HL Deb 29 March 1878 vol 239 cc192-200

presented a Bill, the object of which was, first of all, to revise endowments in Scotland; and, secondly, to assist in the promotion of higher education in that country. England had already had the benefits of legislation in that direction. Under that legislation the Endowed Schools Commission, appointed many years ago, made their inquiries and Reports, and on those Reports the Commissioners were entrusted with framing schemes for dealing with endowments throughout the country. As their Lordships were aware, the Endowed Schools Commission was now merged in the Charity Commission. He thought it would be admitted that the labours of the Commissioners had been satisfactory. He would not say they had given universal satisfaction; but, on the whole, the result had been satisfactory. He was the more able to bear testimony to that, because a great many of their schemes had come before him in his official capacity, and because they found very few of the schemes laid before Parliament by the Commissioners had been schemes upon which Parliament had been asked to express a hostile opinion. Also, he did not think it would be honest of him, in the position he held, if he did not bear testimony to the great zeal with which not only the present Commissioners, but those had preceded them, had applied themselves to their duties and endeavoured to do justice in the cases—many of which were very complicated—which had been brought before them. It was because this system had been found satisfactory in England that it was now proposed that some similar arrangement should be extended to Scotland. The endowments in Scotland to which he referred were, no doubt, not so large as those in England; still they were of very great importance, and it was desirable to provide for Scotland some system by which those endowments should be made available for useful purposes in connection with education, and it was for this purpose that the Bill had been brought forward. The object of the Bill was both to revise the endowments and to assist in obtaining a higher class of education. There were two points as to which he would like to call attention. The first was as to the effects of recent legislation, and the second as to the nature of the endowments with which they proposed to deal. With regard to recent legislation, the Trustees of Endowments in Scotland had themselves, from time to time, pressed the Government of the day to take some action on the subject. So much so, that in 1869, a temporary Act of Parliament was passed which gave the Government power to issue to the Trustees a Provisional Order, and the Sheriff was to report upon the subjects with which it was desired to deal. Under the provisions of that Act, the Trustees of two institutions—the one the Merchant Company of Edinburgh with an income of something like £15,000 a-year, and the other the Bathgate Charity—at once applied to avail themselves of the powers given, by the Act. The way in which the Trustees carried out the powers given them proved, he believed, to be advantageous to the institutions with which they were connected. The result, in fact, seemed likely to produce so much benefit, that various bodies prepared to apply to Parliament to be allowed to make use of the powers of that Act. But the Law Officers of the day interposed, and said that the powers sought to be obtained were ultra vires; and the consequence was that in 1872 an attempt was made to give the Trustees the powers necessary to deal with the Trusts with which they were bound up. The Bill of 1872, however, did not pass into law. He had forgotten whether it passed through either House of Parliament—it certainly did not go through both. The result was that a Royal Commission was appointed, which made a Report in 1875. The Report showed that there was a great necessity for some amendment in the present law. The Commission represented all shades of opinion, political and religious—and as they came to an unanimous conclusion in their Report, he thought their Lordships, also, might safely come to the same conclusion, and that something ought to be done in the matter of these endowments. Before explaining the provisions of the Bill, he desired to point out the nature and amount of some of the Trusts, as set forth in the Report of the Commission. He did not intend to deal with the University endowments, because they were, in the first place, comparatively small; he would rather confine himself to the other endowments in Scotland, which, in the aggregate, amounted to £174,000. These were charitable, educational, and mixed endowments. Some of the charitable endowments were for the sick and aged; some of the educational endowments were not for any particular institutions, while others were appropriated to particular schools, and of the mixed some were for both elementary and secondary education. A great portion of the endowments was applied, as the law at present stood, to the elementary schools, which schools were largely supported out of the rates. The other endowments under the 46th section of the Education Act of 1872 were dealt with by the school boards, and the measure to which he would ask their Lordships to give a first reading only extended the principle of the Act of 1872 to the other endowments now in existence. With regard to the previous administration of those foundations in Scotland, the Report of the Commissioners showed that there had been no abuse on the part of those connected with these endowments. There had been no maladministration of the endowments, so far as they were able to ascertain, and he thought they might assume that there had been no real maladministration; but there had been a want of power on the part of the Trustees to make alterations where alterations were required, and therefore it was necessary that some steps should be taken to give more power to Trustees. There was one system about which there seemed to be no difference of opinion as regarded Scotland—there seemed to be a unanimity of opinion as regarded the hospital system. A very eminent man, Lord Justice General Inglis, said— They thought that the hospital system, as it has been called, had not been productive of any good, but rather of evil; and, at all events, they were clearly of opinion that, even supposing it to be useful in itself, there were already more than enough of such institutions in Edinburgh, and that it was not desirable to add to them. But they objected to the system upon principle. In the same Report, Mr. Lyon Playfair said— When I formerly looked closely into the system, I found a very strong opinion against the hospital system, both as regards the parents who sent their children and the children who were sent. My opinion was that the first thing was to break up what is called the monastic system, by which the children were taken away from their parents and immured in these hospitals; because that produced a paralyzing effect on the children and a pauperizing effect on the parents. It might be that the evils of the hospital system were more felt in Scotland than in England. And, on another point in connection with the hospital system, Mr. Jolly, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, and formerly Teacher in George Watson's Hospital, in his evidence, said— The intellectual evils (of hospital life) are dulness in perception and understanding, and a peculiar intellectual inertness and heaviness. Everyone teaching in an hospital feels this very much. You cannot get the boys to work hard, though you appeal to them; and you have to put more energy into the teaching of an hospital class than any other. You have to waste yourself to inspire them with vis, and you get very little return. You have to work much harder to produce any result than with another set of boys. This intellectual dulness also manifests itself in a difficulty of interesting them and rousing them to mental effort. It also exhibits itself in a lower power of attention and a less strength of memory than in the case of out-door boys. On revisal, you are astonished how little they have retained. Intellectual power is also smaller than it would be on another system, and intellectual eminence in hospital boys is very rare. The system also produces a want of intellectual self-reliance and self-sustained intellectual effort. Thus, they had the opinions of Lord Justice General Inglis, of Mr. Lyon Play-fair, and Mr. Jolly, that this was a system which ought to be altered and amended. Another point had been touched upon by the Commission, and that was the constitution of the managing bodies of these institutions. Some objections were taken to the managing bodies on the ground that they were too bulky, others objected that they were too narrow, and others that they were apt to be too fluctuating, and that they gave room for jealousies of all kinds, political and religious. The sums paid for education in Scotland were very large, and he thought the elementary schools received a greater share of the educational endowments than the higher schools. He would read to their Lordships that part of the Report which referred to this question— With regard to endowments for higher instruction—1. Inasmuch as provision has been made by law for elementary, but not for secondary, schools, we recommend that, where the reasonable objects of any foundation can be attained without expending the whole revenue, the surplus should be applied to promote higher instruction in the vicinity of the foundation, either by directly aiding secondary schools, such as the higher-class public schools scheduled in the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, or by the establishment of bursaries to be held at such schools, or by improving the higher instruction in public schools in the country districts. That was the recommendation of the Commission, and the Bill intended very much to carry out the recommendation of the Commission, subject to certain supervision of the Scotch Education Committee of the Privy Council. The mention of the name of the Scotch Education Committee reminded him of a letter he saw some days ago written to The Scotsman newspaper by a gentleman with whom he had the honour of being acquainted. This gentleman—Mr. Milne-Home—wrote a letter on the subject of the Education Board for Edinburgh, with which he need not trouble their Lordships. He also wrote a long letter to The Scotsman; but the only paragraph with which he would trouble them took exception to the composition of the Scotch Committee of the Privy Council. Mr. Milne-Home's objection to that Board was that there was no Scotchman on it; and he said that the names of the Members of it were the Earl of Beacons-field, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Viscount Sandon; and yet he said that amongst these there was no Scotchman, or anyone who had any time or opportunity of knowing anything whatever about the wants and peculiarities of the Scotch! Now, he (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) did not wish to put himself too prominently before their Lordships; but he confessed he read that statement twice—for, when he first read it, he thought that his eyes had deceived him, because if there was one thing more than another of which he was proud, it was his connection with Scotland, and he was not ashamed to say so; he hoped and fancied that he had taken great interest in the welfare of Scotland, that he was tolerably conversant with the habits and wants and peculiarities of the people from the highest to the lowest. Therefore, although he did not wish to put himself too prominently before their Lordships, he thought they would agree that Mr. Milne-Home was greatly in error when he said there was no Scotch person on this Committee. Mr. Milne-Home also forgot that Lord Gordon, the late Lord Advocate, was a Member of the Committee of Council on Education, and still remained so; and that since that time the present Lord Advocate had become a Member of the Board, and been made a Privy Councillor. In addition to himself, in addition to Lord Gordon and the present Lord Advocate, there was the very able Secretary of the Committee, Sir Francis Sandford, who might be claimed as a Scotchman, since he had been brought up and educated at the Glasgow University, where his father was one of the ablest Professors, until he took a distinguished position at Baliol College, Oxford. Therefore, he said, this Board was peculiarly Scotch; but, to leave that which seemed rather to be a personal matter, he desired to briefly point out what they proposed to do in this Bill. First of all, they gave to the Governing Body of these institutions the power to resolve that they would petition the Secretary of State for a Provisional Order, setting forth the scheme for the better government of the institution which they desired to have sanctioned. The Petition would be published in The Edinburgh Gazette, and an inquiry would be ordered to be instituted by a body of Commissioners to be formed to that end, with power to take evidence on oath. The Secretary of State might, if he thought fit, issue a Provisional Order in accordance with the prayer of the Governing Body. Power was given to two or more Governing Bodies to combine for the purpose of asking the Secretary of State for a Provisional Order. Governing Bodies were also empowered to apply to transfer their endowments to any other endowed institution or any school board. There was an important provision, which had for its object the promotion of a higher class of education in the schools throughout Scotland, especially in those parts of Scotland where there were no higher class schools; and it would assist the Scotch Education Department in administering the public grant to the elementary schools, so as to promote the higher education in those districts where there were no higher class schools. The clause on this subject was this— The Commissioners shall submit for the consideration of the Scotch Educational Department the conditions according to which, in their opinion, the Parliamentary grant for public education in Scotland may he most advantageously distributed for the purpose of promoting education in the higher branches of knowledge in public and in State-aided schools, especially in those districts in which there are no high class public schools: Provided always that the duty of determining from time to time the rates and condition according to which the said grants may be given, and of framing and from time to time revising the minutes containing the same, shall be upon the Scotch Education Department. That was the proposal which Her Majesty's Government made in the Bill, and which they thought would be the means of benefiting and improving higher class education, especially in those districts where it was not possible to have such schools. The only other point with which he need trouble their Lordships was the constitution of the Commission which they proposed should sit in Edinburgh, and there transact their business. The Government thought there was a great disadvantage attending a very large Commission, and there were probable disadvantages attending a very small Commission. They, therefore, proposed that Her Majesty should be recommended to appoint a Commission consisting of eight persons. One to be a Principal or Professor of one of the Universities of Scotland; another to be a member of the Educational Institute of Scotland; another to be the Sheriff of a county; another the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, or the Provost of Glasgow, or Aberdeen or Dundee; another the Convener of the Commissioners of Supply of a county in Scotland; and, of the three remaining Commissioners, one should be the Chairman of the Commission, and the Chairman and other two members should be paid. Her Majesty's Government trusted that through the operation of this Bill, fresh utility would be infused into these endowments, and they believed that secondary schools would secure some much-needed resources; while, at the same time, they believed all reasonable demands for the recognition of the higher education in elementary schools would be fully discussed.

Bill to amend the Law relating to Endowed Schools and Hospitals and other Endowed Institutions in Scotland, and for other purposes—Presented (The LORD PRESIDENT).


said, he was glad to find that Her Majesty's Government were attempting, to deal with this matter, to which public attention in Scotland had long been directed. The subject was beset with many difficulties which could only be removed by legislation. He desired to point out one important difference which the noble Duke made with respect to England and Scotland. As he understood it, these Commissioners had no power to deal with these Governing Bodies unless the bodies themselves petitioned to be dealt with—by which he apprehended in England the Commissioners took the initiative, and not the bodies to be reformed. He thought it a great compliment to Scotland that the noble Duke believed that these bodies would have sufficient public spirit to come forward to be reformed, and that the initiative might be fairly trusted in their hands; but he confessed he doubted the expediency of appointing this large body of Commissioners if they were not to have the power of taking the initiative.


thought the appointment of a gentleman who was not a Member of the Government to a seat on the Education Board might be an inconvenient precedent.


, in reply to the observations of the noble Duke, said, the Governing Bodies did actually apply in great numbers in 1869 to have their cases considered; but the Law Officers of the Crown held that they could not be dealt with under the Act then in force. He had no doubt that, when the Commissioners were appointed, the Governing Bodies would send in applications and place themselves under the provisions of the present Bill. With regard to the remark of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) he would observe that the late Lord Advocate was the only Member of the Committee of Council on Education who was not a Member of the Government. When once the Committee was nominated, the original Members remained upon it until a fresh Committee was appointed.

Bill read 1a; and to be read 2a on Friday next. (No. 56.)

House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.