§ *LORD WANTAGE
asked the Lord President of Council the following Questions with reference to the formation of associations of Voluntary Schools: whether the Education Department will take steps to prevent the supporters and managers of Voluntary Schools in Berkshire from being deprived of their right to have effect given to their choice of the county as the area of association; whether his attention has been called to the fact that, prior to the meeting of the Oxford Diocesan Conference in May last, the rural deans issued circulars to the correspondents of the school managers throughout the county of Berks asking them to ascertain if their co-managers were willing to join an association of schools for the county; and (if willing to join such an association) to elect two representatives to be thereafter summoned to a meeting by the rural deans for the purpose of electing two delegates for each rural deanery, such delegates to form the governing body of the county association. That the consent of the managers having been so obtained to a county association, the Oxford Diocesan Conference met and passed a resolution that the area should be the diocese and not the county. That, thereupon the representatives whom the 1553 managers elected for the purpose of carrying out the scheme of a county association were induced in many cases to proceed with the election of delegates for a diocesan scheme without any fresh application to the managers for authority to consent to such an important change: and whether returns are being made to the Education Department that the managers have selected the diocese as the area of association notwithstanding the above facts, and in disregard of the resolution to the contrary passed at a meeting of school managers for the county held at Beading on the 12th instant; and of the important petition to the Department signed by the Lord Lieutenant, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the County Council, all the County and Borough Members ill Berks, and a large number of the Magistrates and Members of the County Council. He said the matter was of some local importance and of some public interest. There was, he thought, some probability of a considerable area of the county known as the county of perks being compelled to do that which they had no desire to do, and which they had taken every possible means in their power to avoid doing. The beneficent Act of Parliament passed this year was exceedingly short and said little beyond that a. certain sum of money, not exceeding 5s. per head, was to be divided amongst the necessitous schools. It brought, into existence a. new constituency, who were the school managers, but it gave no information as to how the Act was to be put into force. That being so, he thought some consideration was due by Parliament, and that some sympathetic assistance ought to be given to those who, in putting the Act in force in its earlier stages, had fallen into errors—errors which they were not able to avoid by reason of the brevity of the Act. There, were two parties who had, as he thought, made mistakes in this matter. He thought the laity did very little at first in putting the Act into operation, and he thought some valuable time was lost in that way. On the other hand, the clergy acted with great promptitude, tutored and guided by the National Association, and moved by an amount of religious zeal—he thought he might almost say unnecessary religious zeal, and, in a certain measure, by a spirit of want of confidence in their lay brethren. 1554 Under these circumstances they acted in a manner to take possession, in a sense, of the management of these associations. Since he put his notice on the Paper he had by request twice postponed it, and in the meantime he believed he had convinced the Education Department that sonic mistakes had been made. He had shown the Department that 128 schools out of 203 or 204 had declared their willingness to join a county area, and if he could rest assured that those 128 schools would be permitted to join such an area he would simply put the first paragraph of his question, namely:—Whether the Education Department will take steps to prevent the supporters and managers of Voluntary Schools in Berkshire from being deprived of their right to have effect given to their choice of the county as the area of association?The later part of his notice was of a controversial character, and he would not put it unless any of their Lordships thought he ought to attempt to make good the allegations it contained.
§ *LORD STANMORE
said that before the noble Duke answered the question he wished to ask leave of their Lordships to say a few words from a different point of view to that adopted by his noble Friend. in so doing, he believed he only carried out his noble Friend's wishes. He had known him long, and had ever found him one of the fairest and justest of men, and he was, therefore, confident that he would desire the opinions of those who did not agree with him to be represented to their Lordships as fully and as clearly as he had stated his own. Let him say at the outset that he did not himself attribute so much importance to the area selected for school association as seemed to be attached to it by many persons. He could not regard it as one in the decision of which any great principle was at stake. It seemed to him to be one entirely of administrative convenience. That area would be the best which was likely to prove most satisfactory in working. His reasons, as a Berkshire freeholder, for preferring a diocesan to a. county area were two. In the first place, it was a more economical arrangement, involving a necessity for one official staff only where three would otherwise be required; and in the second place the wider the area of the association the larger will the area be 1555 for the distribution to necessitous schools of any funds at the disposal of the Association. So desirable was a wide area of Association considered to be in many competent quarters, that he knew some very eminent and influential educational authorities thought it would be best to have the whole of England divided into only two or three areas of Association, and there was much to be said in favour of such a. view. But, however that may be, and whatever might be theoretically the best basis for Association, he was entirely at one with his noble Friend in thinking that as a matter of practical politics, if the Berkshire schools and managers wished the county and not the diocese to form the area of association, their wishes ought to be regarded—nay, more, that if the scheme was to be carried out successfully, they must be so. But did such a preference for a county association exist, as was assumed by his noble Friend? It might be so; he did not say that it did not; but what he did say was that his noble Friend had not in any way proved it. His noble Friend might have convinced the Education Department that a majority of schools were in favour of a county area, but he did not think he had convinced their Lordships, and certainly had not convinced him. In assuming that it was the case, his noble Friend relied on three things—a meeting, certain post card returns, and a petition. Now, first as to the meeting summoned by his noble Friend at Reading. He understood, from authority which he believed to be unquestionable, that at that meeting only about 70 schools were represented out of over 230 in the county. Of those present nearly a third declined to vote at all, and there was a minority vote, though not a large one, in favour of a diocesan area.
§ *LORD WANTAGE
Pardon me for interrupting my noble Friend, but he is wrong. A majority voted for the county area.
§ *LORD STANMORE
Precisely. That was what he was saying. He said there was a minority vote, not a majority one, in favour of the diocese. What lie was trying to show was that their Lordships must see that a meeting representing only about a third of the schools in the county and of which a considerable proportion either voted against the Motion proposed 1556 or did not vote at all, could not be considered by its decision to have spoken with the voice of the county. The fact was that the great majority of the managers, with the greatest respect for the noble Lord, did not admit that the Lord Lieutenant as such had any authority over them, or any right in that capacity to summon them together at all. The fact that this meeting could not be regarded as altogether satisfactory by his noble Friend, was practically admitted by his noble Friend himself, by the issue of post card circulars to the managers on the answers to which he so strongly relied. Now there were two things he should very much like to learn from his noble Friend, and those were how he ascertained, or thought he ascertained, who the managers were, and, secondly, what number of cards he had issued. The noble Lord had received about 600 answers, of which 400 were in favour of a county area and 200 of a diocesan one. Now, so far as he could ascertain, there was nowhere any list in existence of the school managers of the counties. Those most likely to know, the Bishop and the Archdeacon, were quite ignorant of their names or number, and knew no means of ascertaining them, but they were roughly estimated by the Bishop to be from 1,800 to 2,000. His noble Friend was therefore in this dilemma—either he issued his question to only a small minority of the school managers, or more than two-thirds of them had declined to send any answer whatever to his circular. Nor was this all. He thought they might safely assume that the noble Lord's question had been answered by most of those in agreement with him, and that the great majority of these who abstained from answering were against him. But, again, the number of managers bore no relation to the number of schools—some had many, some had few. In the parish with which he was more immediately connected, there were 15 managers; in an adjacent parish there were 12; but other schools as large and efficient had only two or three. Was it to be desired that two schools having many managers should have their wishes considered equal to those of half-a-dozen other schools having but few? These post-card answers on the whole furnished him with strong 1557 reason for suspecting that the diocesan area was preferred. Lastly there was the petition and protest—certainly adopted in ignorance of the scheme formulated. It was well signed. That it was so was a sign of the well-deserved respect and esteem enjoyed by his noble Friend, but it was little more. He should have signed it himself on that ground, and was inclined at first to do, but he first inquired into the matter and then found he could not honestly do so. That petition was published on the 23rd May. The scheme it objected to was framed on the 25th June. It objected to what did not then exist, and almost every objection raised by it had been met by the scheme as ultimately framed. The last question contained some-thing which, whether his noble Friend meant it or not, was rather like a charge of bad faith. He should not enter on that subject. Perhaps the right rev. Prelate might have something to say on it. But he would shortly state what did take place. The managers of each school sent two of their number to a meeting in each Deanery. Those meetings elected delegates to frame a. scheme. Now he had it on unquestionable authority that all those Deanery meetings were held after the publication of the protest, but, with a full knowledge of it, these meetings elected delegates who, by a majority of 53 to 4, selected the diocesan area. [Lord WANTAGE: "That was the whole diocese!"] Yes, but of the 18 Berkshire delegates 17 attended, of whom 13 voted for the diocesan area and only 4 against it. He regretted that charges of unwarrantable departure from an implied obligation had been made. The delegates when elected were not bound, but perfectly free to select the area they thought best. He regretted equally the reference made to clerical influence and episcopal pressure. Such insinuations were ill-founded, for the great majority of the delegates were laymen, quite free from episcopal influences, except those of argument and reason. And such imputations were ill-judged, for they provoked the retort that there were other influences and other modes of pressure than ecclesiastical ones, at least as powerful as any at a Bishop's disposal. His noble Friend had not told the House what was the evidence he had laid before the Education Department, and he thought 1558 it open to objection that official returns should be set aside on the strength of private information. But a charge of bad faith, even by implication, should be met, and he should wish to see all that had yet been done annulled, and the matter settled, not by postcards, not by private correspondence privately communicated to the Education Department, but in a constitutional way by reference again to the managers to elect representatives to decanal associations afresh by election of delegates from those areas and by a fresh decision by those delegates. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *LORD WANTAGE
said after the speech of the noble Lord he felt compelled to go forward. His remark would be that he had not gone behind the Education Department. He had given the information as fully as lie could possibly do so, and it was as bonâ fide as he could get. There was no machinery to get the information in the way suggested by his noble Friend. He maintained that the action of the delegates entirely vitiated everything done at that Diocesan Conference. His noble Friend challenged him as to why he took this matter up. Well, he was one of the largest supporters of Voluntary Schools in the country—["hear, hear!"]—and he was Lord Lieutenant, and he had been urged by his friends to interfere. The Bishop of Oxford was the first to move in this matter. A resolution was moved with the assent of all the school managers that the county area be adopted as the area of the association, and that there should be not less than one half laymen. The Bishop of Beading moved that the diocese be the area. The speech of the Primate was circulated by thousands, and this had the effect he had stated. He thought that the speech made in Convocation was most unfortunate, and that it would have a mischievous effect on the education of the country at large. ["Hear, hear!"] The Archdeacon of Berkshire on the other hand stated that the Education Department would greatly prefer the Diocesan area because it was much larger, and he then indicated that an Amendment opposing the county area would be proposed. What authority the Archdeacon had for stating that the Education Department greatly preferred the 1559 diocesan area he did not know. But it had naturally great weight with those delegates who were present. Immediately after this the Bishop of Reading moved a Resolution, namely, that the diocese be the elected area, in conformity with the views, which he said were expressed by the Primate. The Bishop added that if the diocese were adopted—they would have the great advantage of having a strong representation of Church educational work, which could be brought to bear with all the power of a united diocese upon the Education Department itself. The prospect of a diocesan association becoming the engine and instrument of Church education in a diocese in itself would be an untold advantage. They would get rid of the parochial, and perhaps the individual factors, which had been the great impediment to all advance.[Opposition ironical cheers.] The Bishop of Reading was followed by the Rural Dean of Newbury, who also advocated diocesan organisation and said:—It ought to be a distinctive Church organisation, and should be exclusive; and they should not only not invite, but refuse to receive, the offers of any alien bodies to join their association. The Diocesan association would have the effect of doing away with that wretched parochialism which eats out the very heart of their Church life in their different parishes.After these speeches the diocesan area was adopted by the Conference, and a further resolution, excluding Nonconformist schools was carried by a majority of 72 to 42. He regretted to have to quote these intolerant expressions used by his clerical friends, for whom he had much regard and respect, and with whom he had for many years past cordially associated in church and school work. But he had, from the position which he had the honour to hold, as Lord Lieutenant, and also as a large landowner and Voluntary School supporter, been selected as the spokesman for a very large body of laymen, and also of clergy, who wished to dissociate themselves from, the diocesan area. Previous to the Diocesan Conference, a proposal was put forward by the Rural Deans of Berkshire and accepted by the delegates, that the county area should be adopted. He, as a school manager, gave his adhesion to that scheme. He was told it would be adopted, and believing in this assurance, he did not attend the Conference. The School Managers of Berkshire had 1560 selected representatives for the purpose of electing delegates to vote for a. County Association. Upon the Oxford Conference changing round to the Diocesan, as against the County area, those same representatives who had been authorised by the Managers to elect delegates to a County Asociation were utilised for a, purpose for which they had no mandate from the Managers, namely, to elect delegates for a. Diocesan Association. This, in his opinion, altogether vitiated the decision which was come to. He had received the following letter from a county Magistrate:—The procedure adopted by the ecclesiastical authorities was, in my district, as follows: My colleague, who is a man of high authority in the educational world, and myself attended, as representatives of our managers, a meeting called by the Rural Dean to elect an executive committee for the county. On opening the meeting the Rural Dean announced that, two days before, the Diocesan Conference had decided in favour of Diocesan area, and he stated that it would be out of order for us to discuss the decision of the Conference—[ironical Opposition cheers]—and that it only remained for us to vote. [Opposition laughter.] Therefore I took the point that my authority was to vote for a county committee. The result is that the Diocesan Association is in possession, but it is not so in consequence of a fair expression of opinion by managers. As regards laymen, they were taken by surprise.His noble Friend had challenged him as to the way in which he had obtained the vote which he had now placed in the hands of the Education, Department. As a school manager, he had as much right to put the Act into operation as any other person, whether clergyman, or even Bishop. The idea shadowed forth by the Bishop of Reading in his speech, showed a misapprehension of the intention of the Act, the object of which was to maintain Voluntary Schools. The 5s. grant was for that purpose alone, and was not intended to become an instrument for Church Education, or for getting- rid of parochial or individual factors. [Opposition cheers.]
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
said that ho must remonstrate with the way in which this matter had been put before the House. Mistakes must have been made—probably all round—but a mistake ought not to be put forward as an attempt at fraud, for that was the clear inference which must be drawn from the noble Lord's speech.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
I am quite sure, my dear Lord Wantage, that you do. [Laughter.] There was no landowner in his diocese for whom he had a greater respect and affection than Lord Wantage, and he dared say that the noble Lord reciprocated those feelings; but he had dissembled his love most terribly. [Laughter.] He felt bound to stand up for his friends who had been working hard in this matter since March. There were many things which he and Lord Wantage approached from such entirely different points of view that it was possible for them to come to almost contradictory conclusions without there being any ground for an imputation of bad faith or of using powers for one purpose when they were given for another. As for the diocesan association of schools, he believed it to be the most economical, the safest, and on the whole the most conducive to the good of education in Berkshire, and he was sorry that personal questions had been introduced into the discussion. It was true that in the first instance there was an idea in favour of a smaller area—the ruridiaconal area the union. But, after considering the matter with the laymen and clergymen who were working with him, he came to the conclusion that a county area would be advisable. The managers of schools were asked to elect delegates to an association. Those delegates received, as he understood, and as they understood, not merely authority to vote for a. county area, but to represent the interests of their schools. After the delegates had been appointed, the Oxford Diocesan Conference—an entirely different body, containing three laymen to every clergyman—met, and he put before them the view that a diocesan association would be best. A private Member proposed the county area, but the former suggestion was approved. The vote, however, as he explained to the Conference, bound no one; it merely expressed their views. Then the delegates were called together, and they accepted the proposal of a diocesan organisation, electing himself as president. He thought he might have been spared the accusations which Lord Wantage had made, though probably without meaning to make them. Every single point was fully considered, and he 1562 thought those Gentlemen who preferred a county area might have put their views before him at the proper thee.
§ *LORD HENEAGE
said he thought it would be well if the whole, thing were done over again. In Lincolnshire, had it not been for the National Society and the unfortunate speech of the Primate, opinion would have been unanimous, and an association would have been formed two months ago. The difference existing was a slight one—of name only, for in Lincolnshire the diocese and the county were identical. But in Lincolnshire the Churchmen and the Nonconformists were about equally divided. There was a strong feeling among the laity, a large portion of the clergy, the subscribers, the voluntary ratepayers, and the parents of the children, that the association should be a county association, open to all denominations; and many objected very strongly to being brought into an association which was purely and entirely for Church schools. There were 505 schools in the county, of which 390 were really or technically Church schools. There were very few purely Church Schools, and they were in the towns, and it was the town party and those, under the influence of the National Society in smaller parishes who desired to promote the Diocesan Association of Church Schools. Of 390 so-called Church Schools 300 were really mixed schools, and, for all practical purposes, undenominational schools, managed by Committees, on which all denominations were represented. The voluntary rates or subscriptions were paid by all denominations alike, and the children of all denominations attended the schools. The religious question had been amicably settled and put on one side to keep out Board Schools, and the schools were carried on by the co-operation and forbearance of all denominations. Rightly or wrongly there was a strong feeling among the parents of the children, the subscribers, mid voluntary ratepayers, against coming into a Diocesan Association entirely under Diocesan control, which would be used for Church purposes. Mr. R. W. Perks, M.P., said the other day that they objected to the money earned going for an association to be used entirely for the Church, and, if so applied, he and others were 1563 prepared to subscribe largely to set a rival Nonconformist Voluntary School in every parish in Lincolnshire. From his own knowledge of Lincolnshire he was sure they could do it, and if they did it they would be able to compel the Church of England to give up many of her schools and force Board Schools into their places. This being the case, it was not to be wondered at that there was a strong feeling among landowners, the clergy, and the laity generally, that to have a Diocesan Association would only bring discord into those parishes, imperil the state of the schools, and the good feeling that now existed. There was no ill feeling against the Bishop of the Diocese. A Bishop more popular in his diocese did not exist than the Bishop of Lincoln. ["Hear, hear!"] But it was feared that the Association would be used by the National Society and those who supported it. The Diocesan Board of Education framed a scheme, and it was adopted at a large and representative meeting over which the Bishop of Lincoln presided, and a requisition was signed by him and others asking the High Sheriff to call a formal meeting of the managers of the schools. It was considered that everything was settled. There were to be 470 schools in the Association, including 390 bonâ fide Church Schools and technically Church Schools; about 60 parochial schools; and 16 British schools. But before the meeting took place all the Church School managers, churchwardens, and sides men who could be got together, assembled, and the scheme adopted by the Diocesan Board of Education was rejected in a very riotous and unseemly meeting which' broke up in such disorder that they forgot to put their resolution to the meeting. [Laughter.] Although the original scheme was rejected, no other scheme was adopted, and from that day to this there had been no meeting of delegates from the various schools, or any meeting recognised under the Act. But friends of the Diocesan Association had met at private meetings, and meetings in the rural deaneries, and they had elected a certain number of delegates, persons who supported the diocesan scheme, which, did not exist, although in the circular sent out to obtain the assent of the school managers, it was stated that a Diocesan Association had been 1564 formed. A great change of front afterwards took place. On 2nd or 3rd July they met again and adopted the very scheme of the Diocesan Board of Education which they rejected on 28th May, to induce all who desired a County Association to conic in. The title "Lincoln Diocesan Association of Voluntary Schools" had been substituted for that of "Lincoln County Association of Voluntary Schools." All schools would be able to join the new association, but there was this difference. Under the county scheme the governing body was to be freely elected by the delegates sent from each school, whereas it was proposed now that the governing body should be that elected for the purpose of a Church scheme. He was certain that those who had acted with him in this matter would never consent to come in under the governing body as at present constituted. He would like to test the question and ask the Bishop of Lincoln whether, if those in favour of the county scheme joined them, they were prepared to let everything they had done "go by the board," and allow a fresh governing body to be elected by the delegates of the schools willing to be associated. He was only too glad to see the original scheme adopted, and would be only too glad to see a united association. But if the Church party were to have an association open to all denominations, they must give up all they had done in the election of a governing body, and then it might be possible to find a via media.
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
in a maiden speech, said he believed it was the custom of their Lordships' House to extend indulgence to those who addressed it for the first time, and he asked that that indulgence might be extended to him now. ["Hear, hear!"] There were one or two points bearing on the question referred to in the speech of the noble Lord, which he felt it his duty to allude to. First of all the noble Lord said in his question that it appeared there was sonic attempt to force a purely diocesan association on the Church of England Schools. They never made any such attempt, nor had they any desire to force such an association on any members of the diocese whatever. What they did was simply to send to the rural deans the form of paper which had now become very common, which was issued by 1565 the National Society, requesting them to bring it before the managers of the several schools, and ask them whether they would or would not join the Association. The result was that out of some 450 schools 364 had joined the Association they proposed to them. He thought that was a very fair result. He could not accept the figures of the noble Lord. He had had the figures given him by a competent authority, and they stood thus on his paper: the number of Church or National Schools 394, parochial schools 56, so that the number of 450 was thus made up, and out of these schools 364 had accepted the scheme which they laid before them.
§ *LORD HENEAGE
The figures I have quoted were given me by the Secretary for the Lincoln Diocesan Association, and quoted by me to the meeting I have referred to on the 28th May.
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
said there was also mentioned here that the undenominational county association had been received and generally approved by letter by the clerical managers of the schools in rural parishes. The noble Lord gave an account of the meeting which took place when the scheme was proposed by the Diocesan Board. Perhaps he might be allowed to add one or two points. The scheme was formulated by the executive committee of the Diocesan Board, and when that was submitted by the Diocesan Board it was accepted and carried against himself and several others who voted and spoke against it. Out of that meeting arose a desire that there should be called a county meeting in order that it might be ascertained what was the wish. of all the managers of the Voluntary Schools. He gave his hearty concurrence to that desire, and the meeting was called. It was largely attended by managers, lay and clerical. He hardly knew exactly the meaning the noble Lord wished to attribute to the word "sidesmen," but they were all managers who voted—laymen as well as clergymen—and by an overwhelming majority they overthrew the plan which had been prepared by the Executive Committee and accepted by the Diocesan Board. The noble Lord himself admitted this, and he said, "We are overthrown, and we will not prolong the controversy further." He thanked the noble Lord that very evening, for his 1566 generous conduct in not prolonging the controversy, and he had then replied to him, stating that he must not be taken as meaning that he thoroughly withdrew. The Executive Committee who formulated this scheme was so firmly convinced that it had been rejected by that large meeting of managers called by the High Sheriff that they held a. meeting and decided that they must resign their office as the Executive Committee. Out of kindness to himself, and for the convenience of the diocese, they agreed to continue in office until the next quarterly meeting, which was last Friday. Last Friday they met. The Executive Committee tendered their resignation, and this was accepted, and then, as soon as their resignation had been accepted, he proposed that they should all be reelected, and so they were. [Laughter.] Out of 30 members there were only two who did not accept re-election. One of these, for private reasons, was unable to do so, therefore there was only one who did not accept re-election. He was pleased to be able to tell their Lordships of the very happy position they were now in. The Executive Committee were entirely in accord with the Education Board generally, and also with himself, and they had also passed a resolution that they wished to support the association which they hail promoted, and the scheme which they had sent up to the Department. He did not know how they really could have acted on a more correct line. Certainly they were now in accord in the matter. It appeared by the last paragraph of the noble Lord's question that some protection was needed for undenominational schemes. He was in a very awkward position, physically, standing there, because he was one of those who did not obey that terrible mandate of the most rev. Prelate sitting beneath him. He hoped the most rev. Prelate would not exercise any severe discipline against him. He could not conscientiously do it, Lincolnshire being very largely dwelt in by honourable and religious Nonconformists. Therefore the association they had now proposed in the scheme they had sent up was to be called the Lincoln Diocesan Association of Voluntary Schools, and it was provided that the association should be "open to all church, national, parochial, and other Voluntary Schools within the area." He 1567 failed himself to see that they had tyran-nised in any way in this matter.
§ EARL SPENCER
was afraid he must add another complaint to those from Berkshire and Lincolnshire, and give another example of the unfortunate omission, as it seemed to him, from the recent Education Act of any machinery for the working of these associations. He regretted extremely that the right rev. Prelate who had lately been appointed to the diocese of Northampton was not yet in the House, but he felt bound to state what had occurred in that county in corroboration to some extent of what had been done in other counties, as they had heard stated in the House. First of all, however, he should like to say he was quite sure the right rev. Bishop of Oxford was in error in supposing his noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire wished to impute any fraud to the Diocesan Council of Oxfordshire. But what he did believe had been done had been done—if arbitrary was too strong a word—then in a very heedless and careless manner. He would just explain what had occurred in his own county. There had been for many years a Church Education Society in the county to which he had subscribed ever since 1857. A quarterly meeting of that society was held after the Education Bill became an Act. The Bishop was in the chair, 19 out of 21 rural deaneries were represented, and a resolution was adopted that the association should be a county association. The same thing happened in Leicestershire, the Church Education Society there also passing a resolution to the same effect. Upon that the Bishop of Northamptonshire issued a circular to all the managers of schools desiring them to elect in each rural deanery two delegates to meet in order that the governing body of this association might be elected. These representatives and managers of schools met in each rural deanery and elected a representative body of delegates to meet at Peterborough. He wished it to be particularly noted that these delegates were all elected on the clear understanding, as stated by the Bishop's own letter, that the association should be a county association. When they met, although elected under perfectly different conditions, they voted, on the motion of a clergyman outside Northamptonshire, 1568 that the association should be diocesan. Upon that, the Bishop issued another circular to the managers, asking them for information with regard to their reports from the Education Department, and so on, and nothing more was said with regard to the change of front. He believed there was some communication from the Education Department, and a further circular was sent out by the Bishop with a very significant postscript added, in which the Bishop said the managers were then to declare whether they would join the diocesan association. As far as he could gather, neither in Northamptonshire nor Leicestershire world this association stand. It was not a formal and legal association, because these delegates—this governing body—sent to Peterborough were elected on a perfectly different basis, and they had no business at that meeting to change the association from a county to a diocesan association. He thought this was a very serious matter. He ventured, when the Bill was before the House, to say he regretted extremely that this public money of the taxpayer should be diverted into what he considered were entirely Church channels. He was afraid he incurred the gentle rebuke on this subject of the right rev. Primate, for whom lie had such great respect. But he confessed he still held the opinion that it would be a great misfortune, not only to the country, but to the Church itself, if these voluntary associations were worked from an entirely Church point of view. He was afraid the whole tendency would be in that direction. What his noble Friend (Lord Heneage) had said was of the greatest importance; he had pointed out how in many schools called Church Schools large numbers of scholars were children of Nonconformists, and that certainly was the case in his own county. He did not happen to be manager of a school, because when in office he had found himself unable to attend to the duties, but for many years local schools had had the support of members of his family, and he knew what went on in the schools. Only the day before yesterday lie was in conversation with the able ecclesiastical manager of one of these schools, who told him that he had sent in a notice to join an association, but he had some difficulty in getting his committee to agree. Upon 1569 that committee were several Nonconformists who did not like the Act. There was difficulty in getting the committee to join the association, and now that it had been turned into a diocesan association, he had withdrawn. That would be the case in a great ninny instances. But he desired to know from the noble Duke who was about. to reply whether the Department considered that associations formed in the manner described were legal associations, or whether the whole process must be begun again. He attached great importance to this, and supported what his noble Friend, Lord Heneage, had said. He did not attribute any intention to deceive on the part of those who had acted as described, but he thought the arrangements to carry out the plan had been hurried, reckless, and arbitrary.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
As a great deal has been said about what the Archbishop of Canterbury has done, it is right that I should say a few words on the subject before us. I certainly think that the purpose of this Act being to support Voluntary Schools existing really for the purpose of maintaining religious education, it is distinctly best that associations should recognise the fact. In course of time Voluntary Schools will disappear unless religious education is the main point of view of the managers, and the tendency of associations which are undenominational is to craw schools gradually to be very little other than Board Schools supported by subscriptions. If schools themselves become undenominational, what becomes of the reason which is given for maintaining them at all? The great body of subscribers will say, "Why not have a School Board?" Church Schools stand because they teach Church doctrines and are you to have nothing distinctive of Church teaching in the schools? I should say this—I cannot help it if people will listen to me, it is not my fault if there are certain portions of the country where the opinions of the Primate of All England have some weight—I speak from conviction, if you are to support Voluntary Schools, which is the purpose of the Act, you must not leave the religious question outside or endeavour in any way to shunt it. ["Hear, hear!"] In the notices circulated there was no interference with the 1570 liberty of school managers to elect the sort of governing body they themselves preferred, or any interference with the choice of area which, should define the boundaries of the association. I am very desirous that everywhere there should be perfect freedom, but I venture to think that it is not out of place for me to say what my opinion is, and if others attach some importance to that opinion I do not think I am, to be blamed for that. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE DUKE of DEVONSHIRE)
I think it is very much to be regretted that sonic of my noble Friends have not put some questions to me at an earlier period on the general principles concerning these matters, and if they had taken the trouble to do so, the answers might have made it unnecessary to enter into a great many of those local questions which have been raised to-day and discussed here at some length, questions with which the Education Department have absolutely nothing to do and with which I venture to think your Lordships' House has nothing whatever to do, however interesting they may be to noble Lords and right rev. Prelates in various parts of the country. ["Hear, hear!"] The general answer—before I attempt to answer in detail questions or some parts of the questions put on the Paper—the general answer I have to give is that the Education Department is prepared to accept, and has taken every means of making known that it is prepared to accept, either diocesan or county areas as the means of association for Voluntary Schools. Further, that they are in certain cases, especially in cases where the diocese contains more than one county or where the diocesan and county areas are not coterminous, prepared to accept two associations, although they may to some extent overlap each other. They are prepared to do this in accordance with the view acceptable to the managers of the schools themselves. It is with the managers of the schools themselves and them alone that the Education Department is concerned. ["Hear, hear!"] My noble Friend (Lord Stanmore) said in the course of his observations that schools were inarticulate or to the effect that a school could not say what it wished and could not give a vote.
§ *LORD STANMORE
I am afraid I expressed myself badly; what I wished to say was that the school as represented by the manager, was exactly the unit that ought to express an opinion, but that managers taken as individuals were not the persons to whom to look for a decision.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Certainly I failed to understand my noble Friend; but I say so far are schools from being inarticulate and unable to express an opinion, that they have a very effective means of expressing opinions on such questions as these. Every Voluntary School has a correspondent who is recognised by the Department, and through this correspondent managers must decide what answer they propose to make to-the inquiries made by the Department, and, that being given to the Department, the Department will act accordingly. But with all these preliminary proceedings which noble Lords have been discussing this afternoon the Education Department and, I think, this House, have no concern whatever. Forms have been issued, and when filled up and returned the Department will be enabled to judge what association is adopted by the majority; in putting a sufficient number of schools in each district, and upon the information supplied in these forms, the Department will act, and it has absolutely no concern with any of these preliminary proceedings which are only a means of enabling managers to form opinions they will hereafter have to express to the Department. I do not think after what has been said that my noble Friend (Lord Wantage) desires a categorical answer to each question he has put. My noble Friend stated that he believes he has now satisfied the Department that the wish of the majority of Voluntary Schools in Berkshire is for the county as opposed to the diocesan area, and my noble Friend Lord Stanmore inquired how he had satisfied the Department of the fact. I am not aware that he has satisfied the Department, nor is it necessary that he should, that the majority of the schools in Berkshire desire county association. A diocesan area has 1572 already been provisionally accepted, but the letter which conveyed that provisional acceptance notified that it must be understood that the provisional approval of this diocesan association does not preclude the Department from approving an association of Voluntary Schools for the county of Berks if the scheme for such association is put before the Department on behalf of and with the authority of a sufficient number of Voluntary Schools to form an effective association for the purposes of the Act. If my noble Friend is satisfied that 126 Voluntary Schools in Berks prefer county association, and if the forms when received confirm, as no doubt they will, that information, then provisional sanction will be given to a county association for Berks, though it will, to a certain extent, overlap the district of the diocesan area to which also provisional sanction has been given. That, I believe, disposes of so much of the question of my noble Friend a appears to require answer. In reply to my noble Friend Lord Heneage, I have to say that, up to the present time, eight schemes have been finally approved, and 48 have received provisional approval. In fact, I am very glad to be able to state that the formation of associations is going on quite as rapidly as could have been expected, and I am also happy to state, that with the exception of the cases that have this afternoon been brought before the House, with very little or no friction whatever. ["Hear, hear!"] He next asks me whether it is intended to extend the period for the formation of such associations under the Act. No doubt my noble Friend refers to the circular issued on April 9, in which the Department intimated that it was desirable that associations should be formed within three months from date. This was intended to warn managers that they might suffer loss from undue delay rather than to fix an exact date, and it has produced the desired result. In cases where exceptional difficulty has been experienced in the formation of associations the Department will take steps to secure that delay shall not entail any loss. The third question relates to the 1573 historical statement my noble Friend has repeated to-day, with which, as I have said, the Department has absolutely nothing to do. Debates, resolutions, meetings, whether of diocesan conferences or summoned in any other way, the Department has no cognisance of whatever, and we can only judge by the results we receive in answer to our circular. In reply to the fourth question, as to whether certain statements which have been made are accurate, it is no doubt true that the Department wishes that as many Voluntary Schools as possible should join associations, and should thereby avail themselves of the machinery which is provided by the Voluntary Schools Act, and it is also true that a school which associates this year with a diocesan or any other association, can withdraw next year, and will not be in a worse position than if it had not associated at all. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the last question, in which lie asks what steps it is proposed to take for the assistance and protection of undenominational as well as British and other schools, the information which the Department has received is that the British end oilier denominational schools generally desire to form separate associations of their own. If, however, there are any, in any district, who do not desire to enter into any such association, and wish to join either a county or diocesan association composed chiefly of Church Schools, the Department will endeavour to see, as far as it is in its power, that the rules of the association are such as will secure to them adequate protection. And, I may say, in reference to something which fell from my noble Friend just now, that if it is the fact, as he, I think, stated, that it is proposed, in the association which is now being formed in the diocese of Lincolnshire, that all undenominational schools should be invited to join it, but should not be provided by the scheme with any part in the management, such a scheme would probably not receive the sanction of the Department—["hear, hear!"]—as being not representative, as the Act requires. of the managers of the schools represented in that association. My noble Friend Lord Spencer not having put down any question, I am not in a position to give him any information as to what has taken place in the diocese of 1574 Peterborough or in the county of Northampton. I may, however, state, although perhaps I shall only be repeating what I have said before, that nothing which has taken place at any meetings end none of the votes to which my noble Friend has referred, are in any way conclusive upon this matter. What the Department has to look to is the expressed wish of the schools themselves, and, if my noble Friend, or those with whom he acts in the county, still are of opinion that a country association for Northamptonshire will be a better organisation than a diocesan association, they have only to convert the managers of the schools themselves to that opinion and to induce them to fill up their returns in that sense. We cannot, however, be responsible for the way in which the opinions of the managers have been obtained. We cannot be aware of what pressure may have been put upon them from one quarter or from another quarter. All that we can be guided by is their expressed wish, which we have afforded them the means of giving, and in which they have ample opportunity of standing what association, formed on what basis and with what constitution, they desire to join. With reference to fill from the most rev. Prelate the archbishop of Canterbury, I certainly am not entirely able to understand the point of view from which he looks at this question. The character of these associations, the area which is adopted for them, appears to me, as I think was stated by Lord Stanmore, to be one to which a great dual too much importance has been attached. Whether the county or the diocese is selected as the area, the governing body, which is to be representative of the managers of the schools in that area, will be composed almost in identically the same manner. ["Hear, hear!"] It is the managers, whether in the county or in the diocese, who will elect the governing body, and the character of the association must depend upon the character of those who are elected, and we are absolutely unable, in the Department, to see how the question will be affected by the adoption of an ecclesiastical or a civil area. Further, the most rev. Prelate seemed to be under the impression that the governing bodies of these associations would have the power of deciding, in some way, upon the 1575 character of the schools and of the religious instruction which is going to be given in future in them. He seemed to fear that if the association was not of an ecclesiastical character the religious character of many of these Voluntary Schools would be given up. These associations, or their governing bodies, so far as I know, will have absolutely nothing to do with the management of the schools which they represent. [Cheers.] They are simply formed for the purpose of advising the Department as to the distribution of a certain grant in proportion to the necessities of the schools. They do not assume, and they would not be permitted by the Department to assume, any power over the management of the schools which are included within them—["hear, hear!"]—and therefore it seems to me that, in the Advice which the most rev. Prelate has given to school managers upon this subject and in the observations he has made this afternoon, he has somewhat misapprehended the question, and has perhaps induced some of those who are guided by his advice to attach an unnecessary degree of importance to what, so far as I am able to ascertain, is, after all, a very minor question indeed.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
The noble Duke began by saying he did not think that what had been brought before us to-night concerned either the Education Department or this House. I venture to differ very widely from him.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Perhaps my noble Friend will allow me to explain. Of course, the principles upon which these associations are formed, that is a matter of great public importance; but the question of what has taken place in the county of Berkshire and the diocese of Oxford, or in the county of Lincoln, these preliminary stages in the controversy do not seem to me matters of importance to this house.
TETE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I am much obliged for the correction, but I confess I am not convinced. The noble Duke says, with great truth, that we are concerned with the principles upon which these associations are formed; but how can you judge of the way in. which the principles are carried into effect but by knowing what has taken place in different parts of the country where these 1576 matters are discussed? That is the very reason why, it seems to me, a discussion such as the one which has now taken place is extremely germane to the whole matter. But if for no other reason, I should welcome the discussion on account of the statement that my noble Friend made at the conclusion of his speech, which, I nut sure, will he received with great satisfaction throughout the country—namely, that these associations are not formed for the purpose of controlling and directing the kind of education which the schools are to afford. [Cheers.] That seems to me a perfectly sound principle, and I trust the Education Department will see that it is vigilantly and carefully and universally carried into effect. The danger is just in that direction. I have no doubt whatever as to the intentions of the Education Department, but, with the feelings which every one has in favour of his own views and of his own profession, I may say it would be unfair, I think, to impute any great blame to those who, like the right rev. Prelates, see in the Act an opportunity for pushing forward what they deem to be Church principles and Church interests. That seems to me to be perfectly natural on their part. Far from blaming them, I think it, is only what they may fairly be expected to do but, whilst I say that, I say I look with the greatest suspicion—I was almost going to say hostility—on the action which they will take, believing as I as that, in the end, it will not only not advance the interests of education, but that it will be detrimental to the Church and to religious interests in this country—and detrimental for this reason, that it will introduce discord mid rivalry and evil-feeling into a matter in which, I believe, they need not be introduced. That that is not the intention of the right rev. Prelates I most clearly admit; but you have, by this Act, introduced a subject of contention upon that which is one of the most vital principles and one of the strongest matters of feeling which can exercise, I might say, any one in this country. I sincerely hope that the Education Department will be able, as I see they are anxious, to confine, within proper limits, the work of these associations. If that can he done I think no harm will result. The proper object of the association is, no doubt, to assist the Education Department in dis- 1577 tributing the support which Parliament has thought it right to give the Voluntary Schools, the end and object being to maintain the Voluntary Schools in a state of efficiency, upon which we are all agreed. As regards these particular schemes, not being able myself quite clearly to understand the machinery by which this Act is to be worked, I do not clearly see how the Education Department is to stand so entirely aloof and to view with perfect indifference the proceedings of these various bodies throughout the country in forming these associations. It seems to me that there must be some criterion which the Education Department must apply to see that these associations have been—if I many use the term—legally formed. It is not merely that an association asserts that it exists, but it ought to exist upon a basis recognised by the Department, and in accordance with the intentions of the Act. There may be machinery which I do not understand by which the Education Department propose so to inform themselves, but I do not see how that is to be done through these committees. If the Education Department communicates with each and every manager, and if the Education Department determines by the views of the managers what is to be done, then I do not see why it might not have been originally arranged that the managers should have determined the whole matter of majority and submit it to the Education Department. I draw the conclusion which my noble Friend behind me drew—that it is immensely to be regretted that the Government entirely refused to put forward any instructions to the different bodies throughout the country as to the manner in which these associations might be formed. I think it would have saved a great deal of heartburning and of trouble, and would have produced the most satisfactory result. I am not sure whether I understood my noble Friend quite rightly, but I think I understood from him that there still remains an opportunity this year for those who have not been able to join an association, to form that association and to put themselves into a position to be able in take advantage of the Act. He made that observation principally with reference to those denominational schools which are not connected with the Church of 1578 England. There are many schools that find themselves isolated, so to speak. In my own county it has been determined to have a diocesan association and not to admit any but Church schools. I know that very great embarrassment indeed is felt by the managers of Voluntary Schools throughout the country which are not Church Schools. They were quite willing to have joined the association. I hope they will have an opportunity of joining some association, by which they may receive the benefit of the Act, because certainly the intention of the Act was not to support Voluntary Schools connected with the Church only, though they will form the majority of the schools, but generally to support Voluntary Schools in whatever manner they might have been formed. That leads me to make another remark. It has been already said that there are many schools which are supported by a voluntary rate, but which, in point of fact, are indiscriminately supported by Nonconformists and Church people. The Managers of the schools do not know exactly which way to turn. The predominant feeling in the parishes in which such schools exist is not to support the Church, not to support Nonconformity, but to avoid a School Board, because they consider it more expensive and the machinery inconvenient. It will be seen by those interested in the Church that unless they treat these parishes with some tenderness and consideration the necessary result will be the formation of Board Schools or the formation of opposition Nonconformist schools. I know of one parish in which the majority of the people are Nonconformists. Hitherto there has been nominally a Church school, but the committee of management has been elected from the different denominations. Since a diocesan board has been formed it has been proposed to set up a Nonconformist school, which is likely to entirely destroy the Church school. These are subjects which give me no satisfaction whatever, because I regret to see any discord introduced into educational matters. I will conclude by expressing the hope that my noble Friend's anticipations may be fulfilled, and that it may be found eventually that these associations are formed will the general consent of the different parts of the country. I cannot conceive 1579 how it can be possible to work satisfactorily both a diocesan and a county association in the same area; it may seem a plausible arrangement, but I do not believe it is one that is likely to work harmoniously. Personally, I am very much afraid time Act will produce consequences which we may all considerably deplore.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Let me say, in reference to my noble Friend's statement that in his comity a diocesan association has been formed which does not propose to admit other than Church schools, that schools which have not an opportunity of joining an association will not suffer. They will have to be dealt with by the Department individually.