§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion which the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury moved on Tuesday last—namely, That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the plans of His Majesty's Government for the education and training of the rising generation, with particular regard to Christian teaching in the schools of this country.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
My Lords, in troubling you with a few remarks to-day I wish to say in the first instance that I do not speak with any authority from the religious body to which I belong. What I say I take full responsibility for, but at the same time I am quite certain that Cardinal Hinsley and his colleagues in our hierarchy can view the Motion of the most reverend Primate with nothing but the heartiest sympathy and good will. I think we have sometimes been—not sometimes, we have been often—all of us more inclined especially in this educational controversy to dwell on those things that divide us rather than on those things on which we agree. In saying that I do not mean for a moment that those things which divide us ought to be ignored or slurred over, very much the contrary. They are there, and they must be insisted upon and fought for, if need be. But I never could see in this connexion, or indeed in many others, why if people are agreed on points A, B, C and D they should be prevented from co-operating heartily on those points, however much they may differ on E, F, G and H. When you come to look into the fundamental doctrines of Christianity it would probably be surprising to many to find how great is the measure of that agreement, not only between ourselves and the Church of England, but with the great body of Nonconformist opinion.
I was extremely glad to hear what the most reverend Primate said on Tuesday with regard to the denominational schools. He regards them, as we regard them, as 934 a sacred trust which has been handed down to us and which we must never relinquish. As I understand his speech, he was concerned at the same time with the fact that numerous children, the majority of the children, were in other schools, and he felt it was his duty, with many others not of his communion, to do his best for them. Therefore I say, if the Church of England and the Free Churches can combine upon a syllabus of Christian teaching, for God's sake let them have it, but at the same time this does not cover the ground. I may mention, because this is an educational debate at large, the case of the Jewish schools. They are not many in number, but they are very numerously attended, and it is quite obvious that no syllabus will meet their case. Then I come to our own schools and I am bound to say that we cannot give up our schools for any syllabus whatever. We owe to those who founded them, and those who at great cost maintain them, that we must regard them as a fixed and constant element in the national education of the country.
But most unhappily we are now faced with a greater crisis with regard to these schools than we have ever faced before. This does not arise wholly from the war, though it has been gravely aggravated by the war. It arises from many causes, but mainly owing to the division of elementary education started by what is known as the Hadow policy and system. The crisis threatened some six years ago, and as your Lordships will remember an Act was passed, in some degree to cope with and meet this effectively, the Act associated with the name of Mr. Stanley, which was passed in 1936. With regard to that Act there is the utmost uncertainty as to where we now stand. I cannot ask the noble Lord representing the Government to reply to this matter now, because I imagine that it involves both legal and financial difficulties, but we do not know in the least what the position is. Agreements under that Act were being negotiated, but very few, as I am informed, actually came to complete legal fruition, though they may have come to moral fruition. As I understand the matter, the time allowed by this Act for making and approving agreements has run out, and fresh legislation would be necessary to revive the position as it stood at the beginning of the war. I can only hope that that position is kept in mind.
935 Then there are a number of schools that have been in part destroyed, or at any rate put out of action for the time, by enemy action. What is the compensation that is to be paid for those schools? We understand that the position is that the compensation is based upon the value of the building. But what will be the value of the building? Suppose it is an old school and the Board of Education insist for rebuilding on a higher standard which will greatly increase the cost. As I read the War Damage Act they would not be able to get anything but what might be the market price for the building, and that price presumably, as the building could no longer be used as a school, would be very low, for there are few other purposes probably for which it could be used. Here again I suggest that the position must be cleared up, although here again, I presume that further legislation will be required.
Under both the Acts which I have quoted—the Education Act of 1936 and the War Damage Act—the remedy is not only uncertain but it is very partial, and meantime the standard of the demands of the Board of Education has greatly increased with the far greater cost that will be involved. The cost at the best will be very great indeed. I have been able to obtain some approximate figures for one area. It is the area of London—that is to say the London Police area—south of the Thames. I did not select that because it made a strong case but because it happens to be in my own diocese. The figures that have been given me indicate that the cost will come to certainly £250,000 to make good. This is really a prodigious demand on necessarily depleted resources. It is not fair in justice and equity for that demand to be met from private sources. This is not the time or the place to state what arrangements may be come to, nor is it the time to state upon what conditions what I hope may be a final settlement can be attained.
Personally, I see no insuperable difficulty as regards either the position of teachers or otherwise. I think that with good will that can be arranged without any derogation of the principles of either Church or State. And, my Lords, I have precedents in this matter. There is, of course, a Scottish precedent, but there is also a useful precedent in perhaps the last 936 place in which you might have expected to find it, and that is in Ulster, where a system has been evolved, not entirely a Scottish system, but very different from the English one. Your Lordships may also be aware that a Private Act was passed to deal with the position of the schools in Liverpool. From all these precedents or any one of them, I cannot believe that a solution cannot be found. After all, those who are making these claims can point to the great efforts they have made in the past, often under most difficult conditions, and on the merely material side they have saved, and are saving, large sums for the State. As I have said at the beginning, I have every sympathy with this Motion. This Motion is the expression of a sincere movement for Christian education, but it would be an ironic tragedy if it should become the occasion of destroying the work of those who have borne the burden and heat of the day in their efforts for that Christian education which we all desire.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I should indeed have been sorry had I been prevented from joining in the chorus of regret at the impending resignation of the most reverend Primate, and had I not been able to hear the speech with which he opened this debate. We are told that it is his swan song. I trust it may not be, but if it is, I can only say that it was a most melodious contribution to a great theme. And those of us who recall the dignified eloquence and prudent statesmanship of some of those who have held his great office before him, will feel that the most reverend Primate has nothing to dread from any comparison with his great predecessors. We all of us, I am sure, were impressed, in particular, by the terms in which he dwelt on the Christian teaching, and even more generally on the spiritual side of the training of the young. What the lack of that spiritual sense may mean is brought home to us now with redoubled force by what we see of two great countries in both of which education is carried on with great vigour and with great skill. Both Germany and France are most highly educated countries. It would be a bold man who would say that the average Englishman was equal to the average German or the average Frenchman in the matter of mere instruction. But we sec how, in the one case, the lack of a spiritual sense has caused a great people to follow blindly the 937 unscrupulous ambitions of their leaders, and how a similar lack in France has brought about social disunion and a political demoralization which has prevented the great mass of the people from resisting the onslaught of the foe.
So far as what is called the religious controversy is concerned, what the most reverend Primate said was brought home to me by my recollections of thirty-six years ago, when it fell to me to have charge of the Education Bill in this House. Four years before, the Act of 1902 had raised no small discontent in many minds, particularly among some of the great Nonconformist bodies, and an attempt was made to redress what they conceived to be their wrongs. The atmosphere, however, was heated. I myself was treated with the greatest humanity by the right reverend Bench at that time, and I had the advantage of being a close personal friend of the most reverend Primate's illustrious predecessor, Archbishop Davidson. It was hopeless, however, to reach any agreement. The extremists on both sides grossly exaggerated the attitude of their opponents. By one side their opponents were accused of nothing but pure clericalism rather than devotion to religion, and by the other of pure secularism instead of devotion to freedom. Therefore, although the Archbishop did all that he could to arrive at a reasonable compromise, and although I hope that we were not backward in attempting to meet him, the effort broke down.
I should not recall any of that ancient history but for the fact that we are able to see that nowadays a very different state of affairs prevails. What the most reverend Primate said on the deputation which he headed to the Board of Education in August last showed how completely different, and how very much more wholesome, the present atmosphere is; and, although the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, who so worthily represents the Board of Education here, was not able to give a categorical promise to the most reverend Primate, yet the tone of what he said was, I hope, regarded as completely satisfactory by all those who desire to see this most disastrous difference of opinion brought to a complete close.
The most reverend Primate went on to discuss the supremely important question of continuation schools. Many of us remember with personal affection and with 938 great regard Herbert Fisher, with whom this question of continuation schools can be specially connected. It is a deplorable fact that for so long a gap has been allowed to exist between the ending of elementary education and the various forms of higher education, for we all know from our own experience how fatally easy it is to forget a subject which we have allowed to drop altogether from our minds, and how easily a weapon becomes rusty when it is not used. There is nothing whatever surprising therefore, in hearing, as we do hear, that a lad of seventeen or eighteen, who has been through the whole curriculum of an elementary school, when called upon, perhaps as a recruit to one of the Services, or perhaps in some other capacity, to display the results of his education, has to admit that he can neither read nor write. The paramount importance of filling up these difficult years—some of the most difficult years in the life of any boy or girl—with a reasonable chance of acquiring learning cannot possibly be neglected.
The French language has an advantage over ours in the distinction which it draws between education and instruction. What we are pleased to call education here is in French called instruction. The essential difference between the two should never be forgotten. The mere process of assimilating facts is altogether different from the bringing up, the education, the training, of the mind and character. That is a distinction which applies, of course, not only to the earliest education but also to continuation schools and to the final form of higher education at the universities. I do not propose to attempt to dwell on the question of the highest form of education, university teaching, of which something has been said; but it is of course a pleasurable thought to anyone who like myself has the honour of being the Chancellor of one of the provincial universities, to consider how in the course of a lifetime the whole aspect of university teaching has changed. In my youth one never thought of anything but Oxford and Cambridge, with the possible addition of Durham and of course the famous Scottish universities: now, not only in the great centres of population but in some other places where university colleges have developed into real universities, one sees how far the general education—in the real sense of education—of all classes has proceeded and developed.
939 One point in connexion with them and also with the technical schools has to be borne in mind; that is, the essential importance of securing a solid foundation of general knowledge and, if possible, of a real literary knowledge before an attempt is made to proceed with technical education. All the experience of those who have to deal with advanced science or with the higher forms of mathematics goes to show that the lads and the young women who have had the advantage of that groundwork of general education—and often, I hope, not altogether neglecting classical education—give infinitely more promise when they come to work on technical subjects than those who too early have applied themselves to the study of technical subjects. Before I conclude I should like once more to congratulate the most reverend Primate on the service which he has done to the House by introducing this subject and opening what has proved to be a most interesting and informing debate, which I trust will have a real effect in awakening general interest on the subject.
§ LORD ATKIN
My Lords, in beginning to say a few words on this topic I cannot refrain on personal grounds from expressing the regret that I know we all feel at the fact that our great Christian leader has found that the time has come to lay down those duties which he has performed so long, to the great advantage of all the Christian Churches not only in this country but throughout the world; or, also, from congratulating us all on the fact that he has considered that a fitting task at the close of those duties is to introduce in this House such a vastly important subject as this. I am not qualified, and I do not intend, to deal with the subject as a whole. I wish merely to call your Lordships' attention for a short time to a topic in which I am particularly interested as a Judge and a magistrate—namely, the extreme importance of the religious education when you come to deal with the question of juvenile offenders.
The figures of the increase in juvenile offences are really—I do not like to say alarming, but they certainly call for attention. The figures, which are official figures, up to the year 1929 were more or less uniform. The average figures did not increase much during the last war; they were about 300 per 100,000. But from 940 1929 to 1933 the average rose to 370; in 1934 it was 439; in 1935 it was 529; and in 1936 it was 568, or nearly double the number of the average up to the year 1929. And the actual figures for 1938 are some 26,000 boys and 1,700 girls. I am sorry to say that during this war, no doubt for various causes which it is not very easy to estimate, the figures have increased enormously. From January to August, 1940, they increased by 41 per cent. in respect of children under fourteen, and those relating to children between fourteen and seventeen have increased by 22 per cent. The position is therefore a grave one, and I think it is partly due to difficulties that the magistrates feel in not being armed with quite sufficient corrective and remedial powers, but I do not want to go into that.
One knows that there is power to put a boy on probation, to bind him over, to send him to a hostel, to send him to an approved school or a remand school, and so on. All these are correctives, and the unfortunate position at the present moment is that the remedy for sending boys to approved schools, which is in most cases an admirable way of trying to reclaim a boy, is hardly open to us. The approved schools are so overcrowded that, they tell me at the Home Office I am sorry to say, there is a waiting list—what an alarming phrase that is!—a waiting list for nearly every approved school in the country. The same thing is true of the remand homes, and the trouble is that when these boys have been committed to an approved school there is nothing to be done with them. You cannot send them to prison, and I am sorry to say that in a great many cases they have been repeating a number of the offences for which they have been committed to the approved school. These are serious conditions. Ought we not to look at this problem, not from the point of view of remedial measures, but from the point of view of preventive measures? Is it not the very first essence of the thing that these boys should be taught what their common duty as citizens is? It is, I am sorry to say, undoubtedly the fact that there are a great many children at the present day who, in spite of our very excellent organizations, are not taught the simple elements of their duty towards their neighbour or towards their God. It is that teaching which, it seems to me, 941 ought to be given in every elementary school in the country.
It is said, sometimes, that the parents ought to give it. I think that is true. I suppose they ought but I am sure your Lordships will agree there are numbers of homes in this country where the parents are incompetent to teach the elementary truths of the duty of the Christian life. I am sorry to say also there are other homes where, if parents were to give any teaching at all, it would be in the opposite direction to that which most people would desire. Is it not essential that in every school the children should be taught the ordinary duties of living honestly, living cleanly in body and mind, abstaining from cruelty and violence, telling the truth? The list could be extended. There are numbers of these offenders who have never been taught that it is wrong to steal or never been taught to abstain from acts of violence. It is in that respect a matter of the greatest importance to the State that such teaching should be available for every child that goes into every school for the simple reason that they cannot be taught in a great many homes—and if they are not taught at home, where can they be taught? Is it not the primary duty of those charged with the education of children to see, at any rate, that their character is moulded on Christian lines?
I suggest that this problem is a very urgent one. There are no difficulties now, as it seems to me, in securing this teaching in any school that wishes to give it. I do not know how many of your Lordships have read any of the syllabuses. Only the other day I was reading the Cambridge Syllabus—a beautiful document. If any of our children were educated on the lines of that syllabus, we should be quite satisfied, and it would not make a scrap of difference whether that syllabus were taught by a sincere Nonconformist or a sincere member of the Church of England. But the more one reads that syllabus, the more convinced one is that it requires a training in teaching it. The syllabus itself emphasizes that. That is one reason, I think, for the imperfections in the teaching of religion in schools. A great many teachers with the desire to do it cannot do it. Why should training not be given to a teacher—a male teacher or a female teacher—in each school as to how these elements, which everybody is 942 agreed should be imparted by the teacher, should be taught? I cannot believe that legislation is required for that purpose.
I have no doubt, myself, that if training colleges were to provide a course of this kind—a post-graduate course—every local authority should be charged to see that in every school there is one teacher who is trained to give religious education. I cannot believe it requires legislation to enable that teacher to pass from class to class, and give religious teaching as required. They do it in all other subjects, or in many of them. We have a qualified mathematics teacher, a qualified French teacher, a qualified music teacher, teachers in what are called commercial subjects, and so on. Surely it is as important for teachers to be taught how to teach religion as to teach mathematics, and just as important that we should have trained teachers for this purpose.
One thing that rather disappointed me in the noble Lord (Lord Hankey) who replied for the Government was the way in which he dealt with the urgency of this problem. We are rather used to expect from the noble Lord things done in connexion with those activities in which he takes part, but he has acquired the complete Front Bench manner; and in respect of this matter all I gathered was that the Minister would give most benevolent consideration to what has been said. He could not promise he would do anything at any time that could be named in the future. How often have we heard that from Ministers? It was very striking, if I may say so, to mark the contrast between the beginning of his speech, when he dealt with these topics, and the zeal which he showed in dealing with the question of technical education. Things have been done in that field during the war, straight away, with the greatest success. What I suggest is that the noble Lord might help the Minister to secure for religious education some of the energy which has been put into technical education.
The noble Lord, Lord Latham, whom we hear with the greatest interest and who speaks of his experience in the London Education Authority, uttered words of warning and spoke of the great advance made in the last twenty-five years. I rather gathered that he viewed with complacency the lapse of another twenty-five years to see what would happen in the meantime. The question is, with great 943 respect, very much more urgent than that. Just let us see what the position is. There are Committees, Departments, societies and individuals all concerned with planning what is to be the future of this world after the war. They are dealing with conditions at which they can only guess, and with resources for which they can only hope. But this is a question where we know all the problems. We have got the children before us. They have got to be the citizens of the future. They have got to be the citizens in that world which we wish to rebuild on Christian principles. It is our duty to take steps at once to see there are no delays in that respect.
There is no question of waiting to reconcile conflicting and unhappy differences. The time for appeasement has really gone. The ranks of Christians are closing and are closed. We are all concerned unanimously in emerging towards the goal of teaching religious Christian truths to our children, and in those circumstances, I suggest that steps ought to be taken at once to facilitate the whole of the five points mentioned by the most reverend Primate. It is an urgent problem, it is a problem which must be dealt with, and it relates to conditions that must exist after the war. I venture to hope that your Lordships will agree with the Motion that has been proposed.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
My Lords, having been absent through illness, I intervene with some diffidence this afternoon. If I may crave your Lordships' indulgence for a few minutes, I should like to indicate in the fewest possible words both the good will and the anxiety of Free Churchmen in this matter. As Vice-President of the Methodist Conference this year, I am not altogether un-conversant with the trend of opinion in the Free Churches. Perhaps, therefore, I may voice what I believe to be not only the keen interest, but indeed the anxious concern, of Free Churchmen generally as to the content of the prospective plans of His Majesty's Government for the education and training of the rising generation, with particular regard to Christian teaching in the schools of the country. Christian education is an absolutely essential factor in our national life, and examples of a Christian conception of life should, I submit, be available for every child whose parents so desire. The Christian 944 faith should be the basis and inspiration of all our educational work, or, to use the apt phrase of the most reverend Primate, its unifying aim.
Let me at the outset pay my tribute to the value of the religious instruction and worship at the present time being given in the provided schools of the country. The unselfish devotion of the teachers generally is deserving of the highest praise. I would go further and say that in my judgment they have just cause to resent much that has been written and said about the existing state of religious teaching, especially such talk as that of "pagan schools." Where, and in so far as, there has been cause for criticism, they and the local education authorities are the victims of the cramping effect of existing legislation with its resulting inadequate and obsolete regulations. The deficiency of Christian education is, I submit, more serious in the secondary than in the elementary schools. This may be accounted for by the pressure of examinations and the preponderant attention paid to physical science, but it is the more serious if only because of the tendency for secondary schools to increase in number while elementary schools are more likely to decrease, added to which the pupils in the secondary schools, being then nearer to manhood and womanhood, are more likely to remember what they are taught in their secondary than in their elementary schools.
I think it would be generally conceded that the adoption of adequate syllabuses of Biblical instruction by local authorities is, as the noble and learned Lord who has just spoken, emphasized, of paramount importance. While there has unquestionably been a great advance in this matter and there are some really admirable syllabuses in use, such as that to which the noble Lord referred, the Cambridge Syllabus, the Middlesex Syllabus, the Surrey Syllabus and a number of others, nevertheless there are still some authorities whose syllabus is inadequate, and I believe I am right in saying that one in six of the local education authorities have not adopted one at all. Next I should like to emphasize the inestimable value of daily and reverent corporate worship in the schools. Here again it is in the secondary schools where there would appear to be more scope for reform. Then let me stress the crucial 945 importance of adequate training being available, for all candidates for the teaching profession in their college course, in order that they may be enabled to impart this instruction and exercise this influence.
Then, too, of almost equal imortance is the encouragement of teachers in their subsequent career by local education authorities and the provision of facilities for gaining degrees and diplomas in Biblical and religious subjects. I should like to thank the noble Lord the Paymaster-General for what he said earlier in the debate on behalf of the Government as to the provision for university extension lectures and vacation courses for teachers. Safeguards will be necessary to ensure the liberty of the teachers to give or not to give this instruction without advantage or detriment to their careers. One thing is certain, only instructed and willing teachers with a personal experience can adequately discharge this all-important task. It is the atmosphere of the school and the personal witness and influence of the teachers that leave the most enduring mark and that prepare the soil in which the seed sown ripens and breaks forth into fruit in after life.
When Lilias Trotter lay dying—that lovely artist soul whose life was poured out in the service of Christ among the Moslems in Algiers—some one brought to her sick room a spray of very early pear blossom. "Oh," she said with delight, "that's so like souls, you never know when they'll break out." What she had learnt in her patient ministry is a secret known to many school teachers. What nobler service can there be than influencing young lives for Jesus Christ? Nothing but a definitely spiritual end can fulfil the true purpose of our national system of education. That being so, the facts and means essential to a Christian interpretation of life must be made freely available in all our schools and especially in our secondary schools. Nothing can be more important than to ensure that the characters of the rising generation are based upon a definite knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Finally, my Lords I should like without presumption heartily to support what the noble and learned Lord said just now, that there should not be unnecessary delay in this matter. In fact I think, in legal terminology, we might say that time is the essence of the bargain. It is so 946 all-important that this matter should be handled now, fearlessly faced and adequately dealt with. I would enter a plea that the Government will not postpone action in this all-important matter while they are planning a large-scale reshaping of the entire educational structure to meet the difficulties and inefficiencies of the dual system, for any such comprehensive measure may of necessity have to be delayed while the time of Parliament is so largely taken up with all that concerns the bringing of the war to a successful conclusion. In view of the great spiritual ideals for which we are waging the war, I submit that if Christian principles are to prevail there is greater urgency for this matter than for the improvements and developments on the secular side of the question to which we all look forward. There is no question of our seeking denominational privilege or advantage. Our anxiety is to stress the things we have in common.
I am sure the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sankey, will not misunderstand me if I refer to something he said earlier in the debate about the dual system. Although he spoke guardedly, he said "the situation may solve itself," and later in his speech he used the words "until I can see some better means." I feel, although perchance I may be treading on somewhat thin ice, that I should not be honest if I did not say quite frankly that we look forward to the day when the dual system of education will make way for one great national system, because children and teachers in single-school areas must be at a disadvantage. Where single-school areas are surrendered provision should be made for agreed religious instruction and special facilities granted for those children whose parents desire them to receive denominational instruction. I emphasize again the point that this matter brooks no delay. If we in any way fail to do all in our power to ensure a Christian basis for society, I do suggest that our responsibility will be an exceedingly grave one.
The German philosopher-poet Goethe, whose mind was probably beyond anything the world has known since Aristotle, once said that we human beings are "outwardly limited, but inwardly limitless." Yes, in the words of Jesus Christ:That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.947Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.The world can indeed be run God's way but we seem only just beginning to realize that it cannot be run any other way. I believe with the fullest conviction that the aim and end of Christian education should be directed to bringing the children to a personal experience of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.And that, I submit, should be our goal.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, I should like to add my own word of thanks to the many that have been tendered to the most reverend Primate for initiating this debate and giving the members of this House an opportunity of discussing what has again and again been described in the debate as the most important subject probably of any before the country to-day, in spite of the war. As has been said very forcibly, this is of most pressing urgency. I do not think any of us can have listened to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin, without being very much moved by what he said, and without wishing to thank him for the way in which he said it, in bringing before the House the urgency of this matter. If I address myself mainly to the religious side of this question, it is not because I belittle the need of reform in the educational system of this country generally and in carrying on education to as high an age as we can. I do not think education stops when you are supposed to have finished with school or university. What the most reverend Primate said about adult education is a matter which I hope will not be overlooked. But I want to address myself mainly to religious education, because I think it is true that it is of absolutely paramount importance for the future of this country and for the ultimate peace of the world.
I do not think there is likely to be any peace at all unless it is based on Christian principles and is permeated and sustained by the Christian spirit. I do not think anyone who knows anything about the present system of religious education can be satisfied with it. When we criticize it—as some of us have for many years criticized it strongly—it has generally been supposed that we are criticizing particularly 948 the teachers. I want to say at once that I am not doing that at all. I know enough about teachers, both in provided and non-provided schools, to know that in spite of the system many are doing quite admirable work. I cannot imagine how they do it. It is the system which needs reform. To start with, I do not think it is the fact that we are giving Christian religious education in this country in all our schools. Under the present system there is only one qualification demanded of teachers, and that is willingness to teach this particular subject. Willingness by all means both in the cause of religion and in the cause of the freedom of the teacher's conscience. I am prepared to fight for that freedom to the last ditch. Who wants anybody to be forced to teach religion against his or her will?
But in the interests both of religion and education surely anyone who teaches the subject ought to show that he or she has acquired a knowledge of that subject in order to teach it. In what I am about to say I am not chaffing about this; I am perfectly serious, because this is what it comes to not only in elementary or primary schools but very often in our public schools. Why the knowledge of history, geography, English, mathematics or even of elementary biology should in itself be a qualification for teaching elementary Christian theology I have never been able to understand. If I put in an application for a post to teach elementary biology, either in an elementary or a public school, and advanced as a qualification that I knew a little about elementary theology, I am quite sure I should not get the job. That is my first complaint, and a very fundamental point from the educational point of view. My second is that the present system does not encourage teachers to qualify themselves, to acquire the knowledge that is necessary for them to teach this subject. It discourages them. It is a most extraordinary thing that only quite recently have the public wakened up to the fact that you cannot in training colleges, if you want to be a teacher and take your teacher's certicate, take this subject as one of the necessary subjects for that certificate. Anyone who knows anything about training colleges—and I have been Chairman of one for a good many years—knows that there are many young people who will make admirable teachers with proper training, but whose previous education or their modesty 949 makes them feel that they cannot risk taking an additional subject for fear of not obtaining the certificate for which they are working.
My third complaint is that until comparatively recently, since the introduction of agreed syllabuses—and it is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has said, that they do not exist under every local education authority in the country—little or no guidance has been given to the teachers as to what they are expected to teach. I am sure that is true. I know that a great many of the best headmasters take an immense amount of trouble in helping their teachers, but officially, up to date, practically no help has been given them at all. They are given a free hand, you say? Yes, but anyone who knows anything about the Holy Scriptures knows that if you are given a free hand with the Bible you can really teach almost anything you want to.
My fourth complaint is that this subject being the most important of the lot is the only one in the whole school curriculum that is not inspected or supervised by anyone. You will wonder what impression is given to some children and to some teachers by reason of the fact that the highest education authorities in this country representing the nation as a whole do not think this subject sufficiently important for anybody to inspect or take any notice of. It is giving an entirely wrong impression, and the teachers are deprived of the help which they get in all other subjects. I would submit that the system, if you really face it, is, from an educational point of view, wholly indefensible. You may say, "Well, who is to blame?" I do not really think that at this time it matters much who has been to blame in the past. I should certainly strain your Lordships' patience to the limit if I started to talk about the history of past controversies. Thank God, as has already been pointed out, an amazing change has come about, and has come about, I believe, very largely because we have now seen, after three generations, that is since 1870, the result of the kind of so-called religious teaching that has been given.
It has not been wholly bad—please do not think I am saying that—but it has been very far from what it ought to be, and in the general confusion and suspicion that there has been about this 950 subject, what has actually happened? I do not want to exaggerate; I do not think I am exaggerating; I really have taken a very keen interest in this question all my life. Owing to whatever the causes are that have brought it about, we have not had as a whole what the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has been pleading for so nobly to-day, and what the' noble Lord, Lord Atkin, pleaded for also: we have not had Christian religion taught—I am not saying Church of England or Roman Catholic or Wesleyan or anything else, but the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. What we have done not only in elementary schools, but in education generally, is to have recourse to doing what, as any Bishop knows, any clergyman knows, most laymen know, and all fathers know, is the easiest thing to do—that is to exhort your children or your flock to be good. You can keep on doing that—I am quite sure they need it—but where do you get to?—absolutely nowhere. You take no responsibility; you need not believe in goodness yourself; you just go on exhorting other people. What I complain of is that that system has been based mainly on exhortation, and on Christian ethics. It is, if I may say so, very much the kind of religious teaching which is so common with the English—" Pull your socks up! "or" Get a move on! "You may be able to pull up your socks, but nobody has yet been able to pull himself up by his own coat collar.
That is really the crux of the position that we have to face to-day. I do not want to make fun of the teaching of Christian ethics, but I simply do not believe that you can produce Christian character—which all of us want and expect—if you divorce your teaching from the Christian faith and the Christian creed. You cannot produce the fruit without the root. I believe there is a common agreement, and I was immensely cheered by hearing Lord Rankeillour, as a Roman Catholic, in his opening speech to-day, say that there was probably far more fundamental agreement on doctrines of the Christan faith than ordinary people think. I believe that is true and I am strengthened in that belief by the agreed syllabuses that have been drawn up. I do not believe that you will ever teach Christian morals if you divorce them from the Christian creeds. It has been proved, I believe, that no man can fight and 951 overcome the unseen spiritual forces of the devil except in the power of the unseen spiritual forces of God. I do not think it is fair to children to tell them to be good or to hold before them the Christian ideal without telling them where and how they can get the power to live it.
We have got to demand, as the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has said—and I want to thank him for saying it publicly in this House to-day—teachers who are themselves convinced of the truth of the Christian faith. Some people will say that that introduces tests for teachers, but I deny it. I would myself vote against the tests for teachers which used to exist. This, however, is not the old idea, that anybody who wanted to teach in a school, college or university must sign the XXXIX Articles, or whatever it was he had to do, before he could be allowed to teach even mathematics. We do not ask that. Nothing that the most reverend Primate has said here, or has ever said, could be taken for a moment as suggesting that that is what is demanded. What we ask is that, from an educational point of view, this subject should be taught by people qualified to teach it. We do not want mere ethics, not because we do not want people to live a Christian life, but because we know that they cannot live a Christian life without the grace of God, and they ought to be taught what the grace of God is and where they can get it. We want people who will be able to teach that, and who are qualified to teach it.
I have the highest regard for the teaching profession, and not least for those who teach in our primary and secondary schools. I believe that they are as trustworthy and conscientious a body of men and women as can be found in this country or in any country in the world. Personally, therefore, I should be prepared to trust them to say whether they are willing or not to teach this subject, provided—and this seems to me most important—that certain things are made clear. The first is that they should show proper qualifications from the point of view of knowledge. Secondly, the Government, through the Education Department, should provide proper facilities for them to obtain those qualifications and take their certificate. Thirdly, they should be told quite distinctly and clearly what they are expected to teach; and, if we want them to 952 teach what is contained in so many syllabuses, that will mean the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith; not mere vague theism, but the Christian religion. Fourthly, they should get the same help in teaching this subject as they get in teaching any other subject.
I thank you, my Lords, for the kindness you have shown me by listening to me for so long, but I must plead for a little more patience, because I want to refer to a matter to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin, referred just now, and that is the question of urgency. I gather from what the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, said on the previous occasion that these suggested reforms would require legislation. I have always been under the impression—and I think I am right—that only one of them needs legislation, and that is the question of inspection.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
Is legislation required for making the extra subject an optional subject for the certificate?
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
I knew that inspection required legislation, but surely the qualification of knowledge is something which might be dealt with without legislation. If legislation is required, I hope that that legislation will be hurried through; because, if there is general agreement—as I believe there is—there is no reason why the matter should not be dealt with at once. There is one other thing which I want to say, and it will be my last word on the subject. It is a matter which has not so far been referred to. I dare say that there is a very good answer to it, but I should like to know what the answer is. If this question of education is the most important matter in the country, why is it that the Presidency of the Board of Education is held to be one of the minor offices in His Majesty's Government, and, being one of the minor offices, is looked upon as a stepping-stone to higher office? The consequence of that is that the position is very often regarded as a "try-out," to see what a man will be like, to 953 the great detriment of the cause of education in this country; because it cannot be said that the continual changes—there have been a few recently, and in the last twenty years I can remember quite a number—are good for education. Why should not a man who holds this office be ranked with the other Secretaries of State? There is an answer to that, I suppose, and I hope that I shall get it.
My Lords, the most reverend Primate has set a worthy coping on long service to Church and State by inaugurating the notable debate which is taking place in this House. The attendance throughout the debate, the eloquence of the speeches to which we have listened, the unanimity of feeling, and the agreement found in all quarters and among all denominations in the House, both as regards the urgency and as regards the essential features of the problem, are very significant indeed. I think that on this occasion, as so often in the past, your Lordships' House has reflected very accurately the feelings of the nation. There is no doubt—and I think that His Majesty's Government are aware of it—that the nation is profoundly disturbed about this subject. It is profoundly disturbed by two things: in the first place by seeing what paganism has led to on the Continent, and secondly by a realization that this country has been and is slipping towards paganism—I will not put it higher than that. It is a terrible fear, and one which I think is held, and held not without reason, very widely throughout the country.
No one of any intelligence who has that fear would be so foolish as to lay the whole blame on our educational system, and still less on those who have to administer our educational system. We know that if there is a drift towards paganism the causes are more deep-seated than that; and that there can be no hope of a religious revival which does not find its centre in the homes of the people themselves. You cannot hope to make a reform of that nature or of that magnitude merely by trying to reform your educational system: it is vastly greater than that. Nevertheless, we all know and must recognize that our educational system and its administration are intimately connected with the problem, and if it is the wish of Parliament and the wish of the elder sections of the nation to 954 try to arrest what I have called the drift towards paganism, then some action must be taken in the educational sphere as well as in other spheres. I think that is the feeling in the country, which has been reflected so well in the debate in your Lordships' House.
I think the keynote was given by the noble Lord, Lord Addison, in the short and eloquent speech that he made earlier when he said, after having pointed out what has happened abroad:There is indeed a great undoing before us in all Europe, and a great human upbuilding of the foundation of faith and character is a dominant need before the world.If that is the case—and who can doubt that it is the case after listening to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord, Atkin this afternoon—what can be done in the educational sphere in the direction that your Lordships and the nation so clearly desire? Well, the way has been pointed out in this debate. There is very general agreement indeed on the steps that can be taken and should be taken. There is very general agreement among the denominations; there is very general agreement among educationists; I believe there is very general agreement among the teachers themselves.
Everyone can understand and respect the anxiety that teachers may feel, and those who speak on their behalf must feel, that in any reform, in any new settlement, nothing should be done which would put a school teacher who did not feel conscientiously able to give religious teaching in an unfair position. We can all understand that, we can all respect that. I am certain that it is not the desire of any of those who are pressing the Government on this matter that anything of the sort should occur. Thank Heaven, the vast majority of the teachers of this country, in provided as well as in non-provided schools, are very keen Christians, and we are absolutely prepared to leave it to their honour as to whether they are qualified by belief as well as by knowledge to take part in giving this education. But if religious education is to be treated as the most important part of education, then those who give it must have exactly the same qualifications for giving it as they would have for any other subject.
There are only two other points I would like to make in regard to the urgency and importance of this question. The 955 first is that in the great educational reforms that have been forecast by the Government and in the extension of the school age the influence of the schools on the rising generation must greatly increase. The longer people are kept at school the more will their school life influence them, and therefore this subject is going to be even more important in the future than it has been in the past. Surely, also, we have to recognize that we live in an age of mass production, so to speak, where human opinion and human standards seem to be more stereotyped and more uniform than they have been in the past. After all, that is part of the technique of the dictators. We live in an age of mass psychology, of great mass influence upon the individual. If that is true, how fearfully important the nature of your education in a prolonged educational system is going to be.
This matter will be looked upon from different angles by people who are Christians and by those who are not Christians. The non-Christian view has not been expressed in your Lordships' House during this debate, but we all know that it exists in important circles in this country. I do not think the urgency or importance of this matter need be argued or discussed further from the Christian point of view. All Christians are agreed and alarmed. But I would like to say one word on this subject to the non-Christians—not to our Jewish fellow-subjects, because we know, although their religion is different, that their interest and their belief in the value of religious education is just the same as that of the Christians. What I am endeavouring to say is not addressed to that quarter at all. But to those who are not able to accept the Christian faith I would like to say this. Will they not agree at any rate that the whole of Anglo-Saxon democracy and representative government as we know it—the liberty of the subject and the rights of the individual as they have been developed in the Anglo-Saxon nations—that the foundation of all this is to be found in the values established by Christian teaching? If you took away the Christian standard of values what would be left of democracy and individual liberty as we know it in this country?
We all know there have been Christian Governments that have been monarchies 956 or autocracies, but I do not know a single case of any democratic Government in the modern sense of the term where there has not been in that nation a foundation of Christian standards of values to uphold it. Where that standard of values has disappeared and has been submerged, only the law of the jungle has taken its place. That is the situation we are witnessing in certain parts of Europe to-day. Therefore, I would say to those who are not themselves able to accept the Christian religion, "Do not make it difficult for younger generations to be given a chance to accept it if they wish."
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, on more than one disastrous field we have been warned that complacency can weaken and blind us on the material plane. Time after time we have ignored our material weakness until it was too late. To-day we have only got to open our morning newspaper to find the Press warning the Government against complacency as to strategy or arms production. But there is such a failing as spiritual complacency, and it may be a more insidious and more perilous failing even than complacency on the material plane. Very recently, I am told on the best authority, a certain public school was being converted into a secondary school under the control of a public authority. All went well. Building after building was successfully adapted to its new purpose until they came to the school chapel, and then they came to a full stop. Why? Because there is no place for the school chapel in the national system of education. There simply is not such a thing. It is perhaps worth remembering that symbolic incident if ever any of us are tempted to complacency about the religious education of this country. It is not enough to say that so many hours of religious instruction are given in the schools. It is not even enough—although it is undoubtedly true, and it has very properly been said several times both to-day and in the former debate on this subject—that we have a large number of devoted teachers conscientiously doing their work. We have all of us been pupils, and some of us have been teachers. I myself taught for twenty years—not, it is true, in a school, but in a university—and on the strength of that experience, which in a sense we all share, I would venture to make the categorical assertion that in the 957 long run any man who teaches any subject in which he does not profoundly believe does more harm than good.
The young are infinitely perceptive. They are instantly aware of any insincerity in their teacher. Owing to the necessity, the regrettable necessity, of withdrawing children, at the option of their parents, from religious instruction, it is not possible for the schools controlled by public authority to do what, very naturally, any voluntary school does, and that is hand over the teaching of religious subjects to the enthusiast and the expert. Religious teaching has to be crowded into the beginning or end of a school day, and consequently has to be handed out to a very large proportion of the school staff. Yet, in spite of that, the local education authority, when it is appointing a new teacher, makes it in most cases a point of honour not to inquire whether he has any religious opinions—not to inquire, in fact, whether he regards religion as the highest form of truth or as a particularly virulent form of poison. They can ask him—they do ask him, if I am correctly informed—whether he is fond of football, but they may not ask him whether he has ever opened the Bole. It is impossible to imagine a local education authority appointing somebody to teach arithmetic without inquiring whether he has ever spent two consecutive hours studying the subject, or whether he regards the whole thing as pernicious nonsense. Yet, you have to imagine that, in order to get some picture of the respective significance attached to the teaching of arithmetic and the teaching of religion in this country to-day.
A partial solution, of course, is contained in what the noble Lord, Lord Atkin, has said, and in the third of the points put forward by the deputation headed by the most reverend Primate not long ago. It would certainly be a partial solution to bring it about that where only a few teachers are, in the fullest sense, competent to give religious instruction, then the teaching should be confined to their hands. That, of course, means certain technical alterations, so that religious teaching should be possible at any hour of the school day. It requires certain technical changes, but that much at least is indispensable if religious instruction is to be put on a footing with instruction in any other subject. But there are many 958 who would say that that is not a complete solution. There are many who would say that Christian education does not, after all, mean the study of a certain subject at a certain time, but the study of all subjects in a certain way. That is taking the matter a little further. The only final satisfactory solution would be to break down this sterile tradition of the local education authority that it is improper to ask a man, who may spend the whole of his life in the closest association with the young, whether or not he regards religion as the highest form of truth or as an opiate for the people. There need be no question of a religious test. All that is necessary is that the local education authority should recognize that no school is providing a Christian education unless some small recognized proportion of its staff, at any rate, are Christians, and unless religious teaching is provided by people who believe in religion.
This is necessarily, and I think very properly and usefully a somewhat scrappy debate, in the sense that the most reverend Primate opened up so tremendously wide a subject that it is impossible for any one speaker to deal with more than one little corner or fragment of it. I turn for the moment left me to a different topic, and ask your Lordships to remember that what we need for that spiritual regeneration which can only come from more religious teaching is more leadership all through society. Is there such a press of obvious alternatives to the present Prime Minister that we can feel confident that our methods of education and selection are finding us our right leaders? After all, the totalitarian States are all of them still in their revolutionary phase, and that means that not only the two or three big shots at the top, but most of the men at the head, as we should say, of the various Departments, will be men who have forced and fought their way up through the lava of a society in revolution, and that is a process which is unlikely to produce the Christian virtues, but will undoubtedly produce a great deal of ruthless energy and fanaticism. Are we sure that our system is providing the sort of administrator who possesses the ruthless drive and vision to cope with the enemy? To provide the leaders of the future undoubtedly the first need is to incorporate into the national educational 959 structure the public school with its century-old tradition of emphasis on character training. But that is a very wide subject which there is no time now to explore, and with your permission, my Lords, I propose to devote the last few sentences of my speech to another means, as I believe, of providing for the selection and education of the leaders of the new age, a means of which I have had some personal experience, and which I have seldom or never seen mentioned elsewhere.
We are bound to see in the post-war age a very considerably increased traffic upon the ladder of educational opportunity, and that makes it all the more important to ensure that the clamberers on the ladder of educational opportunity are properly selected. At present the climbers on the rungs of this ladder of opportunity are selected by a mere series of intelligence tests, of tests in pure intelligence. Yet the most cursory glance at one's own personal experience, or at the paces of history, should surely be sufficient to remind us that no great achievement depends upon mere intelligence. No matter what type of achievement you look at, whether you choose Dickens or Gladstone or Nelson, you find that intelligence is there undoubtedly, but there is something else. There is something which we are accustomed, loosely and perhaps inaccurately, to describe as character. But our present examination system simply does not pay any regard to character whatever. It does worse. It is capable of passing on from examination to examination a spineless bookworm the last of whose many triumphs may land him in Whitehall to "Pass to you, please" for the rest of his natural career.
Under the present examination system, with a mere test of book digestion and the capacity for absorbing and eloquently reproducing the ideas of other people, I firmly believe myself that Shakespeare and Cromwell and Nelson, and it may be Winston Churchill himself, would have been ignominiously ploughed, because the boy with rough-hewn original ideas of his own too often finds them serving as a sort of non-conductor for the ideas of other people, and in early youth he therefore passes for a dullard, and on the ladder of opportunity, whose rungs are controlled by a series of pure intelligence tests, he simply does not get his foot on to the first rung. Fortunately there are 960 patterns of how it might be possible to reform the examination system, and, since the examination system necessarily controls the education of a country, therefore with it the whole education system itself.
Cecil Rhodes wanted leaders. To use his own words, he wanted men who would esteem the performance of public duty their highest aim. He knew very well that a mere test in book digestion would not find leaders. He must have known that, for he must have known he was a leader himself, and he knew very well he could never have won a scholarship at school or college. In his fifth will, I think it was, the will which founded the scholarships, he laid down very meticulous instructions as to how he thought leaders were best found; and, crudely summarized, those instructions seem to amount to this: that his scholars ought to possess either exceptional character founded upon sound intellect, or exceptional intellect, founded upon sound character. Neither alone. Neither the spineless bookworm nor the gorilla-like he-man. The Rhodes scholar must be the all-round man of intellect and character.
I think there is already evidence that Cecil Rhodes's surmise of how leadership would best be found is working well in practice. There are already statistics to show that during the last few years a higher proportion of his scholars have actually obtained Firsts in the final schools at Oxford than of the open scholars and exhibitioners from British public schools who have been selected on a pure intelligence test, and, although here of course there are naturally no statistics, I think it would be true to say, to put it no higher, that at least a large proportion of them are fulfilling the aim of their founder and deeming the performance of public duty their highest aim. The late Norman Rogers, the Minister of Defence in Canada, who died so tragically in an air accident only the other day, was only one outstanding example of many former Rhodes scholars who are now holding places of high responsibility all over the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. I hope very much that I shall live to see a time when the whole examination system of the country approximates much more closely to the Rhodes ideal, with its test of potential leadership, than to any mere test in intelligence: 961 when it will be a two-fold test in intelligence and character.
Already there are signs here and there on the educational front that education itself is ready for some such change. There is, for example, the County Schemes, which I believe have been in operation in many parts of the country, by which a boy is expected, besides digesting his written authorities, to reach a certain standard in running, jumping, and athletics generally, to make something with his hands, to carry out an exploration, to sail a boat on the open sea. I look forward to the lime when some such certificate as that, much extended and developed, and dovetailed into the existing system, will be just as necessary to the ambitious young man as his First in the final school at some university. I have ventured to offer a couple of suggestions intended to do something, however small, to meet the two great needs of to-day, the need of an all-round education which alone will give us the leaders we require for the future, and the need of more effective religious training, without which we shall never achieve that spiritual regeneration through suffering without which we ought not to expect to win the war.
THE LORD BISHOP OF TRURO
My Lords, with great respect I would like to add my little quota of thanks to the most reverend Primate for the breadth of view with which he approached this great subject. There have been other occasions on which many of us have been grateful to the most reverend Primate for a similar breadth of view in other connexions. I want, if I may, very briefly to urge the importance of three general but practical considerations. The first is this: There is a very large body of thoughtful people who desire that more attention should be given to the religious side of education and who are prepared to agree as to its general principles. They desire to promote a genuinely religious attitude on the part of the rising generation; that is to say an attitude of reverence, thankfulness, cooperative service. The conception of a Divine Creator, who has revealed Himself partially in the beauty and goodness and order in the world and supremely in Jesus Christ our Lord, and of our co-operating for all we are worth with' His life-giving spirit—that conception is one which provides just that inspiration which human beings need. We want teachers who are 962 inspired by this conception themselves, and if so care must be taken to develop by all suitable means along the course of the teachers' training a truly religious atmosphere in that broad sense.
A great deal, too, will depend, as the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has already said, on the character of the brief religious service which should open the school working day. I always remember what I once heard the headmaster of a senior school in Leicestershire say of the effect on his school of the introduction of a new service book provided by the county authority, published by the Oxford University Press, and since adopted or adapted in a number of other areas. "It simply transformed my school," he said. He was himself a Baptist, and I heard him tell the story of a parent who raised an objection to religious instruction in the school. The headmaster invited him to attend the opening service. He did so, standing at the back, and when it was over he said to the headmaster: "If this is what you mean by religious instruction you can give my child as much of it as you like."
The large body of opinion in the county to which I am referring is agreed, I think, on another matter—namely, that children should be given a knowledge of the Bible on the lines of sound scholarship. Here the aim of the teacher should be, in the first instance—as the Spens Report pointed out—to show the children the meaning which the original writers intended to convey to their readers. In order to do this the teachers themselves must of course have made a serious study of the subject under scholarly guidance. The provision of the vacation courses mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, is a valuable step in the right direction, although of course much more will be required, and there is need for close co-operation with theological colleges and universities. Teachers should be given every facility for acquiring this knowledge, and then they should not be worried with inquisitorial tests, but, as the most reverend Primate has already said, trusted to do their best.
On another important matter I think we may count on a large and growing consensus of opinion. I refer to the importance of keeping young people linked 963 to their own Christian communion. Here, of course, no school provided by public authority may take sides; but without taking sides a real effort could be made to help the young people to see the importance of fellowship in religion, and the unnecessary loss and danger incurred by solitary drifting. The new youth clubs that are being formed all over the country are not designed to take the place of the various Christian communions. They are, however, designed to promote the total well-being of young people in body, mind and spirit, and the spiritual side will need careful attention. A youth club is only very partially fulfilling its true functions if its activities are confined to dancing and handicrafts. On all this I think there is very general agreement, and I would venture to urge the Government to take courageous and effective action in accordance with what I believe is a great body of public opinion. Unfortunately it is to a large extent inarticulate opinion.
The people who are incessantly talking, and indeed shouting, are the people who have some special axe to grind: people on one of the extreme wings of the ecclesiastical position or belonging to the small group which is frankly secularist. These are the people who are always ready to agitate and the Board of Education is tempted to pay too much attention to their squeals. They must, indeed, be protected, as of course they actually are, by a conscience clause. But they must not be allowed to obstruct the broad policy of English education. I am quite prepared to trust the good sense of the Board of Education, if the Board will go forward boldly and give the first place in their consideration to the ordinary Englishman of normal common sense who says little about religion, and must not be expected to say very much, but is by no means so indifferent to it as he sometimes appears.
I think it is very important to remember that as far as the Church of England is concerned it has hitherto proved very difficult to get the main body of English Churchmen who wear no label, and put themselves down simply as C. of E., adequately represented in the councils of the Church. Until they are the Church is in danger from fanatics. The country itself is similarly in danger from fanatics, not because the fanatics are at all likely to 964 convert the nation to their way of thinking, but because they queer the pitch and confuse the issue—and, I must add, frighten the Board of Education into inactivity and indecision. Stress has already been laid on the significance of the fact that the deputation which the most reverend Primate led not long ago to the Board was a united deputation, representing the Free Churches as well as the Church of England. That deputation is itself a striking illustration of the weight of this solid body of public opinion on which I am so eager that the Board of Education should take action. Already some local education authorities have a sub-committee which includes representatives both of the Free Churches and of the Church of England and also of the teachers to advise them on religious questions. A similar standing advisory committee of a representative character might render valuable service to the Board itself.
The second consideration which I would urge upon the Board is quite a different one. My own rather protracted experience of school and university life has shown me that education in this country is still at an initial, experimental stage. At every level there is room, there is need for great improvement: in the elementary schools, the so-called senior schools, the secondary schools, the so-called public schools, the universities: improvements in curriculum, improvements in examination, improvements in teaching method, and so on. But if this is so, if the whole of English education is not at an end but at a beginning, then a wise Government will surely encourage a variety of educational experiments, if they show any real promise.
The Board is tempted to desire to get all the education of the country under its detailed control. I hope the Board will steadily resist the temptation. Uniformity has a natural attraction for the official mind; but in education, and especially at the present stage of educational development in this country, any attempts to compel uniformity will surely involve harm and loss. No doubt some of the schools at present governed by an independent governing body will before long need financial help from the Government in some form or other; and the receipt of Government money will naturally involve some degree of Government supervision. But it is earnestly to be hoped that such 965 supervision will be exercised with the utmost sympathy and consideration; and, where general educational efficiency is secured, will give room, and indeed encouragement, to individuality and initiative and to a variety of colour. We do not want a totalitarian system of education in this country.
In this connexion it may not be superfluous to remind education authorities from time to time that the soundness and efficiency of the school is not measured by the exact condition of its buildings. Spirit and tone an; far more important, we all agree, than bricks and mortar. This, of course, does not exempt governing bodies and managers of schools from strenuous endeavours to make their buildings satisfactory and as nearly up-to-date as is practicable. But I have occasionally been shocked, as I expect some of your Lordships have been, at the number of marks given to mere buildings by persons who ought to know better, as compared with the marks given to the school for its success (in spite of obvious disadvantages) in turning out young people prepared in body, mind and spirit to play a useful part in the life of the community.
My third point is concerned with elementary education. In elementary education, I hold no brief for what is called the dual system to its present extent and in its present form. But until an agreed modification or revision is reached I hope the education authorities will give ungrudging and generous recognition, and all the help in their power to give, to Church schools which are educationally sound. If a Church school is not educationally sound, it should be made so without delay or else handed over. The large majority of Church of England schools are, as your Lordships probably realize, small country schools. I believe that these schools still have an important function to perform. The Hadow scheme of reorganizing elementary schools and transferring children of eleven years of age and over to "senior schools," raises peculiar difficulties in country districts. There are obvious objections to requiring children to attend school miles from their home. As many teachers say it is good for instruction but not good for education. Certainly the youngest children should be cared for locally. In very many instances, I believe, the village school will prove quite satisfactory for the youngest children. The movement in the direction of 966 Christian reunion is happily gathering strength, and, in the meantime, there is much to be said for retaining these little schools for the youngest children where they are efficient Church of England schools, as Church of England schools, pending the more fundamental solution of the future.
§ LORD ROCHE
My Lords, I had intended to address to your Lordships some observations on the lines which my noble friend Lord Atkin has followed. But having regard to the hour at which we have arrived, and to the fact that my noble friend has covered the ground so adequately and in a manner which raises great envy in myself, I do not propose to add, on those lines, more than a few sentences. But in those few sentences I desire to express these conclusions: that juvenile delinquency has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished, and that the subject matter of this debate, the remoulding of education, and particularly of moral and religious education, may have a great deal, and, I think, can have a great deal to do with it. I am not unaware that the figures, which, as he has said, would be almost alarming, are capable of some explanation. For example, more prosecutions are now taken than there used to be. As I say, there are explanations, but notwithstanding those explanations there is room neither for complacency nor indifference. The position is very serious. The few sentences which I desire to add are just to consider not the variety of causes—for there are many which may be adduced—of this state of things, but that which I conceive to be the root or dominant cause, and one which is capable of being reached, and one hopes modified by this subject of education to discuss which we have been invited by the truly noble and inspiring speech of the most reverend Primate.
The real cause, as I conceive it to be, is lack of discipline. The best discipline, no doubt, is self-discipline, and that is discipline which the Christian religion, as I conceive it, ultimately desires to teach and at which it desires to arrive. There is too little discipline in the world to-day. There is too little parental discipline. I myself hold the view that the increasing small-ness of families, if I may so put it, has something to do with it. The members of large families had a tendency to discipline 967 one another. However that may be, that is hardly a matter which is a topic in this debate. There is all the more reason, I suggest, that discipline should be taught in the schools, in order that there may be a substitute or something which will tend to remedy the lack of parental discipline and control and to provide other and different parents for the future. The very beginning of things must surely rest in adequate instruction in the training colleges of suitable persons to teach this disciplne. If that were adopted and some form of certificate or diploma, or whatever you like to call it, were granted to the persons who so qualified themselves to give this instruction, you would get rid of the odium or difficulty of the education authorities requiring, or even venturing to refer to the need for tests for teachers in that regard. That would all be done beforehand.
I will finish these few sentences with a brief reference to what I conceive to be the minimum of teaching that is required. I gather that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St. Albans would like a great deal more to be taught. I thought he was perhaps a little ambitious. I should like as a minimum to be taught, the ten Commandments and all that they import, and the Sermon on the Mount, which vivifies and explains those Commandments. This seems to me to be the minimum. I am aware that these are taught in a very large number of schools but such teaching is not obligatory on all education authorities. I think that it ought to be. This is a matter which, like other matters which have been raised, is of serious urgency. It is, moreover, one which really need not wait until the long and far distant future for a different world and a more peaceful world. I venture to express my agreement not only with what fell from my noble friend, but also with the purport of this Motion.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
My Lords, at one of those great public schools where the governing class are educated, an old-fashioned school, I was taught that it was better to be dead than to be a slave, and that one should ever resist and resent injustice, even to others. I was taught a certain freedom from fear, and I was taught self-control. Above all, however, they taught us to think, not what to think. I think we all agree that that is 968 undoubtedly the best education for the governing class, and it is for that reason that we want to preserve our public schools. This agreement goes beyond the lay Peers; it extends to the Lords Spiritual, in view of the speech which we have had from the most reverend Primate. All will agree that this is the right education for a governing class. Is it not also the right education for the governed class? This is what the most reverend Primate said, speaking of the education of the children of the workers:The true test of the success of teaching is not whether children are able to answer questions set by others, but whether they are eager to ask questions set by themselves.That is, to think, not what to think—and not only for the governing class, but for the working class.
This is the first time in my life that I have heard so bold a proposition put forward for the education of the working class, that they should be taught to set questions, to ask the questions to which they want to know the answers. It is right that that acid test should be laid down by the Primate of the Church of England, for we have here the dividing line, or even the gulf, which separates the Church of England from the Church of Rome. Teach children to think, not what to think. Infallible authority may never venture on that; it must retain in its hands the whole education of its children. It is the Primate of our Church who laments that "just when their minds are being opened they are closed down." Who wants their minds opened? What is the goal of the open mind?
By what yardstick should we measure the virtues or the successes of the leaders of the State and the Church? Should we measure them by how far they have increased the power or authority of their Church or State, by how far they have increased the numbers of their flock or of their subjects, by how far they have increased the prosperity and happiness, or even the contentment, of their people, or even by how far they have kept their own people safe in a world sweeping to ruin? No. I ask your Lordships to judge them by a far higher test. I would judge the leaders of Church and State by how far they have made themselves unnecessary, by how far they have increased the self-reliance, the self-confidence, the self-respect and the self-sacrifice of their people, by how far they 969 have made those that they ruled fit and able to rule themselves, by how far they have made their flock, in the words of St. Peter, "as free as the servants of God."
Is that too hard a test? Can that be the goal of everybody in this country of our way of thinking, the goal not only for the governors but for the governed—to be able to rule themselves? Is mankind capable of freedom? The child walks as we unwrap the swaddling clothes, the cathedral stands in its full beauty as we remove the scaffolding. We here are the wrappings and the scaffolding. Shall we hope to let common men do without us? Must we answer as must the Church of Rome? Of course it is risky to be free to choose the wrong, that we may learn to choose the right. Is it too dangerous? Is man's nature perfectable, or is it to remain for ever imperfect? The Primate of our Church has spoken, and I wish it was his inauguration and not his farewell. But, having heard him, perhaps I may say my Nunc Dimittis: Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for the Church of my motherland has become the Church of freedom.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, this debate might have followed a different path had regard been had solely to the wide terms of the Motion before your Lordships' House. But, having regard to the phraseology of the Motion, having regard to its proponent—to whom I would respectfully ask to be allowed to offer my tribute of regard—and having regard to the vast importance of the subject itself, it was clear that the theme of the debate in your Lordships' House would be that of religious education. It would for me, a Jew, be unseemly to speak to your Lordships upon that subject, but I may perhaps be permitted to say that I hold profoundly the view that it is essental that from childhood and in the school all our people should secure a firm religious and spiritual anchorage, and I accept what I understand to be the meaning of the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Wolmer; if I do not profess the Christian faith, at least I accept the Christian standard of values.
There is no subject which is more pressing in the whole field of reconstruction than that of education. I am referring now, having passed from one subject to the other, to secular education. It is a 970 theme which will occupy the thought and the energies of Government Departments, of your Lordships' House, and of all those who are pondering the future. It is not a theme which can very well be discussed at the end of a two days' debate, when the minds of your Lordships are attuned, and naturally attuned, to what has been the main subject of the debate during that time. I should have wished at some juncture—the opportunity will no doubt recur—to ask your Lordships to address your minds to what in other regards has been referred to as the extreme urgency of dealing with this whole problem of education in the post-war world. It is of all the problems of reconstruction with which we have to deal that with regard to which preparatory work is most necessary, and that with regard to which, in contradistinction to many other subjects of reconstruction, preparatory work can be started now.
Plans can be laid, even if they cannot immediately be carried into effect, and it is of the first importance for the future well-being of all our young people that when families are reassembled and the dispersed populations come back to their homes in the towns, there shall be schools ready to receive them, equipment whereby they may be taught, and teachers available to them. Teaching staff, equipment, buildings are all of them matters which will present the greatest possible difficulty. But I would urge upon the Government that as regards all these matters such foresight should be exercised as can be at this time; but, above all, that they should earmark the teachers, so that they maybe brought back to their normal vocations, from wherever they may be serving now, at the earliest possible moment, to be available for performing their ordinary duties in teaching the young on their return from their scattered homes.
Another matter to which your Lordships' attention will naturally be directed is that of the whole organization of the elementary school system and the age at which the change-over should be made from the elementary school to the secondary school, and the question of the age to which compulsory education should go. I do not propose to ask your Lordships to consider that matter to-day; it is one of vast import, with many and complex implications. There is also—I pose the question without seeking to answer it—the question of the relationship 971 between the secondary schools and the public schools, that old and most difficult and intractable problem of the public schools which, I am convinced, have a vital part to play in the whole educational system of the future, both by adaptation and by extension. Indeed I would associate myself with what I understood to be the meaning of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I believe that from the public schools we must expect the leaders of the future—in the administration, in the Services, in the professions, in industry and in commerce—mostly to come. I wish to see the public schools so absorbed into our educational system that at some point of time, at some stage in his educational career, every boy who has passed into a secondary school may have the opportunity of acquiring some of those very special virtues which are the most conspicuous characteristics of the public schools.
The difficulty with the secondary schools is that although a number of boys remain there till they pass to the university, the great majority of them leave at sixteen or under, and it is difficult for a community to be established within a school at which boys over sixteen are so relatively small in number and who can perform for the whole body of the school those valuable services which are to be derived from the public schools where the age moves more steadily and the boys are more numerous up to the ages of eighteen or nineteen, when they proceed to the university. I do not doubt that the habit of voluntary submission to discipline and the exercise of discipline over others learnt in the public school is one of the most valuable features of the whole of our educational system in the building up of men for the future, and I want to see the opportunity afforded to all our young people of obtaining the advantages of that system.
But the mere test of examination along present lines, whether of boys or girls—for girls cannot be omitted from our consideration—as to whether they should proceed from the elementary school to the secondary school or from the secondary school elsewhere, is not itself sufficient to ensure that those who are best qualified reach the public school or the university, as the case may be. It is difficult to prescribe the sort of test. We do not want 972 merely to send to the university, possibly at the public expense, those who may well be, shall I say intellectual prigs, or become so, with no interest outside their books, and no facility save that of passing examinations. We have to devise somehow a test whereby we admit to the universities those who may not be of the highest academic qualifications, but who yet possess those qualities of personal character and of manhood which are going to make them really valuable to the nation in the world of the future. We want more men of that kind in our public life and in our Services, in industry, and in commerce, men who may lack the highest intellectual qualifications but who have the sterling qualities of character, personality and leadership. One of the prime tasks of educationists, in my submission, will be in the future the devising of tests to ascertain which of our young people disclose those qualities which, by further education at the university, side by side with those of higher intellectual attainments, are likely to be of real usefulness in the future, whether they are sent there at their own expense or at the public expense.
When I mention universities, there is one point to which I must draw your Lordships' attention, and of which I would ask the noble Lord who is to reply to be so good as to take note, though I do not expect him to make any reply to-day. It is very natural that attention should have been mostly directed in this debate to the education of boys and young men, but it is of vital importance for the world of the future that the same opportunities should be available for the girls and young women. The number of Colleges, both at Oxford and Cambridge, for young women is so limited now that it is quite inadequate for the requirements of the further education of our girls and young women. I believe the Government will have to take into consideration the question whether, by some method or other, it is not possible to increase the number of Colleges for women both at Oxford and Cambridge, and to a certain extent elsewhere also. At the close of a debate such as this, where there is one subject that has been primarily occupying your Lordships' minds, any one following can only make remarks which are discursive and disjointed. The subjects to which I have directed your Lordships' minds would require not only one debate but many 973 debates. To-day I have ventured to do no more than to indicate some of the headings of the matters that will require consideration by your Lordships in due course.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, I ask your Lordships' permission to reply to some of the questions mentioned in the debate. I hope that the most reverend Primate will feel that the House of Lords on this notable occasion has responded in a really proper spirit to his far-sighted action in raising this question. I feel that his Grace should be particularly well pleased that practically every speaker, in addressing himself to the subject, has spoken on the question of Christian teaching, and that a great volume of desire has been expressed all over the House that Christian teaching should be effective in the schools. The debate seems to me to be a very remarkable example of the wealth of knowledge which exists in your Lordships' House, and which can be brought to bear on any particular subject, but that wealth of knowledge makes my task, as a newcomer in this question, rather a difficult one. However, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has rather helped me here, by pointing to the extraordinarily large number of issues which have been focused into this debate. I am sure your Lordships at this late hour would not expect me to make any attempt to reply to every point, but only to one or two that have been particularly directed to me.
The point on which the greatest pressure was directed towards the Government Bench was that there should be no delay in going ahead in carrying out the five points, and in educational policy generally. This was pressed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St. Albans, by the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, and by several other speakers. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin. rather twitted me on the subject. He pointed out that when I spoke of the material contribution to our war effort, I spoke in a rather different way from that in which I had spoken before because I was speaking of something accomplished; but if I spoke of something accomplished, I did not speak of something accomplished in a hurry or a rush, or without the most careful and exhaustive consideration. Nothing is so dangerous in military matters, as the noble Lord, Lord 974 Mottistone, knows, than to rush in without proper preparation.
§ LORD HANKEY
Not foolishly. The noble Lord, Lord Latham, with his great experience of these matters, commended my right honourable friend Mr. Butler for not rushing this question until it has been properly prepared by consulting all the interests concerned. He warned the House very seriously of the dangers of this question, as I ventured to do in my own remarks. It is the children's interests we have got to consider. We want proper education for the children, and there would be the most frightful danger of raising that horrible controversy of forty and even fifty years ago, which was such a hold-up to education in those days, as Lord Latham pointed out. I do want to assure your Lordships that the Government are not fobbing you off with excuses for inaction in saying that these consultations are going on. I am sure that those persons who are most intimately concerned with the subject will be the first to realize the difficulty of the negotiations which are actually proceeding all the time.
I owe just a word of explanation to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St. Albans, about my statement in my previous speech that legislation would be necessary to carry out four out of the five points. I was perfectly correct in making that statement. Religious instruction, which is the first point, and religious observance, which is the last point, are universal, or almost universal, in our schools, but they are not secured by statutory requirements. If they are to be so secured, as the five points suggest, then legislation would be necessary. Another of the points—for altering the present fixed times for religious instruction in public elementary schools—would also require legislation, for the reason, that it is at present fixed by legislation, so that new legislation would be required to alter the existing legislation. The same applies to the exclusion of inspection of religious instruction from the duties of His Majesty's inspectors.
I think I must say a word about the training of teachers. That was first raised by the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, who urged the necessity of giving the 975 youth of this country the best possible religious instruction. But many speakers have mentioned it this afternoon. The schools, of course, have to fight against some difficulties owing to the apathy and indifference of parents to which the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, drew attention. The schools cannot make up for all the deficiencies of the home, so the Churches also have their part to play in this problem of giving the children the best religious instruction. At the same time everything ought to be done that can be done to equip the teachers for this most important part of their work. At the present time many of the training colleges do actually provide courses of instruction in religious knowledge, but the passing of an examination in religious knowledge docs not count towards the certificate.
It has been represented from a great many quarters to my right honourable friend Mr. Butler, that in future religious knowledge ought to count as a subject for the certificate. Mr. Butler is examining that proposal sympathetically in consultation with the interests concerned. It is one of the many questions that he is going into. I appreciate the desire that Christian teaching should be given by teachers who believe in it, which was pressed so strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and a number of other speakers, but however desirable that may be we have got to be very careful in avoiding one difficulty not to rush into another. It would hardly be possible to make religious knowledge a compulsory subject for students in training colleges, nor indeed would compulsion be of much use if, as I believe has been generally agreed in the course of this debate, the teachers who are to give the religious instruction must not only be competent but willing to give it.
There are a great many other questions I should like to have said a word about, but time will not permit. There is the question raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St. Albans, who found a great deal of fault with the present system and whose remarks tended, I think, towards more positive religious teaching in the schools than what can be called simple Bible teaching. That does raise very fundamental issues and it would be impossible for me to go into them at this late hour. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, appealed to the Government to exercise foresight for the re-establishment of 976 schools after the war, so that the children may come back to schools that have been prepared. There was also the question of colleges for girls at universities. The noble Lord did not ask for an answer this afternoon, and I shall not attempt to give it, but I will report the questions in the proper quarter.
Then there was the question of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin, which was also supported by the noble Lord, Lord Roche, about juvenile delinquency. That, of course, exists in time of peace, and it is not entirely a problem of war. I was rather surprised to hear the noble and learned Lord say the last war had not had much effect on the statistics; because my impression was that it had considerable effect and that it was always attributed to the absence of the father weakening the discipline of the home. The noble and learned Lord gave your Lordships the statistics of the present war, which are admittedly formidable. A great many reasons are given by the experts for this juvenile delinquency during the war—the absence of the father and the absence of the mother (for so many mothers now go out to do war work), interruption of school life, the evacuation, the black-out, the earning of very large wages (the juveniles are having more money than they have ever had before), and the unsettling effect of the war on adolescent boys. I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Roche, said that the root cause is lack of discipline, and I am sure there is a great deal to be said for that view. One of the best means of combating the evil is to forestall it by the provision of leisure activities and interests, and that is really one of the aims of the Service of Youth to which I addressed some remarks in my earlier speech.
I am only going to mention one more point, and that briefly. There is a sort of current underneath all this two-days' debate suggesting a doubt as to whether we are a religious nation. A good deal of evidence has been adduced to suggest that we are not. It is said there is widespread apathy and indifference to religion, less Bible reading in the homes now than formerly, and a belief that parents take less trouble about religious education and tend to leave their children to decide their own attitude towards religion. There were many other trenchant remarks made to that effect. On the other hand, the noble Viscount, Lord Sankey, believes 977 that the overwhelming majority of parents desire Christian teaching in our schools, and the noble Lord, Lord Latham, claimed that the elementary schools constitute the most important agency in the country for religious education. For my part, my Lords, I do not want to appear complacent. I know the dangers of that. Undoubtedly the dangers are there, but is it not rather easy to be laudator temporis acti, to overrate the devotion of our forefathers to religious observance, to go to periods of our religious history for purposes of comparison that are not really representative, to fall into the national habit of exaggerating our defects and underrating the strong basis of Christianity and religion that exists, as I believe, in the vast majority of our population?
It may be that the churches and chapels are not quite so full as they used to be; yet a great many people do go to church or chapel, and in many places of worship there are a great many more services than formerly to help the people in the change of social habits that has taken place. Then all over the country, when one passes through new suburbs that are growing up, one sees churches and chapels still being built. We know that we want more to be built. But is there any other country in the world where the broadcasting system has the same number of religious services as here? There are two full services on Sundays, two short services on weekdays, and a great many intermediate services and talks on religious subjects. I do not think that would be tolerated unless the people were at bottom religious. Anybody who has gone to a football match and listened to community singing will know that when a hymn is sung—" Abide with me "or whatever it may be—it is amazing to note how everybody not only knows the tune but knows the words. Where did they learn them? There are only three places, in the Church, or in the school, or in the home.
I cannot believe that these people are, broadly speaking, irreligious. There is so much evidence to the contrary—Armistice day, for instance, with its religious service—and the fact mentioned again and again in this debate that religious teaching is practically universal in our elementary schools. Then there are the vast sums spent on foreign missions, and bodies at home like the Salvation 978 Army, the Church Army, hostels and missions, Toc H, that are doing such good work for the Church. I cannot bring myself to be defeatist on this subject, on this branch of the eternal war between right and wrong. I feel that to be defeatist would be a bad thing at the present time when the nation needs every scrap of strength it can draw from every source. It needs especially faith—faith in ourselves, faith in our arms, faith in our cause, and faith in Almighty God.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, having taken up so much of your Lordships' time at the beginning of this debate it would be shameful if I took up any more at the close of it. I must, however, express very cordial thanks to the noble Lord who leads the Labour Party in your Lordships' House for all that he was good enough to say about my unworthy self, and also for the words which fell from the noble Marquess on the Benches opposite and from other members of your Lordships' House. I perhaps owe an apology for having made the terms of my Motion so large, because I was so anxious not to isolate the subject of religious education but to treat it in its proper setting as an essential part of all true education. I may perhaps have induced the debate to run on rather too broad lines, but I think that may be forgiven because it has led to so many most interesting speeches and so many valuable suggestions.
I would only like to say with regard to one or two points which have been made, that I should myself, if there had been time, have desired to emphasize the need, in continuation schools as well as in elementary schools, of some form of religious education. I hope that is a matter which the Board of Education will take very specially into consideration. I should have liked to say more about that bane of our educational system called examinations to which the noble Lord, Lord Elton, referred in what I thought a most admirable speech. These things I must pass by, but I must say a word about the speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Atkin and thank him specially for calling attention to the subject of juvenile delinquencies. It causes some misgiving about the moral education of the country when we hear so much of the appalling extent at the present time of 979 thieving, of petty pilfering, of black marketing, going on in spite of the resounding sentiments of patriotism, and very often, I regret to say, on the part of those actually engaged in the national service. It is a most serious matter and it deserves fuller consideration in your Lordships' House and elsewhere than is possible now. It does suggest something wrong in the clearness and fullness of moral teaching which possibly would be stronger if it had a fuller religious foundation.
I wish to thank the noble Lord who spoke for the Government for the care he has given to the matter, and I agree with him that it is possible to exaggerate the contention that we are only in a very loose sense a religious nation. I have always urged that we should pay the greatest possible regard to the strength of religious sentiment which is so vigorous in our people, but I have always also said that we are living on capital in that matter, and unless this religious sentiment acquires strength, solidity and basis we shall find that capital becoming seriously diminished. But it is there, of course, and for what it is worth we should be thankful.
I must confess I had some sympathy with what fell from my noble and learned friend Lord Atkin when he spoke about the familiar language we are accustomed to hear from the Government Bench—that all these things will receive careful consideration; and the effect of that pill is not much alleviated by the jam of the words "sympathetic consideration" which come to much the same thing. Though I fully understand what is meant and know the limitations under which the noble Lord had to speak, I do venture to ask the Board of Education—through the President—not to be too fearful of committing themselves, not to be too much afraid, when there is obviously this great pressure of public opinion outside, of the susceptibilities of what are called the various interests concerned. There is something more than these interests. There is the interest of the whole community. I am sure, as the noble Viscount, Lord Wolmer, said, that that is now much clearer and stronger than it used to be.
After all, is it not true that he that is continually observing the wind will never 980 sow? I hope in this matter the Government will have the courage to rely upon the strength of public opinion and take a line of their own. I am the less inclined to be disappointed in any way with the reply of the noble Lord because I have a profound belief that the President of the Board of Education is really keen about all these matters and will in due course have opportunities of showing that keenness. In these circumstances, it is not Papers I desire so much as performance, and because I believe that the President of the Board will in due course give performance, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.