HL Deb 29 July 1873 vol 217 cc1162-6

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, the object of the measure was to introduce into the educational system established in 1870 various practical Amendments, which experience of the working of the Act had shown to be required. There was much cause for congratulation in respect of the working of the Act of 1870—it had greatly stimulated educational efforts throughout the country. In 1869, before the passing of the Act, the number of schools was 14,404—in 1872, these had increased to no less than 17,056. In 1869 the number of scholars in schools receiving annual grants was 1,397,379; in 1872 it was 1,668,679. In the former year the number of certificated teachers was 11,752; in the latter it was 14,771. Then, the number of pupil teachers in 1869 was 12,357, and in 1872 was 21,297. In London, with a population of 3,266,987, the whole were under school boards and compulsory by-laws. Of 224 boroughs, containing a population of 6,531,892, no fewer than 103, containing a population of 5,241,762, were under school boards, and of these boroughs 80, with a population of 4,789,828, had compulsory by-laws. Of 14,082 civil parishes, with a population of 12,913,387, the number under school boards was 445, and these contained a population of 1,485,833. Of these parishes, 110, with a population of 869,534, were under compulsory by-laws. There were school boards for 40 per cent of the whole population, and 80 per cent of the borough population; and compulsory by-laws for 39 per cent of the whole population, and 74 per cent of the borough population. Up to the 26th of July, 1873, "first notices" were issued to 10,315 parishes, of which 4,170, or 40 per cent, were now sufficiently provided. About 3,000 more parishes remained to be dealt with, after taking into account those in London and the boroughs which were already under the school hoards. The number of "final notices" issued preparatory to the compulsory election of school boards was 228. In a very large proportion of those parishes in which a deficiency had been declared voluntary effort had undertaken to supply the deficiency declared in the notices. In 1872 voluntary effort did a great deal. It contributed £339,825 to meet building-fund grants, and £506,708 for annual maintenance. This latter item showed an increase of about £100,000 over the money paid by subscribers in 1869, which amounted to £406,125. Altogether very little short of £1,000,000 had been voluntarily contributed towards the cause of education which, but for such an effect, would have had to be provided by rates. He thought that, with those figures before them, their Lordships would be of opinion that the Education Department might, with good cause, congratulate themselves upon the success of 1870, and anticipate still greater success in the future. Neither on behalf of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) nor for himself did he claim any praise in respect of the manner in which the details of that great measure had been worked out—much the larger portion of that praise was due to the permanent officials of the Education Department. On his own part, and that of his Colleagues, he took this opportunity of saying how great were their obligations to Sir Francis Sandford, the Secretary, and the other gentlemen of the Department who acted under the orders of the Committee of Council. Of their energy, ability, industry, tact, and what he might call their diplomatic skill, it would be difficult to speak in terms of too great praise. The Bill now before their Lordships would not introduce any very large or extensive changes. The 3rd clause was the only one involving any question of gravity. The Act of 1870 enabled school boards, by means of by-laws, to establish a system of compulsion in order to secure the attendance of children at school; but that system of compulsion could only be applied in parishes or boroughs where school boards existed. The figures he had already quoted showed that in 103 boroughs there were school boards, so that there were such boards for 80 per cent of the population; and that in only 445 of the civil parishes were there school boards and compulsory by-laws only in the case of 39 per cent of the population generally. Last year an Act was passed which established a system of compulsory education throughout Scotland. It could not be denied that the existence of such a system in Scotland contemporaneously with that of a system of partial compulsion in England was an anomalous state of things; but Her Majesty's Government, having given the matter an attentive consideration, came to the conclusion that it was desirable to wait for further experience in both countries, and in England to look for the present to other arrangements tending in the same direction as the Scotch system. They expected great results from a Bill which was now passing through the other House of Parliament, applying the principle of compulsion indirectly to children employed in agriculture—and this might be regarded as a step towards a general system of compulsion under what was known as Denison's Act. Boards of Guardians had power to provide for the education of out-door pauper children; but this power was permissive only, and not compulsory. About two-thirds of the Unions of the metropolis had put this power in force, and about one-half of those in the country. The 3rd clause .of the Bill now before their Lordships repealed the provisions of Denison's Act and substituted others in their stead—providing that where outdoor relief was given to the parents of any child between 5 and 13 years of age, or to any such child, it should be a condition for the continuance of such relief that elementary education should be given to the child; but there was a proviso in the clause that relief should not be granted or refused on condition of the child attending any public elementary school other than such as might be selected by the parent. This provision was one of great importance in regard to the fact that 145,000 of the children were either orphans or children of widows receiving out-door relief, and these, he thought, were a class eminently deserving of consideration in any educational measure; and he confidently expected that their Lordships would approve the principle on which the Government had acted in framing the 3rd clause, and would make no difficulty in passing the Bill.

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


said, what was requisite on public grounds was that all children should be educated up to a certain point; but if the parent of a child were not able, out of his own means, to pay for that education of his child he should be required and enabled to provide the child with it as he would with food or any other necessaries of life, out of the poor rates, unless he were aided by private benevolence. But the question of the school-pence, as was well known, was not the most important point—the difficulty would arise not so much from the amount to be paid for the schooling as from the giving up of the earnings of the child. If a child who was earning money for the family were taken away from his work and sent to school, so much of the general means of support for the family was gone, and to the extent of that the rates must come in. If, therefore, there was to be compulsory education, a considerable increase in the rates must be looked for throughout the country.


concurred with the noble Lord that the practical question was not so much the payment of the school-pence as the diminution of earnings. He felt satisfied that the facility with which in populous districts school boards might be imposed upon, in consequence of their not having, like the Guardians, any machinery for the detection of imposture, would have a pauperizing effect. He feared that the benefit of education to the children would in many cases be considerably counteracted by the demoralizing habits of successful imposture thus fostered in their parents. He looked upon the present system under which pupil-teachers almost all drawn from the wage class, were trained for an increasingly remune- rative calling at an expense of 75 per cent to the State and 15 per cent to charity, as utterly unsound. It would be much better as a general rule to allow those who wished to become teachers to bear the expense of their own training. In that way, after testing their competency, we should have some security that they would adhere to their profession. If we did this instead of eleemosynarily training an excessive number of pupil-teachers in order to make allowance for the diversion of a certain proportion to other professions, we might attract all that would be required by giving a pension for a specified number of years' good service.


drew the attention of the Lord President to the sub-sections which threw the burden of the proof of the age of the child and the efficiency of the school on the parent, who might be very ill qualified to furnish the proof required.


explained that there would be no difficulty in proving the efficiency of the school, because the Board assumed that every elementary school was efficient. As to age, if the child was born in the parish, the parent could easily obtain the necessary certificate; and if born in a distant parish, the parent would be the most proper person to call on to furnish the proof of age. He could not agree in the view taken by his noble Friend (Earl Fortescue) of the training colleges, for he doubted whether it would be possible to procure all the schoolmasters that would be required without them.

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