House Of Commons
Monday, 27th June, 1870.
MINUTES.]—NEW MEMBER SWORN—Kirkman Daniel Hodgson, esquire, for Bristol.
PUBLIC BILLS— Report of Select Committee—Juries * [Nos. 306, 307].
Committee—Elementary Education —R.P.; Local Government Supplemental (No. 2) * —R.P.
Committee— Report—Post Office * [144–183]; Cattle Diseases (Ireland) * ; Medical Officers Superannuation * .
Report—Juries * [32–182].
Considered as amended—Liverpool Admiralty District Registrar * .
Third Reading—Sligo and Cashel Disfranchisement * , and passed.
Ireland—Representation Of The City Of Dublin—Question
said, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If he can state what course the Government are going to take with reference to the vacancy in the Representation of the City of Dublin?
said, in reply, that the Government had come to the conclusion that the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Dublin freemen, while amply justifying the issue of that Commission, was not in respect of the last election sufficiently strong to justify the Government in bringing in a Bill for disfranchising the freemen of Dublin as a body. He might add that, in accordance with precedent, a Bill would be introduced by the Solicitor General for Ireland for the purpose of disfranchising those freemen who had been reported by name in the Schedule as having been guilty of corrupt practices. As soon as that Bill became law a new Writ would issue.
The Late Earl Of Clarendon
said, he was sure the House must deeply regret the loss the country had sustained by the death of the Earl of Clarendon. In consequence of this sad event, he would postpone the Question he had intended to ask with respect to the International Commission on Consular Jurisdiction in Egypt.
said, for the same reason he would postpone his Question concerning the convention lately concluded with China by Sir Rutherford Alcock.
Elementary Education Bill
said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Council, Whether, in the case of a district separated for ecclesiastical purposes from a parish and possessing sufficient school accommodation of its own, it is intended under the Bill that such district should be obliged to contribute to an Educational Rate that may be required to be made by the parish of which, for civil purposes, the district still forms a part; also, whether under Clause 48, section 2, it is intended to create in parts of parishes or in district parishes an independent rating authority over their own area as occasion arose under the Bill?
replied that it was not intended under the Bill that a district separated for ecclesiastical purposes from a parish should have a rate of its own. He was well aware of the argument by which the hon. Member would support his proposition, and in Committee on the Bill he (Mr. W. E. Forster) would state why he could not adopt the hon. Member's suggestion. The second section of the 48th clause would not have the effect contemplated by the hon. Gentleman's Question. It was to the effect that if there were a part of a parish outside of a borough, for example, a provision should be made for that part of the parish.
Army—Deaths From Sunstroke On March—Question
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been directed to two paragraphs in "The Times" of the 24th of June, stating that a soldier of the 9th Regiment died from sunstroke on the march from West Ham to Kingston, and a corporal of the 94th from the same cause on the march from Guildford to Alder-shot; that both these deaths occurred on Wednesday last, and that the troops were marching during the middle of the day exposed to the extreme heat of the sun; and to ask further, by whom the marches of troops are regulated; and, whether during hot weather arrangements might not be made for the march to take place in the early morning or in the evening?
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether he is aware that a private in Her Majesty's 9th Regiment dropped down dead on the march on entering Kingston on Wednesday last, the 22nd instant, and that a sergeant in the same Regiment is also reported to have died from the extreme heat of the weather on the march on the 21st instant; and, whether, if the removal of a Battalion of Infantry from Warley in Essex to Alder-shot by Railway cannot be arranged, it would not be better to change the quarters of Home Regiments at a cooler period of the year, so that the men may be spared the intense suffering of a four days' march in heavy marching order in the heat of the day?
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether the statement is true that the 2nd battalion of the 9th Regiment, or that portion of it quartered at Warley Barracks, having received orders to proceed to Aldershot, were on Wednesday last marched to that camp in heavy marching order, a distance of some 15 miles; whether there were not two separate remonstrances made to the Quartermaster General or other department of the Horse Guards by the officer commanding the detachment, or other officer on his behalf, against marching the troops such a distance under a tropical sun, and in heavy marching order, which suggestion represented that the men's kits might be conveyed by railway or other conveyance; whether the officer in command did not earnestly suggest that his men should not be unnecessarily subjected to a march under a tropical sun; whether the billeting arrangements were neglected to such an extent that many of the soldiers of the 9th were obliged to sleep under hedgerows adjoining Stratford le Bow; whether the result of the neglect of the commanding officer's suggestion has not been suffering and consequent dissatisfaction in the Regiment, accompanied by the fact of the death of one soldier on the line of march from exhaustion, and of another being affected by "coup de soliel." Also, to ask who is responsible for the marching of those troops in heavy marching order, against the wish of their commanding officer; and, whether similar complaints have reached the War Office relative to the route of the 94th Regiment on the same day?
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether he is aware that three cases of sunstroke, one of a very serious character, occurred on Wednesday last in the town of Alton during the march of detachments of the 46th and 96th Regiments from Winchester to Aldershot, in the hottest part of the day, and that the effect of the march generally was distressing to the troops in the highest degree; whether it is a fact that the detachments in question were unaccompanied by any surgeon, so that the cases referred to were treated by a medical gentleman of the locality; and, whether there is any reason other than motives of economy to prevent these soldiers from being conveyed by the railway which communicates directly between Winchester and Aldershot?
said, he wished to know who had the responsibility of ordering these marches?
Sir, I have gone fully into the particulars of this lamentable occurrence with the Field-Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief and the Quarter-master General, and will state the circumstances to the House. Two men have died; one from the effect of the heat, and the other from causes which I shall explain in the course of what I have to say. The circumstances have; been as follows:—It was the period of the usual moves of troops for the summer drill at Aldershot, which, as the House is aware, are made when the Militia Regiments depart and leave the quarters vacant. The 9th moved from Warley, the 94th from Woolwich, and the 46th, with two depôt troops attached, from Winchester. Two men have died—Malone, of the 9th, and M'Ewen, of the 94th. The sergeant of the 9th, reported in the newspapers to have died, has recovered. The routes are issued from the Quartermaster General's Department some days before. The hours are left to the commanding officers; the Queen's Regulations, par. 1,087, say, "All marches are to commence at as early an hour as the season of the year will admit of." The route of the 9th prescribed four days, beginning on the 21st—namely, to West Ham, 14½ miles; Kingston, 18; Guildford, 19; Aldershot, 11. Malone died on arriving at Kingston on Wednesday, the 22nd, the heat of which day all who hear me will remember. The medical account is—
Tuesday's march began at 9 a.m., and ended at 5 p.m., resting two hours in the middle of the day. Wednesday's began at 6 a.m., and ended at 5 p.m., resting three hours in the middle of the day. For the 94th the route prescribed three days, beginning on the 20th—from Woolwich to Kingston, 18 miles; Kington to Guildford, 19; Guildford to Aldershot, 11. The march on Monday began at 8.15 and ended at 3; on Tuesday it began at 8.15 and ended at 5.25; on Wednesday it began at 9.15 and ended at 1.45. M'Ewen, who died, was carried in the ambulance two days, and would have been carried the third if he had reported himself unable to march. He had only marched three miles when he was put into the ambulance. He died on arriving at Aldershot, and this is the medical report—"He fell down suddenly on arrival at Kingston, at 5 p.m., and died of heat apoplexy at 10 o'clock that night. I may add that he did not come under my observation previously, but marched the whole way and carried his pack."
Of the 46th, which marched from Winchester, the route prescribed, to Alton, 18 miles; to Aldershot, 13. The battalion moved in three detachments, and as it has only two surgeons belonging to it, no doubt one detachment was without a surgeon. I have not heard anything of the circumstances mentioned by my hon. Friend (Mr. Sclater-Booth) except from himself; and, as I only heard that this morning, I have not yet received replies to the inquiries which I have instituted in consequence. The reports from the Regiment dislose no sickness. I will now answer the several questions which have been put. The 9th had their knapsacks carried for them the last two days. The 94th never carried them at all. The men had no ammunition in their pouches. No remonstrances from commanding officers reached the Quartermaster General directly or indirectly. The billeting arrangements at Stratford are reported to have been good, but the houses widely dispersed; and, so far as my information goes, one man only failed to find his billet and slept in the open air. I am informed that there is no dissatisfaction in the Regiments, but that the men are in an excellent spirit. The 9th and 94th have now very moderate hospital lists, and the only sickness to be traced to the march is three men footsore in the 9th and one in the 94th. Economy has not been the object of these marches. General officers have complained that the troops got out of the way of marching, and the authorities have been desirous, when the distances have been suitable, to accustom them to it. In conclusion, I may say that the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief will take care that attention is drawn to the Regulation which requires that marches shall begin at as early an hour as the season of the year will admit."I have no hesitation in saying that his death may be ascribed almost altogether to drink, which rendered him unable to bear the effects of a march in hot weather; and from inquiries made by me I find that this man had been drinking hard on the previous day and upon that morning."
Navy—Retirement Of Sir S Robinson And Mr Reed
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is true that Admiral Sir A. Spencer Robinson has resigned the Office of Comptroller of the Navy; and, if so, on what grounds?
In answer, Sir, to my right hon. Friend, I am glad to have to state that it is not true that Sir S. Robinson has resigned his office of Comptroller of the Navy. But as it is true that the question of his resignation was raised, I will endeavour to state the grounds on which the communications in respect to it were based. The House is aware that an Order in Council was passed in 1866 with regard to naval retirement and another Order in the present year. The latter Order in Council has already been the subject of discussion and Division in this House. The Comptroller of the Navy approved, on the whole, the Order of February last; but he objected on two grounds, which appeared to him to be very strong, to one portion of the Order, namely—that which omitted the provision in the Order of 1866, to the effect that the employment of a Flag officer at the Admiralty should be considered as equivalent to sea service with reference to the purposes of retirement. That which was admitted in 1866 is no longer admitted as equivalent to sea service in the Order of 1870. Sir S. Robinson thought, in the first place, that it was not just to himself and to other officers standing in a similar category for the same purpose, and he likewise thought, in regard to the question of general policy, that it was not desirable for the interests of the service that the change should be made. He considered it to be for the public advantage that an officer holding an office such as his should continue to hold his place on the active list in the Navy, and that if he were removed from that list it would be a change in his position affecting his authority in the discharge even of such an office as that which he fills. These are the grounds on which Sir S. Robinson based his opinion on the subject; but he never desired, as he has stated—and I am sure implicit reliance may be placed on any statement which he makes—to treat the question as one purely personal to him, or to found his objections on the retrospective action of the Order of 1870 with regard to service at the Admiralty. But when he found himself on the 1st of June actually on the retired list, he then, probably owing to the joint action of the motives I have described, was of opinion that it was his duty to tender his resignation, and communications passed between him and the First Lord of the Admiralty, and between him and myself, on that subject. We informed Sir S. Robinson that it was not possible for us to make any alteration in the Order in Council to the effect he desired. We stated to him that we deemed it necessary to the policy we had adopted, both on account of our view of that policy itself and because we feared that any alteration of it would virtually compromise the authority of the Crown with respect to the power of making regulations for the Navy according to its own sense of what the interests of the service demanded and what was consistent with public exigency. We had, at the same time, no hesitation in assuring Sir S. Robinson that nothing was further from our desire than that the office which he filled should in any manner be lowered in the eyes of the Navy. Thus much we said, not only on account of the office itself, but particularly because of its being held by an officer like Sir S. Robinson, whose services are most highly appreciated by the Government, as, indeed, they are by all those who have an opportunity of passing a judgment upon them. It was, therefore, most agreeable to us to meet his feelings by giving him this assurance, as was done by me in the first instance in private, and, in the second place, in answer to the Question of my right hon. Friend in this House, I do not hesitate to repeat that which I have already said to Sir S. Robinson that, for the sake of the public advantage, it was desirable he should continue to give his best ser- vices to the public by holding his present office. That, I think, is the whole of the case as it occurred. I do not understand Sir S. Robinson to have altered his opinion with regard to the measure taken by the Government, and the Government have felt it to be their duty to adhere to that measure. But Sir S. Robinson, after the assurances which he received from the Government, still continues to serve the public as he has long done with great advantage to the State.
According to public rumour Mr. Reed, the Chief Constructor of the Navy, has also sent in his resignation. I should like to know whether that is the fact?
I have heard the rumour to which the right hon. Baronet refers. But no communication to the effect that Mr. Reed desires to resign has been made either to the First Lord of the Admiralty or myself. I may add that I have no reason whatever to anticipate any such communication.
Poor Law—Returns Of Pauperism
said, he wished to ask the President of the Poor Law Board, Whether he is of opinion that a very erroneous impression exists as to number of able-bodied paupers receiving in-door and out-door relief on account of want of work and destitution; and, if so, whether it is not caused by the mode in which the Returns are made to the Poor Law Board; whether it would be desirable to separate the Return of those receiving relief on account of the sickness of the head or a member of the family from that of paupers relieved on account of destitution from want of work; and, whether he has any objection to state the number of that class receiving relief on the 1st of this month not including vagrants?
Sir, I am of opinion that an erroneous impression exists as to the numbers of able-bodied paupers receiving out-door relief on account of their want of work, and I think the form in which the Returns are presented to the public has contributed to that result. Arrangements have been made by which, in future, the Returns will show more accurately the various classes to which the paupers belong. I should have no objection to state the number of the paupers relieved on account of destitution on the 1st of this month, if it were not the case that the Returns giving that information are made up only for the 1st of January and the 1st of July. I should estimate the total number of adult able-bodied male paupers in receipt of out-door relief to be less than 3 per cent of the total number of out-door poor.
The New Courts Of Justice
said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, If he will consent, pending the decision of the Government upon the plans for the appropriation of the site, to open a temporary thoroughfare for foot passengers from Carey Street to the Strand, over the ground which has been cleared for the proposed Palace of Justice, in lieu of the thoroughfares which have been closed under the authority of the Courts of Justice Building Sites Act?
, in reply, said, as far as he could judge, the excavations for the foundations of the new building would be begun at so early a period that it would be impracticable to open a thoroughfare across the site, in lieu of those which have been closed, from Carey Street to the Strand.
Elementary Education (Re-Committed) Bill—Bill 167
( Mr. William Edward Forster, Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
Committee Progress 24Th June
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
said, the clause contained a definition of a parish as "a place for which a separate poor rate is or can be made." His own parish contained no fewer than ten townships, each of which was a civil parish, and there were many parishes in the North of England in a similar position; and, as it was impossible for small townships to form separate school districts, he thought that definition required amending.
said, that was so in his own parish; but the supposed difficulty was provided for by the subse- quent clauses—33 to 40—which related to the combination of parishes, and which could be amended if they did not meet all cases.
MR. LIDDELL moved the postponement of the clause. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consent to his Motion, as he believed it to be inexpedient to adopt some of the proposed definitions until questions involved in some of the clauses had been decided.
said, the definitions could be altered afterwards, if it were necessary to amend them in consequence of alterations in the provisions of the Bill. He was prepared to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood).
said, he knew of instances in which there were townships of 40,000 inhabitants in the midst of parishes; and, in such cases, subdivisions would be desirable. He thought the power to subdivide should, therefore, be taken in the Bill as well as the power to unite.
said, there were parishes divided into as many as 13 townships; for example, the parishes of Heartburn and Cambo, in Northumberland, the population of which were 746, and 780 respectively. According to the 5th clause, the local district would be one of the townships into which the ecclesiastical parish is divided; and there were as few as four inhabitants in some of these subdivisions. He thought it would be better to leave out the definition of parish and insert it afterwards.
said, he thought the clauses could be most conveniently debated if the definition was first admitted. If the necessity should arise the definition could be considered afterwards.
said, he would withdraw his Amendment on the understanding that hereafter the Committee should not be bound by the terms of the present definition.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he rose to move the omission, from the definition of elementary schools, of the words "at which the scholars are boarded or clothed." Such a definition would exclude some ragged and other schools, at which food was given to the children; and he was sure this could not be the intention of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster). He moved, in page 2, line 9, to leave out from "at" to "or," in line 10, inclusive.
said, that in accepting the Amendment, he did not prejudge the question raised by the clause which his hon. Friend had given Notice of. It was a serious point whether they should consider a boarding school as an elementary school.
Amendment agreed, to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (School district to have sufficient public schools).
said, he would withdraw the Amendment of which he had given Notice, providing for the creation of a school Board in every school district, in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter).
said, his Amendment was one of considerable importance, because not only would it enable some very important provisions of the Bill to be carried out which, without it, there was no machinery for carrying out, but it would also lay the foundation of a municipal system of education throughout the length and breadth of the land. The principal reason which influenced him in bringing forward the Amendment was to be found in Clause 22, which provided that—
Now, he did not know whether it occurred to his right hon. Friend or not, that such arrangements were very desirable and were very likely to be carried out. But he was of opinion that a great number of schools would be disposed to enter into such arrangements, if the requisite machinery for doing so were provided; but, as the Bill now stood, such machinery was not provided, because no existing school could be transferred until a local Board was called into existence for the purpose of receiving the transfer. Now, if the Bill worked well, the managers of a good many schools would not be inclined to think that the privilege of teaching the Church Catechism on week days, under the operation of the Conscience Clause, was an adequate compensation for the loss of the benefit which they would derive from relieving themselves to a great extent of the burden they at present very unjustly bore; and many gentlemen who, up to the present time, had maintained schools single-handed, would be inclined to think that their neighbours should be called upon to contribute their share. He wanted to provide those gentlemen with facilities for carrying out this very desirable and obvious arrangement, especially in schools in the country districts. When no local Board existed, how was the transfer of an existing school to be effected? How was it to become part and parcel of the national elementary school system of the country, founded by local Boards, and supported partly by local rates, until the manager had shut up his school, thrown the educational machinery of the district out of gear, and left the children meanwhile destitute of education? Then the Education Board would come down, declare that no elementary education of a proper description existed in that parish, and for the first time the local Board would be called into being. Now, he wanted to prevent that most mischievous waste of time. There was another reason in favour of his Amendment which would be appreciated by hon. Gentlemen on his right, and that was its effect in enabling the compulsory provisions of the Bill to be carried out. There was no machinery for carrying into effect the compulsory clauses of the Bill without the creation of local Boards. Section 65, which referred to the attendance of children at school, provided that every school Board exercising powers under the Act might, from time to time, make by-laws, among other things, requiring parents to send their children to school. If, however, you had no school Board and no local Board, how were the compulsory provisions of the Bill to be applied? Were you to throw the duty upon the existing manager, or on the overseer and churchwardens? Those persons might reasonably object to any increase of their present reponsibility. Besides, in carrying out a principle of so novel a character as that of compulsory education, which in the first instance required to be worked with considerable care, it was much more likely to work smoothly and effectively if the Board which administered it were elected by the district. His right hon. Friend might say—"What would be the relations of local Boards to the managers of existing schools?" If they had very little to do, he could congratulate them upon being placed in so agreeable a position; but that was no argument against the existence of such a body. He did not for a moment contemplate that a local Board so created would have any right to interfere with existing schools, or that the managers of existing schools should be ex-officio members of the Board. Probably, as a rule, they would be members of it; the energy and zeal with which they had carried on the existing schools would lead to the placing of these gentlemen upon the local Boards; but their power and influence would be considerably increased by the addition of a few other Members, and he hoped that in no case would a local Board consist of fewer than six members. Although a local Board, however, would have no immediate control or influence over existing schools, it would have the responsibility of enforcing attendance at those schools, and it would also be in the position of a body ready to receive any complaints from parents that their children were unfairly treated by the existing school authority. For these reasons, which the Committee would admit constituted a strong primâ facie case in favour of his Amendment, he moved, in Clause 5, line 28, to leave out all the words from the beginning to the word "defined," for the purpose of inserting the following words:—"The managers of any elementary school in the district of any school Board, with the assent of such number of their body, if any, as under their constitution is binding on them, or, if there is no such number, of a majority of those members who are present at a meeting of their body duly constituted, may, with the consent of the Educational Department, make an arrangement with the school Board for transferring their school to such Board, and the school Board may assent to such arrangement."
In case the Amendment were adopted, the last three lines of the 5th clause, after the word "made," would be surplusage, and should, therefore, be omitted. The clause amended as he proposed would read as follows:—"A school Board shall be formed for every school district, as hereinafter provided, and it shall be the duty of school Boards to provide for their respective districts a sufficient amount of accommodation in public elementary schools, as hereinafter defined (except where such accommodation already exists, or as occasion may require)."
"A school Board shall be formed for every school district as hereinafter provided, and it shall be the duty of school Boards to provide for their respective districts a sufficient amount of accommodation in public elementary schools, as hereinafter defined (except where such accommodation already exists, or as occasion may require), available for all the children resident in such district, for whose elementary education suitable provision is not otherwise made."
In page 2, line 28, to leave out from the word "There" to the word "defined," in line 30, in order to insert the words "A School Board shall be formed for every school district, as hereinafter provided, and it shall be the duty of School Boards to provide for their respective districts a sufficient amount of accommodation in public elementary schools, as hereinafter denned (except where such accommodation already exists, or as occasion may require.")—(Mr. Walter.)
said, he would support the Amendment, and for this reason, in addition to the others stated by the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter)—that a school Board, whenever established under the Bill, would be enabled to remit the fees of children and to pay them out of the rates, and it was desirable that that power should exist. It was also desirable that, as far as possible, there should be school Boards all over the country, and there ought to be some mode by which, on the application of ratepayers, a school Board of this kind might be established. There were many districts where there was sufficient school accommodation, and where the managers of schools would be desirous to insure the attendance of the children by compulsion.
said, he thought it would be quite unnecessary for a school Board to be elected every year in places where, when elected, it would have nothing to do. There was already in the Bill sufficient power to elect a school Board wherever it should be found necessary; for, by the 3rd subsection of Clause 29, the Education Department might cause school Boards to be formed wherever they chose; but it would be ridiculous to force the election of school Boards on places where there was nothing for them to do. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) raised a large question, for, in giving his reasons for supporting the Amendment, he had implied that a rate could not be levied in every place without a school Board. But, if it were meant to establish a rate for the purposes of the Bill in every place in the country, such a proposition as that should be brought forward in an open manner, and no attempt to effect an object of that kind should be made in an indirect mode.
said, he wished to ask what the words in the Amendment, "as occasion may require," meant?
From time to time, as more accommodation might be required.
said, that the clauses of the Bill empowered, the Education Department to provide school accommodation where necessary, and the proposed Amendment seemed to transfer the power from the Education Department to school Boards.
said, that as yet the Committee had no sufficient information as to the contemplated extent of a school district. It seemed to be the general feeling that in the country the parish would for the most part be too small an area. His neighbours and himself had been obliged to combine four parishes in order to form a district. There might be other cases where the parishes were too large and subdivision might be necessary; and he thought it would facilitate progress not only with this, but with other clauses of the Bill if some indication were given of the extent of area the school district was intended to be.
said, he trusted the Amendment would be accepted by the Committee. There was, or soon would be, an absolute necessity for the compulsory attendance of children at school, and without school Boards he saw no provision in the Bill for giving effect to its compulsory provisions. He could not see that existing managers of schools had anything to fear from being associated with a body of ratepayers. He thought that the existing schools which received no aid, and accepted no inspection, would be advantaged by the establishment of school Boards, inasmuch as the Boards would cheek the proselytizing spirit which pervaded some of these schools.
said, he should support the Amendment. He thought the principle of permissive compulsion wrong; but if it were adopted, it should extend to all schools recognized under the Bill. He had no great faith in local Boards; but if this scheme was to be under the direction of local Boards, and if there was anything good in them, he thought they should have local Boards everywhere.
said, he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) had rather anticipated Clause 6, under which the universality of school Boards would more appropriately be discussed; but that was a mere matter of order, and it might be convenient that he should at once state what the Government were prepared to do. Clause 5, he thought, was rather a declaratory than an enacting clause. The great object of the clause was to fasten on a school district the duty of providing sufficient school accommodation. In stating the view he took of the question raised by his hon. Friend he must remind the Committee of what was the main principle of the Bill. It was to enforce provision where provision was necessary, but not to enforce it where it was unnecessary. Provision was to be enforced by a rate. There was no wish to oblige people to be rated unless it was necessary. Consequently, power was taken to inquire if there was sufficient provision; if there was not sufficient provision in quality and quantity there must be a rate; if there was sufficient in quantity and quality there would be no rate. Would they not, by the Amendment of his hon. Friend, be forcing some districts to be rated which did not require a rate? After all, the object of school Boards was the rating. There were other duties for them to perform; but that was the one thing for which they were called into existence. His right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had asked whether they could give any idea what ought to be the area of country districts. In towns the district was denned by the borough limits. But in country districts they had taken considerable powers for uniting parishes, where small into districts, reserving, however, to those who felt aggrieved, the right to appeal. It was almost impossible for them to define the exact area. Now, the difficulty that would arise if the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire were carried was this—He would suppose they had a school Board everywhere in country districts. Many united districts would be composed partly of parishes already supplied with sufficient provision, and partly of parishes that ought to be rated. There would be considerable difficulty in forming that Board of representatives, some of whom represented districts that had to pay rates and some that had not. Those who had not to pay rates would, he thought, rather dislike being put in a position of having in any way to bear the burden of those who had to pay rates. On the other hand, he saw the difficulty raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire. He (Mr. Forster) had always looked forward to many of the existing voluntary schools being willing to transfer themselves to the school Boards, and he hoped that that would be the case. Then there was the case put by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) of ratepayers being desirous to pay fees for poor children. There was also the compulsion question. He was aware that it was a blot in the Bill, that because a district had provided the means of education, therefore it was not to have the same power of compelling attendance as a district that had not provided the means of sufficient education. He was perfectly aware of that—he foresaw this difficulty even before the Bill was introduced. That was only acknowledging the great difficulty of the question. But, on the other hand, there would be a great deal of jealousy excited if power was given to the managers of existing schools to compel attendance. After carefully considering all the difficulties of the case, the Government were prepared to take this step—while they would not force a district to provide a school Board unless it was proved deficient in school provision, they were willing to allow such district to do so; and he proposed to introduce words to enable a school Board to be formed at once on application being made by those who, if a school Board were necessary, would elect that Board. If in a borough a Town Council wished a school Board they would only have to apply to the Education Department for it; and there would be the same power in the rural parishes. That provision would really extend permissive compulsion all over the kingdom, because even a district already educationally supplied, would be able to obtain a school Board if they wished for compulsion, and the school Board would, of course, subject to the discretion of the Education Department, obtain the compulsory power. Now that the voluntary schools were not to be interfered with, he saw no objection to a district, if it liked, having a school Board. But, in addition to that, they proposed to meet another point raised by his hon. Friend. There might be cases in which the managers of a school, finding the principle of compulsory rates enacted, would be unwilling any longer to bear the very heavy expense of keeping up the school. It was quite possible there might be cases in which clergymen who, with great self-denial and with a very small income, had been keeping up a school, feeling that the neighbouring landowner was not bearing his fair share of the burden, might wish to shift the burden to the rates. It was quite true that might be done under the Bill as it stood, though only by a circuitous process; educational destitution would have to be created in order that the relief of the rate might be obtained. He proposed, therefore, to introduce words to this effect—that if the managers of any school convinced the Education Department that they were either unable or unwilling to continue the school, so that destitution would exist if it were not continued, a school Board should be formed. Those persons who, if there was a deficiency, would elect a school Board, should be able to ask at once for a school Board. There would be this advantage in these alterations, that the Bill would come into much quicker operation in towns. Educational destitution did undoubtedly exist in the majority of them; and they would be able, if they chose, to set to work at once to remedy it. That was the way in which the Government proposed to meet the case put by his hon. Friend.
said, he regretted that the Government had given way upon this point. He had thought that the Bill was a supplemental Bill designed to supply existing deficiencies; but the concession just announced by the right hon. Gentleman, insignificant as it might appear, was a concession of principle, and in reality changed the whole character of the Bill, and made it one for superseding the present system. He failed to see the necessity or wisdom of those Amendments. Why should school Boards be called for when schools were already supplied; and why should the volunteers be supposed unwilling to continue? The power of compulsion might as well be given to the managers of existing schools as to the school Boards which would be created under the Bill. There was, therefore, no necessity to make school Boards in order to introduce compulsory attendance, if that was desirable. He should be glad to know whether, since Town Councils were to have the power of obtaining school Boards by asking for them, it was proposed that the application should be made by the whole Council or only by a majority of its members. When the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government were willing to concede school Boards to all such managers of existing schools as wished for them, that was, in fact, offering a bribe to the upholders of the voluntary system to relieve themselves of a duty which they had so ably and for so long fulfilled. This proposal exhibited impatience on the part of the Government to see the end of the present system, and was tantamount to changing the policy of the Bill. He believed that if the Government would be content to stimulate the present system no such Bill as this would be necessary at all He was, therefore, not prepared, on the contrary, to stimulate an inroad in the present system, to render the Bill the more necessary.
said, that the precise terms of the course the Government proposed to pursue would be put upon the Table of the House almost immediately. He might add that the proposal would be carried out by adding words at the end of Clause 10. The Amendment would be consistent with the object of the Bill, which was to make use of existing agencies.
could by no means coincide in the contention of the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Sir Charles Adderley) that impediments should be placed in the way of those managers of existing schools who might wish to retire from their labours when the Bill had passed. That would be but a poor acknowledgment of the great services which they were universally admitted to have rendered to the country. He was sensible of the value of the concessions which the right hon. Gentleman had just announced; but he hoped that the Committee would, not be satis- fied with them. They could not provide for the case of parents who might still be required by the school Boards to pay school-pence for the education of their children, although their circumstances were such as to make the payment difficult if not impossible; but he believed that it was the wish of the Committee that such parents should be relieved from everything that would act as an impediment to their children's education. In Birmingham it had recently been determined to pay the school-pence for all parents whose means were so small as to make them really poorer than paupers—that was to say, in the receipt of a smaller wage than would be allowed for the maintenance of the family if it was dependent on the parish; and the result was that no less than 6,000 applications for school orders were received. In regard to compulsory attendance, he wished just to observe, that it might be so gently and gradually introduced as to occasion no disgust or dislike in the minds of the people. If the principle, for example, were applied to children between the ages of five and eight, or five and ten, no pecuniary hardship would be inflicted on the parents, for children of such tender years could not earn wages. If they had not a school Board they would have no means of enforcing compulsion, however necessary it might be. He, therefore, hoped that, notwithstanding the concession made by the Government, the House would still urge upon them the great advantages of making the school Boards universal.
said, he must point out that his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) was under a misapprehension as to the effect of the alteration proposed by the Government. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think it would not put the districts throughout the country in the same position as the school Boards in regard to school fees. It would, however, be seen that the 23rd clause placed them both in precisely the same position.
said, he did not wish to enter upon a discussion of the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Forster's) concession till he had the words before him. But he thought it highly undesirable to empower a Town Council to bring the Bill into force without preliminary inquiry, as he believed such a proceeding would be productive of much acrimony. The Amendment pointed to the establishment of a Board compulsorily in each district; but he did not object to it so much on that account as because it proposed to make it compulsory upon the Board to provide a sufficient amount of accommodation in elementary schools without preliminary inquiry.
said, his Amendment had no such intention at all. The preliminary inquiry was supposed to have been already conducted by the Government.
said, that in that case he apprehended the Amendment was unnecessary, because the clause as it stood made it imperative that sufficient accommodation should be provided, and the subsequent clauses created the machinery for carrying out that object. He believed the majority in the country and the majority in the House desired to preserve the present voluntary system, and to supplement it only when it was absolutely necessary to do so.
said, he was of opinion that the proposed alteration was a most serious one, as it would extend compulsion, which, in his judgment, was a very great evil. Indeed, he hardly knew how in the rural districts a system of compulsion could be carried out. It would be very hard if a parish, already well provided with voluntary schools, were thrown into a district in which rate-supported and compulsory schools were necessary.
said, it was quite out of the power of the Government to accept the Amendment; but in making that announcement he wished to explain by what means they expected to be able to remove many of the objections raised by the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). It was only proposed that a school Board should be formed either where there was a deficiency or where the ratepayers wished it.
said, he would beg to ask the hon. Member for Berkshire, whether he accepted the proposal of the Government; or, whether he intended to press his Amendment to a Division?
said, he was much obliged to his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) for going as far as he could towards meeting the proposals embodied in the Amendment. It would, however, be the most straightforward course for him to say at once that he proposed to press his Amendment to a Division. He did not think the concessions his right hon. Friend had made really met the difficulties of the case, especially with regard to compulsory powers. He might, perhaps, be allowed to lay more stress on this point, because he had never been a strong advocate for compulsion. Still, what was good for one parish in regard to compulsory powers was good for another, and he could not conceive on what ground some 10,000 or 15,000 parishes which were provided with schools, at which the attendance was unsatisfactory, should be left without the means of having a local Board. It appeared to him that a local Board was a natural appendage to every district. If it did not exercise very active powers it would do no harm, and it would be available for the specific purpose referred to in Clause 22. It must be remembered that the voluntary system, which all so much admired, was merely the result of a very long course of public negligence. Certain people, who were not called upon to do so, had taken upon themselves to educate the people of this country; but it did not follow that they should go on doing so to the end of time. There would be great difficulty in getting a voluntary system to work side by side with a rate-supported system, for the one would tend to absorb the other and to supersede it. He spoke on this subject from some knowledge, and after corresponding with a vast number of poor clergymen who had been great supporters of schools. Some years ago a multitude of them expressed their preference for a rate-supported system, which they thought would only be just; but until such a system could be established they were willing to bear the burden that they had hitherto borne. The Committee, however, might depend upon it that that would not go on much longer, and his impression was that if the religious difficulty were got over a large number of the schools of this country would be gradually transferred to the national system.
said, the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) had spoken of the necessities and the difficulties of poor districts, and then proposed to throw upon them the addi- tional burden of the school rates. He (Lord Robert Montagu) was afraid of a Liberal Government when it began to make concessions to its supporters below the Gangway. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. The Bill which the Committee were discussing this evening was in fact the third that had been before the House this Session; that was to say, there had been two sets of changes introduced into the Bill to please the Members below the Gangway. Yet before any of its clauses were considered the Vice President of the Council said he had an Amendment which would meet the views of hon. Members below the Gangway; and the vague terms in which that announcement was made were such as to cause him to fear that there would be another total change in the essential character of the Bill. The Vice President said at Bradford that the Bill would not meddle with the existing schools, but would only make good the gaps in the present system; yet now it was sought to supersede the present system altogether; and he thought it was not fair that the Committee should be called upon to divide on the proposition of the hon. Member for Berkshire, when it was not known what was to be the proposition of the Government, of which the Vice President had given only a vague notice. Did the Vice President propose to form a school Board for every district without any previous notice or inquiry?
said, his object was to enable the inhabitants of any district who wished to form a school Board to do so without any inquiry. He must disavow having any intention to alter the principle of the Bill, which really was intended to supplement the present system of education, and he contended that the inhabitants of a district in seeking to establish a school Board were not at all interfering with, the voluntary principle, or injuring the existing system. The Government could not accept the Amendment.
said, he thought the discussion had shown how wide was the line which separated one side of the House from the other. The object of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) was to prevent the wreck of those principles of education which many hon. Members supported—namely, free admission and compulsory coercion. School Boards ought to be formed in every district to carry out those principles of the Bill which were supported by all.
said, he did not think it would help forward the Bill if they indulged in political recriminations. He had no complaint to make of the other side of the House, and he had no reason to think that they were not as honestly anxious for a good measure of education as those on his own side. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Robert Montagu) said the object of the Amendment was to supersede the existing schools. If that were so, he would not support it; but he did not think it was so. The presumption of the Government Bill was that there were districts of the country which did not need additional education. If that was not correct, then school Boards would become necessary everywhere. Now, where was there a district in the country where the means of education were sufficient? ["Oh, oh!"] They might say "Oh!" but the records of education and the marriage registers showed that there was not sufficient education in any county in England. The existing schools did not secure education, and there was nothing in the Bill giving authority to anyone to bring children to the school, except the local Boards. He believed that the Amendment would render the Bill more effective, and he regretted that the Government opposed it.
said, he thought that under the Bill as it stood there would be a great number of school Boards established throughout the country, and that in many rural districts such bodies would be looked upon, at all events at first, with something like suspicion; while, as soon as their advantages became apparent, they would be very generally adopted. He might mention that in a parish in his neighbourhood which was partly manufacturing and partly agricultural, the parishioners had occasion some time ago to elect a schoolmaster. Three candidates presented themselves for election—one being a very decent man, the second a drunken tailor or shoemaker, and the third a tolerably decent man. Well, a very exciting contest occurred, and it resulted in the election of the drunken shoemaker. Taking such cases into consideration, he was in favour of having school Boards introduced gradually, instead of having them universally forced on the country.
said, he was of opinion that all those hon. Members who were opposed to universal compulsion were bound to vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). The proposal of the Vice President of the Council he looked upon as a very wholesome one, as it would meet the case of those wealthy persons in a parish who now left the burden of providing education to be borne by one or two managers.
said, in reply to the remarks made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, he would point out that it was not the occupants of the Opposition Benches who had prevented the House for four nights from going into Committee on the Bill. As to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), he should vote against it, because he deprecated any proposal which would have the effect of preventing a fair trial of the voluntary and the ratepaying system side by side. In the rural districts, he might add, there was no disinclination, so far as he was aware, shown to provide the means of education.
said, he regretted the Government did not mean to accept the Amendment; for, as the Bill now stood, we should have not only permissive compulsion, but permissive school Boards. He could not concur with the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Buxton) that everyone who was opposed to universal compulsion was bound to vote against the Amendment, because the hon. Member for Berkshire merely proposed to destroy an anomaly and not to apply general direct compulsion—of which, indeed, he believed he was not in favour—at once throughout the country. As to what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, he could corroborate his statement as to the provision made for education in the rural districts in the shape of schools. It would be found that no deficiency of school accommodation existed in the rural districts. What they required was, not schools so much as a larger attendance of children in the schools which were already provided, chiefly by the enthusiasm of the clergy.
said, he desired to thank the Government for the concession they had already made, and he hoped they would go a little further. The necessity of a school Board in every district did not necessarily imply rating. A school Board elected by the district might do a great deal towards helping the managers of a school which satisfied the educational requirements of that district in getting the children to attend school. If a school Board were established in every district, it might work harmoniously with and very much assist the managers of existing schools. The Amendment would transfer certain powers from the Education Department to the school Board; and he would suggest the addition, at the end of the Amendment, of the following words:—"And according to the instruction of the Education Department."
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 303; Noes 112: Majority 191.
said, in the absence of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), he would beg to move, in page 2, at the end of line 34, to add—
The object of the Amendment was to elicit from the Government their opinion as to what was a sufficient amount of public school accommodation."'Public school accommodation' shall mean such a number of elementary schools in each district as shall afford sufficient school room and adequate teachers for all the children of school age in such district, and shall provide for such children means of education efficient in its character, and offered on conditions fair and equal to all; and no school other than a public elementary school shall be deemed to afford suitable provision for such district, unless such school shall conform in all respects to the regulations and conditions made in this Act in respect of public school accommodation in public elementary schools."
said, he proposed to move to insert words, in line 31, that the education should be efficient and suitable. The intention of the Government had always been that the education should be efficient.
said, he thought the explanation only rendered it more necessary that he should press the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend. His object was to insert in the clause a definition of what was meant by public school accommodation and efficiency.
said, he could not accept the Amendment. Clause 8 really gave the interpretation required. Clause 5 was a declaratory rather than an enacting clause. Clause 8 provided that when the Bill was passed there should be an inquiry into the amount of accommodation in every school district. Every school in the district, whether public elementary school or not, would have to be taken into consideration in determining that question, and whether actually situated in the district or not. The effect of this Amendment would be to subject districts in which there was already a suitable supply of schools to the imposition of the rate. There could not be submitted better security as to the efficiency of the schools than the responsibility of the Government, and, with regard to the phrase "sufficient school room," used by his hon. Friend, it was very little more definite than "efficient;" and as to the words "adequate teachers," that was much the same as "efficient." What the Government had contended for was, that the teaching must be sufficient and efficient and suitable. By sufficient teaching he meant that there must be sufficient schools; by efficient, that there must be efficient teachers; and by suitable teaching he had always meant there should be no reasonable objection to be made to the religious teaching. When they came to Clause 8 he should be ready to add some explanatory words that should show that they meant "suitable" to have that meaning. He should be ready to accept the Amendments of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) to Clause 8 and also to Clause 9. The Government were always of opinion that public notice should be given of the efficiency as well as the deficiency of a school, and they wished to admit of the possibility of the efficiency of a school being contested.
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some assurance with reference to schools that had no Government Grants, and in which certificated teachers were not employed, that the efficiency of the education would not be tested by that fact.
said, that they would examine in every case, and would not be guided altogether by the fact of whether the teachers were certificated or not.
said, he would withdraw the Amendment, on the understanding that the discussion would be taken on the 8th clause.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Supply of schools in case of deficiency).
said, he had to propose, in page 2, line 38, to leave out from "and" to "purpose," in line 39, both inclusive. They were retained by an error in the new draft of the Bill, and they were calculated to anticipate the discussion on the subject of the year's grace, which would more properly arise on Clause 9, at the end of which the Government had inserted the word "forthwith" instead of "within the period of 12 months after the date of such final notice." There were certain disadvantages in retaining the words establishing the year's grace, and the onus probandi rested on those who desired to keep them in the Bill, because their retention would certainly delay the operation of the measure. In large towns he did not think that much use would be made of the 12 months' grace, and he thought very little could be done in the country in 12 months in erecting new schools; while as the Government now looked forward to a revision of the Code, by which greater aid would be given to all elementary schools, he was of opinion that even in rural districts advantage would be taken of the proffered assistance to carry out without delay the objects of the Bill.
said, he objected to the word "forthwith" as being too vague. As an inquiry was to take place in every district throughout the country it must of necessity occupy much time, and after that there would be a power of appeal from the decision arrived at. When the matter was finally settled the Education Department would send to the district a request that their intentions should be carried out forthwith. But how could that be done? If additional buildings were required they would take time to erect and complete, and 12 months would not be an unreasonable time for such a purpose. In some instances the existing deficiency might be supplied by changing the master, which could not be done "forthwith." The retention of the words proposed to be omitted would not injure the Bill, but give confidence to those who undertook the management of schools and call forth a great amount of voluntary exertion. The onus probandi of taking the words out of his own Bill rested with the right hon. Gentleman and not with the Committee. He (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) thought they had been wisely put in.
said, that the question proposed to be raised as to the year of grace did not properly arise on the clause. The Amendment had been rendered necessary from his omitting to strike out the words before reprinting the Bill. If the words were omitted, the question might again be more fairly raised on Clause 9.
said, he wished to know how schools were to be erected in poor agricultural districts? The Bill provided that in the event of a school Board not carrying out the objects of the Act the Privy Council should step in and find a site and the funds for the erection and maintenance of an efficient school; but he wished to know how it was to be done. When the Bill was first introduced it was generally supposed the Privy Council would continue the building grants, but that had now been given up.
said, the hon. Baronet's question could be better raised in another part of the Bill, and he should prefer giving an answer to the question when it came in order before the Committee.
Words struck out.
said, he might state at once, although it anticipated a later portion of the Bill, that the position of a district, after "12 months" was struck out, would be this—educational deficiency might be discovered after inquiry, and that deficiency must be supplied. After giving time to appeal and for obtaining all the Returns—which, with every possible expedition, must take some months—a final requisition would be sent out to supply the destitution. If the school Board filled up the gap absolutely and entirely, keeping pace with the population, there would be no room for anybody else; but he had not that faith in human nature to suppose that that would be immediately and thoroughly done in every case, and wherever it was not done any person who was anxious to supply the deficiency would be in precisely the same position as at the present time, the Privy Council being open to all comers to give the aid required for public elementary schools to meet the educational wants of a district. The 83rd clause contemplated that state of things, because it gave the Privy Council power to refuse applications for assistance where they thought them unnecessary, obliging them to make a special Report of their reasons when they did so.
said, he thought the words of the clause would render it imperative on the school Board to supply the deficiency. Schools might actually be building at the time to supply the deficiency; but they would not be taken into account. The school Board must erect a new school out of the rate.
The order to the school Board would be to supply the deficiency.
said, where an obligation was thrown by Act of Parliament upon anybody they might be compelled to perform it by mandamus.
said, he would suggest the introduction of words to postpone the issuing of the notice, after the Education Board had satisfied themselves by inquiry that a deficiency existed. It would be absolutely necessary that the school Board should be formed instantly the Education Department gave notice of the want of accommodation.
said, he was quite satisfied some words were necessary to give notice to a district. If a district appealed it would not be necessary that a school Board should be formed till the appeal was decided.
MR. DICKINSON moved to insert the words—"if such deficiency is not supplied as hereinafter required" within the time limited.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 7 (Regulations for conduct of public elementary school).
said, it was admitted that this Bill had made no inconsiderable demands on their forbearance; but he thought hon. Members opposite might have judged, from reservations that had been made, and from a still more significant silence, that there were parts of the Bill which could not fail to give rise to serious remonstrance in Committee. Such an one was the question he now raised by his Amendment. Although a Conscience Clause might be involved, he was not about to enter upon what was termed the religious difficulty. Perhaps he did not believe in the religious difficulty. Perhaps he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Council that it was a Parliamentary difficulty. Perhaps he agreed with the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) that to talk of a Conscience Clause as a great and propitiatory sacrifice was simply ridiculous. At all events, each such view of the subject would seem to him sufficient to establish upon a logical basis the Amendment to this clause which he offered. Now, what were the facts he had to deal with? Since 1839 there had been schools built, founded, and endowed, with partial assistance from the State, and under certain and known conditions. To very few of these was there any condition imposed as to the nature of the instruction; their vocation was to teach, and they taught according to their knowledge. Most of them were founded and endowed by men out of rather religious than educational motives. He did not ask whether it was right, or proper, or enlightened; but they did so, and, as statistics proved, they prospered. They were still admitted to have been of great utility, and even now to be a great educational power. How were they going to deal with such schools and persons? In the first draft of their Bill the Government gave them their former advantages, slightly curtailed. By their second thoughts they were totally deprived of them. By the definition of a public elementary school under this Bill, they imposed an obligation general in its character, and to those schools they restricted absolutely the public grants. What was this but to deprive at once the whole of these schools of their grant? It was true they might come under this Act by the acceptation of new terms; but it was equally evident that those terms might be such as they could not accept; if so, they deprived them of their grant. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Council said that the difficulty it was supposed to meet was not an educational difficulty, but a Parliamentary difficulty. Well, then, they arrived at this fact—that this Conscience Clause was nothing to be very enthusiastic about. It placed some difficulties in the way of teaching, and some disadvantages; but it was otherwise objectionable and mischievous in effect. It was, then, only as a necessity tolerable, and it should not go at all beyond that point. Where did this stop? Clearly at the point where the difficulty existed—the Parliamentary point. Now, the present application of this Act went far beyond this. It raised questions of the past, and most needlessly raised the most formidable obstacles upon their path. What claim had been made upon them? By whom? What injustice was stated—of what? Those existing schools were unobtrusively doing their own proper work, and surely there might in common prudence have been a policy of non-interference in such respects. It was not even a question of an increased grant, for this they would have considered as a question apart, and without any new condition they would have dealt with this. Why, then, should they tie their own hands by such a clause as this? Lastly, did no real and actual difference of condition exist as regarded those newly-created schools? Why, of this they found evidence in this Act. By the present provision of the 14th clause they established that distinction at once, and, under an obvious necessity, they prescribed the conditions under which such children should be taught. In this there would, at least, be no hardship, no breach of faith; and he asked them, in this Amendment, to recognize this principle. He begged to move, in page 3, line 4, after "school," to insert "constituted from and after the passing of this Act, or subject to any school Board or rating authority."
said, he could assure the hon. Member (Mr. Corrance) that there was an entire agreement on that side as to the absolute necessity of a Time Table Conscience Clause, and he (Mr. Baines) had understood that the Leaders of the Opposition and the dignitaries of the Church were prepared, to accept it.
said, he would beg to urge the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment. He liked the Time Table Conscience Clause better than the old form, because there was in it a direct intimation that a purely religious teaching should be given, at least once, or at most four times a day. Yet he believed that it was a mistake to allow the (Ecumenical Councils of Vestries and municipal authorities to determine what religious teaching should be given during that time.
said, he hoped that the Amendment would be withdrawn. The practical working of the Conscience Clause in the schools at Manchester and Salford had shown that the religious difficulty was almost a myth; but, at the same time, it was absolutely necessary that such a clause should exist.
said, the Members below the Gangway, so far from being dissatisfied with the Time Table Conscience Clause, were of opinion that it did not go quite far enough. He was unable to support the Amendment.
said, he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Corrance) would I not go to a Division.
said, he would withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would beg to move, in line 5, after "regulations," to insert "a copy of which regulations shall be conspicuously put up in every such school." He trusted hon. Members would not object to this Amendment, as they seemed disposed to make the Conscience Clause a bonâ fide one.
said, he trusted the Committee would accede to his hon. Friend's suggestion.
Amendment agreed to.
said, in the absence of the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. J. Talbot), he would beg to propose, in line 6, after "No child," to insert "whose parent shall object to the requirement." These words were in the Bill as originally framed.
said, he objected to the Amendment. The clause, as it stood, would enable the schoolmaster to require a child to attend the religious instruction in school if the child's parent requested him to do so; but it would not enable either the schoolmaster or manager to make such attendance a condition of a child being admitted to the school.
said, he feared that, in the absence of the Amendment, any child might rebel against his teacher whenever religious instruction was imparted during the ordinary course of teaching.
said, he had carefully worded the clause, so as to prevent its having such an effect.
said, he wished to know what was to be done in the event of a child refusing to attend school lessons which his parents wished him to take?
said, the child would be compelled to attend. In sub-Section 2, which related to withdrawal from the religious teaching after the child had been admitted, the word "parent" had been introduced.
said, that deeming the explanation which had been given by the Vice President of the Council a fair one, he should not press his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would beg to move, in line 10, after "elsewhere" to insert "or to attend school on any day or on any occasion objected to on religious grounds by the parents or guardians of such child." His object was that the attendance of children at school should not be required on days which were regarded by them and their parents as sacred. Without the introduction of such words there would, he contended, be no sufficient protection for Jewish or Roman Catholic children, with whom certain days were set apart for religious observance—as, for instance, the Saturday, which was the Jewish Sabbath, and the saints' days in the Roman Catholic Church.
said, he thought the object was covered by sub-Seection 1; but as it was quite possible that might not be so, he should not decline to consider the matter with the view of meeting his hon. and learned Friend's views.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he rose to move, in page 3, line 13, to leave out "either at the beginning or at the end, or at the beginning and the end of such meeting, and shall be." A practical inconvenience would arise if these words were retained in the Bill. In some of the schools with which he was acquainted, where the children had to come long distances, and were frequently late, the beginning of the day would be a bad time for giving religious instruction, and there was an obvious objection also to the end of the meeting, when the children were thinking chiefly of tops and marbles. The clause had reference both to the old voluntary and to the new schools. He was personally acquainted with schools on the British and Foreign system containing 3,000 children, and, after diligent inquiry, he could not find that, during 13 years, a single child had been taken away from these schools on account of the religious instruction given there. That was the experience of most persons engaged in teaching with regard to the religious difficulty. He did not want to do away with the safeguard of the Conscience Clause; but he wanted the clause so framed as to be easily worked, and that every school should be allowed to take its own time for giving religious instruction, a time table being hung up, stating when religious instruction was given, so that the parents should know at what hours to withdraw their children if they objected to the religious teaching.
Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 13, to leave out the words "either at the beginning or at the end, or at the beginning and the end of such meeting, and shall be."—( Mr. Pease.)
said, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council not to press the Time Table Conscience Clause in the shape in which it was proposed by the Bill, entirely on the practical ground that it would be productive of great embarrassment and inconvenience. Both the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) and himself were prepared to propose the Amendment now before the Committee; and they were supported by a Petition which had been presented to the House, signed by 2,000 teachers, who objected only to the limitation of the discretion of managers as to the time at which religious instruction should be given, but did not object to a time table, to be settled by managers, subject to the approval of the Education Department, to be exhibited in the school, and not to be changed without some public notice. This was, in substance, the proposal contained in a Bill introduced in 1857 by Lord Stanley, Mr. Cobden, the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam), and himself. A Memorial had been received from Leicester, signed by both Churchmen and Dissenters, objecting that the Bill unnecessarily fettered the discretion of managers; and a question having been submitted to a great number of schoolmasters in South Wales with respect to the proposal of the Bill, the majority of them returned such answers as "impracticable," and "would create confusion."
said, that the greatest importance was attached to the Time Table Conscience Clause, and he hoped the Committee would maintain the concession made by the Government in this matter, which he thought should apply to all schools.
said, he supported the Amendment because he wished as much liberty to be allowed in the management of the schools as was consistent with perfect liberty to any parent to withdraw his child from a religious instruction to which he might object. It was the practice of the British Society's schoolmasters to take religious teaching into their own hands, and teach one class after another, and not to leave it to the junior teachers.
said, he trusted the Government would not assent to the Amendment, the practical effect of which would be to make the secular instruction of a school available only to those children whoso parents approved the religious education given in it.
said, as this was merely a question of convenience, the selection of the time should be left to the school managers. It would be practically impossible in a very large school for the master, who ought to be responsible for religious teaching, to give it at the beginning and end of the school time alone. A paper circulated that morning showed that the Presbyterians of Belfast advocated freedom in this matter.
said, he conceived that the more easily understood the provision respecting the Time Table Conscience Clause was the better, and by the proposal of the Government ample opportunity would be afforded for religious in- struction. Though many persons thought that a Time Table Conscience Clause could not easily be worked, he was confident that religious instruction might advantageously be given either at the beginning or the end of the schooling, and, therefore, he was strongly opposed to the Amendment.
said, that the existing Conscience Clause had been in operation for many years, and not a single instance had been shown of injustice or inconvenience to Dissenters arising from it. He thought that if they were to have a Time Table Conscience Clause it should not be of the stringent and odious character proposed by the Government, but rather of the more reasonable and easy form suggested by the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease). There were between 5,000 and 6,000 Church of England schools which received no Government aid and were not under Government inspection. One great object of this Bill was that these schools should be conciliated and induced to come under Government inspection. By the vexatious Time Table Conscience Clause of the Government they would diminish the temptation of the managers and teachers of these schools to come in; and he feared they would also induce some of those schools that at present received aid by Government Grants to throw up those grants rather than submit to this new restriction. If they were to have a Time Table Conscience Clause it should be in the simplest form in which it could be proposed.
said, he objected to the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) because it made the Time Table Conscience Clause still more vague, while it was much too vague already.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had appealed to hon. Members to deal with this subject as practical men. He (Mr. Liddell) appealed to the right hon. Gentleman as a practical man to deal with it as such. It was desirable that religious teaching should be given by the master. Now, he would put the case of a school where the daily attendance was to his knowledge between 800 and 900; would it be possible to give efficient religious instruction without dividing the pupils into several classes, and how in such a case could they stereotype the times when religious instruction should be given?
said, he admitted that this was a very important question, and he was not surprised at the difference of opinion that existed upon it. The Government had found great difficulty in making up their minds; but they had formed a very strong opinion after having fully considered it. The practical argument had been appealed to, and he could only state that he had done his utmost to obtain practical opinions on the subject. It was very true that many schoolmasters had given their opinion in favour of complete discretion, and it was quite natural that they should. But he had taken the opinion of gentlemen who had been most actively engaged in the daily work, management, and teaching of large schools, both in town and country, and they assured him that the arrangement proposed by the Government could be easily worked. When there were four distinct times given in the course of the day for religious instruction, there was practically hardly a school in the kingdom that would not be able to act upon the Time Table Conscience Clause. The reason for fixing a limitation to the times when religious instruction should be given was on account of the strong feeling that existed that religious and secular teaching should be separated. It was that chiefly which originated the necessity of a Time Table Conscience Clause. In the interests of religion the Government were unwilling that the religious teaching should be given as an extra, out of school hours, or that words should be introduced to prevent the possibility of any allusion to religious subjects during the ordinary hours of instruction; but they felt also that the desire of the country would not be met if religious instruction might be spread all over the ordinary hours of teaching. In Ireland, originally, religious instruction was allowed to be given at any time before or after the ordinary school business; but, at the request of the Roman Catholics, that was altered, and to meet special requirements religious instruction or exercises were allowed at not more than one intermediate time, between the commencement and close of the school business. In New South Wales, where a Conscience Clause was tried, they were obliged to provide that the secular instruction should be consecutive. He was as anxious as anyone that all the existing, and not only the existing, but other voluntary schools should be thoroughly incorporated in the national system, and accepted by the public generally as part of the public system of schools. In order to provide for that care should be taken that the Bill contained no provision which would run counter to any strong principle in the public mind. For instance, the feeling in favour of compulsion was growing apace, and in all probability compulsion would be accepted throughout the kingdom in a comparatively short time; it was, therefore, advisable to provide that in case a child was compelled to attend school it could not be said that child was also compelled to accept religious instruction not approved by its parents. He thought that hon. Gentlemen who were anxious for religious education in the country would feel with him how necessary it was that they should remove any cause of offence or objections in the minds of the working classes. For the sake of clearness in respect of existing schools he was very anxious this concession should be made, and also to insure, in the interest of those who were more particularly anxious about secular instruction, that it should be continuous and not split up by religious teaching.
observed, that the right hon. Gentleman's argument was founded on the fallacy that the circumstances and convenience of all localities were similar; but in some places it would be deemed most inconvenient that religious instruction should be imparted when the children were either thinking of dinner or drowsy from the effect of it, or that it should be given at a time when the children came dawdling into the school behind time. In the interest of those who would prefer other times than those named in the Bill he asked for a wider margin.
said, he preferred regulating the hours of religious teaching by the question, how can the secular instruction be best given? The Government were to contribute 50 per cent of the expense, and he thought he had a right to know when the secular education should be given. On this ground he thought there was a serious objection to the Amendment. As far as his experience of schoools went there would not be the least difficulty in working the Conscience Clause as it stood in the Bill.
said, he wished to keep to the Conscience Clause at present in force, and did not see how it could be improved by a time table. He admitted that if there were a time table a specific one ought to be mentioned in the Bill. If the element of time were eliminated it would be necessary to fall back on the existing Conscience Clause. The present system worked well, and the existing Conscience Clause, in his judgment, was better than the one proposed to be substituted for it, which would give parents the power of withdrawing their children from the school at particular times instead of withdrawing them from a particular subject.
said, he hoped his hon. Friend the Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) would not persist in his Amendment, which, if successful, would be regarded by the country as a breach of faith. It had gone forth to the country, and was believed by a very large number of nonconforming and beneficed clergy, that a Time Table Conscience Clause was to be adopted. Since March last the managers of four Church schools with which he was acquainted, and which taught upwards of 1,400 children, had adopted a Time Table Clause by way of experiment. Copies of it were sent round to the parents. It stated that religious instruction would be given at the beginning and end of the school hours. The result was that, although half the pupils were the children of Dissenters, only two persons availed themselves of the Conscience Clause. One working man stated that he had never seen a Church Catechism, and on a copy being sent to him he replied—"There are a good many things in it which I do not agree with; but you may teach my child as much of it as you like, for I will take care that it does him no harm." A poor woman expressed her opinion that her child had not received enough religious instruction, and that a little more would do him good. He sincerely hoped the Committee would not in any way alter the clause.
said, all that hon. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side asked for was that when the proposed times for religious instruction were not convenient to the managers they should not be insisted on. Surely this was a demand which they were justified in urging in the name of liberty, and he thought it hard that the whole of the Liberal party in the House, with the exception of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease), should be arrayed against it. When the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) affirmed that, by assenting to this Amendment, the Committee would be departing from a covenant, he ought to have remembered that the Conservative party had made great concessions with respect to the measure. Instead of this being a Conservative Education Bill, he and many of his hon. Friends only accepted it with great reluctance, some of its provisions being opposed to their most cherished convictions. They had, indeed, made large concessions in their anxiety to promote the object aimed at by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council—the education of the people. To say that all managers should be obliged to confine religious instruction to the end or the beginning of the school course would be an infraction of civil and religious liberty. He had not sufficient confidence in human nature to suppose that if they placed religious instruction on the one side and the charms of the playground on the other, the former would be embraced in preference by school children.
said, it was impossible for a Conscience Time Table to be effectual unless the religious instruction were given at the beginning, not at the end of the school.
said, he would support the Amendment. A large majority of the House had decided that there was to be religious teaching in the schools; there must, therefore, also be an examination in religious subjects; but, according to the Bill, the examination in religious subjects was not to be conducted by the Government Inspectors. That duty would consequently devolve on the diocesan Inspectors, who, if they could only conduct the examination during the first or the last half hour, would have to remain idle during a great part of the day.
said, the Presbyterians were in favour of a Time Table Conscience Clause. The Report of the Committee of the General Assembly was in favour of limiting the hours of religious teaching in schools to the beginning and end of the day.
said, this question ought to be looked at broadly. The general scope of the Bill was to establish rate-aided schools; but the Government had resolved to recognize voluntary schools, if they were sufficiently elastic. He had himself established Church schools in a district in which there were a great many children running wild, but in which district there was a large attendance at chapels. He had adopted almost identically the same principle as that proposed by the Government. It was arranged that religious instruction was to be given only at the commencement and end of the school hours, in the morning and evening. Many of the children were soon attracted to school, and the system worked extremely well. If a fixed time were laid down a considerable amount of discussion at the local Boards would be avoided. If the religious instruction were found to be insufficient it would be quite open to extension.
said, he must entreat the Government to consider very carefully the course they were going to adopt with reference to the question at issue. He would remind the Committee that not a single case had been adduced in which it had been shown that oppression or interference with religious convictions had been resorted to by the managers of schools, even under the existing system. In a school of 1,400 children, the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had instanced only two cases, which really did not touch the question. He understood the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to have said on a former occasion that the principle of which he was in favour was, that there should be freedom of religious instruction and liberty of withdrawal. He now asked the right hon. Gentleman to carry out that principle. We had at the present moment schools which had been brought into existence and maintained at great cost, and in which, in reference to the question of the Conscience Clause, it had been almost unanimously conceded to the managers that they should fix the time for religious teaching which might seem to them to be most appropriate to their particular schools. Now that, he contended, was a concession which it was perfectly reasonable to ask; and he would add that, instead of secular instruction being continued all day without interruption, it would be better that the teaching should not be kept in a consecutive groove. He quite concurred with the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) in the opinion that in a great number of cases the beginning and the end of the school hours would be found to be the time most suitable for giving religious instruction; but in many instances it would be quite the contrary. The great object was to secure that the religious teaching when given should be of the best character—that it should, if possible, be given by the clergyman, and in his absence by the schoolmaster himself, and not by monitors or pupil-teachers. Now all that must be very much matter of arrangement, and it was but very little to ask that the teachers and clergymen, having reference to the Department of Education which was placed over them, they should, so long as they did not infringe on the rules laid down by that Department or the conscientious scruples of parents, be allowed to fix the time for religious instruction at the hour which was found to be most convenient. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to suppose that they who sat on the Conservative side of the House, in supporting the Amendment, wished to make a mockery of the Conscience Clause which they had accepted; but that was far from being the fact. Not one instance of oppression could be pointed to in the past; and, as they had not hitherto betrayed the confidence of Parliament, he hoped their minds would not be alienated by what they would be likely to regard as a tyrannical Amendment. He believed that there would be very few withdrawals; and it was for the advantage of the children that the managers should fix the time, so that they could make the withdrawal convenient to themselves, the teachers, and the clergy of all denominations.
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) had asked for the hundredth time that cases of abuse, if they existed, should be produced. He would, however, remind him that the whole question resolved itself into a struggle for power, and that no cases of abuse were heard of, not improbably, because the whole power was in the hands of the clergy and gentlemen who founded the schools, who took credit for the long silence, because the poor people said nothing on the subject. For his own part, he had endeavoured to induce the Church to yield the point for a considerable time. He had, he might add, been appealed to by a Baptist in a small country town with which he was acquainted, who stated that some children who went for admission to the only day school of the place, a Church of England school, were required to pay double fees or to be baptized. The result was, that the children were not admitted to the school because they could not, as Baptists, conscientiously consent to baptism. There were many cases, he believed, of that kind.
said, in answer to the challenge thrown out by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), he could state that in one village in his neighbourhood the children of Dissenters who attended the Church of England school were called upon to pay double fees. If this Amendment were agreed to it would not last for 12 months, and it would be no settlement of the question at all.
said, he hoped the Committee would not go into particular cases. It was possible to quote many of them; but they almost all applied to particular religious observances outside the schools, like those which had been, mentioned, or to the attendance of children at the Sunday schools. They were all agreed that it was necessary to give some protection to the parents. He did not complain of this point being raised, and he was sure that the conduct of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side had evinced an earnest desire for the settlement of the question during the present Session, and that they really felt the objection they now urged. He could, however, honestly say that, looking at the whole question from both points of view, he was convinced that it was for the interest of the existing schools to adopt the clause as it stood.
said, he must protest against the notion that silence proceeded from an inability to mention instances of the nature alluded to. He knew of one case, but after the appeal just made he would not quote the particulars, in which a man who wrote complaining of oppression, begged that his name might not be made public, for fear of the consequences which might ensue to himself. There were a great number of cases in which silence was solely attributable to fear.
Question put, "That the words 'either at the beginning or at the end, or at the beginning and the end of' stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 222; Noes 122: Majority 100.
said, he would propose, as an Amendment, in page 3, line 14, to leave out "such meeting," and insert "the daily school course." He believed that two services a day would meet all cases, and that there was an intention, under the words of the clause as they stood, to defeat the object of the Conscience Clause by giving religious instruction in the middle of the day.
said, he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed. How would it operate under the half-time system?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH moved an Amendment to the effect that the words requiring the time table to be approved by the Education Department should be omitted. He supposed the object was to secure that sufficient time should be devoted to secular instruction, and he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council whether the security could not be taken in another way, for managers objected to be controlled in such a matter, and objected to the correspondence which the provision would involve?
said, he presumed that that security was obtained indirectly by requiring children to pass a certain standard in secular subjects, so that the matter might be left to the pecuniary interests of managers.
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Collins) had practically answered the question of the noble Lord, but at present, under the Code, it was required that each attendance, in a morning and an afternoon, should be for two hours; and it would now be probably necessary to say that that two hours should be devoted to secular teaching.
said, that what he objected to was that the time table should have to be approved by the Department.
said, now that the period for religious instruction had been fixed, he thought that, within the limits prescribed, the rest might be left to the discretion of managers.
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not consent to the omission of the words requiring the approval of the Department. It was important to do nothing to diminish public confidence in the Conscience Clause; and if there was an honest intention to give a full measure of secular education, and not to abuse the Conscience Clause, there was no reason why managers should not send their time table to be approved by the Department.
said, if the Amendment were agreed to it would be open to managers to make the proportions of religious and secular instruction just what they liked.
said, he thought it would be better to leave the matter to the discretion of masters and managers.
said, that although his noble Friend (Lord. Frederick Cavendish) had held out a bribe to him, inasmuch as the examination of the time tables would involve great additional labour at the Privy Council Office, yet he thought it would be better to retain the words. If he were to assent to the Amendment, he must afterwards propose to fix a certain minimum time for secular instruction. He preferred the provision in the Bill; but if the noble Lord proposed his Amendment on the Report, there would then be an opportunity for reconsidering the matter.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would beg to move, in page 3, sub-Section 2, line 18, to leave out all after "room," to end of sub-section, and insert—
"And no scholar shall be privileged to attend the instruction in religious subjects or any religious service held within school hours except at the request of the parents or guardians of such child, such request to be conveyed to the managers or school teachers in the following form:—I, A. B. [parent or guardian], hereby request that C. D., now a scholar in [designate the School], may be admitted into the class for re- ligious instruction, and may attend the religious service conducted in the said school [here state at what time and by whom].
Signed A. B.
Name of school.
Date of application."
The object of the Amendment was to obviate the objection urged to every Conscience Clause—that it placed in an invidious position the child whose parent withdrew him from the duty or privilege common to all of attending religious instruction, and that it took from the parents the natural responsibility in the matter of the religious education of their children.
said, he hoped the hon. Member (Dr. Brewer) would not press his Amendment. Under the Conscience Clause, as it originally stood, a written notice was required; but a good deal of objection was made to a notice. The great advantage of the Time Table Conscience Clause was, that it would be self-working, and would require neither notice on the one side nor claim on the other. He thought that would be best both for the schoolmaster and parent. It would also prevent a good deal of denominational canvassing. He was perfectly sure his hon. Friend had brought forward the Amendment in the interest of religious teaching, but he could not but think it would be disadvantageous to it.
said, he thought the Amendment involved an important principle, and would do a great deal to secure religious liberty, especially in rural districts.
said, that the religious difficulty existed only in the minds of theorists, not of practical men. He hoped the Committee would not listen to the Amendment.
said, he was of opinion that no child should be placed under religious instruction without the previous assent of his parents.
said, that if the schoolmaster were required to go about to get the parents of children to sign a requisition a great portion of his time would be wasted in so doing.
MR. DIXON moved an Amendment to render the meaning of the clause more clear. He proposed to insert the words "the school during" in line 19, and then the clause would stand thus—
"And any scholar may be withdrawn by her or his parent from 'the school during' such observance or instruction, without forfeiting any of the other benefits of the school."
His object was to carry out what he had always understood to be the intention of the Government, and the interpretation usually put on the statement of the Prime Minister on the second reading. Unless this were done the Time Table Conscience Clause would not be self-working.
Amendment proposed, in line 19, after the word "from," to insert the words "the school during."—( Mr. Dixon.)
said, he hoped the Committee would keep the clause as it was. It had been drawn with very great care and thought, and the object was to meet what he considered the real wish of the Committee—that whoever objected to his child's religious instruction or presence at religious observance should be able, without forfeiting any other benefits of the school, to withdraw his child from that instruction or observance. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) seemed to have put the same construction on the Time Table Conscience Clause as his (Mr. W. E. Forster's) son, who said—"Oh, I wish we had that at Rugby! Would not we all turn Dissenters and cut first lesson?" That was not the intention of the Government. It was not desired to break into the discipline of the schools. [Mr. HORSMAN said, he wished to know where the children would be withdrawn to for secular instruction?] He could not positively say where they would be withdrawn to, for the reason that he did not know the circumstances of every school in the kingdom. In most schools—certainly in most Government schools, there were class-rooms, and wherever there was a class-room it would be perfectly easy to put the child to secular instruction during the time set apart for religious instruction. Where these were not, the matter must be left to the managers to make the best arrangements to carry out the intentions of Parliament under the supervision of the Government Inspectors. He saw no reason why the child should have less teaching than the other children because his parents objected to his receiving religious instruction.
said, being quite satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, he would not press the Amendment he had upon the Paper bearing on this subject, the only object of which was that the discipline of the school should not be interfered with.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 379: Majority 344.
said, he would beg to move, in page 3, line 21, after sub-Section 2, to insert the following subsections:—
"3. That it be not incumbent to teach some religious catechism or religious formulary in such school.
"4. That no person be or be disqualified from being a manager or teacher of such school by reason of belonging or not belonging to some religious denomination, or holding or not holding some office.
He wished to abolish tests as regarded these schools, which ought to be, not the minister's or the clergymen's schools, but the parish schools."5. That no person other than the teacher shall have any superintendence or authority in such school, unless authorized by the managers."
said, the Amendment was unnecessary. Purely secular schools were already admitted under the Bill, just the same as denominational schools which accepted the conditions of no denominational inspection and a Time Table Clause. If it was meant that it should be a condition of aiding public elementary schools that no catechism was to be taught in them, the Committee would hardly agree to such a proposal.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. DIXON moved an Amendment, providing that "the religious instruction shall not be given in a room where secular instruction is being carried on." In large schools there would be more than one room, so that the Amendment could be easily carried out. But what he wanted to meet was the case of the small schools, where there was only one schoolroom, and where if the religious and secular instructions were to be carried on together there would necessarily be some confusion. He wished in such schools to prevent those children who wished to avoid the religious instruction from hearing and taking any part in it.
said, one would suppose the hon. Member (Mr. Dixon) had never been to school. If he had been, his experience would probably coincide with his, that different classes might be going on in different parts of a room at the same time; and did the hon. Member suppose that children who were being taught, for instance, writing or sums, were so very-anxious to imbibe some other lesson that, instead of attending to the things which they had been set to learn, they would keep their minds and ears and eyes open for other subjects?
said, he must object to such points being raised without Notice, and he would suggest to the hon. Member (Mr. Dixon) to withdraw his Amendment, and bring it up on the Report.
said, on the part of the Government, he could not accept the Amendment. It would, he thought, be absurd to lay down the rule that, however large a room might be, secular and religious teaching might not be carried on in different portions of it at the same time. He must again entreat the hon. Member to repose some confidence in the Inspectors, as well as in the good feeling of those connected with the schools, to see that the conditions of the Government Grant were complied with.
contended that one set of children might be in one corner of a room engaged in writing, and that religious instruction might be given within a few feet of them, so that they would hear everything that was said.
said, the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had asked what possible harm could come from religious instruction being carried on in the schools, considering that the children would not understand what they overheard, and consequently could not carry it away. But it had been found in this country, and in other countries, that the teaching of religion was inconsistent with education in the proper sense of the word. The professors of religion, as distinguished from religious people, had always maintained that their interests were inconsistent with education. The Roman Catholics, for instance, endeavoured, as far as possible, to prevent the minds of children from being so enlarged upon secular subjects as to reject the teaching of the Church on religious subjects.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, that it was important for the Committee to bear in mind that denominational inspection did not mean inspection in the religious teaching. Newspaper writers had laboured hard of late in spreading this confusion of terms. The next sentence in the clause of the Bill proved that they were two distinct things, for after abolishing denominational inspection it went on to enact that there should also be no inquiry into religious instruction. The latter he did not wish to retain; the former he desired to preserve. The cardinal rule of the Privy Council, passed on September 24, 1839, was that the Government Inspectors should not interfere with religious instruction; they only examined in secular subjects on the part of the State. This was still the rule; as might be seen by Clause 14 of the Revised Code, and by the "Instructions to Inspectors upon their appointment." In 1844, however, as the result of a good deal of correpondence, they were allowed to examine Church schools in the Bible, the Liturgy, and the Catechism; but they did so not on the part of the State, but for the Archbishops. That had been fully explained by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1862, when he introduced the Revised Code. What was the force of the words in the Bill which he proposed to limit? The Bill would allow the Queen's appointment of Inspectors to be absolute and unfettered by the vetoes of the various religious bodies. In other words, the Bill made the will of the Education Department become omnipotent. As the result of a solemn compact, after the severe controversy on the Management Clauses, the denominations were allowed a veto on the appointment of the Inspectors who were to examine in their schools; and this right was embodied in the trust deed of each school. But, according to the Bill, this compact was departed from, and the Privy Council would have a right to send down a Roman Catholic to inspect the Protestant schools and a Protestant to inspect the Roman Catholic schools. Why was the denominational inspection done away with? Why was the national faith to be broken? Why were these concordats to be forgotten? Why were 16,000 trust deeds to be set at nought by the absolute fiat of the State? The Vice President said, in introducing the Bill, that it was done in order to prevent the Inspectors from crossing each other's paths. This was, therefore, a question of money. Let the Committee see how large a question it was; let them consider for what saving they were asked to break faith. An Inspector's salary rose to £600 a year; and he got £250 of "personal allowances," which covered travelling expenses. No reduction could be made for existing Inspectors; but what would be the ultimate saving? These personal allowances amounted to £6,468 a year. There were 73 Inspectors—of whom 11 were Scotch, and one was both Scotch and English. The travelling expenses of the 62 English Inspectors amounted to £5,494. Now, of these 62 Inspectors, 48 were Inspectors of English Church schools, and their districts did not overlap; 11 were lay, and 3 were Roman Catholic Inspectors. The districts of these 14 were those which overlapped. Now, if the expenses of these were reduced by one half (which would not be the case), the saving effected by the change would amount to no more than £620 a year. For this sum they were to break all the solemn concordats and override the trust deeds of 16,000 schools. He should, therefore, move, in line 21, after "Inspectors," to insert, "appointed in accordance with the Orders in Council at present in force in that respect."
said, he did not consider this clause a violation of the compact referred to. It did not follow that the conditions made with the various denominations were conditions which were always to remain. It was a mistake to suppose that the trust deeds required denominational inspection. Opinions varied from time to time, and certainly many acceptors of the grant were now strongly of opinion that it was an advantage not to have this denominational inspection any longer. The change involved not only the saving of money, but another and greater advantage in the shape of a much bettor organization of the work of inspection.
said, it was only human nature that teachers should neglect a subject on which their pupils were not be examined.
said, that as the clause stood it was open to any Inspector voluntarily to examine in religion, or to accept an invitation to do so. He (Mr. M'Arthur) desired their examinations should be confined to secular subjects, and he would move in page 3, sub-Section 3, line 22, to leave out "it shall be no part of the duties of such Inspector to," and insert, "no such Inspector shall."
said, the words of the Bill and those of the Amendment practically came to the same thing, for it might be taken for granted that a Government official would not do that which it was declared was no part of his duty. At the present time it was the duty of a Church of England Inspector to examine in religion. The words of the clause were not so arbitrary as those of the Amendment, which he hoped would not be passed.
said, he preferred the clause as it stood. Examination in religion, as distinct from denominational inspection, was of service to the State; in proof of which he might refer to a passage from the "Instructions to Inspectors upon the administration of the Revised Code," issued by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was at the Education Department, to the effect that an examination in religious knowledge "affords the best means whereby to test what general effect their teaching had upon their minds."
said, he had heard of Inspectors undertaking examinations vo luntarily.
said, they were encouraged to avail themselves of opportunities of examining schools which, although they did not receive aid, had yet received building grants. This was not a matter which the Government would be pertinacious about; but, as a matter of courtesy to the Inspectors, he trusted his hon. Friend would withdraw his Amendment.
said, that the terms of the clause, while apparently in the imperative mood, were really permissive. He had certainly understood that there was to be no examination by the State into the religious instruction. If, as he hoped, it were intended to preclude examination, it would be better to adopt the Amendment. If there was so little difference between them he hoped the Government would give way.
said, the Amendment would preclude an Inspector, in his own holidays, from examining a school in his personal capacity on the invitation of a friend. The words of the clause, which were adequate for their purpose, were only intended to apply to that portion of an Inspector's time during which he was acting as a public servant. He was sure they would not wish to employ words which would amount to an invasion of private liberty.
said, there was no doubt the House intended that there should be no examination or inspection of religious instruction; and he was sure that Dissenters generally had been reconciled to the Bill, so far as they were reconciled to it, by that consideration. Surely, therefore, an Inspector, in his capacity of Inspector, should be prevented by clear words from doing that which the House did not intend him to do.
said, he would suggest that the following words should be substituted for those proposed by the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. M'Arthur)—"and no such Inspector shall as part of his duty," &c.
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Lambeth would be content with the suggestion of the Vice President of the Council.
said, the words proposed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) seemed to create a greater difficulty than the words in the Bill. The Government had stated most distinctly that the Inspector shall not in any sense make any examination into the religious instruction, and if they meant that the strongest words ought to be used.
said, he thought the introduction of the words "on the occasion of his official visit," would be better.
said, he would withdraw his Amendment, and propose, instead, the words, "and no such Inspector shall in his official capacity," &c.
Amendment withdrawn: the Amendment to add the words—"and no such Inspector shall in his official capacity," agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.