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Observations

Volume 164: debated on Thursday 11 July 1861

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Order for Committee (Supply) read;

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the Report of the Education Commission. He was quite aware of the value of the time of the House in the existing state of public business; and, therefore, he did not now intend to enter into any extended argument on the subject to which he wished to direct attention. But, considering the important Report which had been laid upon the table by the Education Commissioners, considering the great ability of that Report, considering the interesting and comprehensive nature of its contents, considering also that that Report bore upon questions which he had felt it his duty, in the course of the last few years, on more than one occasion to bring before the House, he hoped hon. Members would not consider him unduly intruding on their time if he requested permission to draw their attention to some portions of that Report, and to the considerations which the Report suggested on the subject of the present system of the education of the poor in England. He wished, in the first instance, to remind the House of the circumstances that led to the appointment of the Commission. It would be recollected that for several years, extending from 1853 to 1858, the question of public education excited considerable attention in Parliament and a strong feeling of interest in the country. The first measure on the subject to which he would call attention was one for local objects, but involving at the same time a general principle—he meant the Bill for the extension of education in Manchester and Salford. That Bill proposed an entirely new mode of providing funds for educational purposes, and also a new mode of carrying on religious teaching in schools. The principles laid down in that Bill were deemed so important that it was referred to a Select Committee, and the evidence taken before that Committee constituted the most valuable public document existing on that interesting subject, with the exception of the Report of the Commission which he held in his hand. In 1855 he (Sir John Pakington) himself introduced a Bill by which he proposed an entirely new mode of conducting the public education of the country. The discussion of that Bill occupied a considerable time. The principle which he advocated met with great opposition, and the Bill was not allowed to pass, but the protracted debates to which it gave rise tended to the increase of information on the subject, and to the formation of a strong opinion both in and out of doors. In 1856 the noble Lord, then Secretary of State for the Home Department, submitted a series of Resolutions on the subject of education. Those Resolutions were founded on exactly the same principles on which he had based his Bill the previous year; but they were much opposed in the House, especially by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham), and after a long discussion they were rejected by a large majority. In the following year, 1857, he (Sir John Pakington) introduced a Bill not indentical, but involving similar principles with his previous measure; but he was prevented from proceeding with it by a dissolution of Parliament. Those were the circumstances in which the advocates of some alteration in the system of education found themselves at the commencement of 1858; and in the commencement of that year a difference of opinion on both sides of the House was expressed upon the question, whether the present system of education was sufficient for the complete education of the people. Seeing the difficulty of the House of Commons deciding whether any and what changes were desirable, he brought forward a Motion for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the subject of education. That proposal was resisted. He was told the information he sought was not required; that all the facts the friends of education could desire could be obtained from the annual reports of the inspectors employed by the Privy Council. He was told that all was going on well; that there was no need of a change; that the progress of education in England was greater during the present century than it had ever been in any other country during the same period of time; that the friends of education had only to rest content with the law as it stood, and that in time every reasonable requirement of the country in respect to education would be provided. The reasons assigned by the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) and himself to prove the necessity for legislation, or to inquiry with a view to legislation, were‐Firstly, that, notwithstanding the Privy Council system, large masses of the people of this country were in a state of the most deplorable ignorance. They next urged that large districts of the country were supplied either with very inefficient schools or with no schools at all. They urged, thirdly, the early age at which the children left school, thereby preventing them from receiving the full benefit of the instruction. They urged, fourthly, that which they were now also strongly prepared to recommend, and which he was glad to find had been taken up in the last Report—namely, the indispensable necessity for some local agency in aid of the central educational establishment. Fifthly and lastly, they urged the impossibility of the system now administered by the Privy Council ever becoming so extended as to meet the requirements of the country. Those opinions were warmly combated, and by none more than by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley); but on a division on which his Motion was carried the Education Commission was appointed which had lately reported. One circumstance gave the Report of the Commission peculiar weight and an unusual title to respect. His Motion was made under the Administration of the noble Viscount opposite (Lord Palmerston). It happened, however, that within a few days after that Motion was carried a change of Government took place, and the Earl of Derby's Government came into office. It, therefore, devolved upon the Government of the Earl of Derby to nominate and appoint the members of the Committee. He was sorry to say that no one more strongly dissented from the views he expressed than his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). They were both Members of the Government of the Earl of Derby, and, as it devolved upon the Marquess of Salisbury, as President of the Privy Council, to nominate that Committee, he came to the resolution to consult neither his right hon. Friend nor himself, but to take upon himself the responsibility of nominating the members of that Commission without communication with either of them. That was, he thought, a wise discretion on the part of the Marquess of Salisbury; and thus it happened that, although he was a Member of the Government by which the Commission was appointed, he had no more voice in the nomination of the Commission than any other Member of that House. He was, therefore, free to confess that the Marquess of Salisbury had exercised the soundest possible judgment in the selection of persons to be members of that Commission, and above all in the choice of the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) who filled the dignified and responsible duty of Chairman of the Commission. That noble Duke was a statesman who held no extreme views on the subject of education, and was well entitled by his ability, and by his freedom from bias or prejudice, to enter upon such an inquiry in the best possible spirit, and to conduct it in the calm and dispassionate temper which he was bound to say characterized every line of that Report. The noble Duke and every gentleman upon the Commission were entitled to the gratitude of the country for the manner in which that difficult duty was discharged; not had there ever been laid on the table any document upon the question so well qualified to give increased information or to lead to a sound and safe conclusion as the Report of the Commissioners. It was, of course, satisfactory to him to find that every one of the five grounds that had induced the noble Lord opposite and himself to urge some change in our educational system had been fully and completely confirmed by the Report of the Education Commissioners. He would more particularly refer to the doubts he had expressed in regard to the Privy Council system ever being so far extended as to meet the requirements of the country, and the necessity of some local agency for supplementing the present system. The Commissioners stated their gratification at the advance which had taken place in the proportion of children actually at school. The earliest Report on that subject gave the number of children at school as 1 in 17 of the population. The next return, in 1833, gave the number as 1 in 11. It was now stated by the Commissioners to have risen to 1 in 7 and a fraction. That was as high a proportion as almost any country in Europe could show at the present time. Perhaps Switzerland might be rather higher; but it was impossible to deny that it was a very satisfactory proportion of the population at school. The Commissioners, however, went on to remark that a very delusive estimate of the state of education must result from exclusive attention to the mere amount of numbers at school. In the first place, there were schools that were too poor to comply with the conditions required, and thus assistance was withheld in those districts where there was the greatest need of it. From poverty and from other causes it appeared that there were schools in which 573,000 children were educated that did not share in the national grant, and though it might be assumed that the unassisted schools were, to some extent, stimulated by the improvements effected and the higher standard set by the assisted, yet the Commissioners held that this system did not effect, and was not adapted to effect, the diffusion of a sound system of education among all classes of the country. He hoped that that last sentence would not escape attention, because it was impossible to have a more distinct assurance that the present system was not adapted to effect that diffusion of education which was desirable. Then the Commissioners referred to another subject, the importance of which no one could deny—namely, the nature of the teaching given even in the inspected schools. On that subject they stated that they had received with respect to inspected schools overwhelming evidence from the inspectors, proving that not one-fourth of the children received good education; that the education given was too ambitious, and too superficial in its character, and that, except in the best schools, it was too exclusively adapted to the elder scholars to the neglect of the young. The next subject to which he should advert was the absolute necessity of local superintendence and care, without which he did not believe that they should ever have an effective system of education. The Commissioners said that the want of local interest and support was a leading defect in the present system, and would render its permanent establishment throughout the country a very questionable benefit. Here was a distinct admission on the part of the Commis- sioners of the principle for which he and others had all along contended, that local aid and superintendence were indispensable, and that they were entirely wanting under the present system; so that even its extension over the whole country would be a very questionable benefit. The Commissioners stated further that it was a fallacy to say that the present system helped those who helped themselves, for the poor could not help themselves in districts where the rich would not help them; and that if it should be urged, in spite of these disadvantages, the system would work its way through the country, they contended that its progress would be slow; and that, if it should be successful, it would be unwise and unjust to establish it permanently as a national system, because it was mainly supported by excessive individual sacrifices on the part of the clergy. In that paragraph reference was made, among other things, to the amount of cost which, under the present system, the clergy were obliged to bear in order to enable the system, such as it was, to be carried on at all; and he could not help reminding the House of the language which had recently fallen from the lips of the noble Duke who acted as the Chairman of the Commission, and who declared that the reason why the Commission were compelled to recommend some resort to a system of rating was because this so-called National System was by no means national in extent, large districts being left unprovided for, and the schools not receiving aid being more numerous than those receiving aid. He would for a moment refer to a remarkable illustration given in the Report of the undue share of the cost of the system which was cast on the clergy. Mr. Fraser, the assistant-commissioner, endeavoured to obtain some information as to the sources from which the voluntary subscriptions towards the expenses of the system came. He selected a district with 168 schools, and it appeared that 169 clergymen contributed £1,782, or £10 10s. each; 399 landowners contributed £2,127, or £5 6s. each; 217 occupiers contributed £200, or 18s. 6d. each; 102 householders contributed £181, or £1 15 s. 6d. each; 141 other persons contributed £228. It, therefore, appeared that the clergymen contributed eleven times as much as the farmer, six times as much as the householder, and, though with probably not half his income, twice as much as the squire. That afforded a most honourable proof of the immense exertions made by the clergy of the Established Church in order to support the present system of education, and he firmly believed that if it were not for their disproportioned exertions it would be impossible for the existing system to be even so effectual as it was. In one other passage from the concluding part of the Report the Commissioners gave a summary of their recommendations, with the view of correcting what they considered the evils of the present system, and they said that they proposed to combine with the existing system a local system, which would enable schools in the country to participate in the benefit of pecuniary aid. The House could not fail to perceive that there was not in those statements a single word which was not in the closest accordance with that which he and the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary on former occasions had ventured to urge on the subject. He, and those who advocated the same views, had never denied the merits of the present system. It would, indeed, be absurd to contend that all the machinery of a Government department, a body of sixty inspectors, and an annual grant of £800,000, all brought to bear upon the encouragement of education throughout the country, could be in operation for upwards of twenty years without having produced important effects and done great good. He thought, however, that he had succeeded in showing the House, by evidence drawn from the most impartial quarter, that, whatever might be the merits of the existing system, it was not adapted to the complete education of the people, or to the diffusion of the means of education to the widest possible extent. The very word which he himself had used in the course of the speech to which he had already referred was that we stood in need of a "supplementary" system; and the adoption of such a system had, he found, been recommended by the Commissioners. They, it was true, suggested that recourse should be had to a country rate, whereas he, on more than one occasion, had expressed himself in favour of a parochial rate. Which of the two it was most desirable to adopt he should not at that moment stop to discuss; suffice it to say, that the principle involved was the same—local inspection and control, and the assistance of local funds. He would next advert to the position in which the grant stood which was annually made for the support of the existing system. Those who doubted the efficiency of that system had always predicated that the expense of its maintenance would become larger than the House of Commons would be disposed to bear, and too large for the purposes of adequate control and management. That prediction had already been fulfilled, even sooner than he had expected; for, beginning with the year 1839, he found that while the sum granted in that year was only £30,000 it had progressively increased until, in the year 1859, it had reached the large sum of £836,000. From that time that which he and others had foreseen would be the result of the distrust of local action, and the adherence to the principle of centralization, had come about. When the present Government came into office the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the first time proposed that the fund provided by the State should not be increased, and he was sorry to say it had since been considerably reduced, although the population of the country was increasing and the educational necessities were not diminished. For the last two years the Vote had been reduced. He was aware that the sum proposed for the present year was above that of last year, but it was less by £30,000 or £40,000 than the sum voted for 1859. This reduction was not accidental; it arose out of the systematic determination of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the amount even for educational purposes. Of this they had several proofs. One was that the grant for buildings was placed on a reduced scale. In the next place, notice had been given that those schools known as refuges, which dealt with the most destitute class in the country, and rendered the most valuable aid in rescuing from ruin the thousands of poor children who swarmed in our towns, must not, after the close of the current year, expect to obtain the assistance which they had hitherto received. In his humble opinion no economy could be more unwise or injudicious than that. Then the decrease in the Vote for reformatories he found to be £8,200, and that, too, he could not help regarding as a most unfortunate retrenchment, looking upon it even merely as a question of pounds, shillings, and pence, and the economy which was to be attained by the saving of those children to whom he adverted from crime. Now, he might just observe, while dealing with that part of the subject, that al- though an appeal he had made to the Government for an increase to these schools was sternly refused by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the House was that evening to be asked to vote, under the head of national education, a sum of £100,000 for the cultivation and improvement of science and art. To the granting of public money for that purpose he had no objection, but then he was opposed to the Vote being accompanied by a virtual declaration that we could no longer afford the necessary amount for the instruction of those among our fellow-countrymen who were too poor to educate themselves. In order to illustrate his meaning, and to show how the present system worked, he might mention a case which came within his own knowledge. Under the superintendence of the department of science and art, examinations were held in various parts of the country, and one took place in December last in Brighton, where it happened that his youngest son was at school at the time. Having a considerable taste for drawing the boy determined to become a competitor at an examination in that accomplishment, under the auspices of the department to which he was referring, and had the good fortune to obtain a prize, a first cousin of his, who also competed, being then equally lucky. Now, those prizes were paid for out of the grant given by that House. He was very glad, of course, that his son should be successful, but he could not understand with what consistency Parliament could vote a large sum of money for prizes which might be competed for by the sons of Members of that House when it appeared from the Report on the table that there were 15,000 schools in England languishing for want of funds, and unable to give to the poor that elementary training of which they stood so much in need, and when, at the same time, it was said that no aid whatever could be given to the most destitute and most helpless class of all—namely, those Arabs of our great towns who were educated in ragged schools. He would not detain the House further than to say that he held the Report of the Commissioners to be most important, as bearing upon the business in which the House was about to engage—making the annual grant for education. He believed he was now justified in saying, with a degree of confidence, greater than that with which he had ever said it before, that whatever might be the merits of the existing system—and he, for one, had never denied them—it was impossible to expect that the educational requirements of England could be adequately met by that system alone. The able Report of the Commissioners, for which the country could not be too grateful, had proved to demonstration that the system under which education was now superintended should be enlarged. He had given notice that he would address an inquiry to the Government upon this subject, but he wished to state that he had no desire to press the Government to announce any definite decision; on the contrary, he should be sorry if they were to do so. He had often urged the importance of the subject, but he had never denied its difficulty. The Report of the Commissioners was a very voluminous and a very complicated document; the evidence by which it was sustained was still more voluminous; and he thought it would be most unreasonable to expect that any Government could, in the few months which had elapsed since the Report was presented—and those months occupied by the incessant business of a Parliamentary Session—have made up their minds as to the precise course which they ought to pursue. He thought, however, it was not unreasonable to ask the Government to tell the House whether they would seriously consider the contents of the Report with a view to legislation at no distant date. The circumstances of the present moment were peculiarly favourable. In the first place the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, who had long been a consistent and warm Friend of education, and whose views were in entire harmony with those of the Commissioners, was now a Member of the Government. The noble Duke who presided over the Commission had also a seat in the Cabinet. Circumstances, therefore, were most favourable, and made him sanguine that the Government would approach the consideration of the Report with an earnest desire to found upon it some measure which might supply those deficiencies in the present system which could hardly be disputed or denied. Every one who had perused the Report must have observed the fairness with which it was compiled, the research by which it was characterized, and the great ability with which the whole investigation had evidently been conducted, and it was impossible to refuse assent to conclusions which had been arrived at after long, careful, and impartial inquiry, and which were stated in a tone at once temperate and judicious. He hoped, therefore, that he should receive from the Government an assurance that they were aware of the deep importance of the Report; that, although the House could not now expect from them any detailed information as to the precise character of the measure which they might deem it their duty to prepare, the subject dealt with in the Report would receive their serious attention, and that at no distant day—he hoped in the next Session of Parliament—they would be ready to propose such legislation as after mature deliberation they might think the case required.

said, he cordially joined with his right hon. Friend in advising the Government to give the long and able Report of the Commissioners their most serious consideration during the recess. He was willing to believe that no one would be more satisfied than he would be with the mode in which, in all human probability, the Government would deal with that Report. At the same time he was not surprised that his right hon. Friend should have congratulated himself upon some of the congratulated himself upon some of the contents of the Report. There was much in the Report which seemed to give some sanction to the opinions which his right hon. Friend had often and strongly expressed in that House and elsewhere, and which, unfortunately, appeared to give still stronger sanction to a system which had many stanch supporters in the country, and to which his right hon. Friend himself was almost a consenting party in his second Education Bill—the system, namely, of secular education. His right hon. Friend had read to the House a passage in which he said the recommendations of the Commissioners were identical in principle with his own. What were those recommendations? The Commissioners discussed the merits of what was known as the Manchester School Bill, and, after bestowing some praise upon those by whom that measure was framed, they stated that it failed partly because the ratepayers would not accept the burden which it imposed, and partly because it appeared to endanger the religious character of the teaching. Precisely the same objections were urged against the three Bills of 1855, including the two brought forward by his right hon. Friend himself. The Commissioners did not give any opinion one way or the other; but after expressing their approval of one of the leading principles upon which those measures were founded—namely, that of calling forth local action, as essentially requisite in any national system—they added the following proviso:—

"But even this advantage would be dearly bought if it produced a negligent management, or injured the religious character of the schools."
He thought the gratification of his right hon. Friend should be somewhat qualified by that observation of the Commissioners. His right hon. Friend expressed the opinion that what he was pleased to call the enormous expense of the existing system should be supplemented in some way or other. So said the Commissioners; but what was the wonderful addition which the Commissioners proposed to make to the present system? It was the most curious addition which had ever been suggested, and might as well be done by the Privy Council as by Parliament itself. All that was wanted was a little more money. The plan was simply to pay so much a head for every child who could read and write. Such was the great supplemental scheme of the Commissioners and his right hon. Friend. The inquires were to be conducted by the county boards and by certain local examiners consisting of schoolmasters, and every child who came up, he supposed, to a certain mark in reading and writing was to get 21s. or 22s. out of the county rates. If that wonderful discovery was to convert the present system from an absolute failure into a perfect plan of national education, making good all its deficiencies, why could it not be acted upon at once? The Privy Council could do all that was wanted just as well as if the money were to be taken out of the county rates. He suspected that they had discovered a mare's nest, if he might use the expression. If that was a right principle the Privy Council could carry it out as well as the counties, and a great deal better. The Report of the Commissioners was a very remarkable one in many respects. It was clear from their own statements that there was great division of opinion among them. On the most important points they seemed to be equally divided. The Report on every subject gave balanced opinions, so that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House might, if so disposed, quote from it passages in support of the most contradictory views. The commissioners themselves spoke of the advantages of the existing system. They said they thought the existing plan was the only one by which it would be possible to secure the religious character of popular education. That was something in favour of the system, on which, to say the least of it, his right hon. Friend had tried to throw cold water. They said it was unnecessary for them to enter on any proof of that assertion; it was enough for their purpose to say that there was strong evidence that it was the deliberate opinion of the people of the country that religious education was desirable. The Commissioners next said that their inquiries had impressed them with the conviction that no other system was practicable in the present state of religious feeling. He begged the House to observe that form of words "the present state of religious feeling," because it was quite clear, from other matters to which he would call attention, that the Commissioners at all events thought it possible there might be considerable change attempted in that respect. The commissioners said—
"Not only does it seem certain to us that the members of all religious bodies would be dissatisfied with any change, but the fact that religious education had been working with success on the basis of the present system during the last twenty years, has given such a position to that principle that any attempt to dislodge it would give a dangerous shock to the principle of religious education."
The next point was to see on what conditions the Commissioners judged that public assistance should be given to schools. He confessed he was rather surprised to hear his right hon. Friend throw it out as a matter of reproach that there were 15,000 schools in this country educating something like 1,200,000 or 1,300,000 children without touching a farthing of public money. He could not understand why people should not educate themselves and their neighbours if they thought fit. Why should they take public money if they could do without it? He had always been an advocate for assisting people that could not do without that assistance, but he was at a loss to understand why it should be made matter of reproach that a great number of schools were trying to educate the larger number of the people, and did not come to that House for a farthing of public money to help them. His right hon. Friend said, "See how everything I have been wanting is coming about." Six or seven years ago his right hon. Friend was utterly dissatisfied with the number of children educated. Now he confessed himself satisfied on that point. He had got the numbers; but he could not be satisfied without some further change to improve the quality. Now, his firm opinion was that, long before his right hon. Friend got the change, the quality would improve itself. That was the course of the English people. Show them a road, let them alone, and they would arrive at the end of it without any Royal road or State interference. Now, as to the recommendations of the Commissioner—on which his right hon. Friend recommended the Government to legislate—the House would find that not one single word was said about religious teaching. It was not mentioned as any part of their scheme. Public assistance was to be given on these conditions—that schools were properly drained and ventilated; that they should afford accommodation of at least eight square feet for every child; that they should be open to inspection and that they should not be unfavorably reported on. Bearing in mind what the Commissioners had said of the existing system in regard to religious teaching—bearing in mind that the existing system dealt with something like 1,000,000 children, and that between 1,200,000 and 1,300,000 children were being educated outside of this system, what did the Commissioners recommend? Let him go through the different grades. The Commissioners began, as might be expected, with infant schools, which they defined for children about seven years of age. They said the infants were not to be examined at all; but 20s. a head was to be paid for each. In the day schools, 22s. 6d. was to be paid for every child who had attended 140 days, and passed an examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic; girls being examined in plain work. Then came the Privy Council grants, which were to be 5s. 6d., 4s. 6d., and 2s. 6d, a head, according as the children were taught by certificated or uncertificated masters, or by pupil teachers, at the rate of thirty children to each pupil teacher. Not a single word was said of the necessity of any religious teaching—they might all be Manchester or secular schools for anything the Commissioners said. Was that all? The Commissioners gave them some insight as to how they thought education was to go on in these schools. They said—
"The differences of religious belief could hardly arise in respect of such infant schools as formed independent establishments. It is scarcely conceivable that the instruction of children under seven years of age should ever be dogmatic."
Now, this was a very serious opinion to be put forward by gentlemen of such high standing and character. What was dogmatic teaching? Was the Belief dogmatic? Did the Commissioners mean that the children were not to learn the Belief till after they were seven years of age? Were not the Ten Commandments dogmatic, and were not the children to be taught God's law till after they were seven years of age? If they were taught nothing dogmatic before seven and had to quit school between ten and eleven they would not have much time to learn. With regard to inspection, the Commissioners were evenly divided, though the majority thought that the rule should be uniform, and that inquiries should be confined in all cases to secular instruction. They went on to represent that, in the opinion of the minority,
"To separate the inspection from the religious teaching would, under present circumstances, be attended with serious evils, and would tend to injure the religious teaching of the schools."
If such were their opinion, why did they not recommend that things should remain as at present? Was he presumptuous in addressing those observations to the House? Since the publication of the Report, two important societies met, and they were far for remaining silent on the matter. Of one these associations he did not know the exact title, but in a printed paper which had been largely circulated it was called— "The Committee appointed to watch proceedings in Parliament with reference to grants for National Education." It was no light body, for it included the names of the Duke of Marlborough, Chairman; Mr. Colquhoun, Deputy-Chairman; the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Venerable Archdeacon Sinclair, the Rev. Mr. Burgess, the Rev. J. Scott, Principal of the Wesleyan Training Institution; Mr. Hanbury, M.P., Mr. Horsfall, M.P., Mr. Long, M.P., Mr. Puller, M.P., Mr. Ker Seymer, M.P., Mr. Martin, and Mr. Reynolds. Consisting, as it did, of men of all sides and of all views, it was not an unimportant body, and the gentlemen of whom it was composed publicly declared that, in their opinion, if the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commissioners were carried out they would be destructive of the present system. The Commissioners admitted that in the opinion of the great body of the population religion and education must be closely con nected; but the Committee declared that—
"The Commissioners propose to make a radical change in that system, which by making the future education of the country in a great degree dependent on the county and borough rates, dispensed by the county board would prepare the way for bringing the schools at no distant period under the control of the ratepayers, and thus speedily extinguish the religious element altogether."
His right hon. Friend had felt that the religious difficulty thus created would be insuperable, but the Commissioners got rid of the question by ignoring it altogether. The old National Society had likewise met, and in the concluding part of their Report they said, "they feel bound to state that in parts of the recommendations of the Commissioners they see grave danger to the maintenance of religious teaching in schools." It should be recollected that those bodies were composed of grave men, who were not apt to commit themselves to hasty opinions; that many of the Bishops were present when those expressions were adopted at the meeting of the National Society without dissent or difference of opinion; and, therefore, he could not be blamed for directing attention in a similar spirit to the recommendations of the Commissioners. His right hon. Friend had alluded to the very great share borne by the clergy in the education of the country, and his observations in that respect were perfectly just, but though it was right to give the clergy their due, it was not right to run the laity down by making unjust statements respecting them. His right hon. Friend stood godfather to a statement which ought to have been a little more considered before the Commissioners came to a conclusion upon it, and they seemed to have done so in general terms. The Commissioners, in order to obtain information, very properly selected certain unions in one or two counties; but deductions which were sound with regard to a particular area might be perfectly unsound if widely extended to the whole country, and, in his opinion, calculations affecting the whole of England could not safely be based on evidence draw merely from 178 parishes. He fancied that he traced a little animus in that part of the Report of the Commissioners which his right hon. Friend said condemned the landlords. The Commissioners did not speak of landlords but of "landowners," and they assumed that an assessment of £508,000, to which they added an arbitrary sum of one-third, bringing the total amount up to £650,000, was the landowners income. Why they made no deductions for the house property in towns or for the tithes, he was at a loss to understand. But in estimating the means of landowners, as they were called, it seemed to him but reasonable also to remember that, generally speaking, there were such things as mortgages, and outgoings of various kinds, which must be taken into account as somewhat reducing that arbitrary gross estimated income. It was impossible for any one to close his eyes to the great pecuniary sacrifices which the clergy made in maintaining the schools; but it would have been quite possible for the Commissioners to give them the full credit to which they were entitled without building up a case, which he believed to be exaggerated, against the landowners. He would ask the Government to consider, but certainly he warned them that if they legislated in the direction of the Commissioners' Report, they would not have a very easy task, for they would find rocks ahead. In the first place, it appeared that they paid £500,000 for the instruction of the 900,000 children in what were called the assisted schools. That was the amount paid to schoolmasters and teachers in capitation grants;- yet the Commissioners stated that there was overwhelming evidence that not more than one-fourth of the whole 900,000 children received a good education. That, considering the amount paid, was not very satisfactory. The Commissioners further stated that they were obliged to come to the conclusion that the instruction given was commonly too ambitious. They then went on to say that it was superficial in its character, and had been too exclusively adapted to the elder, to the neglect of the younger children. Their conclusion was this—that "the children do not, in fact, receive the kind of education which they require." That was a most important matter. If the system was as defective as the Commissioners described it became a pure matter for the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Committee of Council to declare "Aye" or "No" whether the Government did or did not approve of it. The Committee alluded to the difficulty of keeping children in those schools up beyond the age of ten or eleven years, and then asked whether it was not possible to give them a good education prior to that age—one such as was absolutely necessary for the minds of common men, and such as would form an invaluable substratum for later teaching. They went on pointing out the insufficiency of what was now being done, and said still that the system was a bad one because it wanted something. If the Committee of the Privy Council believed that the Commissioners were justified form their small examinations in drawing general conclusions, it was in their power to rectify much of what they complained of by means of their own examinations. The Commissioners observed that the children remained long enough to read, write, and cipher; but they followed up that with the remark that a large proportion of them neither wrote well nor read well. Then followed the remark that trained teachers often neglected an important part of their duty. Four or five or more years ago, when he quitted the Privy Council, Cannon Moseley reported, that unless the children could be kept longer at school that the masters were too high, and that if we could not keep children at school beyond ten or eleven years of age we ought to have an humbler class of teachers. There was another report which was wholly conflicting and contradictory. He held in his hand a Report of the Inspectors of the Committee of Council; and it and the Report of the Commissioners were as conflicting as light with darkness. The inspectors stated, with reference to catechism teaching, that out of 5,647 of the schools inspected for that class of instruction, 5,112 were deserving of being placed in the column headed "excellently, well, or fairly." Then came their report on schools inspected for "reading." The whole number was 7,500, out of which 6,679 were reported in the column "excellently, well, or fairly." In both these cases there was a most distinct difference from the Report of the Commissioners. It was for the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee to tell the House who were right—the Commissioners or the inspectors. Then came writing. It appeared they were better at writing than reading, for 6,782 good reports were given under that head out of 7,186 schools inspected, and there was also a good account given of the progress made in arithmetic, for out of 7,469 schools 6,235 were reported as good. Looking at the Report of the Commissioners one would not suppose that these children who were so bad at reading could have made much progress in grammar; but curiously enough grammar was one of the points on which the Privy Council Report was favourable, Out of 5,800 cases which had been inspected 4,300 were marked "excellently well," and "very well." Now, he was unable to reconcile that statement with the facts mentioned in the Report of the Commissioners. He wished to know the truth upon these matters, whether, as stated by the Commissioners, we were only getting a fourth part of the 900,000 children in the schools taught, or whether the glowing language of the Privy Council Report was throwing dust into the eyes of the community, and leading them to believe that a better state of things existed with regard to education than actually did? He thought the Privy Council should turn their attention to the matter during the recess, and see if it would not be better to teach the children to read, write, and cipher, and let alone some of the higher matters to which their attention was turned. They might also give something like a fair statement of what the children were actually doing. The Commissioners made one very curious recommendation to which he could not help calling the attention of the House. Speaking of the training schools, they said there was one omission—and a curious one it was—which had left on their minds a painful impression. We had always been taught that cleanliness was next to godliness, but the Commissioners had discovered that the very first thing next to godliness was political economy. It was, in their estimation, a most important thing that these children of ten and eleven years of ago should be taught political economy and it was a capital defect in the training masters that they did not teach political economy, and, next to that, sanitary science. His right hon. Friend opposite was at the head of education and of sanitary science also, and he would have ample time during the recess to inoculate, not to vaccinate, the training masters with political economy and sanitary science. The Report said—
"The omission of one subject from the syllabus has left on out minds a painful impression. Next to religion the knowledge most important to a labouring man is that of the causes which regulate the amount of his wages, the hours of his work, the regularity of his employment, and the price of what he consumes."
The marginal not was "Omission of political economy." One of the Commissioners, he believed, was formerly a professor of political economy, though how much that had to do with the recommen- dation in the Report he was unable to say. There was, however, one short sentence in the Report of the Commissioners which, if all the rest were done away with would entitle them to the thanks of the country, and that was, their description of what a schoolmaster ought to be, and what he ought not to be. That passage bore pointedly on the great object they were aiming at —the training of men qualified to teach the children of this country. The said:—
"The occupation of an elementary schoolmaster is not well suited to a young man of an adventurous, stirring, or ambitious character, and it is rather a misfortune than otherwise when persons of that temper of mind are led into it by the prospect which its earlier stages appear to afford of rising in the world socially as well as intellectually. It is a life which requires a quiet, even temper, patience, sympathy, fondness for children, and habitual cheerfulness."
A more beautiful description of what was necessary in a man whose duty it was to instruct children was, he believed, to be met with nowhere. But the Report proceeded—
"It wants rather good sense and great intelligence than a very inquisitive mind or very brilliant talents, and the prospects which it affords appear well calculated to attract the class of persons best fitted for it."
In reference to that, however, he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Education would excuse him if he asked him, and asked the House, whether the means practised for raising up schoolmasters were likely to secure men that would come within the first or last of these descriptions? They took the quickest child in a school, one possessing the greatest energy, and forced him up by artificial means in what he might call a kind of hotbed. When the boy went into the training school, the same process of forcing was continued. The Commissioners used the word "crammed." He did not wish to employ strong language; but it was impossible to read their valuable Report—valuable taken as a whole though he differed from their conclusions—without seeing that it was almost demonstrated that the system of training pursued would not produce the class of persons who were best calculated to teach the humbler branches of education. These humble branches, the Commissioners said, were the principal things to be taught; but in every page of the Report they found it stated that the teachers preferred employing themselves in the higher classes, and that the grinding work of teaching reading and writing to the small children was positively distasteful to men whose minds and intellects had been sharpened up to a high standard. The article they produced was higher than was wanted, but if these training schools produced teachers that would suit the 15,000 schools that required elementary education, depend upon it it would not be necessary to come to that House for £100,000 for training schools. If, however, these institutions would have Oxford and Cambridge men at the head of them; if they would train men by examination papers of so high a character that half the Members of that House would turn their backs upon them; and if such men were to teach children of ten or eleven years of age, it behoved those who had the charge of this grant to look more closely into this matter, and tell the House next year how far they agreed, and how far they disagreed, with the statements of the Commissioners. It would be well also if they would tell the House whether they thought that the addition of political economy and sanitary science would make these learned masters buckle down to the difficult and distasteful task of teaching these young children to read and write. Whether the forcing system for pupil teachers would produce these men of cheerfulness, of fondness for children, and of patient mind was a matter in regard to which he had no experience that would enable him to give an opinion. He merely stated these things. He had looked very closely through the Report, and had read every page of it; and the evidence which the Commissioners took did not bring him quite to the same conclusion that they had drawn. He was only sorry to have occupied so much of the time of the House. But a strong appeal having been made by the recommendations of Commissioners to the Government to act in the direction indicated, he could not help rising to offer his opinion.

said, he would suggest that the House should go into Committee, when in one address, he could make his statement and answer the remarks of the two right hon. Gentlemen who had spoken.