of late years very much. A great desire for education also existed in this part of the country; but undoubtedly it too often happened that as soon as the children were old enough to earn money they were taken from school. The cause of education was thus injured by the state of the labour market. With regard to some of the countries mentioned by his noble Friend (Earl Russell), he rather doubted whether education was as perfect in them as had been suggested. In France, for instance, he knew that the same objection as to children leaving at too early an age was very general. In the ordinary course of things, children at a certain age must come, by their labour, in aid of the wages of their parents; and he knew of no mode by which, short of a much greater interference with labour than our present system warranted, their pecuniary need could be reconciled with the requirements of education. Education would not extinguish crime, but at least it altered its character. Persons of education from time to time committed grave crimes, undoubtedly; but crimes of the gravest class were less frequent among persons of education. This could be learnt, for instance, from the experience of the mining districts. The pitmen were, from various circumstances, a class in which education was very backward, and crimes of violence were common among them; but among persons of a better class such crimes were comparatively rare. He felt that, both as regarded the system of compulsory rating for educational purposes, and that depending mainly upon voluntary effort, which now existed, there were many circumstances requisite to be borne in mind. The clergy made great exertions in the cause of education, and frequently, in the absence of resident landlords, were called upon to make good deficiencies, and to meet claims which their own means ill enabled them to support. At the same time they would doubtless prefer to continue such sacrifices rather than resort to a system of purely secular education, which must follow the adoption of a system of rating. In whatever light the subject was looted at it was surrounded with grave difficulties. Increased facilities for education were undoubtedly required, and, whatever system was ultimately agreed upon, it was desirable to adopt something like uniformity. He, therefore, hoped that Her Majesty's Government, before committing themselves and the country to any course which must seriously affect the future of education in this country, would leave the question open for consideration and allow the whole matter to be fully and fairly discussed.