§ Order of the day for the Second Reading read.885
*THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Earl of CREWE)
My Lords, although in rising to move the Second Reading of this Bill to make further provision for education in England and Wales, I cannot put forward the plea for indulgence which is often advanced by those who have only lately become members of your Lordships' House, yet I am none the less disposed on that account to ask for your consideration on this occasion. As your Lordships are aware, it is the custom in this House, so far as speeches are concerned, to take the First and Second Reading of a Bill together. It is necessary, not merely to explain the principles on which proposed legislation is founded, but also to give some account of the actual particulars of a Bill. In this case the general outline is very familiar to many of your Lordships, but the particulars are unusually intricate and obscure, and, consequently a speaker in my position has to steer his ship very carefully in order to avoid, on the one hand, running up against the rock of platitude, or, on the other hand, being engulfed in the whirlpool of detail.
There is a further consideration which makes me ask for your Lordships' indulgence, and that is founded upon the composition of this House in relation to this particular measure. In another place, I think, pretty nearly all the different religious bodies affected by this Bill are well represented, but in your Lordships' House that is not the case. The Church of England is represented here not only in great variety, but also in the most authoritative manner possible. The Roman Catholic Church is also well represented here, but I do not know whether in the course of this debate any voice will be raised speaking authoritatively on behalf of the Nonconformist bodies, or on behalf of those who take a purely secular view of this question. I am almost tempted to wish that for once in a way the two Houses could have sat together on this subject in joint session. I feel that the debates which would then have followed would have been not merely exceedingly instructive, but also very possibly somewhat exciting.
886 I do not propose to dwell at any length upon the history of this question, and, indeed, it is only in relation to what is known as the religious difficulty that I propose to deal with history at all. As your Lordships all know, the association between teaching and the different religious bodies in this country is of very long standing. It dates from the days when a clerk and a cleric were almost indistinguishable. I need not remind your Lordships, although I should be blamed if I did not do so to some extent, of the services which have been rendered to the cause of education in the past in this country by the Church of England and also by other religious bodies. I have no intention of minimising those services. On the other hand, I do say this, that any scheme for continued control of education on behalf of any church must be subject to two very distinct considerations. In the first place, we are bound to consider the lapse of time. There must be some statute of limitations in this matter, and we are bound to regard the new conditions under which we live; and so far as the Church of England is concerned I merely desire to say that while I recognise to a great extent the claims which she has put forward, yet I am not prepared to admit that all the schools which are said to have been built by the Church have really been built with Church money, because a very considerable number of them have been built as the appanage of country estates, and others have been erected, as is well known to your Lordships, less with a desire to promote a particular kind of education than with a wish to effect some saving on the rates.
I need not dwell on what is known as the compromise of 1870. That was a. compromise somewhat sulkily arrived at, but perhaps it was not altogether un-suited to the circumstances of the time. In 1876 an important step was taken by making school attendance everywhere compulsory. I pass over the changes of the intervening years, and come at once to the Act of 1902, under which the elementary education of this country is still carried on. In that year Voluntary schools for the first time applied 887 for, and obtained, rate aid, disregarding many warnings such as that which was given by Bishop Wilberforce in the course of the 1870 controversy, when he said that immediately you introduce the ratepayer you must give him the real direction of the instruction furnished by the rates. You know very well that the Act of 1902 has created a vast amount of discontent in this country. I remember that the noble Viscount, Lord Cross, in the course of the debates in this House on that Bill, said that when the Bill passed the feeling against it in the country would subside. That has not proved to be the case. Wales revolted almost en masse against the Act. Some 70,000 summonses were issued against those in England who declined to pay rates under these conditions; and behind them there was a vast body of people who for one reason or another did not see their way to join in that particular form of protest, but at the same time deeply resented the provisions of the Act.
That was the position which the Government had to face when we came into office. We had to consider what alternative systems exist for elementary education in this country which either we or any Government could possibly adopt. It might be possible in this country to adopt a secular system pure and simple. I, for one, have no desire to disparage the value of what is known as ethical teaching. I am quite prepared to admit the great value of such teaching, and I might remind your Lordships that the present administration at the Board of Education has issued regulations designed to extend it. But, against the introduction of a secular system into this country there remains one fatal objection—that the people of this country will not have it. That is sufficiently shown by the fact that when it was proposed in another place only sixty-three members of Parliament could be found to vote for it as against 477 who recorded their votes in the opposite lobby. I think we must presume that that majority at least reflects the opinion of the country, and shows that the people of England and Wales are determined not to have to depend in their elementary schools upon a system 888 of teaching which is not governed by some supernatural sanction.
Failing a purely secular system, you may fall back in one form or another on what is known as concurrent endowment. There is no doubt that there are many people in this country who feel a strong abstract objection to concurrent endowment. The teaching or endowment of religion in any form, they say, is not the business of the State; but I am bound to admit, and I make a present of the argument to noble Lords opposite, that if it could be shown that any system of concurrent endowment of religious instruction was suited to our social system in this country and was fair in itself, I do not believe that these theoretical objections would weigh the value of a brass farthing in the minds of the people of this country. I can imagine a case in India of a town containing so many Hindoos, so many Mohammedans, and so many Sikhs, not differing greatly in social position as between the different religions, in which it would be a matter of very small importance whether schools for their children were concurrently endowed or not. But what we maintain is that no approximation to those conditions exists in this country.
Concurrent endowment may take different forms. It may be either complete—that is to say, in which the State provides schools and teaching for all the different religious bodies in the country— or it may be modified in a form in which the State assists in the erection of school buildings by people of a particular religious denomination, accepts the use of those buildings for secular teaching, and pays denominational teachers; or lastly, concurrent endowment may take the form of what I venture to describe as a pseudo-secular system, that principle which was advocated in another place by Mr. Chamberlain, by which religious instruction is to be given by State teachers within school hours. I will say a word upon each of those forms in turn.
The first form, that of complete concurrent endowment, I venture to dismiss very briefly. The multiplication of religious beliefs in this country is so vast that it would be obviously impossible for the State to supply schools and 889 teachers to suit everybody. Of course, we should all agree that there must be some limitations. Nobody would suggest that a single family of Swedenborgians settled on Salisbury Plain had a right to have a school built for them at the public expense and a teacher maintained who believed and was prepared to instruct the children in the principles of the Church of the New Jerusalem. But even without taking almost ludicrous instances of that kind, it is perfectly obvious to anybody who knows the circumstances of this country that it is absolutely impossible to build schools and to find teachers of a particular denomination for all the different varieties of belief in this country.
I pass to the second form, modified concurrent endowment, which represents what really, I think, is the general denominational demand in this country. It represents very largely the demand which the Church of England makes in this matter; that is to say, that a religious denomination should be allowed to erect a building which should be taken over for certain purposes by the State, represented by the local authority, on the understanding that religious teaching should be given in the schools and a denominational teacher should be paid by the State. I am obliged to say that in my judgment such a solution of the religious difficulty is absolutely impossible as a permanent solution, because of the utterly unfair advantage which it gives to the Established Church. In the first place, the Established Church covers a great variety of beliefs, and it appears to me that when you are endowing concurrently you must know exactly what it is you are endowing. Now, it is in one sense the boast and the pride of the Church of England that she casts a wide net; she casts an even wider net than the Church of the Fisherman himself; but that very fact makes it infinitely more difficult to do in this case what in effect is giving a special privilege to the Church.
Just think, my Lords, in this form of State assistance to denominational schools, what an immense advantage, what an essentially unfair advantage, is given to the Church of England by the existence of the parochial system. So far as rural districts are con- 890 cerned, the gain by the existence of the parish church and all its surroundings to the cause of that particular denonination is almost incalculable, and, therefore, I say without hesitation, that if it were desired to institute a permanent system of concurrent endowment in this country, a necessary preliminary would be the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of England. But, my Lords, if that were done, I should certainly not admit that the conditions were even then equal as between the Church and other religious bodies in this country. After all you have to reflect that the religious cleavage in own social fabric is not vertical, cutting through all classes. It is a horizontal cleavage, including, roughly speaking, what are known as the upper classes and the wealthy classes within the Church of England. I repeat that statement without hesitation. By far the greater part of the land in this country belongs to members of the Church of England. That of itself obviously gives a great advantage in this particular matter, and if you compare the position of the Church of England with that of a poor body such as the Primitive Methodists, who after all are not to be despised in any sense, numerically or otherwise, for they have some half million children in their Sunday schools—if you compare the conditions of such a body with those of the Church of England, you will see that nominally to treat all bodies alike is to give a most preponderating advantage to one.
I desire to say one word upon the proposition which I include under this head of concurrent endowment, a proposition which is of special interest because it represents the only alternative proposal that has been made by the Opposition since this Bill has been brought in—I mean Mr. Chamberlain's proposal of what are known as all-round facilities. His proposition is that in all schools religious teaching of that kind which is desired by, I suppose, a certain number of parents should be given not at the expense of the State, but within hours of compulsory attendance, and by the teacher whom the State appoints and pays. I might at first point out that there is one important body in this country to whom such a solution as 891 that must be utterly unpalatable. I refer to the Roman Catholic Church. I say that it is not possible for the Roman Catholic Church or, for those members of the Church of England who demand a religious atmosphere running through the whole of the education of the school, to accept a solution of this kind, which makes the schools nominally secular and really secular during the hours of ordinary education, but permits ministers of religion or teachers of religion to give instruction during the specified half-hour. But I should prefer, on the general question, to rest my condemnation of this proposition on a much higher authority than mine. It is that of a right rev. Prelate who, unfortunately, is not yet a Member of this House, but who has been one of the doughty opponents in the country of this Bill. I mean the Bishop of Manchester. At the Representative Church Council on 6th July last Chancellor Smith moved a resolution to the effect that it was the duty of all local education authorities to make provision in the schools for the imparting of such religious instruction to the children as the parents required, or, in the absence of expressed requirements, was in accord with the form of religion to which the parents belonged. The Bishop of Manchester said he did not think the Chancellor had clearly worked out in his own mind what was the effect of requiring the local authority in such area to provide religious instruction on the lines of the denomination to which the parent belonged. He pointed out that even in villages there were most extraordinary varieties of belief, and said he was not himself prepared to agree that the country would tolerate the expense of such an arrangement. After pointing out that if the local authority were compelled to provide competent teachers in all the different forms of belief the education rate would go up by leaps and bounds, the right rev. Prelate added—On the other hand, if the denominations were to provide it he was quite sure it meant in the long run that the Church of England would take an advantage of the other denominations which he did not wish the Church of England to take. If they required the teaching to be given at the expense of the denominations, they would be making a grab at religious education far greater than they were accused having made up to the present time.892 I am quite content to rest, so far as the Church side of the matter is concerned, upon that statement of the right rev. Prelate; but I am bound also to remind your Lordships that the educational objections to such a system are overwhelming. It would be exceedingly difficult in many places to arrange anything like proper accommodation for different kinds of teaching being given at the same time, and as for the destruction of discipline, I can assure your Lordships that you would only have to take the opinion of the great mass of teachers in the elementary schools to find that they stand aghast at the notion of the adoption of any such plan as this. We have dismissed, therefore, secular education, and we have dismissed the different forms of concurrent endowment. We therefore fall back upon the proposition contained in this Bill. We are anxious, so far as the existing condition of things and the past history of the schools will allow, to found a national system o elementary education.
I will proceed to illustrate the principles which this Bill is intended to carry out by some reference to its actual clauses. Clause 1 says that on and after the 1st day of January, 1908, a school shall not be recognised as a public elementary school unless it is a school provided by the local education authority. It is not too much to say that this clause is the Bill. It is—and we have no desire to conceal the fact—an undenominational Bill tempered by certain exceptions, and not an undenominational Bill professing to be hedged round by safeguards, simply because we do not believe that those safeguards can possibly be devised. Clause 1 declares the principle of public control. Some people have stated that we have a mandate to introduce the principle of public control. I am one of those who are not fond of talking about mandates. I do not think I have ever used the phrase, and I am not sure that I approve of the theory; but as regards this particular point I would prefer to put what comes to much the same thing in another way. If at the last General Election any Liberal candidate had stated on a platform in the constituency which he hoped to represent that he was utterly indifferent to the principle of public control in elementary 893 schools, there is not the slightest doubt that his hoped-for constituents would have conducted him to the railway station and asked him to try his fortune elsewhere. And that I think is shown by the fact that this principle is ushered up to your Lordships by the great majority of no less than 192 obtained on the Third Reading of the Bill in another place. It is the old story in the old homely phrase, "The man who pays the piper may call the tune;" or as a civic dignitary who did not like homely phrases preferred to put it—the individuals who desire to have a voice in the selection of the programme must be prepared to provide remuneration for the orchestra.It is very remarkable, my Lords, how much lip service is done to this principle even by those who profess to disapprove of the provisions of this Bill. Many people who dislike the Bill yet say that they are not prepared to contest, particularly after what has happened in the country, the principle of public control. Some have said—Why did you go into this intricate matter? Why didn't you simply bring in a Bill stating that in Voluntary schools instead of four foundation managers and two managers representing the local education authority, the number should be reversed, and there should be four representing the local authority and two representing the old foundation of the school?That sounds very simple and agreeable at first sight, but I think it is necessary to explain why that could not be done. There is a section—Section 23—in the Act of 1870, which allows the managers of a voluntary school to transfer such school to the local authority. If our Bill was passed it was pretty obvious that the new managers would have adopted this clause. In that case you were at once brought face to face with all these difficult questions relating to the fair way of treating the trusts of the schools and the user which you require from the schools, which we have to face later on in this Bill. On the other hand, if you had repealed Section 23 of the Act of 1870 and taken away that power from the managers, then your public control would obviously have been quite illusory. These four gentlemen appointed by the local authority would simply have had to carry out the duties 894 imposed upon them by the trusts of a denominational school, and their only office would have been to order in the coals and settle the special kind of pen to be used by the children.
In this clause, to put it briefly, the object which we believe we effect is to place an undenominational school within the reach of every child whose parent desires him to attend one, and by so doing we remove one principal grievance of which the Nonconformist churches have complained. That is one-half, at any rate, of what is known as the Nonconformist grievance. It is admitted, I believe, by almost everybody. It was explicitly admitted by the noble Viscount Lord Llandaff in the course of the debates in 1902, and it is admitted to-day by Mr. Balfour. Mr. Balfour says he has always admitted it; but there is no comfort to be got from Mr. Balfour on the subject, because he evidently, thinks it is as far beyond the means of human prevention as an earthquake or an eruption of Vesuvius. I pass to the acquisition of the schools for this purpose. What we hope is that a great number of arrangements will take place under Clause 2. As your Lordships know, a very considerable number of arrangements have taken place under similar circumstances already. Many schools of different kinds, particularly privately-owned schools, have been transferred to local authorities at nominal rents. May I ask your Lordships to consider what it is that the Church, for I am speaking practically now of the Established Church, stands to gain by a transfer of this kind, and what it stands to lose. It stands to gain in all probability a certain amount of rent for the building. It has to the good the taking over by the local education authority of the liability for repairs, and it also has on the credit side those facilities which I shall describe on a later clause. On the other hand, it does lose a considerable portion of its power under the trusts, and it loses the power of appointing the teacher.
Before leaving this branch of the subject, and while still dealing with the acquisition of the schools, it is convenient, I think, to pass over the intervening clauses and to come to the points dealt with in Clauses 9 to 12 895 inclusive, which describe what happens where no arrangement takes place between the local authority and the owner of the school. Of course, I need not remind your Lordships that where schools belong to private owners it rests entirely with the owner to say whether he chooses to part with his school or not, under certain restrictions as to user which appear later in the Bill; but where schools are subject to trusts a Commission is appointed to deal with the matter.
That Commission takes the place of the Board of Education in the first instance, and in the second instance it takes the place of the courts of law to which further appeal might be made, and it is specially provided that the Commission is to carry on its affairs according to the principles followed by the High Court in exercising as successors of the Court of Chancery the ordinary jurisdiction as to charities. That means principally that where in the opinion of the Court the trust cannot be literally carried out, it should be carried out as nearly as circumstances admit. That is what is familiar to many of your Lordships as the doctrine of Çypres, and that doctrine will be followed by the Commission. It is further provided that the Commission have to take into consideration, in fixing the terms, what real alteration takes place in the future condition of the school from the condition which it has enjoyed in the past; that is to say, when it is a question of fixing terms the Commission are bound to take into consideration what the school can really be said to be losing by the Bill. As regards the personnel of the Commission, that is one feature in the Bill, and perhaps almost the only one, which has I think been subjected to no criticism. The Commissioners are three gentlemen of very high standing—Sir Arthur Wilson, who is one of the most eminent members of the judicial body in England; Sir Hugh Owen, who is a civil servant of unequalled experience; and Mr. Worsley Taylor, so familiar to many of your Lordships who sit in the Committee rooms upstairs, in which he has always been distinguished, not merely for his eminent skill as an advocate, but also for his great fairmindedness. I am glad to 896 know that since the names of these Gentlemen have been announced the practice of describing this Commission as a Star Chamber has ceased, probably from a conviction that their proceedings will be carried out with every regard to justice as understood in this country in the twentieth century.
It will no doubt be argued in the course of this debate that we have no business to deal with these trusts at all, that we have no business to touch them. As to that I might say that some very substantial interference with those trusts took place in the year 1902. Where it suited noble Lords opposite to alter the trusts they did so, very greatly, as we know, to the annoyance of many of their clerical supporters. I would ask your Lordships for one minute to consider what the position is with regard to the claim of the Church of England in this matter. It seems to me reasonable to show that the condition of things has so very greatly altered since those trusts, or a great number of them, were instituted, that it cannot possibly be maintained that they are to be treated as absolutely sacred. I will give you the total sums which were contributed to the maintenance of voluntary schools from 1870 to 1900. In the year 1870 the voluntary contributions and endowments for the maintaining of Voluntary schools reached the sum of £466,000; the Government grants at that time were £562,000. In 1880 the voluntary contributions had risen to £877,000, owing to what happened after the passing of the Education Act of 1870, and the Government grants rose to a little more than £1,500,000. In 1890 the voluntary contributions were £917,000, and the Government grants just under £2,000,000. In 1900 the voluntary contributions were £963,000, and the Government grants £4,417,000. Since 1902, of course, the case is very much stronger, because the voluntary contributions have to a great extent died away, and the vast amount of rate aid, which cannot be calculated because the amount applied to Voluntary schools and to Council schools is not separated, would, of course, bring the figure up to an infinitely greater amount. But the effect of what I have 897 just read is this, that in 1870 the Government grants counted for 35 per cent. and the voluntary contributions for 30 percent. of the total cost, the balance of cost at that time being provided by fees. In 1900 the grants had risen to 78 per cent. of the total cost, and the voluntary contributions had fallen to 17 per cent. It cannot be denied that under those circumstances the conditions have vastly altered, and that it is really, therefore, open to us to modify these trusts in what we consider a fair spirit.
I do not think that the idea that this country is bound by a perpetual obligation to carry on these trusts at the public cost is one that can be regarded as tenable for a moment. I would put an analogy to your Lordships. Suppose the hospitals were handed over to the local authorities. I can imagine a case of a hospital built many years ago by a gentleman who believed in the practice and principles of homœpathy. After a lapse of years people cease to subscribe to this hospital, and it therefore has to be handed over to the local authority. The homœpathic community say to the local authority—You will pay the whole of the expense of this hospital; you will pay the doctors, the nurses, and also for the diet of the patients and all the expenses connected with it. In consideration of that fact you shall be allowed to order the stores from the butcher and the grocer, but we propose to retain in our own hands the appointments of all the doctors and the nurses, and to prescribe the complete regimen for the patients.Would any local authority look, or be asked by a Court of law to look at such a proposition as that? Yet it is not very dissimilar from what the country is now asked to do in the case of these trust schools.
I pass over clauses which deal with the temporary use of the schools, and what would happen if the trustees of a school tried to close it off-hand. I go back to the question of religious instructions and the facilities which are offered. In the Council schools, now, as we hope, greatly to be multiplied in number, the ordinary rule of religion is what is briefly known as the Cowper-Temple system. We had a discussion but a very few days ago upon that system, and I do not propose to dwell upon it at all at this moment; but I do most emphatically repeat that that 898 religion as given in the Council schools at this moment meets the wishes of the vast majority of the parents of the children who attend them. We hear a good deal about the parents and the wishes of the parents in the course of these discussions, but I notice that when Cowper-Temple instruction is under discussion the figure of the parent is, so to speak, wheeled away into the background. What then is urged is not what the parent really does; want, but what in the opinion of gentlemen who speak on the subject he ought to want. I fearlessly repeat that this instruction gives what he really desires. I do not say that it is by any means complete. We know it is not complete, but we maintain that it can be supplemented, and obviously between defect and excess in this matter there is a vast difference, provided that the defect can be supplemented elsewhere.
Clause 3, the clause which deals with facilities, meets the cases of those who complain that Cowper-Temple teaching, as I briefly call it, is defective. I will deal later with those who consider it erroneous. The first case is dealt with by the giving of two days' facilities for special religious teaching, with special arrangements ensuring that each child may receive it. It need only be given on two days a week, and it is given at the hour usually set apart for religious instruction. It is argued that under this system you give a most unfair advantage to the council school Cowper-Temple teaching, because you allow that to be given by the teachers, and you do not allow the teacher to give this facilities teaching. It sounds a paradox, but the desire for Cowper-Temple teaching is, I believe, so general that nobody would particularly volunteer to give it as given, unless it was given by the teacher under the auspices of the local authority. That sounds like a paradox, but you can easily find a parallel from what happens in our political discussions.
We have undenominational politics and we have doctrinal politics. There are several matters on which we are all agreed—the excellence of trial by jury; the admirable adaptability of our constitutional monarchy to the needs of our Empire; and other things of this kind. 899 But when noble Lords opposite send down orators at the expense of their Party to make speeches in the country, it is not upon those truths that they dwell. They dwell upon what I may call doctrinal politics—such questions as the advantages of coolie labour in South Africa, or the sanctity of our present system of licensing public-houses. Therefore, it undoubtedly is the case that if this undenominational teaching had to be privately paid for it would not be given. Some people think that Nonconformists might give it. I believe there is a general belief among a great many people who do not read history and know nothing of the immediate past, that Lord Mount Temple was a Nonconformist. Many of your Lordships remember the distinguished and pious figure of Lord Mount Temple in this House; and, as you know, he was a distinguished representative of the Evangelical Churchmanship of the Victorian era. Some people imagine that Nonconformists would out of their own pockets give the kind of teaching which is imparted in those syllabuses which we discussed the other day. I have no reason to suppose that they would do anything of the kind. I have no doubt that if they had to pay they would teach the doctrines of their particular church. Therefore, we maintain hat there is a complete answer to the criticisms which are levelled against us for allowing this particular form of teaching to be given by the teacher.
What I have said about this undenominational teaching is, of course, not universally true. There are some who consider it to be not merely incomplete, but actually erroneous. It is perfectly obvious to anybody who has even glanced at these syllabuses that no Jew could allow his child to be instructed in that way. Then you have the Roman Catholic Church. As we all know, to the Roman Catholic Church the Bible is not the sole rule of faith, and they are not pre pared to admit that what is spoken of as simple Bible teaching can be supplemented in any way by teaching outside. You cannot have a stronger proof of the position of the Roman Catholic Church in this matter than this. We know that a translation of part of the Scriptures into 900 the vernacular is at any rate liable to be placed on the Index of prohibited books. That shows how many miles apart Protestant and Catholic stand in this matter; and, of course, it is also undoubtedly true that there is a very considerable section of the Anglican Church who hold the same views. What proportion of the Church of England join in the Roman Catholic objections we have never been able to discover. We may possibly have some light thrown on that fact in the course of these debates; but we know from the protests which they have made that they exist, and that they feel deeply on this matter. They, too, like the Roman Catholics, are not satisfied unless they can get a religious atmosphere into the schools.
That was a fact which the Government had to face very early indeed when this legislation was being prepared, and some means had to be found for meeting it. We met it as best we could by drawing a distinction, necessarily rough, but, as we believe, very real, between urban and rural schools. It is necessary to bear that distinction carefully in mind, and also the distinction between well-found denominational schools which have been erected with a distinct determination to maintain special religious teaching, and the inferior and worse found so-called denominational schools which we do not think require the same consideration. That is a distinction which has not been fairly drawn. Rusticus urbano confusus, turpis honesto. This is the origin of Clauses 4, 5 and 6 of the Bill. Those clauses give to certain schools the special facilities on all five days of the week, and they allow this instruction to be given by the teacher. This privilege is confined to urban areas, including urban districts with not less than 5,000 population, and it is only given where it is satisfactorily shown that four-fifths of the parents desire it and that accommodation can be found if necessary for the remaining children whose parents do not desire it.
We selected urban districts for two reasons. In the first place, because it is in hose populous districts that alternative schools will generally be found, and also because as a rule those who desire this particular teaching and dislike 901 any other are, as a rule, clustered around particular churches. That is true of Roman Catholics, but also to some extent of Anglicans. I noticed in reading the Return on the subject of Ecclesiastical Discipline that it is stated that among the 559 churches which were inquired into there were a certain number where the more extreme forms of doctrine and ritual were used. These were mostly in the Metropolitan area or in seaside places, though some of them were in rural parishes. I think it is not unfair to assume that it is in the neighbourhood of such churches as those that schools would exist to which this particular provision might reasonably apply.
This four-fifths proposition has received a vast amount of criticism from different sides. It is by no means liked by some of those who ordinarily support His Majesty's Government, and it is not accepted with enthusiasm by those whom it is intended to benefit. Those facts to my mind speak strongly in favour of this being a sensible proposition. We are asked, Why four-fifths? There may be some who think that five-sixths would be a more reasonable figure; others might say three-fourths; and some people might find a magic in the fraction of seven-tenths. When I was listening to a debate in the other House I heard an hon. Member say that what appeared to him as fair was a majority consisting of one-half. He was an English Member too. When you say, Why four-fifths? any provision where a particular figure is mentioned is open to such a question. People who have incomes below £160 a year pay no income tax. There is no great difference between an income of £159 and £160. Then why particularly £160? Or, if I may quote a case which is more germane to this particular subject, there is a section in the Act of 1902 which provides that a school shall not be considered unnecessary if the average attendance is not less than thirty. One may say, Why thirty? What is the essential difference between a school with an average attendance of thirty and one where the average attendance is only twenty-nine? All you can say here is that the figure four-fifths sufficiently stamps the school as having a definite denominational character, and at the same time it 902 leaves a reasonable probability that accommodation will be found elsewhere for the children of such parents who do not require the teaching. A similar argument which I will not labour applies to the 5,000 limit which is mentioned in the Bill.
Having detained your Lordships so long, I have no intention of going into the complex details of the appeal in this clause. Its form, I admit, is somewhat complicated. This is accounted for by the fact that it represents a considerable number of concessions, and in drafting a Bill there is nothing so fatal to conciseness as concessions. I therefore will not attempt to describe the method of appeal which is intended to safeguard the parents in this matter. I shall probably have some opportunity later of doing so; but I do say this, that the substitution which some think so simple of the word "shall" for "may" In this clause and so making it mandatory, would, in our opinion, land both the schools and the Board of Education in very real difficulties. We believe that the method of appeal which we suggest, added to the possibility in the last resort—I hope only in the last resort and very seldom— of the school standing out of the system altogether and not being supported out of the rates, offers a much more genuine protection and a much more solid probability of getting these four-fifth schools than if the word "shall" was substituted for the word "may."
The next question is one which has given rise to a great deal of discussion. It is the question of attendance at the school during the religious instruction, and whether that attendance is to be compulsory or not. I am reminded of a story which I think is printed in Mr. Herbert Paul's "History of England," of a reply made by Bishop Thirlwall to a Conservative friend of his at Cambridge who objected to the admission of Dissenters to the University on the ground that the presence of Nonconformists would put an end to the practice of Church-going, and that the alternative was compulsory religion or no religion at all. "I confess," said the Bishop —that the distinction is too subtle for my mental grasp.903 Whether religion which is the subject of compulsion is religion at all is a matter which I think well worthy of consideration. Under the Act of 1870 attendance during what is known as the religious hour in schools was nominally compulsory, but as a matter of fact there is no instance of any parent having been prosecuted for not sending his child to school at that time. Things went on in that manner until the year 1903, when there was issued from the Education Department the "Anson by-law," which enabled local authorities to dispense parents from the necessity of sending their children to school for religious instruction, with a sort of general vague understanding that the child was to be given religious instruction elsewhere, but without offering any means of discovering whether he really received it or not. That by-law has been adopted by authorities representing about two-fifths of the total number of children. In the House of Commons during the progress of the Bill this subject was very keenly debated. It gave rise to strong differences of opinion which were not confined to one side, and which even invaded the circle of the Cabinet. The arguments are no doubt strong both ways. If you say that no parent need send his child to school during the religious hour, you are no doubt open to the charge of practically secularising the schools, and you are also open to the charge of making it likely that parents will take advantage of this permission to employ their children in various undesirable ways instead of sending them to school. These arguments are undoubtedly strong, but to my mind the arguments in the other direction carry still greater weight. In the first place, it is exceedingly difficult to arrange— and this is a minor matter—in some cases for the proper giving of secular instruction during that time; but, what is much more important, it is very difficult to make the conscience clause effective unless you allow the child to withdraw not merely from the instruction but from the school-house itself. It is not to be supposed that young children can stand up and announce their objection or their parents' objection to a particular form of religious instruction; nor are they likely to do so on their own initiative 904 if the secular instruction which is provided as an alternative is, as is very often the case, of an extremely unpalatable character. I am convinced that if when at school your Lordships had been given the choice of listening for half an hour to the admonitions of a Mohammedan Mullah or doing a set of Greek iambics you would not all have chosen the iambics.
The third argument in favour of not making attendance compulsory is one which, to some extent, appeals to the Government, namely, that it relieves us from the imputation of giving an undue preference to the ordinary council school instruction, and there is this further point which I think will appeal to some right rev. Prelates and to others of your Lordships, that if attendance is not compulsory those who do not wish their children to receive the ordinary council religious teaching can take them away and teach them in a church or in some other building separately. That is a practice which I believe is being followed in an increasing degree. It points to the fact that the clergy, who have, I believe— I shall be corrected if I am wrong—I will not say of recent years, but for some years past, shown a tendency to give less religious instruction themselves, are disposed to return to the performance of those duties which I think I am right in saying are specifically laid upon them by the canons of the Church. If, on the other hand, you compel the children to attend at the building, you will make that special church teaching in the mornings, which has become a very distinct feature in some towns, an impossibility.
Now, one word about the teacher. Two comments have been made upon the manner in which we treat the teacher with respect to this religious instruction. It is said he may always give Cowper-Temple instruction, even if unfit, and you never, except in the four-fifth schools, allow him to give the two days facilities teaching however willing he may be. Those provisions depend upon the conscience clause for teachers which is included in the Bill. A teacher employed in a public elementary school shall not be required as part of his duty as a teacher to give any religious instruction, 905 and shall not be required as a condition of his appointment to subscribe to any religious creed, or to attend or abstain from attending any Sunday school or place of religious worship. The effect of that is that when a teacher is engaged it is not thought right to ask him what his views are, or whether he will give any particular religious instruction; but, when he is engaged, if he agrees to give the form of religious instruction, the authority may and undoubtedly will cause him to show that he is qualified to give it. That, I think, meets to some considerable extent an objection which has been often raised —namely, that there is a risk of the ordinary religious teaching being given by improper people. I believe that risk in itself is exceedingly small. After all, these teachers are a serious class of people; and the sort of Mephistopheles teacher who is supposed to be giving Bible instruction one moment and speaking at Agnostic meetings the next is, I believe, a very rare being indeed. If he exists at all—and he may exist here and there—I have no hesitation in saying that his existence as a religious teacher is a scandal, and that the local authority would, and ought under our measure, to find somebody else to give the religious instruction.
But when you say the teaching should only be given by those who believe in it, you come, it seems to me, to a very difficult question. It is very difficult to define what belief is. There are many degrees and varieties of belief, even within the ranks of the Church of England; but what I do desire to say is this, that after all conviction is much, but it is very far indeed from being everything. Unless a man has the teacher's gift, no amount of conviction or earnestness or knowledge will enable him to convey in a palatable form to children even the most simple religious instruction; whereas a man whose convictions are far less settled, if he has the gift, would in my belief be able to convey it not merely in a more attractive, but also in a more useful form to the minds of children. Then it is asked, Why not allow the teacher to give the two days facilities teaching in the transferred school? That no doubt seems a reasonable suggestion. It seems hard, undoubtedly, if a teacher is willing 906 to give it, to prohibit him from doing so; but in practice it is believed by a very great number of people—and those who think so object strongly to any alteration of this clause—that it would act as a test— a modified test no doubt—but a real test, in a great many rural schools; and it being, as I have said, our object to make the schools in these districts undenominational, we cannot consent to a proposition which in our opinion would to some considerable extent undo one of the main purposes of the Bill itself. I may just add this, that I think it would not be difficult to show that unless you also hand over the appointment of the teacher to the denomination—which would, of course, destroy the structure of the Bill altogether—this permission would cut both ways in a great many instances. What would happen in such cases would depend upon whether the local authority desired the teacher to give the instruction or not, because the appointments made by them would no doubt be largely governed by some consideration of this question.
I pass very rapidly over the question of finance, which is one which does not specially concern your Lordships' House. It is provided by the Bill that a sum of £1,000,000 will be found to carry out its object, but I desire to make it quite clear that in the Bill no allocation of this money is suggested at all. The noble Marquess opposite, Lord Huntly, was kind enough to send me a Return he had made out as a sequel to a Question which he asked. I think it will not be difficult to show that the noble Marquess has founded his conclusions on a somewhat unreal basis, but there is no use going into details on this matter. A. Bill has been promised for next year dealing, not only with this million, but with the general allocation of all the money which is provided by the State for this purpose; but I want to make this one point clear, namely, that the fact that the sum of a million was named has no relation whatever to the probabilities or possibilities of the amount required by individual schools, or likely to be received by individual schools, in the form of rent. The two things have nothing whatever to do with each other, and any argument founded on a supposed connection is illusory.
907 I pass, not without satisfaction, from the rather and desert of religious controversy to the more green and pleasant land in which the children themselves live, and to one or two points of a more educational character than those with which I have been hitherto compelled to deal. Your Lordships will have observed that we do not make any alteration in the authority under which elementary education is worked in this country. I need not trouble you at any length with our reasons. Had we started with a clean slate it is possible that we might rot have adopted exactly the plan followed by noble Lords opposite in 1902, but finding matters; s they are we do not thick it would be wise to attempt any further alterations in that respect. But experience has undoubtedly shown that some form of delegation is very much needed. In some county councils the members of the education committees complain that they come great distances at serious sacrifices of time, only to find themselves confronted with an endless agenda paper composed of the most trifling details relating to small schools, and that they really never have the chance of considering educational problems at all. For that reason we propose that in every county in England and Wales, except fourteen counties which have less than 69,000 inhabitants, schemes should be prepared for some form of delegation. The only points about these schemes which I wish to mention are these, that they must be uniform as affecting the one county; that in every case they must involve some disposal of money by the minor authority to whom the power is delegated; that the scheme must provide for the inclusion of women members on the smaller bodies; and what I think is also an important provision, that any go ahead and energetic area which washes to try to improve its own particular education may apply to be specially rated by the county council in order to carry out its ideas. I hope and believe that this plan of delegation will meet with general approval.
The authorities are given sixty years instead of thirty years to repay borrowed money, which will case their position to some extent. Then, as regards higher education, the 2d. limit on the rate is 908 removed. Clause 24 has two very-important provisions—one is for the encouragement of a movement which, has been carried on to some extent successfully by private enterprise, but which we now think needs public support. I mean the provision of vacation schools and play centres for children at times when they are not actually at work; and the second sub-head in the same clause applies in a limited form the important principle of medical inspection to schools. I believe that to be a most important provision. I believe that in the mere matter of dentistry alone the turn of misery and suffering which during all their life the poor children of this country go through in consequence of not having their teeth properly attended to when young is at least as great as that caused by an ordinary European war.
I will not detain you by any reference to the teachers' register, which we propose to abolish. Its abolition has been a matter of some comment, but we have been forced to arrive at the conclusion that the register, so far as it has gone, has not carried out the intentions of Parliament in creating it, and what is worse, that no proposition which has been advanced by those who have most kindly given a great deal of thought and consideration to the subject will carry out the intentions of Parliament. What we hope is that the undoubted hardship which exists in the case of some of those who have gone to trouble and expense in getting themselves on to the register will be at any rate very considerably mitigated by the regulations, of the Board of Education.
The next part of the Bill which I will touch on briefly deals with Wales. That probably is a matter which is likely to be considered in full when the Committee stage is reached; but I may just say this, that I believe all parties in Wales are at any rate agreed as to the principle of the creation of some central council for education.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I will not put it quite as high as that if right rev. Prelates object. I will say that 909 there is a large measure of agreement among people of very different schools of thought in favour of the formation of a central council of education for Wales.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I understand that. I was speaking as to a general agreement on the principle; and I think it will be generally agreed that if Wales wants a council the admirable manner in which the Welsh Intermediate Education Act has been carried out by the Joint Committees and by the Central Board makes it almost imperative that we should do what we can to meet the wishes of that country. I am not going at all into the details. There is one striking fact with regard to this matte, that Wales apparently desires certain powers now vested in the Board of Education to be transferred to the Treasury. This is the first time in my recollection that I have ever heard any body of people, so to speak, "nestling up" To the Treasury, but that is a matter for Wales itself to decide.
The remaining clauses of the Bill are such as I think would be more conveniently dealt with in Committee. My task is therefore at an end, and I feel I must apologise to your Lordships for having detained you at such unconscionable length. The nature of the subject made it exceedingly difficult for me to deal with it at all briefly. During the last six months it has been my duty to study so far as I could everything that has been written or said on this subject, and I do not know that any utterances of any very great importance have escaped me. Nineteen-twentieths of what has been said and written on this subject has dealt with some aspect or other of the religious difficulty. I confess that all through my uppermost thought has been this—it only all the energy, all the passion, and all the research which have produced such a volume of emotional rhetoric and such a museum of elaborate argument could have been, and now could be, applied to the real advancement of education in this country! This religious difficulty has 910 swamped everything, or almost everything. What was originally the second part of our Bill, dealing no doubt with a somewhat controversial, but an exceedingly important question—that of endowments—had to be sacrificed owing to the lapse of Parliamentary time, and is one of the victims of the religious question
I ask, my Lords, is it not possible that this long strife can somehow be made to cease? In a very few days your Lordships are going to disperse to your homes at a delightful season of the year. Possibly some of you may be able to spare time from more attractive pursuits to consider this thorny question and to reflect what an immense gain to the nation would be a declaration of peace after this more than thirty years religious war. I know very well that there are some provisions in this measure which your Lordships are disposed to condemn. May I ask this, not merely that you should refrain from condemning without full knowledge of what is actually proposed, for I am sure your Lordships will not do that, but also that you will refrain from condemning without very-anxious consideration of all the possible alternatives. Some of those alternatives-seem at first most attractive, but we, too, my Lords, have had to consider them and sometimes very reluctantly have had to reject them because in our opinion they were utterly incompatible with a final settlement of this question. If your Lordships will give the subject full consideration in that spirit, I believe that you will admit that this measure represents an honest and a not altogether unsuccessful effort, seriously designed and seriously carried out, towards a just solution of this most baffling and intricate problem.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a." —(The Earl of Crewe.)
§ THE MARQUESS OP LONDONDERRY
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just sat down, and who has so lucidly introduced this complicated matter, asked for your Lordships' sympathy in the difficult task he was undertaking. I can assure my noble friend that if there is one Member of your Lordships' House who can sympathise with him in that 911 appeal it is myself, for I performed a similar duty when in office on more than one occasion.
The noble Earl has dealt fully with a great number of the clauses of the Bill. We on this side of the House all understand that Clause 1, giving complete popular control, is the hinge on which the whole Bill hangs, and in the course of his opening remarks my noble friend stated that that was the opinion of himself and his colleagues. I regard that clause as the keystone of the measure, which, in my opinion, absolutely destroys the denominational schools from the point of view of denominational education, and therefore is an attack upon the Established Church of this country. The noble Earl went on to say that he was convinced that he had the people of the country at his back in the line which he and his Government are taking. I think he stated that if anyone had announced at a meeting in the country that he was opposed to the ratepayers having popular control in the matter of education that man would be promptly escorted to the railway station.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I agree entirely with what the noble Earl said. I believe that the people of this country are in favour of public control in elementary schools, but when they declared that as their opinion they did not anticipate that the chief measure of the session would have for its object the endowment of Nonconformity at the expense of the whole community, especially of the Church of England, the abolition of Church influence in Church schools, and that the Bill would be a stepping-stone towards the disestablishment of the Church of England. There is no doubt that the ratepayers fully anticipated that there would be additional representation on the boards of management of non-provided schools, but I venture to say they never thought for one moment that the Government were going, by one stroke of the pen, to abolish the 14,000 voluntary 912 schools which have done such spendid educational work for generations past.
What did the people of this country i form their opinions upon in this matter previous to the general election? They formed those opinions on the various speeches made by the President of the Board of Education, Mr. Birrell. In one speech Mr. Birrell said—Not only was be desirous that there should be Christian education in all schools, but he was also anxious that there should be facilities given, if they could be arranged on proper terms, whereby all denominations would have the opportunity of instructing children who attended the schools in what they believed to be their true religion.On another occasion Mr. Birrell declared that—He hoped it would be possible to have in the public elementary schools in this country simple religious teaching for those who were content with it, and also to give facilities that those people who wanted more definite dogmatic instruction should have it so that their children might enjoy the benefits of it.What did Mr. Birrell mean by that? He undoubtedly meant that where Cowper-Temple teaching was required it should be given, but where extra religious instruction was desired it should also be given. Therefore, if any man date on the subject was given by the country at the general election it was on the programme set out by the Minister for Education, and was in favour of religious teaching.
Much allusion has been made to the Act of l902. It has been naturally criticised; but let me say at once, as one who was to a great extent responsible for that measure, that the Act of 1902 destroyed nothing. I may be told by my noble friend opposite that it destroyed the school boards, but if my noble friend will carry his mind back to 1870 he will remember that the school boards were only set up as a last alternative because there were no local authorities. The Act of 1902 destroyed nothing; but, on the contrary, it was a constructive and educational measure. I challenge the noble Lord opposite to show me any provision in this Bill which by any stretch I of imagination can justify its being called an Education Bill. It is a Bill to destroy religious education; there is nothing in it to benefit the general education of the 913 country. The Act of 1902 co-ordinated all grades of education under one head, and under the system set up education is steadily and gradually improving. I have myself been to a great number of the big towns in the country, and not only do I find the Act working smoothly and well, but it is praised by all classes of the community. I know that in some of the rural districts there is annoyance at having to pay a rate which they did not have to pay before, but I cannot see that there, will be any reduction under this Bill.
The system on which provided and non-provided schools have been working side by side since the year 1870, and as the Act of that year intended them to work, has been entirely to the benefit of the education of the country. The atmosphere of religion in the denominational schools has permeated the whole district in which those schools are situated, and this is bound to have had beneficial results; and, owing to its being necessary for the non-provided schools to be as efficient as the provided schools secular education has been kept up to the same high standard. Therefore I am at a loss to know how it can be in the interest of education to strike this blow at the great work done by voluntary schools. I do not think the country realises what it owes to Church or voluntary schools. Many years ago, when there were no other schools of any sort or kind, the sole education of the country was provided by these schools. Children of Nonconformists took every advantage of the educational facilities thereby offered, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has admitted having received his elementary education in a voluntary school in Wales. The people who now denounce these schools were not above taking advantage of them.
I regretted to hear the sneers which the noble Earl cast upon the reason why these schools were provided and kept up. He seemed to insinuate that they were provided for pecuniary reasons in order to keep down the rates. I repudiate that suggestion entirely. The supporters of these schools have made sacrifices for their maintenance out of love for religion and education. I could quote to your 914 Lordships case after case where clergymen have devoted the whole of their incomes to the support of these schools on behalf of religious education. The landed interest, too, has supported these schools, because landlords have believed in them and wished the children of their tenants to benefit by the religious education imparted. To hear our political opponents talk, one would imagine that the voluntary schools as they now exist were under the absolute control of the managers. Anyone who has studied this question knows that that is not the case. The local authority has absolute control over each and every one of them, with the exception of the very short time in the morning which is devoted to religious instruction and with regard to the selection of the teacher, but they have the power of veto where they consider the teacher is not competent to give secular education.
I agree entirely with the cry for popular control. The ratepayers of the country should have the control of expenditure out of the rates, but apparently it is considered that the only people who pay rates are Nonconformists. There has not been a religious census for many years past, and consequently it is impossible to draw a distinct line as to the sums paid by the various denominations, but my own conviction is that if the rates paid for education could be earmarked it would be found that supporters of voluntary schools pay an amount sufficient for the maintenance of their schools, and yet, while paying for Cowper-Temple teaching in provided schools, they are not to be allowed their own denominational teaching. The noble Earl has told us that this is an undenominational Bill. He has reiterated the statement of the Prime Minister that—This is an undenominational Bill setting up an undenominational system, and we must regard it in that light.The noble Earl went at some length into what he described as concessions and facilities. The so-called concessions and facilities, which have been so much dwelt upon, are in my opinion illusory.
I give the President of the Board of Education credit for an intention to deal fairly with the denominational schools. I have read his speeches both before he 915 was Minister for Education and since, and I am convinced that in his heart of hearts he would wish to do justice to those who hold the views I have expressed; hut I consider that Mr. Birrell is in the unfortunate position of the dog that is wagged by the tail. It looks as if, whenever he has made a concession, he has been immediately taken to task by colleagues in the Cabinet and a section of his supporters in another place, the result being that his concession has been instantly hedged in and guarded by conditions which make it worthless. I give Mr. Birrell credit for being an extremely able man, and I should therefore like to know whether he gives these concessions because he knows they are illusory or because he thinks they will be of value.
In this Bill plausible facilities are undoubtedly given for religious teaching, but they are hampered by the conditions as to the time when it shall be given and the exclusion of the regular teacher. It is the regular teacher who best knows the way to the heart of the child, and on this point I would refer the noble Earl to a speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. In that speech Mr. Lough emphasised the importance of having the religious education given by trained and regular teachers because they knew the way to the child's mind better than did anyone else. In those circumstances I should like to ask what are the reasons which persuaded His Majesty's Government to refuse to allow the child to be taught by the teacher who their own Parliamentary Secretary tells us is the person best qualified to give that teaching. I have myself a large school at Seaham in which there are 1,139 boys, girls, and infants, and thirty-three teachers. I would ask the noble Earl, who is going to do the work of those 33 teachers on the days in the week allotted to religious education? The clergyman and two curates cannot be asked to do it all in the allotted days, and I want to know how outsiders are to be got in the schools in the time.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Marquess, but I should like to ask, are these all Church children?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
They represent all denominations except Roman Catholic, but they have gloried in the fact that they have had this instruction at the hands of the thirty-three teachers to whom I have referred. That system has gone on to the entire satisfaction of the parents, and there has hardly been a withdrawal of a child from that school. In the Bill you maintain that there shall be no qualification in the future for teachers. I did not quite follow what the noble Earl said, with regard to the position of teachers, and whether they would, be liable to dismissal.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
They are not liable to dismissal. I was speaking of new teachers being engaged, and I said they would not be subjected at the time of their engagement to any test whatever as to their religious opinions, neither would they be subject to any obligation to attend or abstain from attending any place of worship or Sunday School or anything of the kind. But afterwards, if they agreed to undertake religious instruction, it might then be ascertained if they were qualified to give it. If they were obviously disqualified the local authority would have to find somebody else.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I do not know how the noble Earl reconciles that with his Bill. I understood that all tests and qualifications were to be abolished.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I do not understand the fine distinctions which are drawn between tests and qualifications. If you have a teacher to teach arithmetic you insist on his being qualified to give that instruction, but, according to the noble Earl, those responsible for the giving of religious instruction are not to be compelled to possess any qualification at all.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
I am sorry again to have to interrupt the noble Marquess. No question is to be asked when the teacher is engaged as to his religious 917 opinions, but if engaged he is asked whether he is willing to give religious instruction.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
Yes, but you have not the slightest idea whether he is qualified to give it or not. If a teacher is to teach anything well he must thoroughly believe in it himself. The President of the Board of Education admitted, on the Third Reading, the importance of religious teaching being given by a well-trained teacher. He said—I agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that religious instruction is very badly given I have heard it given again and again in Board schools and in Church schools, and I have very seldom heard it given otherwise than badly. That is a criticism, not of the system, but of teacher. A well-trained teacher is the thing we want.Yet it is the well-trained teacher you propose under this Bill to turn on one side. That is a point on which I lay great stress. I hope that in the recess those responsible for the Bill will ponder over the words of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, that—the efficiency of religious teaching depends on the earnestness of the conviction of the teacher.The facilities, as they are called, are entirely at the discretion of the local authority. The word "may" Instead of "shall" comes in frequently, and, owing to the fact of its being permissive, Clause 3 holds out hopes that cannot, by the widest stretch of imagination, be regarded as certainties.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
Yes, but only if it is taken. I know that in the House of Commons an endeavour was made to obtain an appeal to the Board of Education, but Mr. Birrell refused to accept that because of the wish of the local authorities to be all powerful. Therefore, what is the position of these schools if the local authorities are hostile to the granting of facilities for denominational teaching?
I now come to Clause 4, which, with the exception of Clause 1, is the most important Clause in the Bill. Let me 918 first of all consider what was the intention of the Government in introducing that clause. I think it is notorious that it was introduced in order to secure the Roman Catholic vote, and, secondly —and this was by no means its least object—to retain the services of the noble Marquess the Leader of your Lordships' House. It must have been intended to cut out the Church schools. That must have been in the minds of those who drafted the clause, because it is confined to urban districts of over 5,000 inhabitants, and His Majesty's Government know full well that the great majority of voluntary schools are in the rural districts and could not possibly come under this clause. To my mind, the clause will be found impossible in its working. The conditions to be fulfilled before facilities are granted are almost incapable of fulfilment, even within the areas to which the clause applies. What is the explanation of the Roman Catholics in another place voting so constantly against the Government on this? It is because they are finding out that the clause will not benefit them, for the simple reason that in nearly all Roman Catholic schools there are a large number of children of other denominations. The denomination that will be benefited is that of the Jews. I contend that it will be impossible to get four-fifths of the parents to vote as the Bill requires. But there is a further restriction imposed, viz., that there shall be no facilities given unless there is alternative accommodation for the children of parents who do not desire facilities. Thus there might be a school of 100 children the parents of ninty-nine of whom desire facilities. If there were not another accessible school for the remaining one child facilities could not be granted. The facilities clause is, in fact, utterly useless.
Then we come to another very important provision — the Council for Wales. I object to separate treatment for Wales on constitutional grounds. I decline to agree to a proposal for what I may call Home Rule all round. There is no more reason why this step should be taken in regard to Wales than in regard to Durham, the Ridings of Yorkshire, and every thickly populated part of the country; and I must 919 deny entirely a statement of the noble Earl opposite that all parties in Wales are agreed on the principle of this proposal. I do not think that right rev. Prelates opposite connected with Wales will contradict me when I say that there are a large number of people in Wales who will not accept that principle. This is a question which was scarcely discussed in the House of Commons. The Government did not seem to know their own minds one day from another, and proposal after proposal was submitted. I think this is a point which will have to be carefully considered when the Committee stage of the Bill is taken. I was Minister for Education when we had to put into force the Defaulting Authorities Act, and if we had not put that Act into force 205 voluntary school teachers in Montgomeryshire alone would not have had their salaries, nor would the school have been provided with coal or light. If this is the treatment which these unfortunate teachers received then, what will be their chance of fair and just treatment in the future?
Then the financial proposals of the Bill appear never to have been thought out. We are told that £1,000,000 is to be given annually for the purpose of the Bill, chiefly, I believe, for the purpose of taking over or paying rent for what are called transferred schools. When I read that the sum was to be £1,000,000 I puzzled my brain as to how that amount had been arrived at. It would have been easy to ascertain the number of schools to be taken, and the number of children attending them, and to have struck an average of so much per child; but to my amazement the only reason given for fixing £1,000,000 was that it was all the Chancellor of the Exchequer could spare. There is not much finance about that. Mr. Asquith stated in another place that he considered the clause for medical inspection and the clause for delegation the two most important clauses in the Bill. That shows the feeling of His Majesty's Government. Is the question of religious teaching to be considered of no importance at all? Apparently that is so, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his opinion that these were the only two clauses of importance.
920 I may be asked why, if I hold these views so strongly, I do not move the rejection of the Bill. If I had done that it would have amounted to a declaration that the Act of 1902 was perfect. No Bill that has ever passed through Parliament can be considered a perfect Bill, and still less so when it is built upon the foundation of another imperfect measure like the Act of 1870. Therefore, I am ready to allow that there is room for improvement in our educational system. The Second Reading of the Bill should be allowed so that it may be carefully considered clause by clause and line by line. In this House there is no closure, and I hope your Lordships will take full advantage of that fact and insist on closely examining the details of the Bill. I do not know who understands the Bill. I doubt whether His Majesty's Ministers do, for their speeches in another place are of an extraordinarily contradictory character. Is it likely then that the ordinary man in the country can understand it? The rapidity with which this measure has been rushed through the House of Commons has aroused the indignation of even my noble friend opposite, Lord Stanley of Alderley, who is a strong supporter of His Majesty's Government. Even Lord Stanley of Alderley declared that Government Amendments had been inserted in the Bill quite unconsidered.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
These matters, at any rate, should be fully considered, and I quote my noble friend as having said that an Amendment to one important clause in the Bill had been dealt with in a most unsatisfactory manner. What is, after all, the chief object of this measure? It is to abolish denominational schools and denominational teaching, and it is a direct attack therefore, on the Church to which we are proud to belong. I hope your Lordships and the people in the country will not go away thinking that if this Bill is carried it will do no harm to the Church. It is a stepping-stone to the disestablishment of the Church, and I think it is well that 921 the people of the country should understand that. I am one of those who regard this as a very grave question. We are all working for one end—to inculcate in the rising generation of this country those principles which we Churchmen hold so dear. We are convinced that the teaching we have given has been conducive to the welfare, happiness, and prosperity of our people, and we desire that nothing should be done to impair it.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, we have heard the case for the Bill to which you are asked to give a Second Reading set before us with clearness and in large measure with a fairness which I think left nothing to be desired. We have had from the front Bench opposite weighty criticisms about some of its details and a good many of its principles. I will try not to go over again the ground which has already been well trodden. I approach the question perhaps from a somewhat different standpoint. I should like to say at the outset that some of us feel on this subject a peculiar difficulty in speaking adequately in Parliament, because the matter concerns so closely the deeper and more sacred parts of life as to make it not always easy to express in a public speech the innermost reality of what one feels about it all. No one can have had such opportunities as I have had during the last few months of being in touch day by day with some of the best of the teachers in our schools without finding how for them at least the whole of this question is swept outside the category of social or political controversy and is felt by them to involve interests which are too sacred and too deep for words.
I want first to look at the Bill in its setting in the history of the last half-century or more. When we are dealing with a highly controversial question, and want to be on our guard against unconscious prejudice or distorting bias, it is well sometimes to stand back a little from the subject and to look at the events as they will appear to the cool, unemotional historian who may be telling the story when this century is drawing to a close. The more faithfully and the more competently that we can do this the more likely shall we be to see things in their 922 true balance and proportion, and to judge of the relation which each great episode bears to the rest. For the story of education during the last hundred years in England groups itself round certain great episodes and certain great men. Some elements of the controversy —some vehement outbursts of opinion— which seemed at the time likely to endure have proved to be evanescent. To take a single example, drawn from a period within the lifetime of many who are here, and within the political recollection, I suppose, of a few of our veterans. In 1847 there was a great Parliamentary duel between Macaulay and John Bright. Macaulay vainly endeavoured to convince Mr. Bright that it was a good thing that the State should take some responsibility for the education of the people. Mr. Bright remained entirely unconvinced, and set his views forth in a memorable speech. Nobody holds those views now, and I only refer to the matter as a curious object lesson. When we remember that his were the opinions held by a vigorous section of a great Party within recent times, it should make us a little cautious as to what is colloquially called "cocksureness" about the permanent validity and weight of some political nostrum or some popular cry.
The really curious fact in that long story is that on almost every occasion of widespread controversy the practical difficulty has ultimately turned, as it turns to-day, mainly on the religious question. The Nonconformist for a whole century has asked, when any large educational question has been raised, whether the change would not increase and consolidate the power and status of the National Church. Churchmen on the other hand have asked whether the particular change under discussion would not prevent them from discharging a responsibility which they were not only able and willing, but absolutely bound, to discharge for the good of the nation as a whole. It is that particular difficulty which has again and again divided men when they might, it would seem, have almost come together upon everything else. It was that which exactly a century ago sundered these two pioneers of education—good men both of them, but angular and eccentric—Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster. It was that 923 which wrecked the statesmanlike and far-seeing Bill of Lord Brougham in 1820; it was that which led, in part at least, to the opposition which the Manchester school gave to the education grants in the '30's and '40's; it was that which hampered the revised Code in 1861; it was that which forced a change of front upon Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster in 1870; it was that which destroyed the Bill of the late Conservative Government in 1896; it was that which, in some counties at least, has made the Act of 1902 drag its wheels very heavily. My Lords, that is, in one sense, a humiliating confession, and perhaps especially so when it is made by an ecclesiastic. Is it wonderful, one asks, that, this being so, we should have heard from time to time in recent years the cry—"Sweep away the whole thing that causes so much strife where strife is unnecessary, and let us have in our schools secular teaching only?" Considering the impatience and irritability of human nature one understands without difficulty why such a thought should find wide expression. And yet, my Lords, it only needs a clear and insistent gaze into the facts to satisfy us how fallacious the cry is. The actual facts, surely, are these. Every sort of people in the controversies of those hundred years who have combined practical experience of our schools with real enthusiasm about elementary education are agreed in saying that it does matter beyond words for the forming of character in the elementary schools of the nation that they should be carried on upon a basis of religious teaching, or rather, that that golden thread should be woven through and through the web which they construct. The very importance which everybody attaches to the manner in which the thing is to be done is of itself very striking evidence as to the necessity which they feel that it should be done. What they differ about is the question; On what lines and by what men and women is that golden thread to be inwrought? Could anything be more fatuous than to say, in a moment of impatience, that the proper way to solve the perplexity is to sweep the whole thing aside?
Take a humble parallel. I believe it is agreed by almost everybody that for little children a milk diet is essential, and I am further told that at this 924 moment there are, in connection with the great Poor Law schools of the kingdom, groups of medical men divided into factions as to whether that milk should be sterilised, boiled, or given in its natural state. What should we think of the reformer who was to argue that, having regard to these controversies, it would be better that no milk should be given at all? The analogy is not a very profound or close one, but it seems to me that it holds water for our purpose. The instinct of the English people is sound and true that their children should be Christianly brought up at school as well as at home. They are ready to trust the teacher pretty largely as to the nature of that instruction and the manner in which it is to be given, but they do want the religion taught to be real. Many of us clergy, my Lords, who have spent years in ministering to the sick and whole among the working class population, are familiar with the parent's frank declaration. "I have not made an over good use of my own life. I wish I had my school days over again, but at least I do want my boy, my girl to get help for living better than I have done." Yes, my Lords, people do care very much about religious teaching, not merely in the vague way that it is sometimes put, that the children of a Christian nation ought to receive a Christian upbringing, but as something definite and real which they believe will make a difference to their children's lives. Any policy which ousts religious teaching from our schools is a policy, as it seems to me, born of impatience and despair. They are ill-omened parents, and their progeny is likely to be noxious and deformed.
But to return, to the endeavours which the last fifty years have seen to find some solution of the problem. Of course, before 1870, the difficulty of the subject, though real, was far less complex than it is now. The mass of educational supply throughout the country was purely voluntary. The very first grant made by Government was only about seventy years ago, and was absolutely trifling in amount. Even in much later days the proportion of voluntary effort to the aid that came from the State was enormous, the State's contribution 925 being for many years comparatively trifling.
But in 1870 a far-reaching and beneficent endeavour was made to enlarge and strengthen our educational system as a whole. It was made on great lines by thoughtful statesmen, who looked at the matter all round. Three men were prominent in the work—Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Forster, and the noble Marquess who so worthily presides over the House to-day, and who was then responsible for bringing forward that Bill in your Lordships' House. I am not going into the merits of the Bill of 1870. I regard it as a really great and wise conception, and I am glad to think that on that, though there have been strange things said to the contrary in some quarters, most people are entirely agreed. I am not often in agreement on this particular kind of subject with a very prominent man in English life today, Dr. Clifford, but I find he says—[The Act of 1870] is the truest ideal of State education for its young citizens which the nation has yet conceived, and the most just and beneficent legislation Parliament has framed to actualise it. It is the high watermark of our civilisation. It is the sign of the dawn of a new educational era; 1870 is in fact the most fruitful year of the 19th century.If that be so, it is well worth our while to see what was the essential character of the main political provision, using the expression in the large sense of the word, which belonged to that piece of legislation. The most marked feature in it, that which gave rise to controversy at the time, but was adhered to throughout by the statesmen who were in charge of it, was that it was a Bill to supplement and encourage, not to supplant, the denominational system of the country. Again and again Mr. Gladstone warned the House of Commons not to belittle, not to ignore, not to waste what he called our noblest educational asset, that which came from a religious impulse and religious zeal. I quote some words of his from the debates of 1870—As Christianity, since it came into the world, has given a new character to secular philanthropy, so religious zeal has created in this country especially, an amount of anxiety never before exhibited for the promotion of a sound secular education.And again—In this matter of education, it is a great mistake and error, in our view, to think that 926 secular education given by a State machinery is per se better and more valuable than the same education given by machinery voluntary in its character. Setting aside that which is abstractedly desirable, I think we are justified in feeling that this enormous power which exists in the country ought to be turned to account.And if any one doubts that that was not merely an element in the Bill, but was the very backbone of the policy that was then taken in hand, let him look, not at the rhetorical words spoken in the debates of that year, but at what was said a little later by its author, when the Bill was at work and people had had time to see and understand its provisions and their meaning. Three years after the Bill was passed, and when its character could be fairly judged, Mr. Bright, in a great speech at Birmingham, denounced the Education Bill passed by the Government of which he, though somewhat of an invalid at the time, had been a member. He used these words—It was a Bill to encourage denominational education, and, where that was impossible, to establish board schools. It ought, in my opinion, to have been a Bill to establish board schools, and to offer inducements to those who were connected with denominational schools to bring them under the control of the school board.Thereupon Mr. Forster reminded Mr. Bright that, before the introduction of the Bill, its character had been clearly explained to all the Cabinet, including Mr. Bright. He enclosed the Memorandum then circulated, to recall, as he said, to Mr. Bright's memory—That it is in fact founded on that principle to which you now object—namely, that our object should be to supplement the present voluntary system; to enforce compulsory school provision, if and where necessary, but not otherwise; to give time, after educational destitution is proved, for bad schools to be improved, or new schools to be erected under the existing voluntary system.Mr. Bright, in his reply, admits that he had forgotten the Memorandum, and, speaking of the new departure, says —This great concession, unexpected and, as I think, wholly evil, has had the effect of fastening on the country the old system.I quote those words, because they show how everybody, friend and foe alike, realised the basis and character of the policy adopted and established. From first to last, during the debates there ran a similar challenge to the friends of 927 denominational schools to use their opportunity and, on the strength of that Parliamentary encouragement, to build new schools and thus to strengthen their systems. It is quite easy to quote Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster to that effect, but I should prefer to quote, in his presence, and to his honour, the words of the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal. Speaking in this House on its Second Reading, he said—The Bill proposes to maintain all existing schools at present in receipt of Government aid on their present footing. We desire that they should continue and extend, and needlessly to destroy one of them would be to inflict a great mischief.And, again—In considering the educational wants of a school district, however, we distinctly contemplate the taking into account not merely of existing schools, but of those which are about to be supplied bona fide for the benefit of the district. On this point your Lordships will read Clause 8 in connection with Clause 10, and you will see that the friends of voluntary education in each district will have an opportunity of supplying within a reasonable time, if they can, the deficient education … I think that is a fair and ample warning to the friends of voluntary education; and, considering the demands of the children for education, a fair and ample opportunity of supplying it is thus afforded.Those words show the basis, or one of the bases, upon which our contention rests, that schools built by voluntary contributions during the years which followed 1870 acquired what I should call an absolute claim, as a mere question of fairness and honour, not to have their distinctive character taken away whatever might be the provision made for preserving it—and there are many ways in which that can be done—unless the schools can be shown, what it is not even contended or attempted to show, to have wholly failed to carry on effectively and for the general good the work which they undertook to do.
Here was the friendly challenge of the Liberal Government of the day to the Church and other denominations to take the matter in hand and do their best, and what was the response? The Church and other bodies, to use a colloquial expression, "buckled to," and in the course of the years which followed they built 5,000 new schools at a cost of some £9,000,000, which it would have been quite easy to throw on the rates. I will give the 928 figures more exactly. The number of Church schools under inspection was, in 1870, about 6,900. In 1889 it was about 11,800, an increase of 4,900. Or, if you express it in terms of school places, the figures in 1870 were 1,411,000, and in 1889 2,621,000 school places, an increase of over 1,200,000 school places as the result of the voluntary contributions which had been raised in that time. All these schools were built in answer to the challenge of the noble Marquess who is now Lord Privy Seal. At the lowest estimate the Church of England expended, in order to provide these places, nine and a half millions of money, quite apart from the Parliamentary grants, the amount of which was trifling compared with the rest. But in the figures I give that amount is not reckoned at all.
It has been very courteously and very truly said to-night by the Lord President of the Council that we must not claim all that as a result of Church enthusiasm; that a very large sum was subscribed to keep out school boards, with their heavy rates and that some of it was given by people who did not care a straw about religious education. I am quite prepared to admit that in a great many cases large sums of money were given by trustees, and corporations and by railway companies and by other bodies which did not profess to look at the religious instruction side of the question, but who wanted to avert a school board rate. I think it would be most deceptive to deny that there has been a considerable amount of money given in that way for the building and maintenance of voluntary schools, but, when you have deducted all the money that can on the highest estimate be ascribed to such an origin, there remains a vast sum which had a distinctly religious origin and purpose. It was given in order to maintain in districts where the people wanted it a type of school which the parents knew would give that personal relationship which springs so largely from voluntary effort, especially when that voluntary effort is linked in with other kinds of work going on in the parish. The donors knew further that their gifts would secure the real type of religious teaching and religious teacher which they regarded, 929 as so important to the highest interests of the school or rather of the children attending it.
But I would rather stand on ground which is in no sense open to that challenge. Take the towns in which rates were being levied and in which subscribers to voluntary schools were also themselves paying rates, or take what has been done in the counties since the passing of the Act of 1902, which rated the country all round. I have here the figures for three dioceses taken absolutely at random, and I find that since "the appointed day" under the Act of 1902 the diocese of Canterbury has spent £50,000, Oxford £57,000, and Winchester £105,000 either on the building of new schools or on the enlargement and improvement of existing schools. It surely is almost impossible to say that these schools can be taken over and entirely transformed in their character without an absolute violation of the whole traditions of English public security and of English public honour. Perhaps I should plead guilty to the fact that I have again and again urged such contributions and assured the donors that their gifts were quite safe, inasmuch as no Parliament and no Government could possibly alienate that money, given freely within the last few years, for a purpose which every Government has encouraged and applauded.
I dare say I shall be told in this debate that nobody thinks of confiscating and destroying these schools, but presently I shall show your Lordships how, if this change comes about, there will be something more than transformation—there will be an absolute end of any true preservation of the principles for which this money was given and this effort made. I beg you to understand clearly that I am not claiming any sacred inviolability for everything contained in every trust. I do not object to modification or change in these matters if there is good cause shown, and if the conditions are fair; but if it means a bouleversement of what has been done and the scattering to the winds of money which has been given, and if this is deliberately done in order to bring about just those conditions which were expressly deprecated by the donors and which it was hoped would be averted by 930 that money being given, I think pause is necessary before we go forward in a course so contrary to the best traditions of English honour.
In a question such as this, it is sometimes useful to leave generalities alone and to give attention to some concrete instance, not of course because it is unique, but because it is a specimen of what is happening in greater or less degree all over England.
I will take an example from a London parish close to which I resided when I was Bishop of Rochester. I refer to the parish of St. John, Kennington, which contains one of the very poorest bits of London, one of those regions which are marked with special blackness in Mr. Charles Booth's statistical maps. In or around the parish there are several very large and flourishing board schools, to whose excellence I am glad to bear warm testimony, and also two other schools, St.John's and St. Michael's, one attached to the parish church and the other to a mission church. What has the building of those two schools cost the donors, who, please remember, were people who were already being heavily rated for the Board Schools? They have spent on St. John's site and buildings, £14,780, and have just intimated to the county council their readiness to spend £1,200 more to make good certain deficiencies pointed out by the county council, provided they have some security against the alienation of their gifts. They have in addition to the £14,780, also spent on maintenance £13,416. On St. Michael's there has been spent £3,000 on buildings and £7,000 on maintenance, or, altogether on the two schools, £38, 196. Now notice please that all this has been spent by people who have been paying School Board rates all the while, spent in order that they might secure something they very much cared for. What is going to happen in regard to these schools? These two schools are immensely popular and have excellent Government Reports. A great many parents in that poor region desire their children to go to them rather than to the excellent board schools which stand close by, and this not perhaps because of their denominational teaching so much as because of their whole tone, character and spirit. One asks wonderingly: Who are the aggrieved people 931 if these schools go on as they are? Every parent has a board school at hand if he prefers it. Why is he to be debarred from having this sort of school if he likes it better, and if we are willing and able to supply it? I may be told the four-fifths clause will come in here and virtually enable the school to go on as it is. I do not think so, and I will show in a few moments what will happen if this measure becomes law. I was going to give you similar details about another school—an East London school this time. But perhaps I should weary you by a repetition of such details. If any one will inquire for himself as to the schools of St. John at Hackney, rebuilt within the last few years at the cost of some £10,000, he will learn what devotion and self-sacrifice can do in a cause for which people really care.
Let me here say one general word. It is sometimes claimed that a change has come about because of the falling off of voluntary subscriptions. That is a most fallacious statement. Whenever you hear that subscriptions have fallen off it is always the percentage that is meant, as compared with the enormously increased expenditure. People forget that the whole cost of living and of education has increased so gigantically. Instead of having fallen off, voluntary subscriptions have doubled. In 1870 the subscriptions for the maintenance of voluntary schools were only £329,000; they rose in 1880 to £587,000; and in 1901 they had risen to £678,000. And yet it is quite true that the percentage these voluntary subcriptions bear to the whole cost of education works out at a good deal less than in 1870, because the cost of everything has risen so normously. What the Government have to show in order to justify the Bill on that score is, not that there is a falling off in the percentage of income from voluntary subcribers as compared with the whole educational expenditure, but a falling off in the interest on the part of subscribers as shown by smaller gifts. This is abundantly refuted by the figures I have quoted.
If it could be shown that the schools had ceased to be really efficient, or had ceased to invoke the enthusiasm of the people as shown by voluntary subscriptions, then I should be ready to say that the terms on which the money was 932 promised in 1870, and since that time, might be reconsidered. But neither of these things is true. As regards the higher grades of technical efficiency and the winning of scholarships, I admit that the voluntary schools have not been fully able to hold their own against the great board schools of the towns. But when you hear that comparison drawn to the discredit of voluntary schools as such always look at something else. Look at the country board schools. Think of the difference between the country and the towns, not between board and voluntary schools. It has further to be remembered that in towns Church schools are hampered by the fact that their buildings are usually older than the board school buildings, and are being superseded by modern requirements. But ask any impartial Government inspector whether the voluntary schools in the last ten years have not been contributing as good a type of citizen to the country as the board schools, and I am perfectly certain you will not find an inspector to tell you to the contrary.
So far, then, we have seen the origin, the history, and the present position of what we used to call "voluntary" schools, and their relation to the Government challenge of 1870.
In 1901 the difficulty had risen to a high point, owing, as I have said, to the increased cost of education, a cost which private resources could not adequately meet, although the contributions from voluntary sources were double what they had been a few years ago. I hold no brief for the solution arrived at in the following year as completely satisfactory. I should not if I had had the power have passed the Bill exactly in the form in which it became law, but at least it was in my judgement an honest and vigorous attempt to prevent all the voluntary enthusiam and self-sacrifice from being in vain and yet to be fair all round—to give more financial support from public sources to the schools, and at the same time to give increased popular representation. That was what was attempted, and in many parts of the country the plan has worked admirably, but I am very far from saying that it was not necessary, especially after the recent election, 933 to have a reconsideration of that position and to make a now endeavour to meet difficulties that had been discovered or had arisen.
That was the situation which the present Government had to meet. I believe, and I have always said, that the difficulties they had to face were very great, especially in regard to the single school areas, that it was a most anxious and trying position, and that I did not envy those on whom the responsibility of the task lay. The position was difficult enough, and it was enormously complicated by the popular cry, and the Parliamentary pledges lightly given by people who, as it now becomes abundantly plain, did not really understand what those pledges were thought to carry, and what they implied. It was a great opportunity for a great measure, and I am myself the more disappointed because I felt intensely sanguine that we were going to have a great measure dealing with the question on a large and generous scale. I should like to refer your Lordships to an article in the Independent Review for July by Canon James Wilson, once headmaster of Clifton—a great Liberal and a great educationist who has thought out this problem to its depth, and has looked at it from every point of view—on what he calls the Government's lost opportunity.
We are told by Lord Crowe, as we have been told by many others, that the nation has declared in favour of complete popular control and that there shall be no sectarian tests, and I go a very long way with that cry. Popular control I have never deprecated; I am not afraid of it if you leave the controlling power really free; but if you give the nominal power to an authority with one hand tied, if you give freedom to go in one direction, but do not allow one step to be taken in the other—if you say this is complete control, it does not seem to me to be popular control worthy of the name. Give complete control as you have it in Scotland, or let Parliament, if you prefer it, lay down detailed conditions after full discussion as to what they are to be. But do not let us say there is complete public control and then find that those 934 to whom the supposed control of religious education is entrusted are tightly tied on one side and allowed full liberty on the other.
Then, as regards tests, I have no wish that a teacher should be unduly restricted in his calling by denominational tests provided that he can show that he is duly qualified for the work he has to undertake; but with all respect to teachers—and there is no class of men and women for whom I have a more genuine regard — I would remind teachers that they, after all, exist for the schools, and not the schools for the teachers.
But what does the Bill do? It takes 14,000 existing schools, with their trusts, and demolishes, not the mere wording of the trusts, but the very essence and pith of them. The characteristics that make a denominational school different from others are abolished, and the school is handed over to a local authority, which may, if it likes, refuse to take it; or, if it does take it, may practically secularise it save for some two hours in the week, and may appoint teachers who are unwilling to give, or untrained to give, religious teaching; and if religious teaching is given, and the teachers are willing to give it, no child need go to school until the religious lesson is over. A burden of temptation is by this means laid on the poorest homes and presses there most hardly; or the children may come from homes in which parents are altogether careless, and, therefore, of the religious teaching of those children we should be specially careful. To say to these parents that their children need not attend until after the religious teaching is given is almost to put a premium in certain homes upon parents' neglect or parents' eagerness for gain, and it will do quite incalculable harm to the interests of the children.
We are told that local authorities will not on any large scale destroy or even impair the system of religious teaching, but are we quite sure that that can be counted upon everywhere? Of course, no man will allege it of England as a whole. I am quite prepared to say that local authorities in the main 935 will try to act fairly, and I would trust them generally, but the Bill binds them in one direction to allow a denominational teaching and leaves them free in another to go as far in the secular direction as they like. Again, surely our usual and reasonable trust of the local authority is qualified by the facts disclosed in the Return which has been furnished to us so promptly and efficiently in answer to my request, and which I brought before the House last week. I then ventured to call attention not only to a large number of schools where there is no inspection of the religious teaching, but to the fact that there are many in which, to all intents and purposes no religious teaching at all is given. I quoted the statistics given, and, as nothing is so useful as a concrete instance, I mentioned the case of Huddersfield, not, of course, for any special reprobation, but as an example of what may happen anywhere. I referred to the words in the rules of the Huddersfield local authority—In the schools provided by the council no religious teaching shall be given,The Regulation goes on to prescribe what it calls "religious observances" which may last for fifteen minutes at most, and consist of a hymn, the Lords' Prayer, and the reading by the principal teacher of some verses of the Bible without note or comment. Imagine the value of that form of "instruction" given to very little children! Such is the system followed at the present time in Huddersfield. Now there are twenty-one or twenty-two Church schools in Huddersfield in which I suppose there are something like 120 teachers, at the very least, who on the appointed day, when this Bill becomes operative, will be absolutely debarred from giving, not any denominational teaching, but any real religious teaching at all. If I am wrong the noble Earl will correct me. As I read the Bill, it will be in the power of the local authority of Huddersfield, which has declared plainly its opinion that there ought to be no religious teaching but only religious observances such as I have described.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
May I draw the most rev. Primate's attention to Sub-clause 5 in Clause 2—Nothing in this section shall prevent the granting or requiring of facilities for special religious instruction in accordance with this Act, or prevent a local education authority, as a condition of an arrangement made under this section with respect to the use of the schoolhouse of an existing voluntary school, from giving an undertaking to give religious instruction which does not conflict with section fourteen of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, in the school.If the most rev. Primate is right in thinking the teaching now given in Huddersfield is not religious instruction then some other instruction suitable to the transferred school would have to be given there.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I can only say this is very obscure. All schools are now to become provided schools. The local authority says that in all provided schools there shall be no religious instruction given. I shall be delighted to hear a method for getting out of the difficulty. As I understand, the Bill, it will be in the power of the local authority to say it will not take over a school, or, if it does take it over, to bring it, save for the excepted hours, under its own regulations as to religious instruction.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
When the school is transferred, the transferring body can make a stipulation for two days facilities teaching and three days Cowper-Temple teaching if they choose.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I am glad to be corrected, but, even at the best, imagine what will be the feelings of teachers who have gone on year after year under careful guidance giving religious teaching loyally and lovingly when they find themselves transferred to the control of an authority which lays down the principle that in its opinion no religious teaching ought to be given. The noble Earl told us that Liberal Members returned at the recent election would have been escorted out of the constituencies had they declared against public control, but if it had been made clear that the 937 vague phrase "public control" was to mean the imposition of this cruel rule upon a great body of eager religious teachers, I cannot help thinking that such candidate as the no bio Earl refers to would have found his chances of success very seriously affected.
Then I take the question of the appointment of teachers. In all schools, including those with the four-fifths facilities as they are called, the appointment of teachers is to rest wholly with the local authorities. I called attention the other day to the case of the local authority who placed at the head of a pupil teacher centre—the school where young teachers are prepared for their duties—a man who was writing to the papers condemning as among baseless myths taught to defenceless children the story of the Resurrection of our Lord. This was the man chosen by the local authority to teach in a higher grade school, and to control the pupil teachers who come both from Church schools and council schools, and, such being the view of its duty adopted by the local authority, there is obviously nothing in the Bill to prevent such a man being placed at the head of a great Church school.
You may tell me that such action on the part of the local authority is not likely, but if we are half-way in the direction of that possibility, surely we ought to look at these provisions with a view to their alteration. What we ask is not that a new religious responsibility should be imposed on a local authority, but you ask us to transfer to such an authority the schools in which the religious teaching is an essential part of our system, is definite in its character, is carefully inspected and controlled, and is given only by trained and competent men and women. This is the condition now of the schools which are to be transferred to local authorities who may prescribe, to quote their own words, that "no religious instruction shall be given." If that is untrue or unfair, I should honestly like to have it corrected.
I do ask your Lordships to believe that this is not a matter about which we feel lightly as a mere question of social or political controversy. We feel that it is something that goes far deeper. We are dealing with what 938 concerns the immortal interests of these children, and we feel responsible, in the highest and most sacred sense, for safeguarding these interests. It is with that thought in my mind that I want to make this no question of rhetoric, in a Parliamentary sense, but to speak in words of sober earnestness. If I am right, if it u really possible that these things can come about, surely it is childish to tell us "Yes, they can do all that if they like; but Mr. Birrell hopes they won't."
Does the security come to anything else? And is that the answer we are to be satisfied with when we are invited to bring about the sweeping change; required by the Bill? If that is the true answer, let us have it in black and white, and let people ponder about it in the recess.
The time has not come yet for our formulating Amendments to the Bill; but you will have seen the kind of direction in which my own desires would tend. I think I can say without egotism or affectation that there has been no man who has striven more earnestly than I have to bring about some reasonable rapprochement in this particular matter; and therefore I do not speak as a heated, narrow partisan. I claim not to be so, but to be dealing with interests too large and too sacred to make it easy for us to bring them into the arena of political controversy at all.
What I desire to see done in this Bill involves changes which are pretty far-reaching. We ought to endorse, in my view, the wish of the English people by saying that there shall in all schools be religious teaching within the school hours, subject of course, to the most ample conscience clause arrangements both for teachers and for taught; and I say that especially in the interests of the poorest, weakest, and most oppressed of our little children. The religious teaching must be given by men and women who mean what they say. Then I say that definite religious teaching must be accessible to those children whose parents desire them to have it, subject to such reasonable limitations or restrictions as the authority may lay down. If you prevent this it does seem to me that your theory of uniformity is a mockery and a snare. Then I should 939 wish to make it clear that the teachers who have spent some of the best years of their lives in thoughtfully and reverently acquiring the capacity of doing that very difficult thing—giving definite religious teaching—shall not be silenced by a stroke of the pen when they are eager to go on doing that work. It is simply impossible to overstate what England owes at this moment to our Church school teachers, both men and women. Hundreds of them have sacrificed the possibility, and in many cases the certainty, of better emolument elsewhere in order that they might go on giving the particular sort of teaching which they feel to be so important to the whole life of these children. Are you going to bid them stand idly, wistfully, by while others—amateurs, except the clergy, who can only deal with a handful in a large school—take the place of the men and women who have thus trained themselves by prayerful thought and endeavour for the task they love? I believe that proposal to be as cruel to the teacher as it would be unfair to the taught. Why should that be the one subject of human study which is to be taught by untrained teachers, and so taught because you silence the trained teachers who want to teach it? I believe that to be something which the country has never understood and never desired, and that such a rule can never be allowed to find a place in our system.
Then, the principle after which Clause 4 seems to struggle requires quite certainly to be enlarged and strengthened. I think you may feel that I have forgotten Clause 4 in what I said for example about the Kennington and the Huddersfield schools. Not at all. I believe that in most cases Clause 4 as it stands would be quite inapplicable to such schools. I have got statistics from that school in Kennington showing how many of the scholars go to Church Sunday schools, how many to other Sunday schools, and how many nowhere; and the number who go to other Sunday schools or nowhere is a very large number indeed. No endeavour is made to proselytise, but every endeavour to prevent the children going nowhere. The fact that so many non-Church parents choose this school would of itself probably operate to 940 prevent the four-fifths majority asking for definite religious instruction of a particular kind, even if, in so poor a district, you could get them to the poll. Parents might not honestly see their w ay, while a child was going to a Wesleyan or other Sunday school, to say they wanted such special facilities. Some, no doubt, were sent to the Church day school with a strong denominational wish on the part of their parents; others not for that, but because the parents liked the character and tone and management of the school. They might feel that although the denominational teaching was not precisely what they would have selected for themselves, the tone and character, the spirit of the school, and the type of the teacher, resident always among them and known to them all, was such as they were eager for. Are you then going to enact that such a school is not to come under the facilities of the four-fifths clause because a conscientious parent, greatly as he or she approves the school, could not base the claim on purely denominational lines? Then my last point, which. I feel to be a most important one, is that those who have directly to do with the school and its life must have some voice given to them directly or indirectly in the appointment of the teacher. It is only in that way that we can possibly stimulate and maintain a local interest in the schools. When the real Bill was introduced the President of the Board of Education laid great stress, rightly and well, on the danger of bureaucracy in this matter—on the danger that the management and control of the schools should get into the hands of clerks in county council offices. That is exactly what you are bringing about by taking away from those who have knowledge of the schools any say in the appointment of the teacher.
See what is happening now in the boroughs of London. There are boroughs of London to-day which under the new system, for which I hold no brief and have no responsibility, have airily swept away the old bodies of local managers on the ground perhaps that they want no clergy, or that they will do the management themselves. The teachers are beginning to come piteously to the former managers and to say, "No manager comes near us 941 at all."the change to bureaueracy has already taken place. You may fairly say that it is not what the present Government ever wanted or enacted. It is due to their predecessors. I entirely agree. But when you are mending matters, will you not mend that? What I dread in that bureaucratic system is the one-man rule of the clerk or other official of the county or borough authority. Nothing can be worse educationally or worse for the teachers, or worse for the local spirit in the school. We all know the lurid pictures that used to be painted of the one-man rule of the high-handed autocratic priest or parson in the rural area who pushed everybody aside, and, so to speak, "ran" the school himself. I appeal to those who know the country districts whether the true picture was not ordinarily more like this — that there was one man who cared a little about the education of the children, and where the squire was non-resident, and the farmers were hostile to education, and the labourers were apathetic and indifferent, was slaving day by day at the work which nobody else would do and who to his great disappointment and regret had to carry as one man the burden which ought to be shared by many. Many a time I have come away from the house of such a man saddened with the knowledge that he was labouring unaided against heavy odds, and that in some instances he had thought it right to sacrifice even the higher education of his own children for the sake of promoting the life of his elementary school, and making good its financial loss. In such hours, and with such object lessons, one has many a time recalled the proverb that "the world knows nothing of its greatest men."
My Lords, I have said my say. The juncture at which we stand is a grave and critical one in our national life, and especially in the story of English education. The measure before us has passed through the House of Commons under the, pressure of exigencies, partly at least not of an educational kind. In the circumstances of our modern political life such incidents must, I suppose, take place at times, whatever political Party is in power. The greater, then, the burden of responsibility which rests upon this House. If, as I hope will be the case, you this week read this Bill a second 942 time without a division, it is not because we are accepting it, even in outline, as a satisfactory measure in its present form. Let no man who wishes to speak of this matter honestly say hereafter that we have done so. For myself I only assent to its Second Reading because I consider that when a Bill comes to us from the House of Commons under such auspices as these that House is entitled to ask that we should weigh with scrupulous care the several provisions it contains, and discuss them with a calm deliberation which circumstances rendered impossible elsewhere.
Not with any sanction of mine, nor, I am sure, with the concurrence of those who sit on the episcopal benches, shall this Bill become law as it now stands. I ask for its large amendment in the interest of what is just and reverent and true. I do not ask it in the interests of any political Party, for I have none to serve. I ask it in the interest—the highest and most sacred interest—of the little children of England. Though I bring no accusation against the authors of the Bill—for I accept frankly their assurance that they had no such intent—I do in my heart believe that these clauses as they stand imperil the religious upbringing—in the largest sense of the word, the religious upbringing—of the little children in our schools, imperil, that is, the most precious asset in their lives.
I feel certain of being able to show this in detail when we come to the Committee stage. Everything, yes, everything for England's well-being depends upon what these children's lives are going to be like; and that will depend in a large measure upon the chance you secure for them in their earliest days. As the Bill now stands there is no guarantee for the daily teaching of the elements of Christianity in our schools. If the teaching is offered there is no guarantee that it will be taught by qualified men and women. If it is so taught there is no guarantee that the children who, from the character of their homes and the circumstances of their lives, need it most, will ever attend.
Therefore, my Lords, these clauses must be amended if the Bill is with our consent to become law. Fail to amend them, and in the years to come you will 943 hear, I am certain, two loud voices of reproach. One will be the voice of those who, in the confident belief that this House would review the whole, have voted almost lightly, or else under conditions of high pressure, for clauses whose full effect they have never adequately weighed, The other voice of reproach will come from those, Churchmen and Nonconformists alike, who have known in some town or country village the school life of to-day and can compare and contrast it with the life which, under the new conditions, will have supplanted it. When they awake to these facts they will feel— if you have left this Bill alone—that the answerableness for the disastrous change has been in large part yours. It is with those limitations and on those conditions only that I hope the House will road the Bill a second time.
§ LORD GLANTAWE
My Lords, as this is the first time I have had the privilege of addressing your Lordships' House it may be thought a great presumption on my part to rise immediately after the most rev. Prelate who has so ably put his case before your Lordships. No one appreciates more fully than I do the ability with which the most rev. Prelate has put forward the case of the Church, especially in regard to the religious aspect of this Bill. I have taken a very active part in the religious education of the country for a great many years. I remember that when the Act of 1870 was discussed in the country the same controversies raged, and the same arguments were used very largely as are being used to-day with regard to the present religious difficulties. I well remember how the country was moved in regard to Clause 25 of Mr. Forster's Bill, and the great excitement which it aroused; and at the great meeting which took place in Manchester in 1872 I was one of the two delegates sent from Swansea to represent the Nonconformist views upon the religious question of that time. It is sad to think that religion should be the bone of contention in almost every question that has to do with education, seeing that religion is intended to teach us to be forbearing one to another, to bear good will one towards another, to love one another, to endeavour to assist one another, not 944 only in educational matters but in all the affairs of life.
The general character of the Bill was very ably put before your Lordships by the noble Earl who moved the Second Reading; consequently it will be unnecessary for me and other speakers to refer to the Bill clause by clause. I do not think that this Bill would have been brought forward by the Government now in power but for the unsatisfactory nature of the Act of 1902. That Act changed the whole position in regard to religious teaching, and altered the whole of the law in regard to education, especially in its financial provisions. The Act of 1902 was very unfavourably received, especially in Wales, where Nonconformity is exceptionally strong. It has been most difficult of application, and there are many places in South Wales where it has never been adopted and could not be enforced. It was offensive to a very large section of the community in that it gave the Church undue influence. It is all very well to say, from the Church point of view, that the object was to bring up the children in what is called the true religion. But the phrase "true religion" is a very difficult one to define. Those who are of a religious turn of mind generally believe that the religion of the particular sect to which they belong is the true religion. In Wales, where Nonconformists are very strong and powerful, although they may not be united except on one particular point—and that is in regard to the question of enforcing a particular kind of religion upon the children in the Principality or in the United Kingdom— they have a very strong objection to, and oppose the adoption of, any kind of religious dogma.
Many references have been made to the Cowper-Temple clause, and it has frequently been referred to in very depreciatory language. I would say, however, that no safer or sounder religion could possibly be taught to a child than that which is given under the Cowper-Temple clause. The most rev. Prelate a few days ago referred to two particular counties in Wales where no religious instruction of any kind was given—Cardigan and Carmarthen. I would point out, however, that Cardigan, although it has not put forward any formulary to be followed 945 throughout the county, is well known throughout Wales, if not throughout the greater part of England, as being one of the most religious districts in South Wales. More professional men, and more ministers of religion of different denominations, including a large number of ministers of the Church of England, have come from Cardiganshire than perhaps from any other county in the Principality, In that county there are two colleges of high repute. One is at Aberystwith, which, through the liberality of Welsh gentlemen of wealth and position, is to-day endowed almost as well as any college in the United Kingdom. Aberystwith has turned out excellent scholars. Then we have Lampeter, at which college a right rev. Prelate who sits in this House, and who enjoys the respect of every person in South Wales who has the privilege of his acquaintance, distinguished himself. I am one of his admirers, though we differ upon this question of the religious education which our Church friends desire to see adopted in elementary schools.
Wales has always been noted for its education. Swansea was the second town to adopt the Act of 1870. I happened to be Mayor of Swansea at the time, and I was so impressed with the necessity for general education of an elementary kind which should be within the reach of all classes that I gave that Bill, with the exception of one point, my heartiest support. The only thing that I regretted in regard to that Bill was that those who had the management— the school boards—in many cases were rather extravagant in their notions, and in many places erected schools which were unnecessary or of a needlessly costly character. But experience taught the school boards. It took some time to get them well into their work, but when they were beginning to understand their work, and to apply themselves to the carrying out of education in the most economical way, the Act of 1902 was passed, which practically did away with every school board in the country. I do not mean to say that all the school boards did their work in the best possible way; possibly there were too many of them, especially in the country districts, 946 but that could have been remedied by several boards being united together and forming one school board for the enlarged area. In London, for instance, the school board which was doing such excellent work was done away with, and its duties allocated to that overworked body the London County Council—a step very much to be regretted. Then in regard to higher education, although Wales has been backward in elementary education it has taken a lead in regard to higher grade schools, and it has reason to to be proud of the position it has taken in that respect. In Swansea higher grade schools were started very early, and I was one of the half-dozen people to whom was entrusted the duty of formulating a code to be adopted in such schools.
In regard to the Bill now before your Lordships, I would say that I am generally in favour of it. I am well aware that broad as it is, and strong as is the desire of the Government to meet the wishes of every grade and section of the people, the question is a very difficult one, but they have done their utmost to settle it once for all on the best basis possible. Clause 4 is perhaps one of the most controversial and debatable sections in the Bill. I am quite in favour of the clause as now amended, and strongly support the retention of the word "may" as against "shall," because I believe it Would be very detrimental to the interests of education throughout the country if the clause were made mandatory. I believe the Government have done wisely in regard to the Amendments they have introduced, because it it comes to a fight there is no doubt at all that the local authority, supported by local opinion, can best exercise the necessary control. We have had a very fair example of that in South Wales, and I think the Government have acted very wisely in providing a safety valve in order to avoid any deadlock. It is well known that when the Act of 1902 was being enforced, especially in some parts of Wales, the local authority clearly beat Sir William Anson and all the forces which he had behind him. I will not detain your Lordships longer, but would beg to thank you sincerely for having listened to me so patiently. I shall give this Bill my hearty support.
*THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
My Lords, having been connected with educational matters in my county since the Local Government Act was passed, for a long time as Chairman of the Technical Education Committee, and, since the Education Act of 1902, as Chairman of the Education Committee, I should not like to allow this measure to be brought forward without saying a few words upon it. I presume that the Bill is brought in to remove the religious difficulty rather than to deal largely with educational matters, because it really deals only with the very fringe of matters which affect the well-being of education. The Bill deals with the religious difficulty, but I can assure your Lordships that as far as I am concerned, although I live in a county which has as large a proportion of Nonconformists as almost any other county in England — namely, Huntingdonshire — I have never felt the religious difficulty, either in the schools in the county or on the Committee. Nearly half of the Committee over which I have the honour to preside is composed of Nonconformists who work side by side with Churchmen in the most harmonious way. We have never had the slightest difference or difficulty on religious grounds in dealing with any matter which has come before us. The curious thing is that after the passing of the Act of 1902, when one would have thought the religious difficulty would have been brought forward, and when the voters could have elected men to represent them if there was any such difficulty as has been alleged, there was no contest throughout the county connected with the religious question at the county council elections. I might give one other illustration to show how harmoniously we have worked. Only the other day we had a meeting of our Committee to consider this Bill, and we agreed that the clauses connected with the religious question should not be discussed, the only clauses considered by us being the administrative and financial clauses of the Bill.
As I say, this Bill is intended to deal with the religious difficulty. But what was the motive power that produced the religious difficulty? There was rampant 948 throughout the country at the late election the militant political Nonconformist. It was he who worked the late general election, and this measure is really to carry out the proposals of the militant Nonconformist as opposed to the opinions and feelings of the great mass of Nonconformists throughout the country. Many of the leading Nonconformists in my county with whom I have spoken on the matter consider the Bill to be unfair to the Church in several of its provisions. The noble Earl who moved the Second Reading said that the man who paid the piper should call the tune. I agree with him. He alluded to a Motion which I made, and to some statistics which I have had prepared, showing what will be the cost of this measure if it passes in its present form. I gathered from him that I need not deal with the financial question, as a Bill would be brought in later on to deal with that aspect of the matter, and with the present grants given for educational purposes. My object, however, is not to deal with the financial situation as it exists, but to show that in the estimate setting forth that the £1,000,000 to be granted under this Bill will provide for all that is required, a great mistake will have been made.
But before I consider the cost of voluntary schools, I would allude to the speech made on the introduction of the measure in the House of Commons. It was there said, and the statement was loudly acclaimed, that many of the voluntary schools were in a bad condition. I believe the phrase used was that there were some good, some indifferent, some bad, and some very bad, and that the latter would not be taken over by the local authority. Rent was to be paid for the good schools; the bad, or very bad, schools would not be taken over; and other schools would have to be built. That is clearly foreshadowed in the clause which says that the local authority need make arrangements only in cases where they desire to do so, which means that they will refuse to take over a great many of these voluntary schools. Therefore I think it is only fair to calculate that the cost of these transferred voluntary schools to the new authorities will, be quite equal to the cost of the 949 board schools which were taken over under the Act of 1902. The request which I addressed to various local authorities was for a return of the cost that had been involved in taking over the council schools. I have tabulated the returns from nineteen counties scattered over the country, and it comes out that on an average the cost per school in the first financial year, 1903–4, was £29, and for the year 1904–05 £30 per school. Taking this rate, and the number of voluntary schools in comparison with council schools in each of these counties, I find that it would require on an average l⅓d. in the £ upon the whole of the country to provide for the maintenance of the transferred voluntary schools. I find also that this £1,000,000 that is dangled before our eyes represents exactly 1966⅓d. in the £; because 1d. in the £ for the whole country represents £725,000 a year, and therefore l⅓d. represents £1,000,000. I think, therefore, you may fairly argue, upon experience in regard to the 1902 Act, that the cost of the voluntary schools would absorb the whole of the £1,000,000 which is proposed to be devoted for the purposes of this Act.
But when I come to look at what has been said with regard to this £1,000,000, I find it has been stated that in the first place it is to go towards the relief of poor necessitous districts. Thus the way will be opened for very large demands in that direction. I understand that it is intended that the poor areas round about London, which are very highly rated, are to have a contribution from the fund towards the relief of their rates, and I think it was stated that where those districts had been involved in very heavy expenses they should receive a special grant. There will be very little indeed of the fund left for the purpose of aiding the local authorities in rural districts if all the necessitous areas throughout the country are first to get relief. I would ask your Lordships to consider for a moment the position of that sorely tried and overburdened man, the ratepayer. He was told under the Act of 1902 he would be rated, but in every county the rates have been higher and the expenses greater than was ever prophesied. The position is that 950 if the grant of £1,000,000 does not go round, and any further expenses are incurred, the authorities will have to fall back upon the ratepayer, and the deficit will be raised from the rates. That is a very serious state of affairs, and one deserving of some notice. It is most unfair that where you have a hobby to ride—if I may put it so low—where you desire, for the benefit of a strong militant party, to take over all the schools and to make them of one type, you should do it largely with the ratepayers' money. If you were to say that in the event of the grant you propose not being sufficient to carry out your object the balance would be defrayed, not from the rates but from the taxes, I should have no grievance in that respect; but when we have no definite knowledge, inasmuch as this financial clause was not explained or debated in the House of Commons, and. no information was given about it, I think a representative of the ratepayers would be neglecting his duty if he did not try to elicit some further information as to the effect of the financial portions of this Bill.
I will instance one other direction in which very heavy cost will be entailed by this Bill. the noble Earl alluded to Clause 24. I hail that as one of the three clauses in the Bill which do something progressive for education. I cannot say that the providing of vacation classes, play centres, or means of recreation is strictly educational, but certainly it is a worthy and very desirable object. A sub-section of that clause makes medical inspection of children compulsory as the Board of Education may direct. Let me say in passing that we shall be very much more under the Board of Education after the passing of this Bill than we have been since 1902. I do not know whether any estimate has been made as to the probable cost of this medical inspection. I presume that it is to come out of the £1,000,000 grant, or out of the ratepayers' pocket. I have made a calculation which I think will give some data to go upon. There are some 6,000,000 children on the school books at the present moment; the average school life of a child is about ten years, and it is probably an underestimate that there are 600,000 fresh 951 scholars per year. You could not calculate on less than 3s. 4d. per head per annum for the medical inspection of i hose 600,000 scholars. I think that that is a low figure, but on that basis the cost per annum would be £100,000. I should like to know whether the Minister in charge of the Bill has considered these various items which are to be made compulsory by the Bill. If this expenditure comes out of the £1,000,000, it will leave only £900,000 for the grants to local authorities, but there are also other things which have to be seen to.
Besides providing for the medical inspection of children, and the repairs of the schools, there is the rent of the transferred voluntary schools to be paid, there is the building of new schools to replace the very bad ones which are not taken over and those which are considered unsuitable according to the dictum of the Board of Education; there are also the salaries of correspondents to be paid, because hitherto we have been able, in the non-provided schools, to arrange for the correspondence with the central authority to be done free of charge, but you may be sure that the moment the schools are taken over, we shall have to pay the correspondent in each school. Then there will be the legal expenses involved in the transfers and in the whole machinery, which is no light matter. We are told that the conditions raid the accommodation in voluntary schools are much worse than in the board schools, which means that much will have to be done directly to provide better accommodation, which also will involve expense.
I should like here to make one protest against what is considered by some to be the policy of the Board of Education as regards small rural schools. You have a visit from one inspector, who gives his advice as to ventilation and warming and so on; he goes away to another district, and another inspector comes who has totally different views upon these matters, and instead of objecting to small rural schools he approves of them and says that they do good work. The aim of the Department ought to be not so much the enlargement or improvement of the school, as to ensure the selection of a good teacher. It is not the school itself or the building; it is the teacher that 952 makes the school. That is our experience everywhere, even in the smallest rural schools in counties. However small the school may be, if the teacher, whether male or female, is thoroughly earnest and callable in his or her work, there you will have a good school and the children will be well taught.
Another idea which I understand is in the mind of the Board of Education is that many of these schools might be grouped together, so that a central school might be built to which the children could be conveyed. I believe there are cases where that might be done with advantage. I know of two such cases, where the children are conveyed considerable distances. One of them is in the Fen district, near Holme, and the other is at Eaton Socon, on the borders of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. I may tell your Lordships that the cost per child for bringing them from an area some five miles long in the Fen district is only £2 per head per annum, while in the other district of Eaton Socon the cost is only £1 14s.; so that it is really cheaper than to build a new school. But in saying that we are successful in this direction, I do not wish it to be supposed that I am advocating the extinction of small rural schools.
In the face of all these expenses involved in the various proposals of the Bill, I submit that the outlook is alarming. They will add enormously to the already excessive burdens on the rates. Unless we get some clear explanation as to who is to pay for all these things, we shall be left in ignorance, and the rates will go up without their being any chance of redress, or of the county councils or individuals having any voice in the matter. It seems to me to be a curious anomaly that it should be in the power of a Government Department to fall back on the needy ratepayer to make up any deficit that might arise in connection with that Department. It would be very convenient in the case of the Admiralty if, instead of having to come to Parliament for an extra "Dreadnought," they could simply fall back upon the ratepayer for the necessary funds. Or it would be very nice for the Secretary of State for War if from the same source he could draw the money for two or three 953 more battalions of troops, instead of having to get his proposals through Parliament. I know of no Government Department except the Board of Education which is in the happy position of being able, in the event of having any deficit, to call upon the ratepayers to meet it. I have never understood why there seems to be no objection on the part of the taxpayer to pay for anything. The passive resister, as a taxpayer, did not object to pay his quota towards the school expenses, and I hope I may be able, sooner or later, to persuade the Government that any extra expenses involved by this Bill should come wholly and solely out of the taxpayer's, rather than out of the ratepayer's, pocket. I have dealt with some practical points of the Bill, and do not desire, on the present occasion, to go into the religious question, although I have as strong feelings on that matter as any other Churchman present. I thoroughly approve of what was said by the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I only hope that before the Bill leaves your Lordships' House the injustice which we feel will be redressed, and that we shall also have some assurance that the ratepayers' interests will not be entirely overlooked.
§ *LORD FARRER
I should certainly not have ventured to address your Lordships on this occasion were it not that the noble Marquess the late President of the Board of Education stated that in these matters an ounce of practice was worth a ton of theory. I have been what I expect not many of your Lordships have been, and that is chairman of two rural schools for the last seven years. These two rural schools in my own district have ultimately come, by a process of what I may almost call natural selection, into practically the form that this Bill designs for rural schools generally. The two schools have rather a curious history. The first was built on: glebe land about the year 1860, at a time when there was a great revival of rural education in Southern England, and it has averaged about fifty children, entirely of the rural class. The clergymen at first carried on the instruction almost entirely, which instruction of course was of a Church of England character. The 954 second school, which was built by my father in 1872, was a school to which no special religious formulary was attached, because we believed that there were a larger number of Dissenters than of Churchmen in that part of the parish. Gradually the Church school failed to find the necessary funds, with the result that it became necessary to see how the school could be carried on. In those days none of these miserable religious squabbles had arisen, and we found that the best plan would be to form, not a school board, which was a very expensive matter, but a voluntary committee to which the ratepayers should be asked to contribute, and to allow both the clergyman and the Nonconformist minister to teach in the school. We did that for two years, with rather disastrous results. Perpetual squabbles arose, and there were attempts, one might almost say, at proselytising the children. Ultimately we came to the conclusion that it would be desirable for the schoolmaster himself in each case to give the religious instruction. From the '70's, when that was arranged, until 1902, when the new Act came into force, the system went on without a protest from a single parent, and to the complete satisfaction of persons of all shades of religious opinion in the parish. We all felt that some form of ethical teaching was absolutely necessary, and we never had the slightest difficulty in finding a schoolmaster for each school both willing and competent to give the simple Bible teaching and to draw the ethical lessons from it. The absence of dogma has never been in any way detrimental to the interests of the schools, and the interesting part is that the Church people themselves accepted the teaching as willingly as the Nonconformists.
I ought to say as regards the financial arrangements, that we found that the Church school needed enlargement. We arranged to raise on the voluntary rate, if rate it can be called, sufficient money to enlarge the school, the only condition made by the Dissenters being that similar teaching should go on as before. That we were right in the case we took I think may be seen from the fact that the most rev. Prelate, who was then Bishop of Winchester, himself signed the lease of 955 this Church school to the voluntary committee on that very agreement. As I read this Bill, the teaching that is proposed to be given is precisely of that kind which has proved acceptable, in the parish to which I have referred, not only to Dissenters, but to Church people themselves, as is evidenced by that signature. Therefore I think that a great deal of the storm and fury that has raged around these particular provisions of the Bill may be discounted when it comes to the practical teaching among the children of the people of the country, and after all it is the children that need most consideration. I believe that in most rural parishes the same possibility will be found to exist, if people can only be brought to reason—For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight; His can't be wrong whose life is in the right.I should not have said more on this subject except that the Bill of 1902 very seriously interfered with our religious peace and quiet. Immediately after its passage, the demand was made that we should give back the school that had been built on the glebe as a Church school. That, we said, was of course possible if the money that had been provided by the other denominations was paid back. What our position exactly is nobody seems to know, and I venture to think that, in that one parish at any rate, the Act of 1902 gave rise to considerable discord, because all this religious difficulty had never arisen before. A desirable feature of this Bill is that it gives a chance of securing a much better representative committee than existed in the foundation managers. My experience has been that the most valuable members of our old school committee were the mothers of the children attending the schools. But when the Act of 1902 was passed, we were compelled at once to discontinue their services, and to reduce the committee strictly to the foundation managers. I say that this Bill gives a chance of remedying that evil.
I think that anyone who has had practical experience of the working of the Act of 1902 will also feel it desirable to support the change proposed by this Bill, by which smaller districts will be allowed to manage their own affairs. The county councils 956 in many cases make admirable central authorities, but they are overburdened with work, and can have no real touch with the teaching in the schools. Therefore I think that any arrangement by which a better form of teaching organism can be provided in that respect will be greatly welcomed in country districts. I recollect very well that the noble Earl who used to lead the Opposition in this House, whose absence we so much regret, and who has had enormous experience of rural administration, told me that what he doubted most of all about the Bill of 1902 was the fact that the county area was far too large for satisfactory control, and that he had serious thoughts of suggesting, if indeed he did not actually suggest in this House, that the district council area was far better than the county. In my own case it takes three hours to get to the county centre, but not a sheet of paper or anything else can be ordered without the consent of the officials at the centre. The rates, too, have gone up. When we managed our own schools, we managed them for thirty years with a rate of less than 6d. We were solemnly promised by Mr. Balfour that that rate would not be exceeded, but would be reduced. But what has been the result? Our rate has gone up to 11d., and we have not the slightest improvement in teaching or administration.
I am gad to find that there is one point at any rate upon which I am in agreement with the most rev. Prelate who made so eloquent an oration just now, and that is that you must get personal interest if you are to have a good school. But when I come to the most rev. Prelate's history, I confess I am somewhat surprised at the attitude that he takes up with regard to the Church and education in this country In looking up the history of the early part of the last century with regard to this question, I find that in 1807 the House of Commons passed a Bill enabling the ratepayers to set up a school in each parish. This House threw out the Bill on the advice of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, and these are the words that the Archbishop used in this House on August 11th, 1807—the provisions of the Bill leave little or no control to the minister in the parish. This 957 would go to subvert the first principle of education in this country, which had hitherto been, and he trusted would continue to be, under the control of the Establishment, and their Lordships would feel how dangerous it must be to innovate in such matters.Thereupon the Bill, which allowed the ratepayers' organisation to make its own school, was thrown out by this House. I venture to think, therefore, that the claim for the enormous advance in voluntary subscriptions afterwards can hardly be sustained altogether. I wish there had been more right rev. Prelates present to listen to the remarks which have been made on this subject.
But, my Lords, to return to the more general question in regard to the Bill. I have tried to find out what people mean by education. I always think it well under such circumstances, to turn to that good Tory authority, Dr. Johnson. He is one of the few men who have given a satisfactory definition of the word, and he defines education as "the formation of manners in youth." I am bound to say that on reading this Bill it appears to me to go a long way towards helping to the formation of manners in youth. The schoolmaster himself is really made a power in the land, and if he can give that ethical and civilising instruction which I have no doubt he will be able to give under the Bill, the whole of England will be leavened, because the people will feel, if the first Clause of this Bill is carried out, that they are paying for something that they are going to get.
I am extremely glad to be able to agree with the noble Marquess who spoke last as to the enormous advantage of medical inspection, and I think I can reassure him in regard to the question of cost. In our county, at any rate, it has not been anything like so serious a matter as he anticipates. I expect that he will find in his own county that there is a medical inspector at present attached to the county council. There is, at any rate, in the counties with which I am acquainted in the South of England, and the advantage to be derived from such an arrangement is very much greater than would appear at first sight. I should like to relate an incident that occurred within my own experience only last week. There was a child who, we had reason 958 to suspect, was not being properly fed and properly treated. It is extremely difficult, as everyone who has had practical experience knows, to get evidence in a case of that sort. If you put the matter in the hands of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, you raise every sort of prejudice, and very often have great difficulty in proving your case. But if there is a medical officer attached to the central authority, who can make an inspection of the school, it is possible, as was done in this case, to tell him privately of particular children, and he is then able to give an unbiassed opinion which may alter the whole future life of the child for the better. That was a case which occurred in my own school only a week or two ago, and I mention it because the expense of taking such action is infinitesimal. If a proper roster is made in a county, the medical inspector can devote his time to the inspection of the schools in a very economical and satisfactory way.
As to the general question of religious teaching in the schools, I should not think of joining issue. There are, of course, many ways in which that might have been dealt with. I think it is dealt with in a way such as the majority of the voters at the last election desired. No one who went about, as I did, in districts which had for years returned Conservative Members, but which now return Liberal Members, can doubt that there were two subjects uppermost in the minds of the electors—free trade and education. In all my experience I have never known so strong a feeling as existed in the whole of the South of England as to the absolute necessity of an alteration of the Act of 1902. It is for that reason that I support to the fullest extent the Bill now before your Lordships' House.
*LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNG WORTH
My Lords, we have had several eloquent and convincing speeches upon this Bill, but I think if there is one thing more than another which has forced itself upon the attention of the House, it is that we have arrived at a most grave and serious crisis as regards this important question, and I believe that the dangers are much greater than has been supposed by some previous speakers. It is an 959 undoubted fact that there is very great danger of this contemplated legislation being not merely an attack upon the Church of England or upon the Establishment, but an attack upon all religion in the country. What are the circum stances of the case? I am not going into any political observations of a Party nature, but we must face the facts of the case. The present Government have come into office supported mainly by men of extreme views—views of a very Socialistic nature. The gentlemen who profess these views are, to put it mildly, not very friendly towards religion in general, or towards England as a country—at all events as she is now governed. They may be right, or they may be wrong, but at all events this is a question which must shortly be faced, and I think that everything points to the fact that there is a far deeper and more insidious attack against religion in general than upon any one Church in particular. Indeed, the whole tendency of the Bill seems to point in this direction. The most rev. Prelate in his eloquent speech pointed to a great object-lesson in the town of Huddersfield, and as he said, if there is one thing more certain than another, it is that the attack made by this Bill, if it passes into law, will develop in one far greater than a mere attack upon denominational religion. According to most of the speakers who support this Bill, it would seem to be merely a question as between one Church and another, or between the Established Church and the Nonconformist bodies; but if we look at the Bill it will be seen that the matter goes a great deal further than that.
It is said that the main clause of the Bill upon which everything turns is Clause 1, which lays down that after a certain date a school shall not be recognised as a public elementary school unless it is a school provided by the local education authority. That, of course, is a very far-reaching and drastic change, but if we go a little further into the Bill we shall find an even more important clause, which in my opinion is almost the keynote of the Bill. That is Clause 7, which says that the parent of a child attending a public elementary school shall not be under any obligation to cause the child to attend at the school- 960 house except during the times allotted in the time-table exclusively to secular instruction. In other words, the religious teaching of the schools is not to be considered a matter of obligation, and therefore, by deduction, not a matter of very much importance. It will be-seen at once that this cuts two ways. It is not as though the clause aimed at any particular Church, or any particular doctrine; it cuts out the obligation to-attend any sort of religious instruction. Of course, this is a matter of very important detail. If this clause has the force of law, in many instances the children will! not attend at all. If it is merely optional, they will certainly not attend on a fine afternoon for the purposes of religious instruction; they would rather go to play. If, on the other hand, you pass some measure by which they shall be occupied in other work in the school you at once establish in their minds a general dislike and distrust of religious education; you are giving them a choice between something they do not care about and something they do not like, and the whole thing will result in their doing their best to escape from, religious instruction. What are we to Kay about the father and mothers of these children? Will they direct their children, although their attendance is not obligatory, to attend the Scripture lesson or the religious instruction? Possibly they may do so, and I dare say they will in more cases than many people think for. It has been brought out in debate that there is a very deep religious feeling among the parents of the poor children who attend the elementary schools, and no doubt in many cases the parents will bring pressure to-bear upon their children to attend. But I think it is equally certain, when we regard poor human nature, that an even larger number perhaps will say:I think my children have quite enough school: I do not mind their attending; religious instruction at 9 o'clock, or whatever the hour may 1 e, if I can spare them. But I can very ill spare them, and I think it is very hard that they should be taken away for so many hours in the day for schooling which does not seem to do them very much good. I really do not see my way to allow them to attend more than they are absolutely obliged.In this way I think it is almost certain that little by little the children will drift 961 away from the religious instruction, and the great danger is that the idea will be implanted in their minds that this is a matter of little importance, which they may treat with carelessness, if not with contempt. If this is carried out throughout the country we shall be face to face with a very serious problem. It is needless for me, especially in your Lordship's House, to enlarge upon the terrible consequences of what is sometimes called godless education. It would no doubt result in demoralisation of character on the part of the youth of England, and have the most terrible and unspeakable effect upon religion altogether. It is unnecessary to remind your Lordships that the word "religion" really means "restraint," and if you take away all sense of religion from poor children who, from their hard circumstance in life, are not in a position to get such good ideas of behaviour as their more fortunate brethren, if you take away all religious restraint from them, you will find them gradually not only relapsing into carelessness of demeanour, but into temptation and indulgence in various vices, and committing crimes, beginning with small offences and gradually going on to greater. There will be no restraint except the restraint of the police.
One of the most serious results of this Bill, I fear, will be a general decline of patriotism. There will be a carelessness of that duty to one's country which I think is one of the chief duties, if not the chief, among those which regulate one's relations to one's fellow creatures in this world. We have seen in the case of our new allies, the Japanese, who I think may be fairly considered one of the most religious people upon earth, how religion has helped them, and what it really means to them, and I think it may be fairly argued that their religious instincts, more than anything else, brought them safely through their terrible struggle with the Russian nation. We may also see in quite another direction the connection of religion and patriotism, and perhaps I may venture to call to memory an example in an old ally of ourselves, the Turks. The Turkish soldiery are, without any doubt, 962 some of the finest in the world, and they are, according to their lights, although not Christians, one of the most religious-minded people, certainly in Europe, if not in the whole world. It has been said that the Turks, taking them all round, are much better Christians than the Christians. I am not going to argue that patriotism is a question merely of Sunday school teaching, because it is a large and deep feeling which may be brought out by religious observances and which may be brought seriously into contempt by neglect of those observances. It is needless for me to dwell upon the very serious consequences to the future generations of this country to take away from them in any way the exercises of religion in their education as children.
I should like to pass for a moment from that consideration to this curious Clause 4 in this Bill. That clause deals with the special facilities which, under certain conditions, are to be given for religious instruction of a special character which is confined to children living in an urban district, an urban district being defined as a district of not less than 5,000 population. I would ask what in the world is the difference between the importance of saving children's souls or seeing to their higher education in an urban area and doing the same thing in a rural district? You might just as well say there was to be a distinction drawn in regard to education between children with dark hair and children with light hair. I fail to see why numbers should enter into the question at all as far as I am able to judge from merely looking at the Bill, but anyone who looks a little more deeply into the question will see that the reason for this is apparent, and in fact, it is somewhat obvious. It is simply that this Clause opens the door, so to speak, to admit certain people whose objection to the Bill might be dangerous if they were congregated together in urban districts. There might be members of the Roman Catholic religion or the Jewish faith who seriously objected to the provisions of this Bill, and their objection might not only be an objection in words but an objection with a good 963 many votes behind it. This Clause seems to open such a door and it gives an opportunity to the supporters of the Bill to get out of what was perhaps a serious danger.
In regard to the Bill as a whole, looking at it all through, it seems to consist of a number of very contradictory clauses. One clause hangs upon another, and one seems to contradict the provisions of another, and what is given on the one hand in. the way of concessions is Very much taken away on the other by the hard machinery and details as to how such concessions are to be secured. This Bill reminds one of a game which used to excite the wonder of our childhood known, as "thinking of a number," where you tell the person to whom you are showing the trick what number he thought of. You ask the person to engage in several simple problems of mental arithmetic, the whole secret of the trick being that each arithmetical calculation cancels the one immediately preceding it, so that you come to nothing every time and you may make the number thought of a matter of certainty. There is nothing very finite about this Bill and it is extremely difficult to understand what it does mean. As soon as you have mastered one clause a subsequent clause appears to cancel the previous one. The Bill no doubt deals with a very complicated subject in which his Majesty's Government, or whoever are the real promoters of the Bill, could not see their way exactly as to the result when it came to be carried into effect, and therefore by this very adroit method of having clauses which seem to contradict each other they have adopted a system which affords a ready or at all events a possible means of getting out of the difficulties which they did not foresee when the Bill was originally drafted.
I should like to say a word or two about the ballot. The Bill provides that there is to be a ballot to ascertain the wishes of the parents of the children as to whether or not they would like extended facilities for special religious teaching. That seems to me rather absurd, because I do not see how you can really make sure of obtaining the ballot or of 964 adducing any real and reliable opinion from it when you have taken it. I suppose the ballot, inasmuch as it is supposed to be secret, is as good a way as any other to adopt for this purpose, but there is this very remarkable fact in the Bill, and I do not say this in any invidious sense, but it is certainly remarkable that there is no sort of clause as far as can be seen which is drawn for the protection of that ballot, in order to eliminate as far as possible any chance of the people who engage in the ballot being tampered with. It might possibly be to the interests of men holding extreme views, who had a strong municipal position in any town, to have a ballot in order to register a decision against extended religious facilities. After all, this ballot does not come under the same head as an election ballot, and it is not a Parliamentary or a municipal election. It is merely a ballot for an expression of opinion, and though I do not mean to suggest that improper steps would constantly be taken to influence people's votes, I think, at all events, it is somewhat of a blot on the Bill that apparently no protection is taken in regard to obtaining a fair view of the parents on this very important subject without any possibility of their being tampered with.
There is another point which has been very lightly touched upon, viz., the financial considerations. That is such a complicated subject that I do not propose to deal with it except in a very brief manner. There is one thing which I think we may prophesy with great safety, and it is that in whatever form this Bill passes the rates will most certainly go up by leaps and bounds. That is always the case, because in one way or another when these matters get into the hands of the municipal authorities, they get very much into the hands of officials. And this leads to what I am sorry to say cannot be characterised by any other name than jobbery and robbery of the ratepayers. This kind of thing is bad enough under the present Act, as I can testify in regard to my own county council, but undoubtedly these things will be very much worse in the future. As a matter of fact, I think it may possibly lead to a strong objection on the part of the public to 965 this Bill, for after all is said and done men do not like to have to pay more than they are obliged out of their own pockets. If the effect of this Bill is to raise the rates enormously and to add to the heavy burdens under which people are groaning, the Government will find a larger and more serious opposition to this measure than they bargain for.
What, my Lords, ought to be done in regard to this Bill? There are three Obvious courses. Your Lordships' House might first of all reject the measure, but it has already been practically settled that that course shall not be taken; although I think your Lordships would have every right to take that course, yet it would probably arouse such a storm in which the issues would be confounded that obviously it would do far more harm than good. In the second place, we can amend the Bill. The third course is that we might pass the whole Bill as it stands. That course might possibly raise a tremendous opposition in the country, and might have a good effect in that way. Still, I think the best course to take is to amend the Bill in Committee. The most reverend Prelate indicated the points on which he would suggest amendment. May I, with great deference, suggest another point which I do not think has been mentioned? It is that it might be a good thing if it were possible to define what is really meant by undenominational teaching. We are accustomed to use the words Cowper-Temple teaching, which is fairly well known, although it has never been accurately described. I understand that it means simple Bible teaching without any dogma. It would be a good thing—although it may be a matter of some little difficulty and it would have to be done by far wiser heads than mine—to have a clear definition of what is actually meant by these words, because the great danger is that if there is no definition, as regards undenominational teaching, you may get any sort of danger from teachers who may, in reality, make fun of religion, treat it with contempt and, in fact, teach something very much nearer atheism than religion. I hope, my Lords, in any case, that when the proper time comes in the ensuing autumn months, we shall be able to amend and put into some 966 kind of proper form this very complicated and serious Bill. I hope we shall be able to take away from it the evils which undoubtedly exist in it, and by our Amendments, in some shape or form to conduce to a settlement of this most vital and important religious question.
*THE DUKE OP NORFOLK
I agree that this Bill is not one which merely infringes the privileges of many distinct religious bodies, but one which endangers the religious interests of the country in every branch. I agree with the noble Lord who said that the dangers of this Bill are very insidious and far-reaching. There are many things about it that might make people accept it at the first glance because they might not be able to see how far-reaching the dangers which underlie it are. I wish to emphasise what has already been said, that in opposing the Bill which we shall be bound to do in its various clauses in Committee, we do feel that we are fighting not for any special opinions of our own, but for the religious life of the country as a whole. We feel the dangers which are confronting us. The noble Lord the Marquess of Londonderry spoke of certain facilities which were specially introduced in order to modify the hostility of Catholics to this Bill, and he said that we were beginning to see how futile they wore. I may say that we saw that from the very beginning. The moment this fly was thrown we saw that it was made of tinsel. Speaking as an English Catholic I wish to express my strong sense of the able and steadfast way in which the Catholic Members from Ireland, disregarding political temptations which must have pressed sorely upon them, fought, and nobly fought, for the children of this country and for the Irish children in our great towns.
I have not risen with any idea of going into the merits of the Bill. There are, however, one or two points in my mind which I am anxious to make very clear. I suppose that we all have had very considerable heart-burnings as to the advisability of rejecting this Bill on its Second Reading. I venture humbly to agree with those who have already expressed the opinion that such a course would be unwise. I do not say that 967 in the smallest degree from the point of view of the Bill itself, but merely on the general grounds of procedure which in such cases as the present appears to me to be wise for this House to adopt. I cannot, however, but think that there is a certain sense of unreality underlying our debate to night. We are discussing ostensibly the Second Reading of the Bill—whether we are going to pass it or not. We all know that we do not intend to reject it on the Second Reading, and yet we are all aware that if we went to a division the Bill would be rejected by a vast majority. I do not think anybody doubts that statement. Although no one would be more glad than I should be to make manifest by my vote the strong alarm which this Bill has caused in my mind and my great antipathy to it, I do not think that course would be wise. It is unhappily the fact and it is often lamented—although I do not think that it has ever been met by any suggestions as to how things could be otherwise—that it is generally very late in the session before any important Bills come to this House. If any great measure of importance which had been discussed for months in the House of Commons was, when it came to this House, rejected after a two nights' debate, certainly serious questions would be raised in the country as regards the constitutional position of this House. What I would venture to suggest is that we must face the fact that we have very often to allow measures to pass their Second Reading in this House which, on the whole, are measures we should feel it our duty to oppose; if they are practically forced upon us by circumstances and by the necessities of the case in public life, we must pass them; but it must not be assumed that because we pass a Bill on the Second Reading we necessarily accept the principles of the measure. We cannot be called upon to adopt both courses. For myself I do say most emphatically that I for one shall feel absolutely unfettered as regards my conduct in Committee by the fact that I allowed this Bill to pass without challenge on its Second Reading. If there were any doubt upon that point, I should have no hestiation in moving the rejection of the Second Reading, and if I pressed my 968 Motion to a division, I venture to think the Lobby I selected would be more crowded than the other. I am therefore glad that we shall not need to adopt that course, on the understanding that the passing of the Second Reading is no acceptance of the measure in any sense or way. When we come to the Committee stage, we shall be absolutely free and unfettered by anything which has passed, and shall be able to consider the clauses of the Bill and the whole principles of the measure with open minds and absolute freedom of action. I feel that if we did not take this course, bat decided to reject the Bill on its Second Reading, the storm which Lord Zouche spoke of as being possible if we rejected the Bill would break upon our unhappy heads in many quarters of the country from the very apposite reason. There is the strongest possible feeling in the country that this measure is a very extraordinary and inexplicable one, and that it has not had a fair chance of having its qualities, good or bad, brought out. The political necessities of another place have been operating with extraordinary severity. Important Amendments have for the moment attracted attention and consideration, but they have never been debated at all. I think your Lordships will feel that it is your constitutional duty to remedy that very serious defect in the conduct of this measure. There are a vast amount of people in this country who are watching with anxious eyes to see what the House of Lords will do in regard to this measure. We are sometimes told that in this House we are apt to give too much attention to questions affecting the interests of our own class, but I think it would be a blot upon our history and a disgrace to our position in the country, if upon such a question as the religious well-being of the children, we shrank in any way from taking a strong and firm attitude, such as when the autumn session comes we shall feel it our duty to assume.
I venture to submit these words because I cannot deny that undoubtedly, so far as Catholics are concerned, if this Bill is in any sense to meet our views it will have to be very drastically amended indeed. There is no doubt 969 about that point and we have no doubt as to the firm line which we intend to take. We are glad, and we thank God to know, that in taking that line we shall be supported by all those who, whilst not only upholding some particular religious opinion, feel with us that they are fighting for the religious freedom and well-being of the children of this country as a whole. The noble Lord the Marquess of Londonderry spoke of his determination to support the Church to which he belongs. The most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a speech of remarkable clearness and ability to which we all listened with delight, brought forward instances of the noble generosity of those who in upholding the belief of the Established Church had made gigantic sacrifices for that which they believed sacred to themselves and sacred to the well-being of the country at large. I did not mean to go into these points, and fortunately for the House, I have no statistics in my pocket, but I also could tell a story of the enormous sacrifices made by the members of my own creed. I could not quote such large sums because our population is not so large, and we have to struggle and work for perhaps the very poorest population in this country, and I think that is a very strong point. I have heard it said that in many board schools there has been adopted a system of discouraging the attendance of the rather ragged and dirty children of the extreme poor. If that is the case there may be good reasons for it, but our policy has been distinctly opposite to that, for we have tried to bring the benefits of education to the extreme poor who, after all, are the people who most need it. From poverty people are most likely to drift into crime and to become a curse to their country, and I challenge contradiction when I say that no religious body in this country has done more by going into the slums and rescuing children from the gutter and educating the children of the extreme poor, and placing within their reach the benefits of education, than the Catholics. In regard to this struggle against poverty and misery and sin, I venture to say that when the annals of education in this country come to be written as a whole, it will be found that in the most essential part of the 970 struggle the Catholics have been foremost in the fight.
I apologise for having spoken at greater length than I intended, but I really wish to emphasise the fact that we believe that the great sacrifices we have made in the past are now in jeopardy, that the facilities dangled before us are absolutely futile for our own children, without some drastic reform, and that this is really a critical time for the souls of the children throughout the country. I implore your Lordships to consider that it rests with you to make it perfectly clear that if, for the reasons I and others have suggested, we do allow the Second Reading of this Bill to pass, we are determined when we meet in the autumn to face the responsibilities of the high trust we hold and take care that no single child in this country shall have its religion put in jeopardy.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
The House has heard with admiration the speech of the noble Duke who speaks with such authority for the Roman Catholics of the country. The country will be pleased that the noble Duke, who speaks for the Catholic Church, and the most reverend Primate, who speaks with equal authority for the Church of England—
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
I think the noble Duke has taken a very wise and moderate course in not moving the rejection of this Bill upon its Second Reading. But, taking into consideration the difficulties which always arise in this House from the late period of the session at which Bills of this description come before us, I nevertheless hope there will be time to ascertain what the opinion of the country itself is upon the measure which has been placed before us. Noble Lords have decided to put off until the Committee stage their objections to the various details of this measure, and I think that course is most right and just. I venture to think that it is always difficult for a speaker in your Lordships' House, when a great and widely-discussed measure such as this has been before the country and the House of Commons for 971 several months, to find even some nook or corner where the foot of the explorer has not already trod. But if it is difficult on ordinary occasions, it is still more difficult to-night after the lucid and exhaustive speech of the Lord President of the Council, who, to my mind, went minutely into the details of the Bill, and also to a great extent answered the objections which were subsequently brought against it.
I listened, as your Lordships have listened, with great respect and attention to the two speeches which followed the speech of my noble friend the Lord President of the Council. We have had a speech from the noble Marquess who represented the Board of Education in the last Government, and also a speech from the most rev. Primate who speaks with such authority for the Church of England. When I heard that they were to be the speakers who would follow the Lord President of the Council I thought at first that naturally the noble Marquess would deal with the lay side of the question, and that the most rev. Primate would deal with the clerical side. But after listening to the noble Marquess and the most rev. Primate, to some extent at any rate it appeared to me that the positions were reversed. The noble Marquess, was at times, if I may venture to say so, even more clerical in his dealing with the Bill than the clericals themselves. The noble Marquess used very strong language with regard to the effects of the Bill on the Church of England, and it was language which he did not find in the speech of the most rev. Primate. The noble Marquess said the Bill was an attack upon the Established Church, that it would assist Nonconformists at the expense of the Church, and that the Bill was a stepping-stone towards disestablishment. I trust from the bottom of my heart that the Bill will not be a stepping-stone across that fateful river. I will, however, remind the noble Lord that the Bill of 1902 was, to my mind, one which, more than this measure, provided a stepping-stone which might lead more directly to disestablishment.
One question was brought forward both by the most rev. Primate and by the noble Marquess with regard to the qualifi- 972 cations of teachers, which I venture to think did not seem to me to be entirely grasped. I agree with the noble Marquess and with the most rev. Primate that it would be almost a disastrous thing if the religious teaching in this country was given by teachers who did not believe in what they taught. At the same time, I venture to say that this Bill contains no such conditions as that. It is perfectly true that local authorities are not allowed under the Bill to impose-any religious test upon the teachers, but if the teacher is willing to undertake the religious teaching in the school, undoubtedly the local authorities will satisfy themselves that he is not unqualified to give that teaching, and if he-is unqualified they will be obliged to get someone else who is qualified to undertake it.
The most rev. Primate pointed out how much money had been expended on the Church schools, and he asked if those schools were to be confiscated. I do not wish for a single moment to raise any polemical discussion in this House, but in another place the confiscation of these schools was one of the first complaints which were brought forward against the Bill, and subsequently those who preferred that charge came forward and demanded that these schools should be confiscated; if confiscation it be. I would also venture to point out that in any arrangement that is made between the provided schools and the local authorities it will be the fault of the owners of those schools, and their fault alone, if opportunities are not given for religious teaching on two days in the week. Then the most rev. Primate said that the appointment of the teachers should be in the hands of the parents.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
What I said was that those who had local responsibilities in regard to the schools as managers or in any other capacities, ought to have, directly or indirectly, some voice in the appointment of the teachers.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
The most rev. Primate admits that the voice of the parents in this matter is beneficial.
But have the parents nothing to do with the election of the local authorities, and can they not make their voices heard with regard to those local authorities with whom the appointment of the teachers finally rests? The most rev. Primate seemed to me—and I hope I am not misrepresenting him—to have a lingering desire to see once more the Act of 1870 established. It may be that the Act of 1870 was a good one, and that it might be beneficial at the present moment, but I would point out with all submission that it is impossible to restore the Act of 1870, because that Act was killed by the Act of 1902. Therefore after the Act of 1902 has been in operation, I venture to think it would be quite impossible to restore once again the Act of 1870. It is a truism, no doubt, but it is a matter which I will venture to comment upon. It was admitted by the most rev. Primate and by the noble Marquess that the Government in framing this Bill on this particular occasion, under the particular conditions existing, was confronted with great difficulties. I think it will also be admitted that those difficulties were not of their own making. I will also venture to say that they were not of their own seeking. But they arose from recent events in connection with the Act of 1902, and mainly from events which have taken place during the last 100 years. Of course, my Lords, if it were possible to make a tabula rasa of the whole education question, if we could remove all the accumulation of difficulties which religious strife and secular feeling has piled up around this question, it might be possible that the Government of the day could have formulated a measure which would have been perfect perhaps for one generation, and perhaps some years hence its imperfections might be found out. They might be found out twenty-five years hence under totally different conditions. In this case that was not possible, and the Government have had to deal with the facts as they are, and I venture to think that the merits and the demerits of this particular Bill arose from the necessity and the honest 974 necessity to endeavour to steer a safe course amid the many rocks which surrounded them during their voyage.
The most rev. Primate referred to the past history of education in this country. He referred to the Bill of 1847, and to the attempt which was made upon this question by Mr. Bright, but I observe that the most rev. Primate never referred to what took place just 100 years ago when Mr. Whitbread brought in his Parochial Schools Bill in the House of Commons. What was the nature of the Bill which was brought in in that year? It was a Bill to place the whole education of this country upon the rates. It was a Bill to enable the State to take up education, and moreover, it was a measure which enabled Bible teaching, and practically Bible teaching alone, to be given in all the schools in the country. That Bill was rejected by your Lordships' House, and what was the result of that rejection? The result was that the education of this country was thrown upon voluntary agencies. In the first place the British and Foreign Schools Society took up the matter for several years, until a secession occurred which was the cause of the foundation of the National Society which exists up to the present day, and which was constituted in order that the children of the poor might be taught the principles of the Established Chuch. Those socieies went side by side, and it was the religious strife then stirred up which perhaps has given rise to all the subsequent difficulties. I venture to say that it was the rejection of Mr. Whit bread's Bill in 1807 that practically brought about the present religious difficulty because it meant that the State refused to take up the educational work of the country and left it to the voluntary system, and that was the origin of all the voluntary schools. Perhaps if the Bill had been passed the circumstances under which the Church of England was established would have been different from what they are to-day. If in the simpler religious atmosphere which existed at the commencement of the 19th century Bible teaching had been established in all the schools of the country by the State, I have not the slightest doubt that the great religious movement for which I myself 975 have the greatest respect would have brought about denominational teaching and you would have had at the present moment in all the schools, as well as in particular schools that have denominational teaching on certain occasions, the Bible teaching which you yourselves desire. But we have to deal with facts as they are. I only mention these historical facts because they occurred at the great crisis when religious education was rejected, and I trust from the bottom of my heart that this House will not now repeat that same mistake at a crisis which, to all those who desire to see religious teaching in this country, is, to my mind, a much more serious crisis than that of 1807.
I have said that the Government were surrounded with difficulties in bringing in this Bill. Many suggestions have been made as to an alternative scheme, but I have never heard of one that was at all workable. It has been suggested hat we should have full popular control and, at the same time, adopt the policy of secularising the schools. In my opinion the secularisation of our schools is against the popular will of the country, because the people desire religious education in the schools and they desire to have a Christian education. My noble friend the Lord President pointed out that if you wanted an evidence of what the voice of the country was at the last general election you had it definitely placed before you by that overwhelming vote against the secular system of education the other day in the House of Commons. Who is it that wishes to have secular teaching in the place of what I would call Cowper-Templeism? For the moment I would put on one side those who do not believe in any religion whatever. How many of the parents are there who prefer to see secular education rather than the establishment of undenominational education in all our schools? I venture to say that they are a very small and unimportant section of the community. Of course I honour their consistency, and I admire their courage, and I venture to say that those who wish the children of this country to have any religious teaching at all, if they prefer secularism to religious education, are exhibiting a 976 courage of a very different type. I would ask if that is the final view of the Church at the present moment? Is that the view of the most rev. Primate? Is that the view of the larger portion of the Church of England at the present moment? Are they prepared to say that they would rather see secularism established in every school in the country than simple Bible teaching or Cowper-Templeism? If they are so prepared, all I can say is that I regret it, and they take a very great responsibility upon themselves, for it would be difficult and almost impossible, if the Church of England demanded that secular teaching should be given in every school, for the Government of the day to take it upon themselves to resist it. If, on the other hand, they do desire undenominational teaching, they cannot have it both ways. They cannot denounce this Bill on the one hand because it institutes Cowper-Templeism, and on the other hand with the same breath denounce secularism. The choice is solely between undenominational teaching on the one hand and secularism on the other. The country resists secularism and chooses religious teaching, and therefore it is not necessary for us to have an alternative scheme to the Government Bill.
It has been said,—and I admit that it is a very plausible and attractive argument —that all denominations should have the right of entry into these schools, so that every denomination might have its own particular teacher. That argument has an attractive side, but I would ask your Lordships to consider whether such a proposition is workable. Is it possible? Would it not, on the one hand, disorganise the schools of the country, and on the other hand tend, in a great measure, to destroy the discipline that at present exists in the schools? I venture to say that it is unworkable, because if you admit one sect you must admit all the sects, and in the large majority of the schools of this country there are not sufficient separate rooms in which the teaching of these sects could take place. It would destroy the discipline of the schools, because you would be importing an untrained teacher to give the particular denominational instruction desired. I heard the other day in Birmingham of an instance where this 977 provision had been, to a certain extent, tried, and when the teacher came in to give the denominational instruction the discipline of the school was so thoroughly upset that they had to call in the regular teacher to keep order whilst his untrained colleague was explaining the religious teaching which he had come to offer them. How are you going to carry that out in schools where there are several sects? How are you going to provide enough permanent teachers in the country to keep order while the untrained teacher comes in to explain the particular teaching which he is going to give? I venture to think, my Lords, as I have said before, that the right of entry into the schools is a rather attractive proposal, but it is unworkable, and we may at once dismiss that solution of the problem.
Then it has been proposed that we should return to the dual system which existed in this country before 1902, —that we should return to the system of board schools on the one hand and voluntary schools on the other. I venture to say that the Bill of 1902 which placed the voluntary schools on the rates for the first time has now made it absolutely impossible for us to revert to the system that existed prior to that date. What remains? I venture to say that this and this only remains—we should have also the dual system of management; we should make Cowper-Temple teaching universal in the schools, with special facilities for those denominational bodies who wish denominational teaching, within school hours, at the expense of the denomination, in all transferred voluntary schools; and give, moreover, extended facilities where all or at any rate the greater part of the children and their parents belong to one particular denomination alone. Those are the two principles of the present Bill, and I venture to think, in the absence of a more moderate arrangement of the religious difficulty between the various churches concerned, that this solution is the only practical one that I, for my part, have seen put forward. You will say it is a compromise. Of course it is a compromise. It is impossible in this country, with all its past history and all that has been built up, to reverse in a moment all that has gone before. Every measure of this 978 sort must be a compromise, and even compromises have their advantages. The Bill of 1870 was a compromise which lasted for thirty years. The Bill of 1902 was a compromise, and how many years did it last? How many years was it likely to last? Like all other compromises, this Bill does not completely satisfy either party in the matter. For my own part, the fact that both Parties find something to complain of suggests to me, at any rate, that the Government have been steering a middle, a right, and a judicious course.
I have heard complaints made to-night and before to the effect that if you go to the very root of this Bill you will find vital objections. In the first place, the most rev. Primate said that local authorities need not take over voluntary schools at all, and that therefore the voluntary schools that existed at the present moment, that is, the non-provided schools, would not be taken over by the local authorities. Now, if there is one complaint I remember hearing about the Bill of 1902 from the farmers of this country it was that it very materially raised the rates, but I venture to think that if the local authorities were to refuse in all the rural parishes to take over a school which was fit and proper for the teaching of the children, and commenced setting up and building new schools, they would soon hear complaints from the ratepayers which would very speedily drive them from the position they were taking up. Therefore, it comes to this, that in those schools it rests with the owners whether denominational teaching is to be carried on. As I understand the Bill, I believe I am right in saying that it rests with the owners of those schools to make their own terms with the local authorities as to whether two days a week should be given to denominational teaching or not. I believe there are about 8,000 single school districts in the country which have non- provided or voluntary schools. I have often heard it put forward as a reason why we should pay special attention to the maintenance of voluntary schools in these villages, that since the year 1870 the Nonconformist bodies have never taken upon themselves the obligation 979 of building schools, and therefore in those villages a difficulty has arisen which it is impossible to avoid and which, after all, is the main crux of this Bill. That is the difficulty which exists in regard to Nonconformists who say that they are forced to send their children to denominational schools where they have to listen to tenets of which they do not approve. That is not the fault of the Nonconformists, but it is largely the fault of the Act of 1870, which, as the most rev. Primate pointed out, was an Act in favour of voluntary schools and in no way in favour of other schools. That Act gave priority to voluntary organisations. Time was allowed in order that voluntary schools might be built in various areas of the country and grants were made towards the building of those schools. At the same time it was laid down under the Act that no other schools should be established in those various areas where already voluntary schools existed to meet the requirements of the children. How, then, can you say it is the fault of the Nonconformists in these various villages that during all this time they have never built schools of their own? And how can you say that they are at all to blame for the existence of voluntary schools everywhere in these villages at the present moment?
Another objection which has been particularly brought against this Bill is that it will establish Cowper-Temple teaching in all the voluntary schools. We are told that that teaching is incomplete; we are told by some that it is the establishment of a new religion. I venture to ask how can you call undenominational teaching a religion? You might as well call the foundation of a house the house that has been built upon it. Undenominational teaching is the foundation upon which you can erect teaching, whether it be that of a temple, a church, or a chapel. I venture also to think that elementary Christian teaching is especially adapted to elementary schools. I admit at once that Roman Catholics may regard this Cowper-Templeism with a different eye from other Christian sects. I observed the other day—and it shows how broad 980 is this basis of undenominational teaching—that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Education told us in the House of Commons that he knew of Catholic teachers in board schools who, at the present moment, gave undenominational teaching to the children with satisfaction to themselves and satisfaction to the children of the parents, and without any harm to their own religion. The other day the most rev. Primate initiated a debate of great importance with regard to the syllabuses which, at the present moment, are used in the various undenominational schools, and on that occasion I ventured to suggest, with all humility, that surely the time had come, if it was admitted that you are to have undenominational teaching in all our schools, when sectarian rivalries might be set aside, when the representatives of the Church of England and the Free Churches might meet together and issue a syllabus which would be accepted as a satisfactory foundation, and a Christian foundation, by all sides. I know it has been said that this is impossible; it has been said that we wish to enforce a compulsory syllabus upon all the schools of the country. For my part I really cannot see why the State should not take upon itself the duty of formulating a syllabus for all the schools of the country in the same way as the London School Board issued a syllabus which-was agreed to by both Churchmen and Nonconformists. But if that be impossible I will withdraw that suggestion and ask why you should not form a model syllabus which has the assent of both Nonconformists and Churchmen which might be issued to all the schools. I think if a syllabus of that description came with such authority behind it it would undoubtedly be accepted by nine-tenths of the schools of the country. I observed in the papers yesterday a letter from various Nonconformists, gentlemen of great authority, representing all the various Free Churches in which they said that they were perfectly willing that the Bible teaching in our schools should be read in the light of the Apostles' Cread. In the syllabuses of the country at the present moment you have the history portion of the Old and New Testaments, the Decalogue. 981 the Lord's Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, the Parables and the Miracles of the New Testament. Now, if these form the portion of our Christian religion which is to be read in the light of the Apostles' Creed, surely you could not have a surer foundation upon which to build in after time the higher dogmas of the different creeds.
We are told that the Bill is unjust. I am told that facilities are not given in provided schools. I am told that it would be a just Bill if you gave the same facilities in the board schools and the provided schools as it is proposed to give in non-provided schools. Those facilities have not been given for thirty years past and they have not been asked for; 30,000,000 of Christian children have been educated without them, and I challenge anyone to show that any definite accusation has been brought that any single one of those children has suffered in his or her religious education on that account. These schools were not affected by the Bill of 1902. The Bill which is brought in to-day is a corrollary of the Bill of 1902. The voluntary schools, on the other hand, and the non-provided schools, were affected by the Bill of 1902. They were put on the rates, and the problem the Government had to meet was not to bring about some new system in all the schools of the country, but how justly to settle the difficulty which had been created by putting the denominational schools on the rates. They propose to settle that question in this Bill and to settle it justly. We are giving public control over public money, and without infringing on the rights of any denominational schools. They are able to have two days a week for their denominational teaching. That is the only problem before the country, and that is why the non-provided schools have been left out. They are schools which have been for thirty years past excepted with general consent and I venture to think with general approval. I contend that this Bill meets this particular difficulty. It gives denominational teaching on two days in the week in schools that were denominational before. Where four-fifths of the parents of the children demand it the Bill gives denominational teaching and denomina 982 tional teachers with the denominational atmosphere which has been asked for by those who support that demand. Moreover, it provides that should the local authority in any way take an arbitrary line, and refuse to take over these four-fifths schools, there is an appeal to the Board of Education who may step in and give relief by making that school a state-aided school.
In conclusion, I venture to ask, can it be said, in view of the great difficulties which the Government had to encounter that this is an unjust Bill? It is not a perfect Bill; what Bill is perfect? It is a Bill which possibly may be amended. Every Bill may receive Amendments except the Bill which the noble Marquess opposite was concerned with in 1902, when no Amendments were allowed in this House. It meets the-demand which was made at the last general election; it does away with the injustices which were brought about by the Act of 1902. It does away with all those injustices without substituting others. If that is true, and holding, as I do, that it is the only practical solution which can be applied to this vexed question which is of the highest national importance, I venture to hope that your Lordships will give a Second Reading to the Bill and that it will ultimately become the law of the land.
*THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
I feel that I owe an apology to your Lordships for taking up the time of the House at this early stage of the debate, but my excuse is the Resolution which stands in my name, and which, as your Lordships no doubt are aware, I do not intend, to press. The Resolution which I have placed upon the Paper is in the following terms—That this House, before asserting to the Second Reading, desires to express its opinion that the system of public education in this country should be confined to instruction in secular subjects, and that facilities should be provided in all State schools, within school hours, but not at the public charge, for religious-teaching in accordance with the wishes of the parents of the children.May I at the same time ask your Lordships' kind indulgence—an indulgence which has always been granted to those who, like myself, have taken little or no part in the debates in your Lordships' 983 House. I hope that, although the Resolution which I have placed upon the Paper has found no favour on either side of the House, nothing which I shall say will be misconstrued or in any way give offence to noble Lords on either side. In suggesting such a Resolution of a secular character I should like to explain, if I may, that it is not my intention to belittle the importance of keeping religion alive in this country. But it is in order to remove religious discussions from the sphere of politics that I have placed this Resolution on the Paper. When an Education Bill is brought before the country, we hear practically very little of its educational side. The educational side of education appears to be of no importance whatever, although perhaps that seems somewhat contradictory. The part of the Bill which is discussed in every shape and form is that which deals with religious instruction. The reason, why I placed this Resolution on the Paper is that I wish to make the State fair and just to all its subjects of whatever denomination. If I was to begin from the beginning of education in this country, I am afraid I should be told by noble Lords opposite that I am prejudiced, because we must all admit that it was the Church of England which first gave education in this country, and it is just because the Church of England occupies that strong position to-day which it inconsequence deserves that there is a strong feeling hostile to that great position, and it is for that reason too that Churchmen are prepared to fight for what they consider to be their rights. I do not ask for more justice for them than other denominations ask for themselves. All I ask is that the scheme which is embodied in the terms of my Resolution may at all events so present itself, even if not approved by your Lordsips' House, that in the years to come it may be the foundation-stone of a State secular system which will give an equal welcome to all religious denominations. I notice that in another place this subject was discussed, and I am aware that it would be useless for me to say that in the House of Commons the secular education Resolution met with approbation. I have always felt that so long as we attempt to build Education Bill upon Education Bill we shall fail. 984 What I want and what I very respectfully ask the noble Earl, the Lord President of the Council, to consider is whether it would not have been far more practicable to have wiped out all the old systems beginning with the Act of 1870,and to have introduced a system which would have taken no thought and consideration for existing conditions. There are many arguments in favour of the establishment of the State system. I am not prepared, and it would be bold of me to attempt to do so, to give in detail any suggestion of any of the schemes of such a system. It is a matter of indifference to me, so far as I can understand it personally, whether religious instruction is given by specially qualified teachers, under an education authority, or whether the right of entry is given to clergymen of various denominations. But one thing, my Lords, we must bear in mind that all these concessions will be of no value whatever unless we insist that religious instruction shall take place within school hours. It is no use saying that children can go and play outside when religious instruction is being given. It is no use saying that even a moral code of instruction of which we have heard so much, is sufficient. It is no use making any of these concessions; you must either say that no religious instruction can be given in a school at all, or you must give equal facilities to all those who represent various classes of His Majesty's subjects. I know that in this House we have had the rare privilege of listening to the brilliant speech, if I may respectfully say so, of the most rev. Primate. If there was any Member of this House who in any way underrated the importance of religious instruction, after that speech he would have been entirely converted; but may I say that I am certain that in the future this Act of 1906, whether it is amended in Committee or not, will have to give way to a much wider and more far-reaching Act at no very distant date?
I have trespassed very considerably upon your Lordships' time, but I wish to say, before I conclude, that I noticed in one of the leading journals which was kind enough to give me some notice that one exception which that journal took to my suggestion was that I asserted the rights of parents 985 and ignored the rights of teachers. Now, I venture to say that the rights of parents and the rights of teachers are hardly to be mentioned in the same breath. The right of parents to have their children educated in whatever faith they like is one which I think no Member of your Lordships' House will deny. It is for that very reason that I feel that the principle which this Bill embodies will prevent many of the most sacred ideals which generations of Englishmen have held most dear being realised. I do not wish, and it would be out of place on my part to presume to dictate to your Lordships whether I think this or that point has been neglected. Although I withdraw my Resolution and do not even press it for discussion, I do so not because I have lost conviction in regard to the principle which it embodies, but because I think I shoud be very grievously wasting the valuable time of your Lordships' House by pressing it, and I fear that the time as it is is far too short fairly to discuss the important measure which is now before the House. It is said that this scheme of secularising all schools of the State would cost much more money; we are also told that it would cost too much to take over all the voluntary schools. But is that not an admission that voluntary schools have rights, and not only have they rights of conscience but rights of property? Whatever happens in the future I hope the Government will make up its mind to go to the expense of taking over the voluntary schools and making them State schools, thus taking education out of the hands of local authorities, and placing it in the hands of a central body or department. Whatever may be the ultimate decision it would be quite easy if, instead of dividing the country into local areas, it was divided into educational districts, under the control of the head office at Whitehall or wherever else it might be. I know my scheme is unworkable under existing conditions, but I feel certain that the time will come, and I feel sure we shall live to see that time, or at all events the next generation will see it. when all education will be national, and when this religious dissension which is so painful and which has made religion a subject of electoral addresses 986 and has caused it to be dragged into the contest of the polling booth, will cease.
There are only two more remarks which I have to make — the first is than in the Army school regulations in Section 65 provision is made for the clergymen of various denominations, at hours at the discretion of the commanding officer, to come in and give religious instruction. I should like to know why that system which prevails in the Army schools cannot be extended to schools of another character. Finally, my Lords, I will, with every respect to your Lordships' House, add this one remark. The noble Lord in charge of the Bill wound up his speech by saying that he hoped the time would come when differences would cease between the various sections of those who are in disagreement over this particular Bill. All I say is that so long as this religious controversy is made the subject of Party politics, so long as measures of the kind now before your Lordships' House are introduced into Parliament, so long will religious dissension and acrimonious discussions continue. It is no use crying "Peace, Peace," when we know full well there is no. peace for those who prize liberty of conscience. I apologise to the House for detaining your Lordships for so long.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH
I make bold to intervene in this debate not, I hope, without justification. Speaking in the name of my diocese, and unless I did that I should hold my peace, I may state the fact that the diocese of St. Asaph has done much, and if this Bill as it stands becomes law would suffer much, in the cause of education. In 1870, Mr. Forster said that if all the country had been as well equipped with schools as the diocese of St. Asaph was, it might have been unnecessary for Parliament then to intervene. A further testimony to the work done in that diocese was given by Mr. Gladstone when in 1873 he opposed the formation of a school board in the parish of Hawarden, because he preferred voluntary and free action where it was possible. A study of educational progress in Wales reveals how large a part these voluntary efforts of Churchmen formed in creating and stimulating that educational zeal for which the Principality 987 is now conspicuous. And Churchmen in Wales may feel an honest pride in the fact that their sacrifices and generosity have not been sectional, and that the Intermediate Schools and University Colleges of to-day have drawn the bulk of their donations and subscriptions from Churchmen. The Bill now before your Lordships' House lends fresh emphasis to what I have said. Part III. is hardly an integral part of the Bill but an appendix, which by its very independence and detachment marks with gratitude the efforts of Wales in this and other causes. As a Welshman therefore in discussing this Bill, I turn first to this postscript in which for Welshmen lies a differential interest.
I approach the discussion of Part III. with an open mind. Its supposed authorship must not be laid either to its credit or discredit. If it can be proved that Part III. is for the best interest of education in Wales, it would be unjust to withhold support by reason of some supposed taint in its parentage. Your Lordships are no doubt aware that a Central Board for Welsh Intermediate Education was formed under the provisions of the Act of 1889, the functions of this Board being to provide and pay for the examination and inspection of the county schools, the organisation of a pension scheme, the collection and circulation of educational information, and the arranging of conferences of governing bodies or of teachers. It may fairly be urged that we have here a precedent and an example for constituting a somewhat similar body to deal with education of all kinds in Wales. A farther indication, if not confirmation, of the application of a like principle may be found in the Act of 1902 (17 (5)), which enables county councils to unite for the forming of a Joint Education Committee, So far for precedents.
I now come to the much more difficult question of the general acceptance in Wales of the principle involved in Part III. It is true that the following resolution was adopted at Cardiff last March—That this Conference is of opinion that it is expedient to create a Council for Wales, respecting Welsh Education Authorities, which 988 shall have powers to supply, and to aid the supply of education of all kinds in Wales and Monmouthshire.That resolution, while accepting the principle, did not of course in any way commit its supporters to the acceptance of Part III. in the present Bill. Personally I must frankly say that at Cardiff I was not able to go beyond the suggestion that a Committee should be formed to consider whether "the formation of such a National Council was expedient." I should be tampering with accuracy if I led the House to believe that Churchmen in Wales were unanimously in favour of such a Council. They are absolutely unanimous in support of any proposal which would further the interests of education. But it would be idle to conceal the fact that a large section in Wales, by no means confined to Churchmen, view this proposal with a distrust which is not unnatural. It is matter of common knowledge that the authorship of Part III. is attributed to the President of the Board of Trade. It may be within the recollection of the House that three years ago an attempt was made to bring about an educational concordat in the diocese of St. Asaph. In these and subsequent negotiations I found the President to be a man whose word I could trust, and one who showed throughout a readiness to reciprocate a spirit of concession and generosity. Having said this of the leader, I am equally bound to give my opinion of his followers of whom I have an intimate experience in Wales. The extreme section—you have their affinities in England—approach this question in a narrow and a persecuting spirit, and I say without hesitation that fair-minded men in Wales view with misgivings the bare possibility of handing over education to those who would impart into its management the destructive elements of bias and bitterness. While, therefore, I recognise that this proposal is not without relevant precedents to support it, I am not prepared to say that as it stands the people of Wales are unanimously in its favour.
Apart from considerations which may be regarded as personal or ephemeral, Part III. raises questions of a constitutional character. These have not received due 989 discussion in another place. Devolution is involved in this proposal, but that does not in itself condemn the proposal. If there is to be devolution, then one thing must be made secure. The question of responsibility must be established on intelligible lines. The bottom fact in all these proposals is money, and it may be well to remind the House that the total education grants under this proposal which would be handed over to the Council amount to £800,000 a year. Part III. therefore involves the transference of great financial responsibilities. One aspect of this problem can be illustrated from actual experience in Wales. The practice of the Welsh Central Board raised the question of dual responsibility. They claimed that the Art and Science grants should be paid over to them, and allocated upon the results of the examinations held by their own Welsh inspectors. The Board of Education held that they were responsible to Parliament for the money, and that they therefore must be responsible for the examination which determined its allocation. The result was friction between two sets of inspectors, and the undoubted fact that the inspection by the Board of Education was more searching, and the standard more uniform, than that of the inspectors appointed by the Welsh Central Board. It is obvious that as long as the Board of Education were responsible for the grants they must be responsible for the rules and examinations by which the grants were distributed. The same principle applies to the Welsh Council with even greater force, because the interests involved are much larger.
The Bill proposes that Parliament shall, in each year, pay to the Council of Wales these grants which amount to £800,000. That proposal as it stands is, to my mind, impossible. If the Treasury pay the grants, what responsibility can they undertake for their distribution? According to the Bill, the powers and duties of the Board of Education are to be transferred to the Welsh Council. Therefore the Welsh Council will dictate the rules and provide the inspection for the distribution of these grants. What power of supervision or control is left to the Treasury? For example, they will have no power 990 and no duty, to receive or decide any complaint made by a particular district, or by one type of school, or by individual schools, as to the allocation of the grants by the Welsh Council. This proposal eliminates any possibility of an adequate control by the Board of Education, and the report to Parliament which the President of the Board of Education could render would be the shadowy result of a general impression. If then the Welsh Council are to have full control of these grants they must have full control over the administration. I have stated this difficulty somewhat fully, because it can only be met by a solution which involves constitutional considerations. The debate in another place made clear that these powers and duties cannot be transferred to the Welsh Council while at the same time attaching responsibility to the Board of Education. What is the solution offered? That a Minister, not the President of the Board of Education, be appointed who shall have financial responsibility and financial control, and that this Minister should have complete responsibility for the Code—in other words, for the regulations by which the grants were to be distributed. For Welsh education, then, there will have to be all the arrangement and the staff which such a Ministry necessitates. The financial outlay under this head will be very considerable. And most important of all, if you are going to have this separate Ministry for Education in Wales, are you going to, and can you if you wish, stop there? By "devolution" I understand power delegated by a ruler who still remains ruler. This proposal on the other hand is described as "autonomy" which certainly means sometime more than delegation. By an "autonomous" community I understand a community subject only to its own laws. It seems to me that "devolution" might improve local efficiency, while leaving the ultimate and controlling authority intact. But "autonomy" represents a disintegrating process, which will not stop there. But there are other difficulties in this proposal for a Welsh Minister of Education. He is not to be a Welsh Minister of Education only; he is to be Secretary to the Treasury. By tacking on the Welsh appointment to some other 991 appointment, you bring in again the dual difficulty. Furthermore we are told that appeals with regard to the question of unnecessary schools, and the question of facilities, cannot be safely trusted to the Welsh Council, or to the Minister, and therefore they are to go to the Board of Education. Here again you let in the difficulty of dual jurisdiction.
I have touched upon the question of responsibility; let me add a word upon that of finance. If the Council is established, with a Welsh Minister of Education, with full responsibility for code and finance, by what standard are the grants paid to Wales to be regulated? It is clear that Wales will have to establish its own standard, and that the English Treasury will have to provide any supplementary estimates which the Welsh Minister recommends. The creation of a new rating authority in Wales also raises a very difficult point, and I am not at all clear that Wales is unanimous in desiring the creation of such an authority.
I must apologise to the House for the length with which I have dealt with this question. My one anxiety in doing so has been to regard the question simply from the point of view of the interests of Welsh education. I am not prepared to condemn the principle of a large measure of devolution, provided such a measure safeguards a just administration, and secures efficiency with economy.
When I pass to the general provisions of the Bill, I recognise that the Act of 1902, while dealing with a very large part of the education problem, did not, as Mr. Balfour himself said in another place, solve the whole, and I believe that the country at the last election made it clear that the questions of control and tests could not remain where the Act of 1902 left them. Any just criticism of this Bill must begin with its historical context, because the controversies of to-day have their roots deep in the past. The main controversies touching the present Bill turn upon the religious question. How was this question left by the Act of 1870? The compromise of 1870 recognised voluntary schools as public elementary schools, while from the rate-aided schools all Catechisms and distinctive formularies were excluded. Let us suppose 992 for a moment that in 1870 the State had refused such recognition, and that the voluntary schools, as such, had ceased to exist. Does any reasonable man imagine that such a restriction upon religious liberty as the Cowper-Temple clause would ever have been entertained? What, therefore, we are now asked to do is to tear up the compromise of 1870 and to enforce only that half of the bargain which was alien to Churchmen and acceptable to Nonconformists. That request seems to me unjust, and indeed, the cause of the inconsistencies, the contradictions, and the artful injustices that characterise Part I. of this Bill. Clearly if the religious question is to here-opened, a permanent settlement can only be secured by going back to first principles. It cannot be said that the present Bill does that. The last thing which this Bill suggests in its treatment of the religious question is the idea, of principle.
Upon one point the verdict of country was clear. If ever the country gave a precise mandate it did so at the last election against a secular system of education. If, then, religious instruction is to have a place in our public elementary schools, it ought to be an honoured place. This Bill on the other hand, by its restrictions and prohibitions, treats religious instruction as a negligible quantity. Imagine arithmetic being treated as a subject which the teachers, need not teach, the authorities need not provide for, and the pupils need not learn. What would the mathematics of the next generation be like? I cannot believe that character is less important than mathematics. It may be contended that this Bill, by selecting one form of religious instruction which, can be taught at the public expense, adequately satisfies the claims of religion. It seems to me that the imperfections and illogicalities of undenominationalism have been fully and unanswerably demonstrated. Of the many inconsistencies in this Bill one of the most glaring is its treatment of the dual system. The first clause of the Bill apparently puts an end to the dual system, and yet the Bill establishes practically four types of schools—the old provided school, with its Cowper-Templeism, the transferred 993 school with its ordinary facilities, the transferred with its extended facilities, and the state-aided school, which is able to contract itself out of all the disabilities inflicted by this Bill.
The Bill has, by almost universal consent, established its title to one epithet. It is an unjust Bill. How could it be otherwise? Its framers have listened to those who in the past have made little, if any, sacrifice in the interest of popular education, and who appear to see in this educational controversy an opportunity for the furtherance of political designs, and for the indulgence of sectarian animosities. Little wonder that the Bill follows a tortuous course under such guidance, and the interests of education are merely used as a screen behind which an ugly blow may be dealt at the Church of England. To those who are importing this vindictive spirit into our legislation I am tempted to quote Shakespeare's warning—Heat not a furnace for your foes so hot that it so singe yourself.Criticism of such a measure is indeed easy. One fact stands out beyond all question: if this Bill passes in anything like its present shape, so far from settling the problem, it will leave it in a more inflamed condition than ever. My great objection to this Bill is that it does not move upon the lines of any intelligible principle. The ink of the clauses in which a uniform system of public control and the abolition of tests are provided is scarcely dry before some limiting and restricting clause is introduced. Personally I venture with great respect to express a hope that the Amendments in this Bill will indicate a clear line of principle.
Now, it may be said, have you any alternative to suggest? I recognise that the claim for justice becomes stronger when it is not only critical but constructive. We desire a policy of fair play for all and privilege for none. The rich man determines the faith to be taught to his child; the poor man must have the same right. The starting point of any just settlement must be that of equal rights for all parents. Is the State to teach relig on? Justice answers this question clearly. Either the State must teach all religions, or none. The first plan, although fair and 994 defensible, is impracticable. There remains the other alternative, that the State is not to pay for the teaching of any religion, but to give the fullest freedom and toleration to parents and denominations to provide at their own cost the religious instruction desired by the parents of the children. This is a facility to which no objection can be taken in a free country. The instruction must be given in school hours, and the teachers must be permitted if they like, to give it. I need not point out that such a scheme is poles asunder from secularism.
I have not touched upon the questions of property or of trusts. Common justice can urge the strongest objections to the provisions of the Bill in regard to both. But the main and sustaining motive of Churchmen through the whole length of this bitter controversy has been the one desire to make sure that the children of this country shall be "virtuously brought up to lead a godly and a Christian, life." That is no ignoble motive. In this, too, they represent the expressed verdict of their countrymen. The gravest indictment of this Bill is the unanswerable fact that it places religion in a position of humiliation. It selects for recognition and endowment a form of religious instruction which may vary from little to nothing, and it places this unsatisfying residuum outside the compulsory hours of attendance. If those who are responsible for this measure were really in earnest in a desire to secure religious instruction in our schools, would they have gone out of their way to enact that that vast army of teachers who are the most competent to give religious instruction, and the most influential to impress it upon the mind of the child, shall be forbidden, even when willing and desirous, to take part in that teaching which they have hitherto regarded as their highest privilege?
For about the space of four years this land has resounded with big, swelling words about conscience and priestly tyranny. In the name of liberty the Government have composed a Bill which intrudes upon the realms of conscience and ignore every principle which deserves the name of liberal. The noble Earl the President of the Council said, in a speech marked, if I may say so, by great moderation and seriousness, that the 995 question of religious instruction was greater in importance than any other question that now occupies public attention. But, my Lords, I ask, how have the authors of this Bill treated religion in our schools? They have first of all torn off from her sacred form those robes in which saints and apostles have clothed her, and then they have thrust her out as a dishonoured guest into a shabby anteroom, where even those attendants who would, as of old, render her willing service are forbidden any longer to do so. It seems to me that such treatment is intended only to be temporary and preparatory to the complete exclusion of religion from our elementary schools. And this comes from those who claim to have a mandate against secularism. It is possible that this Bill may find a place among the written laws of this land. But, unless the people of this country have changed their character, it cannot stay there long, because it transgresses that unwritten law of justice, established on high, which is not of to-day or of yesterday, but lives for ever.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I hope, my Lords, the Lord Bishop of St. Asaph will pardon me if I decline to follow him into the region of priestly tyranny, or to discuss a possible Minister for Wales, a dual control for Wales, a council for Wales or how the staff for Wales is to be paid; and if I venture, as a dweller in the right rev. Prelate's diocese, to express great regret that he should have thought it necessary in your Lordship's House to call attention to what he has been pleased to term the narrow and persecuting spirit and the bias and the bitterness of the extreme section of that great Liberal Party to which it is my pride and privilege to belong. If the House will permit me, I should like for a few moments to call attention to the speech delivered to-night by the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. That speech was a great speech, insistent with sincerity, with dignity, and with conviction, worthy of his most sacred office, worthy of the occasion, and worthy of the great hereditary House in which it was delivered; but all through it there seemed to run a curious note, difficult to define, but rising and falling like the leit motif in 996 Lohengrin, ever present like those great Australian rivers which rise to the surface and disappear again into the earth and discharge themselves into the unknown sea.
It seemed to me in that speech, if I may be permitted to say so, there was an inability to judge the depth, the sincerity, and the reality of the Liberal and Radical Party with regard to this great question of education. [A laugh.] I expected that laugh. I know it is always said, and it has been said to-night, I think by Lord Londonderry, that we are not agreed on our policy as regards this important question. Well, my Lords, that may be so in matters of detail, I acknowledge. But these huge majorities that we have had in another place show that on the three main principles of the Bill, which have been so well explained by the Lord President of the Council—that we must have religious and not secular education, that there must be public control where public money is spent, and that there must be for teachers abolition of religious tests—on these three great points, I say without fear of contradiction there is no practical difference amongst us of any sort, description, or kind. I should be the last to deny the great and good work that the Church of England has done for the cause of education. Whatever opinions we may have of what the Church has done in days gone by, it is, I think, an absolute truth that Church people in their laudable endeavour to provide schools for the children of this country have done what a great many people have done who dabble in bricks and mortar, that is, they have overbuilt themselves. In consequence of that comes the intolerable strain and the absolute impossibility of maintaining the schools which they have built. I will take a single instance. I live in a small manufacturing town of about 25,000 people, mostly a poor artizan population. There is a voluntary Church school managed by the clergyman of the parish —a man not nominated in any way, but selected by his parishioners, and the selection is confirmed by the patron of the parish. He is a man of godly and saintly life, he is very popular amongst his parishioners, and 997 his school is extremely well conducted in every way. To keep that school going costs £1,270 a year, and the voluntary contributions come to £158 a year, or a little under one-eighth of the whole expense. And that was called a voluntary school. Now the most rev. Primate called attention in his speech, I think, to three London schools—the St. John's school, and I think the St. Michael's school, and the Brook Street school at Kennington. As regards the St. John's school the most rev. Primate said that it would require £1,200 for necessary repairs. As regards the St. John's school, I think, although I have not had time to verify it, that the material condition, whatever the moral atmosphere may be, leaves something to be desired. The most rev. Primate told us that he was afraid parents would not ask for extended facilities. This is a Church school, I believe one of the best of the many well-managed schools of London. An excellent clergyman— a High Church clergyman, I believe— has direction of the school, and is very popular and very much respected in the neighbourhood. What is the reason why the most rev. Primate is afraid that parents will not ask for extended facilities? He also told us that children passed the council schools to go to the Brook Street school. Any man who has had anything to do with London life knows very well that there are thousands and even tens of thousands of children who pass voluntary schools every day of the week to go to council schools. Why is that? I do not think there is any denominational reason in it—none whatever. The fact is that some of the schools are more popular than other schools. Some teachers are more popular, more respected, and more loved by the children than other teachers.
I now come to another point. The London County Council was given entire management and control of the schools in London. I am not going to argue whether that is right or wrong. When these schools were given over the first thing that the Education Committee did was to send their inspectors and valuers round to see what the material conditions of those schools was. Amongst those schools there were 113 schools which were in no way suitable for the 998 purpose, and they were put on one side. Out of 438 Church schools there were 318 the drains of which were unsatisfactory, and of that number 109 were in a very dangerous state, thirty-seven were in a very serious case, and in twenty-one cases the managers refused to allow the county authority to make any inspection whatever. Therefore we do not know what the state of those twenty-one schools was, but I may say that out of the 109 schools which were described as very dangerous for the children to be taught in, eighty-two belonged to the Church of England and accommodated 35,500 little children. If that is the state of things, and it was proved in the Council itself last Tuesday week, I ask, is it a state of things which ought to be allowed to continue, and with which it can honestly be said that it is criminal and almost sacrilegious to interfere? We have been told by the right rev. Prelate that this Bill is a gross breach of the agreement entered into in 1870, and I think I am right when I say that the Archbishop applauded that statement. What was the agreement of 1870? It was, first, that the board schools should supplement the voluntary schools.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The second thing was that voluntary schools were to receive generous grants and give denominational teaching without rate aid; and, thirdly, that the board schools were to get rate aid, but that religious education, if any, must be undenominational. What did the new arrangement of 1902 do? The Tory party put the voluntary schools on the rates, but, my Lords, they violated the prime condition that all rate-aided schools must be undenominational. That was done by the Act of 1902. What does this ' Criminal Bill ' do? It simply restores the agreement come to by the members of the Church of England, by the members of the Holy Catholic Church, by the Nonconformists, by the Jews, by Liberals and by Tories alike, that if you accept rates you accept undenominational teaching. We have heard several times to-night what this Bill really is. Of course it has the three great principles 999 which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. It gives full public control, it abolishes religious tests, and it insists on religious instead of secular education. Rant can be paid for all the Church schools that we propose to take over. Religious education is to be taught on two days a week in some of the schools and every day of the week in others.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am very much obliged for the correction. What is insisted upon in the Bill, as I understand, is simple religious teaching which, to most of us, means the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles' Creed—the simple religious teaching that we have learnt at our mothers' knees. [A noble LORD: It is not in the Bill.] Religious education can be taught on two days a week at some schools and every day in the week in others.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Church schools are to be kept in repair and are only to be required from 9.45 a.m. to 5 p.m. for five days in the week. These schools are at the disposal of the owners the whole of Saturday, the whole of Sunday, and every evening, subject to the occasional use of the building for evening schools, and this, my Lords, is called robbery and spoliation. I have one more word to say. It is idle to deny that our task is a difficult and delicate one; but, after all, difficulties are opportunities, and this opportunity the Liberal Government is determined to seize and to go through with its great work. It may be that some of us before our task is accomplished may go down in the stress of the fight and our comrades may place us on their shields and bear us shoulder high to that great Eternity which all must face; but, surely of us it may be said, as was said of our fathers who have gone before, "these Christian Liberal and Radical men and women have not lived and fought and died in vain."
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I hope that no such tragic fate as the noble Earl in the closing words of his speech seemed to anticipate awaits him in the discussions on this Bill. The worst that can happen, my Lords, is that instead of being a very bad Bill, it may be made a little better. It will be the work of your Lordships' House to try to bring that about. But before I enter upon that matter let me say one or two words about the speech to which we have just listened. The noble Earl told us that the Liberal Party to which he is proud to belong are agreed at any rate about general principles. I believe that the Liberal Party are only agreed about general principles because they imperfectly understand them. Let us consider for a moment what is the sort of general principles to which the noble' Earl refers. He spoke of liberty of conscience. Whose conscience? Has he or the Liberal Party thought of that? Is it the conscience of the teacher or the conscience of the child—because if it is the conscience of the child he is entitled not only to receive the Cowper-Temple teaching which may be provided for him by the majority of the electors at the local election, but also the definite religious teaching for which his parents ask. Or perhaps the principle is public control, but that, as has already been pointed out by the most rev. Prelate this afternoon, must extend in both directions if it is to be true public control. If the local education authority is to be allowed to give as little religious education as it pleases, it ought also to be allowed to give as much as it pleases. Or, perhaps, the general principle to which the noble Earl referred was what is called the neutrality of the State in matters of religion. If the State is to be truly neutral we have no business to devote the resources of the State to the maintenance of one kind of religion and that alone. So that I really believe the general principles to which the noble Earl professed his adherence are really imperfectly understood by the noble Earl and the Party to which he belongs.
This subject is one of most profound importance, and one upon which we have had a most interesting discussion today. The truth is that when the Liberal Party have left general principles they 1001 have really shown themselves to be profoundly divided. Nothing is more striking or significant of that circumstance than the eloquent and in many ways admirable speech which the President of the Board of Education delivered in another place on the Third Reading of the Bill. I think the President of the Board of Education is a good deal to be pitied in these discussions, not merely because of their arduous character, but because of the great difficulties he has with those of his own household. In that speech he was at last driven to resistance, and turned upon some of the materialists and indifferentists of his followers in matters of education, and urged them to remember that vacation schools and the health of the children are not the only things to be considered, but that there are such things as conscience, sin, and immortality, which were to be reckoned as of higher import. Let me assure the noble Earl who has just sat down that it is not a question of rates or of how education should be maintained, much less is it a question of drains. It is a question of the religious instruction of the children of the country, and the rights of parents to have religious instruction given to their children. To my mind, whether that religious instruction is provided by taxes, rates, or voluntary subscriptions, is a matter of lesser importance. The essential thing is that the children should receive this instruction, and that they should receive it according to the wishes of their parents. If it were the case in our country that we were united in, religious matters—if we were even like the sister kingdom of Scotland, where, roughly speaking, the mass of the population adhere to one form of religious belief, no difficulty on this question would arise. There are very few noble Lords whom I see around me who would doubt that the proper solution is that definite religious education should be provided by the State for all the children; but in our case, no doubt, there is a great difficulty. There are profound differences of opinion upon religious matters, and the question becomes urgent if religion is essential, which has been practically admitted in this debate. It was urged by the Minister for Education in another place. It was repeated, I think, by the Lord President in his speech this evening. It was 1002 emphasised and illustrated in burning words by the most rev. Prelate. If, as I say, religious education is essential, then the question arises, who is to decide what that religious education shall be? We have a solution. We say that the parents must decide. It is a simple solution. It goes down to the very foundation of society. It is the rock upon which all society is built, namely, the affection and therefore the responsibility of parents for their children. It has been said that the rights of parents have only been discovered for the purpose of controversy on this Bill. Nothing is more untrue. The rights of the parents, of course, go back as far as the Conscience Clause of the Act of 1870. It was the first and a very imperfect assertion of that right. It was wholly insufficient because it was of a negative character. All that you said to the parents by the Conscience Clause was this—,If you are not pleased with the kind of religious education provided at the school your child must go without."That was a very unsatisfactory solution, because the parent not only has the right to avoid the religious education to which he is opposed, but he has also the right to have for his child the religious education in which he believes. In addition to that the rights of the parents were secured by a method which was illogical and incomplete, but which to some extent met the difficulties of the case. We lived under a state of alternate schools. There were the schools where Cowper-Temple religion was taught and the schools where definite religious education was provided. Where a parent was lucky enough to live in an area where both schools existed, he could send his child where there wa definite religion or to the school where the religion taught was undenominational, as he pleased. That was never a complete solution. It was very partial in its operation. It depended not on the rights of parents but upon the private individuals who subscribed to and built the schools, and it finally broke down. After the Act of 1870 the cost of education rose so enormously as to make it impossible for private individuals any longer to compete with the State, but the rights of the parents remained. They are indestructible, and we have to meet them now 1003 in some other way. I have said that it is not true that the rights of the parents have been invented in order to meet the needs of this controversy. They have always stood out as an essential part of the policy of the Church of England and of the Party to which I have the honour to belong. There was a voluntary committee which sat by direction of the two Archbishops so far back as 1894, and consisted of many men of weight and responsibility like my noble friend Lord Cross, and my noble friend Lord Cranbrook, and the right rev. the Bishop of Southwark, and others. They reported among other things—We maintain Church schools in the interests of parents who have a right and duty to secure for their children instruction according to their own religious belief.That report was presented to the two Archbishops—it was in the time of Archbishop Benson—and the two Archbishops presented a memorandum to His Majesty's Government at that time, in which they said there ought to be kept in view in all legislation affecting public elementary schools the right of parents to determine the character of the religious instruction provided for their children. That was the policy of the Church of England as formulated by its two principal Prelates for the time being. It was also the policy of the Party to which I have the honour to belong. People talk a great deal about mandates now, and speeches which are delivered at or about the time of a general election are always supposed to have a very special importance and significance, and therefore I quote with all the more confidence a speech which was delivered in your Lordship's House by the then Prime Minister and Leader of the Unionist Party on the very eve of the General Election of 1895. This was what was said—the other principle we have defended in I our votes is the supreme value of religious education given according to the religion which the parents themselves profess. To that principle again, I believe this House deliberately adheres, it values it and it will do all in its power to promote the giving of religious education in pursuance of the unalienable right of the parents to decide the religion in which his child shall be educated.That was the most official formulation of the policy of the then Unionist Party by its leader, in which was embodied in the most emphatic form the assertion of 1004 the right of the parents. That policy was repeated by the last Conservative Prime Minister. Mr. Balfour, in introducing the Bill of 1902 said:—I do not stand here to plead for any particular form of denominational education. I do stand here to say, and, so far as I can to see, that every parent gets the kind of religious training for his child he desires.So that the chain is quite complete-From first to last in the Church of England and in the Unionist Party we have put forward the right of the parent as one of the most important and leading features of our policy in reference to-religious education. I do not know that in their hearts the present Government very much differ from that view. I think that if we could only get into the recesses of Mr. Birrell's mind we should find that he, too, thought the rights of the parents ought to be respected. I noticed the other day that he repudiated, and rightly repudiated, absolutely secular education. He said the parents would not endure it. So that he was aware, as everyone else is aware, that the ultimate arbiter in these questions must, and ought to be, the parent.
Let me ask how far does this Bill carry out, what, I cannot help believing, is really in the heart of the Government, viz., the supreme importance of religious education, and the right of the parents to decide what that form of religion shall be. I am not going at this late hour through the clauses of the Bill in detail, but your Lordships must have listened with profound interest to the speech of the most rev. Prelate when he described, how utterly insufficient was the security afforded by the provisions of Clauses 2 and 3 for the religious education of the children in accordance with the wishes of their parents. There is no doubt, as the noble Earl said, interrupting a previous speaker most courteously, that Clause 3 is in its present form mandatory. That was one of the few concessions which was wrung from the Government by our friends in another place. But although Clause 3 is mandatory, there is no security that it will be put into operation. That remains absolutely unmet.. I think the noble Earl the Lord President will agree with me when I say that as the Bill stands it is absolutely open to any local authority to 1005 refuse to take over a voluntary school. Therefore, supposing we had a local authority of what I may call the Huddersfield order, as was described by the most rev. Prelate, all that they would have to do in order to secure the kind of religious education of which they approved in their district would be to refuse absolutely to take over any voluntary school. That is not at all an impossible thing to happen. I observe that my authority is a very distinguished Irish Member, and as it has not been contradicted I imagine it is absolutely true. Mr. Healy, speaking in another place, said that the Chairman of a local authority in Yorkshire had declared that he would not rest until there was not a single denominational school in existence in its area. What have we got to expect? The Chairman of the local authority can do what he threatened to do under the Bill if he can carry his council with him, and if the particular local authority is Huddersfield I do not suppose he will have any difficulty. He can merely refuse to take over any voluntary school and then the whole elaborate provisions of Clause 3 are absolutely futile, and the protection to denominational schools is entirely wanting. The noble Earl who has just sat down said in a confident way that this would be secured and that would be secured. It is not the case. They may be secured if the local authority is friendly, but if is not friendly there is no such protection. It is in order to protect the children who are unlucky enough to live in the area of a hostile local authority that we shall have to ask your Lordships to agree to some Amendment when the Bill gets into Committee.
I wish to say one word about Clause 4. Your Lordships have hoard in great detail how Clause 4 is hedged round with all sorts of elaborate limitations which I am afraid will go far to render it nugatory. I think it was Lord Burgh el ere who said that if schools were not treated properly under Clause 4 they had an appeal. That is to say if they can fulfil all the conditions, if there are parents of four-fifths of the children in favour of continuing the school as a denominational school, if it is in an urban district, if that urban district contains more than 5,000 people—then if all these conditions are fueled and the local authority refuses to give extended facili- 1006 ties the school can appeal. Has the noble-Lord looked into the Appeal Clause? Has he followed it and understood it? I can assure him I do not say this with any view of treating him with disrespect, but he will remember that none of these clauses have been explained. They were pitch-forked into the Bill in the-middle of its passage through the House of Commons, and in such a condition that they could not be explained to that branch of the legislature. As I read the Appeal Clause there is no appeal given to a school when once it has been transferred. For an appeal to lie at all it must be a school which makes this application before it is transferred. That is a very important limitation. Then the appeal must be entered before January 1st, 1908, that is to say, practically, within a year after the passing of this Bill, if it does pass into law. It will be exceedingly difficult to get things forward to such a point that an appeal will be possible in a year—and, remember, the local education authority have no motive to hurry matters, because in another clause they have complete control over the school during the year. They can do as they like in the intervening period. Why should they make things easy? If things, are slightly delayed there will be no time for appeal.
*THE EARL OF CKEWE
Which clause does the noble Marquess allude to as giving complete control in the interval? I think it is Clause 12 to which the noble Lord was alluding, the one where a school refuses to come to any arrangement.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What the noble Earl means is that the school will be carried on as a denominational school during that period. I was inaccurate and apologise to the noble Earl, but all the same the point of my argument remains. No doubt it will be carried on for a year as a denominational school, but if the local authority choose to delay matters for a year no appeal will lie. But lastly, my Lords, and this I cannot really believe that the Government intend, no appeal will lie if the local education authority refuses to entertain the application altogether, because if they do there will be no local inquiry. I think it is one of the examples of the amazing drafting of this Bill. It is because this Bill has not been introduced 1007 and carried through as an ordinary Bill, but because it has been introduced under conditions which have never been seen in Parliament before, and has been battered about from side to side as pressure was put on, the President of the Board of Education has tried to find salvation first in one Amendment and then another, until he hardly knew where he was; and then when the thing ought to have been put right in the House of Commons the guillotine came down, and the Bill in this extraordinary form has been sent up to your Lordships' House. But supposing the appeal does lie. Even then the unfortunate denominational school is not out of its troubles. The Board of Education has complete discretion even then as to whether they will entertain the appeal or not, and if they do entertain the appeal it does not follow that the school will be allowed to continue as originally started. It may be deprived of all help from the rates and be relegated to the new category of State-aided schools which has been founded for the purpose of this Bill. Finally any arrangement so settled only lasts for five years. I wonder whether your Lordships have realised what that means. If any complaint is made during the course of the five years that the local education authority is not really carrying out the decision of the appeal, then the unfortunate school runs the risk of being deprived of this rate. At the end of five years what happens? The school will be a transferred school and then no appeal will lie, when the local education authority once more refuses, and it would refuse, extended facilities.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In what am I inaccurate? Am I incorrect.in saying that no appeal would lie in the case of a transferred school?
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
NO. The noble Marquess is incorrect in saying the school would continue as a necessarily transferred school. Provided the conditions are maintained it will be continued at the end of five years.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is expressly provided that the arrangement only lasts for five years, and at the end 1008 it is to be reconsidered and the school will then be a transferred school. [MlNISTERIAL cries of "No."] Yes, it will. It will be in the hands of the Local education authority. If I am wrong the noble Karl or some other Member of the Government will correct me, but I say that being a transferred school no appeal will lie. There is no doubt whatever that a great deal more light requires to be thrown on the drafting of this Bill, and before it has left your Lordships' House I hope it will receive it. What I have said is directed only to show that not only are the limited conditions, such as have been pointed out by previous speakers, extremely onerous, not only do they deprive Clause IV. of the greater part of its efficiency, but even in the Appeal Clause an extra blow is struck at these unfortunate denominational schools.
I have troubled your Lordships with these observations in order to show what, in my judgment, is to be said of the drafting of this Bill, but I should like to say one word upon the speech delivered by the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, earlier this evening. He told us the conditions upon which he for one accepted this Bill. He told us that it was only upon the express understanding that he was not to be held to approve of the principle of this measure. I do not know whether I value that particular phrase very highly, but this I do know, that so far as I am concerned, and 1 speak, I am quite certain, for all those who sit with me on this bench, we agree with the noble Duke in thinking that no objection could legitimately be made to Amendments, however drastic they may be, merely because we have agreed to the Second Reading of this Bill. We maintain a perfectly free hand, and we earnestly hope that in the discussion yet to come in your Lordships' House something may be done, nay, a great deal may be done, in order to place once more upon its proper footing the right of the parents to preserve for the children definite religious education.
THE LORD BISHOP OF RIPON
My Lords, when I look at the clock I feel I should be only interposing between you and well-merited rest if I ventured to enlist your attention for more than a few moments, but at the same time you will perhaps allow me at this moment to interpose, because it seems to me there 1009 are one or two considerations which need to be in our minds in order that we may not merely anticipate those Amendments which I suppose will be brought forward in the autumn, but that we may, as far as possible, clear our minds as to general principles which might guide us in the interval. It is a happy thing, I think, that the consideration of the Amendments of this Bill are left to a time somewhat later, after we have had an opportunity of recuperation and therefore consideration. I cannot help thinking that it would be a very great mistake if in a measure of such importance as this, affecting as it does, not merely the welfare of the present generation, but I imagine the welfare of later generations also, we should settle this matter with anything approaching political or polemical heat. There are questions which surely might very well be lifted above the range of more partisan controversy, and whether we differ from one another on points of religion or points of politics, yet upon this question of what is best for the uprising generation we ought, as far as possible, to seek a common policy and come to a unanimous agreement. I admit what has been said—who of us can deny it? —that when we approach the question we are immediately immersed in a religious controversy. There are sonic people who deprecate that, and who, like my noble friend opposite, desire to bring in such measures as would remove entirely from the sphere, as it wore, of political action the religious question altogether. But, my Lords, I entirely differ from those who imagine that there is evil in the religious fervour which is expressed on such a matter as this. It is surely important that we at least remain earnest in this matter of religion, and I venture to say the day would be a very sad one if this question of religion were met in any degree with indifference and there was no earnestness kindled in the discussion of what was meant by religious education. Therefore I am not afraid to speak of the earnest spirit which has been displayed on all sides, and I speak with a greater case and confidence this afternoon because I gather from the speeches delivered on both sides that it sides now to be an accepted fact that this Bill will be read a second time without a division. We are therefore in a calmer atmosphere and we can 1010 look at these questions with greater deliberation. We can separate ourselves from the domains of political party, and may I say also, from the control of any ecclesiastical or theological bias. If we can do that we may perhaps approach those principles which it seems to me are absolutely necessary for a just and permanent settlement of this great education question.
There are only three policies possible to us. Two of these I may describe as logical, and the third may be described by some as illogical. The first logical settlement is that of the secularist, who says: ' Let us abolish this difficulty by simply saying we will secularise all education.'
Now the amendment suggested by the noble Lord opposite was intended to do that, but I take it from what has been said on both sides to-night and the division elsewhere that we have abannonel altogether the idea of a secular settlement of this question. I think that is right. I think that the people of this country do not desire secularism, but that is a very different thing from saying that there are conceivable conditions in which you may be driven into it, and it is that fact which we need to keep in mind, because in the history of nations it has often happened that the very thing which the majority of the people have not desired has yet been brought to pass. I may illustrate it in this way. Two men are sitting on a seesaw, and if they are men of pretty well equal weight it is quite possible that a little man or child seated on the saddle of the see-saw may be able to determine the direction in which it may rise or fall, and it is precisely that position in which we find ourselves at the present moment. We find ourselves in the position in which parties are so evenly balanced, for although the majority may be mentioned as very high in another place, yet I think if you appeal you would find that public opinion is much more evenly balanced than we have any idea of. But the evil I point out is that there may be a danger in the future, and if we do not come to a reasonable settle merit in this matter, it may be settled in a sense which neither side of this House nor the country at large in any way do-sires. Some people are inclined to minimise this danger on the ground that 1011 there has been such determined opposition to secularism; but I venture to express the possibility that it might be otherwise, and therefore as a grave deliberative assembly, into whose hands has been entrusted a great responsibility concerning the destinies of the people, I do earnestly implore your Lordships to take no step which may in any sense jeopardise the determination and the combination of all parties in this country to maintain Christian teaching throughout the length and breadth of the land.
I quite admit we may maintain that religious principle by the method described by the Lord President, by a concurrent endowment, and that would be a logical solution of this matter. It would be saying in effect that we are not discriminating between any of the religious bodies, but putting all upon the same platform; and although the objection would be raised that the rates would be used for religious purposes, personally I should have no objection on that score, because I do not share the intense conscientiousness of some people who are afraid to spend a penny of public money in doing that which the country at large desires should be done. That solution, I venture to say, is outside the range of practical politics at the present moment, and although I could quite imagine a number of people desirous and enamoured of it, I cannot help asking myself the question, is it possible? And if not possible, lot us take a wise policy and not sock one which we cannot obtain. I was very happy to hear on all sides, and particularly from the Members of Government to-night, that this Bill protects religious teaching in the country, but I confess that when I examine the Bill I cannot find the justification of this Utopian idea. It does strike me as a very strange way of maintaining simple Christian teaching in this country when it is pointed out that you may have a county council that will not allow it, that you may have teachers who may have conscientious objections about giving it, and that you may have parents who will not allow their children to receive it. The Bill, therefore, does not, as I understand it, give the very thing for which it seems to me we should contend most earnestly. If we could only go to people and say this Bill gives simple Christian teaching of such a 1012 character that itdoes not lack definiteness, that it is real and genuine, and that it is taught by people who earnestly believe in it—if you can go to people and say that is the meaning of this measure, I believe it would find acceptance from seven-tenths of the people of the country; but I cannot find that in the Bill. What I would earnestly pray your Lordships to consider is, whatever Amendments you may introduce into the Bill, and there are some I am sure all agree should be there, let us make this one strong resolution, that the Bill shall not leave this House till the right of religions teaching is secured to every child in the country. Do not leave it to the option of local authorities. The reason I say that is very simple. There are those who take very various views concerning the qualifications of Parliament to deal with religious questions. I confess that it has always seemed to me to be a very far fetched and unreal idea that Parliament has no right and no duty and no obligation towards the religious condition of the people of the country. My view is the very opposite of that. So long as we believe that the people of this country desire religious teaching, and so long as it is our settled conviction that they ought to have it, so long I think it is the solemn and bounden duty of the Government to see that it is put within their roach. If that is not secured by this Bill the people of this country will have a right to fool they are disappointed.
What I plead for, therefore, is that the religious teaching which is contemplated in this Bill should not be left to the option of the local authority. We are told, of course, that the local authorities will be very good, and will do all that is right and just, but we have instances which show that they are not always disposed to give oven simple religious teaching. But what troubles my mind far more than that, is this. What is the ground on which we are asked to trust the local authority? It is the general conscience, which is supposed to be working in the minds of those bodies; but why imagine that the local authority is likely to possess a conscience, and deny the right of that conscience to the legislature of this country? It seems to me, that if little Peddlington has a conscience, the Houses of Parliament must have one on this matter; and therefore I 1013 say this question should not be left to the chance of elections for the local authorities, but should be settled by the determination of Parliament itself. But I ask for something else. I ask that religious teaching should be made real. I was happy to hear, and I am sure many amongst us will be very much reassured by hearing, that this Bill is intended to cover a religious teaching in which the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles' Creed shall find a place. If that is the case, many around us have misunderstood the Bill. I am very glad that it should be so, and I am thankful to see that there have been Nonconformists who have had both the courage and wisdom to declare that what they desire is, that the simple teaching shall be in harmony with the Apostles' Creed. That seems to me a very hopeful sign indeed. I am not amongst those who stand very strongly for what is called denominational teaching, because I understand by denominational teaching those points upon which one religious body differs from another, and which are, therefore, outside the range of these larger matters, upon which the greater number, I trust, of Christian bodies, are in accord. A denomination is that which is distinguished by its denominationalism. The denominationalism of the Baptist consists of the theory of Adult Baptism, but when you ask is there nothing in common, my plea is that there is, but I know there are these who say no, and that all that is loft is nothing at all. Of course, if we are to say that the teaching is to be such that you are never to say anything in your teaching that anyone also can possibly object to, then I admit the residuum is very small indeed, and, as I think, it disappears into thin air. But I do not think that is the reason, and I do not think it would be wise or dignified to enter into a mere strategic discussion of this matter in order to prove that there is a nebulous result left. You have the clear definition given to us by respectable Nonconformists that they are desirous to maintain a reality of religious teaching. If I were speaking my own opinion only, I should listen with the greatest respect to those, and they are many, who differ from me, but I am not faithless to my own communion when I say that simple Christianity does mean something real, and when I remember that it is precisely the authorised declaration of my own Church.
1014 Now, my Lords, I cannot help standing with a sense of what I would call deeper responsibility as I look into the meaning of this question as it is addressing itself to our minds today. I have the greatest reverence for those who are anxious that the faith which has done so much for them and for their ancestors should remain untouched and untampered with. I feel that the greatest respect and reverence should be paid to anyone who comes to us and says "these convictions are dear to me; you may not share them, but, believe mo, they are dear to me and to thousands more." Whether we agree with that attitude or not, it is entitled to the deepest respect and reverence. For that reason I would earnestly plead that whatever can be done to meet the rights of parents, or, shall I say, the sanctity of the religious convictions of other people, should be done in this Bill by increasing or improving the conditions of the facilities which are provided. I do ask whether we have not reached a juncture in the religious history of the world in which it is important that we should realise that that common Christianity which now is beginning to find such happy expressions from Nonconformists and others is a real thing, and for which it is worth sacrificing a good deal in order that we may agree upon it? The history of religious controversy is this, that the value and significance of dogmas which were of such vast importance and loomed so large in the minds of our ancestors, are becoming less and less. These things we have largely outgrown and we are beginning to see a wider and nobler prospect before us. Who now is going to enter into controversy concerning Calvinism and Arminianism? Why, these things are going fast into the past, but, as I believe, we are not left unguided by One who directs the destinies of nations. It seems to me that in our very difficulties there is an appeal from Providence round us not to make too much of our differences in our hour, and that as the changes of human thought advance so will the very simplicity of these truths become more and more apparent to us. Yonder, in the great world men are famishing for the great Truth we have the power to give, and it is of the most earnest importance that we should, as far as possible, show by our action to-day that there is something in the platform of our common Christ- 1015 ianity upon which we can unite, which is dearer to us than many other things which are dear also. Although it is true that I am as loyally attached to my communion as ever, yet when the hour of my country's danger is come, so do I feel it is now for us to come out and say while we are sincerely attached to our communion we do earnestly ask you to magnify those grounds on which we can agree to face a common danger.
I said that there is the fear of secularism. It is before our eyes. It is for that reason I spoke. The power which moves for secularism will be kept in abeyance if it can be shown that the Christian men of this country, while over holding their personal convictions strong, clear and true, are yet ready to unite and resist a common foe, and to preserve the heritage of the children of this country. Let us surrender something, if necessary, for the maintenance of what is greater and more lasting still. There is much I should like to criticise in this Bill, but time is too short. My objection to the policy suggested by the noble Lord opposite is that it lowers religion beneath the place of acknowledged dignity which it ought to hold in this country. It betokens a policy which seems to say, "You can do as you please because the State has no responsible euro in this matter." But the State has something to do with it, unless we have fallen low and lost faith in the Living God. Forgive me if I speak the language which befits my own profession, but it does seem to me that the Resolution of this House ought to be something on those lines: "We who represent the people of this country, believing in the Living God ourselves, and remembering that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, resolve that no child within the country shall be allowed to grow up without the opportunity of knowing these elementary Christian truths," and it is because I believe that that is the only way in which we can save ourselves from the possibility of that secularism which would be so disastrous and destructive to national life and character, that I plead, at any rate, that whatever our own convictions may be we stand firm and determined that the simple Christianity of which I have spoken be maintained as an integral and necessary part of the education of the children of this country.
§ LORD OVERTOUN
We all sympathise with the eloquent words that have fallen from the right rev. Prelate who has just spoken. He said that it might be well from a little distance to review the whole condition of this Bill. Now I think, hailing from Scotland, we can look from afar on the principles of this Bill. May I remind noble Lords that in 1872, when the Scottish education question was settled, we had then in Scotland schools belonging to all the Presbyterian churches, and though in the main the belief of all the Presbyterian churches is the same, still there is what has been often spoken of as a different atmosphere altogether in those Presbyterian churches. When our national system of education in 1872 was launched, all the Presbyterian churches made up their minds to give up their own denominational schools. I was asked the other day by a friend in England how much they got for all the schools they gave up. They not only got nothing, but they asked nothing; they handed them over as they were to the new school boards which were started in that country. The next question was, "Do you mean to say that the different churches had sufficient confidence in the new school boards that a proper religious education would be given when those schools would be taken over, to enable them to give up all that property, which would be worth a very large sum of money and which had been paid almost entirely by the members of the churches?" the answer was "Certainly. We have confidence in our fellow citizens and our follow countrymen," and the result is justified by the experience we have gained. I have often wished that the Church of England had followed a little more in the way of the Presbyterians in Scotland in order to obtain a national system of education. Those schools which are being handed over are generally known as voluntary schools, but I must confess that the word "voluntary" is very much of a misnomer, for they have not been entirely maintained or supported by the Church. And the support is of a very diminishing quantity, and therefore I think that the sacrifice, if they were to hand them over for general national education, would not be so great as is generally supposed.
I am glad that the noble Lord who put on the Notice Paper a Motion as to the secularising of education has soon his way to withdraw that Motion. I am well 1017 aware that those who sympathise with Lord Malmesbury fear a little to drag the religions question into the controversy and might lie prepared to sweep it aside, but that is not the opinion of this country. If that question were an outside one, it might very well be laid aside, but I think no education is worth having in this country except it is based upon religious grounds. Doubtless there is a difficulty in satisfying all and finding a common ground on which to agree, but we are bound to face a difficulty of this kind when it involves such serious consequences. And I believe that if this crucial question were honestly faced we ought to be able to have it properly settled. Unless the children in our schools are taught about truth and their duty to God and man our educational system will stand entirely on a false basis. We call ourselves a Christian country and we speak of national education, but I strongly believe that except our education is founded on righteousness and the word of Clod it will not be of a satisfactory character at all. The fact that in another place the vote was as large as 477 against 63 shows how strongly and unanimously the people of this country fool on this great question.
But we come to a difficult question. The right rev. Prelate and others who spoke near him seemed to slide into the error that religious teaching means the teaching of the Church of England. Now it has been frequently said that religious teaching viewed in that light is not Bible teaching. If religious teaching according to the Church of England is not Bible teaching, then it is a bad look-out for the Church of England, because we understand the Bible to be the basis of teaching of that kind. I am glad to note what has been said to-night by the right rev. Prelate with regard to the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. Let me remind you that they come out of the Bible. The Apostles' Creed is not accurately scriptural, but we accept it, and I believe the whole country accepts it as a statement of religious belief. In Scotland we have no religious difficulty, and I know that in some quarters where no religion was taught those in the neighbourhood, having put their heads together, managed to introduce a system that was satisfactory to everyone —a sound religious education, and I cannot help believing that if, say, half a dozen representatives of the Church of 1018 England and half a dozen representatives of the Nonconformists were to meet together and honestly try to find a common ground wherein those great truths we all believe in were clearly set forth without any sectarian teaching, it would not be difficult to arrive at a solid foundation of scripture teaching in the schools. The word "dogma" has been used tonight very frequently, but I strongly feel that we do teach dogma, and must teach it, because by dogma I understand those great vital doctrines on which we all rest our faith, and not denominationalism. I was somewhat surprised to hoar the right rev. Prelate to-night speak of the great Act of the last century as being Mr. Forster's Education Act of 1870. I am old enough to remember the bitter and fierce controversy that raged round that question in those days, and it is very refreshing now to hear leaders in the Church of England speak of it as a very great Act. I believe that if the principles that are embodied in the Bill now before us were carried out, in later years it would be accepted as a great measure that had disentangled many of the complicated questions we have to face in this matter. The right reverend Prelate was speaking of one of the schools to which the President of the Council referred, but it seemed to me in the argument he used he entirely gave away his case with regard to the London school. He said the children went to it not because of its denominational teaching but because it was a superior class of school, and that the tone was better; but the whole argument was that the children wanted to go to it or the parents wanted to send them to it because of its denominational teaching. The superiority of the school is possibly the consequence of a large amount of money spent on it and the higher class of teacher obtained. The right reverend Prelate held up a lurid picture of a teacher who did not believe in miracles, and especially the Resurrection of our Lord, and spoke of the danger of having such a teacher for the young. I believe there are many even of the Church of England clergy who hold such views but in general they are not objected to on that ground. And I do not think one case of the kind is enough to make a difficulty.
May I say finally that the noble Marquess who spoke on the other 1019 side rather twitted the Liberal Party because of their differing on questions of detail, although they agreed on principles. I think that for a Party to agree in great principles is one of the signs of the solidarity of that Party, though they may and must differ in detail. But when the noble Marquess went on to speak of adherence to principle he laid down one great principle, that of the right of parents in regard to the teaching of their children, and I wondered what he and those who agreed with him, when they introduced the Bill of 1902, thought of the rights and wishes of Nonconformist parents. This Bill is an effort to right what has been a great wrong. There has been since the Act of 1902 a great sense of injustice among the Nonconformists of England,and it must be remembered that the Nonconformists in England constitute very nearly half the population of this great land. By that Act the education of the country was practically handed over to the Church of England. I have heard this Bill described as an attack upon the Church of England. It is no such thing. We do not seek to retaliate, but we sock to adjust equitably a great difficulty, and to restore a balance which was destroyed by the Act to which I have referred. We heard tonight that in 1870 an agreement was come to that there should be no denominational teaching in rate-aided schools. This Bill endeavours to set that right again. I do not deny, and none of us deny, that this Bill may be improved, but I believe it is a splendid effort to settle a very difficult controversy, and to put the education of the rising generation in England on a satisfactory and suitable basis.
§ Moved, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ On Question, Debate adjourned till to-morrow.