HL Deb 19 May 1873 vol 216 cc74-96

in moving an Address to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will withhold Her consent from the Scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners in respect of this School, said, it would be in the recollection of their Lordships that when the Act which gave power to the Endowed Schools Commissioners was passing through that and the other House there was no opposition to it on the ground of principle. That peaceful passage was due to two understandings—and at that time more value was attached to understandings than now, with our improved experience, it was perhaps customary to attach to them. One of the understandings to which he referred was that conveyed to Parliament in the celebrated speech of Mr. W. E. Forster when he said that well-managed schools had nothing to fear from the Bill. The second understanding was that the Church of England should not be disturbed in the management of schools which the Founders had clearly intended should belong to her. Now, the Free Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth, in Birmingham, must be well known to their Lordships by reputation at least—they knew it well as a school attached by its Royal Founder to the Church of England, and as being one of the most liberal and one of the most successful of those foundations which were so much to the honour and advantage of this country. It was founded by King Edward the Sixth in the year 1552, and its charter contained this ordinance— The Governors, with the advice of the Bishop of the diocese for the time being, from time to time may make, and have power to make, fit and wholesome statutes and ordinances concerning the order, government, and direction of the school. It was difficult to imagine how any school could have been attached to the Church of England in a more distinct and direct manner: Indeed, he did not know how it was that this School had escaped coming under the 19th section of the Endowed Schools Act, which provided that where the Founders of a school directed that the children should be instructed according to the doctrines or formularies of any particular Church or Denomination, the Commissioners should not interfere with that intention. Now, if in any law or charter it was provided that certain authorities were to act under the advice of the Lord Chancellor, the presumption would be that they were to act in accordance with the laws of England; or, if under similar circumstances, any authority was to act under the advice of the Bishops and Clergy of the Church of England, you would conclude that such authority was to act in accordance with the principles of the Church of England. Accordingly, for 300 years the interpretation put on the foundation of this King Edward's School was that it was a Church of England foundation; and this interpretation was recognized in the Act of 1831—which was one passed not in the days of Tory ascendancy, but in a reforming Parliament and under the Ministry of Lord Grey. It was provided by that Act that the head master should be a clergyman of the Church of England, that the assistant master should be a clergyman of the Church of England, and that all the other masters should be members of the Church of England, and that the boys who received religious instruction should be well grounded in the fundamental doctrines and principles of the Christian religion. That was the state of things found when the Endowed Schools Commissioners stepped in. They propounded a Scheme which entirely deposed the Bishop of the diocese, in respect of the authority which they had possessed over the endowment for 300 years, and removed the School entirely from under his advice. The head master and the assistant masters need no longer be clergymen of the Church of England, or even members of that Church. There was no provision whatever for ascertaining whether the children were instructed in the doctrines of the Christian religion. The solitary provision relating to the religious education was that contained in the 55th clause of the Scheme of the Commissioners, which said— Subject to the provisions herein contained, the Governors shall make proper regulations for the religious instruction to be given in the several schools. It was therefore suggested that the appointment of Governors provided some substitute for the powers that were taken away, and that in the character of the Governors there would be found security that this would still remain a religious School. Unfortunately, the truth was exactly the other way. The old Governors were swept away, and their places wore filled up by a Scheme which was somewhat complicated, and the working of which was to some extent obscure. Now, if it were provided that one portion of the Governing Body should be elected by the rest, the principles of the whole Body would be the principles of the majority of those who appointed the rest. The question, therefore, was—how were the Governors to be elected? Some of the members were to be elected by co-optation—a plan which the Endowed Schools Commissioners had frequently introduced. Of the remainder, eight were to be elected by the town council and four by the School Board. The School was therefore handed over entirely to the town council. Now the town council of Birmingham were no doubt excellent men, but they had distinguished themselves of late years by their extreme and passionate dislike of religious instruction in public schools, and had even gone so far as to set themselves against the laws of the country by declining to levy a school rate, because some fees might be given to denominational schools. To give the School over to the town council without a single provision guaranteeing the Christianity of the School was in reality to give it over to secular instruction. He was told that a noble Lord, a member of the Endowed Schools Commission (Lord Lyttelton), had presented a Petition from the town council of Birmingham which declared that the council were extremely anxious this Scheme of the Commissioners should be adopted. He had no doubt of it—but that was no reason why Parliament should adopt it. The town council might be very glad to take some of the churches of Birmingham and apply them to the use of other religious bodies; but was that any reason why Parliament should hand those churches over to them? The question really was this—to whom did this School belong? It most certainly did not belong to the town council. It must not, however, be imagined that this School had been conducted on narrow or exclusive principles. He believed that as far as was possible, consistent with religious teaching, it had shown the greatest tenderness for the religious feelings of those who were not members of the Church of England: a liberal conscience clause had been in operation; there had always been a large number of Nonconformists in the Schools, and they had united so fully in the spirit in which the Conscience Clause had been passed, that they had never taken advantage of it, and he was informed that the only persons who used that conscience clause were Jews. A Return published in 1869 showed that in the classical school there were 191 pupils belonging to the Church of England and 98 Nonconformists; in the English schools the numbers were 150 and 86 respectively, and in the lower school 41 and 24; or a total of 382 members of the Church of England as against 208 Nonconformists. In the elementary schools for boys the Church of England pupils were 318 and the Nonconformists 332. On the face of these figures, it was impossible to say that the education given in King Edward's School was administered in any exclusive spirit. He presumed that when Mr. Forster said that well-managed schools had nothing to fear from the Endowed Schools Bill, his Colleagues must have understood him as having used them in some other than their English sense, or the Department he represented would have vetoed this Scheme; for what said Mr. Green, the Assistant Commissioner, with reference to the management of the School— It is universally admitted that the present Board has discharged its duties with all care and conscientiousness. Among all classes there is a general pride in the school, a general admission of the benefits which it has conferred on the town, due in great measure to the judgment of the Governors in their selection of head masters, and a general desire to maintain or elevate its character as a place of high education. The Commissioners themselves also bore the highest testimony to the manner in which the School had been conducted, and the most earnest appeals had been made by the present head master, the late head master, and Dr. Gifford, who was head master from 1848 to 1862, that the character of the School might not be changed. Their Lordships were aware that Dr. Lee, the late Bishop of Manchester, was formerly head master of the School. What did Mr. Benson, the Master of Wellington College, say in allusion to that right rev. Prelate?— I believe there never was a greater teacher than Dr. Lee, nor one more devoted to the promotion of every branch of study, scientific and artistic as well as literary; but I remember his saying that a recognition conveyed in a sentence of The Quarterly Review to the effect that 'the great school had been the centre of Christianity to that great town' conveyed the one idea which had inspired all his labour.' There were a number of objections to the different details of the Scheme of the Commissioners; but the objection which he (the Marquess of Salisbury) wished to bring most prominently forward, and that on which he challenged the decision of their Lordships, was that for 300 years this School had belonged to the Church of England, and that they would withhold their consent to a Scheme which proposed to take away every guarantee that now existed for giving a Christian education, and would hand the foundation over to a body who were notoriously in favour of secular education. Among the minor objections to the Scheme were these—that it took the management of the middle school from the head master; that it interfered improperly with the higher education for which the School had been so justly celebrated; that the Governing Body were not to be allowed to act by sealed document until after seven days' notice had been given; a prohibition which would prove a serious obstacle to efficient management. Then there was a clause in the Scheme which he regarded as not only objectionable, but dangerous. It was in these words— The Charity Commissioners may from time to time, in the exercise of their ordinary jurisdiction, frame schemes for the alteration of any provisions of this scheme or otherwise for the government or regulation of the Foundation, provided that such schemes be not inconsistent with the first clause of this scheme, or with anything contained in the Endowed Schools Act, 1869. The Endowed Schools Commissioners were obliged to lay their schemes before Parliament; but, after those Commissioners had acted and Parliament had expressed its opinion it would be in the power of the Charity Commissioners, if this Scheme were adopted, to act of themselves and alter the provisions of the Scheme without any sanction from Parliament. The opinion of Mr. Fry had been taken on the clause. There could be no higher opinion, and he believed that, according to Mr. Fry, such would be the effect of the clause. Surely their Lordships would not sanction such a delegation of the powers of Parliament to the Charity Commissioners? Still more objectionable in itself, and contrary to the wish of every one in Birmingham, it would remove the School from its present site in the town and place it in the outskirts. The town council of Birminghan numbered among its members men of distinction, but that council appeared to have an extreme and passionate dislike of religious instruction. It had gone so far as to set itself against the law of the country by refusing a school rate because a portion of it might be given for religious instruction. He hoped, therefore, their Lordships would not be led to approve the Scheme because it had the approbation of the town council of Birmingham. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ducie) —acting apparently under inspiration—had given Notice of certain Amendments but their Lordships' only power over the Scheme was that of omission—the power of excision. He had no doubt the noble Earl could use the scissors with great skill, but he could not make this Scheme acceptable to those who had the management of the School. It was one brought forward by an expiring Commission and submitted to a Parliament which was also expiring; but he hoped their Lordships would listen to the appeal of the Governing Body of the School, and would refuse their sanction to this Scheme, and would not allow this great wrong to be done. Moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will withhold her assent from the scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners relating to the Free Grammar School of King Edward VI. in Birmingham.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


said, he desired to speak with the most profound respect of the Governing Body of this School. He believed it was a most excellent one, and that the School had been ably and liberally conducted; but the Governing Body was in every sense a self-elected body, entirely irresponsible to every one, and the very fact that a large number of Nonconformist pupils were in the habit of attending it was a reason why Nonconformists should have a share in the government. There was a strong feeling in Birmingham that the Governing Body should be a representative one. The Governing Body had been for a long time, if not always, composed exclusively of mem- bers of the Church of England, and, as he was informed, of the politics of the noble Marquess who had just addressed their Lordships, and it was therefore desirable that some alteration should be adopted which would give to other parties some chance of enforcing their views. He was afraid that if this Scheme were rejected there would be very considerable dissatisfaction in Birmingham. There were various suggestions made in the scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners which wore not unpalatable to either party. For instance, with respect to the admission of scholars and the payment of fees, he believed both parties were entirely agreed; and he, for one, should much regret that, by the postponement of the Scheme, those matters upon which all parties were agreed, should be prevented from being adopted. He therefore ventured to urge upon their Lordships certain alterations in the Scheme, which would not affect the general principle on which the Endowed Schools Commissioners were acting; and at the same time he wished to observe that the alterations he should ask them to adopt were confined chiefly to matters of detail, and would in no way interfere with the future condition of the schools. The Amendments of which he had given Notice were confined to three points. The first was the omission of a certain portion of Clause 29, which would in his opinion tend to reduce the sense of responsibility thrown upon the Governing Body. The next point was to omit Clause 51, which affected the site of the building. The schools were not at present advantageously situated in Birmingham, and it had been urged that the commercial value of the site was so great that the Governors were not justified in remaining where they were. As against that, however, there was the fact that the schools were placed in close contiguity with the railway stations, and scholars were able to come to the schools from all the suburbs of the town. In this case the people of Birmingham were all agreed that the schools should remain on their present site. His Amendment did not make it compulsory upon the Governors to remove to another site; but if the schools ultimately attained such a position that it would be necessary to remove them, it gave the Governing Body the power of removing them. The third point he had to ask the House to consider was with reference to scholarships. He asked their Lordships to omit paragraph 1 in Section 114, not so much in the interest of the poor, as in the interest of those who were comparatively rich, so that those who preferred to send their sons to other private grammar schools should be enabled to avail themselves of the advantages of the Birmingham Grammar School. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would consent to accept his Amendments, as, if they did, they would be able to adopt the scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners. The noble Earl accordingly moved the first of the Amendments of which he had given Notice.

Amendment moved, after the word ("from") to insert the words ("so much of").—(The Earl of Ducie).


said, he must commence by expressing his dissent from his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) as to the two "understandings" which his noble Friend so strongly relied on in his opposition to this Scheme. First, as to the interpretation put by his noble Friend on the words used by Mr. Forster that schools like that now under consideration would not be interfered with by the Bill. If his noble Friend would refer to what passed in their Lordships' House when the Endowed Schools Bill was under discussion he would find that the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond) did not in 1869 understand the matter as his noble Friend now said he understood it. In Committee on the Bill the noble Duke asked him whether Christ's Hospital ought not to be treated in an exceptional manner and excluded from the operation of the Bill, which would otherwise have a very disastrous effect upon it. The noble Duke's words were— He wished to press upon the noble Earl (Earl De Grey and Ripon) who had charge of the Bill the propriety of treating it (Christ's Hospital) in an exceptional manner and of excluding it from the operation of the Bill, which would otherwise have a very disastrous effect upon it."—[3 Hansard, cxcvii. 1866.] And speaking for the Government in their Lordships' House, what was his reply? Did he say that the Commissioners would not deal with Christ's Hospital? Nothing of the kind. He referred to Christ's Hospital and to some six or seven schools in all, including this very School at Birmingham, which were to be allowed one year to bring forward schemes of their own, and in the most distinct terms he stated that if they did not do so they would be dealt with by the Endowed Schools Commissioners in the precise manner in which this school had been dealt with. And it was with a statement such as that on record his noble Friend came down to that House and said that the Government had given Parliament to understand that Schools like the King Edward's School would not be touched by the Commissioners! The second "understanding" relied on by his noble Friend was that schools connected with the Church of England would not be touched. Now, this was a matter not of "understanding," but of law. His noble Friend wondered that this School was not held to come under the 19th section of the Endowed Schools Act. He believed that until that night no one had ever made such a suggestion. He believed his noble Friend was the first who had ever put forward that view of the case:—the Managers of the School had never imagined that they were under that clause. His noble Friend said matters were going on as they had gone on for 300 years, till the Endowed Schools Commissioners intervened; but the fact was that the Commissioners were not to intervene in the first instance without necessity—it was the Act of Parliament which intervened—it was for the Governors themselves to propose a scheme in the first instance, which would be dealt with by the Commissioners—and that they had done; and it was only after receiving the Governor's Scheme that the Commissioners took action. He did not dispute the terms in which his noble Friend had spoken of the Governing Body; but it would be a mistake to suppose that much dissatisfaction had not been expressed in Birmingham in respect of the arrangements of the School. In 1864 a society was formed in Birmingham, called "the Grammar School Reform Association," for the purpose of bringing about a change in the management and organization of this King Edward's School. In that association were several clergymen of the Church of England and a gentleman who had contested Birmingham in the Conservative interest. A deputation from Birmingham came up and made statements on the subject to the Royal Commission on Endowed Schools, over which the late Lord Taunton presided, and among the evidence given before that Commission was the evidence of Canon Miller, from which he would venture to read this extract— I would wish to state emphatically to the Commissioners that I believe the point upon which I am asked to speak is the point of all others which is important in the present inquiry. I believe there is no point in connection with the School upon which the feeling is so strong in Birmingham, and which, if it were satisfactorily settled, would go so far to quiet the minds of those who are at present dissatisfied. The objection which has been taken for a great many years, and which is by no means of recent growth as far as my knowledge of Birmingham goes, is the principle of close and unmodified self-election. The effect of this principle of self-election has been that the members of all Nonconformist bodies have been practically excluded from the government of the School, though there is nothing whatever in the charter, as far as I understand, to prevent a Nonconformist from being elected. There is nothing in the Act of Parliament to that effect, and it has been merely practice. The result has further been that no member of the Town Council has been upon the Board of Governors. The result has further been that no gentleman who has ever been elected either to represent the borough in Parliament or to represent the county, with one single exception, and that the exception of a very strong Conservative, has ever been chosen by the Governors in modern times to a seat at the board. I mean by that to imply and indeed distinctly to convey to the Commissioners, that we have this practical anomaly rankling in the minds of the people, that the present system works in such a way as to exclude from the 'government of this trust a vast number of the most intelligent citizens, and some citizens, I am bound to say, who have taken the lead in the work of education in the town. I mean gentlemen of the Nonconformist body; and the effect has also been, and this is also rankling in the minds of the people, to shut out from the government of this School almost all the men who by popular suffrage, either as members of Parliament or members of the town council, had been called to posts of dignity and influence, and who are thereby seen to possess the confidence of their fellow-citizens. I may say without any exaggeration that I am quite sure, from my own knowledge, that there is a very deep-seated grievance in the minds of many people in Birmingham, and that they do feel that the Board should be thrown open. This was pretty strong testimony, and from a perfectly unimpeachable witness, as to the state of feeling in Birmingham on the present arrangements in regard to the School. It was also shown that before the Commission of 1866, the Go- vernors themselves had great difficulty in seeking from Parliament facilities for dealing with their own schools on account of the opposition they were certain to meet with on the part of the town council in consequence of the exclusive character of the Governing Body of the School, and at last they ceased altogether to come to Parliament to give effect to their wishes. Therefore, it was not just to the Commissioners to say that they had intervened in this matter without necessity. They had intervened in accordance with the provisions of an Act of Parliament—and that being so he had no alternative but to deny the charges which the noble Marquess had brought with respect to these "understandings." Before passing to the larger questions raised by his noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) respecting religious instruction and the constitution of the Governing Body, he wished to say a few words on the Amendments of his noble Friend behind him (the Earl of Ducie). With respect to that portion of the Amendment relating to the proposed new site for the School, he was informed it was in one of the principal thoroughfares of Birmingham, and it was certainly objectionable on that account; but he admitted that there was a general feeling in favour of keeping the school where it was now situated, and in this respect he accepted the Amendment; as he did also that portion of it which related to the scholarships. Some of their Lordships who were not acquainted with all the facts of this case and the position of the Education Department might be inclined to say—" If you are so ready to yield to a proposal of such a kind in this House, how comes it that you did not make this alteration when the Scheme was before the Committee of Council?" His answer to that was that the Education Department had no power to make any alterations. This House and the other House of Parliament might make alterations by way of omission, though they could not add anything; but' the Education Department possessed no such power. All the Department could do under the Act of Parliament was either to approve or disapprove a scheme. This, however, was a provision which in his judgment might be beneficially altered. The Governing Body had stated that they had been advised that they had no power of coming to the Department to make any repre- sentation except under the Appeal Clause of the Act. They might have made any representations they pleased, and there was nothing to prevent them. If they had done so, their representations would have received the utmost possible consideration; but not a single representation had been made with respect to any one of these matters. He did not blame the Governors, for they seemed to have been misled by someone in this matter; but, of course, they had prevented the Department from considering their objections in full. Many of the minor points which had been referred to were really involved in what were called the "common forms" of all these schemes. While well aware of the great temptation there was to adopt common forms, he was bound to admit it was preferable in a case like the present not to run counter to the feelings of those who were interested in the question. Leaving, however, these minor points, he turned to the greater question—whether this Scheme ought not to be passed on account of the absence of any provision for religious education. Now this part of the Scheme was in almost entire accordance with the provisions of every Scheme except those under Clause 19. A good many of these schemes were already in practical operation, and no intimation had reached him of any difficulty having arisen with respect to the operation of these clauses. His noble Friend, though he did not precisely say so, seemed to imply that the result of the operations of the Governing Body would be the total banishment of religious instruction from this School. It was impossible, however, without a violation of the provisions of this Scheme, for the Governing Body to set up a secular school in lieu of that provided by the Scheme. The words of the Scheme were that "subject to the provisions therein contained, the Governing Body shall make proper regulations for the religious instruction of the schools." It seemed to him, therefore, that the Governors could not refuse to make provision for religious instruction. The practical question which would have to be settled by the future Governing Body would be whether that instruction should be in accordance with the doctrines of Church of England, or of the nature of that given in the British and Foreign Schools Society's Schools. That was what the Governors would have to decide. The noble Marquess had given the figures, which showed that there was a very large number of the children of Nonconformists in the School; and he (the Marquess of Ripon) begged their Lordships to bear in mind the fact that out of 1,800 children in 1869, not less than 800 were the children of Nonconformists. The noble Marquess declared that the effect of the Scheme would be to hand over the government of the School to the town council of Birmingham. But surely this was not so. The proposal of the Scheme was that of the 23 Governors, eight were to be elected by the town council, four by the School Board of Birmingham, one by the teachers of the Upper School, and ten by the existing Governing Body of the School. And the noble Marquess called this handing over the School to the town council Hereafter, when the Governing Body would be reduced from. 23 to 21, there would never be more than eight elected by the town council. The noble Marquess expressed his fear that the government of the School would be handed over to a secularist body, the town council of Birmingham. But in order that that should be, it was necessary to assume that all these Governors would be of one shade of opinion, and all favourable to secular education. It was unlikely, however, that a great public body like the town council would be inclined to choose persons of a single type of opinion. At all events, the ten elected by the existing Governing Body, the one Governor elected by the teachers of the Upper School, and the four elected by the School Board would represent other and different shades of opinion. He understood that the Chairman of the School Board was one of the existing Governing Body, and that the Vice Chairman was a Conservative candidate at the last election for the borough. What was the course taken by the Commissioners in framing the Governing Body? The Commissioners had before them three proposals for the future government of this School—one from the town council, another from the present Governing Body, and a third from the Grammar School Reform Association. They had also the suggestions of Lord Taunton's Commission; and all these various schemes had been considered. Lord Taunton's Commission proposed 10 members elected by the town council and 11 members by the whole Board, not giving any power whatever to the existing Governors. The scheme presented by the Governors made a very remarkable proposition, considering the state of public feeling described by Canon Miller. They proposed 5 members elected by the town council, 5 by the borough justices, and 11 co-optatives, but they proposed that no change should be made until the existing body had died out, when these new elements should be infused into the Governing Body. That would not have satisfied the people of Birmingham or the Grammar School reformers? If the proposal of the Governing Body was somewhat immodest, he was bound to say that the proposal of the town council was no less so. They proposed that the Governing Body should be chosen exclusively by the town council. The Grammar School Reform Association on their part suggested that it should consist of 8 members of the town council, 4 elected by the School Board, and that the co-optatives should never exceed 6. If the Commissioners had wanted to hand over this institution to the town council, they would have adopted the proposal of the town council. The Commissioners did not do that, and they also rejected the proposal of the Governors—they took, as the basis of their Scheme, the more moderato intermediate proposal of the Grammar School Reform Association, but made the proposal more favourable to the existing Governing Body. In submitting these facts, he thought he had established, in the first place, that in dealing with these Schools, neither the Commissioners nor Her Majesty's Government had in the slightest degree departed from the statements which they made to Parliament when the Act was being passed. He thought he had also shown that, until his noble Friend had mentioned it to-night, no one ever asserted that the School came within the 19th clause of the Act. He had also shown that there was now, and had been for many years, a large amount of dissatisfaction about the Governing Body; and he had also shown that out of the various local proposals the Commissioners had adopted that one which was most moderate, and had even modified it so as to make it even more favourable to the existing Governing Body. He earnestly trusted that, under circumstances such as these, their Lordships would not reject this Scheme; contrary to the almost unanimous opinion of the people of Birmingham. There were no objectors to the Scheme except the Governing Body; and he ventured to say he did not think his noble Friend would effect the object he had in view if he induced their Lordships to reject the Scheme. There was nothing in the past history of this matter which would lead anyone to suppose that the desire of the town of Birmingham to have a larger share in the management of this School was likely to grow weaker—he believed, on the contrary, that the rejection of this moderate proposal would strengthen that desire. He could not help thinking if the Scheme was rejected now, noble Lords opposite, who might have to deal officially with the question instead of those who now sat behind him, would think twice before they ventured, under the responsibilities of office, to resist the almost unanimous opinion of the people of Birmingham.


said, he had all along understood that the Commissioners would not interfere with any schools which were found to work well; but this rule did not seem to have been at all adhered to. The only reason alleged for the proposed modification of the Governing Body, was that there was a great number of Nonconformist children in the School; but he (Earl Grey) drew a different conclusion from that fact. The number of Nonconformists was to him a conclusive proof that the School had been fairly administered by the Governing Body. The modification of the Governing Body not being necessary to secure fair play to the Nonconformists, would it tend to improve the government of the School? He did not think it would. He thought that if they admitted these conflicting parties strong partizan feelings would arise. He thought the School Boards generally—not of one party, but on both sides—had wasted much of their time in disputes on matters of a worthless character, instead of applying themselves to the working of the schools. He believed, for this reason, that it would be an unfortunate occurrence if they were to throw into the Governing Body a large infusion of Nonconformists; and therefore, however unwillingly, he must support the Motion of the noble Marquess.


said, he looked upon this question both as an Endowed School Commissioner and as a near neighbour of the town of Birmingham; and he could not but regret that the Governing Body of King Edward's School had thought fit to invoke the assistance of the noble Marquess to throw out this Scheme. If they succeeded, they would make themselves most unpopular, and give the greatest dissatisfaction to almost the whole people of Birmingham—and surely the feelings of the inhabitants of the town should be consulted on the question. The town council on this question were the representatives of the feelings of the inhabitants of the town. For many months a bitter agitation had prevailed upon this matter, which had been put to rest by the promulgation of the Scheme of the Commissioners; and until a short time ago the Commissioners had believed that they had satisfied even the Governing Body themselves upon most points. No scheme and no body of Governors had received more attention than this Scheme and the Governing Body of King Edward's School had received from the Commissioners. The opposition was founded, in the first place, on the religious character of the teaching in the School. The noble Marquess was not correct in saying that this was distinctively a Church of England School. He rested his whole case on the terms of the foundation deed—that the statutes and ordinances of the School should be based "upon the advice of the Bishop;" but these words were not sufficient to bring the School under the words of the 19th section of the Act. According to that clause, in order to constitute a Church of England school there must be express words requiring that the children of the School should be taught according to the doctrines and formularies of the Church of England. If the construction of the noble Marquess prevailed, a large number of schools must come under the same construction—indeed almost the whole body of the more ancient endowments of the country would be handed over to the Church of England. His own personal predilection was in favour of such a proposal, if Parliament chose to adopt it; but that was a general question, and under the present law it was impossible by any reasonable construction to bring this case under the 19th section of the Act. The noble Marquess complained of the Scheme because it not only abrogated the Church of England character of the School, but substituted nothing of a religious character for it. This part of the question had been fully argued before in reference to a previous scheme for a Church of England school, and he could now only repeat what he had said before the Committee of the House of Commons—that the Commissioners would never undertake to indicate any definite and specific religious' teaching for schools in their schemes, unless they could connect it with some standard of a religious body—they were not competent to do it. They left it to the managers of the schools—the best judges; but he would say, without hesitation, that he hoped and believed that many schools would follow the example of the school at Ripon and provide the teaching of the Church of England accompanied by a due protection of conscience. Speaking from some degree of local knowledge he could only say it was to him a marvellous instance of blindness on the part of any one who knew anything of Birmingham to suppose there was any chance of passing under this Act through Parliament a scheme which would give the Church of England any more definite advantage than it would have under this Scheme. No such scheme would meet the wishes or disarm the opposition of the people of Birmingham. With regard to the Governing Body, the word "co-optative" seemed to be imperfectly understood. It was sometimes assumed that, as used in the schemes, it meant "self-elected," and that that part of the Governing Body described as the "co-optative" element was to fill up vacancies in its own number. But the meaning in the schemes was that all the members of the Governing Bodies were to elect the future co-optative members.


said, his objection was that in the long run the non-co-optative members would have the absolute power.


said he did not apprehend that result. In these bodies there must be a majority on one side or the other; but he never understood it to be admitted that the result would be to give the absolute preponderance to majorities. The minority would always have a fair weight. He greatly regretted that in deference to the public opinion of Birmingham the Commissioners had been obliged to give up the ex officio element, which in his opinion was a very important element. But still he did not believe that the town council would wholly control the other elements of the Governing Body. They would have eight members out of 21; a member would be nominated by the teachers; four more would be elected by the School Board, which happened to be, and was likely to continue, in direct antagonism to the town council, and the remaining eight would be the co-optative members He denied that any one element would be able to swamp the others. The town council had not got all they asked, nor anything like it; a compromise had been made with other interests. What really underlay the objection urged against the town council was that such a body was not a worthy body to have charge of education; but this was a general objection to the unfitness of town councils for educational responsibility which was not for the Commissioners to entertain. If there was to be a popular element at all in educational bodies the Commissioners must take that which was provided by law. He did not admire the system of School Boards in all respects; but they too were provided by Act of Parliament, and town councils and school boards were the best representative bodies that the Commissioners could find. As to the often quoted remark of Mr. Forster, that good schools would not be interfered with by the Act, there were two or three answers. In the first place, everything depended on what a good school was. A school might be a good school now, but might not be a good school 10 years hence; and their object was to attempt to give security for the perpetuity of their goodness. A good master almost alway made a good school, and that might be no security for its remaining so when he was removed. In the next place, a good school would not be injured by the action of the Commissioners. He denied—what had been asserted—that "a School" meant the "Governing Body"—it meant the boys and the system; and Mr. Forster never meant that a Governing Body was not to be interfered with. He did not admit that the Birmingham School was a perfect School. It was true that there was a complimentary allusion to it in the Report of Lord Taunton's Commission—of which he was himself a member—the School was then making rapid progress; but compare its present system and means of education for all classes with those provided under the Scheme, and the results which might be attained under it if it were well worked out, and no one could deny that there was a prospect of much further improvement, which the Governing Body could not effect now with anything like the completeness they could under this Scheme. As to impairing the control of the head master, that was, in some degree, inevitable, seeing that new schools—girls', technical, and second grade—were to be created, and elementary schools made third-grade schools; he could not fully supervise all, but still he would have some control over the middle schools, and over important parts of the system in the subordinate schools. The next objection was that the Commissioners proposed to raise the cost of education in the upper school. They certainly did. The foundationers would receive the same advantages as at present, but with respect to the others, the Commissioners did hope that Parliament would see fit to agree with them in a general rule making all boys at all those schools pay very nearly, although not quite, the value of the education they received, unless by their own merit they earned the privilege of exemption. As to the removal of the School from its present site, that was an altogether isolated point. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) knew very well that what was proposed in the Amendment which had been moved by the noble Earl behind him (the Earl of Ducie), was acquiesced in by the Government and the Commissioners. The Commissioners had recommended that the site of the School should be sold when a "favourable opportunity" occurred; but they had altered the word "favourable" to "convenient," lest the word "favourable" might be taken in a purely financial sense. They meant to leave the matter virtually in the hands of the Governing Body; but they thought it proper to place on record in the Scheme their opinion in favour of its removal. These were, he believed, the only points raised in the debate which required to be noticed; and he would conclude by re- peating what he had said before, that it would be very much to be lamented if on account of points which if necessary could be dealt with hereafter the Scheme should, be rejected by the House.


wished to state his reasons for the vote he should give with the noble Marquess. The question naturally presented itself in a twofold point of view, partly as a portion of a larger Scheme of the Commissioners, and partly as an individual Scheme. He could not help looking at it as part of a large batch of schemes, and if the Motion of the noble Marquess was rejected he believed the Commissioners would go to their work with new vigour, and a number of schemes which he looked upon as extremely unjust would come before the House and the country with additional credit. But if, on the contrary, their Lordships rejected the present Scheme, it would give a breathing time to all parties, and he trusted this particular Scheme with regard to the School at Birmingham would appear again in an improved form. This Scheme had created great alarm in his own diocese. He believed that future schemes would depend very much on what their Lordships did to-night, and, therefore, although voting against many of his Friends on this matter, he would cordially support the Motion of the noble Marquess. It had been supposed that the whole country would welcome any scheme by which the Church of England would be deposed from the control of education and a different body substituted. But if any such ideas prevailed they had been very much shaken by recent events. He by no means took a narrow or bigoted view on this subject, because when he was in Suffolk he was the Chairman of a Committee whose duty it was to consider the question of the different Endowed Schools in that county, and in many respects the schemes they proposed were very similar to that of the Commissioners. But there was this difference—the Committee did not disturb the good schools recklessly, nor interfere with arrangements that worked well—and it appeared to him that the Commissioners were doing quite the contrary. In his opinion this Scheme partook largely of injustice, and would inflict a heavy blow on the legitimate interests of the Church of England in Birmingham; and he could not see why this should be done. There could be no possible harm in rejecting the Bill for the present, and a juster and fairer Scheme might be the consequence.

On Question that the words ("so much of") be inserted, their Lordships divided: — Contents 60; Not-contents 106: majority 46.

Resolved in the negative.

Then original Motion for said Address agreed to.

Ordered, That the said Address be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.

Selborne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Calthorpe, L.
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Lovelace, E. Lyttelton, L.
Minto, E. Lyveden, L.
Morley, E. Methuen, L.
Portsmouth, E. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Mostyn, L.
O'Hagan, L.
Falmouth, V. Poltimore, L. [Teller.]
Halifax, V. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Powerscourt, V.
Sydney, V. Romilly, L.
Torrington, V. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Oxford, Bp. Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)
Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Auckland, L.
Barrogill, L. (E. Caithness.) Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Belper, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.] Wrottesley, L.
Canterbury, Archp. Bath, M. [Teller.]
Bristol, M.
Beaufort, D. Hertford, M.
Marlborough, D. Queensberry, M.
Northumberland, D. Salisbury, M.
Richmond, D.
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Wellington, D. Bathurst, E.
Beauchamp, E. Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)
Belmore, E.
Bradford, E. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Cadogan, E.
Carnarvon, E. Colchester, L.
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Dartmouth, E. Colville of Culross, L.
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Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Crofton, L.
Delamere, L.
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Fortescue, E. Egerton, L.
Grey, E. Ellenborough, L.
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Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)
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Hawarden, V. [Teller.] Redesdale, L.
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Bath and Wells, Bp. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
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Gloucester and Bristol, Bp. Sondes, L.
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London, Bp. St. John of Bletso, L.
Strathnairn, L.
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Boston, L. Templemore, L.
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Walsingham, L.
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Chelmsford, L.