HL Deb 18 July 1873 vol 217 cc592-7

rose to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to refuse her assent to the schemes of the Endowed Schools Commissioners for the management of the Free Grammar School and of the Blue Coat School Charity at Denbigh, in the county of Denbigh, North Wales. The school was in an altogether exceptional position, and ought not to be brought under the operation of the Act of 1869. This was a denominational school, and as such had received the annual Parliamentary grant, and therefore came under the exemption of the 19th clause. He understood that the Rector of Denbigh had applied for the necessary certificate from the Education Department, but he had not received it. The endowment possessed by these schools had hitherto extended the benefits of education over a very large population; but if the scheme of the Commissioners was approved of, the advantages would be taken from the poorer classes and transferred to the middle and well-to-do class. Another effect of the scheme of the Commissioners would be to sever the connection of the schools with the Church of England; but they were founded expressly in connection with that Church. Moved that an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to refuse her assent to the schemes of the Endowed Schools Commissioners for the management of the Free Grammar School and of the Blue Coat School Charity at Denbigh in the county of Denbigh, North Wales.—(The Lord Bishop of Bangor.)


said, that the legal advisers of the Endowed Schools Commissioners and those of the Education Department had given opinions against the claim of exemption from the operation of the 19th section of the Act which the opponents of the scheme had set up. It was not correct to say that these endowments were intended solely for the poor—it was distinctly stated that they were intended for the children of the labouring class and poorer tradesmen. What was intended by the Commissioners was to amalgamate these schools so as to make the several endowments belonging to them more serviceable than they could possibly be under the existing system. He denied that these schools were expressly Church of England schools. It was true that the boys had been sent to the National School, and that some of the funds had been applied to building the National School. But this he contended was a breach of trust, though not an intentional one, on the part of the Governors. There could be no doubt that the education of the poorer class of children at Denbigh would be provided for by the Elementary Education Act; and it was proposed by the aid of these endowments to provide the district with the means of higher education. The scheme had been much discussed in North Wales and had received general approval; and the town council of Denbigh were in its favour.


denied that in considering any scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners either House of Parliament was bound by the precise words of the Act of 1869. If the terms of the Act were not properly carried out, there was an appeal to the Privy Council; but it was further provided—without limiting the grounds on which the House had to exercise its power—that either House should have power to see whether the Act was carried out in the spirit in which Parliament had passed it, or whether words and technicalities had been taken advantage of in order that the Act might be used in a way that had never been intended. What those who opposed this scheme complained of was the same as had been complained of in other and similar cases—not that the letter but that the spirit of the Act had been violated. The school with which it was now proposed to deal had hitherto been regarded as a Church school—the fact that the Rector of Denbigh for the time being had been appointed by the founder an ex officio Trustee plainly indicated his intention that the school should be conducted as a Church school. The effect of the scheme of the Commissioners would be to hand it over to the Dissenters; and he submitted that it was not in accordance with the spirit of the Act of 1869, nor with any fair and honest dealing that a school which had hitherto belonged to the Church should be handed over to the Dissenters. If the Commissioners proposed to give over the school to the Dissenting Bodies, they ought openly to avow it, and discuss the question upon that basis. The Endowed Schools Act, however, was not passed with any such purpose, and he demurred to any scheme by which that object would be carried into effect. But the ground that attracted his sympathy most on the present occasion was the operation of the scheme in respect of the poor. It was said that elementary education in. Denbigh would be cared for under the Act of 1870, and that middle-class education would be promoted by this scheme. But this was an elementary school. The noble Lord (Lord Lyttelton) said it was a school for the labouring class and poor tradesmen. He seemed to imagine that labourers and poor tradesmen were not proper subjects for an elementary school. Under the scheme it appeared that the tuition fees would amount to not less than 2s. 6d. per week, and not more than 5s. Such fees, he submitted, poor tradesmen would not be able to pay for the education of their children. The result therefore would be to throw the benefits of the endowment into the hands of the middle classes. The best way to encourage education was to treat educational endowments as sacred. Did they seriously believe that any man, anxious for a middle class or any other education, would give his money and alienate it from his family for ever if he knew that some generations hence it would be dissipated to suit the peculiar theories of the Lytteltons and the Robinsons of that day? There was another reason why this scheme should not be adopted. In a Bill now before the other House of Parliament it was provided that in the case of endowments under £100 a-year the Educational Department, and not the Endowed Schools Commissioners, should deal with the endowment. The Government had accepted that policy—the endowment of this school was only £70 a-year—yet, while their Bill was still before Parliament, they introduced a scheme in direct contravention to their own policy. It seemed hard upon the Governors of the Denbigh schools that they should be punished only because they were a little too early to come under the provisions of the Bill.


said, he did not dispute the proposition of his noble Friend opposite, that the reference of those schemes to both Houses of Parliament was with the view that each House might object if it thought that the spirit of the Act was not fairly carried out. He thought, however, that his noble Friend had entirely misunderstood the provisions of the Act of 1869, and the principles on which it was founded. He must deny that the foundation in this case was for elementary education, and also that the endowment was under £100 a-year. If his noble Friend would refer to the provisions made by the Founder, he would find that he intended his endowment for the benefit of the children of the labouring class and the poorer tradesmen, and he distinctly laid down that the children should be educated separately and not in a public school. He (the Marquess of Ripon) therefore contended that the Governors in applying these funds to elementary education and sending the children to national schools had been guilty of a distinct breach of trust. On a former occasion the Rector of Denbigh took a view the very opposite to that for which he now contended. In 1865, a grant was made to the Denbigh School by the Department of Education. It was then the rule that when there was an endowment for elementary education, the amount of the endowment was deducted from the grant. Well, the Department proposed to make a deduction in this instance; but the Rector met that proposition by the statement that the endowment was not connected with elementary education. The rev. gentleman's assertion was accepted in 1865, and up to the present time the managers had been receiving a grant of public money in consequence of the Rector's representation that the endowment was not connected with elementary educa- tion. It was said that the scheme which their Lordships were asked to reject took advantages from the poor and handed them over to the middle-class; but he must point out that the scheme provided for exhibitions which were to be competed for in the public elementary schools of Denbigh. Was not this an effectual method of fostering and raising the education of the labouring class? The exhibitions would enable those who gained them to pass to schools of a higher class. By agreeing to this scheme an undoubted stimulus would be given to the educational power of this school, which would be greatly injured were their Lordships to accept the Motion of the right rev. Prelate.


remarked that the Bill now before the other House of Parliament—the Endowed Schools Act (1869) Amendment Bill—would exempt from the control of the Endowed Schools Commissioners all schools the aggregate educational endowments of which were less than £100 per annum. Seeing that the educational endowment of the present school only amounted to £70 per annum—for though its income as a charity amounted to £127 a-year, only £70 of that was applicable to the purposes of education—the establishment would undoubtedly come within that exemption if the Bill to which he referred had become law; and, in his opinion, it was unwise and unfair to allow the Commissioners to exercise with regard to this school a power which in a very few days would altogether cease. He had always protested against one of the views taken by the Endowed Schools Commissioners as being erroneous. The Commissioners seemed to consider that since the Elementary Education Act was passed—two years after their own appointment—they were entitled to take up that Act and say that now that Parliament had provided for the elementary education of the country, they must direct their efforts to devoting educational endowments to middle-class education, inasmuch as the rates levied under the Act would provide for primary education. But this was an entire perversion of the spirit and intent of Parliament in passing the Elementary Education Act. What they intended by that was, not that it should be exhaustive with regard to the primary education of the country, but that it should fill up any vacancies in that education wherever it might be found. The Endowed Schools Commissioners went upon the reverse principle, and sought to increase the vacancies by applying endowments intended for elementary education to the purposes of middle class education. This, he ventured to say, was a breach of faith towards Parliament and the country. For these reasons he should support the Motion for the Address.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 68; Not-Contents 46; Majority 22.

Resolved in the Affirmative.