HL Deb 19 June 1873 vol 216 cc1158-60

rose to call attention to the minute of the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council on Education, dated 22d May 1873, establishing a code of regulations for Scotland; and to ask Her Majesty's Government, Whether they will take steps to amend the English code by adding thereto similar provisions to those contained in article 19A. (3) and in article 21 of the Scotch code, so as to place the elementary schools of both countries on an equal footing as respects the aid to be derived from the Parliamentary grant? The noble Marquess, who was very imperfectly heard, was understood to state as his reason for bringing the subject under their Lordships' notice, that by the Minute of 1873 the Scotch schools were placed in a more advantageous position than the English schools; and he thought that this inequality should be redressed.


said, he would remind his noble Friend that one of the main arguments adduced by the noble Lords opposite, and by some also on that side of the House, in the discussions on the Scotch Education Bill last year was that the state of education in Scotland was exceptional, and that on that account certain arrangements ought to be made and prescribed by Act of Parliament in order—as the Act recited—"to keep up and maintain the existing state of education" in that country—particularly in what were called the higher branches. It was notorious that things were taught in parochial schools in Scotland which would not be thought of in English schools, and the Scotch were desirous that this system should not be interfered with. So jealous, indeed, were they on this point, that a special provision that the standard of education should not be lowered was inserted in the Act. Again, by an Amendment introduced in that House it was provided that the Scotch Education Board in Edinburgh should have the right to prepare and propose a Code for the consideration of the Scotch Education Department in London. This they had done with great ability. The Department in London had been able to agree with them as to the provisions to be introduced, while the Education Board in Edinburgh were very well contented with the modifications made in the proposals they sent up. There had been no system in Scotland similar to that which existed in this country, but the differences between the two systems were less now than they had ever been before. To the statement of his noble Friend that some of the arrangements made by the Minute of 1873 were more favourable to the Scotch than to the English schools, he would remark that other arrangements in different directions were more favourable to the latter. The express provisions in the Act of Parliament with regard to the higher branches of instruction would, he thought, enable the schools in Scotland where those higher branches of education were taught to earn more money. On the other hand, a deputation who waited on his right hon. Friend Mr. Forster the other day asserted that it would be difficult for Scotch schools to earn as much as could be earned by schools in England. This was a remarkable instance of the difficulty of ascertaining beforehand whether more or less could be made under the provisions of a particular Code. He could not promise to introduce the specific provisions of the Scotch Code into the English Code; and if he were to do so, without making other changes, the Scotch would immediately cry out against being excluded from certain provisions of the English Code. When the time arrived—as it did from year to year—to reconsider the Codes, it would be the duty of the Department to avail itself of the experience of both countries; but it would be most inexpedient to make a sudden change in the middle of the educational year. The managers of schools looked forward to changes being made at regular periods when it was known that the Codes came under consideration, and it would be most inconvenient to make a change in the middle of the school year. He could give no pledge except that the whole question should be considered from time to time in the light of experience. The allowance for special subjects under the Scotch Code was founded upon the express words of the Act of Parliament which required the Department to take special measures for meeting the demand for a higher class of education in Scotland.

House adjourned at half-past Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.