HL Deb 29 October 1906 vol 163 cc588-667

Order of the Day read for the House to be again put into Committee on this Bill.

House in Committee (according to Order).

[The Earl of ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause 1:—

VISCOUNT LLANDAFF moved to postpone the clause. Their Lordships would be aware that by Clause 1 all the denominational schools of the country were put out of the category of public elementary schools, and were therefore deprived of all share either of rates or of taxes for maintenance. By Clause 1, as it stood, there was to be in future only one type of school in the country— namely, the provided school under the absolute control of, the local education authority, and with either no religious instruction at all or religious instruction governed by the Cowper-Temple clause. When their Lordships remembered that out of the 20,000 elementary schools in the country 14,000 were denominational schools, and that more than half of the children of the country were educated in these schools, it would be admitted that this complete destruction of the 14,000 denominational schools was a matter of the greatest moment and one that deserved their most careful consideration.

If the case stood upon Clause 1 alone, which had no exception, no safeguard. and did not point to any dispensation whatever, he would certainly not move the postponement but the rejection of the clause. But when they came to look at the Bill more in detail they found that, in spite of the absolute terms of Clause 1, there were to be exceptions. Under Clauses 3 and 4 certain classes of denominational schools were to be reprieved. Sentence of death was passed upon them all by Clause 1, and then reprieve was given to certain denominational schools. On the face of their Bill, therefore, His Majesty's Government admitted in principle the necessity of continuing the dual system which had prevailed for thirty-six years in this country. They admitted that there must be at least some denominational schools retained side by side with the council schools. But they did something more than that. When the Bill was before their Lordships on Second Reading the noble Marquess who led the House said, speaking in the name of the Government, that the Bill would be unjust and indefensible without Clause 4. Those were memorable words, which he trusted would not he forgotten. He would like to see them incorporated in the text of the Bill, and he thought they would form a fitting preamble to Clause 4. They might read in this form— It would be unjust and indefensible to prevent parents who desired denominational education for their children from obtaining that education in schools built and maintained by themselves for that express purpose, and therefore be it enacted— A preamble of that sort would tend to clear their minds as to the adequacy and efficiency of the provisions of Clause 4.

They had, therefore, both the admission in the text of the Bill that there must be some dual system continued in this country, and the admission of the noble Marquess that without some concession of that sort the Bill would be unjust and indefensible. And when they came to look at what Clauses 3 and 4 enacted it seemed to him that the Motion he proposed for the postponement of Clause 1 became of even more importance. To the Catholics of this country Clause 3 was really a useless clause. He did not believe half a dozen, even if so many, Catholic schools would apply for facilities under Clause 3. He did not propose to say a word in censure or in criticism of Cowper-Temple teaching; all he would say was that it was a kind of teaching which was essentially Protestant in its character, and it was, therefore, repugnant to Roman Catholic principles, and Roman Catholics could not submit their children to it.

When they referred to Clause 4 the case seemed worse. It was edged round by conditions which rendered it almost impracticable in practice. It was perfectly optional to the local education authority whether they granted facilities under Clause 4 or not. They might, out of caprice, or prejudice, or whatever motive they pleased, refuse to grant them, and then there was an end of the matter. The facilities under Clause 4 were confined to urban areas of a particular size, and all rural areas were excluded. Then there was a further condition that a minority of one-fifth plus one was to deprive a majority of four-fifths minus one of privileges which they had hitherto enjoyed. That was, again, one of those enactments which seemed to him totally inadequate and not to come up to the standard which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House had laid down in his speech. The appointment of teachers under Clause 4 was left entirely to the local education authority and not to the parents of the children or to anybody interested in the proper and efficient giving of denominational instruction in the schools. He trusted that many of these things would be altered in Committee; but, until they knew the ultimate form Clauses 3 and 4 would assume, they could not judge satisfactorily whether to accept, reject, or amend Clause 1.

Clause 1 was a sentence of death on denominational schools. They wanted to know, and they ought to know, how many would be reprieved before consenting to pass this sentence of death. As the Bill stood at present, the exceptions that were admitted to Clause 1 were, in his judgment, totally inefficient. If they were made more efficient, the objections to Clause 1 would not be so strong, and the clause might possibly be accepted. Then there were clauses by which an appeal could be made to a Commission. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said in another place that the object of this Commission was to compel obstinate trustees to transfer their schools to the local education authority. They ought to know what the conditions of that compulsion were going to be before they assented to Clause 1. The clause professed to leave the Commission in the first instance, guided by the principles of the Court of Chancery, and then there were enacted a number of clauses which varied and altered the principles of the Court of Chancery, all of them against the interests of the denominational schools and their owners, and in favour of the local education authority. Their Lordships ought to know what the final form of this compulsion was going to be before they assented to Clause 1 as it stood. He begged to move his Amendment.

Amendment moved— To postpone Clause 1 until after Clause 12."—(Viscount Llandaff.)


said that instead of moving the similar Amendment of which he had given notice, he should support that moved by the noble Viscount. He took this course in the interests of peace. No one could more desire to see some end to this religious strife than the Bishop of a large diocese, so that the whole weight of the religious forces in the diocese might be focussed upon the vice and crime which had to be faced.

He supported the Amendment because it seemed to him that to pass Clause 1 now and leave the Bill as it was would be to do something which was going to offend the consciences of at least half the religious people of the country. He knew that the Nonconformists felt a grievance under the Act of 1902. He was not going to argue whether they were right or not. It was enough for him that they felt a grievance. They should, therefore, put their heads together and try to remove the cause of offence. But two wrongs would not make a right, and it seemed to him that they could not redress the grievance, real or supposed, of one religious community and leave a sense of burning injustice on three other religious communities.

He asked the Government to consider the position in which they found themselves. There were 11,800 Church of England schools, and they were asked to consent, in Clause 1, without knowing in the slightest degree what the substitute was going to be, to their being swept away. He was not one of those who thought that the denominational schools were the only means of safeguarding the denominational spirit, but, at the moment, they provided the only way, and they must know what was going to take their place before they consented to that safeguard being taken away. If, however, their lordships decided that it would be more satisfactory to proceed with the discussion of the clause now, he wished it to be clearly understood that, if they were not satisfied with other points in the Bill, their freedom to reject the clause when it came up for Third Reading was absolutely untrammelled.


My Lords, I am very sorry that we are unable to fall in with the suggestion made by two Members of the House whose opinions we so greatly respect, but I hope that on consideration they may be induced not to press this Amendment. As noble Lords are doubtless aware, a similar Amendment was moved in the House of Commons, and it was moved there on the ground that the Opposition were not really in possession of all the arguments for the later clauses of the Bill. The bare clauses of the Bill, they implied, stared them in the face, but they did not know by what arguments the provisions of the Bill would be pressed. That argument certainly does not apply here. The arguments in favour of all the later clauses of the Bill, or against them, are perfectly familiar to all your Lordships, and, therefore, on that ground it certainly seems to me impossible to press a request of this kind. But, quite apart from that, it certainly does seem to me that when you have Clause 1, which contains the main principle of the Bill, it is very much more satisfactory to face that main principle at once than to set it aside and, as it were, pretend that it does not exist.

What does Clause 1 do? Clause 1 provides that in future all schools are to be council schools, and subsequent clauses go on to say that although they are all to be council schools, they are not all to be council schools of one pattern, but that certain varieties are admitted. I confess it seems to me that the bare fact of passing this clause in no way prevents noble Lords from considering, as they undoubtedly intend to consider by the Amendments they have put on the Paper, what form those varieties are to take. I can quite understand the noble Viscount moving the postponement of the clause, but, as we see from the Amendments standing in his name on the Paper, he would have an entirely different Bill. The noble Viscount's Bill might or might not be a good Education Bill, but it would bear no resemblance whatever to the Education Bill introduced by the Government. The fundamental idea of this Bill is entirely abandoned if we agree to all the Amendments to be proposed by the noble Viscount, and it is perfectly obvious, therefore, that if the noble Viscount persists in moving the postponement we cannot support him.


My Lords, with the premises upon which the noble Lord on the cross-benches and the right rev. Prelate founded their arguments I do not for a moment desire to quarrel. It seemed to me that all that they said with regard to this clause was perfectly justified by the facts as we know them. The clause is vague and obscure in its language, and some of the explanations which have been given to us have been equally vague and obscure. There is, therefore, prima facie a good deal to be said for the postponement of the clause until such time as fuller information has been vouchsafed to the House upon a number of these controverted points. But, while I admit all that, I should like to suggest to your Lordships one or two considerations which seem to me to tell in the opposite direction.

I think that the very fact that this clause is vague and obscure and that it has been explained in different ways makes it perhaps more desirable that we should lose no time in getting to close quarters with it, and in endeavouring to elicit from His Majesty's Government more specific statements than any which we have yet received. We may, I cannot help thinking, find it possible in the discussion which, if we proceed with the clause, will soon take place, to discover whether this clause is really intended to be what I may describe as a steam-roller clause, whose object is to obliterate all but one single type of elementary schools in this country, or whether it is merely an affirmation, in general terms, that the whole of these schools are to be subject to popular control — a proposition with which I, for one, do not desire to quarrel —but that, subject to the exercise of that popular control, there are to remain in existence a number of various types of schools such as those which have been referred to by the noble Lord who spoke just now.

I desire to take note, and I do so with satisfaction, of what I understood the noble Lord to say on that subject. I understood him to say that it was part of the principle of this Bill, and part of the proposals of His Majesty's Government, that there should still remain what he called schools of various patterns in this country. If that is clearly announced to us, and if we are to understand that our discussion is to be conducted on that assumption and that we shall not be ruled out of order hereafter because we have accepted this clause in the beginning, then I, for one, am ready to continue the debate. The Amendments which have been put upon the Paper by the most rev. Primate and by my noble friend Lord Heneage are likely to afford us an opportunity of raising many points which might with advantage be debated early in our discussion, and I feel strongly that any appearance of dilatory tactics on questions of this kind is, so far as this House is concerned, to be deprecated. It is also true that if the result of our debate should be unsatisfactory to us we shall have a right to recur to this clause at a later stage. Therefore, my Lords, we shall be relieved if the noble Lord and the right rev. Prelate do not ask us to divide upon this Amendment. We, however, should approach the discussion of the clause upon the clear understanding that our assent to it, whether with or without Amendment, leaves us with the retention of full freedom of debate upon the clauses which follow. I will only notice one other observation which fell from the noble Lord. He told us, I think, that we were familiar with the arguments which had been advanced and could be advanced with regard to the later clauses of the Bill. That is true, but only up to a certain point, for the noble Earl must be aware that a great number of these clauses, and some of the most important of them, were never discussed at all in the House of Commons. If, therefore, it should be your Lordships' pleasure to allow the discussion of the clause to proceed, I should take part in that discussion upon the assumption, and upon the condition, that I for one did not in any way forfeit my full discretion of raising these points at a later stage.


that said if Clause 1 stood alone he should move to reject it altogether. But it was followed by other clauses which tripped it up and made its vagueness more obscure than its own phraseology. He thought they might accept the advice of the noble Marquess and allow Clause 1 to go forward on the condition that they retained their absolute right to deal with the clause on the Report stage. He and those who agreed with him could not accept the fundamental principle of this clause. How far it might be made acceptable was another point.


said that, speaking on behalf of a great number of persons all over the country, he assented to the proposal not to divide the Committee on the principle involved in Clause 1 but only on the distinct understanding that they should be able, by moving other clauses, to secure the existence of denominational schools throughout England, and see that justice was done to all the different denominations. They would not assent to the principle that there should be one class of school throughout the country from which religion should be excluded.


pointed out that the question was not whether they would pass Clause 1, but whether they would proceed to consider it. As one who was opposed to dilatory tactics, he was prepared to go forward with Clause 1 on the clear understanding that they did not commit themselves as to their final action with regard to the subsequent clauses of the Bill as a whole.


said that, as a moderate Churchman, he had come down to the House determined to support the Amendment standing in the names of Lord Llandaff and of the right rev. Prelate. He was, however, quite willing to fall in with the suggestion of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, but he thought the Committee ought to have some statement from His Majesty's Government that they accepted the noble Marquess's proposal.


If your Lordships pass Clause 1 as it stands, or in a modified form, it will not in the least interfere with legitimate discussion upon any other clause.


said that for his part he was prepared to accept Lord Lansdowne's proposal, subject to the conditions which the noble Marquess himself had expressed. They were asked in Clause 1 to say that there should be no school henceforward in this country except county council schools. That was a proposition to which he could not assent unless he was assured by clauses in the Bill, and not by vague statements or promises on the part of individuals, that this was only a flourish of trumpets and that what was really intended was that there should be schools of different kinds. He did not in the circumstances propose to move any of the Amendments standing in his name to Clause 1, but would wait until the other clauses had been dealt with and then move whatever Amendments he considered necessary on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved to amend the clause by substituting "1909" for "1908." He pointed out that the Commission which was to be appointed could not complete its work in a year. Moreover, unless the voluntary schools made an arrangement, they would be destroyed on 1st January, 1908, and the fixing of this date would be an invitation to a "pigheaded" local authority not to make an arrangement.

Amendment moved— In page 1, line 8, to leave out the word 'eight, and insert the word 'nine.'"—(The Earl of Camperdown.)


My Lords, the noble Earl's Amendment is of a sweeping character, for he proposes to postpone the operation of the whole of the first part of the Bill for twelve months.


No, no. The noble Earl mistakes me. The Commission will be in operation, and they will be working during the whole of the year 1907. Therefore I am not postponing the operation of the Bill.


I am very glad to have the noble Earl's explanation. I merely rose to say that, if the noble Earl will withdraw his Amendment I shall be prepared to accept, in a some what modified form, the Amendment which stands on the Paper in the name of Lord Ridley. The proposition I should make would be to insert certain words after the word "eight" in Clause 1, but I am informed that it would not be possible, for technical reasons, to insert those words on this occasion.


Why not?


I will read the words of the proposed Amendment, and then the noble Marquess will see the reason why it cannot be moved until the Report stage. The words I propose to insert after the word "eight" are— Or, as respects the area of any particular local education authority, on and after such later date, not being later than the 1st day of July, 1908, as the Board of Education may appoint on the application of that authority. That gives an additional six months instead of a year as proposed by the noble Earl. The reason the Amendment cannot be moved on this occasion is that it would not be possible, after the Motion which has been made by the noble Lord, to move to insert "July" instead of the word "January."


expressed the hope that the noble Earl, before he made up his mind as to the precise wording of the Amendment he was prepared to accept, would reconsider the matter. As the Bill now stood, and as he supposed it would stand when it became law, there had to be a very considerable amount of work done before the Commissioners could commence their labours. The local education authorities in the counties and county boroughs had to take into consideration the circumstances of all the voluntary schools. They had to communicate with the trustees of those schools; they had to endeavour to arrange with them; and if they could not arrange, there was a provision for an appeal to the Board of Education. He thought it was absolutely impossible that all this could be got through in any county before the end of six months from the passing of the Act. Therefore six months of the year 1907 would in all probability elapse before the Commissioners could commence their work at all. How was it possible, then, that they could conclude their work, which might relate to thousands of schools, by the end of the year 1908? It was not a question of postponing the date merely on the application of a particular authority. What was really required was that the date should be postponed for the whole country so that time might be allowed for doing the work which it was necessary should be done under the Bill, and which he was quite sure His Majesty's Government desired should be properly done.


thought it would be better to give more elasticity by using the words for which a precedent would be found in the Act of 1902:— This Act shall come into operation on the appointed day, and the appointed day shall be the 26th day of March, 1903, or such other day, not being more than eighteen months later, as the Board of Education may appoint. He did not suggest to the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council that he should give quite such a large limit as eighteen months, but he thought it would be better, in framing the Amendment, to give more elasticity than was proposed.


said he was quite satisfied that something on the lines of what the Government proposed would work better than any general rule, as suggested by the noble Lord opposite. There were a great many negotiations to be entered into in some districts and very few in others, and any uniform rule would therefore be inadvisable and would not meet the various conditions. He thought the extension should be adapted to the needs of the locality. There was another point. So long as the intermediate state existed the schools which had not become council schools would be working under the Act of 1902, and under that Act it was the duty of the managers to carry out all repairs necessary for the keeping of the school in good sanitary condition. With this Bill in the air managers of aided schools were not being compelled to carry out these improvements, but, if a long interval before transition took place, local authorities which were not very friendly to the aided schools would be much more ready to enforce their conditions as to structural repairs.


said the allowance of such time as would be necessary would be far more likely to lead to a workable arrangement. What was required was an elastic period. It was impossible to say how long it would be before the arrangements could be come to. He thought the matter should be left in the discretion of the Board of Education.


said he would consider the effect of the Government's suggestion before moving the Amendment of which he had given notice and to which the noble Earl the Lord President had referred.


asked whether it would not be well to decide what the Bill was to be before discussing when it should come into operation. He regarded the question of the date as a purely administrative one, and advised its postponement to a later stage.


said that if their Lordships would look at Clause 11. they would see that there was a provision that when a schoolhouse was taken over by the local education authority temporarily without an arrangement having been made, the religious instruction in the school was to remain of the same character as that previously given, and the teachers would go on imparting it. There would be no change in the arrangements in the school in the meantime. As to the point that the Commissioners might not have concluded their labours in the time stated, he quoted Clause 10, sub-section (6), which provided that His Majesty might, by Order in Council, continue the powers of the Commissioners for such further period as His Majesty thought fit. This to some extent met the objection raised.


urged that the date should be further postponed in view of the large number of schools to be dealt with. There were 8,000 Church of England schools and only 200 legal days in the year, and it had been pointed out in the House of Commons that, on an average of one school being taken per day, it would take forty years to cover the whole of the 8,000 schools. He desired to know on what basis the Government had proceeded in fixing the date. In the event of a large number of schools not having been dealt with by the extended time, what was to happen? Mr. Birrell had stated that in that case fresh legislation would be required. But why should not that question be dealt with at the present time?


said the object of the Government at the time the Bill was introduced was, bearing in mind all the circumstances of the case, to choose such a period as would seem reasonable to those who had had experience of carrying out the complicated class of questions which, undoubtedly would arise when this Bill was placed on the Statute Book. He could assure his noble friend Viscount St. Aldwyn that he fully appreciated the necessity of not driving local authorities too hard in regard to the matter of time. The noble Viscount knew from his experience, as many noble Lords did, how very complicated the questions were which arose in regard to the transfer of trusts, buildings, and other matters of that kind, especially when a local authority and a body of private persons were brought into contact, with an appeal either to a Commission or to the Board of Education as the case might be.

The Government had borne those considerations in mind, but he was quite willing to grant that the circumstances had slightly altered since the Bill was. introduced. When the Bill was first brought in—and a reference to the debates in the House of Commons would corroborate this—it was assumed that there was a reasonable chance of its being placed on the Statute Book in the course of the ordinary session; that was to say, that it would have been on the Statute Book by now. But here they were, or the 29th of October, discussing the Bill in Committee. Therefore, it was quite clear that a large portion of the time which the Government desired to give to the local authorities to make arrangements had been lost through circumstances over which they had no control. That period was from the passing of the Act till 1st January, 1907. His noble friend the Lord President of the Council had voluntarily come forward and acknowledged the fact, and proposed to add a period corresponding on the whole to that which would have been lost by effluxion of time to the period named in the first clause, after which no school was to be recognised as a matter of principle unless it was a provided school.

As the Bill stood now, the periods were as follow. From the 1st of January, 1907, to the 31st December 1908, the power continued to make arrangements as distinct from schemes. During that period the local education authority, however, might also apply to the Commission for a scheme, and naturally those cases which were plain and simple would come into line first. The more difficult ones, where arrangements might be found impossible, would no doubt go on being discussed for some time, and eventually the local education authority would take them to the Commission for a final decision if necessary. If no arrangement was made, therefore, before the 31st December, 1908, the local education authority went before the Commission, and the Commission had power to make a scheme as distinct from an arrangement. But there was nothing whatever to prevent an arrangement being discussed and registered as distinct from a scheme made by the Commission. The powers of the Commission naturally expired on the 31st December, 1908. but, as his noble friend behind him had pointed out, there was an actual power in Clause 10 to prolong the existence of the Commission. He mentioned this in answer to the question put by the noble Marquess opposite. The Government would take advantage of the power in Clause 10 to prolong the existence of the Commission if necessary.


— What about the schools in the meantime?


was surprised that the question was asked, as the position of the schools and their temporary use in the event of the prolongation of the Commission's powers was clearly dealt with in Clause 11.


said the noble Lord had not answered Lord Salisbury's question. As he understood it, the Commission would not begin work in contested cases until the 1st of January, 1908, but, if every school was to become a provided school on that date, what would be the position of a denominational school which had become a provided school, and yet had not settled its future, but had to go before the Commission? That seemed to him to be an important point which would not be met by the extension proposed by the noble Earl the Lord President.


I think the noble Viscount is in error in one respect. The Commission begins its work, not on the 1st of January, 1908, but on the 1st of January 1907.


There is to be a year preliminary to the work of the Commission, during which the local authorities and owners of the schools are to negotiate.


No. The noble Viscount is in error. The two things go on together. The plan as adumbrated by my right hon. friend in the other House was this, that from the passing of the Bill, which he hoped would be in September, to the 1st of January next, bargains might be matured between the two parties; that during 1907 bargains might go on being matured, but the Commission would be at work dealing with such cases as it could. If cases cannot be considered in the time mentioned in the Bill, it is possible for the King in Council to prolong the labours of the Commission. Therefore, the the only difference between the state of things now and the state of things which existed when the matter was discussed in another place is that the preliminary period for bargaining, which was to be up to the 1st January next, is curtailed by the fact that we are still considering the Bill. It is in consideration of that fact that we are offering six months more during which the process of bargaining can go on.


would prefer to see the words proposed by the Government in print. It was his impression that they were not adequate, as they would make the extension of time conditional on the application of the local education authority. He suggested that "the owner or any party interested" should also have the power of application.


I can understand that it is not easy for noble Lords opposite to grasp the full meaning and intention of a rather complicated sentence once read across the Table, and although I think it would be quite possible to put the clause into a form which would get over the difficulty which my noble friend behind me suggested, I am quite willing to postpone the consideration of the whole of this matter until the Report stage. At the same time I wish to say we are in full accord with my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley, that it is not a desirable thing in itself to make this period of negotiation and settlement longer than is necessary. We feel very strongly that it would be of no assistance to either party. We do not believe it would be any advantage to the voluntary schools to have the period indefinitely extended, and, therefore, we shall try to get the whole business put down for settlement at as early a date as we can, subject to the considerations I have already mentioned.


I should like to ask the noble Earl, before this discussion closes, whether there is any serious objection to the form of words which has been put on the Paper by the noble Viscount, Lord Llandaff, and by the noble Lord behind me, Vis- count Ridley. We are all agreed that the clause will not do as it stands. The noble Earl makes a proposal which is evidently most considerately intended, but which we understand would give an extension of six months. In our view, what is really needed is that the period should not be stereotyped, that it should not be a fixed period of general application, but that there should be in it an element of general elasticity which would enable the Board of Education, in consultation with the local education authority, to give a reasonable extension where the local circumstances called for an extension.


The real difference between my noble friend behind me and Lord Ridley is simply this. Lord Ridley's Amendment is entirely indefinite and fixes no limit to the period during which the uncertain state of things may be continued. What my noble friend the Lord President of the Council desires is to have a period——


It leaves it to the Board of Education.


It leaves it to the Board of Education to fix the period and not to the Act of Parliament. We say let the Board of Education have the power to extend the period from the time laid down in the Bill, but let a time be fixed beyond which the Board of Education cannot extend it. It is surely not desirable to keep up this uncertain state of things for a long time. The sooner these things are settled and brought to a conclusion the better. We admit that the period fixed in the Bill must, through circumstances already described, be extended. We offer an extension of six months. The noble Lord opposite proposes that the Board of Education should have the power of extension for an indefinite period. I would venture to suggest to your Lordships that, after the discusion which has arisen, it would be better to let this matter rest until the Report stage. On that stage you will have the proposals of the Government in the form in which you may deliberately consider them.


acquiesced in the suggestion of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, and said that in his opinion nothing would be lost by postponing the discussion on this point.


said he would withdraw his Amendment, but he desired to call the attention of the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council to the fact that by far the greater number of speakers had expressed themselves in favour of an elastic period. Therefore, if the noble Earl merely proposed to fix the 1st of July instead of the 1st of January it was extremely doubtful whether that would prove acceptable to the House. He thought the words in the Amendment standing in the name of Viscount Ridley— Or such later date as the Board of Education shall appoint in any district dealt with the matter in a more satisfactory way.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD EMLY moved an Amendment limiting the operation of the Clause to "any school area in which there is but one public elementary school." He said that perhaps the best way to introduce this Amendment was by quoting some words from the speech of the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council. The noble Earl said— In this clause, to put it briefly, the object which we believe we effect is to place an undenominational school within the reach of every child whose parent desires him to attend one and by so doing we remove one principal grievance of which the Nonconformist churches have complained. That is one half, at any rate, of what is known as the Nonconformist grievance. It is admitted, I believe, by almost everybody. It was because they admitted this grievance that he proposed this Amendment. They were perfectly ready to respect the Nonconformist conscience, but they required that the Nonconformists should respect their conscience. It was during the course of the same debate that the noble Earl said— I am almost tempted to wish that for once in a way the two Houses could have sat together on this subject in joint session. I feel that the debates which would then have followed would. have not merely been exceedingly instructive but also very possibly somewhat exciting!

At all events, with this pious wish of the Lord President of the Council he was in complete accord. In their Lordships' House His Majesty's Government cooed as an enamoured turtle dove. They recognised to a great extent the claims which the Church of England had put forward. They almost shed tears at being so cruelly misunderstood. They sympathised with Roman Catholics; they patted the Jew on the back; they lisped so prettily about the prayers they had learned at their mothers' knees. But apparently the same climatic conditions did not prevail in another place. The voice of the turtle dove was no longer to be heard. The wooing was another sort of wooing. It was the wooing of the buffeted waves by a mid-winter north-wester. It was an undisguised attack, interlarded with meanness and threats, with sneers and jeers on the State Church and the clergy. It was, in some quarters at all events, a not thirdly-veiled demonstration even against Christianity.

Not so long ago a great nation, and a nation still in the first blush of resplendent youth, a rising sun where West met East, despatched a Commission to study what particular form of religion was best suited to meet the requirements of their people. As he listened in another place he thought that that Commission had resumed its suspended sittings. When Lord R. Cecil taunted His Majesty's Government with wantonly turning the clergy out of the schools, did His Majesty's Government indignantly deny this accusation? Not they. From the Ministerial Benches rang out a lusty chorus of "hear, hear." The Christian people of England would never forget Catholic France, would never forget the language of the President of the Board of Trade, "Clericalism is the enemy." The President of the Board of Trade had by his wild hurtling words caused deep pain to millions of French Catholics. Allied by ties of blood to French Catholics he (Lord Emily) claimed the indulgence of their Lordships whilst in their name he gave feeble expression to their just indignation. Let him first give one bit of advice to the President of the Board of Trade. The entente cordiale would not suffer by British Ministers refraining from noisy meddlings with purely French politics.

"Clericalism is the enemy." It was the war cry of the Revolution, that time of desolation when a nation was being scourged by God and Hell was let loose, and murder and rapine brazenly stalked through the land and bubbling cataracts of blood poured into the streets from off the quivering guillotines. Later on it was the war cry of Gambetta. To the present day it was the war cry of infidelity in France, of atheism and of materialism. Nor was this all. The President of the Board of Trade had gone out of his way to gloat over the spoliation of the Church in France, the sacking of the monasteries and of the convents, the closing of the churches, the indignities to which the priests were subjected, the lease of the churches to impious adventurers, and the secularisation of the schools.

But though the words of the President of the Board of Trade were uncalled for, injudicious and hurtful, and his reasoning narrow-minded and false in the very highest degree, still when he went to France for a parallel to the struggle into which, unfortunately, it would appear that we were about to drift in this country his instinct was right. There was a parallel awful and convincing to those who had eyes to see—but he had missed it. The tactics presently pursued by a certain reckless section of politicians in this country were the same as achieved such a dire result in France. It was the same literature distributed broad cast here that spread the rot there. It was the same doctrine inculcated here that was inculcated there.. The marionettes were being pulled by the same strings here as there. When we listened to, or read, certain speeches, when we perused certain literature we wondered, we thought we had already read, somewhere, something to that effect. So we had. It was a rehash from Condorcet, from Diderot, from Jean Jacques Rousseau; and when the President of the Board of Trade shouted "Clericalism is the enemy" he was shouting as the Revolution shouted, as Gambetta shouted, as the Commune shouted the day they murdered the hostages—the Archbishop and the other priests. What hostages? The hostages to indifference to religion, to State catechisms, to secularism. When the Secretary of State for India wrote— The disadvantages and inconveniences of legal interference with parental freedom are more than counterbalanced by the disadvantages and inconveniences arising from a parent's abuse of this freedom to the detriment of other people, he was only a plagiarist. It was mere music piracy from his illustrious masters Robespierre and Danton. Did they doubt it? Robespierre said— It is the right of the State to educate her children. Danton said— The children belong to the Republic before they belong to their parents ‥‥ What matters to us the wish of the individual as against the wish of the State.

When we glanced over this clause we remembered that in France the Assembly edited the catechism. A stringent law enacted that schools were to be closed where teachers presumed to teach any other religion. Even the Assembly recognised the existence of a Supreme Being.


, rising to a point of order, asked whether it was right for the noble Lord to make a speech that was entirely irrelevant to his Amendment. He should be reluctant to move that the noble Lord be no longer heard, but he did hope the noble Lord would confine his remarks to the Amendment.


said he would certainly confine himself to the Amendment; but he understood distinctly when they were discussing whether Clause I should be postponed that they were at perfect liberty. He would content himself, then, with moving his Amendment.

Amendment moved— In page 1, line 8, after the word 'eight,'" to insert the words 'in any school area in which there is but one public elementary school.'"—(Lord Emly.)


My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will not consider me discourteous if I address myself to his Amendment. The Amendment standing in his name on the Paper proposes to confine the operation of this Bill to what are somewhat vaguely talked of as single school areas. But I am afraid the words in which it is couched do not effect that object. There is, for instance, no definition of a school area, and, as his Amendment stands, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to say to what schools the provisions would apply. What my noble friend undoubtedly wishes is to confine the operation of the Bill to school areas where there is no alternative school for a child to attend. But I am afraid the words on the Paper would not carry out the object he has in view. On the general merits, I am bound to say that we could not agree to any Amendment which would practically have the effect of striking out of the Bill all the urban schools in England, and no doubt a good many others.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD HENEAGE moved to add at the end of the clause the following proviso— And unless some portion of the school hours of every day is set apart for the purposes of religious instruction. He disclaimed any political or sectarian object in moving his Amendment, and reminded their Lordships that he voted against the Second Reading of the Act of 1902. He therefore approached this subject with a perfectly free and unbiassed mind as regarded that Act. He wished at the outset to associate himself with the searching criticisms of Clause 1 which were so eloquently made by Lord Goschen on the previous Thursday. Like the most rev. Primate, he (Lord Heneage) did not look upon this religious question as a Church question, but as a great national question—namely, whether this country was to remain a Christian nation.

Naturally, as a Churchman he desired as far as possible, with due regard to the really conscientious scruples of others, the teaching of the Church of England in all schools. That would be, in his mind, an ideal solution, and Lord Ampt-hill had adumbrated that policy as practised in Germany in his Amendments; but he feared it was no longer practical. They must remember that they had had thirty-five years or more of education since the Act of 1870, and he therefore wished to acknowledge accomplished facts. He desired under the present Bill, if it became an Act, to secure for all children some religious instruction within schools hours, aid if possible by the teachers themselves. Under Clause 1 voluntary or non-provided schools would cease to exist, and there was no provision at all for religious instruction, either definite or undenominational, whilst it was clear from other portions of the Bill that religious instruction was not to be given in school hours; nor need children attend it nor the teachers give such instruction. In the case of denominational teaching the teachers were expressly forbidden even if willing to give it.

Mr. Birrell had described the Bill as an undenominational Bill, but it was not so; it was an anti-denominational and secular Bill. The Bill was simply a collection of clauses to abolish voluntary and Church schools, and it came before their Lordships without any Parliamentary credentials or authority, and in direct opposition to Ministerial speeches and of the vote against a secular Bill in the House of Commons. If the Bill had been framed on the speeches of Ministers in the other House, however objectionable it might be to some of them, it still would be a fair and reasonable measure. But those speeches had never been translated into clauses in the Bill. Perhaps owing to circumstances over which he had no control, and owing to the Bill being debated under the Closure, Mr. Birrell had not been able to give effect to some of those promises which he had intended to fulfil, and he hoped their Lordships would endeavour to put those promises into effect. In his (Mr. Birrell's) April speech there was a memorable passage in which he urged the importance of the preservation of idealism— in a prosaic age and among a somewhat prosaic people. 'Where no vision is the people perisheth.' Our people have been accustomed to look for such scanty glimpses as they have obtained of the Heavenly Vision in the pages of the Bible. At that time Mr. Birrell must have been in favour of some religious education in the schools. On the Third Reading, again, Mr. Birrell made an earnest appeal to the Labour Members not to associate themselves with secularism in education. He said— I would venture to say to gentlemen below the gangway if they say, 'Think only of the child '—Yes, but what is the child, whence came it, whither goes it? Conscience, sin, immortality, are you going to drive all these things out of the ordinary curriculum of the school life? Are you going to leave these things as if they were of no account? 'Were this House disposed to do so, which by an overwhelming majority it showed it would not, the parents of the children would not let you do it, nor would the children themselves, at all events for a good many generations to come.'' He (the noble Lord) could not imagine two stronger speeches in favour of religious instruction. He believed that the parents would not have secular teaching without proper religious instruction, and it was absurd for the President of the Board of Trade to rail against their Lordships' House because they desired to carry out the wishes of the parents. Why had not the Government carried out the declared wish of the House of Commons by a majority of about 470 to 60 in favour of religious education and against secular education only?

Clause 1 was a destructive, not a constructive, clause. It destroyed all denominational teaching, but did not even substitute undenominational teaching. He asked their Lordships for one moment to take a retrospective view of this question. From 1870, for over thirty years, the education of this country was under the entire control either of school boards or voluntary school managers, and religious education was given and acknowledged as part of our system of education in both schools and was willingly taught by school teachers. The school boards were directly elected ad hoc by the parents. Under the Act of 1902 school boards were transferred to the county and borough councils and called provided schools, and voluntary schools were renamed non-provided schools under special conditions. Under that Act the local authorities took over all the duties, responsibilities, and obligations of both the school boards and the managers, but they had taken different views of their duties in regard to religious education. Some local education authorities in the counties and boroughs had excellent syllabuses, others had very indifferent syllabuses, and some none at all. Even in the same county, as, for instance, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, they differed largely; and it was now necessary that it should be clearly laid down and enacted that proper religious instruction should be given in all schools in school hours.

His noble friend the Lord President of the Council had expressed regret at the fact that Nonconformist divines were not represented in their Lordships' House, and the most rev. Primate had expressed the same view. He (Lord Heneage) heartily wished that there were some representative Wesleyan divines in their Lordships' House to speak for themselves. But in their absence he would quote from the report of the Joint Committee of the Wesleyan Conference in July last. Sub-section 3 was as follows— The simple Biblical instruction to be provided in the schools should be given by the teachers within school hours by means of a syllabus to be prepared by the local education authority under the conditions of the Cowper-Temple clause, and should be subject to a conscience clause. And in a Nonconformist manifesto directly afterwards they asked the Press to be permitted to state that— We regard instruction in Biblical truth as an essential factor in the education of the young; and while we deprecate the use of any religious Catechism or of any distinctively denominational formulary, we hold strongly that the Bible should be taught as an authentic and authoritative record of fact and truth, and that instruction given in Holy Scripture should lot be inconsistent with the Apostles' Creed, which represents the general consent of Christendom in the fundamental facts of the Christian religion. He could not see any difficulty in the Board of Education framing a model syllabus with the assistance of experts of the Christian denominations or on the basis of the best existing syllabuses. The Grimsby syllabus, which was one of the best, was framed by a sub-committee of the school board, consisting of the chairman, who was a popular Congregationalist, the late Vicar of Grimsby, and the Roman Catholic priest. There was no doubt that all Christian parents of all denominations desired religious teaching for their children as part of the recognised system of education in the school hours, and by the teachers, if possible.

In the House of Commons two-thirds of the whole House had voted in favour of definite religious instruction against only sixty who voted for secular teaching, without distinction of politics or religious creeds. At the Wesleyan Conference at Nottingham in July last, the Rev. J. Scott Lidgett, in proposing resolutions after the Report, said that he— rejoiced that Parliament had refused to sanction the principle of secularism. Then why did not the Government give effect to this vote? Dr. Pope had recorded his satisfaction that the— Education Bill provides for the continuance of simple Biblical instruction in elementary schools. He did not know where it was in the Bill, but Dr. Pope clearly believed and hoped it was there. The venerable Dr. Rigg, the nestor of the Conference, said— This is the most critical and perhaps most favourable and perhaps most dangerous crisis in the life of England, and the burden of it rests upon Christian educators and education. Mr. Middlemore, of Leeds, was anxious that they should— recognise the conscientious views of those who differed from them, and said there was in the North of England a strong tendency towards secularism amongst those who were disgusted with the controversies amongst the denominations. Mr. Perks, though he tried to drag the political red-herring across the discussion, was not very successful, and seemed more concerned about the six types of schools in the Bill than about any practical Amendments by their Lordships.

He apologised for detaining their Lordships with so many quotations, but he hoped they would recognise their great authority at this moment when certain political dissenters affected to speak for the whole body of Protestant Nonconformity. The result of adopting his Amendments to other clauses of the Bill as it stood would be to carry out Mr. Birrel's own principles, and, whilst in undenominational schools the religious teaching of the syllabus would be given every day within school hours, in schools in which facilities were given under Clause 2 there would be two days of denominational and three days of undenominational religious teaching each week.

He had endeavoured to show that this was neither a denominational nor a Church question. It was a question of whether or not the poorer children of a Christian country should be properly educated in the simple truths of the Christian religion. He had shown that when the parents had the power and elected the school boards, under their influence religious teaching was given, whilst even under the control of the county councils it had also very generally been given. He had therefore shown "that Christian Protestant Nonconformists no less than Churchmen and Roman Catholics desired that religious instruction should be given by the teachers and within school hours. It was to his mind most essential that the religious teaching should be given within school hours, and, if possible, by the teachers, and that the register should be marked at 9 o'clock. If not, there would be neither discipline nor punctuality, and children would stay away. Children must not be allowed to consider religious teaching of no, or even secondary, importance, or parents to become indifferent to it.

If he had dealt with this Amendment from the broader aspect of securing some Christian religious teaching in all schools rather than from the point of view of more definite religious instruction, it was because he knew the strong feeling on this point amongst the Christian Nonconformists and especially the Protestant Wesleyans in Lincolnshire. He had lived all his life, for over forty years, in the county which was the home of John Wesley. He knew the religious honesty of the Wesleyans and the sacrifices they made for their chapels and Sunday schools, and he had never known any religious difficulty there. The Amendment was now in their Lordships' hands. It was for them to decide, under a divine Providence, whether our old country should remain in the future as in the past one of the leading Christian countries of the world, or whether, under this Bill in its present shape, the children now and the manhood and womanhood of future generations should gradually drift into secularism, socialism, and atheism.

Amendment moved— In page 1, line 10, after the word 'authority,' to insert the words 'and unless some portion of the school hours of every day is set apart for the purposes of religious instruction.'"—(Lord Heneage.)


who had given notice of the following Amendment, viz.— In page 1, line 10, after the word 'authority,' to insert the words 'and unless religious instruction is provided therein either by persons making use of facilities granted under this Act or by the local education authority for every child attending the school who is not withdrawn from such instruction,' —said that the Amendment which stood in his name did not differ in fundamental principle from the Amendment which the noble Lord had just moved. He preferred the wording of his own Amendment, but he should not make the difference between the two Amendments a matter of controversy. He ventured to hope the Amendment would be accepted by the Government, and that it might go forth with the unanimous approval ol the Committee. He was glad it should have been moved by Lord Heneage rather than by himself, because he thought it was eminently desirable that it should be obvious that this was not an ecclesiastical matter—that it did not come from ecclesiastics, whether they were bishops or other clergy, but that it came from the sense of a Christian people as to what they wanted.

The subject-matter of the Amendment was vital. Its acceptance was a matter of importance. The Amendment seemed to him to accord with almost all that the foremost spokesmen on behalf of the Government, either in Parliament or outside of it, had said as to their wishes in pressing this legislation on the country. Again and again they had been assured that care was being taken that this should be a Bill which had a religious element, if not a religious basis, and that there was nothing of a secularist tendency in it. He found it difficult to give full weight to those assurances. He found in the Bill provisions that religious educa- tion when given should be given outside school hours; that apart from the question of conscience, which he would be the first to respect, the teacher need not give religious instruction, and that the children need not attend it. It seemed to him, therefore, that in a sense the Bill was a secularising Bill, which gave an inferior place to religious teaching as compared with other instruction. That was why he desired that they should put in the forefront of the Bill a declaration that they meant the contrary.

He wanted it to be clear at the outset that the Bill should include within its range this question of the giving of religious instruction. There was no word in this Amendment to interfere with the conscientious scruples of parents who desired to withdraw their children, and in the Amendment which he had himself placed upon the Paper he had specially provided that it applied only to children who were not withdrawn from religious instruction. He was thankful to know that in pressing forward this great and sacred cause they had the support of leading Nonconformist ministers, whose opinions were entitled to the highest respect, and of some of the foremost lay Nonconformist spokesmen.

He had purposely abstained from putting any details into his Amendment as to what the religious education should be. He wanted a single declaration to stand in the forefront of the Bill in the very plainest terms, that there should be religious instruction in the large and general sense of the word. He hoped that under the Bill as it would leave their Lordships' House it would be rendered possible that religious instruction of both sorts might be given in the elementary schools.

He had tried to anticipate what objection could reasonably be raised to this. It might be said that they should trust the local authorities. He yielded to no one in his readiness to trust the local education authorities throughout England for the most part. But could there be any doubt that it was only with a certain reserve that they could speak of that trust as a universal thing? The Return for which he moved a few months ago, and which was furnished in a most valuable and clear shape by the Education Department, showed that there were some important boroughs and great populations in which, as a matter of plain fact, little children were growing up in council schools without religious instruction. It was only an exceedingly small minority of local education authorities who did not provide for religious education; but if they took the number of children in schools in which no religious instruction was given and the number of children in schools in which the religious instruction if given was not examined and was often most inadequate, they would find that wholly apart from the use of the conscience clause, tens of thousands of children were growing up without adequate religious instruction in the elementary schools which they were compelled to attend. In face of that plain fact, he wished the religious character of the Bill to be set forth on its very forefront.

An argument used not infrequently by the Minister for Education was thas the local education authority was much more likely to do what they wanted them to do if they did not "order." It seemed to him to be a miserable imputation upon the character for independence and thoughtfulness of the local education authorities to say that they would be debarred from doing what they otherwise would have done, simply because the country and Parliament had declared that it ought to be done. It might be said that the administrative difficulty "would be exceedingly great, and that it would be undesirable to lay down any such rule unless it could be enforced. To this he replied that there were in our educational legislation many matters upon which rules were laid down without there actually being the means of enforcing their observance.

Such additional words as had been suggested would serve as a declaration of principle besides giving a useful direction to the authority as to what should be the natural course of their action, it was not proved that such a rule could not be enforced, and even if it were proved it would not be conclusive against the proposal. The Cowper-Temple clause in the Act of 1870 declared that there should not be any religious formularies of a dis- tinctive kind taught to the children, and it might have been said that that was difficult to enforce, but in the main the Cowper Temple clause had been obeyed because it was known that such was the will of the nation as expressed in Parliament. This Amendment presented an almost exact analogy. The Code annually issued by the Board of Education had for the year the force of an Act, and it contained a great number of things extremely difficult to enforce. The last code set forth in quite admirable words full directions as to the moral and ethical teaching which ought to be given; was this to be enforced by mandamus ? Without dwelling on the difference in the words, he earnestly hoped the Committee would accept either the Amendment proposed by Lord Heneage, or that of which he had given notice.


supported the Amendment, preferring it to that standing in the name of the Archbishop, because it appeared to him from the generality of its language to be more germane to the principle of the clause and because it contained the words "some portion of the school hours of every day." Without these words the authority would not have sufficient direction. On the other hand, he would prefer that the first clause should not contain an explicit reference to the local authority as a religious body. As to the necessity of the Amendment as a whole, it was said that few authorities would fail to provide sufficient instruction. But would that always be the case? There could be no doubt that the fact of denominational schools standing by the side of board schools had had an influence upon the religious teaching given in the latter.


My Lords, this, as your Lordships will all agree, is by far the most important Amendment with which we have yet had to deal, making, as it does, not merely a considerable alteration in the Bill, but also a considerable alteration in the law, as it exists at the present time. I entirely agree with what fell from my noble friend opposite—and it is a satisfaction to me in dealing with this first important Amendment that it should be so—that this Amendment as it stands on the Paper does not raise those vexed questions as between Church and dissent that are likely, I am afraid, to be raised by some of the other Amendments on the Paper.

As this Amendment stands, your Lordships will see that all that it does is to make the provision of what is called the Cowper-Temple religion, that is to say, religious instruction not inconsistent with Clause 14 of the Act of 1870, compulsory in the council schools. That is practically its own operation. I do not for a moment deny that the proposition has an attraction for many persons. It is not a party question. It would have an attraction, I have no doubt, if it could be carried out, for many Liberals and Nonconformists just as it might have for many Conservatives and Churchmen; but I think it is only reasonable to add that there must be a considerable body of persons to whom it is not attractive, but very much the reverse. We have been told, in the course of this controversy, that we are trying to force a form of State religion on the people. The name of my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education has been made the subject of many small pleasantries in this connection. In view of things that have been said, and in view of things which were said yesterday no further off than in Trafalgar Square, I confess I am surprised that the proposition should be considered one which your Lordships and all members of the Church of England are likely to accept. We are told that that form of religion is rejected by many members of the Church of England, and now we are given to understand that by this declaration it is to become universal in all the council schools and that the declaration is one which the Church of England is expected to welcome.


I did not specify any particular kind of religion in my Amendment. It is open for us to deal with that question when we come to other clauses. I only declare that there must be some definite religion.


I am not talking of what the noble Lord'sintentions may be. He may mean subsequently to vote for the abolition of the Cowper-Temple religion. It is perfectly true that the noble Lord's Amendment does not specify any kind of religion. As it was first put on the Paper it specified Christian religion, but there is now nothing whatever to prevent its being the Mohammedan or Buddhist religion, provided that it does not contain the catechism or formularies distinctive of any creed. I come to the objections which were anticipated by the most rev. Primate in his speech in. favour of the Amendment. But before I do that I may say that the whole question turns on what the quantity and quality of this religious instruction is to be. The most rev. Primate says nothing as to its quantity, but my noble friend opposite does. He says it is to be given every day. By the most rev. Primate's Amendment it need only be given perhaps once a year. But, what is a much more important question, what is the quality of this religious instruction to be? What is the definition of religious instruction?

If noble Lords will look through the syllabuses in the Return mentioned by the most rev. Primate, I imagine that the ideas of many would be entirely different as to which syllabuses gave what could be called religious instruction and which did not. I want to know, further, how is that quality to be estimated, and, as the most rev. Primate said, how are you going to enforce that it shall be given at all? What would the process be? Some kind of teaching which the most rev. Primate would not probably admit to be religious instruction, such as simple reading of the Bible, singing of hymns, and the offering of one or two simple prayers, is thought by some people not to be religious instruction. What steps are they going to take? The most rev. Primate spoke of inspection. He says nothing about inspection in any of his Amendments that I have seen, and if he is going to alter the law by making the religious instruction subject to inspection by officers of the Board of Education, he is effecting a change of which he has given no indication in his Amendments.

The most rev. Primate in his speech threw out the hint about inspecting this instruction as though it would be the simplest thing in the world. What I want to know is, what would actually happen in cases where there was a doubt as to the efficiency of the religious instruction? There is no accepted definition, so far as I know, of the term. If these Amendments are carried, are persons who are aggrieved by what they consider disobedience to the law to appeal to the Board of Education to decide what religious instruction is? Or are they going to the Courts of the country, by applying for a mandamus, to ask the Courts of justice to define what religious teaching really is? It they are to go to the Board of Education, it must end in the Board of Education having to do what my noble friend opposite has refrained from asking them to do—namely, to set a standard of religious instruction. Even if they do not publish a syllabus, they must have a private minimum syllabus, and they must see that the religious instruction given in a particular school comes up to that syllabus. That is a work which the Board of Education could not and would not undertake.

The plan would have this further grave disadvantage, that those who managed the schools in the country would never know that the Board of Education might not alter its standard at any particular time according to the views of the particular Minister for Education for the time being. The Board of Education syllabus would be the syllabus of the Minister for Education of the day, and it might easily happen that at some future time a Minister for Education might hold entirely different ideas as to what the minimum of religious instruction ought to be, and he might refuse to admit syllabuses which, for instance, under the present régime at that office might pass muster. And equally I cannot contemplate with satisfaction cases of this kind coming before the Courts of the country. It seems to me it would be a most undesirable thing for a Court of law to have to decide what religious instruction is under the terms of an Act such as this.

Then the most rev. Primate spoke of the question of putting compulsion on local authorities, and he seemed to indicate that it was unfair to suppose that local authorities would behave like schoolboys and be driven to object to a thing because they were ordered to do it. That is surely not quite the point. The point is that if, in those comparatively few cases where the local authorities prefer that their schools should be run on secular, or on nearly secular lines, you impose a syllabus or a system of religious instruction which they would not have instituted or organised on their own initiative, you are giving a strong impulse to the ideas which those authorities hold. I cannot conceive anything which would be more likely to lead to a spread of secularism in this country than if those who hold those views are able to hold them in the name of religious liberty; and that is to my mind what the effect would be of forcing upon reluctant authorities the command which you lay upon them by this Amendment. What would be the actual result? They might have to give the teaching. It would be given grudgingly; it would certainly be given badly.




It would be given badly because it would be given without any enthusiasm. No care whatever would be taken to see that the teacher was in any way competent to give it, and it would have the effect, as I believe, of rousing on behalf of broad, or what are generally known as secular, views, a kind of religious enthusiasm which does not distinguish them at the present moment. In conclusion, I merely wish to call attention to an observation made by my noble friend Lord Heneage. He stated that various Ministers had made speeches, and that those speeches differed in substance from the Bill. If, said he, the Bill and the speeches could only be brought into harmony, the Bill, though he would strongly object to it, would be a fair and reasonable one.


I said that though I might object to some portions of it, it might be made a fair and reasonable Bill.


Of course if the noble Lord says he did not say so I withdraw. I was merely anxious to call the noble Lord's attention to his statement in order that he might withdraw it himself, because I felt it would be altogether impossible for him strongly to object to anything which he considered reasonable and fair.


My Lords, perhaps it may be convenient that I should at this stage say, in a few words, how the two Amendments before the Committee strike some of my noble friends who sit near me. In the first plate, I have to say that of the two Amendments we prefer that placed on the Paper by my noble friend Lord Heneage, not because we differ from the most rev. Primate, to whose speech we listened with much pleasure, but on account of the extreme simplicity and directness of the language of my noble friend's Amendment. Simple as its language is, it seems to have been imperfectly apprehended by the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council. I will venture to read the clause as it will stand with my noble friend's Amendment— On and after the 1st day of January, one thousand nine hundred and eight, a school shall not be recognised as a public elementary school unless it is a. school provided by the local education authority, and unless some portion of the school hours of every day is set a part for the purposes of religious instruction. That is all. It is a simple affirmation that it is desirable that in all these schools, which are henceforth to be of a single type, some portion of the school hours shall be set apart for religious instruction. Not that any particular kind of religious instruction should be given, but that the children should have so far as the time-table is concerned, the opportunity of receiving religious instruction. The noble Earl suggested that the clause involved compulsory Cowper-Temple teaching in all schools.


No, in such existing council schools as do not now give it.


But even that is not said in the Amendment. All that the Amendment says is that there shall be an opportunity given, to every child in the school to obtain religious instruction.


I was speaking of what the actual effect upon the schools of the Amendment would be if carried.


Then the noble Earl went on to entangle us by conjuring up difficulties in connec- tion with the machinery which might have to be set in motion in order to give effect to the noble Lord's Amendment. The old terrors of the mandamus were again paraded in order to intimidate us, and we had suggestions of the different views which might be taken by different Ministers for Education in regard to the syllabus. We are ready to discuss all these things at the proper time, but they do not arise under the Amendment of my noble friend.

We have been told constantly that the great principle of this Bill is the maintenance of public control over these public elementary schools, and I have ventured to say that we do not dispute that proposition. I am not quite sure, however, that we all of us interpret the words "public control"' in exactly the same fashion. May I tell the noble Earl what in my view is the best expression of public control in this connection? It seems to me that then and then only do you have public control in the truest sense of the term when the opinion of the majority of the parents of the children is allowed to prevail in reference to this question of religious instruction, and when at the same time you make considerate and liberal provision for the wants of the minority. We intend to support this Amendment because we think it lays, as it were. a kind of foundation upon which the structure of that popular control can be built up when we come to the subsequent clauses of the Bill. That is our idea of public control.

I am afraid the noble Earl's idea of public control is something very different. I think when he and his friends talk to us about public control, what they have in their minds is that you should submit all these things to the despotic jurisdiction of a provincial bureaucracy, which may be entirely out of touch with the real state of feeling in the particular locality with which it has to deal, and allow that bureaucracy to impose upon the schools within that locality a system under which, if the local education authority so choose, every chink and every cranny may be closed against the entrance of religious instruction. We want to render that impossible. We want this Bill to be so framed that there shall at any rate be an opportunity for giving religious instruction to the children.

I should like to ask noble Lords opposite, to whom shall we do violence by carrying this Amendment? Not to the parents of the children, because we know that whatever happens the parent will always be free, on conscientious grounds, to withdraw his child from the school. Not to the local education authority, for the, local education authority can, if it is perverse and desires to defeat the intention of the law, step aside and allow facilities to be given in lieu of the education which it might afford itself. Nor, again, is there any violence done by this amendment to the feelings of the teachers, who, we are all agreed, should not be compelled to give any kind of religious instruction of which they conscientiously disapprove. Now, my Lords, who really desires that these opportunities for religious instruction should be altogether withheld from the children of those schools? Not the Minister for Education. His speeches have been often quoted. I will not quote him at length, but here is one passage which seems to me so pregnant that I cannot resist reading it to the House. Speaking on the third reading of the Bill, Mr. Birrell said— It has been the main object and the passionate desire of this Government to do what it can, to secure throughout this country, as an ordinary rule and principle of our school life, that religious education should be given. Nothing has shaken my mind since first I began to think night and day on this subject, that the best way of doing that is to make undenominational teaching of the kind authorised by the Act of 1870, which has behind it the experience of thirty-six years, the ordinary rule of the schools. All that this Amendment does is to suggest that there should be sufficient opportunity for enforcing that ordinary rule. Nor is the Amendment contrary to the opinion of the representatives of the people in the House of Commons, because we have been reminded already by the most rev. Primate of the emphatic expression of opinion against secular education which was lately given when this Bill was in Committee in another place. And the same thing is true of the leaders of Nonconformist opinion in this country. Their views have been quoted, and I will not repeat them; but it would be easy to multiply quotations showing that the opinion of the leading Nonconformists is strong and solid against the exclusion of religious teaching from the curriculum of the schools. Then, my Lords, with regard to the Act of 1870 and the Cowper-Temple clause. We are told that this is an invasion of the settlement of 1870, and an encroachment upon the Cowper-Temple clause. But it is not we who are uprooting the settlement of 1870; it is noble Lords opposite and their friends.




The Act of 1902 followed the example of the Act of 1870 in preserving the existence side by side of two types of school —the voluntary and the provided. It is noble Lords opposite and their friends who for the first time propose to substitute for those two types of school a single type, perhaps not absolutely uniform, but a single type from which many of the characteristics of the old voluntary schools will entirely disappear; and, therefore, I am not in the least deterred by arguments based on the sanctity of the settlement of 1870 and the Cowper-Temple clause. If we are to have, as we are told we shall have, a single type of school, we say, Let there be at any rate this one characteristic running through the whole of the schools of that type, that they shall keep the door open for religious instruction. The noble Earl opposite conjured up many difficulties arising out of the action of reluctant local authorities. I venture to express my agreement with what was said by the most rev. Primate. I have yet to learn that the local authorities will fly in the teeth, not only of an Act of Parliament, but of public opinion declared as it has been again and again upon this subject.

Those are, stated very simply, the reasons which induce us to regard with favour the Amendment of my noble friend behind me, and all I can say is that if noble Lords opposite deny us this concession, for which we ask in the name of religious instruction, their attitude will be somewhat difficult to defend before the judgment of the country. The people of this country will not have been slow to notice the constantly repeated professions of His Majesty's Ministers in favour of the admission of religious instruction. This Amendment is a test of the sincerity of noble Lords opposite and their friends. If they are unwilling to concede to us what my noble friend asks for, we shall then know what amount of confidence to repose in their frequently reiterated professions that religious instruction ought to be an essential and inseparable part of the education of our children.


My Lords, I have very few observations to make in answer to the speech of the noble Marquess who has just sat down. In the year 1870 the provided schools of this country were placed under the control of education authorities, in whom was vested a discretion whether any, and if so, what, religious instruction should be given, subject to certain definite restrictions of the Cowper-Temple clause; that is to say, during the last thirty-six years the schools of the country have been carried on without any declaration of the character suggested by the Amendment being contained in any Act of Parliament. The results have not been unsatisfactory. On the contrary, I understood from the most rev. Primate that he was gratified at the general results, although he — and I think with truth—pointed out that there might have been exceptional cases here and there in which religious education was withheld or only a stunted form of it given.

Then came the Act of 1902, in which the whole of this subject was reconsidered. I will not do the noble Marquess opposite the injustice of suspecting him and his friends of the insincerity which he rather imputes to us; but I would ask, if noble Lords opposite were animated by so strong a sense of the injustice of allowing the schools to remain without the declaration that there should be religious instruction in them, why did they not propose an Amendment similar to this in the Act of 1902. Of course, the real difficulty is that although you may put in the declaration that there shall be religious instruction in the schools, if you only keep the words general enough and wide enough—and I observe that my noble friend Lord Heneage plumes himself on the extreme generality of his expression—you can lay down the most noble maxim upon which you can pride yourselves, without any obligation attaching to it. That is exactly the case of the Amendment now before your Lordships.

The Amendment leaves every solitary difficulty unsettled. It is a flag and nothing else. We are not told who is to decide what the religious education is to be or what the creed is to be, whether it is to be left to the discretion of the local authority or whether it is to depend on the desire of the parents or the wishes of the Minister for Education of the day. Nor does the Amendment tell us how the education is to be imparted, whether by teachers or by ministers of religion. And how are you going to settle the difficulties, so familiar, of having only one schoolroom and four or five different creeds to be taught? In the action we are taking there is nothing inconsistent with the sincerity of my right hon. and learned friend Mr. Birrell. We are not refusing this Amendment because we think it is a departure from anything that Mr. Birrell or any other Minister has said. We are refusing it solely because it is not business. We are being asked to assent to a perfectly general and vague statement of a maxim against which I have not a word to say; but I do want to know what it is that it would commit me to before I vote upon it.


said the answer to the noble Lord was one of the greatest simplicity. The broad principle of the Amendment was that education to be worth anything must be religious. How the religious instruction was to be given, by whom, under what conditions, were points not touched by the Amendment. What they desired was that religion should be an integral part of the education of the country. The noble Lord had asked why the noble Marquess had not put down such an Amendment to the Act of 1902; the answer was that the circumstances had not arisen which made it necessary. But under the present Bill religious education was outside school hours; no teacher need give it, and no child need attend. This Amendment would not in the least preclude such a subsequent Amendment as that which was moved by Mr. Chamberlain in the other House, by which the State was to supply the secular part of education and to assist the different denominations to teach their children what they insisted on being taught.


said he would not have risen but for the remarks of the Lord Chancellor with regard to the Act of 1902, for which he (Lord Londonderry) was largely responsible. That Act did not in any way touch the board school system, and consequently he was at a loss to know what sort of Amendment the noble and learned Lord would have had the noble Marquess introduce. Their object in the Act of 1902 was to relieve voluntary schools of an intolerable strain and give them the justice to which they were entitled.


I think that is a perfectly just observation. My criticism was that if this was such a wrong thing to allow to continue, why was it not amended then.


said the Lord Chancellor had expressed confidence in the local authorities, but there were local authorities and local authorities, and they could not discriminate between them when legislating. Local authorities would not all act in the same spirit; in Wales, for example, there were local authorities which gave no religious instruction at all. In Cardiganshire, out of seventy provided schools no religious instruction was given in sixty; in Carmarthenshire, out of 104 schools religious instruction was only given in sixty-nine; while in Pembroke-shire there were eleven schools giving no religious instruction at all. Would noble Lords opposite tell him that they approved of that system? In view of the fact that it was quite possible under the Bill for schools to be turned into secular schools, he maintained that it was the bounden duty of their Lordships to support the Amendment, which was framed in no bigoted and narrow spirit.


said that this was a question on which it would be very undesirable to take a hasty vote. For his own part, he could not help feeling that the Amendment involved a very deep and important issue, and he was somewhat dismayed to find that the Government did not seem to have any inclination to accept it. As he read the Amendment there was nothing in it that sinned in the direction of a sectarian tendency, nor had he discovered in it the slightest indication of political animus. The Amendment dealt with one simple and imperative principle. It asked that in all schools recognised as public elementary schools religious education should be provided, and the more they reflected upon it and the more they allowed the natural instincts of liberal thought to be brought to bear upon it, the more it would commend itself to their minds and feelings.

The objections which had been raised had been based mainly on the fact that, as the Lord Chancellor had said, although it might be a very innocent and innocuous maxim which everybody would be willing to accept, yet from the view of practical statesmanship it was not business. He asked the attention of the Committee while he endeavoured to show that it was business. It was not a question merely of a maxim to be studied at large and which, because it was large, was to be declared incapable of practical application. The Amendment, so far from having no element of business, ought to be regarded as being full of business, because they had been told that there were a few educational authorities or county councils in the country which had not provided religious teaching at all. He regarded both Houses of Parliament, not merely as places where legislation should be initiated, but as being entrusted with the protection of the liberties of the subject, and therefore as being always open to the appeal that the weak should be protected against the strong. It was unquestionably the case that in those instances in which religious teaching had not been provided the defect, as he ventured to call it, had not been in harmony with the great consensus of opinion of the people of the country. It might be that by an accidental vote or through local circumstances a majority had been obtained on the county council which had exercised its powers to the detriment of the inhabitants of the district concerned, and because those cases had existed he asserted that it was a matter of real business to appeal to members of their Lordships' House to take care that such protection was afforded to the minority as that these outrages upon the rights of parents should not be again perpetrated. If that was said to be not business, he was at a loss to know where business began, because in his view business began wherever any practical result would ensue.

The Amendment was business from another important point of view, namely, of those who had not come down with a vehement desire to oppose everything brought forward by the Government. He might venture to claim for himself that throughout these discussions he had endeavoured to maintain an attitude of the strictest impartiality. He had earnestly wished that this great question, for it was a question of momentous issue, could be settled, not by the strife of extremes, but by the proper and due understanding of that central party of both sides which could arrive at a reasonable compromise. That being so, he asked their Lordships to notice that the Amendment provided a basis for the security of such a compromise, for if the Amendment were rejected then, seeing that the Bill destroyed all those schools in which distinctive religious teaching was given there would inevitably be provoked reaction which must mean what he, for one, would very much deplore— the victory of the extreme denominationalists or of the secularists. Therefore he would welcome any Amendment, and this Amendment in particular, which did form a basis of security for the reasonable compromise which he hoped would be the result of their discussion.

Then he might quote his own personal point of view. To him education without religion was not really or completely education at all, and in making that affirmation he believed he was expressing the firm conviction of 80 or 90 per cent. of the people of the country. He could not look upon religion in any sense of the word as a kind of addition to the instruction given in the schools. According to the first principles of the faith which he professed, the only life which human beings could possess in its fulness was the life in which a recognition of the Divine agency and Divine power took its real place; therefore if they put into the forefront, of this Bill an affirmation of their desire that that great principle should be recognised, and if at the very outset of their discussion they were ready to declare that that was a vital principle, they would have laid the foundation of a compromise, because they would have disarmed to a very large extent the hostility—call it sentimental if they pleased—of many who feared this Bill not because it was an Education Bill, but because it was a Bill in which that great principle which they believed lay at the root of their faiths, no matter how various they might be in denominational expression, was either ignored or set at naught. Hence it was a mistake to argue as if the Amendment were not a matter of business. It was a matter of business because it was protective of the weak and because it would afford a real basis for a reasonable compromise as the discussions went on.

Even looked upon as a matter of sentiment, even supposing it were not a matter of business—which he was not prepared to admit—supposing for the sake of argument it were a matter of sentiment, it should be remembered that it was a sentiment which operated in the breasts of four-fifths of the people of this country, and he took it that it was one of the greatest mistakes on the part of any legislature to ignore the sentiment of the people in such a matter as this. As surely as they ignored a great sentiment, they created a great grievance. They had had examples of that times without number. They could recall cases in which agitation had gone on and the argument against the agitation was that it was merely a sentimental grievance. There was the case of the Burials Bill, when he stated that he was prepared to admit that it was a sentimental grievance, but that if they could remove it it was the way of common sense and the way of humanity to endeavour to do so. By and bye the Legislature did remove the grievance which was described as mere sentiment. Were they prepared to say to-day, when the issue which lay before them was whether or not they should affirm that religion was to be a cardinal part of elementary instruction, that they would ignore the great sentiment of the country which declared religion to be an integral part of education, merely because it was sentiment? He would say that it was the height of folly to refuse to listen to such a sentiment.

It had been said from the Government Benches that the proposal was quite harmless, that they were in agreement with the principle. If that were so and the Government granted that it was harmless, and seeing that it would meet the great sentiments of the vast majority of the people of the country, was there any settled reason at all why it should be refused? Were the Government under the idea that the Peers who supported the Amendment had some plot concealed in the words proposed? Personally, he believed that those who were supporting the Amendment simply desired that this great principle to which he had referred should receive real and definite affirmation at the hands of the Government, because they could not forego their belief that education must be bound up with religious instruction of some sort. Therefore they were present to support the Amendment, and for his own part he could not conceive on what ground of wisdom, policy, or statecraft it should be refused.

He could quite understand that persons who by conviction were secularists in education should withstand this Amendment. By all means let those who were in favour of secular education say so, and they would be respected as speaking their convictions. But that was not the view of the people of this country; the secular idea had been rejected in another place. Over and over again throughout the length and breadth of the country the opponents of the Act of 1902 had declared that they did not wish to destroy religious teaching. Therefore it seemed to him almost incredible and also unwise that any responsible Government should decline to pass an Amendment innocent and in harmony with the sentiments of the people such as this was. But whether the Government were pleased with this Amendment or not, the question had been raised and the House had to give an opinion. Would it look well to the religiously-minded people of this country that they should refuse to pass words that declared the one simple principle that religion was an integral part of education If they rejected the Amendment they would stand convicted of having refused to accept that which simply declared what its supporters believed to be the earnest hungering wish of the vast majority of the people of the country.

He was jealous not only of his own earnest conviction that unless something practical was done for religious instruction in education they would have forfeited a great and noble opportunity, but also of the honour of their Lordships' House. What was the argument which had been adduced over and over again on behalf of local authorities? It was that the local authorities could be trusted because they had consciences in this matter. By what conceivable line of argument were they going to convince the people of this country that Huddersfield and Richmond had consciences in this matter, but that the House of Lords had not? They had a conscience in this matter. It was not merely because the population outside believed in religious education that he was supporting this Amendment, but because he believed in it himself with a deep-rooted conviction, so that whenever an Education Bill might be produced, from whichever side of politics it might come, if it ignored religion or stood for secularism, he would oppose it even though he stood alone. Because he was jealous that they should affirm what the people of the country expected them to affirm, because he was jealous that they should recognise that they had a conscience in this matter and that it was their duty to protect the people against the possibility of secularism, therefore he appealed to their Lordships not unwisely or hastily to reject an Amendment which was in perfect harmony with the sentiments of not merely one religious denomination but of all. It was a matter in which every religious body was interested, and all that the Amendment affirmed was not that there should be any supremacy, not that one sect or denomination should get an advantage over another, but that there should be an opportunity for religious teaching whether for the Jew or the Roman Catholic, or the Established Churchman, or the Free Churchman, in the schools of the country. The vagueness of the Resolution commended it to his mind, because it covered the width and liberal scope of that view.


pointed out that it was not a Resolution, but an Amendment, which was a very different matter.


said he was not careful for the Amendment in particular, but he was careful for the affirmation of the principle. If the Government would give a guarantee that a Resolution affirming the principle should be brought before the House, he would be quite willing that the Amendment should be withdrawn. He was standing for the principle, not for the form, and if he received an assurance that the principle would be affirmed, whether by Resolution or by Clause he cared not, he would be content to leave the matter so far in their hands; but he stood for the honour and consistency of the Members of that House, for they were only affirming that simple faith in the living God, who in the prayers of their Lordships' House was declared to be the One by whom alone kings ruled and princes decreed justice.


felt very strongly that the Amendment was most objectionable both in form and in substance. It had been criticised on the ground of its impracticability and vagueness, and he objected to it on the ground that it would be a rash and bad step for Parliament once more to take up that which for years they had been trying to withdraw from, namely, the control and direction of spiritual affairs. He had marked the development of the views of the most rev. Primate since the introduction of the Bill. On the Second Reading he used words which seemed to indicate a wish that there should be universal religious teaching in school hours, but when, in commenting on that speech, he (Lord Stanley) said that the words were capable of that construction, whereas probably all he desired was that if such instruction was given, it should be in school hours, the most rev. Primate nodded assent. But on Thursday last he went a step further and foreshadowed what seemed to be a desire to impose an obligation to give religious teaching. The most rev. Primate, like the right rev. Prelate who had just spoken, had treated it very much as a matter of indifference whether the proposal was carried as a Resolution in the nature of an exhortation or as an Amendment in the nature of an order. He could quite understand that right rev. Prelates, whose function was exhortation and preaching, might feel the great importance of weighty words of advice addressed from high bodies, but the churches had been in past ages and were still too apt, when they found exhortation insufficient, to fall back upon the secular arm, and what the Committee had before it on the present occasion was not a pious exhortation, but the calling in of the secular arm. On Thursday last, when speaking on the matter of religious teaching, the most rev. Primate said— I can see no reason at all why such a provision, if you like rather as a demonstration than as a possibility of enforcement in all its details, should not stand in the forefront of the Bill as something which is giving effect to the repeated declarations that the Bill is not to have, and is not intended to have, a secularist character at all. To-day the most rev. Primate had spoken of his Amendment as a flag or manifesto rather than an operative proposal. In the earlier part of his speech he had intimated that he did not desire any coercive measure, but as he warmed to his work he had gradually begun to see the possibilities of making it coercive, because although the Amendment was couched in the most deliberately vague terms, yet as the most rev. Primate had said with perfect truth, if they put it into the Code as one of the necessary conditions for qualifying for a Parliamentary grant, it would be necessary for the inspector to go into the schools to see the time-table and satisfy himself that the instruction was given in accordance with the Code. The Leader of the Opposition, who had also spoken of the principle as being very general, had used significant language to the effect that the Amendment might be taken as merely general for the moment, that it was quite vague, but that it could be followed up; it was to be a foundation which could be built upon by suitable Amendments in subsequent clauses of the Bill. Therefore, they were face to face with the first parallel of the besiegers. It was not to be a mere pious exhortation or excellent Resolution, but an operative provision. The Leader of the Opposition had not properly grappled with the point made by the President of the Council, who had pointed out with perfect justice, that if this teaching was to be given by the local education authorities in provided schools, it was clear, unless the Cowper-Temple clause were repealed, that it must be teaching in accordance with the Cowper-Temple clause. He could quite understand a person saying, accordance with the teaching of the late Dr. Hook— Let the public authority be answerable only for the secular instruction, and leave the religious instruction to pious people of varying opinion to come in and teach those who desire it. That was a tenable position, but it was not the position before the Committee. When the people of Birmingham, under the influence of Mr. Chamberlain, had secular schools, they met the wishes of various religious bodies or a combination of religious bodies by placing the schools at their disposal on a certain day in the week for the volunteers to give religious instruction, but in order to satisfy the law they were obliged to make public elementary school begin on that day only at 9.30 instead of at 9 o'clock, so that it was merely a school house put at the disposal of volunteers outside school hours. If they put the teaching within school hours it must come under the Cowper-Temple clause. Cowper-Temple teaching was extremely popular throughout the country among Church people as well as dissenters. There was a time when the bench of bishops proclaimed that they would not put up with Cowper-Temple teaching, that it was intolerable. At one time he thought that under the leadership of the Bishop of Birmingham, and especially after the sermon of the Bishop of Stepney, that bench was gradually bringing itself to the logical position, and that it would declare for impartial treatment and equality, and trust to the efforts of religious people to give religious instruction. But he supposed they saw that the current of general undenominational Protestantism was too strong for them, for now they were rallying to that general undenominational Protestantism, and they were going to enact for the first time that there should be an established religion in the schools, a religion which should be undenominational, which undoubtedly would be broadly Christian in a sense which would cover Unitarianism. It would be a big job for the House of Lords to propose to repeal the Cowper-Temple clause. They would have to do more than that. It they were going to let the inspector look at the time-table and put this into the Code they would have to repeal Clause 7, sub-section (3) of the Act of 1870, which enacted that it should be no part of the duties of an inspector to inquire into instruction on religious subjects. When they began to play with this question they would find it more serious than they thought; they would be setting up a new State Church, a church which would be undenominational, and they would involve themselves in controversy with reference to the repeal of an important section of the Act of 1870.

Several speakers had spoken as if the Amendment gave effect to the dislike of the country of secular schools. He quite agreed that there was a majority of the effective voting force of the country against secular schools, but it was a great exaggeration to suppose that there was any violent attachment to any particular system of religious teaching. Nobody could say that when the Birmingham schools were secular they were a bit less popular or less frequented by the people who sought a good education. The attitude of the State since 1870 had been one of secularity towards teaching. Mr. Gladstone, whom none would ever accuse of being wanting in definite religious earnestness or conviction was a strong opponent of the State organisation of religion, and he considered that Dr. Hook had solved the question but that the country was not ripe to accept the solution. The other House earlier in the year was invited to order secular schools, but it refused, being willing to remain in the impartial attitude which it has been the rule of the State to adopt ever since 1870, and to leave a discretion to the local authorities as to what should be done. But it was now proposed that they should take quite another line, and order religious teaching to be given. It was easy enough for people to say which way the great voice of the country was going. He would not undertake to prophesy, but he was quite content to judge the voice of the country with regard to this Amendment by what the House of Commons would say to it if it went back to them. That he thought would be a very good index of the voice of the country, and when that result came it would be seen whether the voice of the country was as unmistakable as noble Lords opposite seemed to think.

What were the places where they had instruction either secular or so scantily religious that it might be almost considered as such? The case of Huddersfield had been repeatedly quoted, and on a previous occasion he had been able to show that according to the evidence of the police courts at Huddersfield, the great contributors to the industrial and reformatory schools were not those who came from the board schools, but from the schools where definite denominational teaching was given. Then there was the case of Wales. No one would doubt that the Welsh people as a whole were much more actively permeated by religious conviction and that religion filled a much larger space in their lives than was the case with the English working classes. Nobody could believe when they went to the manufacturing towns of England that the religious interest of the working people was not tenfold greater in Wales than in England. The members of the Commission on the Welsh Church at present sitting were amazed at the evidence showing how practically the whole adult population, whether Anglican or Nonconformist, were habitual communicants. That showed a state of mind as far removed as possible from ecclesiastical indifference or secularity, and yet it was pre-eminently in that part of the country that the people refused to have any systematic religious instruction in their schools. Such a position was no evidence of want of religious belief, but they were going to order the Welsh people to have some sort of syllabus of religious instruction and, according to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, they were laying down a groundwork upon which an edifice was subsequently to be reared.

He was a little surprised that Lord Halifax should have supported this Resolution, seeing that on Saturday last he was addressing the people from the backs of the lions in Trafalgar Square, accompanied by banners on one of which appeared the motto "Religious equality," while on another blazoned forth "No State Religion." He (Lord Stanley) was perfectly willing to march under both of those banners, and would be only too glad if Lord Halifax would march with him. If they had religious equality and no State religion they would have a state of things much healthier, much more progressive, and much more conducive to the true spirit of justice and piety, and all the good qualities which built up character, than the state of things which now existed with the present alliance of the spiritual and the secular. He quite agreed that if they came to the solution of removing from the municipal authorities the power of drawing up schemes of theology, many of which erred greatly on the side of excess and not of defect, and if they gave a reasonable hour within such time that the children would naturally be in the schools, and invited voluntary teachers who believed in religion to give the instruction, that would be a satisfactory solution; but any proposal which simply hinted at what should be done, without its proposers having the courage to do it, would never be operative. Possibly us the Committee went on the proposal would be made operative, but at present it was merely an expression of hope.

In 1886–87 he sat under Lord Cross on a Commission dealing with this question, and when the Report was being considered it was urged by some that it would be well to insert a provision that the State should call upon all public elementary schools to include religious instruction. He believed that for a moment there was an Amendment to that effect put into the Report, but on reflection it was seen how impolitic and useless it would be for the State to thrust upon a community like Birmingham, which was in favour of secular schools, obligations which the State could not effectively enforce. If they tried to force upon people that which they were not willing to do, that thing would become mechanical and artificial. To some religious instruction was different from Bible instruction. If a school determined that the Bible should be read, but that the teacher should not be permitted to draw theological lessons from it, leaving it to tell its own story, would that satisfy the Resolution or would the grant be withdrawn? He wished to put in a caveat against the plea of the right rev. Prelate who seemed to think that, because he was firmly convinced of the righteousness and propriety of some public action, it was quite right that he should call upon the State to enforce that action. In the time of the Stuarts that was what led to the people being fined for not going to church on Sunday. But we had outgrown that idea, but the right rev. Prelate apparently still thought it right.


said he really did not think it was possible that his words could be so misconceived. The noble Lord desired to draw an analogy between the principle he had advocated and the power to compel people to go to church on Sunday. He had simply asked for an opportunity of religious teaching on behalf of those who desired it.


said the right rev. Prelate desired to coerce the local authority. Of course two centuries had passed since the legislation to which he referred, and the right rev. Prelate had had to move with the age. No doubt the form of coercion which he proposed to apply was much milder than the Caroline Parliaments applied, but the spirit was the same.


I protest, my Lord.


said he could see the same spirit, perfectly well-meaning but perfectly mistaken, on the part of those whom he might call the secular fanatics or enthusiasts of the day. A great many people thought it so essential that temperance should be taught that the local authorities had ordered definite lessons in temperance to be given. It was their confidence in their good intentions which make people so regardless of the border line between right and wrong limits, and it was because of that, he especially regretted this Amendment. As far as the future went it would probably spread the cause of which he was in favour. But if it was carried and became the law of the land, he was sure it would be resented. Some noble Lords had spoken of the people being with them, but they seemed to forget that a great body of Nonconformists, who certainly had not been indifferent to religious considerations, felt so strongly the impropriety of the State's meddling with religious teaching that down to 1870 they would never accept any Parliamentary grants for their schools. Dr. Dale of Birmingham, who was not wanting in religious conviction, was one of the leaders of the day. By trying to drag the State into this alliance with the Church, they would make a great mistake, and would hasten the day of general disestablishment and probably of secular education.


said there was an aspect of the question which had not yet been touched upon, and to which he desired to invite their Lordships' serious attention. Had their Lordships considered whether it was appropriate to introduce a declaration of this principle, on which it was evident they were all agreed, into this particular clause Were there no other clauses in the Bill to which it could be applied? Noble Lords and right rev. Prelates had spoken as though their chance of asserting this principle of religious instruction began and ended with Clause 1. He could not hope to emulate the eloquence of some noble Lords in endeavouring to explain that which seemed to him to be a simple matter of business and ordinary procedure, but he hoped their Lordships would not be led away by impassioned exhortations on the one side or the other. In this question there should be clear thinking, and it seemed to him that the Amendment was singularly inappropriate in this particular clause, and that there were better opportunities in the Bill for asserting as noble Lords so passionately desired to assert their honour, their conscience, and their sincerity. He had a particular reason for holding this view, as he himself had put down an Amendment to the first clause, but some friends of his had pointed out the disadvantage of inserting it in that particular place. On that account he was now endeavouring to explain to their Lordships why it was unnecessary, inexpedient, and unwise to introduce the principle they sought to affirm into the first clause.

What was the first clause? It had been explained over and over again. It declared the main principle of the Bill. And what was that principle? It was a financial principle. The clause declared that no school should be supported out of public funds unless it was subject to popular control. Why should they mix up a religious principle with a financial principle? Why not give the honour of a separate place in the Bill to what the most rev. Primate had rightly called a large general principle, or at any rate why should they not assert it in other parts of the Bill in such a manner that it could be defined as to quality and quantity, and thus do away with that vagueness which had been so properly objected to by the Lord President of the Council

He believed that noble Lords, in putting down Amendments to this first clause, had been unconsciously actuated by the example of the other House. But there were excellent and forcible reasons for moving Amendments to the first clause there. The Opposition and the country had not fully understood the intentions of the Government, and the object of the Amendments was to elicit a full declaration of principle. But no such reason existed at the present time. The intentions of the Government were fully known, and their Lordships had had the immense advantage, which was not enjoyed by Members of the other House when they debated the Bill, of having been able to watch, during the recess, the full development of public opinion on this matter

The first clause asserted the principle of popular control. He took it that that principle was no longer in controversy. On the Opposition side of the House there were many who believed that it had already been asserted by the Act of 1902. Then why not assert it at once and without seeming qualification? Why should they run the risk of provoking further misunderstanding in the country? Why should they not say at once to the country that they accepted unreservedly what was undoubtedly the mandate at the last general election— that where there was public expenditure there should be public control? He could not see that in doing so they would in any way prejudice their power or their right to amend other clauses in the Bill, and to assert in the fullest and most definite manner possible their view that the education of the country should be religious—that was to say, that religious instruction should form an essential part of the national education. He exhorted their Lordships to think well over this practical side of the question, and to consider whether they would be acting wisely in inserting this Amendment in the first clause. Since they were all agreed on the principle that education must necessarily include religious instruction, where would be the difficulty of asserting and defining that principle in other parts of the Bill?


was anxious to state his reasons for supporting the first clause of the Bill as it stood. He believed they were present that night owing to the fact that His Majesty's Government were returned to power at the general election with a mandate, or whatever term might be used, to introduce amongst their very earliest measures an Education Bill, the first principle of which should be that all elementary schools should be under public control. It was a complement, or a necessary consequence, of the unfortunate Act of 1902. He said unfortunate, because he felt at the time, and he felt still, as a Churchman that that Bill did an irremediable harm to the Church schools, and he was absolutely certain that it would be necessary in good time—and the time had come more quickly than he had expected—that there should be another Bill to sweep away the injustice inflicted by the measure of 1902.

As a matter of fact, the first question brought before the country at the last general election was the education question. He spoke from experience, having taken part in any number of meetings, and that was the question on which he always spoke. [Cries of "Privilege!"] Of course he meant before the writs were issued, but he would be glad when the time came when their Lordships would be able to take part in elections after the issue of the writs. But this discussion of the education question was not a matter of the few weeks preceding the general election. Ever since the passing of the Act of 1902 every Liberal meeting which he had attended, and every Liberal speaker to whom he had listened, had always been concerned with this question of education. A great fuss had been made about certain other questions which might have been alluded to, although never by him personally; but education was the one dominant question which carried the people with it and decided the general election. The principal factor in those discussions was whether there should be complete public control over the nation's schools, and His Majesty's Government had brought forward the Bill to which they were pledged. If they had not put in the forefront of that measure the principle of popular control, he would have been standing up on the present occasion declaring that they had not fulfilled the pledges they had given to the country, and were not doing what their supporters had expected of them. Therefore he should support His Majesty's Government in the first clause as it stood.

With regard to the Amendment, he was one of those who considered that no education of the children could be successful or satisfactory unless it was founded upon the teaching of the Christian religion. He was ready to fight against secularism, and to contend, as far as he could, against the movement in favour of all State teaching being only secular, and of all allusions to Christianity or to morality founded upon Christianity being excluded from the schools. But having made that admission, he could not support the Amendment under discussion. It would be perfectly possible to introduce into an Education Bill a clause to enforce, he would not call it religious instruction, but Biblical instruction in the schools. He had the honour to move the Address to His Majesty at the beginning of the session, and in his remarks on that occasion, not knowing what His Majesty's Government were going to do, he expressed the opinion that there might be an Education Bill containing the principle of Biblical instruction in the schools. He was still of the same view. There were three classes of opinion with regard to religious education. There was in the first place the logical class, the secularists. Their contention was absolutely logical. The State must he undenominational and neutral, and their contention was that anything for which the State paid should also be undenominational and neutral. That was a logical argument, but at the same time he was hostile to it, and ready to fight against it. Then there were those who were in favour of denominational, of definite, religious teaching, and after all, whatever might be said as regarded the present Amendment, there was no one who had spoken in favour of religious education, particularly among the right rev. Prelates, who had not in his heart, and naturally so, a wish for denominational and definite religious teaching. The third class were those who considered it to be necessary to have Biblical or undenominational teaching in the schools. He belonged to that class. It seemed to him that they were at the beginning of a fight betwixt secularism and religion, and unless the two classes who represented religious teaching, denominational and undenominational, joined together and fought the other class, the result was absolutely certain—the secularists would win the battle. Therefore, at the beginning of the discussions on the Bill, he desired to express the view that unless they came to terms, and agreed among themselves, they would lose the fight, with the result—possibly the logical result—that no religious teaching whatever would be given in the schools during school hours. If they could agree that there should be Biblical instruction, he believed the vast majority of the people of the country would support them; but if they added to the first clause a provision that there must be religious instruction, without any definition as to what that religious instruction should be, he was perfectly certain that the strife between the denominationalists and the undenominationalists would only be accentuated, and would do irremediable harm to the cause of religious education.


said they had all listened to the speech of the noble Marquess with the respect which his sincerity and earnestness commanded, and it was certainly not with any want of respect that he declared that even upon the principles of the noble Marquess himself he would draw the opposite conclusion. He would not detain their Lordships with any discussion of the principle of popular control, or with any dispute as to that principle. There was a form in which he would be quite ready to accept it. But surely the noble Lord would not wonder if they were a little anxious at the outset of this new departure in our educational system, to know clearly what was going to be the position of religious teaching under it. All would agree with the importance of the view taken by the noble Marquess when he pleaded with the forces of religion not to be divided, and, by conflicting one with another, give what to them was the enemy the advantage. But it was a strange moment to urge that plea, when the Amendment before the Committee offered in a singular degree to those who had religious instruction at heart an opportunity for united action.

There was one element in public opinion which ran the risk of not being represented in their Lordships' House. They had heard a great deal of religion, and a great deal about religious opposition. People were very critical in that respect, saying, with some appearance of fairness, that religion was only the cause of strife. But their Lordships knew quite well that along with those things which divided religious men, there was a great force which united them, and that suggested the question whether in these debates, in the course of which different forms of religion would be debated, and various opposing views pressed, they ought not to avail themselves of an opportunity of this kind for bringing out not a fictitious unity but a real unity. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Ampthill) had suggested that they might have found a better opportunity for affirming this principle. Even though that might be true in the abstract, he was doubtful about it, because when they came to details it would be much more difficult to do a thing of this kind. But the great issue was now before the Committee, and he suggested to the noble Lord that he should not allow a mere question of order to deprive the supporters of the Amendment of his co-operation.

As to the propriety of this affirmation of principle, he welcomed the recent utterance of prominent Nonconformists, among whom were several personal friends of his own. While they could not help noticing certain omissions from the list of signatures, while they could see whom it did not represent as well as whom it did, they could not help recognising that the names carried with them a great force; and while the Legislature of a great country might certainly be too bold, or ill-guided, in its expression of convictions for the sake of expressing them, it might also err on the other side by withholding an expression of its opinion when that opinion, embodied in a law, would have a great effect upon the opinion and the action of the country. He therefore ventured very respectfully to ask His Majesty's Government whether the principle to which they were very much in the habit of appealing might really be applied here. The Government had often declared that they had a mandate upon this matter and upon that. They might be right but had they no mandate from the religious sense of the country to maintain religion in the schools? He believed they had, and if that were so, he hoped the Committee, by its decision on this Amendment would discharge that mandate. Lord Ampthill had stated that it was very essential to have clear thinking on this matter. That was important, because the issue now before the Committee was a tangled issue—more tangled than some speakers had admitted. It was very important that they should not confuse opinion out of doors, or confuse even their own minds, upon the matter. Lord Stanley of Alderley, with his dexterity as a debater, had tried to pin the supporters of this Amendment to something which they had distinctly said they did not mean, and possibly one or two obiter dicta on the part of various speakers had given him a little assistance. Their view was that it was very desirable that they should make a declaration which would bring together the forces of religious opinion which, on other grounds and in other places, might act independently. It should not, however, be inferred from that that they were in any way pledging themselves to united action in giving effect to that declaration. Such united action would be impossible, and, from their point of view, undesirable.

The most important issue in the mind of the country was between secularism and that treatment of religion which would give the fullest effect to the varieties of different men's consciences. He, and others sitting on the Episcopal Benches, would not vote for this declaration if they thought that they were thereby committing themselves to compulsory undenominationalism or compulsory Cowper-Temple teaching. They were clear in their thinking that if they passed this Amendment there would be the largest discretion on the part of the local authorities as to the way in which it should be given effect to. For example, some local authorities might perfectly well say: "We do not consider ourselves competent to give religion, or to dictate religion, or to draw up a syllabus; but the law requires that there should be religion in the schools, and therefore we will assign a time when it is to be given and open the doors to those who are ready to come in and teach it." He hoped they would always say that the teachers, if they conscientiously desired to do so, might aid in the work. Would anyone say that they had not then discharged the duty which Parliament had laid upon them? Or would anyone say that it was a new form of State religion?


In order to do that it would be necessary to repeal the Cowper-Temple clause; it could not be done under this Amendment.


said that that was not a conclusion which would drive him to despair. It was part of his conviction in this matter that they were moving in that direction —a direction quite as much in the sense of liberty as that negative form of liberty which Lord Stanley of Alderley seemed to desire. He desired to make it quite clear that they were not committing themselves to any compulsory method for giving effect to this declaration, and that they believed it would be perfectly possible to allow the most liberal and various ways of interpreting it, in all of which they would rejoice, although many of them might not accord with their own personal convictions, because in that way they would get the maximum effect of the religious sense and the religious life of the nation.

It had been said that most of those for whom he spoke in their hearts desired denominational teaching. That might be so, but they were perfectly aware that there were a large number of persons who might be called un-denominationalists, who desired un-denominationalism, or there might be a large residuum of children whom the denominations would not succeed in providing for; and he himself would be prepared that they should have un-denominationalism for those as one of the alternatives. Another way in which effect might be given to this Resolution in many places would, he believed, be that the local authority would say: "We have got to do this; we cannot do it ourselves; therefore we will see whether the religious people will not help us." And he believed that in certain places there would be what might be called an inter-denominational solution, under which men who were not altogether of one mind would be brought together to settle upon a common form which could he given along with more special facilities to those children for whom something of the kind was desired. He believed that even the strictest of the denominational schools would be ready to welcome something of that kind.


said it was only fair that he should preface his observations by saying that personally he was in favour of the secular solution of the question. To his mind, the association of Church and State had always been harmful both to the Church and to the the State, and he would regret to see that association extended. He recognised perfectly clearly, however, that that was not the general sense of the country. The general feeling seemed to be in favour of some sort of religious instruction being given in the schools in which elementary education was carried on, and His Majesty's Government, in framing a workable measure, had had to bear that in mind.

He desired to direct attention to the actual words of the Amendment, and to the speeches by which the Amendment had been supported. It would be seen that the speeches of the supporters of the Amendment had themselves, to a large extent, provided the best answer to it. The noble Viscount opposite (Lord Halifax) had stated that the Amendment was simplicity itself—that anyone could understand it—that it simply provided that religion should be combined with education. That entirely depended on what was meant by religion. Religion, to the mind of the noble Viscount, might convey something very different from what it would to many others in the House, and still more to the minds of others outside who had to do with elementary schools. The most rev. Primate had said that he wished the Amendment to be in the forefront of the Bill as a declaration. If it were a bare Resolution, an expression of opinion, a mere declaration that this House thought that some kind of religious instruction might conveniently be given in elementary schools, it would do no harm at all; it would interfere with nothing. But it was desired to put it into an Act of Parliament as a provision of the statute, and indeed as a condition, without which a school should not be an elementary school within the meaning of the Act. That was rather a different thing from a declaration, as it amounted to saying that a school had to have this religious instruction before it could be considered an elementary school. Parliament, in legislating, was hardly entitled to put a bald statement of that sort into an Act of Parliament without intimating to the authorities who had to carry out the instruction what was intended by it. That difficulty was fully recognised by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, because he had stated that the Amendment was merely a foundation upon which a superstructure was to be reared. Was it not fair and reasonable that their Lordships, before being asked to proceed to divide on the Amendment, should have some indication from noble Lords opposite, either by Amendments on the Paper, or by speeches in the House, as to what that superstructure was to be—as to the kind of religious instruction which was to be imposed willy-nilly by the authority of Parliament upon the elementary schools?

Apparently the catch-words of religious equality and religious liberty were used by which-ever Party wished for the moment to promote its views, without strict regard to the meaning of the words. Freedom in religion and equality in religion meant also freedom to have no religion at all. What was to be the condition of schools in Birmingham, or in a secularist centre like Leicester, where perhaps four-fifths of the parents objected to any kind of religion in the schools? If there was to be a four-fifths clause, and facilities were to be given them for denominational instruction, why was not that to apply to cases where four-fifths of the parents desired no religious instruction at all?

He had listened with the greatest care to the speech of the most rev. Primate, in the hope of extracting exactly what the practical outcome of the Amendment was to be, but he had not succeeded in doing so. He perfectly understood that the most rev. Primate and others who had spoken from those Benches were perfectly earnest and sincere in the matter; they had a very strong feeling on religious instruction, and they knew perfectly well what they meant by saying that religious instruction should be associated with education in elementary schools. But he was not so sure that any feeling quite so single-minded had animated noble Lords opposite in their support of the Amendment. He was not sure that the Amendment had not been proposed and supported by the official Opposition largely with the intention of going to the country afterwards and saying at meetings, and on platforms, and in other places, that His Majesty's Government had distinctly repudiated religion. He was not at all sure that that was not one of the objects with which this Amendment had been supported by noble Lords opposite. He thought, however, that the ground had been somewhat cut away from under their feet by the speech of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Northampton) who had stated distinctly that he was opposed to the secularist programme, and had appealed to the forces of religion to unite. He feared that if this Amendment had not been fully discussed the statement might be made, and probably still would be made, that all that the Opposition had asked for was religious instruction, and that His Majesty's Government had refused it, because they were against religion and against religious instruction. It was perfectly obvious, however, that that was not the fact.

This Amendment presumably was intended to mean something, and the Committee was entitled to know what it meant, beyond a mere so-called pious expression of opinion. What was to be the kind of religious instruction; how was it to be worked? He understood when the Bill was discussed in another place that there was a great outcry throughout the country about a State religion. It was said that a new State religion was being set up—an undenominational State religion. That was not strictly accurate. But if this Amendment was carried, and interpreted to mean undenominational religious teaching, then indeed their Lordships would have imposed upon schools, for the first time, a State religion—a religion which some official must inspect and report upon— because unless the elementary schools gave this religious instruction they were not to be considered as elementary schools, and could not be so classed for the purposes of attendance, of grant, and so on.

The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, who had quoted from a speech of the Minister for Education, must have felt that that extract had carried him a little further than he wished, because it ended by saying that the hope of His Majesty's Government was that the ordinary undenominational religious teaching which had existed in elementary schools should be continued. Was that what the noble Marquess meant when he supported this Amendment? If so, there was not much difference of opinion as to what was desired in practice between him and noble Lords behind the Government. But the noble Marquess must not quote the Minister for Education unless he was prepared to support the whole of what that right hon. Gentleman had stated. Mr. Birrell had never pledged himself to support compulsory religious education of varying characters, and he would be much interested to see, if their Lordships inserted this Amendment, how it was developed later on. If the Amendment was carried, he thought their Lordships would find some little difficulty in considering what to do with it; it would prove a rather troublesome subject to deal with when they had to define what they meant by the vague expressions contained in the Amendment. Their Lordships, who were now so willing to vote for a mere sentiment, a mere idea, a mere declaration, would find that they had landed themselves in a position of considerable embarrassment when they came to the actual practical details. It could not be too clearly stated that the Amendment as it stood practically meant nothing at all, and that His Majesty's Government, in opposing it, were clearly opposing it on purely administrative grounds.


said there was a singularly refreshing character about the speech of the noble Lord who had just spoken, inasmuch as he was the only one who had had the courage to announce that he was in favour of the secular solution. All the other noble Lords who had declared their intention of voting against the Amendment had been profuse in their assurances that they desired that some religious instruction should be given.


I devoted the greater part of my speech to explaining that I was not prepared to support the imposition of compulsory religious teaching on local authorities, which is all that this Amendment does.


did not quite admit the description just given of the Amendment, but he would deal with it later on. The great majority of the Committee agreed that religion ought to form a part of elementary education, and that was really all that this Amendment actually affirmed. It said that during a portion of every day the schools should be available for religious instruction. It said nothing more than that, and it said nothing less. Lord Ampthill had complained of the place at which the discussion had been raised. But surely the first clause was the natural and obvious place, inasmuch as it described the conditions which were to attach henceforth to every public elementary school.


thought the statement of the noble Marquess was somewhat inconsistent with what had been stated a moment ago. From the words he had just spoken it appeared that the Amendment was not a mere declaration, but a stern condition to be attached to all schools.


said the clause was a description of the character which should attach to every public elementary school in the country, and the supporters of the Amendment held the view that the description was not complete, but that there was another condition which should be applied— namely, that some opportunity should be given for religious instruction, and therefore they desired to place it in Clause 1, because that was the only clause applying universally to every public elementary school. The Amendment did not in any way interfere with the principle of public control. The words of the clause which provided that every school should be subject to public control remained un-amended and untouched.


said he had never suggested that it did; what he said was that he supported the clause as it stood, because it dealt solely with the question of public control.


said he accepted at once the noble Lord's statement; he wished merely to say that the Amendment did not interfere in any way with the principle of public control. Neither did it impose religion upon anybody. The noble Earl who had just spoken seemed to think that they were imposing religion upon those who might be unwilling to receive it. But every parent was entitled to withdraw his child from religious instruction, and he would still have that privilege, if it was a privilege. Then Lord Stanley of Alderley had stated that they were trying to re-establish the religious tyranny of the Stuarts.


I did not say that.


No, he did not quite say that, I admit.


I said you were 250 years the wiser.


He said at any rate that we were reverting to that condition of things— that we were moving in that direction.


Keeping up the traditions.


said he did not mind the precise form of words, but the noble Lord seemed to think that it was an exercise of great religious tyranny that they should enable every poor parent to have religion taught to his child if he wished, and that imposing a condition upon a public authority was the same thing as tyrannising over the conscience of an individual. It was the most prodigious misuse of language, if he might say so with all respect, of which anyone could be guilty. In those days King and Parliament did impose their religious views upon the individual, and in these days local authorities were in the habit, some of them, of imposing their religious views on individuals; and the supporters of this Amendment desired to stop that. They desired that every individual should not be imposed upon in the matter of religion by the local authority, and it was with that intention that they asked the Committee to accept this Amendment. Neither were they going to establish Cowper-Templeism. The right rev. Prelate had so completely demolished that assertion that it was unnecessary for him to deal with it further. There was no reason at all why the religion given in these schools should necessarily be Cowper-Temple religion. All that the clause said was that an opportunity should be given for religious instruction.


In school hours.


did not know whether the noble Lord thought it was a law of the Medes and Persians, which could not be altered, that no religion could be given in school hours except Cowper-Temple religion.


You must alter the law to do it.


said they were now engaged in altering the law; this Bill did nothing else. Then the noble Lord had appealed to the feeling of the country, saying that it was to be interpreted by the views of the majority of the House of Commons. He personally desired to speak with every proper regard for the views of the majority of the House of Commons, but he thought it was really straining language to say that this detail of the education question was submitted to the country at the last general election. The old theory of the mandate, with which they were so familiar, had been appealed to by the Marquess of Northampton.


As regards Clause 1 as it stands.


I have not yet said what the noble Marquess stated.


No; I thought it as well to put you right before you made any mistake.


Thank you. As a matter of fact, the country appeared to have decided a good many things, and to have given a great number of different mandates; but he ventured to say that it did not give any mandate to the Government to say that no opportunity was to be given in any school district for any child to receive the religious instruction which its parents desired. If the movement of public opinion in the country, since the introduction of the Bill, were studied, he believed that a very different conclusion would be come to from that held by the noble Marquess. No one could have watched the deep and profound feeling which had been excited by the Bill without being convinced that they were in the presence of a deep hostility to many parts of the measure. Petitions were somewhat looked down upon, and undoubtedly in certain cases they were open to criticism; but the figures in this case were so enormous as to be impressive. He believed that there were petitions containing upwards of 750,000 signatures against this Bill. That was a very large figure indeed, especially when it was remembered that it had been calculated that at one of the hardest fought contested elections of recent years not more than 250,000 persons attended public meetings, and that was when the country was supposed to be seething with excitement. And how many signatures had there been in its favour? He believed that to the petitions presented in favour of the Bill in another place there were in all not more than 179 signatures. That was the difference between the support in the county which the Bill had received and the support which had been given to its opponents. He did not envy the feelings of any Member of Parliament who went down to his constituency and said— I have supported the Government on the Education Bill, in voting against a proposal that every poor child should have an opportunity of learning religion. He did not believe that such a course of action would be popular in any part of the country, and, as far as those for whom he spoke were concerned, they would vote most confidently, and without the slightest feeling of dismay, in favour of the Amendment before the Committee.


said that as like their Lordships he had to give a responsible vote on this occasion, he desired to be quite certain as to what they were about to vote on, because the various speeches of the supporters of the Amendment had enabled them to form only a very hazy conception of the reasons in favour of the Amendment. The speech of the noble Marquess to which they had just listened did not seem to be on all fours with the speech of his Leader, and he would like to know whether the noble Marquess spoke for the official Opposition and the whole of his Party. The noble Marquess seemed to interpret the Amendment as giving a right of free entry to all the Cowper-Temple schools set up by the Act of 1870. The noble Marquess had stated that he was not in favour of Cowper-Templeism, but of certain hours being set aside for religious education in order that the form of religion—no doubt a denominational form—might be taught during that period. That, was an entire upsetting of the Act of 1870, and was not, as far as he understood, borne out by the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. It was said by the supporters of the Amendment that they did not desire to compel the local authorities, or the children, in regard to religious instruction, inasmuch as there was a conscience clause. No doubt there was a real conscience clause in Clause 7 of the Bill before the House— he was not saying whether or not he supported it—which permitted parents to withdraw their children altogether from religious instruction in the schools. But he gathered that that clause would certainly be opposed by those who supported the views of the noble Marquess. [Cries of "No!"] He certainly understood that it was opposed in the other House, and he would watch the debates with interest when that portion of the Bill was reached by their Lordships. As far as the experience of rural districts went, the existing conscience clause under the Act of 1870 had not been an unlimited success. The reason it had not been put into force in many instances was perfectly clear. In a village with fifty or sixty children, if the parents withdrew their children from religious instruction they would be pointed at in the village, and stigmatised as schis- matics, or agnostics, or have some such other name applied to them as the rural mind found it very difficult to understand, and still more difficult to endure. The conscience clause of 1870 as it stood did not really prevent this provision from being a compulsory provision.

The Amendment would impose for the first time upon the people of this country a public test of their religious faith, and in his opinion the present was a very inopportune time to do so. It might have been opportune to promote a feeling for religious education some time ago, but since the Act of 1870 there had been an increased tendency in that direction. After 1870 the Birmingham League, and other similar associations, set their faces against religious instruction in the schools. Since that time many more schools had adopted religious instruction, and the vote in the other House showed that there was a strong feeling at present against secularism. If now for the first time they attempted to force the people of the country to accept religious instruction whether they wished it or not, they would probably hinder the very movement which the great majority of them desired to promote and largely stimulate the secular movement. He was as much in favour as right rev. Prelates of having religious instruction in the various schools, but he thought it would be very inopportune, and probably check the religious tendency he had pointed out, if they brought compulsion to bear upon the people and forced them to have religious instruction in the schools. A man's conscience was a very tender plant, which they should not put into a forcing house. If they did, they would subject it to an atmosphere which, while it might be exciting, would possibly be fatal to its future growth.


My Lords, you have intimated very clearly that you are anxious to bring this discussion to a close, but on behalf of His Majesty's Government it is my duty to make some observations upon this question. The question may be treated from two points of view, the theoretical or sentimental and the practical. The greater part of the discussion to which you have listened has turned upon what I may call the sentimental point of view, which, I may frankly admit, makes a strong appeal to me. But, my Lords, we are not discussing an abstract resolution. Many of those who have spoken, the most rev. Primate amongst them, have talked about this proposal as if it were a declaration. The most rev. Primate calls it, I think, a flag, and the Bishop of Ripon seemed to care very little how it was worded provided the declaration was made. If we were in a public meeting, moving resolutions representing our special opinions, no course could be more natural, but we are at the present moment engaged in legislation, and the question to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention is how you are going to carry out the vague proposals of this Amendment.

The Amendment proposes to add a third condition to Clause 1, namely, that some portion of school hours of every day shall be set apart for the purposes of religious instruction. No words can by any possibility be more vague. You do not define what you mean by religious instruction. We have been told particularly that you do not mean Cowper-Temple instruction: therefore you must mean something else, but you do not tell us what it is. I should be very glad to have some clear explanation on that point. The fact is that unless you repeal the Cowper-Temple clause by this Bill, these council schools must inevitably if they give religious instruction, give it under Cowper-Temple conditions under the Act of 1870, which you do not propose to touch. Unless you can explain away that fact you are simply saying that there must be everywhere Cowper-Temple instruction.

But it seems to meal most trifling with this serious subject to put into an Act of Parliament words so vague as these. How are you going to enforce your clause? I gather from many of the speeches which have been made to-night that after all you do not mean to enforce it, that it is meant merely as a declaration or a flag. Is that wise, or reasonable, or sound legislation? But if you mean to enforce this clause you mean that if a local body refuses to act upon this provision you will proceed against it in a Court of law by mandamus. Any ratepayer, I suppose, could proceed by that method. Then you will leave it to a Court of law to decide what is religion instruction. This is not a question like the Cowper-Temple clause. The Cowper-Temple clause is a negative clause; it tolls you what you are not to do; it does not tell you what you are to do. This is a positive clause, and I venture to say with all respect that what the Courts will have to decide is, what is religious instruction? Being a great advocate of religious instruction and earnestly desiring that it should be extended as widely as possible, I do not wish to see it made the subject of a contest in Courts of law. That is not what we want. You will not obtain any advantages for religion or for religious instruction out of any provision of that kind. There are not many local bodies who do not give some kind of religious instruction—there are a few, but not many. But what is going to be done in a case like that of Huddersfield? There is certain instruction given there which has the outward appearance, at all events, of being religious. Are you to go to a Court of law and ask them to say whether that is religious instruction or not? I have the highest respect for Courts of law and the deepest reverence and alarm for lawyers, but at the same time, in the interests of religious instruction, I do not desire that questions of that kind should be dealt with in that way. It is not wise to insert in a definite Act of Parliament something which you have made as indefinite as you possibly can, something out of which you have taken even that which was definite in the original form of notice, and which has now been reduced to something which after all we are told is to be a mere declaration. You will do no good by making a declaration of that kind. You will not convince the people of this country who are determined to have religious instruction in the schools if you adopt something which they will feel ought not to be enforced before a Court of Jaw, but is merely set there as an abstract resolution which your Lordships on this occasion have seen fit to pass.

But the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition used language which was somewhat alarming. He seemed to speak of this Amendment as if it was to be the basis or foundation of something else. What is to be built on this foundation? What is the superstructure that you are going to erect upon it? You ask us to pass this vague resolution, committing you to nothing, and impossible, as I believe, to enforce, and at the same time with very great honesty you tell us that it is vague now, but that before the Bill leaves this House you intend to make it anything but vague. I cannot think that that is a wise course, or that it will really lead to respect for or the extension of religious instruction. My noble friend the Lord President said that it would stir up the advocates of secular education to strong and eager opposition. I believe that the only people likely to gain much from the proceedings before the Courts of law which would arise under this clause, if it were ever enforced, would be the secularists, and that you will not by this step really produce any effect beyond a vague declaration of opinion in your Lordship's House which is shared in its main sentiment, not only by those who will support the Amendment, but by those who are determined to oppose it.


desired to protest as emphatically as he could against the statement that this was a vague resolution. It seemed to him that if the noble Lord ever addressed his countrymen upon the subject and was asked whether he understood the difference between a religious education and a secular education, he would have some difficulty in saying that he did not understand the distinction. Those who said that one object of this Amendment was to raise that question before the country were quite right. That was one of the objects and he believed it was one of the questions upon which the country would give no uncertain answer. They intended that what Parliament was about

to enact should be subject to the condition that no child in the country should be made compulsorily to go to school unless an opportunity was given to it to have religious education. He thought that was a very simple proposition. Why could they not force compliance with that condition? The penalty was that if a school did not do that which Parliament had insisted upon its doing, and made a condition of its receiving public control and public rates, it should not receive them. Was there any difficulty in enforcing that? The noble Lord said it was difficult to say what was and what was not religious education. He should have thought there was not much difficulty about it; he thought the man in the street would understand it perfectly well. He quite agreed that it might be difficult to define a particular form of religion, but this Amendment avoided anything of the sort. It did not enforce the teaching of anything, but it did enforce the granting of the opportunity of being taught. His noble friend the Lord Chancellor spoke of the difficulty of enforcing this by reason of the vagueness of the language. But it was not unknown to the law to leave things to the ordinary common sense of mankind. If a contract was made to do something, and no particular form or time was put in, the law said it must be done in a reasonable way and in a reasonable time. Accordingly, if one of these local authorities refused to do that which the Legislature had asserted should be done, the default was manifest, and the penalties followed as a matter of course; they would not receive the support of the State. For his part, he was quite content to leave the proposition to the man in the street, and he hoped the division about to be taken would be in favour of a form of education which should give, at all events, an opportunity for religious teaching.

On Question, "That these words be there added," their Lordships divided:— Contents, 256; Not-contents, 56.

Canterbury, L. Abp. Devonshire, D. Marlborough, D.
Grafton, D Newcastle, D.
Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.) Leeds, D. Portland, D.
Richmond and Gordon, D. Pembroke and Montgomery, E. Barrymore, L.
Rutland, D. Plymouth, E. Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Somerset, D. Powis, E. Biddulph, L.
Sutherland, D. Radnor, E. Blythswood, L;
Wellington, D. Romney, E. Bolton, L.
Rosse, E. Braybrooke, L.
Abergavenny, M. Rosslyn, E. Braye, L.
Ailesbury, M. Saint Germans, E. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bath, M. Scarborough,E. Burton, L.
Bristol, M. Shaftesbury, E. Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)
Bute, M. Shrewsbury, E. Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)
Camden, M. Stamford, E. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Hertford, M. Stanhope, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Lansdowne, M. Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Clonbrock, L.
Linlithgow, M. Waldegrave, E. [Teller.] Colchester, L.
Norman by, M. Westmeath, E. Cottesloe, L.
Salisbury, M. Westmoreland, E. Crawshaw, L.
Winchester, M. Wharncliffe, E. Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)
Zetland, M. Wicklow, E. De Freyne, L.
Winchelsea and Nottingham, E. De L'Isle and Dudley, L.
Abingdon, E. De Mauley, L.
Albemarle, E. Yarborough, E. de Ros, L.
Amherst, E. Deramore, L.
Ashburnham, E. Bridport, V. Digby, L.
Bandon, E. Churchill, V. [Teller.] Douglas, L. (E. Home.)
Bathurst, E. Cobham, V. Dunleath, L.
Bradford, E. Colville of Culross, V. Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)
Brownlow, E. Cross, V. Emly, L.
Cadogan, E. Falkland, V. Estcourt, L.
Camperdown, E. Falmouth, V. Faber, L.
Carnwath, E. Goschen, V. Fairlie, L. (E.Glasgow.)
Cathcart, E. Halifax, V. Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)
Cawdor, E. Hill, V. Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)
Chichester, E. Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Forester, L.
Clarendon, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.)
Coventry,E. Iveagh, V. Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.)
Dartmouth, E. Knutsford, V.
Darnley, E. Llandaff, V. Grey de Ruthyn, L.
Dartrey, E. Portman, V. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Denbigh, E. Ridley, V. Harlech, L.
Devon, E. Harris, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Bangor, L. Bp. Hatherton, L.
Bath and Wells, L. Bp. Heneage, L.
Drogheda, E. Birmingham, L. Bp. Herries, L.
Egerton, E. Bristol, L. Bp. Hindlip, L.
Eldon, E. Chester, L. Bp. Hothfield, L.
Essex, E. Chichester, L. Bp. Hylton, L.
Feversham, E. Durham, L. Bp. Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)
Fitzwilliam, E. Hereford, L. Bp. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Fortescue, E. Lincoln, L. Bp. Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)
Gainsborough, E. London, L. Bp.
Guilford, E. Norwich, L. Bp. Kenyon, L.
Haddington, E. Oxford, L. Bp. Kesteven, L.
Halsbury, E. Peterborough, L. Bp. Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)
Huntingdon, E. Ripon, L. Bp. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Jersey, E. St. Albans, L. Bp. Knaresborough, L.
Kilmorey, E. Salisbury, L. Bp. Lawrence, L.
Lichfield, E. Southwark, L. Bp. Leigh, L
Lindsey, E. Wakefield, L. Bp. Leith of Fyvie, L.
Londesborough, E. Winchester, L. Bp. Llangattock, L.
Lucan, E. Lovat, L.
Lytton, E. Abinger, L. Ludlow, L.
Mar, E. Addington, L. Macnaghten, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Alington, L. Manners, L.
Mayo, E. Allerton, L. Masham, L.
Morley, E. Alverstone, L. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)
Morton, E. Annaly, L. Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)
Mount Edgecumbe, E. Armstrong, L. Methuen, L.
Nelson, E. Ashbourne, L. Middleton, L.
Northbrook, E. Atkinson, L. Moncrieff, L.
Northesk, E. Balfour, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Onslow, E. Barnard, L. Mostyn, L.
Mowbray, L. Redesdale, L. Stalbridge, L.
Muncaster, L. Robertson, L. Stanmore, L.
Napier, L. Rosmead, L. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)
North, L. Rothschild, L.
Northbourne, L. St. Oswald, L. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Oranmore and Browne, L. Saltoun, L. Tennyson, L.
Ormathwaite, L. Sanderson, L. Teynham, L.
Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.) Sandys, L. Trevor, L.
Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.) Seaton, L. Vivian, L.
Poltimore, L. Sherborne, L. Waleran, L.
Ponsonby. L. (E. Bessborough.) Shute, L. (V. Barrington.) Walsingham, L.
Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.) Silchester, L. (E. Longford.) Wenlock, L.
Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.) Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.) Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Rathmore, L. Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Ravensworth, L. Southampton, L.
Crewe, E. (L. President.) Ampthill, L. Joicey, L.
Ripon, M. (L. Privy Seal.) Boston, L. Monkswell, L.
Brassey, L. Monson, L.
Manchester, D. Burghclere, L. O'Hagan, L.
Castletown, L. Overtoun, L.
Northampton, M. Colebrooke, L. Pirrie, L.
Coleridge, L. Reay, L.
Beauchamp, E. Courtney of Penwith, L. Rendel, L.
Carrington, E. Denman, L. [Teller.] Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]
Chesterfield, E. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Craven, E. Sandhurst, L.
De La Warr, E. Eversley, L. Saye and Sele, L.
Durham, E. Farrer, L. Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)
Granville, E. Fitzmaurice, L. Shuttleworth, L.
Portsmouth, E. Glantawe, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Russell, E. Granard, L. (E. Granard.) Tweedmouth, L.
Temple, E. Grimthorpe, L. Wandsworth, L.
Hamilton of Dalzell, L. Weardale, L.
Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain.) Haversham, L. Welby, L.
Headley, L. Winterstoke, L.
Aberdare, L. Hemphill, L.

House resumed, and to be again in Committee to-morrow.

House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.