HL Deb 05 July 1872 vol 212 cc674-97

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, it was now three years since he had the honour of directing the attention of the House to the subject of education in Scotland, and of asking the assent of their Lordships to a measure to amend and extend the law which now existed in Scotland on that subject. Three years might be a very long or they might be a very short period in a Parliamentary history. He thought he might say that the three years which had elapsed since 1869 had been a long period in the Parliamentary history of Scotch education. It had been a period, however, which had not been allowed to remain idle—during that time the question had been most keenly debated. It had been debated by all political parties and all religious parties, and discussed in its principles and incidents, in all its bearings and in all its probable results, all over the kingdom. He thought he might say, too, that, whatever might be their own individual opinions or predilections as to what in the abstract would be the best system of national education, their Lordships no longer stood in the same position that they occupied in 1869. Some things had been conclusively established; some things had been carried out by Parliament from which their Lordships could not now retreat, and the consequences of which they must all be prepared to accept. These changes were well worth reviewing. Three years since there was no such thing, properly speaking, as national education for England. The Parliament of the country had never acknowledged it to be its duty to see to the complete education of the people. For 30 or 40 years Parliament had been granting sums of money to various Churches and Societies, under certain conditions, towards the education of the people. During that period very great efforts had been made—especially by the Church of England—to turn to the best advantage the educational resources placed at their disposal. He did not think that too much praise could be bestowed upon the clergy of the Church of England for the self-sacrificing zeal they had brought to bear in the cause of education, and for the efforts they had made—often without due assistance from the laity—to fill up the great blank which had been left through the carelessness of former Parliaments. Parliament had not during those three years stood indifferent; but notwithstanding such aid and such exertions, they came to the conclusion that the system then in existence was inadequate and inefficient, and they set it aside. For his own part, he had no hesitation in saying three years ago that he had no objection to the denominational system of education. He still thought it was about the most natural organization to which the work of education could be entrusted. His theory of education was simple. It was that the duty of education lay first on parents. There was a call on parents in their collective capacity in any educational organization that might be formed; and, therefore, the organization of Churches fully agreeing on religious teaching was one of the most natural that could be formed. Failing that duty being performed by the parents, and failing its being performed by Churches, he thought the duty of the State came in. And this was very much the theory acted on in the matter of education by Parliament since 1869, and this was what was proposed to be done in regard to education in Scotland by the present Bill. Notwithstanding the energetic exertions of the Church of England and other Churches, assisted by the Foreign and British School Society, the population had so outgrown the organization that it was impossible the work could be done; and Parliament, having come to the conclusion that hundreds and thousands of children were growing up without religious or secular education, passed the Act of 1870. Now, the Act of 1870, establishing national education in England, was, like almost every great Act in this country, a compromise. It did not take any abstract principle and follow it to a legitimate conclusion; but simply took the practical view, that, as the Churches had failed to perform the work, and as every other voluntary organization had either neglected or failed to perform it, the Legislature ought to step in. This principle was then laid down—that it was the duty and right of the State to see that the education of the people was ample and sufficient. The Act of 1870 gave compulsory power over parents in case of neglect, and it gave certain powers as to the rating of communities for the purposes of education. Very powerful forces had to be overcome before that Act could be passed. In the first place, there was in this country an extreme objection to the multiplication of rates; in the next place, the Bill of 1870 had to overcome what was a still more powerful feeling—namely, the attachment of Churches to their own denominational schools. Lastly, the Bill of 1870 had to break through the sincere fear as to the danger to the religious education of the people in any system of national education. Now, as regarded Scotland, it could not be denied that for a very long time an admirable national system of education had existed in Scotland to a considerable extent; but it had been outgrown by the national want. He did not deny its quality, which was good; but something more was rendered necessary by the great increase in the population, by the growth of large cities, and by the development of mining industry—there was a great necessity in respect of the enormous increase of the population in the counties and the great cities, for additional school accommodation, and a fresh geographical distribution of those schools. He was not going to trouble their Lordships with the statistics which he gave on the last occasion on which he had addressed them. A Commission had sat the year before to inquire into the educational requirements of Scotland. No one would deny that with respect to the old cities of Scotland in the geographical position of the schools, there were immense deficiencies. He should read one extract from the last Report of Mr. Walker, an Inspector of Factories in Scotland, in which that gentleman said, speaking of the educational deficiencies in the great cities and counties— He found, in a company of Scotch Militia, that out of 82 of the rank and file, including two corporals, 46 had marks to their names, and the remainder could write very little more than their names. The Report added— That it was a great mistake to suppose that education was more general in Scotland than in other countries. In the strictly rural districts, where parish schools were in force, much good had been accomplished, and agricultural labourers were better educated; but they must go to Lancashire and the West Riding, where the half-time system was in vogue, for good education. This had reference, of course, mainly to the great cities, but it showed that in populous places the educational deficiencies in Scotland were marked. There was another point to which he wished to refer—namely, that whereas they found practically the same need with which they had to deal in England, they had not the same resisting force with respect to a national system of education as there was in the latter country. In the first place, it was an old established doctrine of the Scotch law that it was the duty and the function of the State and Parliament to see to the education of the people. There was nothing new in that doctrine. It was an old accepted doctrine in Scotland. It was familiar to the minds of the people, and therefore none of that resisting force which had been opposed to the Act of 1870 in England was to be experienced in Scotland. In the second place, there was not the same objection as there was in England of a reluctance to resort to rates for the purposes of education. In Scotland the established system of education was founded upon rates. Those rates were levied only upon one kind of property—namely, upon the proprietors and the tenants of land. There was another point of difference between Scotland and England in favour of a complete system of national education in Scotland. There was no great anxiety on the part of denominational Churches to keep up separate denominational schools. In England there was a great desire to keep up those schools, and one of the things which they dreaded most in England was the fear that the rate schools would ultimately absorb the Church schools. There was not the same feeling in Scotland. There was only one Dissenting Church outside of the Church of Scotland which had taken a strong and active part in support of separate education—that was the Free Church of Scotland; but the Free Church had been driven into that by exceptional circumstances. They did not desire to set up new schools; but the fact was by the old law the parish schoolmasters must be members of the Established Church; and when the Secession of 1843 occurred, some of the masters went over from the Establishment, and being therefore unable to retain their schools, there was nothing for the Free Church to do but to allow them to starve, or to set up new schools. He might mention that several members of the Free Church, and among them his old friend Dr. Guthrie, were against their setting up a new system of schools, and expressed the opinion that nothing but absolute necessity would justify it. That was the only real earnest attempt of any religious Body to set up denominational schools; but that, as he had already said, was the result of accident. These schools were not desirable—they taught nothing but what was taught in the Established Church schools—they simply arose out of the circumstances of the case, and there was no necessity for them; but, on the contrary, they were needless and a burden. There was another difficulty which had presented itself in England, but which would not be much felt in Scotland—arising from the number of denominational schools. In England there was a great fear of the national system of schools, but in Scotland there need be no such fear, and for this reason—that with the exception of the schools of the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, which were denominational, the religious conduct of schools was universally the same, the hours devoted to religious instruction were the same, and there was practically no difficulty in regard to religious instruction. This being so, he did not think it pos- sible for them any longer to shut their eyes to the necessity there was for seeing that the provision for the education of the people was made more efficient than it had been. One of the principles of the Act of 1870 was that of compelling parents to send their children to school. But in Scotland that was not new. By an old Act passed 400 years ago—in 1494—there was a system of compulsory education, and it was this—that freeholders were compelled, under a penalty of £20 to teach their eldest sons Latin, and how to administer the laws; but that referred only to the eldest sons, and it was not taken into account by the Scotch legislators that the eldest sons might die, and the second sons take their places. The Bill which he now asked the House to read a second time gave the same powers of compulsion as had been adopted in the English Act of 1870. It gave power to school boards to see that parents took means to educate their children, and power to impose rates for educational purposes. But the Bill also kept up the old Scotch principle—that there should be in every parish a local authority charged with educational affairs. At present the proprietors of the land did it. The only difference that this Bill made was with regard to the constitution of the school boards. Instead of confining the management of the schools to the proprietors of the land and the ministers, the whole community in the parish would have a voice in electing a school board which would look after the educational wants of the parish. The school boards would, therefore, include a representation of all classes of the community. The Bill abolished the present system of rating by which the burden was thrown exclusively upon land. He need hardly say that a system of rating confined to land, and not extended to all rated property, was a system which never would have been adopted in modern times—it was adapted to a time when there was no property but land and no ratepayers but landowners and their tenants; and accordingly, under this old Scotch law, there was no rating for educational purposes upon anyone but the owners of land, and all other rateable property was exempt. One of the main principles of the Bill was that this exclusive system of rating upon land was done away with; and wherever rates should be established, they were to be levied in the same way as the poor rates—one half upon the occupier and one half upon the owners of property. He desired to direct their Lordships' attention to a point which might not strike them on a first perusal. The Bill did not make rating absolutely necessary in all cases. It was quite possible that there might be parishes which could not have any system of rating at all. The Bill said that there must be rating where there was any deficiency in school accommodation; but where there was no deficiency in this respect, there need be no rate. The income of schools might be derived from several sources. First of all, there were the fees paid by the parents; next, there were grants by the Privy Council—there were sometimes ancient endowments; and, lastly, there were voluntary subscriptions. Now, though no doubt the principle adopted was a system of rating upon all rateable property, there might be many cases—and he thought he knew many cases—in which it would be quite possible for landlords to address their tenants by saying—"We are now relieved by this Act from the obligation of keeping up these schools by a rate. We, however, do not wish to make any alteration in the present system. If you will agree with us in the management of those schools, if the school board is elected to represent us, and practically to reproduce the present system, we, the proprietors, will continue to pay out of our property to the schools." He (the noble Duke) did not know that this system should be generally adopted, but there were a great many quiet rural parishes where there was no rateable property except land, and no one but landowners and their tenants; and it was perfectly possible for the proprietors to make such an arrangement as he had suggested. He had next to ask their Lordships' attention to the question of the religious difficulty, and to the principles adopted in the Bill in respect to it. He would remind their Lordships that, up to the passing of the English Act of 1870, the Parliamentary Grants were given, under the Minutes of the Council, chiefly to these two great national societies, which represented the Church of England, and to the British and Foreign School Societies, which represented the associated body of Dissenters. Under the principle adopted in the Minutes of Council, religious education was to a certain extent to be given; and there was this noticeable circumstance—that although money was given to schools which had no connection with any Church or with any Society, it was only given on condition that the Bible should be read. That was the system on which the Council founded their grants down to the passing of the Act of 1870. The first attempt that was made to break through this system, and to recognize purely secular schools, was by a Bill brought in by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Marlborough) as a Member of the last Government of Lord Derby. He (the Duke of Argyll) rejoiced that the proposition emanated from one whose earnest desire for religious education could not be doubted. The noble Duke felt, no doubt, that when no restriction as to religious education existed than that it should be conducted by some Church, Protestant or Roman Catholic, Unitarian or Trinitarian, and when the only condition imposed on secular schools was that the Bible must be read, with no security as to the spirit in which it was read or the consistency with it of the doctrines which were taught, it was necessary to give up the doctrine of the duty of the State to superintend religious education, and to recognize purely secular schools as doing the only work which the State had, he would not say the right, but the power to look to. That Bill did not pass, but it was a significant fact that such a proposal was made by a Conservative Government, and by the Committee of Council, under the conduct of a noble Duke sincerely desirous to do all he could in behalf of religious education. It being thus the determination of both parties that the State could no longer supervise schools with regard to religious instruction, the natural result was that the Act of 1870 freed the State altogether from that duty, and ostentatiously recorded in its clauses that the State had nothing to do with religious education, that it would take no part in religious inspection, and that the payments by the State to the schools, should be for secular instruction only. This being the solution of the religious difficulty at which, after keen discussion, Parliament arrived, and which he ventured to say all parties must accept, he knew of no peculiarity in the circum- stances of Scotland which precluded the application to it of that solution. That solution consisted in interfering as little as possible with local parties, and in allowing them to manage religious instruction as they pleased, with the sole proviso that, as a condition of the assistance given by the State, the benefit of the secular instruction should be given to all children desirous of receiving it, without requiring them to accept the religious instruction also. The Church of England, though more jealous than any other body on this point, wisely accepted that solution as the only possible one under the the circumstances of the case; and it was a proof of the wisdom of their decision that the agitation now raised was against the compromise which they accepted—for the advocates of a purely secular system had found that under it the Church of England and the various Churches retained almost all the power which they previously possessed over the religious education of their own followers. Why, then, should the friends of religious education in Scotland demur to a conclusion which the Church of England had so willingly and so wisely accepted? Were there circumstances which rendered its application to Scotland more difficult? The circumstances were, on the contrary, more favourable than in England; for, with the exception of the Roman Catholics and the Episcopalians, the Dissenting Bodies practically agreed with the Established Church with regard to religious instruction. The Bill accordingly, adopting the solution arrived at in England, left the religious instruction to the free management of local bodies, with the protection of a Conscience Clause. He wished to say a word upon a point which had created a vast excitement—namely, with reference to "the Conscience Clause" or what was now generally termed "the time-table Conscience Clause." About a Conscience Clause there had never been any difficulty, for, though not an enactment, it had been laid down by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, as also, he believed, by the Free Church, that all scholars in their schools should have the benefit of the secular instruction without being obliged to accept the religious instruction. It was common, therefore, in parishes containing a few scattered Roman Catholics for their children to attend the parish schools, withdrawing from the religious instruction, and no complaint had to his knowledge ever been made of any attempt to proselytize on the part of the schoolmaster or clergy. Scotchmen, however, with their peculiar jealousy of interference by the State, were a little jealous in some quarters, of the State requiring them to do that which they had nevertheless always done, and in some parts there was a feeling against the timetable Conscience Clause. He desired to say a few words in explanation of that. The truth was, that a great many people in Scotland did not quite see the effect and the necessary consequence of an Act of Parliament which gave compulsory powers over parents to compel them to send their children to school. Now, this was practically the first time any power of compulsion over parents had been given; and it had been felt in England that when Parliament gave local bodies or a central authority so large a power—which in some cases might affect severely the pecuniary resources of families, and possibly even touch their conscientious scruples—it was bound to see that the religious scruples of parents were respected. A time-table Conscience Clause was, therefore, necessary—this being merely a regulation that any religious instruction should be given at certain definite hours—that the children of Dissenting parents might be withdrawn; for if it were mixed up with secular instruction, Parliament would have no security that such scruples would be respected. He hoped, therefore, that noble Lords opposite connected with rural populations in Scotland, which did not see the Parliamentary bearing of the question would explain, to their constituents he might say—for there were communities which were more or less represented and guided by Members of that House—that Parliamentary security for the operation of a Conscience Clause necessitated such an arrangement. Before he touched upon the religious difficulty, he wished to point out one difference between this Bill and the English Act, which was not an unimportant one. The English Act absolutely prohibited any catechism from being taught in schools. The clause containing that prohibition was introduced into the Act in the other House, and it was accepted as a compromise by the friends of the Church of England, and, as he had understood at the time, by a large number of the Dissenters. The present Bill contained no such clause, and the reason of this difference between the two Bills was that, whereas the Catechism of the Church of England was accepted in this country as the form of dogma of a particular religious body, the Westminster Confession was generally adopted by all the Presbyterian religious Bodies in Scotland. It was perfectly true that there was no prohibition in the Act against religious teaching in the schools, but only that a formula shall not be used. That clause was inserted with the consent of the Government, not at all with the notion—which was the notion of many persons—that it was wise to keep religion separate from dogmas. He always thought that an absurd idea. They must have some doctrine to which religious faith could be attached, and it would be utterly futile to separate religious teaching from dogmas. But there was this practically to be said in favour of that clause—he did not mean it as an abstract principle—but there was this to be said for it, it was accepted by the Church of England, and a religious party had assented to it. There were some Dissenting Bodies who would have no objection to send their children to Church of England schools and accept their teaching, provided their particular formula were done away with. That clause was not to be in this Bill, and he trusted that no Member of the House would ask for it. The simple ground of accepting it was this—that in Scotland the doctrine adopted by all the Presbyterians, the Free Church, the Established Church, the United Presbyterian Church, and, he believed, all the old Presbyterian churches, was the Westminster Confession, and that had got such a strong hold over the religious affections and religious feelings of the people that no measure would be accepted from which that was excluded. For his own part, he very much questioned whether the Churches of England or the Church of Scotland, if they were now drawing up for the first time a catechism for the schools, would prepare that catechism precisely as those who had gone before them. He believed they would not; and in regard to the Westminster Confession, although in his opinion it contained many questions and many answers which were the very noblest utterances of the Christian Churches, still it was more intricate than he should like. It was enough to say that it was that to which the great mass of the people were earnestly and sincerely attached, and he for one thought it was wrong to interfere with dogmatic teaching. It seemed to him that they could leave that dogmatic teaching absolutely free, upon this one condition only—that the teaching might be acceptable to the whole of the people of Scotland. There was another very important part of the Bill to which he wished to direct the attention of the House. Although the existing parochial system of education in Scotland had failed in some measure in consequence of the educational wants of the country having immensely outgrown its power to meet them, the main cause of its failure was owing to the irremovability of the schoolmasters. Under the existing system in Scotland, it was almost impossible to get rid of a bad master, who held nearly as secure a freehold in his office as the parish priest. Unless the schoolmaster could be shown to have committed certain illegal acts, which it was very difficult to do, the parish was saddled with him for life, however inefficient he might be proved to be. At least 90 per cent of the inefficiency of the parochial system could be traced to that cause. In the Act of 1861 an attempt was made to remedy this defect in the law by transferring the power of removal from the Church Board to the Sheriffs; but that Act had been found to work inefficiently, only one or two masters having been removed under it. The Government and the other House of Parliament had come to the conclusion that the only way to get rid of the difficulty would be to permit free bargains to be entered into between the masters and the local boards, under which the former were to be retained as long as they performed their duties efficiently, but would be liable to dismissal if they performed them in an inefficient manner. He was aware that this proposal would be criticized by those who were accustomed to the old system, but for his own part he thought that it was unobjectionable. Another part of the Bill which had given rise to much discussion was that which related to the machinery by which the Bill was to be carried into effect. The measure proposed that local Commissioners should be appointed for four or five years by the Privy Council, whose duty it would be to set the machinery provided by the Bill in motion, to unite or divide certain parishes, and to superintend other matters which required a knowledge of detail which could not attained by a London Board; but after the machinery had been thus put into working order, the general government of the education in Scotland would be handed over to a special department of the Privy Council. He thought he had now said enough to inform their Lordships of the nature of the Bill he now asked them to read a second time—he only wished further to express a very earnest hope that there would be no further delay in bringing this question to a settlement. Without in the least desiring to utter anything that might be regarded as a threat, he should regard further delay in the settlement of this question with considerable fear, lest it should result in the adoption of a purely secular system of education—a result he lookod forward to with as much dread as any other noble Lord in the House. Under no circumstances would he be the mouthpiece of a Government which should propose the adoption of such a system, and therefore he must be held free from uttering that warning in the light of a threat; but he was bound to tell their Lordships that he was alarmed at the prospect of this question of education being delayed much longer. Although the Act of 1870 had been wisely accepted as a compromise by both the Church of England and a large portion of the Dissenting Churches in this country, no man could deny that a very alarming agitation had been got up against the principles of that Act, and against any remaining relics of religious education which were preserved by it. Even men for whom he had the highest respect showed a tendency to adopt a purely secular system of education. He regarded such a system as an impossible ideal, and as such he hoped it would remain at least during the present generation. It would be very strange, indeed, if in this Christian country no child was to be allowed to receive any religious teaching whatever in our schools—that they should receive an education without hearing the name of God or receiving a glimpse of a future state. His objection to the secular system was that it put positive obstructions in the way of religious education. The advocates of the secular system recommended that the masters should be actually prohibited from giving religious instruction, and that religious instruction should be given neither in the same place, nor by the same men as the secular instruction was given. That was putting absolute legislative restrictions upon religious education, and he could not be one to recommend such a system to Parliament. He believed that the people of this country were determined, as far as they could, to have a religious education; and his objection to the secular system was, that, in regard to a great mass of the people of Scotland, if they did not receive a religious instruction at those schools, it was certain they would not receive it anywhere else. Why, what was the real necessity under which they were called to legislate at all on the subject of education? Was it not because the Churches had failed to overtake the growing wants of the people? And, therefore, unless the opportunity for religious instruction was given in the national schools, it was almost certain that a large proportion of the people would get no religious instruction at all. On those grounds, then—on the ground of the positive merits of the measure—on the ground that it found a solution of the difficulties under which they laboured, he ventured to recommend it to the favourable consideration of their Lordships. It was not without some reluctance that he presented to them a Bill which, even in appearance, interfered with the system of education which had existed so long in Scotland and of which they had been so proud, and which as far as it extended had unquestionably done its work so well. But the more they looked at that Bi]l the more they would see that the edifice it proposed to raise was an edifice raised on the lines of the ancient Scottish system, with no other changes in it than those which were required by the changed condition of society and the changed relation of the Churches to that society. It had been suggested that they should legalize "the use and wont" of the Scottish people in regard to religious education; but he said let them leave religious education to that use and wont, and it would not be departed from, for the use and wont of a people were far more powerful than any law that they could pass. The Westminster Confession had a strong hold on the majority of the people of Scotland, and they might leave the religious instruction of the young to them, with full confidence that under the new scheme all that was good in the old system would be continued and strengthened, and that the education of the country would be permeated by that spirit which had made it so successful for many centuries.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Duke of Argyll.)


said, he was glad to be able to agree very cordially with much that was contained in the last portion of the very eloquent address which the noble Duke had offered to the House, and more particularly with his remarks in reference to the secular system. He also agreed with another remark of the noble Duke—namely, that it would be a very disastrous thing for the people of Scotland if some settlement of the question with regard to the education of the people was not speedily come to; and he further thought that, judging from past experience and the evidence they had before them, the chances were that measures brought forward on the subject in succeeding years might not be so satisfactory to their Lordships as the Bill now under their consideration. But he could not agree with him in regard to various details of the Bill. He was glad that the task of introducing the Bill had fallen into the hands of the noble Duke, because he had for so many years devoted his attention to the subject of the education of the people of Scotland, and there was no one more competent or more able to give information with regard to the habits, wants, and educational requirements of the people of Scotland than the noble Duke who had just addressed them. The noble Duke had shown his ability to do so by the measure he brought in on a former occasion, and he (the Duke of Richmond) confessed he regretted that the measure now under discussion should be, to his mind, so much at variance with the Bill the noble Duke introduced in 1869. His noble Friend stated on that occasion that the Bill was mainly based on the Report of the Royal Commission over which he had presided; and that its provisions embodied the recommendations of that Commission. It had, moreover, this ad- vantage, that in its Preamble there occurred these remarkable words—for which he looked in vain in the present measure—that it was intended "to extend and improve the parochial system of education in Scotland." The difference between the two Bills was this—that, whereas that was a Bill to extend and improve the parochial system of Scotland, this Bill at once put an end to that system; and although, it might be perfectly true that that system might not have been sufficient in the larger towns and in some of the mining districts, to overtake the educational wants of the people, he was rather astonished to hear the noble Duke state that of the want which now existed in Scotland, 90 per cent of that want was caused by the inability to get rid of bad or inefficient schoolmasters.


In the rural districts.


So that they were putting an end to an admirable system, because 10 per cent of it had failed to overtake the educational requirements of the country; for by bringing in a measure for the removal of inefficient masters they would, according to the noble Duke's own showing, get rid of 90 per cent of the inefficiency and the difficulty experienced in the local districts at least. He regretted that this measure would destroy a system—the parochial system—upon which, in 1869, the noble Duke himself pronounced an eloquent eulogy. He hoped the noble Duke would excuse him for quoting his words; but in asking their Lordships to assent to the Bill of 1869, the Preamble of which contained the words he had just quoted, the noble Duke said— My firm belief is, that if this Bill is adopted we shall confer the inestimable benefits already derived from our parochial system. We shall be erecting a lasting monument in grateful memory of immortal names. Now, however, instead of erecting a system which in 1869 was to be "a lasting memorial," the noble Duke laid his axe at the root of that noble tree for the purpose of inaugurating and establishing a system which he believed was totally different from the parochial system—as different from the parochial system as one system could be unlike another. They all knew that under the parochial system great benefits were conferred on all classes of the community. Anyone who knew anything of Scotland knew that under it the son of the humblest labourer was enabled to raise himself by it to go into the Universities, and if energetic, frequently to become a respected minister of the Church, or a distinguished member of other professions. He regretted that these inestimable benefits should be entirely, as he thought, destroyed for the purpose of establishing a system like this in its place. He took exception to the Factory Report the noble Duke had read as to ignorance of the inhabitants who were occupied in the factories. His impression was, that a great number of those employed in the factories were Irish people—and he did not consider that the Report was a good witness for the noble Duke—and he should have liked very much to know the name of the regiment of Militia to which he had referred, and in the ranks of which there appeared to be some of the worst educated people in that part of the United Kingdom. He certainly thought they would hardly find another regiment of Militia, especially in Scotland, in which there were so many ignorant persons. There would be a great difficulty at the present moment, particularly after what had occurred in England since the introduction of the Bill of 1869, in setting up in Scotland two distinct and opposite systems—and although he objected to some of the details of the Bill, he regarded it as a very good solution of the difficulty. The present system was, no doubt, objected to on the ground of narrowness, because the management of the schools was vested in the heritors and the clergymen, to the exclusion of all other denominations from a voice in the election of the schoolmasters, although the representatives of other denominations were quite as intelligent and religious as those of the Established Church. Not wishing, however, that a measure of education for the people of Scotland should not pass during the present Session, he did not intend to offer any objection to the second reading of this Bill. But he wished to make a very few remarks upon some of the more salient points in discussing the various provisions of the Bill. He was rather surprised at the manner in which the noble Duke alluded to religious education, and he confessed that throughout the length and breadth of this Bill there was not within the four corners of it any recognition of religion in it. It was perfectly true that of late there had been no special enactment with regard to religious education; but without going back or entering into details, there was the celebrated work of John Knox, recognizing religious education, which had been practically acted upon up to the present time. And another very important part of the management of the schools in Scotland which ought not to be lost sight of was, that the minister of the parish was always appointed to be one of the managers of these schools. Therefore it was necessary that religion should be taught in the schools, else there was no necessity that the minister should form one of the Board. No later than 1861, the last Schoolmasters' Act that was passed embraced this principle of religious instruction—at any rate, prohibited the giving of any instruction contrary to the doctrines of the Church. Therefore, we must assume that it was intended that religion should be taught in the schools. He found not only no recognition in this Bill of religion, but there was a clause, as it seemed to him, almost indicating that everything connected with religion was to be swept out of it. He referred to Clause 75. His point was this—We see religion recognized by all the statutes from 1567 down to 1861, and by the 75th clause all these Acts are repealed. That was to say, every Act which had gone before, and which had recognized religion, was entirely repealed and put an end to by this Act, in which there was no mention of religion or indication of it. He said at once, then, that religion did not form part of the Bill. Therefore, in Committee he trusted their Lordships would accept some recognition of religion in a form which he would take the liberty of suggesting to their Lordships. He was the more inclined to do this from the very remarkable speech made by the Lord Advocate at Stranraer. The Lord Advocate entered at great length on the subject of religion, and he said it would be a monstrous thing to teach a child elementary secular education, unless it received religious education. He said further he would neither proscribe religious education nor prescribe it. He should follow the example of the Lord Advocate—and his Amendment would be conceived in that spirit— and should neither proscribe nor prescribe religious education, but he should recognize it in some form or other, which he thought it was not by the Bill. He would now refer to another point—and he confessed he was very much alarmed at the proposal—that the Central Board, which was to become the Scotch Education Department, was to be located in Whitehall. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), in reply to some observations made by a noble Marquess on his own side of the House (the Marquess of Ripon) on this Central Board, informed him that he had a great respect for his opinions on various matters, but there was one subject upon which he should pay no respect whatever to his opinion, and that was in respect of the education of the people of Scotland; and he added that, of all the Departments least calculated to deal with the education of Scotland, it was the Department presided over by the noble Marquess. He (the Duke of Richmond) might say, with regard to this Central Board, that he had no respect whatever for the noble Duke's opinion. He should move an Amendment giving to the Board a Scotch, not an English character. What was the Board in England to consist of? A room in Whitehall, and the name "Scotland" painted over it. There seemed nothing real in it. He hoped that there would be a real Scotch Board, competent to deal not only with the educational system in Scotland, but also to give confidence to the people. With regard to the next point—the constitution of the school boards—he confessed he was somewhat alarmed, because he feared the character of the school boards, which had managed the schools of Scotland so well for 400 years, would be impaired. Hitherto the boards had been composed of men of education, and he feared that the high standard of education of which Scotland had been so proud would be reduced by the introduction of men of a lower education. They must recollect that there was a question of rates involved, and upon the amount of money that would come out of the pockets of the ratepayers would depend the education given. He would not trouble the House with details, and he should reserve for the Committee the question whether it would not be wiser to have a higher class of persons on the board than could be expected from £4 ratepayers. Another point to which reference had been made that evening was the position of the schoolmasters in Scotland as compared with the same class in England. He had heard it stated that the position of the Scotch schoolmasters accounted for the supposed superiority of Scotch education. Well, if they put the power of electing the schoolmasters into the hands of a lower class of individuals than had hitherto managed the schools, did they not endanger that high-class education which had hitherto been given? He thought there were some other points connected with the schoolmasters which might be considered in Committee—such as the collection of school fees and other matters of detail, upon which he would not now detain their Lordships—but he should like to make a few remarks upon the Conscience Clause which was embodied in the Bill under discussion. He thought the clause as it stood in the Bill was an extremely bad one, and that for several reasons. In the first place it seemed to him that its operation would only tend to hamper the schoolmasters as to the time at which religious teaching should be given to the children under their charge. The noble Duke had expressed his opinion that no child ought to go through a school course without religious instruction, and therefore it followed that the schoolmasters ought to be able to give such instruction in those hours which were most suitable to the children instructed. He quite concurred, therefore, with the noble Duke in thinking that a Conscience Clause ought to form part of the Bill; and he also concurred in the opinion that, in order to ensure regularity of instruction, it should be a "time-table" Conscience Clause. If they compelled parents to send their children to school, they ought to let them know at what hours religion was to be taught. In his own parish children of parents belonging to the Established Church and the Roman Catholic persuasion sat side by side in the schools, where they received the same Bible lesson, and took the Bible home to prepare their lessons—facts which were within the knowledge of the Catholic priest who lived within half-a-mile of the schools, and, as far as he knew, raised no objection. This fact showed that in the case to which he referred a Conscience Clause was not, perhaps, an absolute necessity; but there were many places where the necessity existed. In any case it was advisable to have a good Conscience Clause, if they had one at all. As he had said, he thought the clause contained in the Bill was a bad one, and mainly because it provided that religious teaching should only be given at the beginning or the ending of the day; and in the latter case, it must come after the prescribed four hours of secular instruction, and in many cases would prove highly inconvenient to children whose parents lived in scattered parishes, far removed from the schools. In many cases, therefore, the children would be entirely debarred from receiving religious instruction. He should, therefore, when they reached the Committee on the Bill, ask their Lordships to assent to the striking out of the 65th clause, in order to substitute for it the Conscience Clause, which stood part of the. English Act of 1870, and which had the advantage of having stood the test of two years' experience without proving to be possessed of any particular demerit. He should not at the present time trespass any further upon their Lordships' time than to assure the noble Duke that he should go into Committee upon the Bill with an earnest desire to improve it, if he could, by offering suggestions which, he believed, would have the effect of making the measure more palatable to the people of Scotland, and at the same time of conferring upon them that which the noble Duke and himself had at heart in common—he meant that greatest of all possible blessings, an efficient and religious education.


said, he had heard with great satisfaction that the noble Duke who had just sat down did not intend to oppose the second reading of the Bill, which he regarded as most satisfactory when compared with other similar Bills that had preceded it. The noble Duke had stated that a large proportion of the children who could not read or write in Scotland were Irish; but he found from the Report which the noble Duke quoted, that the Inspector stated a large number of them to be Scotch—thus showing that an Education Bill was needed for Scotland as well as for the other portions of the Empire. With regard to the objection that no religious instruction was intended to be given, he could only point to the provision that no children were to be compelled to attend school during the hours of religious teaching, as showing by inference that in the great majority of cases, religious instruction would be provided. He was glad to find, further, that the Bill proposed to give the school boards power, where they thought it necessary, to discharge the schoolmasters. At present there was the greatest possible difficulty in reference to this matter, owing to a defect—which he had endeavoured unsuccessfully to remove—in the Scotch Education Bill of 1869. He desired now to say a few words on points in which he thought the Bill now under discussion was defective. The first of these had relation to the arrangements for examination both of the schoolmasters and the schools. He found that the examiners were to be appointed by the Scotch Education Committee or Department—a very great change from the system which had prevailed hitherto, of having the examiners appointed by the Universities; and those who knew anything of the Scotch education system would recognize the importance of endeavouring to obtain, as far as possible, a connection between the primary schools and the Universities. This fact was fully recognized in the Report of the Commission of which his noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) was Chairman; and it could not be too often repeated—that the theory upon which the school system of Scotland was originally conceived, was to supply the best means of education, in order to enable the superior class of students to attain to the Universities. In Scotland they would like to have a higher standard than that which had existed hitherto, and they were afraid that if the appointment of the examiners were vested in the Privy Council, this higher standard would be lost. He therefore ventured to suggest that a certain number of the examiners might be appointed by the Privy Council, and the remainder by the University Boards. With regard to the other question, he must say that, with all respect for the town councils, he did not think they were the most competent bodies that could have been selected to appoint the persons who were to examine teachers in the higher branches of education; nor did he agree with the proposal that the wishes of the head-masters were to be consulted with reference to the examiners who were to be appointed. The examiners were to act as a sort of check upon the head-masters, and it was therefore a most extraordinary proposal that the masters were to be consulted as to the appointments. He should like to hear fully the views of Her Majesty's Government upon this when the Bill got into Committee. He hoped that the whole of these matters would be fully discussed in Committee. He was glad to find that the principle of the measure met with the approval of both sides of the House.


said, he was a humble supporter of the Bill, but he supported it not relying on any universal principle, save the principle that it was the duty of the State to promote the well-being of the people. It appeared to him that that principle applied especially to Scotland, but not to Ireland, and least of all in the case of primary education, in regard to which its result would be most disastrous. He should, therefore, most strongly deprecate the passing of this Bill being made a precedent for the settlement of the great question of primary education in Ireland.


hoped that he would be allowed to say a few words on the subject. He confessed that he rather adhered to the expression of opinion made by the noble Duke in 1869 in relation to the Scotch Education Board. He regretted that he could not concur with the noble Duke that it was impossible to introduce into an Education Bill for Scotland the 14th clause of the English Act. The noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) had remarked that some of their Lordships had, in a certain sense, constituents as truly as any Member of the House of Commons. Now he had himself that evening presented a Petition from a large association which had for its object the separate religious and united secular education of the people. The persons who signed that Petition declared that it would be most repugnant to their views that a public rate should in any way be devoted to the support of denominational education. On a future occasion, he should feel it his duty to give their Lordships an opportunity of expressing an opinion on that point. He confessed that he took the same view of the matter as the members of the association to whom he had referred, and he should be ashamed of himself if he shrank from avowing his opinions.


said, the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) in moving the second reading of the Bill, had not stated the reasons which induced the Government to propose a measure this year based on principles denounced by the noble Duke himself in moving the second reading of the Bill of 1869. He did not believe that the people of Scottand desired the change—certainly they had not shown much indication of such a wish by their Petitions, for their own petitions Presented to the other House against the Bill were signed by nearly 20,000 persons against parts of it—especially touching religious education, from above 200,000, while not above 8,000 had signed in favour of it. He, therefore, much regretted the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) had not moved its rejection. The standard of education under the existing system was as high as in Prussia, where the compulsory system existed, and the use and wont of religious teaching in the parochial schools had given to the Scotch nation the high character for persevering industry and good conduct which gained for them respect and advancement wherever they went. But he feared that in the event of this measure becoming law, the inevitable result must be that the deep religious feeling which was one of the main elements of the Scottish character would little by little decrease. If the schoolmaster were encouraged not to give, and the children not to receive, religious instruction, such would be the inevitable result. The only reason that the Bill was accepted in its present shape was, that the Free Church were in such a hurry to free themselves from the support of their schools, and have them supported from the land; and this was a poor reason for giving up a school system established by John Knox, and still working most efficiently. He would not dwell on the heavy increase of taxation under this Bill. He was sorry their Lordships accepted the Bill at all, but he was happy to think it would not pass into law without those Amendments which bore upon religious education in Scotland.

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