House in Committee.
Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.
(In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £643,794, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March, 1862."
Sir, the Estimate for this year was necessarily forwarded to the Treasury before the Report of the Commissioners was received, and the consequence is that there will be found no trace of any opinion or any measure which the Government might have adopted in consequence of that Report. The Estimate is of a very ordinary character, being only£5,000 in excess of the Estimate of last year. I will first, with the permission of the Committee, confine myself to a very short statement of the contents of the Estimate, and I will then pass on to those topics raised by the right hon. Gentleman, which are of such great and overwhelming interest. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich has stated that the Estimates of this department reached on one occasion the sum of £836,000. That was an error in fact, although I attach no blame to the right hon. Gentleman for falling into it. The Estimate to which he referred was that of 1859–60, which was the first that I had the honour of moving. That Estimate was increased by the deficiency of three former years, amounting to £75,000. The real Estimate of that year was £761,000. In that year the number of children found in schools under inspection was £821,000. In 1860–1 the number of children was increased to 880,000—that is, an increase in round number of 60,000, and the Estimate was £798,000, an increase of £37,000. In the present year the Estimate is £803,000, and the number of children 962,000. I trust, considering what we have heard of the vast increase of these Estimates, the Committee will not consider this an unsatisfactory Estimate. Within the three years during which I have moved these Estimates the number of children has increased by 141,000, while the Estimate has only increased by £42,000. Considering that during the three or four preceding years the increase in these Estimates was at the rate of £100,000 a year, I think there is some cause for congratulation that the advance has been so small; and I do not think I deserved the rebuke of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, who first complained of the large amount of this Vote, and then reprimanded me for having endeavoured to practise some eco- nomy in it. I have done very little in that way, for during the whole time I have been connected with this Department this matter has been under the consideration of the Commission, and every change has been hung up until their Report was made. The reduction that has been made has been attributable, I believe, to two causes—one the reduction in the number of pupil teachers, which was effected by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire, and the other the reduction in the building grants, which was effected by the Lord President and myself, reducing them by three-eighths, which did not diminish the number of applications. And I cannot, I confess, join in the regret that some £40, 000 a year have been saved to the public without any apparent damage to the progress of education. I will now pass on to the criticism which the Commissioners have made on the working of the department, and upon which I have been challenged so keenly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire to plead guilty or not guilty. As I have taken down the charges brought against us, they are four in number:—First, the great expense of the present system; secondly, the defective instruction given under it; thirdly, its complexity; and fourthly, its inability to reach remote rural districts and the lower parts of towns. The expense, the Commissioners compute, will, if it goes on at the present rate, amount in the course of time to £2,100,000 annually. They say truly that is an enormous expenditure. When I look at the criticism of the Commissioners I endeavour to discriminate how much of the fault is that of the system on which we are working, and how much is to be attributed to its imperfect administration. Now, I am perfectly satisfied that, whatever may be the merits or demerits of the present system, it can never be a very economical system; and for this reason—if people are spending their own money, or spending money under local control, they may be forced to economic; but all that a central body, such as the Privy Council, can do is to require that certain conditions shall be complied with in return for these grants. There is no doubt that those who are richest and best able to pay are those who are best able to conform to these conditions. Therefore, there is always a tendency in a central system to aid those who can best afford to spend their own money. The income of schools is drawn from two sources; first the private charity of the local managers and the pence of the parents, and next, the money of the Privy Council. When you have two independent sources of income of this kind, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to adapt one to the other so as to avoid all unnecessary outlay. No doubt there are expenses in this system that may be, in some degree, diminished, and I shall, when I recur to that subject, endeavour to point out the means of reducing them. I admit the present system is expensive, but it is the duty of those who have charge of the system, as faithful guardians not only of the system but of the money that is spent on it, to make the administration as economical as they can, and thus give it a chance of vitality; nothing is so likely to bring a system to the ground as making it needlessly burdensome and expensive. I, therefore, regret that I cannot kiss the rod which the right hon. Gentleman has held out to me. I do wish to economic this grant, and to make it go as far as possible. Another charge brought by the Commissioners is that our instruction is deficient. They say it is too ambitious and too superficial; that not one-fourth of our children are properly taught, that the younger and lower boys are neglected for the sake of the upper classes, and that each child ought to be able to read, write, and cipher in an intelligent manner when he leaves school. I am asked whether those charges are true, and I am called upon to compare these statements with those of the Inspectors, and decide between them. All that I am responsible for in the reports of the Inspectors is for collecting and tabulating them. I think it probable that this criticism is in some degree well founded, because I never saw public school in England where too much attention was not given to the upper classes, and to the clever and forward boys who repaid by their advancement in learning the care and attention they received, in comparison with those modest, unassuming, and patient characters who have enlisted on their side the sympathy of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire I can see no reason why the schools intended for the poorer classes should not be subject to the same influences, and there ought, besides, to be taken into consideration the great number of children who leave school at too early an age to receive the instruction which they ought to have. I am, therefore, quite willing to admit and believe that there is some justice in the statement, and, though I hope that the system is capable of great improvement in this matter, I do not expect to see the time when the same thing may not be said, with more or less justice, of the public education of the country. There are also clauses which are not inherent in the system itself, but which arise in the working of the system, and which tend to aggravate this evil. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the high teaching of the schoolmasters. I do not say whether it is too high or too low, but this I will say, that it is not quite fair to represent the schoolmaster as a person who is always to teach children not more than ten or eleven years old. If that were so, nothing would be more absurd than the amount of training the schoolmasters receive; but they are called on to perform double duty, and to teach not only children in the schools, but also to instruct pupil teachers, out of whom future schoolmasters are to be made. Therefore, their capacity must be such as will enable them to instruct ordinary children, and also to teach up to the age of eighteen years those who are to be teachers themselves. Of course, had the original plan been carried out, of placing the training colleges in the hands of the Government, I should have felt a more direct responsibility on this point; but it was thought fit to work them on the same plan as the ordinary schools, and thought they are in the hands of most excellent persons throughout the country, it is not always in our power to enforce upon them exactly what we wish. With respect to what has fallen from the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, I really think that the schoolmaster should be taught some political economy in these days of strikes; so that the person who is looked up to as an authority next to the clergyman in his village should be able to give some sensible opinion of those melancholy contests about wages; and if he knows a little less of the wars of the Roses, or of the history of the heresies in the early Church, and more of the principles which regulate the price of labour, and should be able to impress on his hearers the doctrine that wages do not depend on the will of a master, but have a law of their own to regulate them, I think his ability in that respect would be very serviceable. And, further, I should not regret if a little of what the right hon. Gentleman calls sanitary science were added to his instruction. I do not think that it would be amiss if the schoolmaster in a village were able to demonstrate the advantage of good drains and sewers in preventing disease and death; and if he were instructed in vaccination, so that he might avoid the errors of the hon. Member for Finsbury. Neither should I think it amiss if he were able to teach the people that they would do wisely to throw open their windows and promote ventilation; and particularly when their families were weakly to select situations for living in which were healthy. Such knowledge as that may appear ridiculous when called by a grand name, but it is, nevertheless, extremely useful. I have already said that we in some degree aggravate the evil if imperfect instruction. The object of the Privy Council mainly was to create and maintain a proper standard of popular education, and to insure attendance. With these views we gave capitation grants on the attendance of scholars, and by augmentations of salary we have created a very high class of schoolmaster; but we have not, perhaps, taken so much care us we ought of ascertaining the work done; and in looking back to the system we think it quite possible that we have erred in not devising some machinery for testing more particularly the results. So far we may have something to answer for, if reading, writing, and arithmetic have not so much attention paid to them as they ought. Of the next charge we cannot deny the truth—namely, that the system is one of great complication. The principle on which the Privy Council has gone has been that whenever they wished a thing to be done they paid for it, and they paid the person by whom it should be done. For instance, we wanted to have schoolmasters of a particular class, and for the purpose of obtaining them we augmented the salary, as they passed through the three grades of certificates; and in the same way, increased payments were made to the pupil-teachers at certain periods during their apprenticeship of five years. The number of certified teachers is about 7,500, that of pupil-teachers about 15,500, so that the two classes together amount to 23,000; and we pay every one of them by Post Office order sent direct to his address. We keep a registry and a biographical notice of them all, so as to be aware of their character. No doubt, this system is in this advantageous, that we reach these persons directly and they communicate directly with the Government, and we have security that what money we spend is applied as we wish; but it entails enormous expense and labour. We have also to correspond with 6,000 managers of schools. I have now adverted to the faults which the Commissioners find with the system, and I am bound to say that I have no means of judging how far they or our inspectors are right, and how far it is possible to reconcile any conflicting statements. Probably all the statements on both sides have some foundation, and are entitled to the serious attention of those who wish to make the department as perfect as possible. I perceive that, notwithstanding the faults which the Commissioners find, they recommend the continuance of the present system. It would not become me in my situation to enter into a question so large as that, but this I will venture to say—that in making that recommendation, the Commissioners, so far as I can understand the case, express, I will not say the opinion of the whole country, or of philosophers, or of persons of great powers of abstract thought, but they express the opinion of those to whom education in this country owes almost its existence—of those who gave both time and money to promote education before the present system was called into being. It we have spent £4,800,000 in educating the people, private liberality has spent double that sum. In fact, the question as to what system of education is to prevail will be regulated by the opinion of those whose hands maintain it. So long as it is the opinion of those who contribute to the maintenance of the schools that the present system is the right and the best one so long will the present system continue. It would be merely wasting the time of the House to debate the matter. As I am anxious in addressing the House to economize time, I will merely now say that it is not the intention of Government to infringe on the organic principles of the present system—namely, its denominational character, its foundation on a broad religious basis, its teaching religion, and the practice of giving grants from the central office in aid of local subscriptions, the propriety of those grants to be ascertained by inspection. I do not require to wait until next Session to make this declaration. The next question for consideration is how can the faults pointed out by the Commissioners be remedied consistently with the preservation of the system itself. I looked into their Report to see if I could find a remedy for the evils which the Commissioners have pointed out. Their diagnosis I admit is good, but I was anxious to ascertain whether they applied a cure for the disease. Before I go further, however, I may mention that one of the objections raised by the Commissioners against our system is that it does not and cannot cover the whole of the country. Now, the truth of that charge I at one admit, but I am afraid the evil is a necessary concomitant of a Government grant based upon voluntary efforts. The existing system presupposes voluntary subscriptions, which are naturally not found to be forthcoming in the remote rural districts, nor to a sufficient extent in the lower and poorer parts of towns, and, therefore, it is quite clear that unless we establish a mongrel system by lending Government aid in particular cases, where voluntary subscriptions do not exist, and in other cases refusing to give it except where such subscriptions are afforded—a mode of proceeding which would, in all probability, be found to end in the one system supplanting the other—the evil complained of cannot, although it may be mitigated, be, under present circumstances, obviated. I now come to the recommendation of the Commissioners, and I would ask the Committee to consider how far they point out a remedy for the evils to which they advert. They, in the first place, in dealing with the question of expense, confine their reductions to the abolition of the book grant; the rest of their scheme consists in transferring the payment of part of the money from the central authority to the country rates, and as far as economy is concerned must be looked upon as something like the joke of Mr. Liston, who used to fine himself by transferring money from his right hand pocket to his left. I am of opinion, therefore, that the suggestion of the Commissioners does not do much to help us in this respect, because, although we may, by acting upon it, diminish the amount of these estimates, yet the expense must in another shape come out of the pockets of the public. The Commissioners further propose, with a view, I believe, to remedy the complexity which they point out in out arrangements—the defects in our teaching, and also the im- perfect development of the present system throughout the country—an elaborate plan. They say there should be two kinds of grants made to our schools—the one to be paid out of the funds at the disposal of the Government; the other out of the country rates. The fund at the disposal of the Government they recommend should be paid in the shape of a capitation grant on each attendance of children attending a certain number of times at these schools, and paid in proportions which it is not easy to understand, according as they happen to be under certificated masters or pupil teachers. That is the plan suggested in the case of the one grant; while in the case of the other the proposal is that there should be county boards appointed; that they should appoint schoolmasters who should examine the children, and that for each child who satisfied the examiners in reading, writing, and arithmetic, a certain sum should be paid. The same plan with the necessary modifications is to be applied to boroughs. Now, the question has been asked whether the Government are prepared to take this scheme into their consideration, and to introduce a Bill next Session for the purpose of carrying it into effect. Before, however, I answer that question, let us pause for a moment to see to what the proposal amounts. The duties to be thrown on the county boards, the Committee will observe, are of a character purely ministerial. They will have to appoint the schoolmasters who are to examine the children, and upon the representation of those examiners the county boards will have to pay a certain sum. That being so no discretion will, so far as I can see, be vested in the county boards. Indeed, the only discretion which it appears to me will be left to any one is that which will rest with the schoolmasters, who may make a favourable report or otherwise, as they please, and thus influence the amount to be paid out of the county rates. In the case of local government, you have a good and an evil. The good is superintendence on the spot of funds raised on the spot, and greater economy and closeness of management. The evil is placing the tax on a smaller fund, and entrusting it to bodies less intelligent than central authorities chosen for the purpose. In this instance, however, we are called upon to reject the good and retain the evil. You are asked to make those county boards mere paying machines, withholding from them that control over the payments which they are to make, without which it would, in my opinion, be hardly reasonable to ask them to undertake the duty, and in the absence of which, I quite concur with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, local management is of little avail. That being so, I am not, I confess, without my doubts as to the figure I should make if I were to come down to the House and propose to impose this burden on the county rates, and I should, I must admit, much prefer that the task devolved on some one else. There is also another matter in connection with this scheme to which I wish to allude. It is proposed that grants, in the cases in which a satisfactory examination has been passed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, should be given not merely to those schools which are under certificated masters and pupil teachers, but to every school indiscriminately. Now, we may, it seems to me, learn a lesson in this matter from the history of the present capitation grant. That grant was originally imposed with the view of assisting small rural schools, but as soon as it was established great difficulty arose in defining what were rural schools; much correspondence took place on the subject, and the result was the grant, which at the outset was intended for the small rural schools, was absorbed in our large towns by schools for the benefit of which it was never designed. Let us take a lesson from this. We are asked to make certain payments, based on the results of certain examinations. Who will get the largest proportion of that grant? Will it be the small rural schools which have certificated no master and no pupil teachers, and which may be kept by old soldiers or sailors, or will it not rather be those schools which possess all the means of providing a better description of education? We should have broken down a principle without giving effectual aid. I trust the Committee will not deem me guilty of presumption in making these observations with respect to the scheme in question. The fact is, I have been obliged to direct my attention to it, with the view of considering whether it was one which it would be desirable to adopt; but, while I entertain the utmost respect for the Commissioners, and while I admit the justice of their representations even in those instances in which they are in some degree unfavourable to ourselves, I should not feel justified in proposing their plan for the adoption of the House. It is recommended that we should give aid to private adventure schools, but I cannot acquiesce in the expediency of acting on that recommendation. Those schools are mere commercial speculations. We should in their case have no responsible person to deal with, no guarantee that the moral teaching, the discipline, and the tone of the school were what they should be, such as we obtain by the presence there of a master regularly trained to his occupation whose character and antecedents are known to us. Besides, nothing could be more injurious to the present system than, having set up a high standard, to go, as it were, in opposition to ourselves, in order to meet the case of those who cannot come up to that standard—a course which we are perpetually solicited to take in the case of the ragged schools. I now come to that part of the recommendations of the Commissioners which might be met by a Minute of the Privy Council. It is proposed that in those cases in which there are thirty children under a pupil teacher there should be paid annually half-a-crown a piece capitation, making thirty half-crowns, or a few shillings short of £4. Now, the average pay of a pupil teacher at the present moment is £15, so that if we were to adopt this suggestion we should be striking off £11from this salary, and thus doing that which would tend to break up the present system, although it is quite clear that the Commissioners had no such intention. The main difference between a pupil teacher and a monitor is, that while the latter is engaged by the job, that is to say for a week, a month, or a year, the pupil teacher is apprenticed, with an engagement for five years. During the first two of these five years he may be of little importance, but during the last three he becomes a valuable junior master, and if you were to replace him by a monitor, you would be dispensing with his services just at the moment when they were becoming really useful. The plan of the Commissioners does not, as far as I can see, provide for the long engagement which lies at the root of the pupil teacher system. Therefore, Sir, having considered these recommendations, I come, I am sorry to say, to the conclusion that the Commissioners have found very grievous faults with us, and have left us with a set of recommendations which do not enable to remedy those faults. They point out our imperfections, and leave us "with all our imperfections on our head," without giving the means to remove any one of them. It is for us to consider whether, admitting the justice of the criticism we have undergone, we can hit on some remedy, and I think it possible to do so. As to the matter of expense, there are certain reductions, with an enumeration of which I will not trouble the Committee—excrescences of the system, the removal of which will not impair its efficiency. I think it very proper to make those reductions, and I hope in a few days to lay a Minute upon the table in which those reductions will be made. We have not hitherto been able to make them, because they refer to matters which have been before the Commissioners. I think we are bound to do what we can in that way. The reductions work no change of a fundamental character, and I, therefore, prefer to leave them to be enumerated in the Minute. There is one subject upon which I am not prepared to make any proposition, but to which I am anxious to call the attention of hon. Members. I do it in the most conciliatory spirit, wishing to say nothing which can annoy any one. But it is a point upon which I feel it to be my duty no longer to keep silence. I have never spoken of it before, because I have been waiting for the Report of the Commissioners, and now I only mention it for the purpose of making an appeal to those with whom the remedy rests. I allude to the position of the National Society with reference to the Privy Council. I give every credit to the National Society. It is an older body than the Committee of the Privy Council. It has done great service to the cause of education, and it would ill-become me to speak of it in any terms except terms of respect. But the position which I occupy in relation to the National Society is hardly tolerable, and I think it cannot appear to the society in the way it strikes me, or they would be ready to apply a remedy. The National Society was founded for the education of children in the doctrine and Liturgy of the Church of England. Whenever a school is founded by that society, part of the trust declared in the deed consists of the terms of union. Those terms say in substance that the children—meaning all the children, although the word "all" has disappeared—shall be taught the Catechism and Liturgy, and shall attend Divine worship according to the rites of the Church of England, unless the managers shall remit that duty.
Not the managers— the clergyman.
I beg pardon if I am wrong, and it is the clergyman, and not the manager, as the right hon. Gentleman says, but may memory is otherwise. But I think it must be quite evident to any one who is a lawyer, that applying the maxim expressio unius exclusio alterius, the right construction of those words is that one thing being left to the discretion of the clergyman or manager there is no discretion left with regard to the other two. That is the true construction of the terms of the National Society, and, no doubt, they are before the eyes of many when they subscribe to its funds. For retaining these terms of union, I have no fault to find with the society. We entered into a concordat with them with full knowledge of those terms, and if they adhere to them we have no right to complain. But what I do complain of is that the National Society have written to us a letter—and, indeed, I believe they make no secret of it—in which the say they leave to the managers of the schools the option whether they shall enforce this clause or not.
Not the managers—the clergyman.
I state the managers. I may be wrong, but it makes no difference to my argument. With some one or another it is left optional. What I want to put to the Committee is the position in which I am placed in managing a public department. I am obliged to be a joint founder of a school in whose deed of foundation express trusts are declared, and before I become a party to the transaction I am told that those trusts will not be enforced, but that a contradictory system of action may be substituted. I am asked to grant money upon certain trusts, and, as I say, the manager, and as the right hon. Gentleman says, the clergyman may dispense with the accomplishment of those trusts. The National Society I contend should make their election. If they found schools upon an exclusive deed, though I should regret it, let them adhere to the trusts declared. If they relax the system let them relax the trusts of the deed, but do not let them force me to do that which I always do with shame—namely, to enter into a series of trusts with a distinct understanding that the terms may be violated. As a matter of economy, I think it is exceedingly desirable that the National Society should reconsider this question. Among all the difficulties—and they are many—this is the greatest difficulty in administering this grant. I am bound to the strictest impartiality. No one sect is to be preferred to another. The National Society come and ask for a school. The school comprehends a parish in which half are members of the Established Church and half are Dissenters. If I grant a school for the whole parish I run the risk that the managers will act on the trust deed, instead of on the licence of the National Society; and if they act on the deed, the flagrant injustice is done of saying to the Dissenters, "We are granting public money to which you contribute for a school, on the assumption that you will send your children there, although they cannot attend without learning a formula which is contrary to your religious views." The next thing is, the Dissenters get together and say, "We will not have our children sent to a school where these tests are enforced." They apply for another school, and make out a case which is irresistible. We grant another school, and thus the public funds are applied to establish two miserable schools where the children are ill taught, instead of one flourishing school which we might have, and which I should wish to see under the management of the clergy, teaching the doctrines of the Church of England, and only exempting those whose parents have conscientious scruples against their children learning her formulas. That is a great cause of expense, and a great reason why we do not penetrate into the country as we ought. It is cause of untold mischief and heartburning in Wales, which I much regret, and I do hope the National Society will listen to my appeal to take the matter into consideration and to see whether they cannot alter the terms of union in such a manner as to meet the difficulty. I think that while leaving intact the objects of the Society they might respect the conscientious scruples of Dissenters, as the Bishops of the Church of England did when they agreed to the Endowed Schools Bill. I hope it will not be supposed that I have been at all offensive. I am only influenced by a strong sense of duty, and in what I have said I am fortified by a pamphlet recently written by the Bishop of St. David's, who, himself a strong and leading member of the National Society, gives it as his opinion that all the purposes of religious instruction would be well answered if the National Society would be content with the teaching of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostles' Creed—to which no Dissenter, excepting an Unitarian, has any objection—leaving the doctrinal parts in the Catechism and those parts which refer to the Holy sacraments to the time when the child is prepared for confirmation. I have read that expression of opinion with much pleasure, and I hope it will have weight with the National Society in considering this subject. Passing over the economies which we mean to effect, I come to the question— in what manner are we to deal with the defects which have been pointed out by the Commissioners? There are three faults found:—First, that we teach superficially, ambitiously, and imperfectly; secondly, that we do not spread our schools as widely over the country as we should; and, thirdly, that our system is full of complications. It seems to me that it is quite possible to suggest a system which may do something towards remedying all these defects. What we propose to do will be embodied in a Minute which will be laid on the Table as soon as possible. I will merely state the outline of the Minute, prefacing it with the assurance that the Committee need not be afraid that we contemplate any coup d' etat, because the nature of the grant is such that we cannot make any innovations until the end of the next financial year. It appears to me that the complexity resolves itself into this, that not content with giving the grants on the performance of particular conditions, which I think is a right principle, we have also insisted on paying those grants to the persons for whom they were designed. It might be necessary before the system were organized to do this. But now we are in communication with between 6,000 and 7,000 managers of schools of the highest character, and have no reason to doubt that money paid for a particular purpose would find its way to its destination. If the payments are made direct to the managers, even if the payments remain the same as now. This is a recommendation of the Commissioners, and it is also a recommendation of the Commissioners that the present separate payments shall be discontinued, and that, instead of graduated payments of the com- plicated nature which I have described, augmentation allowances to teachers, varying from £15 to £30, and allowances to pupil-teachers, varying from £12 to £20—payments in the nature of capitation grants shall be substituted. We think it will give great simplicity to the system, and much facilitate its working. But then comes the question, on what conditions shall the capitation grants be given? We think that at present the capitation grant is not given on sufficiently stringent conditions. We think we ought to be satisfied not only that the children have attended a proper number of times and that they have been taught by properly qualified teachers; but that something has been done worthy of the attendance and of the teaching powers of the masters. At the same time we must not be understood as proposing to base our payments upon results simply and by themselves. We think it would be rash and imprudent to sweep away a machinery which has been constructed with great labour, care, and dexterity—which, although it may be complicated and difficult to work, has answered many of the purposes for which it was designed—in order to substitute the new and untried plan of trusting merely to the results of examinations. What we mean to do is to take care that the capitation grant, when paid, shall be paid only upon our being reasonably satisfied that the desired results have been attained. We propose, therefore, to give the capitation grant on the number of attendances of a child above a certain number, provided always that the school is certified by the inspector to be in a fit state, and provided, also, that there is a certified master. These are the conditions necessary for the payment of the capitation grant; but, in order to spread the system more widely, we propose to create a fourth kind of certificate, which will be lower than the present certificates, which may be taken by a younger person, and which will probably be more available for the purposes of rural schools. Having thus secured attendances we propose to go a step further. We propose that an inspector shall examine the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. If a child pass in the whole the full capitation grant will be given; but if he fail in writing, for instance, one-third of the grant will be withdrawn; if he fail in both reading and writing two-thirds will be withheld; while id he fail in reading, writing, and arithmetic, no portion of the grant will be paid. Thus, the Committee will see that we shall never pay anything for a child unless we have been satisfied—First, that he has attended above a certain number of times; secondly, that he has attended a school which is under a certified master; and, thirdly, that he has satisfied an inspector of his capacity in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I hope the change we propose may have some effect in correcting the evils in the teaching which have been complained of. Our object is to secure, as far as possible, that the attention of the master shall not be confined to the upper class of his school, but shall be given to the whole, and we endeavour to effect that object by making the payment of the capitation grant depend upon the manner in which he has instructed each child. I may add that we do not intend to break in upon the system of pupil teachers as now existing. I can hardly hope that I have made myself intelligible. The matter is one of considerable complexity, and I may be allowed to recapitulate the main features of our plan. We propose to give capitation grants on each attendance above a certain number—say above 100—the object being that we shall not be paying money for child who has been taught by another master, and who is brought to the school merely for the purpose of earning the grant. We also require that there shall be a certified master, in order to secure good order, discipline, morality, and competent teaching. Lastly, the grants will be subject to reduction upon failure in reading, writing, or arithmetic. It will be seen, therefore, that when a grant is paid, we shall have secured, as far as we can, not only the presence of a competent teacher, not only the attendance of the child, but also some knowledge of the actual results of the teaching.
Will the capitation grants be given in all cases on a smaller number of attendances than at present?
I have not committed myself upon that point; but my impression is that the grants will be paid on a smaller number of attendances than at present, because there are other conditions which will make the capitation more difficult to obtain than at present. We intend to preserve the interests of all pupil teachers now under engagement, and to take care that all future pupil teachers shall serve as now for a period of five years. I shall now briefly state some of the ad- vantages which I think will arise from our plan. It leaves the whole system of the Privy Council intact. It merely substitutes one kind of payment for another, and that a much more simple and convenient one. It will be attended by a considerable diminution of trouble. It leaves to the managers of schools greater freedom of management than they have at present, and it has always appeared to me that, so long as certain indispensable conditions are complied with, you ought to minimize your interference with the management of schools. Heretofore we have endeavoured to provide the means. We are now extending our view, so as not only to provide the means, but also to see that those means when provided are used to the best advantage. That, I think, is a decided step in advance, because what is the good of attendances and of teachers unless they lead to real instruction and knowledge in the children? We also give the master a much stronger motive for exertion than he has at present. If his children do not pass the examination he will fall into disgrace with his managers; while, if they do pass, he will naturally be highly esteemed, and will have an opportunity of rising in his profession. Our plan, in short, will give an impulse to the profession of schoolmasters, and to the laudable ambition of men who wish to raise themselves in life. At present our schoolmasters are treated upon the principle which Mr. George Potter and his friends desire to apply to the case of all workmen. We first ascertain the capacity of teacher, and then we pay him a certain sum whether he works or not, just as Mr. Potter contends that a man who is lazy and inefficient should be paid as much as a man who is active, industrious, and skilled in his trade. For that system we propose to substitute the wholesome stimulus which must be afforded by an inquiry into the actual results of the teaching in school, testing the exertion which the master has used in teaching, not the upper class only, but all the children under his charge. Hitherto we have been living under a system of bounties and protection; now we propose to have a little free trade. Our plan carries out the idea of the Report, though free, I trust, from many of its objections. The Report suggests the propriety of our being satisfied that the children possess the elementary accomplishments of reading and writing. I think that suggestion is a valuable one, and we have acted upon it. What we propose to do is built upon the present system of the Privy Council. No attempt has been made to introduce any change. The schools will continue to be denominational, and religious teaching must be the foundation of all. The inspectors will still conduct a religious examination where they conduct one now; in short, there is no proposal to make any change in the religious character of the schools. It only remains that I should point out the evils of the proposal. As the system spreads we must increase the number of inspectors. I am afraid that is unavoidable. We have considered the recommendation of the Commissioners that we should employ schoolmasters instead of inspectors; but it appears to us that, considering the delicate and difficult duties which inspectors have to discharge, and the social position of those with whom they come in contact, we ought to retain for their discharge persons of the same class as we have now. We believe the work will be more efficiently done by them than it would be by schoolmasters. They will, as I have said, increase with the extension of the system, but I hope not very rapidly. We must recollect that inspection and the increase of inspectors are evils inseparable form a central system. We grant money; it is necessary we should ascertain it has been properly applied, and we know not how we can get that information except through persons appointed to examine and report. But let me say that if the number of inspectors should become too large the Government and the House have the remedy in their own hands. The number of inspectors is far larger than it need be at this moment, because each denomination has its own inspectors, and it often happens that three of four gentleman are sent to the same town to inspect the schools in it. That, of course, involves an enormous waste of time and money, and some good might be effected by making the same gentleman inspect all classes of schools, with the exception, perhaps, of those belonging to the Roman Catholics. However, we propose nothing of that kind; I merely point out what might be done. Another evil is that we shall pay over the money to the managers of a school, instead of to the person who is to receive it; and, therefore, we are not quite so sure that the money will reach the hands for which it is designed. That, however, is more a theoretical than a practical objection, and I have no doubt that the charitable and religious persons who manage schools will be found in every respect qualified to discharge this trust. I have now laid before the House, I am afraid at too great length, the views and intentions of the Government with respect to the Report of the Education Commission. I hope that, whatever hon. Gentlemen may think of our proposition—upon which, of course, I cannot expect them to deliver a judgment until they have seen the details—they will, at least, believe that we have honestly endeavoured to do our best under circumstances of great difficulty. We have endeavoured to meet the case as well as we could; and we hope, by the kind assistance of the House, to succeed in giving greater efficiency to the present system. The Committee must not expect from us impossibilities. We cannot combine in the same system the advantages of the voluntary principle with those of the system of local rating. We want to carry out the present system under present circumstances as far as we can. So far as we can elevate it, so far as we can make it more comprehensive, more efficient and more economical, we are most anxious to do so.
said, he was sure the Committee felt, as he did, much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for his most lucid and satisfactory statement. He entirely agreed with him in the general scheme of his remarks, and particularly with those made towards the conclusion of his speech. To a certain extent also he agreed with the remarks made by the Commissioners in their Report upon the existing system; they considered it to have worked well, and to deserve continuance; there were, however, blots and defects in the system which required alteration. But, at the same time, he considered that the recommendations made by the Royal Commissioners, however perfect they might be in theory, were wholly impracticable. He had no doubt that the changes adopted from their recommendation and those also proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, which were to be embodied in a Minute and laid on the Table, would remedy some of the most serious defects in the present system. He entirely coincided with what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the National Society. In his appeal to the National Society he did not ask them in any way to alter their terms of union. What was asked was strictly within their existing terms, and required no alteration whatever. He believed if the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman were adopted the effect would be to place the Church, especially in Wales, in a much better position in reference to the education of the country population. The changes to be embodied in the Minute were directly addressed to the main defects of the existing system and would go far to remedy them. The modified application in extensoof the capitation grant, would be a means of the grant reaching, as originally intended, the rural districts. It would also simplify, not only the correspondence and business of the Privy Council, but would very much better the internal arrangements of the schools themselves. He also approved of the proposal to grant a fourth and lower certificate. It was a gratifying fact that labours of the Royal Commission had been brought to an end, for during the pendency of their proceedings all improvements were necessarily suspended, but now they had a Report of a most interesting character, and their hands were untied to act as they pleased. He believed the Report would give general satisfaction form its most material feature, namely, that after most mature inquiry into the subject, extending over a period of three years, conducted by several eminent and able men selected for the purpose, with a large staff of very able assistants and an unlimited command of money, they had come to the conclusion that the existing system should be maintained, and that any changes which could be proposed were not to destroy the system, or in any way to strike at its roots, but merely to supplement it where it was found deficient. That must be satisfactory, for it would set at rest uncertainly which had hung over the present system. Henceforth alterations would be addressed to detail, not to the essence of the system. The Commissioners had certainly in them proposed a supplemental system, made a suggestion which appeared to him to be wholly impracticable; he referred to the proposal to supplement the Treasury grants by payments out of country and borough rates. There were four objections to that proposal. Firstly, it was a needlessly complicated system to have two purses from which to draw; secondly, no Bill would ever be allowed to pass through the House of Commons that proposed to throw additional cost upon the country rates, but if such a Bill did pass it would be found that in the formation of the local boards religious questions would arise and render it perfectly impossible to obtain sufficient unanimity of feeling; thirdly, it was simply a proposal to relieve the bulk of the people for the purpose of casting expense upon special kinds of property; fourthly, it was suggested to open the grants to pupils of all classes of schools, no matter what their religion and so, for the first time, public money would go to secular schools. It would be absolutely turning the flank of the religious position which had always been maintained on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) seemed to take a very favourable view of this proposal, and had referred to previous propositions of his own and of the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell), which were similar in their nature—as far as the proposition of local rates in aid—congratulating himself upon the fact that at last the House was recommended by a body of Royal Commissioners to carry out those suggestions. But the Committee would remember that he (Mr. Adderley) had also before made similar suggestions, and that some years ago he introduced a local rate Bill for Manchester. Upon that Bill a longer discussion arose than any result of it was to prevent everybody from attempting to introduce a similar measure. It was comparatively hopeless, event though the proposition was only local; but if it was impossible to carry a local Bill for an educational rate, how much more impossible would it be to carry such a measure for all parts of the kingdom. The reduction of the Vote, on which the right hon. Gentleman had dwelt as an indication of failure or relapse, was to his mind a most signal proof of the success of the system, and the best promise of its permanency. When the Government aid grew so much out of proportion as to check voluntary contribution it was but proper that it should be reduced, and these reductions were generally followed by an increase of voluntary subscriptions. The right hon. Baronet said that the present system pressed heavily on the clergy, but that was no argument against the system. It was not the fault of the system but of the owners of wealth who allowed the pressure to fall on the clergy, and it would be most detrimental to the system, as a voluntary system, to attempt to relieve any special pressure out of the public purse. In the recent Report of the Commissioners it was stated that the system did not sufficiently meet the wants of the rural districts, and instances were mentioned, especially in the rural districts, where there were a great number of schools which did not obtain Privy Council aid. But it was not the system which did not meet the cases, but these cases which did not meet the system. For what was meant by the poorer districts? They were poor only in the sense that the owners of wealth impoverished them of the voluntary efforts which it was their duty to make for them. It was said this was a system which helped the rich; but that was a fallacy. It was a system which only helped the rich to help the poor. That the present system did not reach the poorer schools was because the managers of these schools objected to bringing them under Government control. That arose, no doubt, from the aversion to centralized authority and to receiving Government aid which was the characteristic of the English people, but at the same time if the managers of these small rural schools would bring them within the sphere of the Privy Council grant, instead of a miserable, wretched school, they might have a first-class school and a superior class of masters without spending a shilling more than at present, so large was the aid offered to good management. With regard to ragged schools, as the subject was now before a Select Committee, he would only say that it was not a little disappointing to find that those persons who had recommended a Royal Commission, and who had moved the Address to Her Majesty for its appointment, should be the first to find fault with it on a point where it did not exactly square with their views. If the Select Committee now sitting in judgment on the Commissioners reported in the same direction as the Royal Commissioners he hoped those Gentleman would not ask for a third inquiry upon the report of the Select Committee on destitute children.
It is evident, I think, that the majority of the Committee is agreed that the system of instruction for the poor should be supported from some public fund. For some years the fund had been provided by this House, and large and increasing grants have been placed at the disposal of the Privy Council for the purpose. The main question which the late Commission were appointed to in- vestigate was whether it was expedient that that system should be continued either wholly or in part, or whether it should be superseded by some other system of public assistance for the instruction of the poor. The conclusion of the Commissioners was substantially to uphold the existing system, but to recommend in addition a system of rating. I quite admit that the advocates of the voluntary system are represented in this House, but they do not form a majority here. Setting aside, then, those who think there should be no assistance from any public fund for the instruction of the poor, I can understand those who say, "Let there be no grant from Parliament, and let the whole of the elementary schools be maintained out of local rates. Let those rates be parochial as in Scotland. Let some parochial authority regulate and distribute the fund, and organize and control the schools. By that means you get the advantage of local management, of local knowledge, and of local inspection, and you save that which is a necessary concomitant and an undoubted evil of a central system—namely, the expense of inspection." These are the advantages of a parochial system of rating and of management. The disadvantages are that in the first place you necessarily confine hour taxation to real property, which excludes a large number of wealthy persons who might in fairness be called upon to contribute to the expense of instructing the poor, but who, if you found your system exclusively upon local taxation, of course, escape. That is one disadvantage attending the system of local educational management. But there is another which I conceive to be the great practical obstacle to such a system, which is the impossibility that a parochial system should be denominational. You cannot have a variety of schools belonging to different religious sects in each parish, because the expense would be too great, and if you do not introduce the denominational system then you have to encounter a series of difficulties similar to those which arise is the case of church rates. The religious difficulty arises and must be contended with, and this has been proved to be insuperable by the advocates of the system of management by parochial rating. If these principles are admitted we seem to be thrown back upon an exclusive system of Parliamentary grants like the present, or we may have recourse to some system like that recommended by the Com- missioners. I rise merely for the purpose of making a few observations upon the system which they have recommended, because it is important that the Committee should correctly appreciate the exact nature of that recommendation. What the Commissioners suggest is that there shall be a county board and a borough board for counties and for boroughs, and that these boards shall elect examiners of schools, who in all cases are to be schoolmasters. The boards have no other duty than to provide the necessary funds out of the county or the borough rates, and to select these examiners, and they are to have no control whatever over any class of schools in the county or in the borough. This system clearly no more affords the advantages of local management, of local control, and local inspection, than the Privy Council system. The duty of the examiners elected by these boards is to examine the children in all the schools within the county or the borough as to their efficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic; to give a certificate to each child according to the standard which, I presume, would be prescribed by the Privy Council; and upon the certificate so given it will be the duty of those boards to pay out of the county rates or out of the borough fund a certain sum in respect of each child who has received the certificate, which sum will be payable towards the expenses of the school. Now, the Committee will see that the county and the borough boards have purely Ministerial duties to perform, and, therefore, it is, in point of fact, a mere contrivance by which you obtain certain payments from the county or borough rate, instead of obtaining payments out of the public Exchequer. You have none of the advantages which belong to a system of local rating and of local action, and whatever arguments may be urged in favour of a system of parochial rating and management, and of local action and administration in respect of schools, are altogether wanting in the system of county and borough rating which is recommended by the Commissioners.
said, he rose to vindicate the National Society, of which he was a member, from the very serious charge which had that evening been brought against it by the Vice President of the Committee of Council. It had been said, that while the society required their terms of union to be inserted in the trust deeds of their schools, there was a sub-under- standing that those terms should be violated. He denied the justice of that accusation. It was quite that by the terms of union, as originally drawn up, it was expressly required that "all" the children should be taught the Catechism and Liturgy of the Church of England. Even if the rule so expressed had remained unaltered, there must, from the necessity of the case have been vested somewhere a discretionary power of determining now the rule should be applied, and what exceptions should be made, while probably no parent would object to his child learning some parts of the Catechism and Liturgy. It was in the nature of things impossible that every child should learn the whole of those formularies; and, in point of fact, it had not at any time been the practice to teach them in the infant schools of the society. But the argument did not rest there. In the year 1839 the society had altered its terms of union, by omitting the word "all," which might seem to prohibit all exceptions, and the rule as it stood now simply required in general terms, that "the children should be taught the Catechism and Liturgy." Now, surely, the fair inference from that alteration was that the society recognized the necessity that existed for allowing reasonable exceptions to be made. The society did not say what exceptions might be made or under what circumstances, but their terms of union pointed to the clergyman of the parish as the proper person to determine questions of that kind. In substance the terms of union provided that the children should be taught the Liturgy and Catechism, that the religious teaching should be under the control of the clergyman of the parish with an appeal, if necessary to the Bishop of the diocese, and that the question whether the children should be compelled to go to church or not should be at the discretion of the managers. The Commissioners in their late Report declared that the importance of the religious difficulty had been very much over-rated, and, speaking generally, said there was no great objection on the part of Dissenting parents to their children learning the Church Catechism, but that they were tenacious about attendance at church. In that respect he confessed he sympathized with them, for he thought it would be intolerable that the children of Dissenters should be compelled to attend a place of worship different from that to which the parents were in the habit of going. With regard to learning the formularies of the Church he believed that, in nineteen cases out of twenty, when a parent conscientiously objected it was not insisted upon, but the proposal that the clergyman should be under a legal obligation to exempt the children of parents who objected from learning those formularies was quite a different thing. If the managers of national schools came under a legal obligation not to teach the Catechism and Liturgy to a particular class of children they could not stop there. They must fulfil such an obligation in the spirit as well as in the letter. They must abstain from teaching not merely the formularies themselves, but the doctrines contained in those formularies, and in the end they would be driven to say that they could not give such children any religious instruction at all. He believed, therefore, the society would be compelled to withhold their assent from the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman. His right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had commented upon the character of the certificated masters, and had told the Committee that they were educated above their work, and that the result of their high training was that the children left the schools without having learnt even to read intelligently. But could the children taught by uncertificated masters read and write better? On the contrary, it appeared form the reports of the Inspectors that the children who were under the certificated stood, in respect of those very items of reading and writing, 50 percent higher than those who were under the certificated masters. As to the expense of the present system, there could be no doubt that it was high. To secure the advantage of religious instruction the system had been more denominational; and this must cost more than a system of mere secular instruction. But if the public expenditure was £800,000 a year, it cost the supporters of the schools twice as much, and if the House did not expend that sum on education now they might, perhaps, have to spend still larger sums upon these children hereafter, for maintaining them in gaol. He should be glad to see the public expenditure on schools increase, and that upon schools decrease. The great objection to the present system was that it did not cover the whole surface of the country, and that the poorest parishes contributed as much in proportion as the wealthiest without receiving the same benefits. But a good system of education must grow up by degrees. The first element was to obtain a good staff of masters, and they could not be got all at once. He thought the present system had been and still was advancing in the estimation of the country, and would in the end be highly approved of. Was it not the fact that there were about 2,000 young men and women in the training schools, of whom one-half went out every year, and found employment without difficulty? That fact alone would prove that the system was extending itself as rapidly as they could reasonably hope or expect. No large district of the country could long be without its school; and he was glad to notice that a change as to the importance of education was coming over the minds of the employers of labour. Depend upon it, it they only gave the system a fair trial, it would gradually extend itself over the whole surface of the country.
could not help expressing his regret that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) had not seen his way to making more important alterations in the present system, with a view of throwing the people more upon their own resources, which became the more certain the more they were appealed to, and which he believed would do more than anything else to make them morally stronger. With regard to capitation grants—in his opinion the worst feature of the present system, and which the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him to be intending to extend—he (MR. Lowe) left all the vices of the system untouched. By it a rule was made for poor districts, which they found themselves afterwards obliged to apply to the wealthy districts. In 1854 the plan was adopted for the rural districts, and now in wealthy communities, such as London, Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds, they were almost compelling people to receive the money for their schools. He knew cases of the schools of manufacturers, millionaires, and wealthy congregations in his own borough, who were perfectly able and willing to support their own systems of education, but who were now taking the public money. It was a scandalous waste of the public funds —and he denounced it to the House. He sympathized more with the remarks of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) than with those of the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), especially on two points. Stress had been laid on the question of religious education. It appeared to him that the right hon. Member for Droitwich was compelled by the bent of his argument to slight religious education —a point to which the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire attached much importance. He (Mr. Baines) felt most strongly that unless they gave a sound moral training, based on the principles of Christianity, they grossly neglected education. All the teaching of arts and sciences would be nothing without a religious education—not as to particular dogmas, but in the grand fundamental principles of Christianity. In that very fact, however, lay the difficulty of connecting popular education with the Government; and it was this difficulty, rather than any insensibility to the importance of religious education, that had driven the right hon. Baronet to his system of local rating, which he (Mr. Baines) thought would not work, and would prove injurious to the interests of religion. In the first place, it would have to encounter the opposition of persons who, like himself, were voluntaryists, and who did not believe that the Founder of our faith intended that that the His doctrines should be inculcated by compulsory taxation. Then see the point to which the present system brought them. They had to provide religious education, and to that end had agreed to pay all alike out of the public purse. Civil justice required it should be so. But the fact that they were manifestly paying for the propagation of opposite opinions, and, therefore necessarily of error, as much as for the propagation of truth, really threw grave doubts on the propriety of a system by which civil justice required them to take such a course. Then with regard to State interference, he was of opinion with Mr. Henley that the State interfered too much, but he went further. Those who supported State interference overlooked the facts of history and of their own day, and almost set light by the religious zeal of the community and the common sense as well as the sense of duty of parents. He believed the Government system of education had been introduced under great misconceptions. The first of these was the small amount of education assumed to exist in this country in comparison with other countries of Europe and America. This he believed to be contrary to the fact, and though not then in the House he endeavoured to show that it was so. He maintained that the number of scholars was far greater than it was supposed to be, and he endeavoured to prove that at that time, 1846–7, one out of every eight or nine children was at school. But it was constantly asserted in that House that only one in every thirteen or fourteen was at school. They were then wanting good statistics on the subject, and that led to many misconceptions. Another thing was that it was supposed that in Prussia and other foreign countries the system of education was much superior to ours, and it was urged that it was a shame this country should be left so much behind. Now, they were told, the education they were giving was of too high an order, and that they were neglecting the elementary and more important branches. He would admit that a great amount of good had been done. The standard of education was higher that formerly; they had obtained better qualified teachers and splendid schoolhouses—indeed, in some instances too splendid. It would be strange if some good had not been done when equal to nearly £5,000,000 had been spent upon it. But now that they had reached this point, he put it to the country whether the system was to be permanent—whether they were to continue a system resting on the taxation of the country, or whether they might not trust more to the people themselves, and if they did so whether they would not have a higher and better education than at present. The hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had said that great masses of the people and great districts of the country were without education. He (Mr. Baines) denied it, and challenged the right hon. Baronet to point out the part of the country where such a state of things existed. What did the Report of the Commissioners say? It told them that the number of children in the day schools throughout the country was 2,532,462, and that the number of schools was 58,975, and that gave an average of nearly six years' education to every child in the entire country. Surely that was a state of things which could not be regarded as very alarming. The Commissioners themselves said—
Then the Commissioners gave them a comparison as to the proportion of children going to school in this and other countries. In Prussia, where education was compul- sory up to a certain age, the scholars were 1 to every 6.27 of the population. In England it was 1 in every 7.7; in Holland 1 in every 8.11; and in France 1 in every 9; so that this country stood higher than many of those countries which were considered to be the first in letters and civilization. Surely these facts ought to induce them to consider whether it was necessary to maintain the present system in its full extent, whether Government interference could not, at least in some degree, be withdrawn, and whether education could not be safely left to the spontaneous efforts of the people? But it was said that we owed these results to the Parliamentary grants. That was an entire mistake, for the greatest strides had been made before the adoption of that system. The proportion of children at school at the different epochs had been as follows;—In 1803, the scholars were 1 in 17 ½ of the population; in 1818, 1 in 17 ¼; in 1833, without one sixpence of public money, it had progressed to 1 in 11 ¼; in 1851, to 1 in 8.36, although the annual grants for education only began in 1847,. In 1858, it was 1 in 7.7. The first grant of school buildings was in 1833; and the payments for teachers and school expenses were commenced much later. They might rely on other things, independent of Government—the power of religion, of philanthropy, the sense of duty in parents, and above all that inexplicably vast progress, that tide and wave of advancing civilization which had been passing over this country in a way beyond what had been realized in any other age of the world. Besides this there were the Sunday schools, in which there were 2,411,544 children, and 320,000 voluntary teachers giving their time from week to week and from year to year. Having been for forty years engaged in Sunday schools as teacher or superintendent, he had a right to feel proud of that result. Was not that an argument why they should depart form that extravagant system in which they had embarked? Then he thought this was a peculiarly favourable conjuncture for reviewing the educational system. They had repealed taxes on knowledge this year to the amount of £1,500,000, and since 1836 to the amount of from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000, and that was one reason why they should leave education to take care of itself. They might with the most absolute safety leave the work to the people themselves. The people were now in an excellent condition in regard to employment. Poor rates, which in 1831 were at the rate of 9s. 9d. per head, had fallen in 1859–60 to 5s. 6d. per head. Then, again, let them look to the number of educational establishments of an auxiliary kind. There were now 1,200 Mechanics' Institutions, with 200,000 members. Since 1831 newspapers had increased 273 per cent, while the population had increased only 40 percent, and during the same period a cheap literature, of a religious, moral, and scientific character, had sprung up, such as did not exist when most of the Members of that House were young men. It was a fact, indicative of the great advance which had been made in this direction, that the circulation of Bibles, through the instrumentality of one society alone, had increased, since 1831, 307 per cent, and that of religious tracts 276 per cent. The number of letters passing through the Post Office had increased 560 per cent in twenty years, and during the last thirty years the number of depositors in savings banks had increased 250 per cent, and the amount of deposits 184 per cent. There were now £40,000,000 sterling laid up in the savings banks of this country by 1,503,916 depositors. The Provident Institutions had £3,000,000 of deposits, and possessed capital to the amount of £11,360,000. The Temperance Societies contained 3,000,000 of members, of whom one-half were children under the age of fifteen. Then, as to the diminution in the amount of crime, while the commitments in 1831 were 19,647, in 1859 they were only 16,674. There was now a great amount of authority to show that the cost of education, if they went on at the same rate as they were now doing, would shortly be upwards of £2,000,000 annually. The capitation grants, which in 1854 amounted only to £5,000, had this year reached the enormous sum of £77,000. There appeared to him to be a vice in the training of schoolmasters at the public expense. He saw no better reason for doing so than for training, lawyers, doctors, of farmers, at the public expense. A number of the persons who had been thus trained were in the habit of leaving the profession, and taking other employments to which the training they had got enabled them to aspire. Boys were selected for their literary efficiency before their characters or principles were established, and brought up as schoolmasters, though, as had been shown by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, in such a position moral qualifications were infinitely superior to cleverness. He would appeal to the Government to give some weight to the opinion of those Gentlemen, who from the beginning had been connected with the system, and who had now come forward to warn them of the lengths to which, if unchecked, it would proceed. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, who might be regarded as the founder of the system, stated that he expected that after a few years—"Most of the children who, being able to attend, do not belong to any school appear to be the children of in-door paupers, or of parents viciously inclined. With these exceptions almost all children in the country capable of going to school receive some instruction."
Mr. Harry Chester, formerly Assistant Secretary of the Committee of Council on Education and Vice President of the Society of Arts, in an "Address to the United Association of Schoolmasters of Great Britain," 27th December, 1860, says—"A new series of operations might commence, by which the charge of public education might be gradually transferred from the Consolidated Fund to the local sources of income—school pence and subscriptions."
Mr. Chester condemned the "stereotypic power" of governmental action—its "too great rigidity of regulation"—the "monopoly which it gives of the privilege of teaching with a salary derived partly from the national funds"—"the cramping and dwarfing of power" of a system of "protection" in education, equally as in agriculture, shipping, and manufactures; and he says the voluntary system of education is much more likely than the governmental one "to produce a robust, masculine, character," and "power of self-government." He adds—"Parliamentary grants appear to have a natural inevitable tendency to extend themselves upwards; and we must be prepared to see the area of their incidence constantly extended, not only from little children to young persons and adults, but also from the poor by degrees to the middle classes. The line of the Poor Law—the line of destitution, is a clear line of demarcation between classes; but above that line I believe it is not possible to draw permanently any satisfactory line of demarcation between those whom the State ought and ought not to assist in procuring education."
Mr. Tremenheere, a gentleman of great ability and experience, who had been Inspector of Schools from 1839, and was now Inspector of Mines, in his letter to the Education Commissioners, proposed to reduce the education grants by at least two-thirds of their whole amount within ten years. He maintained that the large expenditure on the training of teachers and capitation grants was unnecessary, a waste of public money—not successful in its results—not giving the best kind of teachers—greatly diminishing voluntary subscriptions to schools and training colleges, and injuring the independent spirit of the people. Mr. Tremenheere further said—"I conceive that the time has arrived when all the grants of the Committee of Council on Education should be made on a slowly expiring scale, in order that the promoters of schools might clearly understand that the aid of the Government was not to be permanently given; but was intended to enable them to grow up to independence."
He showed that the incomes of twenty-eight training colleges from voluntary sources in 1853 was £45,000, whereas the incomes of twenty-six of them had in 1858 fallen to £22,000; and he thought the system of pupil teachers better fitted to produce clever teachers than teachers "whose moral character, disposition, taste, and inclinations best fitted them for that sphere of duty." The statements contained in the Report of the Commission had also had the effect of inducing Dr. Vaughan, the editor of the British Quarterly Review, who in 1847 strongly supported Government aid to education, to state that in his opinion popular education had now acquired such a position that the Government might safely leave it for the future to the community; and he also complained of over-education, and educating the middle classes at the public expense. He (Mr. Baines) would conclude by reminding the House that the views of a minority of the Commissioners of Education had been expressed in favour of the entire discontinuance of Government interference. That minority held that in a country like England the Government had ordinarily no educational duties, except towards those who were the victims of destitution, vagrancy, or crime; that the Government should abstain from making grants in aid of education, except towards the building of schools, and that the present annual grants should be gradually withdrawn, the Government confining its aid to Union schools, reformatories, &c., and to developing the sources of public charities which might be applicable to popular education. The minority further stated their opinion to be, that it was unwise to take off a burden which rightfully appertained to parents, and to impose it upon the State, and that the Government would not be able to control the growing expenditure which the development of the present system would necessitate. Having given expression to these views, he (Mr. Baines) would content himself by saying that while he was a firm friend of popular education, and should never feel satisfied till it became universal, he was convinced it would be better for the country, and that it was sounder in principle, that the system of education should be one of perfect freedom, and that the Government should leave the people, as in religion, the press, and industry, entirely to their own independent exertions. He was convinced that in a country like this, freedom would ultimately produce higher education and higher national character than any system which placed education under Government support and control."If the contributions from voluntary sources in support of training colleges were brought back to and only moderately increased beyond what they were in 1853, the training of the whole required number of teachers could be provided for without Government aid."
As I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education in his remarks respecting the National Society I wish to say a few words in explanation. I now hold in my hand the printed terms of union of that society, and the first is that children are to be instructed in the Scriptures and Catechism of the Established Church. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the Committee of the National Society had been hardly acting fairly by the subscribers of that society. But he omitted to state that the original terms were these—instead of "the children," the words "every child" were used. That was deliberately altered for the purpose, and it was altered not to "the children" but to "all children" about ten or eleven years back. It was again altered to "the children" for the express purpose of meeting cases which occurred in the country, where it might be desirable, under the discretion of the clergyman, to let in children without the strict application of the rules. The second rule of the society is this—"with respect to such instruction the school is to be under the superintendence of the parochial clergy." It goes on to say that if any dispute arises between the clergyman and the managers the matter is to be referred to the Bishop of the diocese, and his decision is to be final. This matter having been so formally brought before the Committee, though without any notice to the National Society, I thought it could not be wrong to state the views of the National Society, and, therefore, I will state their opinion, expressed so recently as the 5th of December, when they came to the conclusion that the rules which relate to the giving of religious instruction in the schools are so framed as to allow clergymen liberty in the application of them to the several children, and also to enable the clergymen, in the several parishes, to make alterations in the practice of the schools, so as to adapt them to the wants and circumstances of the place, due regard being had to an honest conformity to the purposes for which the society is incorporated.
said, he had heard with pleasure the fairness and the moderation of tone in which the case of the Dissenters and the National Society had been pure by the right hon. Gentleman. The National Society was not asked to give up its rights of teaching the Catechism. All that was asked was that when Dissenters were called on to assist in the formation of a National Society's school in a district in which there was a large body of Dissenters, a conscience clause should be inserted. The right hon. Gentleman said that Dissenters as a body did not object to learn the Catechism. He admitted that vast numbers of them went to national schools, and a large proportion did learn the Catechism. The question, however, having now been formally raised, must be settled, and it was most important that it it should be settled in reference to parts of the country like that from which he came, where nine-tenths of the population were Dissenters, but where the proprietors of the land and the largest contributors to the schools were Churchmen. In the majority of cases the clergymen did not insist upon the Church Catechism being repeated by Baptists, for instance; and if that was so, why should they not square the theory with the practice. The case of the ragged schools was a proof that the interests of religion would not be neglected, though there was no connection with any religious denomination. There was no religious difficulty in these schools, nor need there be in any case where religion was taught irrespective of denominational distinctions. He knew personally that that was so, for it had been tried in a school with which he was connected. Anybody who had heard the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) would have supposed they were embarked in a course of reckless expenditure, but that was, in truth, by no means the case. It had been shown that in 1859 they expended £761,000 upon 821,000 children; whereas, in 1861, they expended £803,000 upon 941,000, showing an increased expenditure of only £40,000, with an increase of 120,000 children. He considered that the four or five millions which had been expended had been well spent in raising the standard of education. It was asked why should they take the step they were about to take, when they had so lately removed the taxes upon knowledge; the answer was that they wished people to be rendered able to avail themselves of the increased means of acquiring information. The effect of the spread of education was shown in this, that within the last three years especially there had been a great diminution of crime; and money could not be better spent than in producing such a result. His own opinion was that the schoolmasters were not at all too highly educated, for it was desirable that a high class of education should be in some degree disseminated among the working-classes. He should support the proposition of the Government, but the joined in the regret that the very poorest classes were not reached to the extent that was desirable; although, no doubt, a great deal had been done in this direction, for the larger portions of the grants were given in large towns where the poorest classes were.
said, he did not mean to enter upon the general question, though he felt himself tempted to reply to the hon. Gentleman who last spoke that it did not follow, because the poorest classes were to be found in our large towns, and that the principle grants were made to the towns, that therefore, the very poorest classes in those towns were reached. He would not enter upon the topics referred to in the interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), for, though his explanation was very clear, it was difficult to understand exactly what the working of the Minute to which he had referred would be on many points till it was laid before them. He confessed he was surprised to find that the Government were prepared so soon to express their opinions on the recommendations of the Commissioners. He had thought that those recommendations would have required longer consideration than they appeared to have received from the Government. But he only rose now to call the attention of the Committee to the mode in which the Education Estimates were prepared and submitted to the House. In other departments the Estimates were prepared and submitted to the Treasury, and the Treasury had the power of exercising some discretion regarding them. But in the case of the Education Estimates neither the Treasury nor even the department itself could exercise hardly any control over them, because they did not, like other Estimates, depend on what was estimated might be required for the year, but on what the public might demand in the shape of grants in the course of the year. It was highly important that all Minutes involving the expenditure of money should be submitted to the Treasury, and approved of by them before they were published. He presumed that the opinion of the Cabinet and of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was taken upon the Minute, but he must urge upon those who had the control of the Education department that the Treasury ought always to be consulted on the framing of these Minutes, since they really governed the expenditure.
thought the House incurred great responsibility in voting so large an amount of money over the expenditure of which it had no control. The relation in which the Privy Council stood to the inspectors deserved attention. Certain gentlemen recently wrote to the Committee of Privy Council to complain of irrelevant and inaccurate statements in the report of one of the inspectors. It might have been supposed that it was the duty of the Privy Council to supervise and check these reports and to keep the writers within proper bounds. The secretary of the Committee of Education, however, was directed to inform these gentleman that the Committee of Education could not answer for the statements of individual inspectors, and must leave the matter to such notice as it might receive in Parliament. So that Parliament, with its other multifarious duties, had thrown upon it the duty of examining the reports of these inspectors. No less than £162,000 had been granted for the education of Roman Catholics exclusively, and it was left entirely to Roman Catholic inspectors to see how that money was expended. One of these inspectors had gone so far as to show how much more admirably was the influence of Romanism on social and moral conduct of nations and individuals than Protestantism. He (Mr. Whalley) looked upon that as a great breach of duty upon the part of the inspector; he had no right to make use of the public time and money for the purpose of entering into a disquisition on the relative merits of Protestant and the Roman Catholic religions. If the grant was to be administered in such a manner it would afford an additional argument in favour of the views of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), who, representing the common sense and feelings of the great majority of men practically acquainted with the subject, maintained that the public purse should, be gradually closed against the demands made upon it for education. He would now move that the capitation grant No. 4, for England and Wales, which was put down as £77,000 this year, be reduced by 12,000, when it would stand at the same amount as last year. He had been informed that in the neighbourhood of London these capitation grants had been demanded, and granted, by those who had intended to use them for purposes at variance with the intention of Parliament —namely, for the establishment or sustentation of nunneries in connection with the schools for which the grants ought to be applied.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the item of £77,000, for Capitation Grants in England and Wales, be reduced by the sum of £12,000."
said, he wished to remind the hon. Gentleman that the Vote he proposed to cut down affected all the schools. The discussion that had taken place had been most instructive to Irish Members. Hon. Members on both sides of the House had agreed that they would not vote money for public instruction unless provision were made in the schools for the religious education of the children. Schools for secular instruction were not to receive one farthing of the public money which was to be distributed by the religious denomination for religious instruction. The principal was in his view a sound one. But what would hon. Members do when the Vote of £280,000 for education in Ireland came before them? There the principle adopted was diametrically opposite, for in Ireland any school in which religion was taught was deprived of the grant. This Vote differed from every other item in the Civil Service Estimates in many respects, and he contended that the object for which the money was given could be promoted by other means than the expen- diture of public money. They had been told that the repeal of the taxes on knowledge was a step in the way of promoting education, and he believed that the opening of the whole of the Civil Service to free competition would create a great stimulus to education in the country.
said, he took exception to the declaration of the hon. Member that there was a general agreement in favour of the state giving religious instruction to the people. A large minority in the House adopted a different view. He believed that education could be given more effectually if combined with religion, but it was not the business of the State to take upon itself the religious instruction of the people. How could the State, if it did so, teach any other religion but its own—the religion of the Church with which it was exclusively connected? The business of the State was to provide the means of instruction to the poorer classes, but not to give instruction, except to the criminal and pauper population, with respect to whom the State stood in loco parentis. He concurred with the hon. Member for Peter borough in objecting to an increase of the capitation grants; for he did not desire that the State purse should be used for the purpose of educating those who were able to educate themselves. He was afraid that in working out the proposed Minute the expenses would be increased.
said, he was of opinion that no case had been made out for the withdrawal of the capitation grants, and he thought that the Committee would not constitute itself the judge of the sincerity of the different professors of religion. According to the principle on which the money was given the Roman Catholics were entitled to their share. He did not concur in the opinion of the hon. Member for Leeds as to the power of voluntary efforts to meet the necessary expenses; but he held that education would be the cheapest thing in the world provided it was conducted on the right principle, for it tended to diminish crime, and to reduce the expenses of the convict establishments.
said, he agreed with the hon. Member for Peterborough, that the remarks of the inspectors to which he had called attention were irrelevant. He had taken measures to prevent the repetition of such observations, and he hoped that after this explanation the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £77,484, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expenses of the General Management of the Department of Science and Art, of the Schools throughout the Kingdom in connection with Department, and of the Geological Surveys of Great Britain and Ireland, &c. to the 31st day of March, 1862."
explained that the Vote included a sum of £6,000 for the Royal Dublin Society. It was his intention, if the Committee would permit him, to take that sum and hold it until the Government could come to some terms with the society as to the opening of the gardens at Glasnevin on Sundays. But a short time had elapsed since the debate which took place the other night, and he should be unwilling to omit the Vote. He would, however, take care that the money was not spent until the society had been placed in a proper relation to the State.
said, he objected to the holding of the withdrawal of the grant in terrorem over the society to compel it to accede to the wishes of the Government. It was a novel principle, and, he thought, an objectionable one. He would, therefore, move the omission of the item from the Vote.
said, that the same thing was done a short time ago with respect to the Vote for the Hibernian Academy. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman was about to take the course which he had now proposed, because he believed that the object which they all had at heart could be accomplished without acting harshly towards the society, which was one of the most useful which existed either in Ireland or in this country.
said, he thought it would be a great misfortune if a petty quarrel about the opening of the gardens should cause inconvenience to such a valuable institution as the Royal Dublin Society. He hoped the dispute would soon terminate, and from letters he had received he had reason to know that many of the members of the society were willing to throw the responsibility of opening the gardens on the Government, and place them under the same regulations as those governing Kew and other public gardens, and it was to be hoped that no further obstacle would be offered to an amicable arrangement being come to.
said, he thought that if Parliament had earlier pronounced a decided opinion the present unpleasant position of affairs might have been avoided. He trusted that the dispute would be amicably arranged.
said, that the course which had been adopted dictated by a sincere desire to show to that excellent society all the respect to which it was entitled. By one of its resolutions the society expressly recognized the right of Parliament to prescribe the mode in which the money voted should be spent, and he hoped that after the decided opinion which had been expressed by the House there would be no further difficulty in regard to this matter. In the case of the Hibernian Academy no Vote was taken, but after arrangements had been made the money was advanced by the Treasury and voted in the following year. In this instance, considering the importance of the Royal Dublin Society, the amount of the Vote, and the many other useful undertakings in which the society was engaged, he thought that it would be better to adopt the course which was now proposed.
said, that as he understood that anything like a threat was abandoned, he would withdraw his opposition to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman.
said, he would move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £15,000, which was asked for the erection of schools and residences at South Kensington. If these buildings were constructed according to Captain Fowkes's plan, they would involve the erection of an architectural elevation which would cost £200,000 or £300,000, and upon which Parliament had had no opportunity of pronouncing any opinion. If the schools and residences were to be erected, let them be so built as not to involve the necessity for an ornamental frontage. The plan, however, involved two ornamental frontages, one to the west and the other to the south. The schools and residences for which the Vote was now asked would occupy almost the whole frontage towards the Exhibition building. The Government would not, he thought, be justified in committing the House to the adoption of the plan without further inquiry, and, that being his opinion, he should move that the item of £15,000 be omitted.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the item of £15,000, for Schools and Residences at South Kensington, be omitted from the proposed Vote."
said, the buildings to which the noble Lord alluded would in themselves be perfectly plain and unornamented, so that they might be adapted to any style of frontage which might be decided upon. It was an error, therefore, to suppose that the Committee, in assenting to the present Vote, would be pledging themselves to the erection of an ornamental frontage.
said, he was satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, and would withdraw his Amendment.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £:185,377, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Public Education in Ireland, under the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, to 31st day of March, 1862."
said, the total amount of the Vote for Public Education in Ireland, which it was his duty to ask the Committee to grant for the present year, was £285,377, which showed an increase of £14,350 over the Vote of last year. That increase came for the most part under three heads:—The salaries of teachers, in which there was an increase of £9,950; the distribution of books, on which the increase was £3,000; and the model schools, in connection with which the increase was something about the same amount. The principal items of the Vote were those for the salaries of the teachers, £186,000; for the model school department, £33,000; and for inspection, £23,000. For that sum of money there had been maintained in the course of the year 1860 a number of schools amounting to 5,623, the total number of pupils at any one time in connection with the board having amounted to 804,000, while the average daily attendance during the past year was 252,000. In adverting to that point he might observe that for the first time in the history of those schools there had last year been a small decrease occasioned in the number of pupils in attendance, owing, he believed, almost exclusively to the unusual inclemency of the weather. Last year he pointed out to the House the satisfactory circumstance that the number of pupils who had been calculated upon when the system began upon a population of 8,000,000 had been obtained upon a population not amounting to 6,000,000, evidencing an amount of popular education not equalled perhaps in any other country. There had been an increase of 136 in the course of the year in the number of schools maintained, the number in the former year having been 5,496, and in the year that had just closed 5,632. Nor were the benefits of the system confined to any particular part of Ireland. On the contrary, the schools numbered in Ulster, 2,064; in Munster, 1,405; in Leinster 1,325; and in Connaught, 838; so that they might be said to be scattered equally throughout the country. He might also state that the total number of new schools brought into connection with the board amounted last year to 230; of which 114 were in Ulster; 43 in Munster, 30 in Leinster, and 43 in Connaught,. Those schools had been taken up by 186 patrons, of whom there were 30 clerical belonging to the Church of England and 20 lay; Presbyterians, 18 clerical and 9 lay; Dissenters, 4 clerical and 4 lay; of Roman Catholics, 90 clerical and 11 lay—a remarkable proof that the public support which the system so abundantly deserved had not been withheld in any part of the island or by any section of the community. An examination of the number of pupils for the last quarter of 1860 afforded evidence of the same nature. In that quarter of the whole number of pupils, which was 548,000, of Roman Catholics there had been 455,00; of the Church of England, 30,800; Presbyterian, 59,000; and of other denominations, 2,670. Taking the whole year upon a population of less than 6,000,000, there had been not less than 668,000 Roman Catholic pupils, 86,000 Presbyterians, 45,000 of the Church of England, and 3,800 of other denominations, making in the whole 804,000 pupils, or, in other words, 668,000 Roman Catholics, and 135,000 Protestants, a result such as no other system of education probably could show. But it had been said, and a great deal of discussion had taken place upon the point in that House and in Ireland, that the system was falsely represented to be a mixed system—that the Protestants were brought up by themselves, and the Roman Catholics by themselves—that it was thus practically a denominational system. But what was the meaning of a mixed school? Was the term confined exclusively to schools where the pupils were mixed? If so, it must follow that the benefits of the mixed system could not be applied to that large part of the country where the poor population was exclusively of one denomination. Neither in regard to the historical nature of the system, nor in regard to its moral advantages was it just to limit its benefits in that manner. So long ago as 1846 the Commissioners reported that the system of national education which was really designed to be established, and which, in fact, had been established, did not exclude children of any denomination; they might admit, without doing violence to the conscience, all those who wished for education, whatever might be their religious creed. That was the true principle of the system, and the one best adapted to the circumstances of the country. It was of great importance to train the rising generation of the country on a system of education common to them all as Christians, so that they might acquire those general principles and habits which would enable them to work together in all the relations of after life as fellow-citizens. A return moved for by the hon. Member for Youghal showed that of 5,411 schools in operation in Ireland 2, 898, or more than half the number, were mixed schools. Of 91,486 Protestants and 478,000 Roman Catholics receiving education, 80,117 of the former and 215,000 of the latter were educated in mixed schools. It was alleged as an objection that there was only a small minority of Protestants in some schools and of Roman Catholics others, so that they were not properly "mixed;" but when did pupils require protection more than when they were in a minority like that? In point of fact, however, these minorities were by no means so frequent as was alleged; and did not detract from the "mixed" character of the system. Another test of the efficacy of the system was that in mixed schools the average attendance was 102, while in the separate Protestant or Roman Catholic schools the attendance varied from ten to fifty. He contended that these were results, in a country circumstanced like Ireland, which the founders of the system never could have been so sanguine as to have anticipated would have been brought about by that time. The next question was whether the system had any hold on the affections of the people. Originally it was almost exclusively confined to the class for whose benefit no doubt it was chiefly designed— the Roman Catholic majority of the country. In 1840 the Presbyterian body became firmly attached to the system; and in 1859 it received the adherence of the Wesleyans—a body important not from its numbers but from its position and principles. In 1860 took place that correspondence with the venerable primate with which the House was acquainted, which resulted in the accession of many additional schools belonging to the Church of England to the national system. In short, the increase in the number of schools was due not to this denomination or to that, but to all collectively, and to clerical as well as lay patrons. Thus had the system grown and prospered until it now embraced the whole country, every province, and every creed; and in spite of the opposition which still remained in certain quarters, he had no doubt that it would continue to strengthen its hold on the affections of the Irish people and on the confidence of Parliament. The education which was afforded in Ireland would bear strict comparison with that in England. It was given with great skill and ability, and the Irish school-books, it was well known, were used wherever the English language was spoken. It must be owned, however, that the system was defective in regard to the irregular attendance of children. While a large number of pupils were on the books only about a half were in average daily attendance. The power of dealing with that evil was by improving the quality of the masters, because on the ability of the masters the attendance must depend. The hon. Member for Dungarvan had given notice of his intention to call attention to the remuneration of the masters, but he thought the Committee would agree with him, that a good deal had been done during the last two years to improve their condition. The average payment to the male class teachers was £26 11s. 4d., and to females £22 12s. That was the payment from the funds voted by Parliament, but it was not the whole payment, nor was it intended that it should be the whole payment, because those schools flourished best where a small voluntary payment was made by the parents for the attendance of their children. It was desirable that the children should pay, and he hoped that the local contributions would increase as the system was extended. It was encouraging to find that the local contributions had increased from £26,000 in 1832, to £43,000 in 1860. The average increase of payment to masters and mistresses from local contributions was only £8 15s., and, therefore, he was not prepared to contend that their position was as good as it ought to be. Great efforts, however, had been made by Parliament to better their condition. Large sums had been liberally given by Parliament, and he trusted that the growing liberality of private individuals would supply the deficiency of their salaries. In obtaining this Vote last year the Government stated what changes they intended to introduce. A great controversy on the principles of the system had arisen from many quarters, but, confirmed by the knowledge of the firm purpose of Parliament, the Government felt it their duty to return a firm, yet courteous, refusal to every proposal which invited them to break into the cardinal principles of that system. At the same time, the Government expressed their perfect readiness to make any change which, consistently with those principles, might extend the usefulness of that system. With regard to the model schools, they stated that when the Commissioners had completed the building of twenty-six, those Commissioners should engage themselves to build no more without the express sanction of Parliament obtained on the proposition of the Government. In the course of last year strong applications which had long been made from the important town of Enniskillen were acceded to by the Commissioners, and now the number of twenty-six model schools having been completed no more would be built, except with the direct sanction of Parliament. With regard to the books, they had attained an amount of general circulation and popularity such as no other books for the education of children had ever reached. But it was thought that, in order to keep up with the progress of knowledge since they were written, they ought to be reviewed. It was also thought that in the books there was an absence of attractiveness and of everything local, national, and patriotic as regarded Ireland, which might be easily remedied, while retaining the spirit and usefulness of the books. It was interesting to find that they had anticipated the conclusion since announced by the Royal Commissioners, who had examined into the system, and who said schoolmasters had reason to complain that the books abounded in words needlessly abstruse, and beyond the comprehension of children; that the poetry was selected from inferior sources; that the dry outlines of geography were unsuitably introduced; that the history epitome was destitute of picturesqueness, and incapable of striking the imgination or awakening the attention of a child, and that science was not explained, as it should be, in familiar language, and with illustrations from real life. Confirmed by that authority the Board were about to appoint a committee of their own body to remedy the defects which had been pointed out by the Commissioners. The next point was the change of the rules by which aid for building would in future be given, as formerly, not merely to the schools vested in the Commissioners in their corporate capacity, but to schools vested in trustees, and approved by the Board. Every one who had seen the Irish schoolhouses must have been struck by their inferiority to those in England. It was most important in a sanitary view that they should be commodious, and it was desirable that there should be divisions of class-rooms and school-rooms suitable for the purpose of teaching. For years past there had been a practical prohibition of any aid from the State towards building schools in Ireland, and last year it was proposed to remove the restriction by the arrangement to which he had referred. The subject had been under the consideration of the Board, and he hoped to hear that they had adopted resolutions to carry the intentions of the Government into effect. There remained the last and most important question—the constitution of the Board itself. The Government felt that in a country circumstanced like Ireland half should be of one religious communion, and half of the other. The principle had been carried out, and the list of members contained names which must command respect and affection in Ireland, and earn the confidence of the House of Commons. The Board consisted of six members of the Established Church and four Presbyterians, making together ten Protestants, and ten Roman Catholics. The names which had been added were those of Lord Dun-raven, Chief Justice Monahan, Chief Baron Pigot, Mr. Waldron, M.P. for Tipperary, Mr. Lentaigne, and Mr. O'Hagan, and the Board was so constituted as to represent every class of opinion among the supporters of the system of national education. The system, planned thirty years ago by the Earl of Derby, and supported by every Govern- ment which had succeeded since, was an institution which owed its success to the great desire of the Irish people to acquire knowledge, and to the admirable manner in which it had been conducted through the liberality of Parliament. It had met with difficulties, but he hoped those difficulties had been in a great degree surmounted, and he trusted the Committee would grant the money then asked for with that ready cordiality with which they had voted it on every former occasion.
said, he thought the Committee could not enter into a discussion of the general question of national education in Ireland at midnight. He was, therefore, disposed to move that the Chairman should report Progress; but he would be satisfied with an assurance from the right hon. Chief Secretary that before the Vote was finally taken he would give the House an opportunity of discussing the great question whether Ireland was entitled to the same freedom in religious instruction which England enjoyed. The Vote for education in Ireland had gradually risen from £30,000 to nearly £100,000, and it now comprised various items which he was sure Parliament never contemplated. Considerable sums of money were now asked for normal establishments, training departments, model schools, model literary schools, railway model national schools, navigation schools, agricultural schools, industrial agricultural schools, and model industrial schools. In many of those schools there were teachers of music and teachers of drawing. Such items did not properly belong to a Vote intended for the education of the poor.
stated, that the industrial and agricultural schools were not new items; they had appeared in the Estimates before. complaints used to be made that the schools were not industrial enough, and the Government had reduced the amount for agricultural schools. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would permit the Vote to be taken tonight, reserving what he had to say on the general question till the Report.
said, he hoped the debate would be adjourned at once. He could not consent to pass the Vote then, and allow the discussion to be taken upon the Report. The discussion of the general question should be finished before the Vote was agreed to. He dissented from almost every word which had fallen from the Chief Secretary. He denied that the national system of education prevailing in Ireland had any hold, as the right hon. Gentleman had remarked, upon the affections of the people of Ireland. He asked whether the single Protestant Bishop who had associated himself with it was one most esteemed for his learning and his judgment? He would not say anything upon that point himself; but he was sure nobody else would answer the question in the affirmative. The fact was that the system was thrust upon the Irish people whether they liked it or not. None of the most eminent prelates of the Roman Catholic Church had at all countenanced it. It was a subject of the deepest interest to Ireland, and he was happy to say there was nothing sectarian in the opposition. [Cries of "Progress."] He knew how unpalatable the subject was, especially after the long discussion they had had on the English system; but he wished to say a few words on the objections that were entertained to the system. He denied that it could at all answer the religious wishes of the Irish people, which could only be met by adopting the denominational system, as adopted in England; and he might refer to the Report of the English Education Commissioners as condemning by implication the Irish plan. The right hon. Gentleman had described it as a common system. It was no such thing. It only professed to be a system of common secular education and separate religious instruction. The principle which was held to be essential and vital in England, was altogether discountenanced in Ireland. All parties disapproved it. The memorial of the Irish Roman Catholic Prelates also condemned the system because religion did not run through the whole course of instruction, but was confined to separate and isolated seasons. As a proof that that was the rigid practice of the Board, he might refer to a letter from. Mr. Dalton, asking whether, if he placed his school under the National Board, he would be allowed, in the ordinary hours of education, to make any reference to the Bible, and after a good deal of fencing he was at last told that the use of the Bible or the communication of religious instruction in the ordinary school hours was incompatible with the National system. He felt that he might say much more but for the lateness of the hour; but he must enter his protest against the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that the system was at all popular in the country.
moved that the Chairman should report Progress.
said, he hoped, after the long discussion which had already taken place on the subject, and as hon. Gentlemen would have another opportunity of speaking on the Report, the Vote would be allowed to be taken that night.
said, he was astonished at the statement of the noble Lord. The long discussion was confined to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman and the speeches of two hon. Members. There was no question of more importance to be discussed in that House than the Irish system of education, and if it were not the Irish Members had a full right to discuss a system which at least materially affected themselves.
said, he felt himself perfectly justified in making an appeal to the noble Lord. He could assure him that the question excited the deepest interest in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) challenged discussion, and he (Mr. Butt) would, therefore, appeal to the noble Lord whether it was fair to stop it. He hoped the hon. Member would persevere in his Motion that the Chairman report Progress.
said, he was sure that the lively style of the noble Lord opposite would command attention either now or at any other time of night; but if the Irish representatives wished for a fuller discussion of the Vote it was only fair that it should be allowed them. He would, therefore, agree to the Motion for reporting Progress.
Whereupon Motion made, and Question,
"That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported this day.
Committee to sit again this day.