THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY rose to move:—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying her to withhold her assent to the scheme under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act which relates to the Denbigh share of Howell's Charity for girls' schools in Wales.
§ He said he wished to call their Lordships' attention to a scheme which was now before the House for the regulation of a certain portion of Howell's Charity. It had rather a remarkable history. Howell's Charity was founded by the will of a gentleman of that name in 1540, and the purpose was to give marriage portions to girls belonging to his own family. The girls were to be admitted to the benefit of this portion of the Charity on producing a certificate from the Bishop of Llandaff, that they had made out to his satisfaction their relationship to the founder. The choice of the Bishop of Llandaff was probably because the Howells belonged to Monmouth, which was in the diocese of Llandaff, and the registers of that diocese would contain all the best evidence to show whether any person claiming to be a relation of the founder really did belong to his family, and he did not know that there was any reason to suppose that there was any other cause which moved the founder to put the charity on that footing. The charity went on under the control of the Drapers' Company, which was constituted by the will as trustees to administer the Trust, and the Drapers' Company appeared to have regularly given marriage portions according thereto. The Charity became much more valuable as time went on, and the Drapers' Company contented themselves with providing marriage portions as required by the will and treated the remainder of the income of the Charity as part of their own funds. The question was raised in 1838 by an information by the Attorney General, 268 which was brought before the Courts, and after some continued litigation the Courts decided that the Drapers' Company was in the wrong, and that the whole money of the Charity was to be given for the purpose for which the will assigned it. The money being a great deal more than could be given in that way the Court ordered that application should be made to Parliament, and Parliament accordingly passed an Act in 1852 enabling the Court of Chancery to extend the provisions of this original will by a scheme which they would frame in their own discretion. The Court of Chancery followed the course which was then, as he supposed it was still, the ordinary rule of Court, and decided that the money should be spent, according to what was called the Cy pré doctrine, in something which they judged should be akin to the nature of the purpose of the original founder. The original founder intended this to be for the benefit of young women belonging to his family on their marriage, and it was considered that if the money was more than enough for that purpose it was a reasonable thing that it should be spent in otherwise preparing children, particularly orphans, for their after life, and, therefore, the Court of Chancery ordered that the money should be applied to the education of girls subject not to an absolute restriction to the kin of the founder, but with a preference to girls belonging to the founder's family. This scheme resulted in the establishment of schools in Wales for this purpose. One was established in North Wales, and it was to this scheme he now asked the attention of their Lordships. The school was opened in 1860. In accordance with the ordinary practice of that day the Court ordered that religious instruction should be part of the education given in the school, and also in accordance with the practice of that day it ordered that the religious instruction should be in accordance with the principles of the Church of England. It had been worked as a Church of England school from 1860 down to the present year. There could be no question about it being a very successful school; it had done its work exceedingly well, and there had been no complaint made against it whatever. It admitted the children of Nonconformists 269 under a conscience clause, and in the administration of this admission of Nonconformists there was no record of fault having been found with this school in any way whatever. A new scheme was now before them. It proposed, in the first place, that the school should be mainly in the hands of the Joint Committee of the county of Denbigh, who had far the larger proportion of the Governors who were to manage the school—17, he thought, of the 24—and they were to control the school in every respect. Instruction in religion was required to be a part of the instruction in the school. But the words were that they should be instructed in the principles of the Christian faith, and it was left entirely to the Governors to decide what these principles were, and it was quite possible that principles which by the vast majority of Christians in thus country would not be considered as really representing the Christian faith, would nevertheless be held by the Governors to be a real fulfilment of the words of the scheme. It stated that subject to the provisions of the scheme, religious instruction in accordance with the principles of the Christian faith should be given in the school by members of the ordinary teaching staff, under such regulations as should be from time to time framed by the Governors. Further that that, there was no direction at all. They were to make such regulations as they saw fit; the only rule imposed upon them was that no religious catechism or formula should be taught to a scholar attending as a day scholar. Those win attended as boarders were not allowed this exemption of withdrawal from the religious instruction in the school. The same thing also applied to prayer and religious worship. The day scholars were to have the right to be withdrawn by their parents from religious instruction. As regarded those who were to be taken as boarders, there was a provision that if their parents saw fit to claim that exemption the Governors must make special provision to enable them to claim it. It was obvious enough that this would be a scheme it would be difficult indeed to impose. Whether they were boarders or day scholars they were all allowed to attend some place of worship, and to have such reasonable facilities for religious instruction from such religion 270 teachers as their parents might choose for them, and Christian family worship was to be held daily in the house of boarders, this being left to be regulated, of course, simply by the Governors themselves. He thought it very strange, first, that the county of Denbigh, which was not to have the whole benefit of this charity—for the scholarships and exhibitions were to be opened for the whole of North Wales except one county, should have almost the sole control of the school. He could not see how it was consistent with natural justice that there should he this restriction of the management of the school, when the benefit of the school were to go over the whole of Wales. The fact was the school itself was open and always had been open not only to all North Wales but to the whole of England, and in confining scholarships to North Wales it was evident that a step in a retrograde direction had been taken, for the policy of the Legislature for years past had been to widen and not to narrow the area of all such benefits. In all possible manner local restrictions had been abolished. But here instead of throwing things open they were to be made close, those benefits that were open before to all England were to be confined to North Wales. The two things went together, there was confinement of exhibitions and scholarships to North Wales, and in the same way pushing the policy still further the governing body was to be practically confined to the county of Denbigh. There might be special reasons for such a change of policy and such a departure from the ordinary course of legislation, but he confessed he could not see how it could be defended on the broad principles of justice. Whereas there was to be this complete change in the relations of the Charity to all those who were to derive any benefit from it, the relations of the Charity to those who were to control it were also to be changed, and there was no just provision for the different religious bodies who might have children boarding at or attending the school selected by their parents. There was no just provision for the recognition of the claims of those who had had possession of the school ever since it was erected in 1860. Since that date it had been in the hands of the Church of England. There could be no question as to the good condition of the school, that was admitted 271 on all sides; and if, for any general reason, affecting the whole of the country, the position of the school was to be changed, then surely the least that justice demanded was that careful provision should be made for those who hitherto had the benefit of instruction that they should not be put in a worse position than others. There ought to be some very clear and distinct provision that the girls attending the school should, if they belonged to any particular religious body, and especially if they belonged to the Church of England, which had administered the school from the beginning of its existence, have security for instruction in the doctrines and discipline of the Church. But there was no such security whatever, and that alone seemed to him to condemn the scheme and to call upon the House to interfere. But it was not only this, there was besides a very remarkable clause in the scheme, the like of which he did not know of in any other scheme that had ever been before the House. By Clause 68 it was laid down that the governors were to pay to the governing body of the county of Merioneth constituted by the scheme under the Intermediate Education Act for Wales, a yearly sum of £120 for the maintenance of Dr. Williams' girls' school at Dolgelly. One school was selected from all North Wales to which this special grant was to be made, and to a school of this nature £120 a year was a very considerable grant. There was no other school receiving such benefit, and there was no interference with Dr. Williams' trust or with the management of the school, it was all left absolutely untouched. This school at Dolgelly was founded by the trustees under the will of a certain Dr. Williams, a Presbyterian clergyman, in 1711, and it included other things besides. Dr. Williams' charity provided for the instruction of those who were to be ministers of religion, and of course as he was a Presbyterian he meant ministers of that persuasion. It also had to maintain a very valuable library in London for the use of Presbyterian ministers under certain definite conditions. This Presbyterian institution in course of time, like many other Presbyterian institutions in England gradually became Unitarian, and passed into the hands of the Unitarian body. It was no longer 272 what is ordinarily understood as a Presbyterian institution at all, it was a strictly Unitarian institution, and the Act—he did not remember the exact title, the Dissenting Chapels Act he thought it was—enacted that if any religious body had possession of an endowment of a church or chapel for a period of 50 years that body could still retain it, even though they had altogether given up their original work which the founder had imposed on them. Dr. Williams, there could be no doubt, would have protested with all his might against handing over the trust to a Unitarian body. He was not finding fault with the Act at all, but describing the result, and although those who had charge of the Charity were no longer Presbyterians in the same sense that Dr. Williams was, they kept this endowment simply because they had it in possession, they kept up this school and it was strictly a Unitarian school. He did not mean that they had no conscience clause, he did not know enough of it to say that, he thought it almost certain that they had a conscience clause; but, nevertheless, the whole management was in Unitarian hands, and this was strictly a denominational school in the same sense that Church of England schools were denominational. In Church of England schools there was a conscience clause, and others than children of the Church of England had the teaching of the schools. Here there was a parallel case, a school which belonged to the Unitarian body and was as much denominational as any other school that could be named, but the scheme proposed to give money to this school, imposed no conditions, and did not interfere with the governing body or religious instruction, made no rules on the subject whatever, but simply proposed to hand over £120 a year without any conditions whatever. Putting these two things side by side he asked was this just? He did not ask for the Church of England schools anything that he would not ask for Unitarian schools, by all means let Unitarians who had schools have, free power to use their endowments for the purpose of giving instruction in those religious principles in which they believed, but it was a very hard thing that in Denbigh there should be a school in the hands of the Church of England which had been in the hands of the Church of England ever since it 273 had been a school at all, and the whole character of that school was to be altered, it was to be put under the management of those who certainly were not likely to be very favourable to the Church of England. At the same time, side by side, in a neighbouring county, a Unitarian school was to be supported without any conditions whatever. Could it be fairly said that this was a just way of treating these two Foundations? He could not reconcile it to his own notions of justice. If it was necessary on general principles to take away this school from the management of those who had hitherto worked it so successfully and so well, although there was no complaint that they had been unjust in their administration; at any rate there ought to be some careful provision that those who desired instruction in Church of England principles should be able to have it without any hindrance at all, and should at least be in as good a position as those who preferred a school belonging to any other denomination. He did not think it was necessary for him to say more, he had briefly put before the House the exact character of the complaint he made against this scheme, and he asked their Lordships to consider whether it would not be right to reject this scheme now and see whether a better one could not be framed. He moved the Motion for an Address of which he had given notice.
*THE EARL OF POWIS
said that in the absence of the Duke of Westminster, who had intended to second this Motion, he ventured to second it. It had been very fully explained by the most rev. Prelate, and he did not think it was necessary for him to say anything with regard to the Church of England character of the charity. There was one point, however, to which he would like to call their Lordships' attention. This charity was founded for the benefit of orphans, and it was now proposed by this scheme to throw it open practically to any girls whether they were orphans or not. There was a line in the scheme which said that a first preference was to be given to orphans, but, he thought their Lordships would be well aware that a preference of this description was practically valueless, for the governors of the school were told to select girls who. would give a good name to the school—girls who had been well educated before they got to the 274 school. It was the orphans who would not be likely to have the good education fitting them to go into the school, and he thought it was extremely hard that the whole idea of the founder should be done away with. There was also a section in the scheme No. 68, a most remarkable one, by which £120 a year was taken from this Church of England School and given to Unitarian School. He did not wish to harm the Unitarian School, but this was in direct contravention of the founder's wishes. The founder founded a Church of England charity for orphans, the present scheme not only took away the Church character of the charity, but the orphans went to the wall.
*THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Duke of DEVONSHIRE)
said it appeared to him that nothing could very well be more unsatisfactory than the state of the law, or perhaps he should rather describe it as the procedure under the law, in regard to these educational foundations. A very considerable number of years ago certain Commissioners were appointed to perform certain duties which were now discharged by the Charity Commissioners in regard to the reorganisation of these educational foundations. Under the present law it was the duty of certain bodies which had been established in Wales by the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, called Joint Education Committees, to frame a scheme for the secondary and technical education of the people of their county, and at the same time to indicate the endowments which in their opinion were available for that purpose within the limits of the county. The duty was imposed upon them of submitting the schemes to the Charity Commissioners, upon whom was imposed the duty of holding certain inquiries, and, on the result of these, of framing schemes for the future administration of the educational endowments pointed out tc them. The scheme thus framed went to the Education Department for revision, and if the Department saw nothing in the provisions contrary either to the principles of equity or undesirable front an educational point of view, it was their duty to give their sanction to the scheme proposed. But having thus clearly expressed its intentions and policy on this 275 matter, Parliament in its wisdom had introduced another provision into the Endowed Schools Act and the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, with the apparent intention of neutralising as far as possible the effect of the former provisions. ["Hear, hear!"] Under these Acts it was competent to a majority in either House of Parliament, without any inquiry whatever, acting ordinarily, necessarily with a very imperfect knowledge of the question, with no particular sense of responsibility in the matter, by an address to the Crown to reject either the whole or any part of a scheme framed in accordance with the intentions of Parliament. Schemes which had been decided by public bodies, after full investigation and inquiry, might be either mutilated or entirely rejected by a majority of either House of Parliament, for whom it was quite unnecessary to express any opinion of principle whatever, but who might be actuated by a local, political, or religious bias. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not deny that the most rev. Prelate was absolutely within his right, under the somewhat remarkable procedure which in this case had been prescribed by Parliament, in seeking to reverse the decision which had been come to by those bodies and to upset the scheme; but he must point out to him and to the House that in his opinion he would be asking the House to act directly in contravention to the principles which, so far as they could be ascertained, had been laid down by Parliament for the guidance of the Education Department in this way. ["Hear, hear!"] In the present case, so far as he had been able to ascertain, every body or party which had moved in this matter had acted not only within the strict limit of their rights and of the law, but in the only manner in which they were bound to act by the provisions of the Act of Parliament. The Joint Committee of the county of Denbigh was bound by the Act of 1889 to frame a scheme for secondary education, and to point out what endowments in its county were available for that purpose; and the Charity Commissioners were equally bound by the directions of the Act of Parliament to take into consideration that scheme, to revise it in such manner as they thought necessary, and to present the revised scheme to the 276 Education Department for its acceptance; and the Education Department, if it saw nothing in the scheme which was educationally to be condemned, was, in his judgment, equally bound to give it its sanction. ["Hear, hear!"] He would just say a word or two upon the objections which had been stated to the scheme. He did not think the most rev. Prelate said in so many words that Howell's School was a Church of England School for which the Charity Commissioners had no right to make a scheme. He did, however, lay a great deal of stress upon the fact that up to the present time that school had been practically a Church school. He thought that before they voted on this question they should understand whether or not those who were opposed to the scheme challenged the legality of the action of the Charity Commissioners, or whether they only challenged the policy. Of course it was a legal question, and he was not competent to express an opinion upon it, but he was advised that this charity was undoubtedly—within the meaning of the Act—an educational endowment, within the limits of the county of Denbigh, with which the Joint Educational Committee was bound to deal, and with which the Charity Commissioners were also bound to deal. If the most rev. Prelate had any doubt whatever upon the legality of the action taken, he would point out that it would have been perfectly easy to obtain a legal judgment by a decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The opponents of the scheme, however, had preferred not to challenge the legality of the scheme, but to resort to the easier procedure of challenging the same time both the legality and the policy of the scheme by appealing to their Lordships' House. In that connection he must point out that a precisely similar scheme, dealing with a portion of the endowment in the county of Glamorgan, was initiated by the Joint Education Committee of that county; that a precisely similar scheme was framed by the Charity Commissioners, and was objected to neither by the most rev. Prelate nor anybody else; and that it had received the sanction of the Crown, and was now in force. The most rev. Prelate had also made some comments upon the religious instruction which the scheme directed 277 should be given within the reorganised school. The most rev. Prelate had entirely omitted to point out that the provisions as to religious instruction contained in the scheme were those which were directed to be made by the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. By the 3rd Sub-section of the 4th Section of that Act, it was provided that no religious catechism or religious formula which was distinctive of any particular denomination should be taught to a scholar attending a school established or regulated by a scheme; and if this endowment were one with which the Charity Commissioners were entitled to deal at all, it was one with which they were bound to deal under the terms of the sub-section.
§ *THE DUKE of DEVONSHIRE
said he understood the Archbishop to comment upon it from a somewhat unfavourable point of view. [Opposition, cheers.] The most rev. Prelate objected to what he considered the over-representation of the county of Denbigh. Of course, the exact proportion of the representation of the county, is compared with other counties in North Wales, was a matter with which it was almost impossible for them to grapple in that Assembly. But he must again refer to the intentions of Parliament in this matter. Parliament intended that the educational endowments which existed in Wales should be made more applicable for the secondary and technical education of the people of these counties than they had hitherto been, and if this endowment were applicable at all to the secondary education of the county of Denbigh in particular, it was essential that in the administration of the schools the county of Denbigh should have a very considerable influence. The most rev. Prelate also referred to the clause in the scheme relating to a subsidy of £100 or £120 which was to be given to a certain scheme in Merionethshire. He was not able to deal in detail with that objection, but he was informed that in the course of the 278 inquiry which was held by the Charity Commissioners this particular objection was never once mentioned. ["Hear, hear!"] He had had various interviews with a number of people interested in the opposition to the scheme for some months past, and he could not recollect that this particular objection was ever taken before. This provision was not considered by the Charity Commissioners as by any means an essential part of the scheme, and if the most rev. Prelate would be satisfied with the omission of this particular clause, there was no disposition on the part of the Charity Commissioners to insist upon it. Lord Powis had referred to the insufficient provision made for orphans. The difference was between 20 and 25, and was not a matter of sufficient importance to warrant their Lordships in rejecting the scheme. Having regard to the intentions of the Act of Parliament, he did not see that the Charity Commissioners or the Education Department had any alternative except to take the course they had taken. But he fully admitted that there was, perhaps, a great deal to be said on the other side of the question. It was perfectly true that the school as at present constituted and managed was considered to be a very excellent school. Its present management enjoyed the confidence of a very considerable number of parents who took advantage of the endowment, and it was quite possible that many of these parents would put less confidence in the management of the school under the new scheme than they reposed in the present management. The Archbishop asked why, in these circumstances, was it to be disturbed? He must refer him to the intentions of Parliament as expressed in the enactment which Parliament had made. Parliament was of opinion that there were many endowments of this description which, although they might be admirably managed in the interests of a certain class, were not available for as large a class as might be desirable. Therefore the Joint Committee and the Charity Commissioners were instructed to take the matter in hand with the view of providing a more general secondary education for the inhabitants of the counties concerned. The benefits of the school, great as they might be, were confined, he believed, almost entirely to the children of parents 279 in a good position, and the avowed intention of the scheme, and, he believed, of Parliament, was that they should be made available for a larger class. It was also perfectly true that a very large number of persons in Wales, principally those with whom he was politically connected—and he had very little doubt that it was the opinion of Conservatives also—had much greater confidence in the present management of the school than they would have in the management under the proposed scheme. If their Lordships thought that these considerations were a sufficient reason for rejecting the scheme, he did not deny their right; but he could not help expressing his own opinion that in doing so they would be acting in contravention of a policy which had been deliberately adopted by Parliament in a. series of Acts beginning with the Endowed Schools Act 1869, and ending with the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889. He believed that the precedent had now been distinctly established that the Government of the day did not hold itself responsible for the support of the proceedings of the Charity Commissioners in these matters, and therefore he spoke only his own opinion and not the opinion of his colleagues. Seeing the composition of the House, he had very little doubt as to what its decision would be, but he could not hold that the rejection of the scheme would be consistent with the policy that had been laid down by Parliament on more than one occasion.
§ LORD HARLECH
remarked that the noble Duke had not alluded to that very eccentric clause, the 68th.
§ *THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
said he had stated he could not deal with the Merioneth matter in detail, but be could give 'the noble Lord some information. The income of the endowment was divided in the following proportions: The county of Denbigh, 40 per cent.; the county of Glamorgan 36 per cent.; the county of Monmouth 8 per cent.; the county borough of Cardiff 8 per cent.; the county boroughs of Newport 8 per cent. The county of Merioneth was not included in the list, and provision was made for it by this clause.
THE BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH
said he would put this case to their Lordships. Supposing it were a case of the taking by the Church of England of a Noncon- 280 formist school. Did they suppose that there would not be an immediate appeal to Parliament to see that justice was done? As to that particular scheme he asked the House to remember that the school at Denbigh was until 1852 a Church School; but that situation was repealed by Act of Parliament. He asked whether in relation to the present system that scheme was necessary or not. He gave some instances which had occurred in his own cathedral city, in which an appeal had been necessary. This particular Howell's School at Denbigh was established by Act of Parliament, and the scheme which they were asked to pass would repeal that Act of Parliament. The Archbishop of Canterbury had already pointed out that there had been no complaints whatever made as to the administration of the school on the grounds of religious preference. Heretofore it had been open to England and Wales, but henceforth it would be restricted solely to North Wales. The scheme would practically sweep away the provision made for the maintenance of orphans, thirty of whom were at present maintained, clothed, and apprenticed; and, in the cases of females, marriage portions were given. He therefore hoped the House would reject the scheme.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
said the question raised that evening was a very serious one, because if the scheme were rejected it would lead to the rejection of any similar scheme, although the scheme was not applicable to what Parliment had declared to be a Church of England institution. In the same Act provisions were inserted to preserve every such scheme as this dealing with what was shown to be "a Church of England institution "—so it was defined by Parliament. Now here was a scheme desired by the locality, adopted after full consideration of the Joint Committee, approved by the Charity Commissioners, approved by the Lord President of the Council, which might be rejected after a debate in that House in which there was no statement of fact, and in which statements were made which were not absolutely accurate. [The BISHOP of ST. ASAPH interjected a remark.] He was perfectly satisfied in his mind as to the facts he was stating. The most rev. Prelate laid great stress on the 281 fact that under the scheme a portion of this endowment would go to a Unitarian institution. Now he was informed that this school was not a Unitarian foundation, that a large portion of it belonged to the Church of England, and that the Governors were selected from the local educational body. The Primate shook his head, and was that to determine facts? Here was an impartial tribunal—after the Charity Commissioners and after the Lord President of the Council had examined all the objections, and they were satisfied that the scheme was a good one, it was to be rejected. What he objected to was the rejection of the scheme, approved in a deliberate way, on ex parte statements. It seemed to him that the ground taken up by the most rev. Prelate was that Parliament was entitled to reject a scheme which followed the principle designedly laid down in the Act of Parliament. That Act was not passed by the Party to which he belonged. It was passed by the Party opposite, without the adulteration of Liberal Unionism. [Laughter.] It seemed to him that, if the course suggested were pursued, it would be a waste of time on the part of local authorities to concede other schemes. The local authorities considered a scheme, it came before the Charity Commissioners, paid public officials spent a good deal of time over it, and then it met the approval of the Lord President of the Council. All these labours were to be thrown away. It was a pity there should be all this waste. It would be much better to avow that it was necessary first to obtain the approval of the Episcopal Bench. [Opposition cheers.] Lay that down, that if the right rev. Bench approve of a scheme, then go on with it; if not, let it be abandoned. Lay it down that all these schemes were at the mercy of the Episcopal Bench. [Opposition cheers.] He believed that it was never intended that the House should have this power. He maintained that the power given to Parliament never was intended to apply to reversing the decision of those bodies who had acted regularly. Of course, if there were objections to particular provisions in a scheme, that would be a different matter, and might well be dealt with, although even in that case it would be much more desirable that the objec- 282 tion should be brought forward at an earlier period. Was it reasonable, when this provision with regard to Merionethshire had been inserted, and the opponents to it had been heard, that it should be dealt with on ex parte statements in the House, the accuracy of which, at all events, was not admitted? ["Hear, hear!"] He ventured to submit that it would be a very serious act on the part of the House, when the Education Department and the Lord President himself had sanctioned this scheme, to set it aside at such a date. ["Hear, hear!"]
*THE PRIME MINISTER (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
My noble Friend near me has pointed out that this is not a matter on which the Government is, as a whole, responsible, and that on different occasions different opinions have been formed. I am in the position of having formed a different judgment from that of my noble Friend. The tone of the two speeches to which we have just listened was remarkably different, and there was a great contrast between the calmness of the one and the fiery character of the other; still both my noble Friend and the noble and learned Lord apposite seem to have based themselves chiefly on the idea that by throwing out this scheme we are contradicting an Act of Parliament. I do not think they have taken a right estimate of what the Act of Parliament really is. The noble and learned Lord said that the Act was passed by a Conservative Government. That is quite true, and if my memory do not mislead me, I think I was the person who induced this House to pass it. But, I urged this Bill on the House as a. whole. I did not regard one part of it as more important than, or as dominating, any other part; and I do not see that if one part has been acted on you can say that by acting on this part you wire despising and rejecting and frustrating all the rest. The real state of the case is this, there has been for the last thirty years a general desire to reform the basis of many of our endowments and to give them a more general and useful application. With that object nobody would have differed, and such Acts of Parliament would have been adopted as would have worked with ease; but there came across its path the shadow of the religious difficulty. There was a fear, and I think it was a well-justified fear, 283 that the desire for reform, that the necessity for reconstruction, would be used as a pretext for the alienation of theological endowments. It was feared, and experience has not belied that fear, that under the appearance of educational reform we might be conducting really a scheme of what I may call theological piracy. The difficulty was in the matter of Welsh intermediate education, how to deal with that obstacle. In that state of business which has distinguished the proceedings of the other House for many years past, it would have been perfectly impossible to go into the minute details necessary to prevent such a misuse of the powers that were given, and it was thought that all fears on the part of the clause could be appeased, that all dangers could be conquered by placing in the hands of the majority of either House of Parliament the power of rejecting on any special grounds any scheme to which in their own judgment they might take exception. That is just as important and operative a part of the Act as any other part. ["Hear, hear!"] It is of no use to tell me that the Act decides what is and what is not the property of the Church, and that if in other clauses property is not marked as belonging to the Church you have no right to treat it as such. That is treating the power given to your Lordships as if it was not part of the Act of Parliament. The same Act which has defined the position of the Church has given unrestricted power to either House of Parliament to veto any scheme made under it. The hon. and noble Lord opposite has taunted a Conservative Government with passing this Act.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
I neither taunted nor praised them. What I did allude to was the way they were dealing with the Act they passed. [Cheers.]
THE PRIME MINISTER
I only say that we deal with it in the sense in which we passed it. We intended it to be subjected to the enlightenment and free criticism of both Houses of Parliament, subject to which any Measure might be rejected in which it might be seen that the Charity Commissioners or any local body had gone beyond what appeared to be just in dealing with the funds at their disposal. That is my reading of that Act. I think it is important to keep these schemes, as far as 284 possible, clear of the charge of attempting to alienate religious endowments from one body to another. I do not think this scheme is clear of that charge. I entirely demur to the idea that we have any special duty to follow the decision either of the Joint Committee or of the Charity Commissioners. They are acting according to what they deem to be the directions of the Act of Parliament, but we are acting on the principle which dominates the whole, namely, that we have a right to veto a scheme if it appear to us to be unjust. On these grounds it seems to me that the House would do more wisely to send this scheme back to the Charity Commissioners, so that it may be drawn on a more just and equitable basis, and be submitted to Parliament again. ["Hear, hear!"]
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said that on referring to the Act itself he did not find there was that neglect or rather omission that the noble Marquess seemed to assume of any clear definition of what were intended to be considered Church schools. He read the clause of the Act and said it was clearly intended that the provisions to enforce it were to be carried out by an appeal to the Privy Council, which could determine absolutely whether or not a particular scheme followed the law or not. The noble Marquess seemed to attach much more importance to the provisions of the Act which nullified the steps taken under the Act than to those provisions which enabled the Act to be carried into effect. Although undoubtedly the right to set aside a scheme had been reserved to Parliament, Parliament must have intended and expected that that right would be exercised with a view to carrying into effect the Act it had passed. ["Hear, hear!"] It never could have been the intention of Parliament or the intention of the framers of the Act, or those who introduced it, that Parliament should deliberately go in the face as it were of the policy of the Act and seek to nullify it on such grounds as those their Lordships had heard that night. He had the honour a short time to occupy the office now held by the noble Duke, and over and over again he was called upon to defend schemes of the same kind, and he always found there was a right rev. Prelate ready to attack them, not in the interest of education, but in a narrow 285 spirit—[cheers]—seeking to find some possible excuse for restricting the operations of the Act. That was the spirit in which these schemes had been attacked. There might be, and undoubtedly was, a clear right in either House of Parliament to object to the passing of these schemes, but he contended it was an abuse of that right to exercise it in the manner the House was asked to exercise it that night. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
said the noble Earl had based his arguments on the foundations of the Endowed Schools Act. He ventured to say that the express in tention of that Act was that endowments which were clearly intended to belong to a religious denomination should not be diverted from that body. That was the intention of the Act, and it was perfectly clear that it was not always possible to provide in an Act of Parliament that its intention should be carried out, and it was in order that the intention of this Act should be carried out that their general clause was inserted, so that Parliament might be able in a given case to see that although an exact definition of denominational schools was not in the Act, yet in the case of a school really belonging to the Church, or to Roman Catholic's or Nonconformists, substantial justice was done.
§ The House divided:—
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Romney, E.|
|Halsbury, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Rosse, E.|
|Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Stanhope, E.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry).|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn).||Waldegrave, E.|
|Salisbury, M.||Halifax, V.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward)||Knutsford, V.|
|Chester, L. Bp.|
|Annesley, E.||Chichester, L. Bp.|
|Coventry, E.||Ely, L. Bp.|
|Dartrey, E.||Exeter, L. Bp.|
|de Montalt, E.||Lichfield, L. Bp.|
|Denbigh, E.||Lincoln, L,. Bp.|
|Mayo, E.||Manchester, L. Bp.|
|Powis, E. [Teller.]||Oxford, L. Bp.|
|Ravensworth, E.||St. Asaph, L. Bp.|
|Salisbury, L. Bp.||Hillingdon, L.|
|Truro, L. Bp.||Leconfield, L.|
|Wakefield, L. Bp.||Lovaine, L. (E. Percy.)|
|Worcester, L. Bp.||[Teller.]|
|Addington, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Morris, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Calthorpe, L.||Norton, L.|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Castletown, L.||Rowton, L.|
|Churchill, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Clanwilliam, L. (E.Clanwilliam.)||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Clarina, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L.|
|Clonbrock, L.||(E. Galloway.)|
|de Ros, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Fermanagh, L.(E. Erne.)||Templemore, L.|
|Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Ventry, L.|
|Harlech. L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Devonshire, D. (L. president.)||Burghclere, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Glenesk, L.|
|Granard, L. (E. Granard)|
|Carrington, E.||Herschell, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Hobhouse, L.|
|Cowper, E.||James, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Kenry, L.(Earl Dunraven and Mount-Earl)|
|Portsmouth, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Stamford, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Lingen, L.|
|Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Oxenbridge, V. [Teller.]|
|Powerscourt, V.||Mendip, L.(V. Clifden.)|
|Aberdare, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Wantage, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative. Ordered accordingly; The said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.