HL Deb 03 August 1906 vol 162 cc1475-572

Debate on the Motion for the Second Reading resumed (according to Order).


My Lords, I confess I feel somewhat ashamed of continuing a discussion which has gradually proceeded to a point when it has become a weary reiteration of questions asked and not answered. At the head of these questions is the question, why has this Bill—I do not say any Bill—been introduced? I agree with what the most rev. Primate said in that magnificent exposition which we all listened to with so much pleasure on Wednesday, that it was to be expected that His Majesty's Government would introduce a Bill upon the subject, but the question remains why a Bill which seems to have been conceived in a spirit of hostility to the Church of England should have been introduced as the only means of getting rid of what were supposed to be grievances arising out of the Act of 1902.

I should like to ask another question, but I am afraid it will meet the fate of its predecessors. Has any calculation been made of the relative positions of the Churches under Clause 4, how many Roman Catholic schools will be affected, how many Church of England schools, how many Jewish, and so forth? If any calculation of the kind has been made I would like to know the result, and, if the calculation has not been made, I ask, why not? Was it so immaterial a consideration? Are the members of the Church of England so few as to be a negligible quantity? What, then, is the meaning of a clause which, according to ordinary interpretation, will place the Church of England at a disadvantage, and that Church alone? As I have said, I am afraid I shall not get an answer. I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that, whether the calculation was made or not, those who prompted the construction of this Bill must have had before them the evident effect of the proposals.

The Minister for Education has repudiated the idea that the Bill was constructed in any spirit of hostility to the Church of England. I know that Mr. Birrell is an honourable man, and I should be the last person in the world to suggest that he did not mean what he said; it is, therefore, the more extraordinary that the Bill as it stands is one which everybody who is familiar with the Church of England and its schools must know will in its effect be most disastrous to the schools of that Church. No one can challenge the knowledge of the occupants of the right rev. Benches, who almost without exception have pointed out the injustice which is done to the Church of England. Again I ask the question. Is this the only mode in which the supposed grievances on the part of Nonconformists can be met, and has any attempt been made to show what those grievances are?

I am not taking an exaggerated or partisan view. I recognise gratefully the spirit and tone of the speech of the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council in introducing this Bill. But I am not alone in the view that I take. It is a view that has support in speeches of Government supporters. They admit that the Bill does not give religious equality in schools. For the first time in history a Government calling itself Liberal is definitely enacting that one form of religious teaching and one form only shall be subsidised by the State. That is not my observation. It is the observation of Mr. Masterman. What one desires to know is, why is the Church of England the only exception from that scrupulous nicety with which other creeds are treated 1 The noble Duke said very truly yesterday that what is called Cowper-Templeism is not a specified form of religious teaching at all; it is a series of prohibitions. Something of that character has grown out of it, but it is only just to Mr. Cowper-Temple's memory to say that, whatever the effect of his clause has been, that was not what he intended. Let me read to the House what he said on that subject— the limitations to be put on the local boards should not only be negative, but also positive. That has disappeared. the State in this matter of education ought to be unsectarian, but it must be Christian. It had been ruled by high authority that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land, and before a witness could give evidence he must take an oath. The State ought to take care that in an undenominational school established under the Bill some religious instruction should be given. The Bible should be read and explained. The Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer should be taught. To allow the Bible to be read without explanation would be unfair and cruel to the child. I think, after that quotation from Mr. Cowper-Temple's own words, it is somewhat unfair to his memory to describe Cowper-Templeism as having grown out of his clause in the way it is often described here and elsewhere.

I ask why the Bill has been introduced with its limitations and injustices affecting the Church of England, and what is to become of the Church's schools if the Bill is put into operation? I acknowledge at once the courtesy of tone which his characterised the discussion. We have had a series of most courteous and kindly wishes and assurances of good intentions—I am afraid there is an awkwardness always in speaking of good intentions—for which, of course, we are most grateful; but we have had no answers to our questions. Good intentions will not, I fear, construe an Act of Parliament, and unless you put your kindness to opponents into the statute, the hard-hearted Judges will be guided by the nature of that statute, and not by the good intentions of its authors.

Will it bring peace? I should like to recall the debates which took place in 1870, when it was made a reproach to Mr. Gladstone that he carried the Education Bill with the help of his political opponents, and to some extent that was due. Mr. Dixon and Mr. Illing-worth made remarkable deliverances on that subject. Let me read Mr. Dixon's Amendment, because it was in itself rather a prediction of what would follow. Mr. Dixon moved— That this House is of opinion that no measure for the elementary education of the people will afford a satisfactory or permanent settlement which leaves the question of religious instruction in schools supported by public funds and rates to be determined by local authorities. And in discussing the question Mr. Forster pointed out the extreme danger of the course which left to the local authorities the determination of such questions. Mr. Illingworth was not less emphatic. He said— He was not going to attempt to determine what religion should be taught, but he objected strongly to Parliament abandoning its duty by refusing to determine so serious a question, and leaving it to be threshed out in vestries in the smaller and corporations in the larger towns. Every one of these observations apply now with equal force to the new bodies formed under the name of local education authorities. That people should take a strong view of what is called "the eternal religious question" is not a circumstance which I, for one, regret; but the idea that this Bill is going to get rid of that question is illusory. I would again call attention to the resolution passed at a meeting under the presidency of Dr. Clifford, in which the meeting registered its protest against the acceptance of the Bill as a settlement of the question, and expressed the profound conviction of large numbers of Liberals and Nonconformists that it leaves several of the "grossest wrongs" Inflicted on the country by the Act of 1902 unredressed, while still further subsidising all the old denominational schools in many directions and strengthening their sectarian character. Whatever may be said about Dr. Clifford, I do not think any one will doubt his energy in any agitation he conducts. Can it be contended, in view of these facts, that this Bill can put an end to the religious differences?

I should have thought that the truer view—may I say the higher Christian view?—would be to desire as far as possible to meet the religious views of all sections. This is a case for the display of some kind of charity to your neighbour, but apparently the clergymen of the Anglican Church are outside the region of reasonable charity. They are always supposed to be proselytising, tyrannical, ritualistic persons, for whom no particular consideration ought to be displayed. That is not the spirit of true charity that should obtain. I do not understand what can be the idea in the minds of those who think that this Bill can bring about a settlement. I speak with "bated breath and whispering humbleness" In the presence of the right rev. Prelates on the purely religious aspect of the Bill. This is one of those subjects on which there is a natural reticence on the part of laymen; but none the less there is deeply seated in every Christian man's mind a feeling that this is the most important subject with which we can deal. It seems to me to be treated sometimes with a lightness which is certainly inappropriate to the subject.

I am not quite certain that I followed what Lord Ribblesdale meant by his quotation from the author of the '' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." I think it must have been wrongly quoted. I am sure the noble Lord did not mean what I am afraid it would be quoted as meaning. Mr. Gibbon himself never lost an opportunity of sneering at the Christian religion. I do not know what was meant unless it was that the line of true statesmanship would be to disregard all religion in the settlement of this question. If that was the meaning of it, I venture respectfully to differ profoundly from those who take that view. I believe that the religious history of our country is a standing testimony to the value of a Christian education and to the influence of the Church of England in maintaining it.

In some of these discussions there is a feeling that, whatever you do about religious education, you must avoid dogma. I say most sincerely that I do not know what that means. I know the meaning of the Greek world, but I do not believe it is intelligible. What do you mean by dogma? Every one of the propositions in the Apostles' Creed is dogma. Are you not to teach the Apostles' Creed? I again say I do not expect any reply to this question. It is one of many which will remain unanswered. Again, are you prohibited from finding out whether the person whom you employ, or whom you allow in obedience to the law to teach your child, is competent to do so? I believe that the neutral word "qualified" In regard to teachers is introduced. You dare not say that you must find out whether he is a Christian or whether he does or does not belong to your particular Church, for there you get the religious test. But is a teacher qualified to teach something in which he does not believe? How is it to be found out whether a man is qualified to teach religion? Does any sane person believe that a child can receive religious teaching from a person who does not believe in the religion he professes to teach?

It has been said that we may be sure that the persons entrusted with the duty of selecting the teacher will take care that he is qualified. I cannot help thinking that we must face these questions and not by the use of ambiguous phraseology get rid of the difficulty of answering them. Is it, or is it not, to be lawful for a father to ascertain whether the person who is to teach his child is a Christian or not? Lord Ribblesdale said he had never met in the flesh a Voltaire-cum-Rousseau teacher, but the most rev. Primate gave the House an example on Wednesday. Is this, or is it not, a real danger? Here was a man occupying a position such as the most rev. Primate described, and he was an actual unbeliever. Is it to be expected that Church of England parents will allow religious teaching to be given by such a teacher if they can help it? Let me suggest another difficulty. The noble Earl the Lord President of the Council gave us, if he will forgive me for saying so, rather a layman's view of what he called the Cypres doctrine. It is dangerous to deal with legal phrases. May I ask the noble Earl whether he quite appreciates what he is talking about in that respect? Does he suggest that there is any analogy? I contend that there has been ample fulfilment of the purposes for which the voluntary schools were founded.


I cannot, of course, pretend to engage in a legal argument with the noble and learned Earl, but I imagine that the binding force of this clause is that it is on the failure to carry on the trust by these schools that the Commission steps in. The noble and learned Earl implied that the trust was being carried on. The necessary precedent condition is that the trust should have broken down, and then the Commission steps in.


Has it broken down? My point is that there has been no failures. I contend that there has been ample fulfilment of the purposes for which these schools were founded; and, that being so, the proposals of the Bill would, it appears to me, constitute an outrageous interference with private property, to say nothing else. I think it is a most serious thing to interfere with these trusts except in the case of misconduct or failure on the part of the managers to fulfil the purposes of the trust. It may be my fault, but I have not the least notion on what conceivable ground it is thought proper to interfere with these trusts, and I do not understand why a tribunal ad hoc should be created to deal with them, seeing that the Court of Chancery has for centuries applied itself to matters such as would come before the now tribunal. I should have every confidence in the three gentlemen to be appointed to form the Commission, but that is not the point. You do not get to them until the whole series of acts referred to last night by Lord Robertson come into play.

I hesitated a good deal to intervene in this debate knowing I should only be adding to the number of unanswered questions. But there is one observation I really think I must make. Threats, veiled or unveiled, have been held out in the usual way to your Lordships' House should you venture to act on your own view of what is right in this matter; I am not surprised that these threats have not been repeated in this House. I do not think that a threat is a very potent argument, and I think it is the very last thing to induce an Englishman to alter his views. We are dealing with the question whether or not we should abandon the children for whom we are responsible to what we believe to be an ungodly system—and it is an ungodly system if the leading principles of the Christian faith are struck out—and any one who imagines that your Lordships would be deterred by such a threat as that from acting on your own judgment and from throwing out this Bill, if it is necessary in order to preserve children from such a danger, must have a very small idea of the House of Lords and of his countrymen. In my view, this Bill is unjust, impolitic, and, I believe, absolutely unworkable in its present form, and I, for one, if it is not so modified as to get rid of the objections I entertain to it, shall certainly record my vote against it on the Third Reading.


My Lords, I feel that my task in having in this important debate to reply to a statesman of the commanding knowledge and experience of the noble and learned Earl who has just sat down is a very difficult one; It is, perhaps, all the more so because I have been forcibly reminded, during the course of this debate, of one of the favourite sayings of the late Lord Granville, who for so many years led your Lordships House with such great applause, with regard to those who sit on these benches. He used to say, "What are we amongst so many?" Noble Lords who sit opposite are powerful, not only in possessing leaders of the great ability of the noble and learned Earl, but also in the formidable array which at all times enables them to appear for the moment as the dictators of the situation.

The noble Earl has himself concluded with an observation—I am not for a moment going to call it a threat—that your Lordships, in his opinion, would be justified, under certain circumstances, in rejecting the Bill on Third Reading. But when I reflect upon the reasons which the noble Earl gave for that course, I confess they did not seem to me to be even as strong as some of those which, allowing for the convictions of the speakers, caused other noble Lords opposite and right rev. Prelates to arrive at the same conclusion. The noble and learned Earl was chiefly concerned with the re-assertion of some of those ancient doctrines with regard to the sanctity and perpetuity of trusts which, I believe, are not held universally even by noble Lords opposite. I have heard those arguments used before, I think, by the noble and learned Earl himself in another place where we sat together for many years. I have heard them from illustrious lawyers who represent the same school of legal thought as the noble and learned Earl.

When I first had the honour of a seat in the House of Commons we were fighting the battle of University tests, and great lawyers, especially great ecclesiastical lawyers, came forward and asked what right a Liberal Government had to interfere with the ancient trusts of the Universities when nobody was prepared to say that those Universities and colleges were not doing a great and useful work. That is exactly what the noble and learned Earl has said to-day— that the voluntary schools are doing a good and useful work, and that therefore we are, ipso facto, morally estopped from interfering with the trusts. Those arguments have been long ago rejected by Parliament. I say with all respect to the noble and learned Earl that it is useless in the year 1906 to ask us to accept a series of propositions which Parliament has rejected over and over again since 1870. I may remind the noble and learned Earl, to go back to the great question of University tests, that there were in those days some who acknowledged that though it might be a right and proper thing to throw open the degrees and the honours of the universities to Jews and Nonconformists, they were obliged to stop there. They could not accept interference with the endowments of the colleges as distinct from the University itself. That for a great number of years was the position of Mr. Gladstone himself, but Parliament did not accept those doctrines; nor did the Liberal Party accept them, and eventually the Universities and colleges were thrown open.

We are told by the noble and learned Earl that if the proposals of the Bill are adopted the sanctity of property will be at an end and the direst consequences will follow. While desiring to treat with the greatest respect everything which falls from the lips of the noble and learned Earl, I am not prepared to be alarmed by these dire vaticinations, because, oddly enough, I have heard them all before in this very House, though a number of years ago. I was a listener in 1867—I believe it was the first time I ever stood within the precincts of this House—when I was still in my last year at the University at Cambridge, to that great education debate in which Lord Russell—a name always to be mentioned by Liberals in connection with the education question with the deepest reverence and respect—at the close of his great career and just before he handed over the leadership of the party to Mr. Gladstone, brought forward in your Lordships' House a series of propositions in regard to the future settlement of education. I well remember that oration. A young man could not possibly fail to be deeply impressed by that great speech front the lips of the veteran statesman. But, after he had spoken, there rose the then Lord President of the Council, the Duke of Marlborough. He implored their Lordships on no account to adopt the dangerous proposals which had just been placed before them by Lord Russell, and he assured them, just as the noble and learned Earl has assured us to-day, that if they did the sanctity of property would be at an end and the country would fee the effects of insecurity in every quarter. He finally concluded by imploring your Lordships' predecessors on no account to substitute for the existing institutions of the day another edifice, which, he said, would be one based upon insecure foundations and certain to involve all who stool near it in ruin; and he concluded by imploring them, in the words of the great Latin poet, not to erect an Excels œ turris tabulata unde altior esset casus, et insolitœ prœceps immane ruinœ.

Your Lordship's predecessors in title then adjoined and went home in a frame of mind looking forward to the no distant day when, Owing to the destructive plans of the Liberal Party, and of Lord Russell in particular, to judge by the words of the Duke of Marlborough, the satyr would be dancing among the ruins of St. James's Palace and the great owl would be building its nest with the remains of the Lord Chancellor's woolsack. But it so happened that all the proposals and some more which had been brought forward by Lord Russell were incorporated in an Act of Parliament in 1870, and in the year 1906 this House is still in existence, property is still secure, trusts have not been abolished in consequence of some changes; and we have the noble and learned Earl coming forward and asking us to take seriously a mere repetition of all those ancient fears. The noble and learned Earl commenced his observations by saying that we have no facts and no statistics, and that he hoped the Government would furnish them. I did not understand that he was asking whoever might follow him in debate—and I have that honour—to take up your Lordships' time by producing and reading long tables showing the total number of voluntary schools, the total number of council schools, the total number of local authorities, and matters of that kind.


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I never asked for anything of the sort. What I asked for were Answers to Questions.


I understood the noble and learned Earl, in his opening sentence, to suggest that the House should be told something about the number of Schools upon which these changes would operate.


I said under Clause 4.


That is part of it, of course. So far as I know these statistics have already been given in another place, and although I have no authority to say so, I cannot conceive that there would be any objection to furnishing your Lordships before we go into Committee with statistics showing the total number of schools, the number of voluntary and council schools, how many are in urban areas and rural areas, how many will be affected by Clause 4 how many of them fall below the 5,000 limit, and all those matters. In alluding to the noble and learned Earl's request I did not do so in any hostile spirit, because it appeared to me a not unnatural inquiry. I am anxious to show the noble and learned Earl that in all matters where we can meet him we desire to do so.

As to the 5,000 limit, the question what special advantage there is in that figure has been raised by the noble Marquess who recently presided over the Board of Education. The origin of the matter was this. Those who are familiar with the history of local government in England are aware that in the year 1858 the first Local Government Act was passed, under which the owners and ratepayers of a parish or township could become subject to what was then called a local board. That Act was very considerably abused. A great number of really rural places calculated that if they could justify themselves in saying they were a quasi-rural area, they could rearrange the highway rate over the whole district. In that way a great number of small places gradually obtained urban powers, and, owing to the great difficulty there is in England of depriving any place of a privilege which Parliament has given it, these places, which are mainly rural in character, have gradually blossomed out into possessors of almost the full rights of an urban community. One of the objects of this Bill, as your Lordships are aware, is to distinguish between town and country, and therefore all that this subsection means is that where there is an urban area which, in its character, is not really urban, it should be treated under Clause 3 and not under Clause 4. There is no magic about the number 5,000. Some may think it a little too high, and others may regard it as too low; but I have told your Lordships the plain, unvarnished truth as to the origin of this clause. The position of those small urban districts, quite apart from all sectarian questions, has been constantly a source of difficulty to local administrators and to the Legislature, and the Government are perfectly aware that in dealing with them in this way they are treading in the footsteps of those who have gone before them. Of course, people may differ as to the exact limit of population which ought to be fixed, but it is not any such question which has excited the deep feelings shown in this debate.

We are making a strong and honest attempt finally to settle a great question, and we do not complain—it would be utterly unreasonable to do so—that our proposals are subjected to severe examination. But I think it would greatly facilitate our task if noble Lords who oppose the Bill would make their ideas as to what the settlement ought to be more clear than I venture to think they have so far succeeded in making them. When I read the letters sent to The Times by the highest dignitaries of the Church, by bishops and by deans, I am unable to recognise any unanimity or any coherent plan. I have noticed the same thing before. In 1902 there was that unfortunate divergence of opinion among those who might be looked upon as authoritative expositors of Church doctrine on these questions which makes any settlement so difficult. After all, if you differ from a man or from a public body you have at least a reasonable chance of coming to an agreement if you know clearly and definitely what that person or body wants. But that is not the case here.

The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham, who I always mention on more grounds than one with the deepest personal respect, has written a pamphlet setting forth the objections to this Bill. I understand those objections, although I do not agree with them. But then I take up a speech of the Bishop of Carlisle who, I suppose, also speaks with authority. He is not a member of your Lordships' House, but I take it that he speaks on behalf of the Church. The Bishop of Carlisle has expressed a set of views absolutely different from those of the Bishop of Birmingham; and when I listened to the admirable speech of the most rev. Primate in your Lordships' House on Wednesday, I again seemed to be listening to a set of opinions which differed from those of both the Bishop of Birmingham and the Bishop of Carlisle.

There is a further difficulty. We have among us a layman of the highest character and reputation — he is unfortunately, no longer a Member of the other House of Parliament—who is apparently more able to express the views of a larger body of Church opinion than even the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church. I allude to Lord Hugh Cecil. In the days, of Lord Palmerston it used to be a joke that if you wanted to find out what was being thought in Church circles and what was likely to be done, it was far more important to ascertain the views of Lord Shaftesbury than the views of the Archbishop of Canterbury or of Lord Palmerston himself; and in this matter I am inclined to think that if you want to ascertain the views of the majority of Churchmen, of what may be called the fighting and energetic body of Church opinion, it is often quite as important to know what Lord Hugh Cecil thinks as to ascertain even what is thought by the highest dignitaries of the Church. Lord Hugh Cecil—and I make the comparison in no uncomplimentary spirit — is like the great statesman who was said in the eighteenth century to be the secret influence behind the Throne. He is a sort of ecclesiastical Lord Bute, the secret influence behind the Archiepiscopate; and it is necessary, if we are to ascertain the views of the Church, that we should know the views of Lord Hugh Cecil. All these views appear to be quite different. How, then, can you blame a Liberal Government if they are obliged to steer a course of their own and judge upon the facts that are accumulated in the Education Office?

A certain tone of bitterness has been imported into those debates apparently because of the idea that the Government are embarking on a course hostile to religion. There, again, the indictment is not always the same. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, so far as was able to follow his argument in the impassioned speech which he made and which we all listened to with great admiration, attacked the Bill because it was chiefly an attempt to set up undenominational religion at the expense of denominational religion. That is a point of view that we can understand. But the noble Duke who opened the debate yesterday took a different line. He said the Bill was an attack upon all religion, that it was an attack upon denominational and undenominational religion alike. We are, therefore, in a very difficult position. We do not know which of these indictments it is that we are called upon to answer. Broadly speaking, our answer is this. The people of this country are a religious people, This Bill entrusts large rights and duties to the educational authorities of the country, and it is not to be supposed that an educational authority elected by religious people will be likely at once to commence an anti-religious campaign. The law of England does not suppose that people will always act reasonably. Perhaps, if that were so, many of the laws would be unnecessary. But the law of England does not suppose that people will always act unreasonably, and many of the arguments which we have heard in the course of this debate seem to me to presuppose that the local authorities of this country are certain to act in an unreasonable manner and to abuse the powers given to them.

The contention that teaching under the Cowper-Temple clause will lead to a secular system is an attack not on this Bill but on the existing law. The Cowper-Temple clause now governs the education of the majority of the children of this country. The number of school departments, no doubt, as divided between voluntary schools and council schools is about equal, but when you come to work out the number of children who attend Council schools and those who attend voluntary schools there is a marked and growing preponderance of children in council schools; and I ask any of your Lordships who have had to do with local administration whether they have found in their experience that there has been any deterioration in the moral or religious education of the people as a result of the spread of council schools. I absolutely deny it. The Returns which we owe to a Motion by the most rev. Primate show the extreme care which the local education authorities of the country have evinced in their endeavour to furnish the children under their control with a good system, not only of secular, but of religious education.

We have heard a lot about Huddersfield. Huddersfield is the ewe lamb of these discussions. I should like to know a little more about Huddersfield. I remember that in 1887 there was a Commission, presided over by Lord Cross, which presented a very able Report. At that time a great deal of disturbance arose because it was found that in one or two districts in Wales there were school boards which gave no religious education, and we were told to look at the shocking results which would accrue from allowing this kind of thing to go on. But, when the matter came to be examined, it turned out that special arrangements had been made, and that in these districts, owing to the very strong and active religious life existing there, this education was given in a far more marked degree than elsewhere; it was not, however, given by the school board, but under a highly organised system. Bearing that in mind, I should like to know a little more with regard co Huddersfield before arriving at the conclusion that Huddersfield is the shocking example which is made out. In any case, one swallow does not make a summer. Huddersfield is not the whole of England, and one exception does not show that the council schools are rapidly drifting into indifference with regard to religious education. I venture to say exactly the same thing with regard to some other observations which have been made in this debate. For example, the noble Earl who spoke last night about Wales seemed to think himself entitled to argue that, because one particular county in Wales had declined to do a thing which all the other counties in Wales were willing to do, he was justified in asserting that the opinion of the inhabitants of Wales was equally, or almost equally, divided on the question.


I think the noble Lord misinterprets my noble friend. My noble friend was combating the assertion made by the President of the Board of Trade that Wales was unanimous. He showed that Wales was not unanimous.


The noble Earl, on the contrary, wished this House to believe that there was a wide divergence of opinion, and at one moment he rose to great heights of eloquence upon it. However, for an ordinary Englishman to interfere in a Welsh dispute is rather, a dangerous thing, and I will not pursue that subject further. I ask right rev. Prelates, in a perfectly friendly spirit, why they should suppose that that which has happened in regard to so many other branches of local effort should not happen with regard to education. In regard to this I desire to shelter myself behind an observation which many years ago I heard made in the House of Commons by no less a person than Mr. Disraeli. In a debate on a Valuation Bill he pointed out that nearly all those local and municipal institutions that we then had were originally in their inception due to local effort; that gradually, in the case of each, it was found that local effort was unable to rise to the increasing demand of the time; that the State had to interfere, and that those things which were originally due to local effort became what is now called municipalised and passed into the domain of local government.

I will give instances. The relief of the poor was originally in this country largely conducted by great private institutions, but the Elizabethan Poor Law substituted the State and local authorities for private institutions. Our roads were chiefly made by private persons or associations of private persons, but gradually it was found that local effort could not keep them up to the level which modern requirements demanded and they passed under public control. Our hospitals are largely managed by private enterprise, but the isolation hospitals are gradually passing into public control; and there is a Committee considering at this moment whether the hospitals should not be taken over of subsidised by the State. It is no reflection to say that, with a population which has gone up by leaps and bounds, the noble efforts which the predecessors of right rev. Prelates made are now perfectly inadequate to give this country the education it requires.

The most rev. Primate seemed to think that we were unwilling to recognise the noble efforts that have been made by the Church in past times. We who sit on this side of the House, no doubt, have had some ancient quarrels with right rev. Prelates, but at least we all recognise that, though we may have differed as to the means, our intention and object have always been the same. It may be perfectly true—it is true—that in the eighteenth century the Church was indifferent to a great number of things which she has taken up in the 19th and 20th centuries, but we recognise that, although we have not always been able to agree with the methods, in modern times the efforts of the Church have been great and it must not be taken as any reflection on right rev. Prelates or their predecessors if we venture to say with great respect that the time has come when, in the matter of education, the State must intervene to relieve the private individual of doing that which, in these days, the private individual cannot do with efficiency.

I now come to the burning question of dogma. I have sat on Education Committees with laymen and with clergymen and Nonconformist ministers, with men of all political opinions, and I have invariably found that heated discussions about dogma and about all the questions which play around that word sink into comparative insignificance and find their level when a certain number of sensible English gentlemen are gathered round a table and have to draw up a syllabus of religious education. Therefore it is that, while I admit that many ingenious points have been put to us in this debate which it may be difficult to answer, I hold that if you trust the people of this country and their elected representatives no injustice will be done. And, in regard to dogma, may I implore right rev. Prelates to remember what I know must be present to their minds, that we are not to-night discussing University questions or even a question of secondary education, but that we are discussing the education of the poorest children who, ex hyfothesi, are all below sixteen years of age. How it possibly can be conceived that these children are capable of understanding or of taking in everything that we mean by dogma is to me a mystery. When I heard the right rev. Prelate yesterday refer to those schools with which his name is so honourably connected in the various districts of London, and when I heard him talk about the necessity of the children understanding the doctrine of the Sacraments of the Church, the history of the Church, the doctrine of the Atonement, and the doctrine of the Trinity, I felt that if these poor children understand all these things they must be the most wonderful children in the world. No attempt is made in the great public schools where most of your Lordships were educated to give in the junior classes one-fifteenth part of the religious instruction which the right rev. Prelate insists upon in these schools.

I wish to place myself in regard to this matter under the aegis of a late luminary of the Church. Cardinal Newman, in the interesting book in which he gives a history of the formation of his own opinions and of his own life, says— From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion. I know no other religion. I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion; religion as a mere sentiment is to me a dream and a mockery. It was from the age of fifteen that Cardinal Newman tells us he became able to understand dogmatic religion and capable of taking in the great truths which afterwards influenced his life and the whole religious life if this country. Why, if we have it on the authority of Cardinal Newman that dogmatic education can only begin after fifteen years of age, are we to tear one another to pieces because we think that the Cowper-Temple clause does not give a sufficient amount of religious education? We never have claimed that there is a Cowper-Temple religion. The Cowper-Temple clause is nothing whatever but a series of negations. But what we do claim is that Cowper - Temple instruction is the basis and the foundation upon which other and subsequent religion can be built up; and if any teacher in a Cowper-Tetnple school uses his position to instil irreligious or sceptical opinions into the children, the people of this country will see that that teacher is made to find his proper place. They will be quite strong enough to do it without your Lordships tying them by minute rules and regulations in the schedule of an Act of Parliament.

I have for years worked at this question in a practical way, and I had hoped, more strongly perhaps than I can express in words, that I might live to see the day when these miserable quarrels should cease. I implore your Lordships not to approach this Bill in the spirit of the noble and learned Earl, who raised-legal points and dug up the forgotten ashes of old controversies, but to try to unite upon it; and if you think that there are some things in the Bill, which do not carry out our intentions I hope you will try to put your id0eas-upon the Paper so that we shall understand what they are, and not enter into a sort of educational Donnybrook fair in Committee with the intention on the part of your Lordships of tearing the Bill into rags and tatters.

There is a delightful book which the youngest generation as it grows up is always instructed to read, and which contains the experiences of three English travellers who go to foreign parts. They go to the ancient city of Prague. They are there shown a horse, and are told that it is the horse of the famous Imperial General, General Wallenstein, and the attendant says— The head of the animal is new, the body of another horse is substituted, the legs have been repaired, but all the rest is the original animal. It appeared to me that some of your Lordships yesterday seemed to adumbrate a state of things under which when we meet in the autumn you were to educe the Bill to the condition of Wallenstein's horse. If we do that we are running the risk of a great Parliamentary crisis. This Bill is an educational Bill. We have been told that it is not. We assert that we are making an honest effort to clear out of the road this great religious difficulty. If we do that we shall have done a great work for education. We ask you to remove this religious difficulty, which is a snag blocking up the course of the stream of education. For that reason I venture with all submission to implore your Lordships, as I believe you will to-day, to give the Bill a Second Reading, and I am confident that it ought not to be beyond the capacity of this House to unite and obtain for the Bill what is far more important, the confirmation of posterity and the sanction of time.


My Lords, I must crave the indulgence of the House in intervening after the utterances of one of the most eloquent of the veterans of debate on this most important subject. A reference was made by the noble Lord who has just spoken to the occupants of these Benches with regard to our apparent want of unity. The noble Lord spoke in such a kindly tone of my right rev. brethren that I feel quite certain there was nothing ill-natured intended in his reference. We can only say that if the bishops on the bench did not represent the different aspects and phases of public opinion they would be far less entitled to the confidence of the country than I trust they are. In a certain measure, both from their numbers and the greatness of their responsibility, they correspond to the members of the Cabinet, and I do not suppose that even in the sacred precincts of the Cabinet there is always absolute harmony or agreement upon the most important topics that from time to time arise.

We have been appealed to in reference to this Bill to regard it as an instalment of a final settlement. I confess that we regard this Bill as presenting very little prospect of a final settlement, and as offering very little hope or expectation of peace upon this great question. There were, no doubt, many grievances felt on both sides in regard to religious education —there were grievances of Nonconformist ratepayers, parents, and teachers, and grievances of Church of England, Roman Catholic, and Jewish ratepayers, who had to support the provided schools as well as their own. There were, as I have said, grievances on both sides, and I had hoped that as there was this sort of mandate to take up the question all these grievances might be dealt with.

We have acknowledged that in single school areas in country districts the Nonconformists have a real grievance, but the denominationalists also have a similar grievance, for there are 1,300 single provided school areas. We had hoped that it would have been possible to introduce a Bill honestly and satisfactorily to remove those grievances on both sides, and to provide the foundations for a real settlement and the hope of a lasting peace. Instead of that we have this great measure, great on account of its scope and its disturbing influences; and we can only say that the attempt which is no doubt being made to remove certain grievances will introduce many others, religious, educational, and civic. The consequence is that we can only regard with the gravest apprehensions the results of such a measure, if it is carried into law. I think I may say, on behalf of my right rev. brethren who are taking part in this debate, that we assent to the Second Reading of this Bill without a division on two grounds. No one pretends that the provisions of the Bill, or, at any rate, many of them, have been adequately discussed elsewhere, and this being so its provisions should be subjected in your Lordships' House to the most searching investigation. In the second place, the Second Reading of the Bill has been passed, as we know, by an overwhelming majority elsewhere, and I am sure we shall be agreed that it is entitled to the most considerate treatment, scrupulous, careful, and respectful, as so great a majority fully deserves.

I do not intend to enter into many of the extraordinary features which, this Bill contains, and which were amply and most brilliantly dealt with last night. We were invited yesterday to look at the Bill not as clergy but as citizens. We bishops. I hope, are capable of looking at this great question as citizens, but as Christian citizens, as citizens who have a duty towards the children; and I think we may ask whether, with teachers who need not teach, with children who need not attend, and with religion treated as an extra subject, it is at all likely that religious instruction is going to be adequately given to the children of our people. We are forced to look upon the subject as men who have a very sacred commission and a grave responsibility, and we ask whether the facilities that are offered to us under Clause 3, which have been demonstrated to be delusive and nugatory and entangled with all kinds of exasperating difficulties at each stage—whether those facilities are likely to offer any hope that we shall be able to retain the privilege of giving denominational teaching in our schools. This clause presents as many difficulties as facilities, and means practically the wreckage, the destruction, of our schools.

We are told that this is an undenominational Bill, and that its object is to establish an undenominational system. It is an undenominational Bill and we have to regard it in that light. Those were the words of the Prime Minister. We have been told in the historic discussions of this great question that the undenominational system is the counterpart of the voluntary system, which it supplemented, but did not supplant. But this Bill destroys the voluntary system, and therefore the compact is at an end. Many of us say that the time surely has come when the Cowper-Temple clause, upon which that compact seemed to hinge, might well disappear. We contend that liberal and just statesmanship would surely, in any large measure dealing with such a question, grant facilities all round, and would regard facilities as the rights of the parents and not give them as grudging concessions to sectarian pressure.

The noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign affairs practically told us that we ought to be very glad to have so good a system as the undenominational system continued, extended, and made almost universal. May I ask your Lordships' attention for a few moments to the working of this undenominational system, and the character it assumes according to the description of those who are specially supporting it I have the greater pleasure in referring to this subject because Mr. Birrell, in introducing the Bill, referred to the working of the system in the county of Hampshire and to the excellence of the syllabus which there prevails. Hampshire is not unique in that respect. At Liverpool and Bootle, in Lincolnshire, and Oxfordshire,and elsewhere we see excellent and admirable syllabuses. Therefore it is very natural for the noble Lord to ask, Why should you not be satisfied with these excellent, admirable syllabuses? The noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty told us last night that the undenominational system was a form of religion which could be accepted by all alike, and the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, declared that this religion meets the requirements of the vast majority of the parents. Now, with regard to the working of this system. On looking through a list of 320 local authorities I find that there are seventy which publish no syllabuses. I am aware that in a few cases religious teaching may be given without a syllabus. The case of Huddersfield is not at all an unique and isolated instance. I have here a list of seventy local authorities which publish no syllabus at all—twenty-one are administrative counties, five county boroughs, ten boroughs over 20,000, and about forty boroughs with a population of over 10,000. After thirty-five years of the application of this system, we find seventy local authorities declining to publish any religious syllabus. And when we look at the syllabuses themselves what do we find? Do they show any sort of agreement? They vary in different counties. Are these syllabuses likely to improve? Is there likely to be an increase through suddenly flooding the country with this great extension of the undenominational system? Is it not far more likely that under the operation of the Bill the irreligious character of the education will increase? The excellence of the teaching in many provided schools I do not deny, but that excellence is very much due to healthy rivalry between provided and voluntary schools, the examples of Church schools, and the influence of good and earnest men interested in both classes of.schools. In passing, I should like to pay a tribute of the deepest respect and regard to the late Lord Northbrook, the influence of whose character and whose piety and truth and moral strength are reflected, I believe, in that very Hampshire syllabus to the excellence of which Mr. Birrell called public attention.

The undenominational system has been working side by side with a voluntary system guaranteed by pledges and trusts, and I deny that there has been any friction arising from the religious difficulty until on the eve of elections when political excitement is stimulated; but with 14,000 voluntary or non-provided schools added to those under undenominational control I look with grave apprehension to the discord that will result and the effect upon religious instruction. Suppose you have 6,000 apples, many of them very good and many of them very bad, and suddenly you add 14,000 apples to them. May I ask whether the 14,000 added applet will derive goodness from the good apples or badness from the bad apples? We know what will be the effect if the whole system is to be made uniform. Is it not absolutely certain that the defective side of the undenominational system will swell and grow and attach itself to the new group of added schools?

We are told that Cowper-Temple instruction has common elements of Christianity, and that it represents the teaching of the Church in the first three centuries. I have looked into the matter and can see not the slightest ground for such an assertion. There is nothing in connection with the Cowper-Temple clause or with the undenominational system of religion that guarantees to any school any religious teaching or any Bible or Christian teaching. It depends entirely upon the will and whim of the local authority. Mr. Bryce is a statesman whose authority in all matters of history we are delighted to honour and respect, but when he tells us that the Christianity of the first three centuries represented Cowper-Templeism I confess I am amazed. The Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of our Lord, and the Divinity of Christ—this has ever been the foundation of Christianity; and there is no sort of difference between the Christianity of the twentieth century and that of the third century in that respect. If we, with the responsibility of teaching the children, shrink back in any way from insisting that they should be taught the foundation of Christianity we should be faithless to our trust, and as faithless to the Church of the first three centuries as to the Church of the twentieth century.

Reference has been made to dogma as if it were possible to teach little children without dogma. People are apparently extraordinarily afraid of the word dogma. It is the phrase they are afraid of, not the thing. You take your little child on your knee and teach him the simplest text out of the Scripture —" Suffer little children to come unto Me." If you are a Christian parent and teach your little child the meaning of that text, you cannot explain the last" word of it without impressing upon the child's mind the greatest, the profoundest dogma of the Christian faith. I am told that we should not confuse the minds of children with elaborate subtleties. I have here a letter which I received the night before last from the Isle of Wight. The writer objects to children in the schools of the Isle of Wight being taught that the earth, goes round the sun, and not that the sun goes round the earth. He objects, also to the teaching that the earth is round, and he prefers that children, should be taught that the earth is flat Children are taught that the earth is round and that the earth goes round the sun as scientific facts; this is not taught by subtle arguments or by elaborate mathematical calculations. We are content to teach the children the truths upon which we are confident, without muddling their heads with difficult, elaborate, and scientific arguments.

We are sometimes spoken of as a Church which is divided. I venture to say that on this matter we are a practically united Church. High Churchmen, evangelical Churchmen, and devout Broad Churchmen are united on this question. There is no question which has stirred the Church in recent years and provoked such a remarkable measure of unity as this religious question. The accusation that the Church has shrunk from its duty of Bible teaching is absolutely baseless. We are true, I believe truer now than we have ever been, to the position which was taken up at the time of the Reformation in regard to Holy Scripture, and we contend that any attempt to teach children a merely vague religion of sentiment is false to the children themselves and to the real feeling of our country. The people at large do not expect in Church schools, and I do not think that they expect it in provided schools, that instead of our Christianity there should be imparted to the children what is practically Unitarianism. We contend that to the children should be given such teaching as is quite definitely the teaching of the Church, and is not capable of being confounded with the views of those who are Unitarians.

I should like to echo my own father's words. My father the late Bishop of Liverpool was indeed regarded as a true and faithful representative of evangelical opinion, and in one of his last books he used these words— It is not enough to say we believe the Bible. We must distinctly understand what the leading facts and doctrines of the Bible are. This is exactly the point where creeds are useful; and I have often heard my father quote the famous words of Burke— Subscription to Scripture alone is the most astonishing idea, I ever heard, and will amount to no subscription at all. If our schools are to be taken from us, if the voluntary system is to be abolished, then we on our part protest that the Cowper-Temple clause, which may have served its generation very usefully, is at present an obstacle. We cannot be satisfied with a system which is not necessarily religious, and we protest against a system being made universal which is not necessarily Christian. We cannot pretend to be satisfied with a system which is not even in its present working uniform, and which will not be continued with certainty from year to year. We cannot be satisfied with a system which apparently will consign religious teaching to teachers whose capacity for teaching will, under the present Bill, be more or less fortuitous; and we cannot be content again, with a system which will pretend to give religious instruction to pupils who are not required to attend school. That is what is proposed to be substituted in the 14,000 schools which have been giving definite religious teaching.

I believe the country is right in making its protest in the name of religion, and it makes its protest because it believes that the Bill, in its present form, is declining straight down to secularism. The claim that the undenominational system is Christianity is very largely fallacious. The system has no foundation in any sort of religious standard, it varies in different parts of the country, and it is not necessarily even religious or Christian. We repudiate the wholesale imposition and endowment of this undenominational so-called religion. If either peace or truth must be dispensed, with it is going to be peace and not truth, for it is better to have truth without peace than peace without saving truth.


My Lords, as there are many other noble Lords who desire to address you, the remarks I have to make shall be brief. The position which members of the Roman Catholic Church are taking up in this House with regard to the Bill has been clearly put before your Lordships by the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, and the noble Lord below me (Lord Killanin) explained to the House yesterday how there was no possibility of placing any Roman Catholic school within the corners of Clause 1. I intend only to say one word or two as to why we consider that we are justified in demanding some other place in the scheme of national education which is sought to be established by this Bill.

Mr. Forster,

in introducing the Act of 1870, said it would no doubt be a surprise to the House when they found that the Government had determined to recommend the adoption of the principle of compulsory attendance; and he concluded his speech with these words— Again, there are many points "which have to be taken into consideration. There are the rights of parents, the rights of minorities, and the rights of conscience, which must be respected. I maintain that the moment the State stepped in and compelled a parent to send his child to an elementary school, the State took upon itself the duty of seeing as far as possible that what was taught in the school should not offend against the rights of parents, the rights of minorities, or the rights of conscience. The President of the Board of Education has cast doubt upon the efficacy of the conscience clause, and we maintain that there is no reason why, if they can be provided without grave inconvenience and without considerable expense to the public, we should not have schools which would meet the wishes of the parents.

Mr. Birrell has told us—and in quoting his words I do not wish to imply that I consider the}' were uttered in any unfriendly spirit—that minorities must suffer. I demur to the word "must." That minorities do suffer no one knows better than those who, like myself, belong to a family who have a long list of stories of civil and religious disabilities borne with patient protest in the past and in the hope that they would one day be removed. I hope that the memory of those times will prevent us from ever adopting a form of protest which I for one consider undignified—that which has been adopted by the passive resister. We believe in the justice of our claim and from it we will not waiver, and whatever happens we shall continue to the end hoping and trusting that this claim which we consider just will have careful consideration, and appeal to that sense of justice which has always existed in the hearts of our fellow countrymen.

With regard to Part II. of the Bill I wish to make an appeal to the Government. When the Act of 1902 was passed a duty was thrown upon county councils which they did not seek, which in many instances they especially desired should not be thrown upon them, but which the Legislature in its wisdom thought would be better entrusted to them. They have done their best. It is needless to disguise the fact that their best has not in every instance met with the thorough approbation of those around, them; and these objections are crystallised in the delegation clause of Part II. I will not say, though it does rather strike one in looking at it, that Part II. was drafted by a man who, while "willing to wound," was "yet afraid to strike." the noble Lord in charge of this Bill in your-Lordships' House has pointed out that the Government thought, and I have no doubt thought rightly, that, considering the system that had already-been inaugurated, it would be unwise to change the county council as the local authority. But I appeal to the Government, in compelling them to delegate some of those powers to other bodies specified in Part II., to give a patient hearing to every Amendment which may be moved to enable county councils to have a somewhat larger and freer hand in drawing up these schemes, in order that the knowledge which they have acquired with much patient care and toil during the past four years may be brought to bear, and allowed to have full play in the construction of the schemes which the Bill contemplates, they shall be obliged to form.


My Lords, in the very few words which I shall address to your Lordships I shall confine myself solely to the clause which affects trusts. As sole trustee of a school I felt it my duty to make inquiries as to my position, with regard to the very unusual provisions, of this Bill, and during my researches I came across a book by a very able man entitled "Duties of Trustees," In which, appears the following words — the third duty of a trustee is to adhere to the terms of his trust in all things great and small, important and seemingly unimportant. This is his very plainest duty; no trustee would ever deny it, or pretend to be ignorant of it, yet it is his hardest, unless from the the very beginning he makes up his mind to it, and then it is as easy as eating bread and; butter…Never argue or reply to argument, but barricade yourself behind your will or your deed, and whilst profoundly regretting your inability to oblige, refuse to budge a foot.…To behave like ibis is not to be cantankerous, but to be honest, not to be pigheaded, but to be wise. Perhaps your Lordships will be surprised to hear that the author of those words is the author of this Bill. I purpose, and I hope that all school trustees throughout the land will do the same, to abide by the instructions thus given by Mr. Birrell.


My Lords, at this stage of the debate I feel that I rise under a double disadvantage. Those of your Lordships who still remain must be very weary and fearful of repetitions, and I myself confess to some weariness of these educational discussions, and yet there are some things which I earnestly desire to say to the House. Some speakers have promised us short speeches, and have given us long ones. I do not venture to make any promise, but I beg your Lordships' indulgence and patience while I say what it is in my heart to say.

First, may I say one word with reference to a speech of great power and eloquence to which we listened last night—the speech of Lord Robertson? One thing in the course of that speech I was glad to hear, because I venture to hope it may be of value south of the Tweed. The noble and learned Lord told us that—although he belonged to a minority with strong denominational convictions when, at home, he was not a passive resister. Deprecating as I do passive resistance, although I was glad to hear that statement, as I listened to it I felt that, being a Scotsman, the noble and learned Lord probably takes it out in theological argument, but we English are differently constituted. What goes down, as I find in my experiences in the country, deepest in the common social life of a good many ordinary English people is the compulsion to pay a rate. Therefore I do hope that, in whatever shape this Bill may eventually become law— and I am standing here to support it— we may hear no more of passive resistance.

There were two other points in the noble and learned Lord's speech to which I would refer. One was his attack on Clause 2, subsection (5). His complaint with reference to that clause was that the local authority was not bound to take over a school, and therefore that the school might be destroyed. As I read subsection (5), the intention is clearly that the trustees of a Church school should be free to negotiate with the local authorities and to require that facilities for religious teaching should be given. I suppose it is pleaded on the other side that the local authority is free to refuse to negotiate—to decline to take the school—without any reason. If that is so, and the school is liable to be left derelict, who is to blame? If I remember rightly, the Minister for Education in another place proposed that there should be an agreement to come under a mutual obligation, and that agreement was declined. I do not think we ought to throw any special blame on the local authority under the Bill as it now stands. If it needs Amendment in this particular, in order to do justice and to provide a reasonable safeguard, let us in the autumn address ourselves to some reasonable Amendment. What I felt as I listened to the noble Lord's attack upon this Bill was that the root of his opposition was really his mistrust of local authorities. That is what lies at the root of very much of the opposition to this Bill. All those who are influenced by this mistrust—if I may venture to say so to your Lordships—are really forgetting the claims of common Christian citizenship. I do not see how, in a constitutional country, we can go forward doing all our various parts in common Christian citizenship unless we are going to trust the local authority, the elected representatives of the people specially concerned, in regard to their own affairs. If there is any one obligation which may pre-eminently be called an obligation of common Christian citizenship, it is the education of the children of our poorer fe low countrymen.

Another point in the noble Lord's speech which calls for criticism is to my mind his attack on Bible teaching. I felt that such an attack came curiously from a Scotsman, and I could not but feel that the noble Lord, in that part of his speech, showed a singular absence of that spirit of comprehensive charity on which depends our success in the region of common Christian citizenship. I was also a little surprised by this attack, because it did not exhibit that calm impartiality of judgment—to use the language of the Prayer in this House— "free from all partial affections," which so pre-eminently distinguishes the noble Lord himself an I his colleagues when they sit on the floor of the House in their judicial capacity. Therefore I have ventured to appeal from the noble Lord as a member of a political Party to the noble and learned Lord as a Judge.

Now, my Lords, I would put it to you whether the only practical way of settling this question is not the way which I was prepared to call the way of compromise, but as my brother of Southwark does not like the word "compromise" I will call it the way of reason, the way of good practical sense, and the way of good Christian citizenship. There may be many defects in the Bill, but taking it as a whole—and it is as a whole that we must discuss it—the Bill is an honest attempt to solve this very complex and difficult question on these principles. We are told that it is not logical. In my younger days I was one of those who had the privilege of being taught logic at Oxford; and I do not agree with the statement. I do not like to hear this slur east upon the Bill by persons many of whom have never studied logic, and who say that it is an illogical Bill. If you admit that it is the duty of the State to train and rear up the best citizens, and if you agree, as I think you do, that the New Testament is the best of all practical instruments for attaining that end, I say that a Bill which bases itself upon the plain and honest and devout teaching of the Bible in the hands of a good teacher is a logical Bill. As to the logic of extreme opponents on the one side or the other, I say that in the face of this complex and burning question it is logic divorced from commonsense.

There are two classes of persons who are conscientiously opposed to the Bill. All conscientious opposition deserves our greatest consideration. The two classes to which I refer are the extreme secularists and the extreme denominationalists. These I hold to be the real opponents of the Bill. There are many other persons who oppose from various incidental reasons which we need not go into; but these two classes overlook two very important things. First, they overlook the fact that we ought to hold our particularist views so as not to forget that we are citizens. The secularists, I must admit, with few exceptions, have recognised this, and I am grateful to them for that recognition, because I myself should fear the consequences of a secular system. But I am bound sorrowfully to admit that a great many of our denominationalists—what I may call high denominationalists—have failed to see it, and I regret that this is so. I regret it especially because, if I understand the matter rightly, this forgetfulness is bringing about the unhappy result that the contest is tending to become, and is in danger of becoming, a contest between the spirit of ecolesiasticism and the spirit of citizenship. That is a deplorable thing. Although I have the greatest respect for my high denominational brethren, I am constantly struck by one thing. There are no men more possessed by a burning desire for visible unity, and yet they of all others are the men who stereotype our divisions.

Then the second thing which both secularists and high denominationalists are overlooking is the person chiefly concerned—namely, the little child. When I look at this matter as a practical educationist, I ask myself what would be the result if we established a secular system, or a secular system with facilities, such as Mr. Chamberlain has indicated, in the hope of satisfying the denominationalists. If you establish a secular system, you may give as many facilities as you please, but you will practically close the Bible to thousands upon thousands of our little children during their growing and impressionable years, especially the children of the destitute and derelict classes, so that they may grow up without any of those refining and uplifting influences which came to most of us we can hardly remember how, but they came to us in our infancy, through long familiarity with the teaching and praying in connection with the reading of the Books of the New Testament. I say that this will be a tremendous misfortune to the future of our English race. I do not say that these children will grow up pagans. We have a great army of teachers who are giving much good instruction, but you must remember the disabilities of the teachers under such a system. These teachers would have to stand face to face with these children all through the years of their growing life, and all the time the one Book which they must not open before the children would be the Bible. I venture in this connection to appropriate a phrase which a highly distinguished and respected combatant in this matter, Lord Hugh Cecil, used the other day. I would say: "What a gamble in souls !" I repeat that this Bill adopts the way of common sense, or good citizenship, or compromise. The way adopted by the Bill is the true way of endeavouring to solve the question.

I am grateful that the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition and his friends have decided not to reject this Bill on Second Reading, but to accept it, and then to consider Amendments. I sincerely wish that all we bishops and clergy had taken the same method from the beginning. If that had been done, I think we should have been farther forward towards a solution of the difficulty. We have had a great deal of denunciation. I deprecate all such denunciation. I believe it to carry with it some dangerous consequences about which we have not thought sufficiently. Is this denunciation all over? Mr. Birrell I noticed the other day in another place expressed the optimistic view that it was over. I wish I could join him in that opinion, but living in the country as I do, my impression is different; I believe it to be only diverted. I fear that the denunciation is not over, and that it will go on unless the most rev. Primate, who I know dislikes it as heartily as I do, and all my brother bishops and noble Lords opposite, throw the weight of their influence against it. I make this appeal very seriously, because I believe it is a most grave matter, both in regard to the best interests of our English Church and the spirit of Christianity amongst our English people.

I would emphasise the need for this appeal by two illustrations, both taken from my own immediate experience. I appeal to those who have influence with the ordinary delegates of the English Church Union, and to the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Halifax) in particular, because I am sure he dislikes this denunciation and bitterness as much as I do. I appeal that all possible influence should be brought to bear to prevent good clergymen with narrow views going about our country districts as some of them are doing. One of those good men came to the precincts of my Cathedral the other day, and, within earshot of my own house, delivered a speech containing this kind of language:— He contended that only when they had taught, the children to believe the dogmas of the Catholic faith was it safe to go on with the simple teaching of the Bible. To attempt to teach a little child, say, the Book of Genesis without being taught the dogmas of the Catholic faith was absurd, detestable, and monstrous. That remark would apply to all other books of the Bible with the exception perhaps of those few which were purely historical. They should reject and fight to the bitter end this deceptive, delusive, and detestable simple Bible teaching. I feel, however good the speaker may be, that that is very mischievous teaching to our plain country people. I make this appeal in the hope that it may be for the good of the Church, and that it may help to check such language. In the same connection, the day before I came up for this debate I came across a glaring poster of the Church Schools' Emergency League, which was being posted all over our Church schools. I dare not unfold the poster in this House; it would disturb the harmonies; but it is accompanied by a leaflet to the following effect:— To all Christian people. The Education Bill banishes the Bible from all elementary schools during school hours. Dare we, a professedly Christian people, support a Bill which discredits religion, dishonours the Word of God, and defrauds the ' little ones? I do not stop to consider how that fits in with the other High Church declaration which I quoted, but I do say that it is the plain duty of all moderate people to try and infuse a better spirit into that section of our Church. I do not think that this sort of propaganda is doing any great harm to the Bill; on the contrary I think it is turning the feeling of the country in favour of it; but as one who is in favour of the Bill I am sorry that it should be helped by such advocacy. Moreover I feel that it is doing a vast amount of harm to our English Church.

Now I will turn to the reasonable opposition to the Bill. This opposition I take to be mainly threefold. First, there is the purely political and Parliamentary opposition. So long as that is sincere, it is of great value, and I cannot but feel that it has helped in another place to improve the Bill, and I hope that in this House it may still further improve it. But again I deplore the denunciation and wild language of some who ought to be leaders in the political world. An ex-Cabinet Minister has declared that, if this Bill passes, rural England will be turned into a howling wilderness. There is no statement of a responsible person which has given me such a high opinion of the Bill as that one, because the speaker must have been very hard up for arguments if he had to descend to language of that kind—to compare the Bill, in the language of the prophet Joel, to a plague of locusts with the Garden of Eden before it and a howling wilderness behind it. But I notice that that speech was made in the Albert Hall, and I have long come to the conclusion that the Albert Hall, especially in a Primrose atmosphere, must be presided over by some mischievous sprite who takes a special pleasure in luring Conservative orators to say foolish things.

But I come now to a much more serious opposition, and one deserving a great deal more respect, and that is the opposition of our clergy throughout the country. This opposition may be traced, to a considerable extent, to two things— anger and fear. I hold that it is not at all unnatural—it is very natural, and I sympathise with it, though I cannot join in it. This Bill, unfortunately, came upon them at a time when they were still very sore about the General Election—a soreness which I myself happily escaped, being far away in the Egyptian Soudan, and perhaps in consequence I am able to consider the Bill in a calmer frame of mind. They are naturally sore also at being dislodged from their traditional position in regard to their schools—a position in which we all agree many of them lived a life of great self-sacrifice for the good of the children, and of much self-devotion. In our country parishes, in thousands of homes, there has been an immense amount of self-denial exercised for the good of these children, and devoted work done which has been little recognised and has received very often little gratitude even on the spot. They have also in many cases been influenced by their fears with, regard to the future education of these children. In all this I sympathise with them, but I cannot join them. I cannot agree with them, because, in the first place, I think their fears are mistaken. I believe their pessimistic forecasts, which some politicians have encouraged them to make, are altogether mistaken. I see no real ground for them. On the other hand, I hold that their attacks upon the Bill are belated. They are attacks which should have been made upon, the Bill of 1902. I have ventured to lift up my voice and say as much again, and again, but my voice is a negligible quantity in these matters. I said that these attacks are altogether belated. The man attacked should be not the present Minister for Education, but the Prime Minister of 1902; and the thing to bear in mind is not confiscation but the receipt of rate aid. It always takes some time, when a great change comes, for us in any respect calmly to review our new position, and I have good hope that by and bye our clergy will find that we as a Church are in as good a position as we were before, and that our work prospers more than it ever did.

Now I come to the last form of opposition—namely, that of those whom I ventured to call high denominationalists. That is the third main element of the opposition, which, like Aaron's rod, seems likely to swallow the others. We are told in all earnestness and sincerity by good and earnest men that they would rather have secularism than plain and free Bible teaching. I think they are wrong, but they are very much to be respected. They say that undenominational teaching is essentially a bad foundation. Again I differ, but I listen with all respect. My brother of Birmingham has spoken somewhat to this effect, and he has added that he is passionately devoted to the solution of Mr. Chamberlain. I am not surprised. If I lived in Birmingham I too might perhaps become passionately devoted to Mr. Chamberlain's schemes. But the strange thing about it is that even while Mr. Chamberlain, a political Gallio in these matters, is proposing his secularism, which is to be adorned by facilities, he has to confess in the same breath that in his own city of Birmingham, when something of that sort was tried, it proved a failure. If the thing fails in Birmingham, what about other places? If this happens in the green tree, what of the dry? Another man to whose utterances we all listen with the greatest interest, and one whom I personally regard as of the salt of the earth in English politics, Lord Hugh Cecil, goes further, and says that the teaching shadowed forth in the Bill, which I call plain and free Bible teaching, will be ultimately subversive of Christianity. There is a great deal of saving grace in that word "ultimately"; but he adds further that it is a new religion. If this indictment is true, I would say to all those who make it, why have you held your peace these thirty-six years? Why have you allowed all these millions of Church children to be subject, in their impressionable years, to this new religion, which presumably, from your laying such emphasis upon it, you consider to be a religion different from, and far inferior to, Christianity?

Another question to be asked is, have the Nonconformists of England really gone over to this religion? We say no. The only solution which I can see to this difficulty is that Lord Hugh Cecil as he looks over modern life sees a vast spectre—let us call it a Darwinian spectre—which is driving before it out of our heart and life the doctrines of sin and grace. He may be right, he may be wrong; but in this I venture to say your Lordships will agree he is profoundly mistaken. He finds the fons et origo mali, the source of all this mischief—where? Not in scientific scepticism—not in commercial materialism—not in the origin of species, or in South African mines, or anything of that sort, but in the Cowper-Temple teaching of the Bible to the little children of the poor. I cannot account for it except that he sees all these things through his own high denominational atmosphere. This strange "new religion" most of us have been teaching all our lives. The Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Liverpool—half at any rate of the Church of England—have been teaching it and hardly anything else all their lives. For these forty years it has been going on; in Church schools, and board schools, and in all sorts of places, it has been taught to little children; and in multitudes of Christian homes. They have been doing it all this time without knowing it, like M. Jourdain talking prose.

But that is not the whole of it. Your Lordships yourselves—almost every one of you—have been brought up on exactly this kind of instruction. I will not detain you with many words of my own on the subject, though, having been engaged in all grades of education from the ragged school to the university itself, I have had some experience of the subject; but I will give you the words of one of the most distinguished of the present masters in public schools, namely Mr. Page, of the Charterhouse. What does he say? In a speech the other day, which I should be glad if noble Lords who are afraid of Bible teaching would read throughout, after an excellent argument, he says this:— I think I have shown that simple Christian teaching not only can be but actually is given, and I refuse to believe that what is done without offence and without complaint in higher schools cannot also be accomplished in elementary ones. But how? Quite simply. Put the Bible in your teachers' hands, train, them to understand its plain meaning, and then to use it honestly. … ' Hinc lucem et pocula sacra,' which bids us all from that pure and unsullied source freely drink deep draughts of light and inspiration. And one last word. Trust the teachers. Trust them freely and from the first, and then your wise confidence will be paid back to you in overflowing measure into your [...]osom. I think that is good advice.

In this connection I refer for one moment to another distinguished teacher in our public schools, the son of a great Archbishop and himself no less distinguished—namely, Mr. Benson. What does he say? He says that the method of public schools as here indicated is the right method, and if you are to give the best teaching to the young you must approach them not through metaphysical dogmas but through their heart and life, through their emotional nature, teaching them of a Person, and that Person our Lord and Master in the Gospel. All of us who have had anything to do with practical teaching know that the real secret of all teaching which is to be really beneficial is the influence of the personality of the teacher upon the child taught. You remember every one of you, I have no doubt, the influence of your father's reading of the Bible; therefore let us not depreciate the mere reading of the Gospel or simple Bible teaching such as that which you learnt at your mother's knee. If we begin to intervene with saying we must have first of all Catholic truth, and we must then have ecclesiastical standards, and what not, I say we are interfering with this highest kind of teaching for the young in a way which, as those who have most experience will tell you, provides no effective substitute. I, then, say let us hold on to our devout and free teaching of the Bible.

I would in this connection venture to commend to those who are opposed to me the words of the great Anglican poet John Keble, with a slight variation of application which I hope you will allow me to make. Keble said, in words familiar to all here— there is a book who runs may read, Which Heavenly truth imparts, And all the love its scholars need, Pure eyes and Christian hearts. These words were spoken of the book of nature—that book of nature which the British Association are investigating at York to-day—that book with all its complexities and all its infinite secresies and difficulties. If these words could be spoken with truth of the book of nature, I say that they can be said with ten times more obvious truth of the Gospel story as it is taught by every honest man and woman. Again, one of our historians, a very distinguished historian, has written these words, which I commend to those who oppose this Bill on these grounds:— When the Bible at the Reformation became an open book, there was laid the foundation stone on which the whole later history of England, civil as well as ecclesiastical, was reared. I think the historian might have added on which all the finest elements of the character of the English people were reared—our love of freedom, our love of truth, our sense of personal responsibility, the simple sincere evangelical religion which has done so much to make Englishmen what they are. I say again, let us hold on to this great treasure of our English life, the open Bible in the hands of the teacher well and carefully trained, as in the hands of the mother in her home.

With regard to the Bill itself I desire to say that there are two or three Amendments which I hope to see inserted. One is with reference to the teacher. There is much to be said on both sides as to whether the teachers, now a division of the Civil Service, should not be kept in a neutral position with regard to denominational teaching in public elementary schools; and yet, in our rural single school areas I hold that, for the sake of the children, we ought to allow the teachers, if they desire to do it, and if they are free from all other school obligations, to be at liberty to give the denominational teaching in the Catechism and the Prayer-book as they have in many cases hitherto done.

Then again there is the question of facilities. I desire to see the facilities which are allowed under Clause 2 extended, not only to transferred schools, but to those schools in single school areas which happen by some accident, to be board schools. I see no distinction between the two under the new system, and I think they should be treated in the same way. There is another thing which I desire to see. I desire, like most of your Lordships, to see—though again there are arguments to be brought forward on both sides—religious instruction given day by day within the hours of obligatory attendance. I desire that in the interest of the children, because I am strongly opposed to anything like child labour as an equivalent of child instruction. There is another point which I will not argue now, as we shall have other opportunities, but I am inclined, if public opinion is with us, to go a step further. I would say that in all our public elementary schools Biblical instruction in accordance with the fundamental principles of the Christian faith should be offered to all children. It would be for the parents to say that they preferred something else, as they can say now, but I would offer it.

I think these are the chief Amendments which I desire, and I hope we shall not go too far with anything which in another place might be looked upon as wrecking Amendments. There is, however, one point in Clause 4 which I think is open to question, and that is whether it would not be reasonable to drop the 5,000 limit, and say wherever there is bona fide another school within reach.

I must apologise for detaining your Lordships so long, but I wish to look at this matter in a purely practical way, and therefore I am going to ask you to consider for a moment what, so far as I myself understand it, will be the result of this Bill in my own diocese. I think that is the way to look at the matter— what will be the effect within the sphere of our own practical operations where we know the circumstances. In this connection I think two things will happen. First of all, our county local authority will appoint the teachers—that is to say they will do so through their Elementary Committee. Most of your Lordships probably sit on such committees. Our county is a fairly representative rural county—there are many such up and down England—and our local authority is a good Conservative authority —I myself am a member of it. The influential members of this committee which would appoint the teachers all over the county—who are they? One is the Chairman of Quarter Sessions, a very leading Conservative gentleman in the county, a thoroughly good old-fashioned Conservative and a highly-honourable man. Another is the Chairman of the County Council, a man who has devoted his life to good work in the county, a retired military officer. These two men and all their colleagues will feel in conscience bound—I say this to reassure any of my Nonconformist friends—when appointing teachers, to say, "We have no right to consider anything but the obligatory duties of these teachers." But when they come to appoint teachers who will have to teach the Bible, they will say—at least I should say—to the applicant, "You apply as a volunteer to do this work. It is our duty to remind you that these children will be committed to you by their parents during the Biblical lesson for the express purpose that they may be taught the Gospel as a Book of Faith, that they may be therein instructed in the natural way in the fundamental principles of the Christian faith and doctrine. If you volunteer to do this, we will trust to your honesty to do it faithfully, devoutly, and reverently." I think the teachers would respond to that.

Even if I do not get these two or three Amendments for which I shall plead, I shall still hold to this Bill, because I learnt in my youth the story of the Sybilline Books, and I know, as a matter of more than probability, that if we reject this Bill we shall get something which we shall dislike much more. Therefore I say that in any case I shall support the Bill. But supposing it comes out as I hope it will, the Church of England schools in my diocese will be in a better position both for their work and maintenance than ever before. The religious teaching will go on as before on the part of the clergy, probably better. I think that all the attention which has been drawn to the matter will probably stir up some of our clergy to be more active than they have been hitherto in this respect. Some of my clergy are most devoted to their schools, but I am sorry to say there are others who prefer that the teaching should be given by the teachers. That I take to be, from the clergyman's point of view, a very grave mistake, but I believe that under this Bill the religious teaching will be as good as before, and that the secular teaching, seeing that the teachers will be better trained and paid, will be better than before, and that for all the future we shall have our school buildings for our denominational purposes, we shall get them repaired and extended from time to time, we shall never have to spend another penny upon them, and we shall be relieved by the present Minister for Education far more effectively than Mr. Balfour relieved us from an intolerable strain.

I only wish to repeat that the fundamental mistake of the opponents of this Bill may be summed up in the phrase mistrust of the local authority and mistrust of the teachers. This mistrust in a constitutional country is a fundamental misconception of our public duty. Why should we mistrust local authorities in these cases? They are elected by the people immediately concerned, and so long as these people remain a Christian people the local authority will perform their Christian duties. They can be turned out in three years if they do not satisfy the people. I am not afraid of the controversies that will ensue in these places. These controversies are the seeds of new life. Then again, these very local authorities are largely Churchpeople, and they have been brought up and instructed by our bishops and clergy.

We have had instances quoted—they are exceptions, whether they prove the rule or not—such as Huddersfield. I think we have heard almost too much about Huddersfield, but I will refer to it for one moment. I have never been to Huddersfield; I hardly know where it is, except that it is in that—what shall I say?—that volcanic region of the West Biding of Yorkshire. But I happen to know a little about it, because like most of your Lordships I am deeply interested in the question of infant mortality, and this town of Huddersfield has been setting an example in regard to infant mortality which I wish other towns in England would speedily follow. Under a highly enlightened mayor, Mr. Broadbent, a brother of the great physician I believe, directed by a very distinguished officer of health, Dr. Moore, that town has reduced its infant mortality by something like 50 per cent., whereas if you look at statistics, you will find this appalling fact in our English life—which is not altogether irrelevant when we are dealing with a question affecting the children— that out of every 1,000 children born in England, something like from 120 to 200 die in the first twelve months. That I say is an appalling fact in a civilised country, and these men at Huddersfield have set themselves to face it and to cure it, and they are reducing that mortality by their beneficent methods. I have had the satisfaction of reading of the results of their work, and I would like to see their example imitated all over the country. These wise and beneficent men are not irreligious men. You can depend upon that. There must be some local reasons why they have thought it best to confine the religious instruction in their schools to certain devout religious observances, including hymns and prayers and perhaps the reading of a passage from the Bible. If our children are brought up with daily hymns, and in an atmosphere of daily prayer, they are not being brought up in a pagan life. I say that there must be some local reasons for the step they have taken, and I will simply abstain from a verdict until I have a little more experience on the point.

My last word is, let us trust the local authorities, and let us trust the teachers, for these teachers are well and carefully trained, many of them in Church colleges, and I would venture to say of those who are not trained in Church colleges that many of them are quite as well trained as those who are. Some of your Lordships must be familiar with the colleges of the British and Foreign Schools Society. I know of no better religious atmosphere than the atmosphere of those colleges. Again, we in Hereford are not considered a progressive people, but we have established a county college for the training of teachers. By some accident we were the first to do it under the Act of 1902. The college is full of students under an excellent principal, and they are receiving first class Biblical instruction inside the college, while every denomination outside has opportunities of giving additional denominational instruction to all the students belonging to that denomination, whether it be Church, or Congregational, or Baptist, or Wesleyan, or what not. I am glad to think that the various denominations of Hereford are doing their duty in this matter. I do not know a happier instance of the right bringing up of future teachers of the young for the discharge of their duties as teachers. Therefore I think we should do well to remember that principle which Mr. Gladstone used to be fond of impressing upon us, although the advice was not taken on all sides—that we should trust the people; and the persons immediately to be trusted in this case are the responsible local authorities and the responsible teachers.

I would conclude by expressing a hope that whatever Amendments may be passed in this House, there will be no wrecking Amendments. I fear the consequences of such Amendments, not only on our education, but on many other things. I am afraid of what I may call a battle of the giants. Your Lordships are very well aware that in another place the Government possess a giant's strength. This Bill on every page, by its concessions, by its conciliatory paragraphs, and by its exemptions, indicates that the Government have said to themselves that it would be tyrannous to use their strength like a giant. They must have known all the time well enough that it would have been much easier for them to have passed through another place a far more drastic Bill—a Bill which would have been far more distasteful to us. Therefore, I say let us give them due credit. But in this House the case is reversed, for it is the noble Marquess opposite and his legions who possess the giant's strength, and I venture in all earnestness to ask that they will use that moderately, so that we may not have, as I have said, a battle of the giants in this matter. As I look back on the history of our own and other countries, I see that these battles of the giants have produced mainly volcanic wreck and ruin. If I look to the sixteenth century, I see the battle of the Church and the people; in the seventeenth century the battle of the Church and the King; while if I go across the Channel I need no reminder of the French Revolution. I do not like revolutionary forces being nursed or encouraged, but sometimes the most conservative people of all do the most nursing and encouragement. As a Member of this House I fear such a battle, because in all my reading of history I have never yet found that amidst this volcanic wreck and ruin it was the people who were buried in the ruins. I am glad to think that we have as leaders and chief advisers in this House two men of such wide experience and of such conciliatory spirit, and I am grateful also, if I may be allowed to say so, for the equally conciliatory spirit of our two Archbishops. We have heard our Primate—I wish we could also have heard the Archbishop of York, but he is detained by his duties receiving the British Association at York. I wish this because I venture to say that of all Episcopal utterances that I have heard in connection with this controversy, I think the wisest and most conciliatory have been those of the venerable Archbishop of York. I trust and pray that this conciliatory spirit may prevail through all our deliberations in the autumn, and that the Bill may eventually become law in such a shape as will produce throughout the country a long period of sorely-needed religious peace and educational progress.


My Lords, I venture to intrude myself for the first time upon the discussion of this subject in your Lordships' House, because there is a point of view which I desire to be allowed more or less to represent, and which has not, I think, at present boon sufficiently represented in these discussions. I listened to the admirable speech of the most rev. Primate, in which he impeached solemnly and seriously the justice of this Bill, and I followed every word of that impeachment with perfect agreement. What I desire to say is totally in harmony with, and supplimentary to, all that has been said by him and by others who hane spoken from these benches and in other parts of the House. I listened also to the admirable suggestions made by the most rev. Primate for the mitigating of the injustice of this Bill. I listened also to the other speakers from these Benches, including my right rev. brother who has just sat down, and with the Amendments which they suggested for the mitigating of the injustice of this Bill I also find myself in the profoundest agreement. In spite of the tone which pervaded a considerable part of the speech of the last speaker, when he came to mention the Amendments which he desired to see, I was extremely glad to learn what those Amendments were which are not to be considered "wrecking" Amendments.

Those Amendments were that there should be liberty for the State teacher to teach denominational religion; that facilities should be extended to all schools in single school areas; that all religious teaching should be within compulsory school hours; that there should be an extension of the special facilities under Clause 4; and that there should be something approaching a guarantee that those who give the religious teaching should be persons qualified to give it. I am very glad to learn that these are not to be considered "wrecking" Amendments.

I am not convinced that the country itself desires the abolition of the present dual system of schools. Certainly in the district from which I come, and in those districts with which I am best acquainted in England, there is even a passionate desire, to retain the dual system. But it is indeed easily imagined that there should be a general demand in the country for the abolition of the dual system and the substitution of a single system of State schools. There is a strong democratic movement in the country, and we all of us know that it is thoroughly in agreement with that democratic spirit that such a demand should be made. What I wish to say is this. Supposing a Government should desire to give expression to those great principles about which we have heard so much— that there should be substituted for the present dual system of schools a single school system, and that the State should cease in any way to inquire into or interfere with the religious opinions of those who are to be civil servants in this, matter of giving State instruction in elementary schools—supposing a Government were to introduce such a measure, there are many of us Churchmen who believe that they could not do a wiser thing, and there are a much larger number who believe that whether or not it is better, it is, under modern conditions, the only system to which we can reasonably expect to come and there are very many who are perfectly ready to accept it when it comes. It is on behalf of those that I desire to say a word.

We oppose this Bill not because it desires to give expression to those two great principles — the principle of the single system of State schools and the principle that the State shall not make any inquisition into the religious opinions of the teachers—but because we are convinced that this Bill in no way carries out those intentions. If those intentions are to be carried out, you must approach the matter by an altogether different road from that which this Bill has adopted. What I mean is this. This Bill certainly does not secure either of those great principles. As to the establishment of a single school system, which I believe to be the great principle of Clause 1, it has been constantly pointed out that this Bill substitutes for our present system the establishment of a fourfold system of schools. There are the schools where undenominational religious teaching can be given; there are the schools with ordinary facilities; there are the schools with special facilities; and there are the schools which fall back on receiving State aid without rate aid, or the system which prevailed before 1902. As far as I can understand, all the Amendments which are likely to be introduced in your Lordships' House will go to fix this multiplicity of schools, and by no means to put the Bill into a shape which will secure the expression of that principle of the one system which we have been told this Bill was to establish.

As regards the non-interference of the State with the religious opinions of the teachers, we have been told from the Government Benches that where you have schools under Clause 4, where only denominational teaching is to be given, the teachers of the particular denomination will doubtless gravitate towards those schools. We have been told also on many hands that where undenominational teaching is to be given, inquiry will be made of the teachers who have been appointed as to whether they are properly qualified to give that religious instruction. It is perfectly evident that so long as you entrust the giving of religious instruction to authorities representing the State, so long it will be absolutely necessary that the State should continue to make inquisition into the opinions of those who are to give that religious instruction. The debate has made it perfectly evident that that will be so. What I feel sure of is this. I do not say that the Government ought to desire the abolition of the present system, and the substitution of the single school system; what I do say is that if the Government, or any Government, does desire to inaugurate that great change, then the best way by which they can do it is by totally separating the sphere of the State and the sphere of religious bodies in education, by confining the functions of the State wholly and simply to the giving of secular instruction and throwing the giving of the religious instruction upon the religious bodies.

There are three systems by which that great principle could be carried out. You could have secularism, by which there should be nothing but secular instruction given in the State schools. For my own part, I am profoundly thankful that the sense, of the country repudiates such an idea. Secondly, you could have a system which is often referred to as the German system, and which is closely akin, as I understand, to the Scottish system. I was amazed to hear the noble Lord who instanced the Scottish system in justification, as I understood him, of the proposals of the Government. I should like to hear the noble Lord Balfour of Burleigh give a plain exposition to this House of what the Scottish system Well, you could have the Scottish or German system, though I do not myself believe that it is practicable in England at the present time for the State directly to undertake the giving of and paying for denominational instruction.

But if you set those two systems aside, you are left with the alternative which has been identified with the name of Mr. Chamberlain. For my part, I believe that if the Government desire really to carry out those two principles which I have repeatedly alluded to, and of which we have heard so much, there is only one way in which they can do it, and that is by acting on the principles advocated by Mr. Chamberlain. I have distinguished the system of Mr. Chamberlain from the secularist system because it is markedly distinguished from that system; it is a scheme under which religious instruction is to be given in each particular locality on the authority not of the State but of the religious bodies, who are the properly qualified persons, and who have a mandate to give such religious instruction.

I want to say with all the emphasis of which I am capable that this will not in any way deprive the State of its religious character. Our belief in the religious character of the State depends, I suppose, on the writings of St. Paul and others. According to that great thinker, St. Paul, the maintenance of the principles of civil and social righteousness and order is in itself the great religious function of the State—not the giving of religious teaching, which belongs not to the State but to the Church. It is not a secular system, it is not an irreligious system; nothing of the kind. The State has a mandate to give the secular instruction and not to provide, or determine the character of, religious instruction; but the State nevertheless recognises the value of religious instruction as a necessity for the life of the citizen, and so it makes provision that there shall be a period within compulsory school hours when religious instruction is to be given; it gives liberty to the ordinary teachers to give that religious instruction if they wish, but throws the responsibility for providing and paying for the religious instruction upon the denominations chosen by the parents to give that instruction to their children. Of course the denominations might each act independently; on the other hand they might all act in combination, and I have no doubt at all that in some districts all the various religious bodies would combine. Such voluntary combinations differ in toto from any action of the State compulsorily saying that all the religious denominations are to agree in such and such a teaching. I have no doubt that almost everywhere all the various bodies of Nonconformists would combine for similar religious teaching.

The determining authority as to the religious teaching to be given should be the wishes of the parents. We have been told in the course of these debates that the parents constituted a lay figure, which was used as long as it was wanted, and was then wheeled into the background. If there is anything fundamental in my whole being—anything which I am totally incapable of "wheeling away" when I have used it—it is this belief in the authority of the parents to determine the religious instruction of their children. I think it would be a very curious experiment what the determination of the majority of English parents would be, but I am quite sure that if it should turn out that only a small minority of the parents wished to have their children educated in the principles of the Church to which I belong, I should none the less uphold that principle, because I would far rather that the parents should exercise their choice even though they exercised it in a manner and in a sense different from that which I should wish. I am quite sure that there is in the mind of the great mass of those who urge this argument no special belief in the probability that the majority of parents will choose in such and such a way. Our statements are based upon what we believe to be the fundamental principles, and the Tightness, of the case. I am sure nothing would be better for the religious life of the country than that the people should have to say what kind of religious principles they would prefer their children to be brought up in.

It is very often said that the system is impracticable. I do not for one instant believe that anything at all approaching a sufficient amount of attention has been given to this system to justify anyone in describing it as impracticable. It is very often glibly said that it has been tried in Birmingham, and that it failed there. It is only in a very imperfect and partial sense that it has been tried in Birmingham. It is quite true that there has been a certain application of this principle of facilities in the council schools in Birmingham. I have been at pains to inquire from some of the very best of the council school teachers in Birmingham as to what they thought of the system. I have here a sheaf of their opinions, and though no doubt it has been a failure in certain cases, and though no doubt the Nonconformists have not taken it up, or, where they did take it up, have abandoned it, yet I have the strongest opinions from some of the best of our council school teachers in Birmingham that the teaching in question has been of the greatest possible assistance. I will read only one specimen— In my opinion it has had a good effect on the daily life of the school; it helps discipline. I cannot undertake to speak for teachers generally, but as regards my own teachers I can say they always welcomed it. This has been shown by the way in which they have given up their time and shown themselves willing to attend and help. Again, the children welcome the entrance of teachers who are not in any way connected with the official life of the school. This too has been constantly shown by the wonderful attendance of the boys, only three boys being prevented from attending, and that by the action of their parents, and not by their own will. A great many lads would never have got any religions teaching at all were it not for this voluntary teaching. I have got quite a sheaf of opinions, which perhaps others would like to look at. LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY: That is out of school hours?


No, in school hours. But even if it was out of school hours, it would only emphasise my point—namely, that it would be much more effective in school hours. I feel quite sure that we have no kind of experience which would justify us in saying that this system is impracticable. I believe that if we were to put our backs into it—if I may use the expression—with anything like the seriousness with which we have put our backs into the old system, it could be made quite as successful, while it would be free from all the complications which attach to any other attempted solution of the religious difficulty. I have also heard it remarked that one of the most strenuous supporters of the present principle of voluntary schools— the Bishop of Manchester—has strongly denounced this system. On the contrary, I have the Bishop of Manchester's authority to say that, though he will do his very best to maintain the present system, yet, if the present system of dual schools is to be abandoned, he would greatly prefer the Chamberlain plan—if I may so describe it—to such a system, for example, as is advocated or proposed by the Government Bill. For my own part I believe that if any Government really proposes to put forth these two great principles of which we have heard so much as being the basis of the present Government Bill—I am not now dealing with the question whether that proposal would be wise or not, but I feel quite sure that if these two great principles are to be put in force, and we are not to adopt a purely secular system, the platform of Mr. Chamberlain is the only one on which we can stand. I am quite sure on the other hand that the method by which the present Government has approached the solution of this question is one which has no chance of leading to any satisfactory settlement, and is open to the greatest variety of profoundest objections.

First of all, this undenominational method by which the State is to select the particular kind of religious teaching and establish it in all our schools—this preferential method with regard to one particular kind of religious teaching—is, if I at all understand the tendencies of our modern life—thoroughly opposed to the democratic feeling of our age, and thoroughly opposed to everything that has been identified with Liberal principles ever since I can remember what they are and what they have been supposed to be. It astonishes me that the Liberal Party should propose this, which I am quite sure is a fresh measure of religious establishment in the schools. It so happens that I have a great many friends of more or less advanced Radical, Liberal or Socialistic opinions, and I know hardly any of them who have not a thoroughly bad conscience in regard to this Bill. They justify it solely by some supposed political necessity, but I know hardly one of them who, in private conversation, does not exhibit a thoroughly bad conscience in regard to the measure.

It is amazing how far we have left behind the old principles of establishment. According to the old ideas of the Established Church, there was no doubt at all what was the duty of the State with regard to religious instruction. It would hand over the children to the instruction of the State Church. It might allow a conscience clause for the withdrawal of those who had scruples, but according to the old principles of establishment there was no doubt at all as to the duty of the State. I cannot imagine a doubt, according to any of the ancient principles of establishment, such as are connected, for instance, with the Reformation in England, that it would have been the duty of the State to hand over the children to the instruction of the State Church. It is astonishing how far we have left all that behind. Nobody, as far as I know, at the present time in any way advocates that sort of preferential dealing with the religious principles of the Established Church. But when once you have abandoned that plan, the only other plan is that of saying that the State shall be absolutely impartial between the religious opinions of the different members of the nation, and I am sure that it is an amazing anomaly, which cannot hope to hold ground, for a Liberal Government to introduce a new sort of establishment— to take a particular kind of religious teaching and establish that as the authorised national system in all schools. That is so contrary to everything that we understand by the word "Liberal" That when it is proposed by a Liberal Government I feel sure there must be so much of bad conscience in those who are proposing it as to give the greatest possible courage to the opponents of the measure to attack the Bill, feeling that there will be traitors within the camp.

What I care about chiefly is the character of the religious teaching to be given to the children, and while I am sure that the principle advocated in this Bill is contrary to Liberalism, I also oppose the proposal to establish undenominational religious teaching, because I am sure it is the establishment of the kind of religious teaching which is weakest and worst. It is for the interest of the State that the religion to be taught to the children should be the best. In no branch of human life or human knowledge do you get at the best, or at anything worth having, by the process of eliminating all differences. By that process you get only what is weakest, and washiest, and least capable of strengthening and establishing the character or enlightening the mind.

The noble Lord the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs said that he could not imagine why we should require to teach dogmatically, considering that the persons whom we were to teach were quite young children, and not old scholars, or professors, or learned academicians. I think that is the exact opposite of the truth. I have just had the pleasure of holding a very interesting conference of theologians at my house, where we discussed theological subjects. It was a thoroughly undenominational conference; we all knew our own opinions. I am proposing in a little while to go and lecture on behalf of an undenominational faculty in theology at one of the new Universities. It appears to me that what the noble Lord stated is exactly the opposite of the real truth. When you have to do with competent scholars, you have to do with people of an age to know their own opinions, and you can argue with them, and present questions in a controversial manner, or teach them the grounds of what they believe—or they can argue the grounds of what they believe among themselves. But in the case of children, because they are young you must teach them dogmatically. Teaching dogmatically means teaching simply. We do not want to teach something outside the Bible; we want to teach the Bible in the only way in which you can make that teaching emphatic. I should not so much mind if we were allowed to teach nothing but the Bible, so long as you could teach it by the standards which every book of the New Testament itself postulates as being already in the minds of those for whom those books were written; for there is no single book of the Bible which was not written for those and to those who had already received that sort of rudimentary religious instruction which is contained in our Catechism and the Apostles' Creed. We only want to teach the Bible in the way in which it can be used effectively—in the way in which historically it has grown.

What I am afraid of in this connection is not a Mephistophelian teacher who w ill diabolically teach the children positive error; what I am afraid of is something which I know belongs to the character of the ordinary Englishman, and speaking to Englishmen, I ask whether what I am now saying is not true. If an ordinary Englishman knows, as multitudes do know, that his religious opinions are singularly unfixed, what does he do? He studiously avoids putting into any definite shape what they are. If you ask him to teach religion—and it has happened in countless classes of our public schools—he teaches the distance from Jerusalem to Jericho, the meaning of the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and avoids teaching everything that constitutes the real essence of the Christian religion as it is described and summarised in, for example, the Apostles' Creed. Someone just now read the statement, expressed in a rather controversial manner, that if you were to teach a child the Book of Genesis you must first of all teach him the principles of the Catholic religion. I should have thought that that was an admirable example of what I have been trying to express. If I am to take the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, and teach it to children as it stands without guide or standard, I should teach the child that this world was constructed in six days; that it was the centre of the solar system; and I should go on to teach him all manner of things covered by chapters of the Old Testament which are directly contrary to his fundamental moral sense. I know nothing more certain than that if I am to give children of the present day any kind of idea of the meaning of the Old Testament, I must not teach the Bible and the Bible only, but I must teach the Bible under the guidance of that belief in the character and the nature of God which is given by any of the fundamental standards of the Christian Church. If there is to be any real teaching of religion it must be by the standards of definite religious societies which are responsible for handing on religious truth.

What I feel sure of in regard to this undenominational teaching is not that there will be many teachers who will teach fundamental error, but that the teaching will become weaker and weaker, washier and washier. I do not need to appeal to Huddersfield, though I believe that in the controversy between the most rev. Primate and the representative of the Government the most rev. Primate was right—that though the elementary schools might bargain for undenominational teaching when those schools were handed over, yet they would have no subsequent control over the character of the Cowper-Temple teaching, and that the Cowper-Temple teaching in those schools would become what the Cowper-Temple teaching is in the other schools of Huddersfield.

I do not want to talk about Huddersfield, however, but about Birmingham. There is another question about the council schools in Birmingham; there is nothing that can be called positive religious instruction given at all. There is hardly any definite religious instruction given. There is Bible reading, the learning of texts and hymns, but there is hardly anything that can be called definite Bible teaching. If you remove the standards supplied by the denominational schools, which have incalculably elevated undenominational teaching, if you greatly lessen the number of those who have been trained in denominational colleges, and take the average Englishman, trained scientifically in all the other branches of knowledge that he has to teach, but with merely the religious opinions of the average Englishman, the religious teaching that, will be given will be such as will gain no real hold upon the character, nor give any real strength to the life of the child so taught.

It is not because we object to the application of these two great principles—that there should be only one class of school under the direct control of the State, and that the State should not interfere with the religious convictions, or inquire into the religious opinions of the teachers—it is not because we object to the application of those two principles that we oppose the present Government Bill, but because we are sure that the Bill does not secure the application of those principles, but that, professing to secure them, it fails altogether in its object; and still more because we are sure that the road by which it attempts to secure those objects is a road which leads to disaster. The road of establishing undenominationalism leads to disaster—firstly, because it is but a very short step from secularism—it affords no solid or permanent kind of religious instruction; secondly, because it is contrary to any established and fundamental Liberal or democratic principles that the State should select, and give a preference to, one particular kind of religious teaching; thirdly, because it violates the great principle that it is the function of the Church, or of the religious bodies, and not of the State, to teach religion; and lastly because, so far from leading to a settlement, it has become only too apparent that if this Bill passes into law in anything like its present form it will lead to the profoundest stirring of religious controversy in municipal and political matters. Although I own to being something of a pessimist, I am astonished at the amount and depth of feeling excited in my own neighbourhood in regard to this Bill. I have been astonished at the depth, and the widespread character, of the determination to have none of it. It appears to me that there is no hope more fallacious, and more certain to be disappointed, than the idea that this Bill will lead to anything like a lasting religious settlement.


My Lords, I had not intended to take any part in this debate, largely because I have long disliked going into the discussion of any theological question if I can possibly avoid it; and I shall not touch on any theological matters now, and still less upon those subjects which have been freely discussed in this debate with great reverence, I admit, even with solemnity, but which, none the less, seem to me to be somewhat incongruous with the character of a deliberative Assembly. The right rev. Prelate who has just sat down, has made one of the most interesting speeches I have ever heard—equal in interest, and that is a very high compliment, to the speech of the most rev; Primate—but I think he would be the first to acknowledge that it exploded nearly all the arguments used during the whole course of the debate against the Bill.

The right rev. Prelate thinks that His Majesty's Government have a bad conscience in this matter. I want to offer my apologia. I wish my conscience had always been as clear as it is in regard to this Bill. The noble Earl in the beginning of the debate to-day asked why this Bill was introduced. I must answer that question. The Act of 1870 attempted to solve the difficulty created by the diversity of religious views and creeds in this country and the necessity of some common public education; and it solved it by leaving denominational schools to stand, provided they could find some support out of their own means in order to maintain them in their isolation. They did last for a considerable time, and I agree with the most rev. Primate in thinking that it is not fair to reproach the Church of England with the fact that they were unable to continue their existence. It was not because the voluntary funds fell off; it was because the duties of more detailed and sanitary education grew so much that it was impossible for private resources to meet the strain. I think that is true, and it is rather shabby to attack the Church on the ground that voluntary subscriptions did not suffice. But that Act could not be, worked in a satisfactory manner, and it undoubtedly fell to pieces.

Then came the Act of 1902; and here I must incidentally say it is not quite fair, with the majority you have in this House, to attack us because we used what you call the "gag." Did not you use the "gag"In 1902? With all respect to noble Lords, I do not think that is quite fair; nor is it quite fair to say that we have brought in this Bill with the subtle and dark design of upsetting religion. I venture to think it is better to discuss the Bill in a different temper. Well, my Lords, the Act of 1902 adopted a different method. It attempted to bring in the local authorities and to give some sort of local control in return for assistance from the rates. But there was no real control, and that Act failed. Everyone knows it was a failure. The most rev. Primate himself said that it was legitimately to be expected that we should bring in a Bill to amend that Act. Hence the necessity for this Bill.

Then what Bill were we to bring in? On what lines were we to proceed? In the first place, there were the Roman Catholics, and the Roman Catholics form a Church of a precise and inexorable creed, and every man who does not follow it implicitly is condemned. They insist on having a Catholic atmosphere in which their children can be brought up. No one who heard the speech of the noble Duke the Duke of Norfolk could have failed to be profoundly impressed by it, and it only expressed the traditional view of Roman Catholics, and showed that they will always insist on having a separate atmosphere.

Then there is the Church of England. I sympathise still more with the view of the Churchmen. But there are High Churchmen and Low Churchmen, and some are broad, and again there are a great number, we all know perfectly well, in the Church of England whose religion corresponds generally to the Cowper-Temple religion. I do not think the Church of England does ask resolutely for an exclusive Church of England atmosphere, in so strict a sense as the Roman Catholics ask for theirs; but they do ask for the maintenance of their Church schools, and their arguments are founded to a large extent on the past history of the Church of England. Who knows what will please one section and what will please another? I do not think that is a fair subject for reproach. On the contrary, I think it is one of the best characteristics of the Church of England that it does extend so far. Well, my Lords, that is the position of the Church of England.

Then there are the Nonconformists. Several noble Lords have expressed their deep regret that the Nonconformists are not represented in this House. I share that regret. It would be better for the House and better for the Nonconformists themselves; but they cannot be heard here, and some of your Lordships, if you confine yourselves to the intellectual atmosphere of this House, may forget that tremendous force—for it is a tremendous force—of able and sincere men with great courage. The question between the Church and the Nonconformists is the same question in a different form that arose in the time of Cromwell and Laud. The Nonconformists will not accept the atmosphere of the Church of Rome, nor will they accept the atmosphere of every section in the Church of England. They are particularly jealous of what they call dogmatic teaching, especially in a particular form. These, then, are the difficulties which surround the subject, and we had to consider what had to be done. It is very easy to say that you ought to give denominational facilities, or, as Lord Salisbury particularly put it, that you ought to allow the parent the right to have his children brought up in the creed he holds. Does the noble Marquess mean every parent, or why should there be a selection? Why should not the poorest of creeds be entitled to the same privileges as that which has the most numerous adherents?


Hear, hear !


It is impossible to carry out such a system. This doctrine of concurrent endowment is a thing impracticable in itself. The people of this country would not stand it; they could not stand it. It would not be fair to ask them to consent to such a system and to the number of schools that would be required. Therefore, it was impossible for the Government to take the system of concurrent endowment. Unless any noble Lord would be prepared, if a Member of the Government, to make such a system his object, he ought not to blame the Government. He would not be prepared to do it, and the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition would not do it if he came into power to-morrow.

What the Government did was to attempt to give power to the local authority. The local authorities have power in Scotland. I cannot enter into particulars of the Scottish system, but the religious education in Scotland is prescribed by the local authority, the school board. During the thirty-four years since that system began there has been no substantial complaint, either of partiality, neglect, or indifference towards religion on the part of the school boards of Scotland. The Bill of 1902, which a great many of your Lordships supported, also contained the principle of trusting the local authority, as the light rev. Prelate called it. We are trusting the local authority, I fully admit in a somewhat different sense, but in substantially the same sense as the local authority, the school board, is trusted in Scotland.

The next thing we did was to limit the character of the religious teaching that could be given by the local authority to the Cowper-Temple religion. That is nothing new. The Cowper-Temple religion has been with acceptance observed in England ever since 1870. It was accepted, and the majority of English children are now taught the Cowper-Temple religion. Why are we doing anything very wrong in that? I do not think we have deserved all the censures we have received for doing that. The only other thing we did was to extend facilities to denominational schools under Clauses 3, 4, and 5, with a sincere desire to enable those who wished for denominational education to have that education so far as it was compatible with the possibilities and exigencies of the educational situation in which we are placed. Now that is the source of further complaints. It is said that we have not gone far enough in giving facilities. I am not sure that that is not really, after all, the gravamen and substance of the accusation brought against us. I have given you an outline of what we intended and what we tried to do, and here we are culprits making our apologia for having endeavoured to act in that way.

What remains? are your Lordships blind—I do not use the expression with any disrespect—to the only alternative? The most rev. Primate congratulated himself and the House when he made his speech upon the fact that secularism was rejected in the present House of Commons by a majority of between four and five hundred on one side and sixty odd on the other. But those sixty odd were practically mutineers. If the House of Commons had been left to decide for itself I do not know what the decision would have been; but I am quite certain that there were scores and scores of members who stayed away, and there were others who yielded reluctantly to the strong and earnest attempt of the Government to induce them to support it in order to give a last chance to a religious system of education connected with the State.

Your Lordships have heard what the right rev. Prelate the Bishon of Birmingham said. The right rev. Prelate represents a great and growing force in the Church of England, and he said that the State had nothing whatever to do with the teaching of religion. I know he said more but that was his first proposition. The teaching of religion is the business of the Church, but the Church wanted facilities. What facilities? The facilities it got at Birmingham. What facilities does it get at Birmingham? Facilities, I believe, out of school hours. This education is given out of school hours, and by a voluntary system. It is notorious that in any school in this country, which is, after all, a free country, you can give by a voluntary system out of school hours any kind of religious education you like.

This is undiluted secularism. I believe it is accompanied by the expectation, if you please the certainty, that the Church will take up the burden which has been cast down by the State and do the work, if you like, more effectively; but it is in itself pure secularism and nothing else. There are all over the country people, I do assure your Lordships, who are coming gradually and reluctantly to the same view. It is not the view I hold myself. If possible, I should very much like to see some other method than secularism, but there are others who take a different view, and more and more people are beginning to take that view. They are beginning to say to themselves: "We have been lashed round the whole circle of these pitiful expedients and we are tired of them. We will no longer lie content to be constantly putting forward propositions in the hope that we shall find common ground among Christian denominations and to be constantly met by too successful resistance. We will attempt that course no more; we will give you secularism." Although your Lordships may disapprove of this view and believe you will be able to stem the tide if the tide rises, yet no one is better aware than your Lordships that this House has always bowed to public opinion when expressed.

You will find public opinion—angry, tumultuous, irresistible—in favour of secularism if you refuse, I will not for a moment say this Bill as it stands—I mean nothing of the kind, nor is there anything minatory in my language or thoughts—but if you refuse to consider a well-meant and honest attempt to find some middle course such as we have endeavoured to put before your Lordships. That is my belief. I may be altogether wrong; your Lordships will form your own judgment; but I am glad to think that between now and October there will be time for a little cool reflection. I do not know why it is that up to now the attempt to come to some concordat has failed in this country. This I am sure of, that the present is a critical occasion—I do not mean in a constitutional, but in an educational, sense—and all those who wish, well to the cause of education and of the religious education of the young would do well to reflect between now and October.


My Lords, we are asked to accept a Bill which will give a far wider extension to that series of prohibitions known as the Cowper-Temple Clause. We are asked to assent to a Bill which will remove many of the safeguards for the thoroughness and reality of religious teaching. And when we look at that prospect with apprehension those who support the Bill try to assure us by saying. "Look at the excellent religious work which has been done under the conditions of the Cowper-Temple Clause in board schools in the past." We have had quoted to us words in another place about — Thirty-six years of happy experience of Cowper-Temple teaching, and also words used by the most rev. Primate with regard to the teaching that has been given in some board schools, and we are invited to be reassured with regard to the future by past experience.

It is always an ungracious thing to interfere with the cheerful and healthy exercise of optimism, but we are bound to remember that the operation of the Cowper-Temple Clause will be in the future under different conditions from those which have prevailed in the past. The conditions will be different in many ways if this Bill in anything like its present form becomes law. The point to which I wish to draw attention is the difference which is going on, and will go on still more, in the training of the teacher. The noble Lord on my right, Lord Stanley of Alderley, paid a just tribute to the services rendered by the teachers in elementary schools. He spoke of them as an honourable, an earnest, and a thoughtful body of men and women who cared for this teaching. I wish to express my sense of the debt which we owe in this matter to the teachers in elementary schools. I think that all classes are deeply indebted to them for the temper, the devotion, and the zeal with which they have carried out their work.

But it is increasingly likely that in the future access to the teaching profession will dispense altogether with the requirement of residential training, and with that influence which, whatever we may think or say about an ecclesiastical atmosphere, is necessary for those who are to give religious instruction. Residential training goes far to give the teacher some of the advantages of the public school. In the residential training college the lad will learn, not only to work well, but to play well; he will learn something of the real skill of discipline, and how the best discipline is often maintained where the sanction for it cannot be invoked or enforced; he will learn, above all, the meaning of esprit de corps. Those are ways in which our teachers in the past have been to a great extent trained, with not only definite religious training, but with the influences of a residential college around them. If these advantages are likely in the future to be to a considerable extent withdrawn or foregone, and if you have coming into the teaching profession a large number of men and women not so trained, it cannot be said that the conditions under which Cowper-Temple teaching will be given are identical or near to the conditions under which it has been given in the past. That is one point which I wish to leave with your Lordships, because I think we are all in danger of thinking too confidently that what has prevailed, in many cases happily in the past can be relied on in the future under widely different conditions.

I have only one word more to say. We shall be going away very soon for, I hope, a period of rest, and I imagine that noble Lords will not be sorry to be for a while not thinking of the Education Bill. But when they have had a reasonable respite from all considerations of it, there are one or two ways in which they may gain what will be helpful when we meet again in the autumn. I hope that your Lordships, before entering on the strenuous work of amendment, will try to find out how the Bill is regarded in the country. I cannot speak with experience of the signs of temper and tone in this House, but I am very much mistaken if there has not been a great accruing of purpose and power in the resolve to amend the Bill as the debate has gone on. I believe that will be re-enforced by a great body of feeling throughout the country, and that this House has an opportunity now of finding itself supported by multitudes who have been accustomed to look askance at it. We heard from an unexpected quarter in another place an expression of thankfulness that there is a House of Lords, and I believe that feeling is very widespread at the present moment throughout the country


My Lords, I think that his Majesty's Government may congratulate themselves on at least two features of this long debate. One is that, although the Bill has been subjected to the severest criticism, there has not been through the whole course of the debate any suggestion that it should be rejected on its Second Reading. The other is that of the two principles of the Bill one has been accepted without objection and has received the more than tacit support of many noble Lords on the opposite Benches —the principle that public control must follow the gift of public funds.

We are told by His Majesty's Government that two principles guide them in this Bill. The first is the establishment of public control. That, apparently, is on all hands conceded. The other is the abolition of tests. I believe it to be accepted by the whole House that you are not to impose a religious test for appointment to a civil office, but a test in the sense of that imposed on head teachers under the Act of 1902 is a test which always must exist if you are to have efficient teachers. I beg your Lordships to notice that His Majesty's Government are in fact (though in an obscure and indirect form) retaining the only test which the Act of 1902 imposed. Under the Act of that year every head teacher in a voluntary school was necessarily a teacher of religion, as much so as the Archbishop of Canterbury and that being so it was necessary to ascertain whether he was qualified for the work he undertook. In that sense what is denounced as a test was perfectly legitimate, and it will be practically still continued under this Bill. The noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty seemed to make a great distinction between a test precedent to appointment and a test subsequent to appointment. A test precedent to appointment, he said, you must not impose. You must appoint your teacher without a test, but when he is appointed you may if he is willing to teach religion apply one in order to ascertain whether he is qualified to teach it. That is quite a sufficient test for me, and probably for most other noble Lords.

There are provisions in the Bill with which I think we may be well satisfied and grateful for—the provisions for securing the health and recreation of the children. But there my support of the Bill must cease. When we come to those of its provisions which relate to religious teaching, and which, after all, constitute by far the greater part of the enacting clauses, there I feel that His Majesty's Government have gone entirely astray.

In point of clearness of expression and fairness of statement the speech of the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council in introducing this Bill left nothing to be desired, but I am not sure that he was quite so happy when answering by anticipation objections which he thought would be made to the Bill. Some of those answers I confess I thought sounded somewhat hollow. The noble Earl is a man of ability; he is not a man who takes a bad argument for a good one; and the same acuteness which enables him to make the best of the case he brings before your Lordships must at the same time show him clearly what the weak points of that case are. I was therefore not at all surprised to hear the comparatively hesitating manner, the lowered voice, and the almost apologetic tone in which the noble Earl attempted to defend the provisions of the clause requiring a majority of four-fifths for the establishment of exceptional facilities for religious teaching. He said that after all a limit must be made, and what did it signify what the particular limit was. He went on to give what he called a similar instance. He referred to the limit at which exemption from income-tax was fixed as being equally arbitrary. But, my Lords, there is the most essential difference between the two. The limit with regard to the exemption from income-tax is a limit imposed — by whom?—by the majority of the elected representatives of the people. But what is this four-fifths provision? It is really a provision that a minority of a little over one-fifth shall overrule the wishes of perhaps little less than four-fifths of the community.

I have no particularly enthusiastic feeling in favour of a mere numerical majority. I think that is one of the fetishes of the day. That the folly of an hundred fools is wiser than the wisdom of ninety-nine wise men is a proposition which does not greatly commend itself to me. Two hundred years hence it is very probable that our descendants will look upon the wisdom of their ancestors much as we look upon the so-called wisdom of our ancestors, and shibboleths which have great vogue at this time may very possibly be relegated to the same limbo as many more ancient doctrines. But in the meantime the cult of the bare majority holds sway everywhere, and must be acknowledged. I confess that it does seem strange to me that those who are its devoutest worshippers should in this Bill enable a minority of a little over one-fifth to over-rule the wishes of a little under four-fifths of the same community.

I find what seems to be an almost impenetrable blindness on the part of many as to the reasons which induce a large number of your Lordships and other people to object to what is called undenominational teaching. Four years ago it was called undogmatic, but its advocates seem to have discovered that dogma is inseparable from any religious teaching. The nature of the objections to that form of teaching have really not been fully stated. It is because we know not what undenominational religion means, or may be made to mean, that we object to it. What do its advocates say that it teaches? "the fundamental doctrines of religion," says Dr. Clifford; "of Christianity," says Canon Hensley Henson; "of Trinitarian Christianity," says the Bishop of Carlisle. Well, which is it to be? If indeed you take Trinitarian Christianity it is, I think, then possible to establish something like a combined system of education. I hold in my hand a pamphlet describing what is to my mind almost the only successful effort of its kind. It was drawn up by a Roman Catholic Bishop, an Anglican Bishop, and a Presbyterian chaplain for the guidance of the Martiniére college in Calcutta. It is thoroughly undenominational, but it is dogmatic to the backbone. I believe it would not be beyond the skill of man on that common ground to devise a scheme which might work well and meet all requirements. But that would not satisfy the advocates of the Bill.

The only positive injunction laid down in this Bill is the prohibitive one that distinctive formularies are not to be taught, but there is no limit on the other side, and the temptation always will be to make the field as wide as possible. Logically it ought to be wide enough to comprehend the Jew and the Agnostic, for it is just as great a grievance that they should be compelled to pay for religious teaching they disapprove as that Wesleyans or Baptists should be so. But practically the religions teaching will be Christian, but undenominational, or as it used to be called a year or two ago, undogmatic. What kind of Christianity is this to be? The Unitarians are a small sect, but a powerful one. There will be hesitation on the part of local authorities to offend the Unitarians, and yet if the teaching be such as is acceptable to the Unitarians it will be regarded by a majority of Nonconformists as well as by Churchmen to be no true teaching of Christianity at all. I apprehend that in most schools when this anti-denominational system becomes the law of the land, if it ever does, you will find a gradual slackening of Christian teaching until it fades out altogether. And now what is meant by fundamental religion? Something making foundation. There are two different foundations. Most of those who advocate undenominational teaching consider it should consist of a set of maxims which are consistent with Christianity, but not necessarily Christian. In the opinion of an equally large number of persons, probably a larger number, their teaching is not Christian at all, but more nearly approaching to Confucianism. They hold, with St. Paul, that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid. The foundation they look to is that of the personality of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the personal relation which exists between Him and every Christian soul. Now, those two foundations are absolutely distinct. You may build a fair edifice on the foundation of moral precepts and philosophic doctrines, and you may tell the children who are educated under it that all they have to do is to listen to those doctrines and to guide themselves by them; but there is all the difference in the world between such a foundation and that other foundation of which I have spoken, a difference that is radical and irreconcilable.

Between those two systems there is a great gulf fixed which cannot be bridged or passed over, and that is the reason why so many earnest men absolutely decline to have any part in what is called un denominational education. That was the one point to which I wished to call you Lordships' attention. Before sitting down however, I should like to make a remark which I think is pregnant with meaning, a meaning which is abhorrent to me, but I am not one of those who refuse to see facts because I do not like them. So far as I am aware, in all the discussions and debates which have taken place on this subject in Parliament and out of doors we have not heard anything that would lead us to infer that there was such an institution still existing as a National Established Church. On all hands it has been spoken of as though on an equality with other sects. This seems to me to involve the recognition of a fact, if it be a fact, of enormous significance.


My Lords, I rise to ask your Lordships' attention for a few minutes for a very simple and direct purpose. I wish to express my strong impression, from such observations as during this summer I have been able to make, that if one may use the word "mandate" there does exist in this country something like a mandate, and I venture to think from the majority of the English people, to the House of Lords to consider the Government's Education Bill with considerateness, temper, and fairness, but with firmness and without undue fear. I do not say this lightly or forgetful of the responsibilities and anxieties of the hour. We none of us shall be forgetful of those considerations after the speech, so admirable in manner and so weighty in thought, from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack.

It is a bad thing for a man whose calling in life is to be a pastor to have to take any part in a campaign which has political elements in it. It does not make such a man more ready or able to do his work to have to live in the somewhat dreary conditions of a chronic crisis of a semi-political kind. Throughout my life I have had the happiest possible relations with Nonconformist Christians, and I have derived the greatest spiritual benefit from the instructions and writings of Nonconformist saints. My hope has been for years that there might be an approximation on the deepest grounds between them and us of the Church of England. I rejoice whenever we can meet on large and fruitful common ground, which includes among other things allegiance to that Book, which, like its supreme and ultimate Author, is able to unveil its inmost secret, not necessarily to the elaborately instructed, but to the single-hearted soul. These considerations make it to me infinitely unwelcome to take a line of protest and of disappointment at what, we have been so earnestly assured this afternoon has been an honest attempt by able, and patriotic men to arrive at a settlement of this great dispute.

But I am compelled to say that my disappointment is bitter at the facts as they stand. I am dismayed at the ruthless energy with which the extremely well-meant attempt at a co-promise in 1902 has been pursued until it has issued in the proposals of the present Bill. I believe that feeling is shared by many even-minded, godly, equitable and informed Nonconformists. Speaking for the bishops, I may say that most of us have had added to our somewhat heavy nominal duties the duty during the past summer of speaking at, and usually presiding over, meetings occasioned by this Bill. The county of Durham, which I represent in some sense, is, I think, fairly typical of many important parts of England. It is vastly industrial, and it is largely pervaded by energetic and living Nonconformity. Its people are frank and outspoken to a delightful fault, or, I would rather say, to a delightful degree—thank God for it ! and the meetings summoned there, which have been quite free and open to the expression of various opinions, have been most instructive to the observer.

Every one who knows the county of Durham will bear witness to the unexampled extent to which meetings to oppose this Bill as it stands have attracted popular interest and inspired almost unanimous enthusiasm. For example, I will take two important towns—West Hartlepool and Sunderland. There was summoned at West Hartlepool a public meeting which was attended by 3,000 people, of whom fully half were men. A large number of Nonconformists were known to be in that meeting. There was a certain amount of very moderate and good-humoured interruption and heckling from a group of non-sympathisers near the door. It was answered by the speaker heckled promptly and with complete success as regards the sudden cessation of the interruption, and perfect-good humour was maintained throughout the meeting. One of the votes of thanks was seconded by a working man of the town—a Congregationalist leader, actively in co-operation with the Labour Party —and his speech emphasised the value of the protest which the Church was making in favour of national religious education. At the close of the meeting ten persons out of the 3,000 held up their hands against the resolution in which the sense of the meeting was summed up.

At Sunderland, full of the Nonconformity I have referred to, a meeting on this subject was convened in the great Drill Hall, and to the surprise of its promoters it was attended by 4,000 people, of whom a very large majority were men, and mostly working men. There was a most extraordinary responsiveness and electrical sympathy about that meeting, and at the close it was calculated that only five hands were held up against the resolution. At a meeting in South Shields one of the most important speeches against the Bill was delivered by a Presbyterian minister, and another Nonconformist minister, whose congregation numbers 600 members, has throughout the whole controversy taken a consistent line with the Church of England.

I am convinced that there is a feeling in the country which may be interpreted as a mandate to the House of Lords to do nothing inconsiderate, but to approach this Bill with the consciousness that there is a mass of feeling behind which looks upon this House rather as a substitute for a referendum than the protector of sectarian interests. The cause for which we stand should inspire courage; it is not a sectarian cause, not a proselytising cause; it is a cause in which the whole Christianity of the rising generation among the working classes of the country is concerned. There is no security that what is called the Cowper-Temple teaching of religion will remain—indeed, it is largely ceasing to be what it has been; and I hold that the Church of England, which is not a sect, which is not a denomination merely—it is older than the nation—has the position and capabilities for doing for the rising generation what no other Christian body as constituted to-day can do to preserve the teaching of revealed eternal truths. With a knowledge of a great backing in the country and mighty reasons, I exhort your Lordships to consider the Bill not merely from the point of view of what is best for the immediate present, but looking to the long distant future in this matter of children's education.


My Lords, I should like at the outset of my few remarks to notice very briefly a suggestion which during the last few days has been repeatedly made to me, and made to me by noble Lords for whose opinions I entertain very deep respect, and whose judgment is entitled to every consideration. I have been asked by several Members of your Lordships' House whether it would not have been better if the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill had stood over until the month of October. My friends were able to adduce weighty reasons in favour of that course. The Bill had been in our hands but a very few hours when this debate began; it has been greatly altered daring its passage through the House of Commons, and it contains many important provisions which were not there discussed. In these circumstances, it was not unnatural to ask that more time should be given to the House of Lords before we give the Bill a Second Reading. But, on the other hand, after consulting with many of our supporters, it seemed to me that the attitude of noble Lords who sit on this side of the House towards the Bill was perfectly clear, and that it was desirable that this attitude should be made plain to the country without further loss of time. I understand that most of us are ready to admit that some modification of the Act of 1902 is inevitable; but we hold very strongly that in submitting these particular proposals for the alteration of that Act His Majesty's Government have very seriously misunderstood the feeling of the country towards this important subject.

We believe that this Bill would work if it were to pass in its present shape very grave injustice, out of all proportion to the alleged grievances it seeks to remove, and we, at any rate, cannot contemplate the passing of the Bill into law in the shape in which it now stands. On the other hand, we recognise that the Bill contains admissions of some very important and far-reaching principles, admissions that we welcome as indicating a desire, at any rate, on the part of the framers of the Bill to deal in an equitable spirit with the question.

Holding these views it seems to us that it is our duty to try to amend this Bill, and we feel that it would be more respectful to the other House of Parliament—and I think we all feel that there there should be reciprocal respect shown by each House to the other— to read the Bill a second time and then address ourselves seriously to the task of removing the grave defects which we detect in it. If I have not incorectly described the attitude of the House, it is surely better that that attitude should be explained now, rather than that the country should be left in suspense for two or three months, during which no doubt all sorts of sinister motives would be attributed to your Lordships' House. But we do desire it to be clearly understood that in giving a Second Reading to the Bill we do not abate one jot or tittle of our right to deal with it as we think proper at a future stage. One other reason why I am glad the debate has not been postponed is that some of the speeches which have been delivered during the course of it are speeches that cannot fail to have a. very wide effect in the country; and if we only had to consider from that point of view the speech of the most rev. Primate who presides over the see of Canterbury, I should say that we have reason to be deeply grateful that the debate has taken place now.

What is our main complaint of this Bill? I think it may be expressed in a very few words by saying that the Bill doss very little for education and creates a vast amount of heart-burning and disturbance. The Bill has been described today as "above all things an educational Bill," I would like to put the accuracy of this description to a simple test. The Lord President of the Council introduced the measure in a long speech—not too long, because the subject is one calling for lengthened explanation—but I noticed that out of the hour and a half —I think that was about the time occupied—about an hour and a quarter were devoted to what he himself described as the "and region of the religious difficulty," and only in the last quarter of an hour of the time occupied by his speech did he find himself in what he gracefully described as "In the green fields with the children," and then he began to tell us of things the Bill did for the children, such things as the establishment of play centres, vacation schools, and I suppose I must include that early introduction to the dentist which is no doubt necessary, and upon which the noble Earl dwelt in eloquent terms.

It is even so with all this controversy. The absorbing interest of this religious question has swamped all the educational side of the problem. It has dispelled, so it seems to me, the sense of proportion of His Majesty's Government It has led them to exaggerate the extent of the Nonconformists' grievance. It has led them to underrate those other grievances which the Bill would infallibly create; to underrate the agitation which it would lead to, an agitation which I am convinced will be far more formidable than any which has been provoked by the existing condition of the law. For, my Lords, who accepts the Bill? The Nonconformists are in mutiny. The Duke of Norfolk, has told you frankly how the Roman Catholic Church regards the overtures which you have made to them. As to the Church of England, its feeling has been voiced by eloquent and unanswered speeches delivered from the benches opposite.

When we are told, as we have been told to-day, that we are to seek in this Bill for a final settlement of the education question, I can only admire the simplicity of those who venture to indulge in any hopes of the kind. We are told this is a Bill for extending popular control over our schools. Do we not forget that popular control is there already? There is only the smallest fraction of school life which is really withdrawn from popular control. But if we are anxious for popular control, is it not the case that this Bill bristles with restrictions on popular control? What is the popular control which refuses, as this Bill does, to take into consideration the wishes of the parents as to the manner in which their children are to be brought up?

The noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack told us just now that this was impracticable, but I think he went on to say that, although it was out of the question to consider the wishes of all the parents, he regarded favourably the idea of admitting the claim of the majority of them. If he really frankly and fully admits that, and if we may proceed to amend this Bill on those lines—upon the lines of making it our business really to ascertain the views of the majority of the parents and to give effect to those views—then I say there is certainly some hope—


What I said was that it was impracticable to give effect to the doctrine that all the parents' wishes could be complied with, but that, if we could not have a system of that kind, we had done our best to give facilities by Clauses 3 and 4 and 5. I think that is what I said. I did not mean to lay down any general and universal proposition such as the noble Marquess has suggested.


No one has ever contended on this side of the House that it was possible to give effect to the wishes of every small section of the parents. Any arrangement of the kind must be limited by common sense and the local conditions. But what we contend for—and I still do not think the noble and learned Lord greatly differs from me—is that where the views of a large majority of the parents are clearly ascertainable, due regard should be paid to those views. This Bill has been represented as an attack on the Church of England. It is not only an attack upon the Church of England, it is an attack on denominational teaching of all kinds. But I do understand that the grievances of the Church of England should loom larger in the foreground of this question than any other. For the Church of England has undoubtedly made sacrifices for the sake of education which bulk larger than those made by any other part of the community, and I have been surprised at some of the attempts which have been made to belittle the extent of those sacrifices.

We were told this afternoon that there was not much difference between the exclusion of the Church from these schools and the annexation of high roads by the county councils. I venture to suggest that the roads and the schools do not stand on exactly the same footing. A well-equipped road is good enough for anyone to travel by, no matter by whom it has been equipped, but a well-found school is not good enough for those who desire that its moral equipment should be of a particular and special kind. We have had another analogy in the course of this debate. The noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture asked us why the owners of these schools should be so extremely anxious as to what was done with their property. It is simply, he said, a case, familiar to us all, in which people have embarked rather too freely on bricks and mortar and have overbuilt themselves. If that is the view of the Cabinet of which the noble Earl is a member, all I can say is that they have very grievously misapprehended the facts of the case, and the manner in which these facts are regarded by the people of this country.

The noble and learned Lord behind me dealt with the contention of the Lord President of the Council that there was nothing very unusual in such interference as this Bill contemplates with charitable trusts. I do not think the argument of the noble and learned Lord behind me was quite understood. I do not attempt to state these things in legal language, but what I have always understood is this—that the Courts of Law in this country have been in the habit of interfering with trusts when it could be shown that it was impracticable or inexpedient to carry out the intentions of the founders of those trusts, and what I should like to ask is whether any one is here to contend that in the case of these schools it has really become either impracticable or inexpedient to carry out the intentions of the persons who founded them. Parliament and the Law Courts of the country have for centuries past encouraged liberal-minded and generous people to establish trusts of this kind, and I cannot help fearing that the manner in which this Bill deals with these trusts will have a very deterrent effect upon such people in the future.

We have at any rate one common ground on which we can all of us on both sides of the House found ourselves. It is admitted on all hands that no one desires that our system of school education should be a purely secular system. The noble Earl put that forcibly and clearly when he said the people of the country would not have it; and I am glad that His Majesty's Government in that respect at all events have correctly gauged the feeling of this country. But, my Lords, I press that point because it seems to me that if that is true, the result is to fix upon the State the responsibility of seeing that education and religion are not allowed to drift apart; that the system should not become gradually and insensibly secular; that no violence should be done to the feelings of the parents; that religious instruction should not be discouraged; and that it should not be imparted by persons who are unfit or incompetent to impart it. I honestly believe that there is not one of those principles for which I could not find emphatic approval in the speeches which have been delivered by different Members of His Majesty's Government, but my complaint is that these principles are not embodied, or at any rate not embodied with sufficient distinctness in the Bill upon the Table.

Tried by those tests, this Bill seems to me to fail completely. There is nothing to prevent religious instruction dropping out of sight altogether in certain schools if the local authority desire it. There is no sufficient recognition of the wishes of the parents. There are no provisions to ensure that religious instruction should be given what the Bishop of St. Asaph appropriately called an honoured place. It is given on the contrary a place below the salt at our table, and there is no security that religious instruction should be given by persons who are competent to give it. We have been told that we should be content with what we commonly speak of as Cowper-Temple religion. I sometimes wish that from the jargon of these discussions we could banish that expression altogether. There is no such thing. The Cowper-Temple clause is, as has been said this afternoon, a series of negations. You tell us that the great body of the parents of this country are content with it. Give them an opportunity of telling you whether they are contented with it or not. Do not forget, that this denominational teaching may mean any thing or nothing, moreover I do notthink we have sufficiently taken into account the effect which is likely to be produced on so-called Cowper-Temple teaching by the alteration in the religious atmosphere of the voluntary schools. It is the contact, the neighbourhood, of the voluntary school that has, in the past kept up the standard of religious instruction in the council schools, and my fear is that when you place these transferred schools upon the same level as the council schools you may find that there is a distinct alteration in the religious atmosphere of Cowper-Temple teaching.

We are told that the principle of the Bill is that there, should be undenominational teaching supplemented by special religious teaching. In what manner is effect given to this principle? I take Clause 4. I for one feel deep gratitude to His Majesty's Government for having included Clause 4 in the Bill. I regard it as a proof that there is somewhere in the minds of the Government a real desire that this undenominational teaching

should be supplemented by religious teaching of a wholly different kind. The discovery of this clause in the Bill is like the discovery of a single bone of an extinct animal, which enables our palæontologists to reconstruct the skeleton of the whole animal, and I feel myself able, with that clause in my hand, to picture the kind of Bill which might, perhaps, have been produced to Parliament if the original framers of it had been allowed to pursue their object consistently, and as they would have desired to pursue it. Clause 4, at any rate, has this great merit. It admits in theory the establishment of denominational schools maintained by public funds, manned by teachers giving denominational instruction, who shall be appointed for their fitness to teach. And there can be no doubt that the Minister for Education really believes that these advantages were going to be given in full measure to those who desired them; for do not let us forget his memorable statement to the Jewish deputation when he told them that the clause might require strengthening, but that its intention was that schools which came within its conditions should be carried on just as they are now.

The full application of the principles he then set forth might have been the means of saving denominational instruction, but the Bill falls very far short of fulfilling the expectations held out by the right hon. Gentleman. We have the arbitrary geographical limit within which the clause may operate, the complex and irritating procedure, and the futile appeal. Is it really exaggeration to say that the luckless persons who desire to obtain these extended facilities will have to run a kind of obstacle race, in which they will have to surmount all the barbed wire entanglements with which the facilities are surrounded, at the end of which—and this is the pathetic thing—they may find themselves put off by admission to the proud position of a State-aided school? And what does that mean? State aid schools means short commons, and that is the ultimate fate of any of those schools which may have the misfortune of having to negotiate with a perverse local authority. I am not so impressed with the infallibility of local authorities as to believe that no such thing as a perverse local authority is to be found; and, if the local authority is indeed perverse, it will have the double satisfaction of relegating the school to the position of a State-aided school and keeping a certain amount of rates in its own pocket.

Then facilities are to be given to other schools under Clause 3, and it is on this clause that Church of England schools obviously have to rely. What is the logical, what is the liberal principle on which we should expect these schools to be dealt with? Is it not that the wishes of the majority should prevail and that the utmost consideration should be shown to those who are in a minority? The Bill, no doubt, holds out the expectation of ordinary facilities to schools of this class; but let me point out how illusory these facilities are. To begin with, if the local authority does not apply to take over a school, away go the ordinary facilities ab initio. Then we want to know what are these facilities? There is no definition of them in the Bill. We are continually referred back to these facilities. I am reminded of the military debate we had here the other night. When noble Lords opposite were told they were diminishing the Army, they said— "Oh, but look at the number of men you are to be given on a Militia basis." But no one told us what this Militia basis was, and in the same way no one has told us what these facilities are to be. All we are told is what these facilities are not. We know that the religions instruction to be given under them is not to be paid for out of the rates, that it must not be given by the teacher or on more than two days a week, and also that it must be given under the absolute control of the local authority, which is free apparently to subtract from this unknown quantity as much or little as it pleases.

What I have said has reference to what are called transferred schools; but what of the other provided schools, those which are usually described as council schools? In a speech delivered early in the year the Minister for Education used language which was certainly interpreted by all who read it as holding out the expectation that these ordinary facilities would be given, not only in the transferred schools, but also in all porvided schools, that is, including council schools. I freely admit I draw a distinction between transferred schools and council schools, and I do so because, if you had left the transferred schools alone and left them in possession of a due amount of denominational and religious teaching, you would have had a very good case for not disturbing the status quo of the council schools. But, if you are going to place the whole of the schools on more or less one dead level, we have a, right to ask whether you are going to do anything in the case of council schools to redress the balance and set right the injustice you have done in. the case of the transferred schools.

So sum up the question of facilities, does it not come to this, that in the end the urban schools have the dismal prospect of being driven into the position of State-aided schools, that the rural voluntary schools, the transferred schools, may, under this Bill, be cheated at the outset of the privileges to which they are entitled, and that the only class of schools which is left alone and allowed to retain the status quo are the council schools? Whatever you may think of that, it is not even-handed treatment.

With regard to the question of teachers, we are told that the essence of this Bill is to abolish tests for teachers. So far as I am aware, at this moment there are no tests for teachers. I do not know of any; but, be that as it may, I do not think any of us desire that the profession of teacher should be a close profession; but is that any reason why a teacher should be allowed to teach a subject of which he is ignorant, and which he is incompetent to teach? We have abolished tests for the Universities, but I have yet to learn that when the authorities of a college desire to appoint a teacher in a particular subject, they do not select a man who is thoroughly competent to teach that subject. There is a very remarkable divergence of views between the statements that have been made upon this point by different members of His Majesty's Government. In the first place, in the speech to the Jewish deputation, Mr. Birrell, after the passage which I have already quoted, went on to say— the intention of the clause certainly is that the teachers should remain the same as they are, those who are most qualified to give the particular religious instruction which has hitherto been given in the schools. In the latest debates in the House of Commons the Chancellor of the Exchequer used these words— In the next place, no teacher appointed and paid by the State is to be appointed hereafter subject to the condition that he is to give religious teaching, or that he is to belong to any particular religious communion, or any religious communion at all. If that view is to prevail, what becomes of the pledge given by the Minister for Education; if, on the other hand, the view of the Minister for Education is to prevail, how is it to be reconciled with the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

This grievance of the teachers is to my mind the more serious because it is a double grievance. It is a grievance of the teachers themselves, and it is a grievance of the parents whose children they teach. I cannot conceive a greater wrong to do the parents of the children than to deprive these children of the advantage of being taught by men or women who have been used to teach them, who know how to teach them, and who are qualified to teach them in these most solemn and important subjects. As to the teachers themselves, is it not to put, I would almost say, an outrageous affront upon these teachers, these men who have worked conscientiously at their profession, who care about religious instruction, who know how essential it is to the whole of the instruction which they are giving to their pupils, to say to them suddenly, "You may teach all other subjects; but this, the most important subject of all, you are to be precluded by Act of Parliament from teaching to your pupils."

How is this Bill going to work? Experienced and recognised teachers are to be withdrawn, and then you are to bring in, I do not exactly know from where, a kind of emergency man to undertake this duty. These men will not know the children, the children will not know them. It is a remarkable fact that, when in the other House an Amendment was moved with the object of permitting the teacher to remain in the room whilst this religious instruction was being imparted, that Amendment was rejected by His Majesty's Government.

Discouraged though I am by the manner in which this question has been treated, I do discern a ray of hope. I am glad to notice that in one clause of the Bill, Clause 11, words have been inserted providing that, if a vacancy arises in the office of teacher while the school-house is used under this section, the local education authority shall in choosing the teacher appoint a teacher who is willing to give the religious instruction required under this section. I hope we may regard that admission as the germ of other admissions which will be ungrudgingly accorded to us at a future stage of the consideration of this Bill. I am also somewhat encouraged by the speech made by my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley. He gave us comfort in this matter. He said—" Never mind the Bill, it will be all right; you will see the teachers will gravitate towards the schools in which they are really most fitted to teach. The local authorities will naturally select the best men." As my noble friend knows, I am not a believer in the infallibility of local bodies. I cannot help thinking my noble friend may possibly be ready to assist us in giving the local authorities some little encouragement to be careful how they select teachers for their schools.

The part of the Bill which relates to Wales was dealt with so completely by my noble friend Lord Cawdor that I pass it by. The Welsh part of the Bill supplies what I hope I shall not be considered disrespectful if I describe as the comic element in this tragedy. I shall not follow the example of the Bishop of St. Asaph, who in his speech pursued the elusive phantom of the Welsh Minister, and dealt with the attributes it was once proposed to confer upon him. I almost wish we might have that Minister, and that he might be selected from the ranks of your Lordships' House. I venture to say that the right rev. Prelate and Lord Cawdor would give him some extremely interesting quarters of au hour.

'There is one other matter about which I wish to say a word. It has hardly been referred to. I mean the question of the finance of this Bill. I suppose it has not been referred to on the ground that the question of privilege, in connection with which we had a discussion yesterday, deprives us of all interest in such questions. It is a matter which requires a great deal of discussion. The taxpayers' money has to be spent for this purpose, and we have not had, so far as I am aware, one ounce of information as to the calculation upon which the demand for £1,000,000 has been based, as to the general lines upon which it is to be distributed, or as to its sufficiency to meet the reasonable requirements which may be expected if this Bill becomes law.

It seems to me that the duty of your Lordships' House this evening is plain. We none of us, I believe, desire to reject this Bill, bad as it is, at any rate at this stage. We cannot entertain the idea of passing it in its present form. We believe that it will require not only Amendment, but drastic Amendment in Committee, and we shall propose such Amendments. We do not despair of being fairly met by noble Lords opposite. They have, and particularly the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, expressed an earnest desire that this question should be dealt with in a spirit of consideration and with a desire to bring about a settlement of a difficult and thorny question. We do hope that, when we come to discuss these points of detail, they will consider with an open mind the proposals which we may make, and that they will give us their assistance in removing the grave defects which this Bill discloses at every turn. In the meantime we do not part with our full right to treat the Bill as it may seem to us fit to treat it when the attempt has been made to amend it, and when we know what the result of that attempt has been. It is upon that distinct understanding, and upon that distinct understanding alone, that we agree this evening to the Second Reading of this Bill.


My Lords, I must in the first place express my satisfaction at the tone of the speech of my noble friend who has just sat down. He is, no doubt, a strong opponent of many of the provisions of this Bill, and he has not hesitated to express his opposition strongly and plainly. He has given to the House advice which I may perhaps be pardoned for saying is of a very sound description in regard to the Second Reading of the Bill. The Committe Stage will afford the proper opportunity for discusing details, and His Majesty's Government will then be prepared to meet objections which may be raised frankly and, I hope, fairly.

I do not think the provisions of the Bill are rightly understood in many respects. I am not surprised at it. This Bill, as my noble friend has said, has been but a very short time in the hands of noble Lords, but it has been in their hands a day longer than was the Bill of 1902. It has been my endeavour to give the House the greatest consideration. On some of the points which have been referred to by my noble friend I will give explanation as far as I can, but the end of this debate on the Second Reading is not a favourable time for detailed explanation Your Lordships are going to have a much longer period for the consideration of this measure than usually falls to your lot. You will be able between this and the day when the House will meet again to consider all its provisions in the fullest detail, and when we come back refreshed from our rest we shall he able more fully to enter into discussion of them.

My noble friend said that one effect of the Bill would be to discredit religious instruction. I cannot for a moment admit that the Bill shows any wish to discredit religious instruction or any indifference on that matter. My noble friend himself said that he recognised gladly that we were the opponents of secular education and desired to see religious education in the schools. But my noble friend seemed to think—and I have heard the remark before in the course of the debate—that the tone of religious instruction in provided schools—and most schools will be provided under this Bill—would be lower than the present standard because of the lessening of the extent of denominational education. That is a very subtle argument, but I venture to doubt whether it is correct. It is a statement which can only be proved by practice. I should rather have thought that if you threw increased responsibility upon local bodies with respect to the giving of that religious instruction which is valued by the people of this country you would increase their interest and their desire to make the religious instruction real.

It has been said that the parents of the children will not be content with what is called—I share my noble friend's dislike for the phrase—Cowper-Temple instruction. But a large number of the parents of the country have been quite content with that instruction for six and thirty years, and until I see it I cannot persuade myself that there is likely to be any wide difference in their feelings in the future. My noble friend said he was grateful to us for Clause 4. In my judgment Clause 4 is an essential part of the Bill. Without Clause 4 it would have been an unjust and indefensible measure. I have no hesitation in making that statement. But I think noble Lords opposite have not altogether grasped the exact meaning of Clauses 4, 5, and 6. When we get into Committee I hope we shall be able to show that they will be more efficient for the purpose for which they were intended and will have a wider and more useful scope than noble Lords opposite at present appear to think.

With regard to Clause 3, my noble friend thought the facilities there given should be extended to all council schools. But if the facilities are not valuable why extend them? If they are valuable-I think it would not be a wise step to introduce them into schools which never have been subject to them before. But I wish to draw attention to one thing which I do not think is altogether appreciated. If your Lordships will look at sub-section (5) of Clause 3 you will see that it is there provided in regard to transferred schools that— 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 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, in the school. There has been some discussion upon the various syllabuses that had been introduced into the council schools. They differed one from another, and some of them went far in the direction of providing a form of religious instruction that would be generally acceptable. Some of these-syllabuses, if I am not mistaken, met with the approval of the most reverend Primate, and I am anxious that the most reverend Primate should view with favour the suggestion that it will be in the power of those who transfer their schools under that sub-section to make a bargain as to the nature and character of the syllabus which is to be used in the schools so long as it is consistent with Section 14 of the Act of 1870.

My noble friend professes small confidence in local authorities. I confess that I have a more extensive confidence in them. But this great and overwhelming distrust of local authorities is rather a novel doctrine for noble Lords opposite to hold, because in the Act of 1902 they destroyed the school boards, which had great and valuable experience, and which had a great accumulation of educational knowledge, and they themselves delivered over the management of these schools to the ordinary local authorities. I have no doubt there are local authorities who, in this and in many other matters, do not always act wisely and well. It is very painful to me to have to observe, in the course of this. debate, that the local authority with which I was at one time closely connected, the West Riding County Council, has been held up to reprobation. I am sorry to say I cannot defend many of the acts of that county council. I wish I could on account of my personal relations with it. But what I want to point out to your lordships is that the West Riding County Council protested against being charged with these duties; they passed resolutions refusing to undertake them, and it was noble Lords opposite who, in the Act of 1902, forced these duties upon them.

With regard to the question of trusts, I think my noble friend is not quite correct in the view he takes. I am advised that the Commission have no power to touch any single school which can continue to fulfil its trust. They will not be able to touch any school which is still able to carry out the conditions and duties of its trust; and when they do deal with a school they will deal with it, not arbitrarily, but under the rules and practice of the law, and with the application of the doctrine of cypres. Therefore I do not think there is much justification for my noble friend's fear on that point.

My noble friend touched on the question of 'No tests for teachers.' In Clause 8 of the Bill it is provided that mo teacher shall be called upon to give any religious instruction to which he objects, which I think we shall all be inclined to agree is just to him, and right to other people, and that he shall not be required to belong to any particular religious denomination. The actual provisions in the Clause are as follows:— A teacher employed in a public elementary school shall not give any religious instruction of a special character not permitted under Section 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, in any school in which facilities for that instruction are afforded under this Act, except where permitted to do so by the local education authority in cases where extended facilities are so afforded. A teacher employed in a public elementary school shall not be required as part of his duties as teacher to give any religious instruction, 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. With regard to the qualification of the teachers to give religious instruction, it is the obvious and necessary duty of the local authority to appoint persons who are fit to undertake that duty. As to the £1,000,000, the money has not vet been, and will not at present be, allocated. A Bill will be brought in next year to deal with the subject, and that, it seems to me, will be the occasion to discuss the allocation of the money.

This is a Bill which may be looked at in a variety of aspects. One of those aspects, at all events, is the practical one, and, if we look at it from that aspect, we must take into account what are the circumstances under which the Bill has been brought forward and what is the position which His Majesty's Government found when they entered into office last December. In order to bring that matter before your Lordships more plainly, it is necessary that I should go back over the past history of the education question. I tender my most grateful thanks to the most rev. Primate for the manner in which he spoke of my share in the passing of the Act of 1870. The part I was privileged to take in the passing of that measure is one of the matters of which, in a long public career, I am most proud. The principles of the Act of 1870, the real underlying principles, I have not abandoned, and I am not tempted to abandon them. But what were those principles? The most rev. Primate most justly pressed the views I expressed as to one of the main principles of that Act—namely, that you should not lay aside and cast off the large number of denominational schools which existed in every part of the country at that time, but should make use of them and supplement them with board schools. But that Act—I am speaking of it as it passed and not as it was brought in— gave no assistance to voluntary schools out of the rates, and it laid down very distinctly the principles on which the State made provision out of the Exchequer for those schools. No State grant, it was laid down, should be made in respect of any religious teaching, and no such grant was in any year to exceed the income of the school for that year which was derived from voluntary contributions, school fees, or any source other than the Parliamentary grant.

Those were the principles on which Parliament dealt in 1870 with voluntary schools, and I confess, my Lords, that I am unable to see that those principles differ very much from the spirit of this Bill or that the conditions upon which the grant was given are alien to its provisions. As the Bill of 1870 was introduced it did contain provisions by which grants could be made by local authorities to denominational schools. Mr. Gladstone, one of the most powerful Ministers of our time, wished to give assistance from the rates to denominational schools, and he had no love for a Cowper-Temple clause. But in the Parliament of 1870 he was forced to give up the notion of aiding denominational schools from the rates—though he gave in exchange an increased grant from the State—and to accept from the hands of Mr. Cowper-Temple that clause of which we have heard so much in the course of this debate.

I should have thought there were many lessons to be learned from that history, and many which might have been applied in 1902. The Act of 1870 lasted for thirty-six years. I am not here to say that in that long period it had not become necessary to amend it. but I do hold that it was not necessary to abandon its principles. The Act of 1870 was a compromise. But who tore up that compromise? Who disregarded the principles of that Act, and, casting aside all the warnings of its history, for the first time put the voluntary schools on the rates? The Government of 1902 and its supporters. I do not believe that a greater injury to the interests of voluntary schools, in which I have always felt and continued to feel a deep interest, could have been inflicted than was inflicted by bringing them on the rates. The late Government destroyed the Act of 1870 and abandoned its principles, and in the Act of 1902 they put the voluntary schools upon the rates and put them under the control, not of bodies elected ad hoc, like the school boards, but of county councils and borough councils elected for other purposes. That was their principle and their policy. They disregarded the experience of the past and the warning of Archbishop Temple—that to place the voluntary schools on the rates was a step on the down grade. And now they are surprised that their experiment has failed. I thought there was, in the speech of the most rev. Primate, a slight indication that he had somewhat doubted the wisdom of all the provisions of the Act of 1902. But the occupants of the right rev. Bench one and all, supported that Bill.


There was one exception.


I am delighted to hear it. But the right rev. Prelate was the only exception. There was a shade of regret for the Act of 1870 in the tone of the voice of the most rev. Primate, but you cannot go back to 1870. You have introduced a dangerous, system; you have put the denominational schools on the down grade, and you cannot go back to a state of things which you have voluntarily and, as I think, wantonly abandoned.

When you handed over the administration of affairs to His Majesty's present Ministers, what was the state of the country? The Act of 1902 had raised, vehement opposition. It had disturbed Wales; it had shaken the West Riding; of Yorkshire; it had met with the fiercest opposition from a united Nonconformist body, who have never relaxed that strong and earnest determination with which they are accustomed to work for anything they take in hand. We know what has been the result of the General Election. The circumstances in which His Majesty's present Government were placed were not of our own creation—they were our damnosa here ditas, and it was with this position that as practical men we had to deal.

When we came to consider what course we should take in respect of this Bill the first question we had to deal with was whether we should propose a system of secular education or retain the provision for religious education. Our own inclination, and what we believed to be the desire of the vast majority of the people of the country, was to reject the secular system. We determined to propose a system of education based upon religious instruction. It seemed to us that it must be a system that would meet with wide acceptance among the people, and we found what is called Cowper-Temple teaching in operation. It had worked well for thirty-six years. My noble friend Lord Halifax, for whose earnest, strenuous, and determined conviction upon this subject I have the highest respect, spoke of Cowper-Temple instruction as Unitarianism. I ask my noble friend whether lie means to say that the people of this country are Unitarians? I do not believe it. I believe that with the form of religious instruction which goes by the name of Mr. Cowper-Temple the large majority of the people of this country are content. I will be perfectly frank with your Lordships. It does not suit me; I would not allow a child of mine to go to that instruction. That is an opinion that I share with others, but we are in a minority. I believe, as I have said, that for the large majority of the people of the country that teaching is be far satisfactory; I do not want to press the point further—that it contents the parents.

The Cowper-Temple clause is one of the most illogical clauses in an Act of Parliament I have ever known. It prohibits nothing except formularies and the Catechism. You may teach under it the infallibility of the Pope or you may teach Unitarianism. But it has done in practice precisely that which those who proposed it intended it to do. It has established a system of religious instruction which is known by the name of undenominationalism, and it is a form —a weak and feeble form—of religious instruction which has been accepted by the majority of the people of the country. Therefore it was the only system to which we could turn to establish a system of education founded upon religious instruction and paid for out of the rates. In 1902 the late Government were ready enough to reject the teaching of the past, but they left the Cowper-Temple clause in force in the provided schools, and there it has remained.

Some persons out of doors have spoken as if they had -the idea that this Cowper-Temple teaching was a new religion invented by His Majesty's Government. Your Lordships know what nonsense that is. Your Lordships know how long that system has been in force, yet there are some people who think it is the invention of the President of the Board of Education, and they have called it by a bad pun "Birreligion." Having been in existence since 1870, it has never been condemned by the public opinion of the country. The Government readily admit that there were those who honestly object to that teaching. The Roman Catholics will not touch it, and there are others who take the same view. Their case required to be dealt with, and the Government have endeavoured to deal with it. With regard to the single school districts, you could not have an arrangement there which disregarded the opinion of any considerable minority. We thought it best in districts of that sort to maintain the Cowper-Temple teaching with such facilities as the Act proposes. I believe that we were bound to regard and to protect the conscientious feelings of Nonconformists in these districts, and that is the reason why we have excluded them from the operation of our other clause. But in other districts we have provided a system which we hope and believe will be found to work far more satisfactorily than some people seem to imagine. This is not the time at which to discuss these arrangements. They will come before your Lordships when we get into Committee, and we shall then be able to examine them in detail.

Another policy of education is founded on the secular view, and a secular system with facilities for religious teaching all round has been suggested. In regard to that suggestion, I object, first, that the all-round facilities plan would not be generally acceptable, and, secondly, that if it were adopted there would be a tendency for the facilities to lapse, while the secularism would remain. The choice that we have to make is between a system of religious instruction generally acceptable to the majority of the people and a system of pure secularism. I do not altogether share the optimism of my noble friend Lord Crowe as to the remoteness of the danger of secular education. Changes in public opinion are very rapid at times, and the increasing number of people interested in education may get impatient of religious disputes and say, "A plague on al your houses." A s cular system is recommended to many on grounds of logic, simplicity, and finality. In its favour is being thrown the influence of the Labour Party, and the Labour Party have come to stay and will be found in future Parliaments in larger numbers than they muster in the House of Commons to-day. I have endeavoured to show what were the circumstances with which the Government had to deal. These circumstances were not of the Government's creation. They were circumstances inherited from our predecessors. They were difficult, I admit. They were grave as regards the future. This Bill is an honest attempt to deal with them on just and popular principles, and as such I ask for it your Lordships' careful and deliberate consideration.

On Question, Bill read 2a.


My Lords, I think it would be convenient if the noble Marquess could tell us on what day in the resumed session it is proposed to take the Committee stage.


I have consulted noble Lords on both sides in the endeavour to find out what would be most acceptable to the House generally. My proposal is to put down the Bill not for Tuesday, October 23rd, but for Wednesday, October 24th. I believe it is very likely there will be some discussion on going into Committee.


If we agree to that arrangement I think it should be without prejudice as to the day when the actual Committee stage should begin.


That must depend upon what passes on the Motion to go into Committee. I have just been informed by the Clerk of the Parliaments that notice of an Instruction on going into Committee has been given. That may take some time. I desire to meet the wishes of the House and to give the utmost opportunity for discussing the details of the measure in Committee, but I cannot be a consenting party to unnecessary delay.


It is in the interest of subsequent expedition that I suggest a later day for going into Committee. It would appear that we might be obliged to enter into discussion of Amendments on the Wednesday. I hope that at least one more day will be given.


The appeal of the most rev. Primate is entitled to every consideration. I will not propose that we shall go into Committee before Thursday, October 25th. For the convenience of many noble Lords on both sides of the House I will propose, when we meet again in October, that the House should sit on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but not on Fridays, so as to give a longer "week-end" To noble Lords who wish to go into the country.


We do not desire to raise any objection to the noble Marquess's proposal, but it must be clearly understood that we are not to be held bound by anything that has passed this evening to commence the actual Committee stage on any particular day.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Wednesday, October 24th next.