HL Deb 25 July 1870 vol 203 cc821-65

(The Lord President.)


Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, it is a satisfaction to me, and a circumstance which will very much shorten the observations it is my duty to make, that in moving the second reading of a Bill, the object of which is to establish a system of national education throughout England and Wales, I need not, in the present political and social position of the country, detain your Lordships by any arguments as to the importance of the spread of education, or as to the advantage to be derived not merely by those immediately affected, but by every class in the community from the establishment, as speedily as possible, of a system by which the means of elementary education may reach every home, and be brought within the reach of every child in the country. I pass at once, therefore, to the consideration of the present condition of elementary education; and, in order that I may properly place my statement before your Lordships, I must refer to the history of the question, so as to indicate what has been done within the last 30 years by the existing system. In 1834 a system of aid to education on a very small scale was instituted, and was placed under the management of the Treasury; but it was not till 1839 that the system now in operation can be said to have been began, for it was in that year that the charge of the question was transferred to the Committee of Privy Council. Addressing your Lordships last year on this subject, I felt it to be my duty, as well as my privilege, to acknowledge the great work which has been accomplished during the last 30 years by that system; and I will now, in a few words, confining myself, as this Bill is confined, to England and Wales, recapitulate those results. Between 1839 and 1869 no less a sum than £24,082,274 has been expended in the promotion of elementary education from all sources. Of this amount, £15,119,361 has been raised by voluntary contributions, school-pence, and other private sources, independent of Government aid, while £8,962,913 has been contributed by the Government. These figures show a very important element in the present state of the question—namely, the very large amount of the aid contributed to public education, derived from sources altogether independent of the contributions of the State. In order to give a fair explanation of the present state of things, it is desirable that I should enter into some detail with regard to the expenditure of 1869. That expenditure has hitherto been divided into two classes—namely, the one for the erection of new schools, and the other for the maintenance of schools already existing. Now, in 1869, excluding training schools, the former head of expenditure amounted to £168,716, of which £32,152 was contributed by the State, while no less than £136,564 was raised by voluntary contributions. The new schools thus created during 1869 provided accommodation for 28,548 children. With respect to training schools, the largest share of the expenditure of which falls upon the State, the Parliamentary Grants amounted to £59,000, while the voluntary contributions were £27,749. The students resident in these schools numbered 2,097. With regard to the maintenance of existing schools, the Parliamentary Grants for 1869 were £542,899, and the contributions from other sources amounted to £924,730. Of the latter sum, £44,484 consisted of endowments, £397,035 of voluntary contributions, technically so called, £455,817 of school-pence, and £27,394 came from other sources. These other sources should be added to the voluntary contributions, which would raise the latter to a sum exceeding £400,000, for most of them are sums provided by the managers or landowner to make up deficiencies. From all sources, therefore, £1,723,094 was raised in 1869, of which the public purse contributed £634,051. The accommodation afforded by this expenditure provided for 1,765,944 children in inspected and assisted schools. Over and above that, though not, except as far as it was due to previous grants, on account of this expenditure, there was accommodation for 58,362 children in schools simply inspected—that is to say, schools which are inspected from time to time, but which receive no grant, inasmuch as they do not comply with the conditions. Now, the average attendance of day scholars in assisted schools was 1,062,999, in night schools 64,210, and in simply inspected schools 16,681. With regard to the results of the examinations in these schools, it is as follows:—245,300 children under six years of age passed in the day schools solely on the ground of attendance—no other test being required of children of that age; 785,385 children over six years of age passed by ordinary attendance; and 57,757 by 100 or more attendances under the half-time Acts: the attendance at the evening schools was 78,189. The result is, that out of 696,440 who were examined, there passed in reading 89.97 per cent, in writing 88.24 per cent, and in arithmetic 77.24 per cent. In the night schools a greater proportion passed in reading and arithmetic, but a somewhat smaller one in writing. With respect to the teaching staff, there were 12,027 certificated teachers, 1,236 assistant teachers, and 12,842 pupil teachers. I avail myself of this opportunity of stating that the state of things with regard to the pupil teachers and the numbers in the training Colleges is now more satisfactory than was the case a few years ago. What I have at present stated relates only to the quantity of education; but, of course, we must also look to the quality; and of this, even as regards the schools under Government inspection, I regret that I cannot speak with equal satisfaction. Since the Revised Code has been in operation, and a test of the quality of education has thus been afforded, there has been a great temptation to throw children who ought to be examined in the higher standards into standards not proportioned to their age, and those who have passed the standards suitable to their age have not been what their ages required. During the past year 266,309 scholars above the age of 10 were examined, who ought to have passed in Standards 5 and 6; whereas only 80,411 so passed, the others passing in lower standards. I believe the main cause to which this unfortunate circum- stance is to be attributed—to which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) and myself have thought it our duty to call attention in the Report we have this year submitted to Her Majesty—is the very short time during which children remain at school, and the consequently very limited progress which it is possible for them to make. Now, it is necessary to compare this state of things with the requirements of the country, and to ascertain whether, after the great efforts that have been made for so many years past, we have made progress in education that can be considered satisfactory; and for that purpose we must inquire into the number of children of such an age that they ought to be at school, the school accommodation afforded them, and the quality of the education given. It has been the practice of late years to take the number of children between 3 and 12 years of age, and, acting on this principle, I find that the number of children of the working class in England and Wales—and this Bill deals with that class only—of that age is 3,936,513, and that the accommodation in inspected schools is for 1,824,306 children, showing a deficiency of 2,112,207. I have not, however, the least wish to overstate the case, which, I believe, is quite strong enough when stated in the most moderate manner. Now, the National Society claims to provide accommodation for 600,000 children in non-inspected schools. Of the value of the education given in such schools I shall have a word to say presently; but even assuming, which I do not admit, that the whole of them could be reckoned as satisfactory, there would still be a deficiency in the accommodation of 1,500,000. That is the most unfavourable mode of examining the matter; if, instead of it, we take the number of children of the working class between the age of 5 and 13 — the age with which this Bill deals—the number is 3,374,100. The accommodation in the inspected schools being 1,824,306, the deficiency would be 1,549,794; or again, allowing the 600,000 claimed by the National Society, the deficiency is 949,794. I have put the case as fairly as I could against my own view, for I know the disputes which have been raised as to figures. If we turn to the state of education in our large towns the results are still less satisfactory. Much controversy was raised a few years ago by a state- ment made in "another place" on this subject by my right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary; but happily neither his calculation nor that of his opponents need now be appealed to, for on an Address by the House of Commons two very able men—Messrs. Fitch and Fearon—were appointed to inquire into the state of education at Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool, and on their Report, which lies on your Lordships' Table, I will base my argument. They tell us that in Birmingham there are 64,787 children between 5 and 13 years of age, and that the accommodation provided by schools of every description is only for 30,169. In Leeds there is accommodation for only 24,295 children out of 45,444; in Manchester for only 36,612 out of 66,591; and in Liverpool for 46,739 out of 91,375. I should almost be content to rest my case for this Bill on these figures alone; but quality as well as quantity has to be considered—for there is no good in bad education—and I do not think it is unfair to say that the uninspected schools are not equal, and are certainly not superior, to the simply inspected schools, which do not earn the Government Grant. Whoever has read the Reports of the Inspectors with reference to the uninspected schools cannot have failed to observe that they are uniformly represented in character distinctly and broadly as inferior to the inspected and assisted schools. I admit, indeed, that there are schools not under Government inspection which are as good as any that are inspected, but they are few in number, and the mass of uninspected schools cannot be fairly estimated as equal to simply inspected schools. The Reports of Messrs. Fitch and Fearon give indisputable evidence that they are distinctly inferior; that many of them are absolutely worthless; and that, in any national system, it is impossible to take account of them. In spite, then, of the noble voluntary efforts of the last 30 yoars—efforts which anyone who has held the office which I have the honour to fill must acknowledge with the greatest gratitude—there is a deficiency in the school accommodation, I believe, of 1,500,000, and certainly of 1,000,000, amounting in the large towns to this—that accommodation is only provided for 50 per cent of the children who require it. I need say no more in proof of the necessity of bringing the means of elementary education within the reach of these 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 children who, to the great social and political danger of the country, are at present unprovided with them. I have had in some respects to bring an accusation against the existing system; but, at the same time, I am bound to say that, if I mistake not, it has far exceeded the expectations of those eminent men by whom it was founded, such as Lord Lansdowne, and my noble Friend (Earl Russell), whose names will always be held in grateful recollection as the founders of a system that has effected so much good. But its authors never imagined that it could be a substitute for a complete system of national education. It was founded on the principle of aiding those only who aided themselves. Where zealous, self-denying men, for the sake of their countrymen and of great public interests, would come forward with their money, there it aided; but poor districts, whether in town or country, which were unable to do anything, it left alone, and it is not wonderful, therefore, that a very large amount of ground is still uncovered. Our present duty, I think it will not be disputed, is to provide a system co-extensive with the nation, which shall penetrate the length and breadth of the land, and as quickly as possible bring within the reach of every child in England and Wales the means of learning reading, writing, and arithmetic—for that will for many years be the limit of the results of this measure. In accomplishing that object it would be the height of folly, as well as of injustice, to cast aside all that has been done during the last 30 years, and wantonly to reject the £15,000,000 which, including the pence of the children and other items, has been voluntarily raised during that period. It should be our object to maintain and foster the existing system, and to reject no agency which, at the present time, affords or may afford the means of a sound and efficient education—while taking measures to supplement it where it is defective and so extend elementary education throughout the whole country. It is upon this principle that the Bill is founded. We desire to maintain what exists; but we feel that the time has come when we cannot wait for the slow progress of that system which, by the admission of its most extreme advocates, would not supply the whole country for generations of children to come. The first result of the Bill will be the instituting measures for an inquiry throughout the country as to the existing means of education. The country will be divided into districts, and in each district there will be power to inquire into existing agencies and to order local inquiries. In collecting these Returns and in making these inquiries, the Education Department will be bound to take into account schools of whatever description which are intended for children of the working class. We assume nothing as to the value of the uninspected schools, but simply seek power to examine their condition and have them fairly reported on—the object being to obtain a fair report of the education afforded throughout the country, and whether it meets the requirements of the country. The Bill proposes to maintain all existing schools at present in receipt of Government aid on their present footing. We desire that they should continue and extend, and needlessly to destroy one of them would be to inflict a great mischief. Your Lordships, however, must understand that we raise the condition and status of these schools, because for the future they will form part of a truly national system, and they must, therefore, fulfil the duties of national institutions. Almost without exception they have been established by religious denominations. Now, we do not ask them to give up their connection with those bodies, nor do we forbid them to teach, in the most unrestricted manner, the doctrines and faith of those denominations. All we desire is that, when they become national schools, we should take care, by the extension of the system of a Conscience Clause, that they are open to children of all denominations; so that where they stand alone, as in many cases they undoubtedly will, we shall guarantee admission to all children within the district. For that purpose we propose what is called a Time Table Conscience Clause. I reserve the details for Committee; but it is essential that schools admitted into a national system should be open, as regards secular education, under fair and reasonable guarantees for just liberty of teaching, to all the children of the locality. We require that those schools should admit our Inspectors, not upon terms to be determined by themselves, but upon such terms as, in the public interest, we may consider fitting; and following the principle laid down by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Marlborough), we do not propose to inquire into more than the secular education given in those schools. Where the existing schools in any school district afford such an education as suffices for the requirements of the population—in the words of the Bill, where the education is "sufficient, efficient, and suitable"—we propose to take no further steps. Every school district so supplied will remain precisely as it now is, except that under certain circumstances the existing schools will receive a larger grant of public money. The Bill, too, will not shut out any further voluntary efforts, for it distinctly contemplates the establishment of new voluntary and State-aided schools. There may be occasions when the Committee of Council may consider it desirable to withhold their sanction from such schools when they would not afford accommodation to a sufficient number of children to justify the expenditure of public money in respect of them; but the Department will be bound to lay before Parliament a statement of their reasons for this refusal. In considering the educational wants of a school district, however, we distinctly contemplate the taking into account not merely of existing schools but of those which are about to be supplied bonâ fide for the benefit of the district. On this point your Lordships will read Clause 8 in connection with Clause 10, and you will see that the friends of voluntary education in each district will have an opportunity of supplying within a reasonable time, if they can, the deficient education. A period of six months is allowed with that view after notice given; but this limit of six months is not the only possible time during which the deficiency may be supplied, for I reckon that from the passing of the Bill to the period when the six months will ordinarily expire an average period of at least 18 months—and very likely two years—will elapse before the door will be closed against voluntary exertion. I think that is a fair and ample warning to the friends of voluntary education; and, considering the demands of the children for education, a fair and ample opportunity of supplying it is thus afforded.

I now pass to the part of the Bill dealing with the establishment of school Boards. There are two modes in which such Boards may be established—voluntarily, without the interference of the Committee of Council; and compulsorily, by the order of that Department. No such school Boards can be established where the education is sufficient, or where, within the period I have mentioned, it shall be rendered sufficient; and in estimating that sufficiency we are bound to consider all schools of every description which now exist. But where, at the expiration of this period, a sufficient education is not provided, the Education Department will be empowered to require the formation of a school Board, the district within which it is to act being, in a borough, the limits of a borough, and elsewhere the parish. There was a feeling in favour of the Poor Law Union; but, after consideration, we came to the conclusion that the most efficient and the fairest limit which could be taken would be that of the parish. The election of the school Board will be left to the ratepayers. Many persons have thought it would be desirable that the Government should not leave this appointment to the ratepayers, but should take power themselves to appoint certain members, in order the better to insure that the Board shall not be influenced by mere local pecuniary considerations, but shall look to the general interests of education in the locality. We think it better, however, to rely upon the test of inspection and the stringent powers this Bill gives for dealing with the school Boards. We feel that if the Government take any share in the appointment of members of these Boards we shall diminish our power of dealing with them in cases where they do not do their duty, and it is far better to rely upon the results of inspection than upon any control to be exercised by the nominees of a Government Department. As to the character of the schools to be established by these local Boards, your Lordships are doubtless aware that upon this point the Bill differs in an important respect from the state in which it was first framed by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster), accepted by the Government, and introduced into the other House of Parliament. I allude to the portion of the Bill which deals with what, in the phraseology of the day, is called "the religious question." It originally proposed to deal with the local Boards precisely as the Government dealt with any other body of men placed in the position of the managers of schools. To that proposal serious objections were urged. It was contended that the liberty which we proposed to give to those local Boards would have led to a degree of controversy in the several localities on the religious question which would have been productive of very great evil. The very fact that this objection was urged with great force and honesty by various religious bodies showed that there was real danger in that direction, and that if we persevered in our proposal it would be likely to give rise to needless, mischievous, and injurious disputes, and we therefore deemed it to be our duty to reconsider the matter, and certain modifications were introduced into the provisions of the Bill. The change made was, that whereas, under the Bill in its original shape, the managers of schools would be enabled to regulate the religious instruction which should be given in them, we have now provided that no religious catechism or distinctive formularies shall be taught in any rate-supported schools. There were two other propositions of a different character, which, in dealing with this point, were strongly urged on the attention of the Government. The one was, that we should not require anything in respect of religious matters to be taught which was either in favour of or opposed to the doctrines of any religious denomination. Now, I would speak with the utmost respect of a proposition which was supported by such respectable advocacy; but, for my part, I should not place the slightest faith in any religious system which consisted in eliminating all distinctive religious doctrine, and then supposing that something of the form and substance of religion would remain behind. The Government, therefore, laid that proposition aside. But they were met by another of a simpler and more logical character. It was proposed that they should do away with religious teaching altogether, and have nothing taught in those schools except that which now-a-days comes under the denomination of secular instruction. Well, the present Government, like that of which the noble Duke opposite was a member, were per- fectly ready to make grants to secular schools on the same footing as other schools; but we would not consent that in all schools established under school Boards religious teaching should be distinctly and by Act of Parliament proscribed. In this I am confident that we acted in accordance with the general opinion of the country. We accepted, however, as a mode of avoiding the difficulty, the proposal that the catechism and distinctive formularies should be excluded from the instruction given. This rendered another alteration in the Bill necessary. In the Bill as it was originally framed there was a provision that the school Boards might grant aid to existing denominational schools in their respective districts, provided that if they granted aid to any it must be given fully and fairly to the schools of all denominations. There was, however, danger that in pursuing this course we should have promoted those controversies upon religious matters to which I have already referred, and we have, therefore, deprived the school Boards of the power of aiding denominational schools. But in doing that we felt that we should be depriving those schools of a great assistance to which they were entitled, and placing them at a great disadvantage as compared with the rate-supported schools. Consequently we proposed, in lieu of the provision which I have just mentioned, that an increase of the annual grant should be given to all schools alike, not exceeding 50 percent on the grants now made, which will not merely afford greater aid to the various schools, but will secure for the public increased efficiency in the education of the children. Such is the nature of the arrangement into which we have entered with respect to this part of the question; and although I frankly admit that I still retain a lingering fondness for the proposal in the Bill as it was first introduced, yet I heartily accept the compromise which has been made, and venture, with the utmost sincerity, to recommend it strongly to your Lordships' consideration.

I, in the next place, come to the provisions which the Bill contains for compelling the school Boards to perform their duty; and if we did not take some power to enforce that performance we should, I think, have advanced but a small distance towards establishing a complete system of national education. The Bill proposes to confer on the Educational Department two very extensive powers. It, in the first place, gives the power of dissolving these school Boards if they neglect to do their duty, and requiring new Boards to be elected. If, moreover, any district should neglect to appoint a school Board, the Bill enables the Education Department to step in and remedy that neglect by appointing a school Board themselves which should have the same powers of levying rates. Without such provisions the Bill would be useless, and would not effect the object which we have in view, which is to establish throughout the length and breadth of the land full and complete provision for the education of children.

Then there are clauses in the Bill with respect to providing the necessary school accommodation; but there remains the question of filling the schools when provided—or, in other words, of compelling the attendance of children. This question is one of no small difficulty. In this Bill we propose to deal with that question in a manner which is undoubtedly tentative. I admit, with regard to children engaged in certain trades and employments, there are indirect methods of compulsion already in existence, and the principles of these Acts might be extended. No doubt any mode of indirect direct compulsion would give rise to a great deal of opposition, because your Lordships must remember it would deal only with children who are in employment; and any such proposition would have a distinct tendency to diminish the number of children employed by pushing them out of the employed into the unemployed class. This circumstance shows that we cannot attain completeness in our educational system by any scheme of indirect compulsion; consequently it is provided by the Bill that the school Boards shall have the power to make by-laws, directly compelling attendance of children at the schools. Unless you do that, the school Boards may say to the Education Department—"You insist on our providing accommodation for a large number of children who, after all, will not come to the schools." If, therefore, you refuse to allow them to take measures to secure the education of the children, it seems to me that they will have a right to say to the Department—"You are acting unjustly, inasmuch as you force us to incur a large expenditure which you do not give us the means of making practically useful."

My Lords, I think I have now enumerated the principal provisions of the Bill; but if, in the course of the debate, your Lordships should desire to have a further explanation, I shall be most happy to give it. I do not for a moment profess that the Bill is based on a cut-and-dried logical theory for establishing a national system of education in this country. We should have been extremely foolish if, for the sake of a logical system, however perfect it might be, we had cast aside and rejected all that has been done during the last 30 years—the vast efforts which have been made, and the immense sums which have been raised in many districts throughout the country, and by means of which we already have, to some extent, an effective system in operation. We present the Bill to you in the earnest conviction that, if your Lordships pass it substantially as it stands, it will provide a truly national system of education. That system will be consistent with the history of education in this country, and with the past practice of England in respect to it. It will preserve what is good in the existing system, which will be supplemented by the new provisions of the Bill, so as to bring within the reach of every child the means of elementary education. The Bill has been framed by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) and myself in accordance with the opinions entertained by Her Majesty's Government;—and as I have mentioned Mr. Forster's name, I trust your Lordships will permit me to say that those who have at heart the interests of education owe a large debt of gratitude to my right hon. Friend. Indeed, my right hon. Friend has in the framing of this measure, and in its conduct through the other House of Parliament, displayed an amount of zeal and ability, of tact and conciliation, which is rarely met with. I am happy also to believe that it will be his good fortune to connect, and worthily connect, his name with the greatest and most important measure of national education which has over been passed in this country, and which I feel assured will confer the blessings of education on every child in the kingdom.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord President.)


My Lords, I do not propose, in the few remarks which I shall have to address to your Lordships, to follow my noble Friend the Lord President through those long and elaborate statistics which he cited, in order to show the amount of educational destitution in this country. I think, indeed, it will be universally admitted that there is a vast amount of educational deficiency in this country, and that although vast efforts have been made, and continue to be made, by voluntary associations and religious bodies to meet educational deficiencies, yet those efforts failed to reach a large number of our youthful population, whose educational requirements must therefore be provided for by Parliamentary enactment. It is a subject of congratulation for your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government, in propounding this measure, have taken a course in very marked contrast to that adopted by them last year, under similar circumstances, in connection with education in Scotland. I think your Lordships have reason to congratulate yourselves on having taken the course you did in reference to that measure, and thus gave to the Government time for reflection, and that that measure, which was so contrary to all sound principle, was arrested before it became the law of the land; and that in the subsequent Recess Her Majesty's Government had an opportunity, of which I confess they availed themselves on the whole in a very satisfactory manner, of reconsidering this question, and of introducing a measure more in accordance with the principles of sound political economy. The great difference between the present measure and that introduced last year with regard to elementary education in Scotland appeared from my noble Friend's speech, when he said that it would not disregard the great voluntary efforts which have been made in this country for the spread of education. It is impossible to peruse the Reports which have been issued from the Educational Department and not be aware of the vast strides which have been made, and are still being made, by various denominations for the education of the children of this country. I, therefore, rejoice to find that this measure of Her Majesty's Government bears full testimony to this great fact, and that it is based upon the principle which only can be recognized as the safe principle — namely, that of utilizing those schools, and I trust the Government also desire to encourage them in every possible way. The Bill may be divided into three essential points. The first of these is the maintenance of existing schools; the next, the establishment and universal application of a Conscience Clause; and the third, the establishment of rate-aided schools. With reference to these three points, I will address a few observations to your Lordships. The first point that strikes an observer is, what is the Government about to do to effect the provision of adequate schools; and I am very glad to hear from my noble Friend that he does not intend, in an unreasonable manner, to hurry on the process of providing these schools. The explanation given by my noble Friend will bear out the position that a sufficient time will be afforded for voluntary schools to place themselves under those conditions which are required by the Government before they are regarded as public elementary schools. The time originally proposed by the Bill was one year; that has since been limited to six months; and I trust the explanation of my noble Friend upon that point will prove satisfactory, for, as I understood him, he says it will practically be 18 months before a school would be declared to have forfeited its right to comply with the requirements of the Educational Department and come within the Government scheme; and my noble Friend tells us that ample provision is made in the Bill for accepting new schools. Perhaps I have not made myself sufficiently acquainted with the Bill, but I have certainly not found the provision to which he alludes. The statistics in the Government Reports relate only to schools aided by the Government; but your Lordships will remember that there are a very large number of schools not in receipt of Government Grants maintained by the National Society under the Church of England, the British and Foreign Schools Society, and the Dissenting Bodies. If sufficient facilities are given to these schools to become part and parcel of that national system which the Bill intends to produce, one great point in a national system would be attained—the voluntary system of the country will be still further utilized; and thus the necessity will be obviated of imposing additional taxes on an already over-burdened community. As regards the Conscience Clause, the noble Earl did not afford us any explanation in the course of his eloquent and lucid speech as to why the Conscience Clause originally contained in the Bill had been departed from. My Lords, the religious difficulty has been enormously exaggerated. The religion of Christianity has been presented to us as a thing to be avoided—as if the subject of religion was of so fearful a character that it should be passed by by every means. We might apply to the divisions which have occurred upon this subject the lines of the poet— Fœnum habet in cornu, longè fuge. I, for one, am far from desiring to violate the rights of conscience, and I believe that is the spirit which has uniformly animated the Educational Department. But while I admit the objections to the Conscience Clause have been greatly exaggerated, and that the Church would have done well had she recognized the necessity of a Conscience Clause long ago, I am compelled to say the Government, in its desire to meet some of the objections urged in "another place," have gone to the other extreme, and have really placed this question of religion in an almost invidious position. The Bill, as it was introduced, would have conciliated the most scrupulous conscience. It provided that if a parent objected in writing to his child attending any religious instruction, that child should be withdrawn from that particular lesson without sacrificing any of the privileges belonging to the school enjoyed by the other pupils. And what more was needed? But now we have a Time Table Conscience Clause regulating the times at which religious instruction shall or shall not be given, and in order to guard in the most scrupulous and exaggerated manner the rights of tender consciences, we are to have the religious teaching relegated to the beginning or to the end, or to both, of the hours of school teaching. This, I think, will be found to work in a most inconvenient manner, especially in the case of small village schools where the clergyman's time is limited. I allude to schools mainly supported by one or two influential persons in the parish, who would be ready to do all that the Educational Department required of them, to save the trouble of having a school Board. I do not object to the establishment of a Time Table Conscience Clause, but I cannot approve the proposition that religious instruction should only be given either at the commencement or at the end of the school hours, because it would be absolutely impossible to collect all the children together at those periods. It must also be borne in mind that the religious education suitable for the elder children will not be fitted for the younger children. With reference to the transference of schools to school Boards, I admit that it may be necessary, under certain contingencies, that such a transfer should be made; but still this is a part of the measure which will have to be very carefully considered, as otherwise a great inducement will be held out to the managers of voluntary and denominational schools to hand over their schools to the school Boards. I do not think that the amount of aid which the Government is to afford to voluntary schools is very encouraging. It was stated by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government, in introducing the new form of the Bill, that while an equivalent saving would be obtained by a discontinuance of the building grant, an additional grant of 50 per cent upon the expenditure of the school would be given. But what do I find in the Bill? The Bill provides that the amount to be granted by Government shall not exceed the amount of subscriptions and school-pence — or, rather, the amount of income derived from all other sources. Now, what will be the effect of that? One objection to the existing system is, that it gives aid where aid is not required; and so by the present Bill, in the richer districts, where the subscriptions are large, the assistance will be great; whereas, in the poorer districts, where aid is absolutely essential, but little assistance will be given, and endowed schools will obtain a great advantage over those possessing no endowments. If this part of the Bill is allowed to stand as it is at present, schools in the poorer districts must ultimately abandon their voluntary and denominational character, and fall upon the rates. This is one point of the Bill relating to voluntary schools which I should like to have seen better provided for. I should be glad to see a more permanent and legislative character given to the Minutes of the Educational De- partment of the Privy Council relating to voluntary schools than they at present possess. In the Bill which I had the honour of introducing two years ago, I endeavoured to secure that object by proposing that all such regulations should be approved by the Legislature, so that those who had to depend upon those regulations might know to what they had to look, and not be subject to the action or will of Parliament during any particular Session. Circumstances prevented that measure from becoming law, and I am not prepared to contend that such an amount of permanence is really required. I think, however, that more permanence is required for these regulations than they will possess under this Bill. It would, perhaps, be sufficient if these provisions were required to be laid upon the Tables of both Houses for a certain time before they came into operation. I must now trouble your Lordships with a few observations upon the clauses relating to the rate-supported schools. Under these clauses the managers are empowered to determine the character of the religious education to be given in them. With regard to this part of the question, Her Majesty's Government had a most difficult course to steer, and they have done their work conscientiously, consistently, and straightforwardly. The change effected in this part of the measure since its introduction has been, upon the whole, for the better. As the Bill originally stood, it would have been competent for the managers to determine that the religious instruction to be given in their schools should be of a denominational character. Much as I, in common with other members of the Church of England, should desire to see the children in these schools brought up in the doctrines of that Church, I cannot avoid seeing that the Bill, as originally framed, would have given rise to local jealousies and disturbances, and Dissenters would have been justified in complaining that they were taxed for the support of a religion to which they did not belong. I think, therefore, that the proposal contained in the Bill as it now stands was hardly avoidable, and that it is better that it should be accepted. I think, however, that there is a very great omission in this part of the Bill, inasmuch as it does not require any religious teaching whatever to be given, and that under it it might be possible for a school Board to determine that they would have purely secular teaching, without any religious teaching whatever. This is a course that has never been taken in legislation hitherto. There is not a single instance in which provision is not made for religious teaching. In legislating for the Army, the Navy, for the workhouses, and for the gaols, care has always been taken to insure that religious instruction shall be given; and if my noble Friend had looked through the provious Bills of Sir Robert Peel and Sir James Graham, he would have found that though endeavour was made to deal in an unsectarian manner, yet a provision was always made that religious teaching should form a part of school instruction. I can only regret that the present Bill does not insure that religious teaching of some description shall be given. With regard to one point upon which the noble Earl laid considerable stress, I must take exception. I refer to the clause which relates to compulsory education. The noble Earl went at length into the reasons which induced him to think it necessary that education should be enforced by direct and not by indirect compulsion; but I must say that the noble Earl failed to convince me that that provision is at all desirable. In the first place, we have the testimony of America that direct compulsion does not altogether I answer. The Rev. B. G. Northrop, Agent of the Massachusetts Board of Education, reports— No fact connected with our schools has impressed me so sadly as the extent of truancy and non-attendance, and the strange apathy of the public as to this fruitful form of juvenile crime. The great evil calls loudly for a remedy. In a few townships the laws in reference to truants and absentees from school are faithfully executed with the happiest results, while in others the laws are overlooked or utterly disregarded. As to the compulsory system, if it be good at all it is good for the whole country. Worked partially it may do the greatest injustice where it is imposed, and it may really be called for in places where it is not imposed. No power is taken by the Government as to inquiries why it is not imposed. In the Hours of Labour Act there is a provision for indirect compulsion; and, alluding to the working of that provision, Mr. Robert Baker, one of Her Majesty's principal Inspectors of Factories, says— The Hours of Labour Regulation Act, from which the greatest educational results might have been anticipated, in addition to the causes which have prevented the development of the Factory Act Extension Act, has been inoperative from many other inherent defects. The local authorities, who were invested with power to administer it, have, in most instances, declined or neglected that duty. Several of them have refused to entertain the consideration of it at all. And, truly, if a proof was wanted of the futility of trusting the education of the people to local authorities, either in erecting new schools, or in maintaining them afterwards, we have it in the inaction which they have so largely exhibited under this Act, notwithstanding every effort to induce them to activity. In the Bill, power is taken for the Committee of Council to act vigorously in case the local authorities are in default with respect to the establishment of schools; but I think it is a serious defect that no power is taken for the Committee to oblige the local authorities to put the compulsory system in force where it may be required. Again, it appears to me there will be considerable difficulty in saying who are the children to whom the compulsory system ought to apply—because no distinction is drawn as to classes of children. The intention, I presume, is that it shall apply to the children of the labourers; but that is not stated in the Bill. If the school Board resolve that there is to be compulsory education in a neighbourhood, a Census is to be made by an officer acting under the Board. He may go from house to house, visiting the houses of the rich as well as those of the poor, and any child who, in the opinion of this officer, does not receive a sufficient education must be sent to school. I think that is a great defect in the Bill, because persons who voluntarily send their children to school will be made to appear to do so by compulsion, and that zeal on the part of the parents, which is so necessary under any system of national education, will be materially diminished. I am sorry that a Bill which has great inherent merits should be so defective in this and other particulars. Although the Education Department has taken pains to invest themselves with authority and control over the school Boards, I question whether sufficient power is taken in respect of the nature of the education given in schools, the mode in which it is imparted, and the acquirements of the teachers. I think the Government exercised a wise discretion in abandoning the arrangements they originally pro posed with reference to the conditions on which grants should be given. It is right to treat the voluntary schools as schools to which grants should be made in aid of secular education; but in the case of rate-supported schools, regard should be had to the interests of the ratepayers. My Lords, I cannot sit down without thanking Her Majesty's Government for this Bill. I believe it has been brought in at a favourable conjuncture, and I quite concur in my noble Friend's eulogy of the Vice President of the Committee of Council. In my opinion the Bill is framed with much ability and a conscientious desire to secure the education of the children of this country. I therefore, my Lords, hope that after it has received some Amendments, it will become law, as a measure which will contribute materially to the prosperity and happiness of the kingdom.


said, he heartily joined in the testimony which had been borne in their Lordships' House to the distinguished statesman who had charge of this Bill in the other House of Parliament. Assuredly a measure like this was one that had required great consideration on the part of those who framed it, and he recognized the difficulties in the way of passing a satisfactory measure; and while acquiescing in this measure, he felt he was acquiescing in many things that were distasteful to the feelings of the friends of denominational education. The noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) had spoken so fully on the 7th section—the one containing the Conscience Clause—that he need not dwell very much on that subject. He would, however, say that for many years there had been in this country a system of education in which a Conscience Clause was practically adopted. He was afraid there had been instances in which undue use had been made of the power possessed by individuals, but these were only very exceptional cases. Having had some acquaintance with a large number of schools and with the action of the clergy in a rather large diocese, he could conscientiously say he knew of no instance whatever in which he had not found the clergy acting as if the most binding Conscience Clause were in force. The Bill, however, contained not only a Conscience Clause, but one enhanced and sharpened by a time-table — as though the clergy were in the habit of pressing upon children religious teaching to which the parents objected. Again, Her Majesty's Inspectors were not to examine into the religious education given in the schools. The Inspectors heretofore, by their judicious and intelligent examination of the children in religious subjects, had done much to further religious education in the schools; but this encouragement was now to be withheld, even if the Inspectors were requested to make such an examination. In another part of the Bill there were what appeared to him painful words—that in the rate-supported schools no catechism or formulary distinctive of any religious denomination was to be used; and if the terms and conditions thus laid down were contravened the judges were to be not persons who might be considered impartial, but the Educational Department, whose decision was to be final. Another point was that, while the school Boards might acquire a denominational school, no facilities were provided by which a denominational school might acquire a rate-supported school, and the friends of denominational education had serious cause to complain of such an omission. A feature in the Bill, to which he thought just exception might also be taken, had been well developed by the noble Duke—he referred to the limitation of the grant. This limitation pressed injuriously upon the poor schools, which would not only be in a position of comparative destitution, but would have—and this was the hardship—to compete with a system under which there would be a certain power of the purse. The Bill was not originally so framed, and the change was by no means satisfactory. As an humble friend of education, it was right he should speed with good wishes the measure now proposed. There were many provisions in the Bill which one might thankfully receive, while there were other provisions which he trusted would receive such Amendments as would enable him to look forward with confidence to the success of the measure. He had recently read that there were three things which Englishmen disliked. The first was rates, the second compulsion in any form, the third that education should be dissociated from religion. Each one of these prin- ciples was, to some extent, recognized in the Bill; and he thanked the Government from his heart especially for having recognized the last principle in the teeth of many difficulties.


My Lords, having been for 25 years concerned in the education of the poorest class of children in the metropolis, I should be unwilling to let this subject pass without alluding to the great efforts and munificent voluntary contributions of those who have carried on that work, and who might, if no reference were now made to them, think they were slighted. The delay in bringing this Bill before your Lordships is not the fault of the Government, who did all in their power to bring it up to this House in proper time, but is to be attributed to the tedious and unnecessary debates in the House of Commons. I suppose no Bill of such importance ever came before the Legislature with so small a Preamble, for in this case it does not state any principle which is to govern the enactments. However, notwithstanding all its imperfections, I think this is the best Bill which the Government, considering the circumstances of the case, could have propounded and carried. After all the opposition which the measure has encountered in the House of Commons from a strong combination of secularists and political Dissenters, I am astonished at what the Government have effected, and I should like to join in the tribute of admiration that has been showered upon Mr. Forster — admiration both of his talents and of his courage, and of the way in which he has, amid the greatest difficulties, stood upon his own firm, sound principles, and, rescuing us from a prohibition of religious teaching, has carried them to a successful issue. This Bill has a due regard to what has been done by the members of the Church of England and the various denominations, and does not run revolutionary riot among existing institutions; and while it has abstained from endeavouring to found a uniform system of national education, yet if it should hereafter be thought desirable to establish one, the country will have gained some experience as to how far such a thing is possible or desirable. I think it would have been well if the other House of Parliament had maturely considered for what class they were about to legislate, and the age and condition of that class—it would have spared a world of discussion, because, in considering "the religious difficulty," the whole argument turns upon the supposition that the education is meant for persons of mature age, people with a sort of insatiable appetite for dogma of every description, and who are assumed to be somewhat settled in their mental and physical habits; whereas, in fact, the great bulk of the children whom we seek to educate are of tender years and those of wandering parents, who never continue in one dwelling for more than three or four months. I do not believe that the religious difficulty has ever had any existence whatever except as a euphonious term for the assault and defence, oftentimes not wisely conducted on the part of the defenders, and certainly not justly on the part of the assailants of the Established Church. The catechism has been taken as a stalking-horse, and while, on the one hand, some people have chosen to assume that if you taught the catechism you necessarily made a man a thorough believer and a good citizen; on the other hand, people have assumed that people who were taught it were driven into Conservatism, and probably into Romanism. I do not believe that the religious difficulty ever has had, or ever will have, any existence among those who are banded together for the purpose of teaching the great and saving truths of the Gospel, and who do not devote their time to the education of children for the purpose of advancing their own denomination or maintaining their own Church. I think all the facts we have will bear out that statement, and I should like to quote to your Lordships four instances in which religion is taught without obstruction or misgiving. Your Lordships may remember the testimony given by Dr. Mortimer, the Head Master of the City of London School, in which a sound religious education is given; the Head Master is almost invariably a member of the Church of England, although the Governing Body consists of persons of all denominations, including Jews. Then there is the Borough Road School, which gives a most efficient religious education; that school is supported by both Nonconformists and members of the Church of England, and yet over a great many years there has been no difficulty or collision whatever in religious teaching, Your Lordships may recollect that a large body of teachers who came from all parts of the country assembled at the Westminster Palace Hotel and went as a deputation to Mr. Gladstone; they stated that in their experience, during a number of years and in a great variety of schools, although they had to deal with every class and denomination, the religious difficulty had never arisen. Let me also draw your Lordships' attention to the work of the Ragged School Union in London, and this is the more important because that Union educates that class of children to provide for whom this Bill is intended. We have upon our books 45,551 children of the most ragged and destitute class; our average attendance is 32,231 in about 300 schools; our voluntary teachers of every denomination number 3,600; yet never once in the whole course of 25 years has there been the slightest difficulty or collision, or the least variance among the teachers.


Is there any Time Table Conscience Clause in any of them?


No; none of any sort or kind. The children are of no denomination; the parents may be, but they are mostly indifferent, and they only seek to have their children educated. In one school, for instance, the teachers are 38 in number, and what are the proportions? Belonging to the Church of England there are 8; to the Wesleyans, 8; to the Baptists, 12; to the Independents, 8; and to the Plymouth Brethren, 2; and although the Baptists and the Plymouth Brethren have peculiar and distinctive notions, there has never been any collision. One superintendent writes to me— I sometimes have as many as 53 teachers of various denominations, and never in the course of 18 years did I ever hear of any approach to difficulty. In another school the number of teachers is 40; they consist of Wesleyans, Baptists, Independents, and members of the Church of England in equal numbers, yet the superintendent reports to me that there has never been in the course of many years a single religious difficulty. Having been conversant with these schools for more than 30 years, having gone over the greater number of them, and having had reports from all of them at various times, I can only say that I never heard of the occurrence of any religious difficulty. But your Lordships may ask—"What is taught in these schools?" They certainly do keep clear of any denominational distinctions; the clergy and the lay members of the Church of England do not bring forward anything relating to episcopal government; the Baptists do not bring in their peculiar notions, nor do the Wesleyans, but they all teach the great saving doctrines of Christianity. And if your Lordships' ask—"What has been the effect produced?" I refer you to our Colonies, to the numbers of those who have been sent out, and to those who are in the service of farmers and tradespeople, all of whom have been taken from ragged schools and drawn from the very depths of society, and of whom I can say that a large proportion keep up the character they acquired at school, and have never fallen into evil courses or disgraced the education they received at the hands of their excellent teachers. And it should be remembered that the plan of these ragged schools is to catch a child as he flies rapidly by—as his parents come and go, and the teachers rejoice to have the opportunity, during the short time, a few weeks, perhaps, the children are with them, of imparting to them some of the saving truths of the Gospel. As to the question of compulsion, I think I may safely say that with compulsion you will do next to nothing, and without it you will do nothing at all. It is the most difficult and complicated question you can well consider—and why? If you had to deal with large masses of children who were in permanent dwellings, who had fixed habits, who were under the charge of parents or guardians, or who resided constantly or for any length of time in the same domicile, they might be brought under a system of compulsion if you thought it just. But look at the character of the population with which you have to deal. It is estimated that school accommodation will be required for about 400,000 children. I think that estimate is too high, but whether the number is larger or smaller fully two-thirds will be the children of a roving population. I went through one district in the Northern part of London, and the clergyman informed me that the whole of the population in his parish had been completely changed in the course of 12 months. I examined one large ragged school, where there were 700 or 800 children, yet not one of them had been there six months. But of the whole 45,000 of those children who are on our books in the ragged schools there are not 2 per cent who attend for a whole year. A very large proportion attend for six months, a large proportion for three months, and very many for a less time. You have 40,000 or 50,000, sometimes 60,000 persons moving like Scythians round London in search of employment, and who never remain more than three or four months in any one place. But, in addition to other causes which induce their children to lead a rambling life, they, about this period of the year, leave London by tens of thousands for the purpose of engaging themselves in hop and pea picking and other rural and profitable employments. Now, how, I would ask, is it possible that in dealing with children of this class you can have a system of compulsion, and drive them all daily to school? If you were to mount 100 Inspectors on bicycles, and were to get them to ride about the country until they ran the risk of being brought before the police for furious driving, it would be out of your power to reduce those children to a state of such order and discipline. They would get out of your sight, and you could not say where they were from time to time. It is perfectly true that Mr. Fearon, in his excellent Report with respect to Leeds and Liverpool, proposed a system of compulsion which he thinks would meet the difficulty of the case. He says—"Take those children and feed and clothe them;" and if you adopted such a system as that with those 300,000 or 400,000 children, they would, no doubt, come immediately within your reach; but, then, is it not very questionable whether that would be an advisable course to adopt? Would you not, by such means, introduce pauperism on principle? But let me suppose that it is mechanically possible to force some of those children to attend school regularly — and in some parts of the rural districts, as well as of London, where employment is somewhat fixed, it might be possible to do so—the question arises how far it would be just for the State to compel such attendance. I do not deny that the State has the power—and power is often held to con- stitute right—to compel the attendance of children at school; but how far would it be just in the exercise of that authority to deprive parents of the earnings of their children, on which they, in so many instances, so largely depend for support? In the case of families with children of 10, 11, and 12 years of ago—I am sorry the age has been altered from 6 and 13 to 5 and 12 in the Bill—it would be a very serious infliction to deprive them of the earnings of their children while they would be under the necessity of clothing and feeding them during the time they were being educated. I do not believe it would be possible to bring a system of compulsion into general operation under such circumstances. At Bethnal Green an endeavour was made some short time ago to bring the Workshops Act into operation, but the local authority refused to do so, on the ground that it would be inflicting a great hardship on many families. If we could introduce the factory system, that combination of labour and education, we should, I think, be conferring a very great boon; and it may, by degrees, be possible to introduce it, although not on precisely the same footing, because in the case of factories regulated, as they are, by steam-power, it is very easy to adopt the halftime system. There is a way, however, in which, in my opinion, we can advantageously combine labour and education among the agricultural classes, and that is by a large institution of evening schools, with peripatetic schoolmasters; but of the 45,000 children of whom I have just been speaking, 9,000 attend evening classes up to the ages of 12, 13, and 14. The difficulty might, to a great extent, be solved by the adoption of such a system, and I do not regret that the Bill is so drawn as to leave it optional with the school Boards to compel the attendance of children at school. In some localities it can be done, but in a great many it will require much care and consideration and a great change in the conditions of society before this provision can be made to work effectively. With respect to the question of religious teaching also I sympathize deeply with my noble Friend the noble Duke who spoke this evening, as well as with Sir John Pakington, in their desire to render it compulsory that the Bible should be read every day in the schools. I am convinced, however, that it would be altogether impossible to carry out such a proposal, and the only safe way is, in my opinion, to leave the matter to the discretion of the Governing Bodies. The proposal is one which I am sure could not be enforced. There is, no doubt, considerable feeling in this country on the subject of religious education, but that feeling arises from many and mixed motives. There is a very strong opinion in many quarters that the Bible should not be excluded from our schools. It is contended that to do so would be a breach of religious liberty; but I am satisfied, from the inquiries I have made, that a proposition to introduce the reading of the Bible forcibly would be rebelled against by those who are opposed to its exclusion on the same ground — that it would be a breach of religious liberty. I think, therefore, we shall exercise a sound discretion in leaving this important matter to the judgment of the local Boards. The Bill, I may add, although it does not contain any great principles, contains provisions which are calculated to bring about a very great change in the whole system of education in this country. I am afraid the affirmation of the principle that the State, as a parent, has a right and that it is its duty to see that a child is educated, and that proper provision is made for that education will, if gradually, still completely, destroy our whole voluntary system. I believe, indeed, it will absorb not only schools of this description, but those of a very much higher class. Many persons of property now contribute their money towards the promotion of education because they think the obligation lies upon them, and that if they did not discharge the duty it would not be performed at all. But when the duty becomes recognized as devolving on the State they will be apt to regard themselves as freed from the obligation. I am astonished, therefore, to hear of the fears which have been expressed by Secularists and Dissenters in the House of Commons, for it appears evident that the tendency of things in this country is to the establishment of rate-provided schools and the institution of secular education. The common school system of America is very similar to that which we are now about to establish, and there they are gradually eliminating the Bible from their schools. From the last paper which I received from Cin- cinnati I find that the decision has been arrived at that the Bible should be struck out of the great school there. Such is the tendency of the present day, and they are, in my opinion, in error who suppose they can redress the balance by means of Sunday schools. In America the Sunday schools are not attended by 40 per cent of those who go to the day schools; and when you send children to school for six days in the week it will be accomplishing something superhuman if you can secure their voluntary attendance on Sundays for the purpose of learning the truths of Christianity. As to the Bill, I must say I do not expect very much from it. Neither in Prussia, nor in America, has a similar system produced a moral, though it may have stimulated an intellectual, life. I can have no confidence in any system of education which is not based on the great doctrines of religion, and which does not impart to the mind of a child a deep sense that it is an immortal and responsible being, that an invisible Eye sees into its inmost heart, and that there will come a day when it must render an account not only of its actions, but also of its thoughts. Idleness is, I believe, ten times more dangerous than ignorance. The temptations which beset all of those whom we are going to educate multiply from day to day. I have the testimony of the Ordinary of Newgate to the effect that the promotion of education has stimulated, to a great extent, the reading of impure literature, and has given an amount of intellectual quickness which enables persons, who formerly could not do so, to pander to the taste for such literature by writing articles for publication. I do not make these remarks by any means with the view of stopping the progress of the Bill. The Bill, such as it is, will, I hope, produce some good. I trust your Lordships will accept it, for it is, at any rate, a step in the right direction. I hope the blessing of God may rest upon it, and if it turn only a few hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, it will be a measure worthy of Parliament and not unworthy of the prayers of a Christian nation.


said, he must ask the indulgence of their Lordships, as one of a very small number of Members of their Lordships' House who might be said to represent in it a very large body of poor persons in this country who stood most in want of education, and who, by reason of their poverty, had comparatively little to spare with which to obtain it. It had been stated by a very high authority in "another place" that the educational destitution of that body was so great that it might constitute one-sixth of the whole educational destitution of the country. They lived in days when great events occurred unexpectedly and suddenly produced results; but the measure before the House was so great that it was difficult indeed to realize what its results would be. It was, in fact, a measure that required much skill and boldness to bring forward at a time when the Birmingham League put forward views anything but favourable to the voluntary system. They held that, although the voluntary system of education had done some good, it ought, nevertheless, to die, and all the favour they could grant it would be to let it die in a quiet and tranquil manner. But, surely, the voluntary system had done a great deal of good in its time, and might have done a great deal more had it not been starved. Prussia was pointed to as the model on which we ought to form our educational system; but Prussia educated only one person in every 6½ of the population, while in this country one person in every 7½ of the population was educated by voluntary efforts. It was quite true, however, that the quality of the education might not be so good as in Prussia. In 1854 there were in this country 410,000 children under Government inspection; while in 1868 the number had risen to 1,330,000. Besides this, the amount raised from private sources for promoting education was double what came from the national Exchequer. As we were about to change the existing system of denominational education, it would be well to consider what had been the experience of other countries. The Reports of the Government Commissioners showed that in Prussia the State-supported schools, which at first were more or less religious, but not denominational, had proved failures, and that when new schools were established they were on the "confessional," or denominational, model. In fact, it was stated in these Reports that in 1822 the Prussian Government acknowledged its system of education to be a failure. Again, the American common school system had not been so successful as was generally supposed, because many of the people preferred to send their children to schools of a more decidedly religious character. Against the case of Cincinnati, mentioned by the noble Earl who last spoke (the Earl of Shaftesbury), he might cite that of New York, where the education was strictly denominational, and where money had been directly voted to the Catholic schools for two years past. In Holland the schools were becoming more and more religious; and he had heard that in France one might judge of the characters of heads of families by their anxiety to place their children in schools religiously conducted. The feeling of this country, he maintained, was in favour of religious or denominational schools. Eighty-five per cent of the population had been educated in such schools. Consequently, if a general system of rate-supported secular schools were established, a great hardship would be inflicted on those persons who desired to educate their children religiously. He by no means blamed the Government for what they had done; but, on the contrary, thought they had met a great difficulty with boldness and success. He could not entirely sympathize with the measure; but hoped it would pass into law, although even now he should like to see some emendations introduced into it. Was this a time, he asked, to discountenance religion? No—it should be encouraged in every way. He was afraid that if religious teaching in schools was to be treated in the way proposed in this Bill, it would be considered a kind of myth—the children would either think religion of no consequence at all, or else come to the conclusion that every man might make a religion for himself. For his, own part, he was in favour of denominational teaching, both doctrinal and specific. The Bill would be a retrograde movement, to a certain extent, so far as the Catholics were concerned. Many years ago they came to a specific understanding with the Government on the subject of education, and received various privileges, such as that of having school Inspectors of their own religion. These privileges they were now asked to give up—and he might remark that they relinquished them with a good grace in order to show their desire to promote the education of the country at large. From the late Report of the Government Commissioners, it appeared that the fees in Catholic schools were lower and the voluntary subscriptions higher than was the case with regard to the schools of any other religious body. The Catholic schools also had more week and day scholars than the schools of any other denomination except the Church of England and the British and Foreign schools. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury) thought the question of religion presented no very great difficulty, but the Roman Catholics entertained a very different opinion. It was quite contrary to their principle of education, which conveyed doctrinal religious teaching from the earliest years; and it would be a great hardship on them to have to send their children to rate-aided schools, where they would not find a master or mistress or manager of their own religion. With inspect to the arrangements in the Bill for children withdrawing, the parents could not take advantage of the Conscience Clause; because, if they did so, their children would have no religious instruction given them, and if they did not withdraw they would be instructed in a way repugnant to the feelings of their parents. That was a hard case. The Government Inspectors said it was not so much the teaching by book, but the silent influences at work in the school—its moral atmosphere—which conveyed religious impressions to the young; and against this the Conscience Clause afforded no protection to Catholics. In Prussia denominations were assisted by the State to build schools. Similar provisions were made in Canada. He regretted it was found impossible to do the same in this country. Contrasting the denominational with the rate-supported schools, he desired to point out the superior advantages which the latter would possess. The managers could insist upon sites, but some denominations had the greatest difficulty in obtaining sites. The power to remit school fees given by the Bill to school managers would be sure to attract the poor, and he feared that in this way Roman Catholic children would be drawn into the mixed schools; and thus the result of this legislation—though unintentional, would be to bring back upon the Catholics those disabilities from which after a long struggle, they had recently been relieved in respect of prisons and workhouses. His apology for trespassing so long upon their Lordships' time was the knowledge that it would be some satisfaction to those whom he represented to know that an appeal had been made in their behalf to the Legislature. Their hopes outside the Legislature were few. The local authorities in important centres, such as Liverpool, had made grants for Roman Catholic industrial schools, but they could not be depended on in the case of elementary schools; though some might come forward, especially if they were asked only to supplement a good subscription list, because that would tend to lighten the general charge upon them for schools. A revision of the Revised Code in their favour would also assist them. But, whatever the fate of the Bill, he trusted the children of the country would be educated in a way which would not do violence to religious principles, without acknowledging which no country could be, and certainly no country deserved to be, prosperous.


My Lords, it is not my intention to detain your Lordships by any very lengthy comments upon the Bill before you; but its importance is so great that I am unwilling to let the debate close without a few words. I am gratified to find that at last I can agree with my noble Friend (the Lord President) on the principle of a measure which he has introduced, and that I can give my cordial assent to most of the details. The principles of the Bill, as laid down by my noble Friend, are briefly these — That elementary education shall be within the reach of every child in the country; that religious instruction shall be recognized in such education; and that no child shall be compelled, contrary to the conscientious wish of his parents, to attend the religious instruction to be given in the schools under this Bill. In the words of the Prime Minister, we are to have entire liberty of teaching combined with entire liberty of withdrawal. I regret, however, that this has not been carried out as fully as it might have been in those parts of the Bill which deal with the Conscience Clause. I do not think my noble Friend, in moving the second reading, at all exaggerated the insufficiency of means of education throughout the country; but I believe the dearth of which he complained exists mainly in the thickly populated districts, where the demand has outgrown the supply, and not in the agricultural districts, where ignorance arises rather from the unwillingness of parents to send their children to school. The difficulty in the latter case is not so much to supply a deficiency of schools and instruction as to induce the parents to give their children time for instruction. That there is much to be done in the way of providing elementary education is, I believe, admitted by all, and I think the course adopted by the Opposition in the House of Commons must have shown that we are convinced of the necessity for some such measure as that introduced by Her Majesty's Government. We have, in supporting this measure—I speak for myself and the party with which I have the honour to act—given up many points which we have for many years considered most important with regard to the religious instruction of the people. I am quite aware that this is not the time to insist too much on these views, and that on questions in which the interests of the people are so manifestly wrapped up, as in the question of education, it would be unwise to carry opposition and conscientious conviction too far, and so by an excess of conscientiousness prevent the opportunity that now presents itself of improving the education of the country. If time had permitted, and your Lordships had not been occupied so long in discussing the subject, I should have liked to have pointed out what great educational benefits have accrued to the country from the exertions of the Established Church. In the very valuable Reports of Mr. Fitch and Mr. Fearon—particularly when speaking of such large towns as Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester—there are many passages which show that the Established Church has been fully alive to the wants of the people, and that, so far as it has laid in her power, she has carried the blessings of education to all within her influence. It is satisfactory to find by reference to these Reports that, although there has been a very considerable agitation going on against the existing system of education, a vast number of our fellow-countrymen have been occupied in the less exciting, but more important, duty of carrying on the work of education in all its forms throughout the country. I am glad to see by the measure they have introduced, that Her Majesty's Government have not ignored those exertions, and that they propose to recognize the existing state of things as regards the education of the people, that they merely supplement that system, and that in no case where there has been a sufficient amount of school accommodation and instruction do they interfere or introduce a system of rates and school Boards. There are, however, many portions of the measure now under consideration which are not exactly in accordance with the views I entertain; and, without at this time going into details, which will have to be discussed at a future period, I will briefly allude to some of the more salient points of the Bill, with the view of drawing the attention of my noble Friend to them, so that he may have an opportunity of considering and amending them in Committee. But, before doing so, I also must add my tribute of admiration to the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Council, with whom I have not the honour of being personally acquainted, has carried the Bill through the other House of Parliament. He deserves the greatest possible praise from all those who are interested in the well-being of the people, and who wish for their instruction. In dealing with the Bill itself, I must, in the first place, draw attention to the terms of Clause 16. That clause says— If the school Board do, or permit any act in contravention of, or fail to comply with the regulations according to which a school provided by them is required by this Act to be conducted, the Education Department may declare the school Board to be, and such Board shall accordingly be, deemed to be a Board in default, and the Education Department may proceed accordingly, and every act or omission of any member of the school Board, or manager appointed by them, or any person under the control of the Board, shall be deemed to be permitted by the Board, unless the contrary be proved. If any dispute arises as to whether the school Board have done or permitted any act in contravention of, or have failed to comply with, the said regulations, the matter shall be referred to the Education Department, whose decision thereon shall be final. The point in that clause to which I object is this—the Educational Department is to declare that the school Board is in default if they have in any way failed to comply with the regulations under which a school is required to be conducted, and, having considered and decided the matter, they themselves, in the event of any difference of opinion on the subject, are to decide whether that judgment is correct. The Educational Department is thus placed in the anomalous position of being first complainant, then judge, then jury, and eventually a Court of Appeal from itself; it is to possess, in fact, despotic power over the school Boards. The 22nd clause, again, gives a very serious power to school managers of transferring their school to the school Board. If this power is to be given at all, it should not be conveyed in such general terms. I think it would be far preferable if such a transfer were to be by lease and not absolutely. The 23rd clause states— The school Board may, if they think fit, pay the whole or any part of the school fees payable at any public elementary school by any child resident in their district whose parent is, in their opinion, unable from poverty to pay the same; but no such payment shall be made or refused on condition of the child attending any public elementary school other than such as may be selected by the parent; and such payment shall not be deemed to be parochial relief given to such parent. That is a wrong principle, and I doubt whether it will confer any benefit upon those supposed to derive an advantage under it, because I have always found that the poor do not sufficiently appreciate anything for which they pay nothing. Again, the 39th clause states— Where the Education Department are of opinion that it would be expedient to form a school district larger than a borough, or a parish, or any school district formed under this Act, they may, except in the metropolis, by order made after such inquiry and notice as hereinafter mentioned, form a united school district by uniting any two or more adjoining school districts, and upon such union cause a school Board to be formed for such united school district. A united school district shall for all the purposes of this Act be deemed to be a school district, and shall throughout this Act be deemed to be substituted for the school districts out of which it is constituted, and the school Board of the united school district shall be the school Board appointed under this Act, and the local rate and rating authority for the united district shall be in each of the constituent district thereof the same as if such constituent district did not form part of the united school district. I must confess that it seems to me that considerable injustice might result from a parish the education and school accommodation in which was perfect being compelled, as part of a united school district, to pay school rates. I now come to another point that was dwelt upon at great length by the noble Earl—namely, that which relates to the system of compulsion. And I really hope that after what has fallen from the noble Earl upon this subject, and more especially after his statement that a Bill dealing with the whole question of compulsion will be introduced into Parliament next year by Her Majesty's Government, he will see the advisability of withdrawing this part of the Bill. I should much prefer to see this principle in the form of indirect compulsion than in that of absolute compulsion, which, as the clause is framed, may inflict much hardship and injustice on individuals. I am convinced that it will be impossible to carry out a system of enforced compulsion in the agricultural districts which shall be just to all parties concerned. The noble Earl has said that the system of indirect compulsion only touched those children who were at work. But what would be the effect of direct compulsion? Take the case of a man earning very low wages who did not send his children to school. On being fined by the magistrate he would be able to make out so good a case that the fine would have to be remitted; while, on the other hand, the fine would be enforced against the man who earned good wages. Compulsion would thus operate unequally, and would give rise to jealousies and heartburnings. I think also that the noble Earl will, upon consideration, be of opinion that the 96th clause is one which ought not to remain in the Bill. That clause states— The managers of every elementary school shall have power to fulfil the conditions required in pursuance of this Act to be fulfilled in order to obtain a Parliamentary Grant, notwithstanding any provision contained in any instrument regulating the trusts or management of their school, and to apply such grant accordingly. Thus the managers of the schools may, if they please, sot at naught the trust deed under which the school was founded. A more dangerous principle than this I cannot conceive. My Lords, I am anxious not to transgress too long on your attention in the present state of the House and at this hour in the evening; and, therefore, I have stated only generally the views I entertain on the educational part of the Bill. I now come to a part which, I think, cannot be considered educational. Indeed, I do not imagine that my noble Friend (Earl de Grey and Ripon) regards it as educational, because if he did, he would have felt it his duty, as President of the Council, to give us some information about it; but he has not done so. I allude to that which I think I may describe as the political part of the Bill—that which prescribes that the election of school Boards shall be taken by way of Ballot. I thought that my noble Friend, with his eloquence, ingenuity, and talent, would have brought forward some argument to show why election by Ballot should be introduced at all; but, having attentively listened to his speech, as did all your Lordships, I heard nothing, from the beginning to the end of it, which would have led me to suppose that he was going to deal with the Ballot in this Bill. I think that by introducing the question of the Ballot into this Bill, Her Majesty's Government are going far to prejudice the much larger question of education. I am sure it is not because my noble Friend and his Colleagues feel that the question of the Ballot is not likely to progress this Session—I am sure it is not on that account that Her Majesty's Government seek to strengthen their opinions on the matter by introducing it thus incidentally into this Bill. As, then, I do not think it is introduced to air the opinion of the Government on the question, I am quite at a loss to know why it has been put into the Education Bill. My Lords, what is there analogous between education and the Ballot? The former has nothing to do with the latter. I cannot conceive what you want with it, unless you introduced it for the mere purpose of provocation. It seems very like the operation of holding a red flag in the face of a bull. My noble Friend, having learnt by the experience of this Session, and particularly by that which he must have acquired during the debates on the Irish Land Bill, that we are not so violent in our opposition as to be useful, or exciting, or amusing to him, may have introduced the Ballot in this Bill, in order to make us so. Believing that no necessity exists for the Ballot in this Bill—believing that this Bill can be made to work perfectly well without the Ballot, and believing in the necessity — the urgent necessity — of passing some measure that will extend the benefits of elementary education, I hope that in Committee I shall be able to induce your Lordships to strike out that part of the Bill which provides for election by Ballot. Thus much, my Lords, for the main features of the Bill. I confess it contains numerous provisions with which I am not altogether satisfied, and that it does not contain others which it would be well to introduce; but, in assenting to the second reading and going into Committee, we shall show our determination to deal with this important question, even at the risk of sacrificing some long-cherished opinions, and I believe we may pass a measure which will promote the happiness and prosperity of future generations by laying the foundation of a system of education suitable to the requirements of a Christian people.


said, he desired to say a few words expressive of his opinions upon this subject. It was impossible to have watched the passage of this Bill through the other House of Parliament and the difficulties that the Government had there to encounter, without acknowledging that they had good reason for feelings of exultation at the success which had enabled them to bring up the measure to their Lordships in its present shape. But when he came to consider the Bill he must say that it seemed as though, while they had escaped great dangers, they had not gained many great advantages. Although the Bill extended education, he thought that if, instead of adopting the Revised Code, they had gone on with the old system of giving every encouragement to voluntary efforts, they would have done much better. What was there in this Bill that would improve the quality at the same time that it increased the number of the schools? Would the ratepayers be more assiduous in improving the quality of the schools than the voluntary subscribers were? Would it be improved in the rate-supplied school? The ratepayers would probably elect a similar class upon the school Boards as now managed the workhouse schools—and those were certainly not model schools—and there was no reason why they should have better masters or mistresses than before in the schools in the country. There was an array of kindly feeling around the voluntary schools which were now the great link between different classes of society, and which united in some degree the squire, the clergy, and the poor. The upper classes furnished the children in the schools with recreation; they tried to promote their welfare in their future life; and indeed they looked upon them in the light of clients. How would the rate-supported schools promote the formation of any link like that which now existed? Looking at the difficulties which the Government had had to overcome, and for having overcome which they were entitled to the greatest praise, he accepted the Bill as a political necessity; but looking at it in the interest of the children who required education, he could not regard it as a satisfactory measure. How were the small schools, inferior in number and in wealth, to receive assistance? Looking at the matter purely in the interests of the children, he could not but think that to whatever extent they obstructed the progress of the voluntary system or withheld, assistance from it, they did a positive evil. How were they to make arrangements for ragged schools and for night schools? how would their cast-iron system meet all those requirements? Would they compel the children of the honest hardworking artizan who was rising above his fellows to associate with others from whom contamination might be feared? Again, the Bill did not give facilities to the voluntary schools for borrowing money upon mortgage that were given to the ratepaying schools; and people were to be compelled to send their children to schools that they might disapprove of. Looking at the whole matter, it seemed to him that the interest of the children was the last thing thought of.


said, that although for many years this question of education had occupied his attention, he did not now propose to detain their Lordships by going into the general question. He believed that for a long time a great mistake had been made in undivided attention having been given to providing for the education of the wage-earning class, the education of the middle classes having been left out of consideration until the last year or two. The thanks of the country were now due to the Government in general, but more especially to the right hon. Gentleman who had had charge of the Bill in the other House, for the manner in which they had dealt with this important and difficult question. He thought the measure, on the whole, decidedly a good one—indeed, a better than at one time seemed likely to pass; yet he could not but regret that there were some omissions, the prominent one being the absence of any provision for creating a responsible Minister of Education—an omission which he the more regretted because there was in the Cabinet one Minister of the Crown who had shown himself admirably qualified to discharge the important duties that would attach to such a post. There were tax-supported schools connected with the Army which were under the control of the Secretary for War; and there were others belonging to the Navy which were under the direction of the First Lord of the Admiralty; and there were in all parts of the country schools that were partly supported by a Parliamentary Grant, and he could not but think it most desirable that a Minister of Education should have charge of them. As to the alleged deficiencies in the provision made for the education of children, his own experience was that there were large tracts of country that were represented as entirely void of education because they did not contain inspected schools; yet those districts were by no means badly off, and he knew some parishes in which for years every boy and girl of 14 years of age could read well and write and cipher tolerably. Many parishes which had been held up to obloquy as being utterly destitute of education showed by the test of signatures to the register of marriages a very much higher state of education than many town and manufacturing districts which had been in receipt of large sums from the Treasury, and in which expensive schools had been erected with the public money. He, however, agreed that there were great deficiencies in the means of education, which were much to be deplored, and the Government deserved much credit for their boldness in bringing forward this measure, and for their perseverance and tact in carrying it through the other House. He regretted that the school Boards established by the Bill were to be wholly elected, for his experience as a Poor Law Guardian led him to the belief that there were in most districts gentlemen who were most suitable to be on school Boards, yet who could not command a large number of votes at a popular election; and he suggested that of the mem bers of each school Board a proportion not exceeding one-third might be appointed by the Education Department, through their Inspector. It was, he thought, inexpedient to authorize a Board to remit the whole of the school fees in any instance, for he believed that the payments made by the wage-earning class for the education of their children were unnecessarily and unreasonably low; besides which, if gratuitous education were given to children in any rate-supported schools the voluntary ones would be placed at a disadvantage. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond) had spoken against the introduction of the Ballot into an Educational Bill. He (Earl Fortescue) had always felt that the Ballot was an insignificant question, and when he had represented large constituencies he had sometimes offended them by declaring that it would do a little harm and no good. His opinion was now somewhat modified, and he thought the Ballot would do a little good and no harm. The system of election, however, under the Local Management Act of 1855 was most undesirable. By it the many were brought to the few, instead of the few to the many. The same secresy could be secured by a house-to-house collection as by asking electors to go to the poll clerk; and voting for vestrymen in the metropolis was practically found to be a prohibitory duty, on account of the trouble and waste of time it involved.


The right hon. Gentleman who has received, and most worthily, the commendation of the House for the Bill he introduced and the manner in which he has carried it through the other House of Parliament, said, in his speech on the third reading, that he hoped the Bill would receive here the same careful attention it had received in the House of Commons. When I read that I almost thought the hope had been expressed ironically, for if we were to enter on the consideration of the Bill with the same care as it had received "elsewhere" I want to know when the Parliament would be adjourned? I believe this Bill was introduced into the other House at the beginning of March, and it did not pass till towards the end of July. I hope we shall finish the consideration of it before the end of September—and I only regret that a measure of such vast importance should have been sent up at so late a period of the Session, when we cannot give it adequate consideration. I agree entirely with what has been said by my noble Friend the noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) as to the absence of the mention of religion from the Bill except in a restrictive sense; and as to the compulsory attendance of children, I believe it to be against the spirit, the wishes, and the feelings of the people of this country. There is an old proverb that one man may lead a horse to the water, but that many cannot make him drink; and I am convinced that it is quite ineffectual to try to force education on the people. My first objection is, that you should not force a Dissenter to send his child to a school where the teaching may be contrary to his conscientious objections; my second, and certainly not less strong objection is that a Churchman should not be forced to send his child to a school where a religion may be taught of which he disapproves, still more to a purely secular school, where no religion is taught at all.


, in reply, said, he should abstain from following in detail objections which he should endeavour to answer in Committee. He had to thank their Lordships on both sides of the House for the very fair manner in which the Bill had been received and for the large and general amount of support given to it. From its reception this evening he trusted he might augur that the Bill would be discussed — not, he hoped, at the same length as in the other House—but in the same fair spirit, the same absence of party considerations, and the same desire to make the measure effectual for the end in view. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond), alluding to the declaration of the Premier that the right principle to adopt was the freedom of teaching and the freedom of withdrawal, said he regretted that this principle was not carried out in the Conscience Clause as it now stood. At the proper time, however, he should be able to show that the present clause gave more complete freedom of teaching than as the clause originally stood; for now a child could only be withdrawn from the teaching of religious subjects, instead of from any portion of teaching whatever. His noble Friend opposite (the Duke of Richmond) was of opinion that the Bill conferred too large a power on the Education Department. While he admitted that the power which it gave was large, he did not think it was more so than was absolutely necessary to effect the object which they all had in view. As to the Ballot, he could only say that he believed it furnished the most advantageous mode of taking votes for a variety of purposes. The last thing, at all events, which he, as a member of the Education Department, would do would be to seek to make an experimentum in corpore vili, by applying it to education, did he not suppose it would be found to work satisfactorily. He had simply to say, in conclusion, that he proposed to fix the Committee for Friday next.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.