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Volume 87: debated on Friday 17 July 1846

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On the Question, that 100,000 l. be granted for Public Education in Great Britain,

thought it extremely desirable that, before called upon to vote money for this object, they should have before them an account of the manner in which the Votes of money in previous years had been expended. He regretted to say that, so far, the practice had been to favour the richer and to neglect the poorer districts. He did not object to the amount required; he only hesitated to approve of the mode of application.

could assure the hon. Member that the details which he asked for were to be found, at full and satisfactory length, in the Minutes of the Committee of Council.

considered the system altogether bad of Government, before it advanced money, waiting for proofs of power to co-operate on the part of those who applied. There ought to be an inspection of the means of providing education in every parish throughout England and Wales, and the liberality should be greatest in those districts which were found to be the most destitute.

wished to know what proportion of the money went to the National Society.

could not answer as regarded this year. Last year the National Society made 430 applications, and there were granted 70,554l., the whole of which was accepted. From the British and Foreign Society there were 16 applications, and the grants to that society amounted to 20,500l. It would, therefore, appear that the National Society was most anxious for an extension of education.

thought that the hon. Member had made a somewhat unfair use of the question, and of his information. The hon. Member desired the House, apparently, to understand that, among the Dissenting body of the population, the anxiety for a better and more comprehensive education was exceedingly slight; but it should not be forgotten, that by the principles which they professed, they were precluded almost altogether from availing themselves of the State aid. The Dissenters were strongly of opinion that it was not right and not politic that education should be in the hands of the Government; and for that reason they rejected the assistance which might be derived from the Government, and of which the professors of other religions did not hesitate to avail themselves.

could not see that anything had fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Acland) to justify the reproach which had been heaped upon him; and he was very sure that the hon. Member was the last man in that House to offer an insult to any body of men. Nothing could be more gratifying than the good feeling which had that evening marked the discussion, on whatever side of the House it had been taken up, on this subject; and he trusted that nothing would occur to vary that characteristic. He agreed entirely with the hon. Member for Montrose in thinking it expedient that before coming to this Vote, they should, in future, have before them that information from which they might learn in what manner and where the money was applied.

Vote agreed to.