House Of Commons
Tuesday, 28th June, 1870.
MINUTES.]—SELECT COMMITTEE—Army (Colonels), appointed.
PUBLIC BILLS— Ordered—Parochial Councils.
Ordered— First Reading—Dublin City Voters Disfranchisement * .
Second Reading—Charitable Funds Investment * ; Rents and Periodical Payments * ; Settled Estates * .
Referred to Select Committee—Local Government Supplemental (No. 2) * .
Committee—Elementarv Education ( re-comm.) —R.P.
Considered as amended—Medical Officers Superannuation * .
Third Reading—Cattle Disease (Ireland) * ; Liverpool Admiralty District Registrar * , and passed.
The House met at Two of the clock.
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the following published statement in regard to the Evesham Rifle Corps:—
"That, for several months past, the corps has been in danger of being broken up from being entirely without officers; that, after much pressure, two highly respectable tradesmen, both town councillors, consented to serve as Lieutenant and Ensign respectively, but that Commissions were refused by the Lord Lieutenant on the ground that he 'did not consider their social position would allow of his appointing them commissioned officers?'"
My attention, Sir, was called to this subject for the first time by my hon. Friend's Question. I understand it is not strictly accurate that the Lord Lieutenant has refused the commissions in question, as no formal application has been made to him for them. By the Regulations commissions are given on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant, and in dealing with a Volunteer force he consults what he conceives to be the feeling and wish of the county generally, and the members of the force in particular.
Army—The Horse Guards And The War Department—Question
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, If there is any truth in the report which has been circulated that, by a recent Order in Council, changes have taken place in the relations between His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief and the War Department; and, if any, what those changes are?
Sir, an Order in Council defining the duties of the Officer Commanding-in-Chief has received the sanction of Her Majesty, and has been laid before Parliament. The intention of that Order is to define, in the clearest terms, and by the highest authority, what is the position of the Officer Commanding-in-Chief. I believe it will be found to be in entire conformity with the declarations which I have always made in this House upon that subject; and, in making those declarations, I have always had the entire concurrence of his Royal Highness.
Navy—Admiralty Pension Branch
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, If there is any truth in the report now current, that a sum of money, stated to amount to £2,000, has been paid as compensation under a late Act to a person who had been previously discharged from the service for misconduct; and, if so, will he state the date and cause of said clerk's dismissal, and the date and amount of payment of the commutation referred to?
Sir, I regret to say it is true that, owing to a very strange mistake in the pension branch of the Admiralty, a person who had been discharged from the service by the Duke of Somer- set in October, 1861, received on the 13th of June, 1870, a sum of £2,233 9s. as the commutation of a supposed pension, no such pension having ever been granted. The Treasury and Admiralty have instituted a thorough investigation into the circumstances of this most extraordinary case.
Elementary Education (Recommitted) Bill—Bill 167
( Mr. W. E. Forster, Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
Committee Progress 27Th June
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
said, he wished to make an explanation. In the course of the debate yesterday, he quoted some facts from a printed Paper, relating to the Presbyterians in the North of Ireland, and commented upon them. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) afterwards charged him with misquoting; and as he (Mr. S. Cave) had read the Paper hurriedly, and quoted merely from memory, he bowed to the hon. Gentleman's correction. On looking at the Paper again this morning, however, he found that he had really quoted from it correctly, and that the hon. Member for Liverpool must have supposed him to have been quoting from some other paper. The matter was not of very much consequence; but he thought it right to vindicate what he had said, as he felt strongly that any misquotation from carelessness was only a degree better than dishonesty in argument.
Clause 7 (Regulations for conduct of public elementary schools).
LORD ROBERT MONTAGU moved, in page 3, sub-Section 4, line 28, after "conditions," insert "contained in the Schedule to this Act, and which are." The noble Lord said the Amendment was not contrary to the principles laid down by the Government, and he therefore hoped that the Government would accept it. A short time ago the Prime Minister proposed a compromise in three parts, two of which were concessions to hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side of the House, while the third was a concession offered as a make-weight to the Conservatives. The first concession was the adoption of the Amendment of the right hon. Member
for South. Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple), while the second was a proposal that the managers of voluntary schools should have no connection with the school Boards; or in other words that they should receive no assistance out of the rates. Those were concessions to hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side of the House, and they were both made permanent and put into the Bill. The third concession, or makeweight for the Conservatives, was the proposal that in future the voluntary schools and the rate-paid schools should all receive an increase not exceeding 50 per cent of their grant. That increased grant would be a great assistance to the schools, and it would be a fair and just concession; but it ought, like the others, to be made permanent, and put into the Bill. It was only just that they should be equally permanent and secure. If it was not so treated, they would have a feverish agitation next year, as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. V. Harcourt) had promised them. That agitation would be injurious both to the cause of education and to the country generally. The whole question would then be re-opened with great bitterness and ill-feeling. He ventured to remind the Prime Minister of the little coldness—he would not call it schism—which existed between the Ministerial party above the Gangway and the larger party sitting below the Gangway. Now, the cause of that coolness the right hon. Gentleman, he had no doubt, desired to remove; the serious wound in his party he surely wished to heal. But how was this to be done? how was the ulcerous sore of agitation to be removed? If, having made one part of the compromise permanent in the Bill, he would do the same by the other part, he trusted that, the whole matter being finally settled, and there being no object for agitation, the great Liberal party might be again re-united. But let him suppose that that party became re-united, by some miraculous means, without the adoption of such a course, although the cause of irritation still remained; then the new Code, when it was placed on the Table, would be rejected by the House, and the consequence would be that hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway would get their half of the compromise, while the other half would be lost to those who sat on the Opposition Benches.
The rate would then become very high, in every parish in England, and odium would thereby be cast on the whole measure. As to the voluntary schools, if they were deprived of the maximum grant of 50 per cent, while they lost those other sources of income on which they had hitherto relied, they would be starved out, and the Bill would be a measure not to complete, but entirely to supersede the existing system. That was his first reason for desiring that that portion of the new Revised Code which related to the conditions on which the grants were to be given should be put into one of the Schedules of the Bill. Secondly: if that were not done, there would be a perpetual liability to change by the Education Department or by the House. The Minister at the Department might have different views, or might simply be given to change. The agitation out-of-doors, which had been promised, might force a change on the Minister. Yet surely those who for 40 years had, with their own resources, fought the battle of education, had a better right to fixity of tenure than those indolent, squalid persons whom the Prime Minister had that year taken under his protection. The evils of insecurity or liability to change were known in every pursuit. In trade and mercantile enterprises, the least likelihood of change put an end to energy. Nothing—he had the authority of the Home Secretary and of the Colonial Minister for saying, stood so much in the way of educational progress as that want of confidence which fear of change engendered. The concluding words of the Report of 1865–6 were these—
"Nothing has stood, and nothing now stands more in the way of progress than the want of confidence engendered by frequent changes."
All the Inspectors in 1865–6 had reported that this sense of insecurity was detrimental. That was his second reason for desiring that the new Code should be embodied in the Act. In the third place, the Vice President of the Council had stated, in answer to the hon. Member for Buteshire (Mr. Dalrymple), that he could not lay upon the Table the alterations which were to be made in the Revised Code because he did not know what the conditions of the Bill would be when it became law. Now, if the new Code was to depend upon the Bill, the Bill depended upon the Code; and the Code might
be so framed as to change the character of the Bill. The Committee were, therefore, asked to legislate on the subject in the dark. The House had a right to demand that the new Code should be placed before them as a guide for their present proceedings, instead of deferring its consideration to another Session, when the Bill would be law, and the present details and difficulties would be forgotten; but the promised agitation would be rampant and distracting. Another reason for pressing the Amendment was that the Bill already gave too large powers to the Education Department. He alluded to the powers of the Department whenever a school Board was "in default." If the school Boards, for example, did not carry out the behests of the Department, the latter could then appoint persons to erect buildings for schools, and all the expenses which they chose to incur would have to be paid out of the rates. So, again, all the 13,000 to 15,000 bodies of legal trustees throughout the country were to be swept away under the new system, and the Education Department was to take their place. He did not desire that these powers should be absolutely taken out of the Bill; but he thought what he had urged showed, to say the least, the desirableness of rendering the present compromise permanent by inserting it in the Bill. If the Education Department were a permanent body, the country might trust it; but it was, as the House knew, an offshoot of party government, and the appointment of the heads of the Department was made to relieve the exigencies of a Minister. If the House desired to avoid agitation and the re-opening of the question next year; if they desired to unite the Liberal party; if they desired to stop frequent changes in order to promote the progress of education; if they desired not to legislate in the dark; if they feared the absolute powers of the Department, they must have the Revised Code inserted in the Bill so far, at least, as it related to the grants.
said, the Motion of the noble Lord was not very kind as regarded the Bill, nor did it correspond with the very humane sentiments towards the measure which the noble Lord expressed on the previous night. He felt bound, at the same time, to say that the humanity of the noble Lord towards the Liberal party was such as to demand his immediate and warm recognition. The noble Lord compassionated them on the state of schism in which he found them; and, after listening to his observations, it would appear as if he had derived his inspiration from having observed what had occurred three nights ago in "another place;" and as if he had acquired from that occurrence a very lively sense of the mischiefs which resulted from divisions in a party. He was glad, however, to think that there was no occasion for the apprehensions of the noble Lord in the present instance; for, so far as he could see, there appeared to him to be a growing disposition on all sides to concur as far as possible in the main provisions of the Bill, with a view to passing it into law in the present Session. He fully believed, he might add, notwithstanding the Motion just made by the noble Lord, that he, too, was in favour of the passing of the measure. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: Hear, hear!] He was sorry, however, the noble Lord should have thought fit to make the remarks which he had made with respect to the prospects of an agitation springing up on the subject of the sustenance of voluntary schools, it being the object of his Amendment, he said, to obviate any such risk. He did not believe in this agitation. When Parliament had well and carefully defined the amount of assistance which it was proposed to afford to voluntary schools; when they had stipulated—as he hoped they would, that the object of that assistance should be simply to promote elementary training in secular instruction; when they had coupled that with the condition that such training should be of an efficient kind, and that the schools in which it was given should contain ample provisions for liberty of conscience, he felt satisfied they might dismiss all apprehensions of the agitation to which the noble Lord referred. If, however, such an agitation were apprehended, the Motion of the noble Lord would be the means of antedating and inflaming it. He did not question the sincerity of the noble Lord; but this was the 28th of June, and to ask the Government, after the Bill had gone through Committee, to frame minute regulations under which aid would have to be distributed to the voluntary schools would involve the expenditure of so much time that it would be impossible to pass the Bill this Session. Of course, it was desirable that the promoters of voluntary schools should have full confidence in the general principles on which Parliament proceeded; and the Government admitted the necessity of the Motion of the ton. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert), and of showing that it was in the mind, of Parliament, as a part of the measure, to provide increased means for the support of voluntary schools. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) had wisely limited himself to a demand of that kind, and did not expect more than that Parliament should show what was in its mind as to future aid, whether to voluntary or rate-aided schools. While the proposal of the noble Lord was fatal to the Bill on the score of time, the cumbrous process he suggested did not provide the desired security and certainty, which could only be afforded by setting out in the Bill the whole of the conditions upon which State aid was to be administered, and likewise by providing that the disbursements necessary for the purpose of affording that aid should be charged upon the Consolidated Fund. The noble Lord had not ventured to suggest that, after the adoption for 40 years of the system of an annual Vote which, on the one hand, was found to give adequate confidence to the promoters of schools all over the country, and, on the other hand, secured the control of this House over the disbursement of a very much larger amount of public money, the House should now abandon that control, and should pass an Act charging future educational grants upon the Consolidated Fund. Did the noble Lord really think that the machinery of education in voluntary schools had reached such a state that anyone could say there was no reason to expect any further change? Was it not a fact that for 30 years we had been learning from experience, and had been feeling our way towards a good system? At one time attempts were made by a very elaborate machinery to make an efficient provision for education in voluntary schools. At another time, by means of the Revised Code, an attempt was made to simplify the action of that machinery. The noble Lord said that attempt had failed. If so, it was the best argument against his Motion and against the attempt to stereotype now that which ought to be kept in the hands of Parliament, and moulded according to the teaching of experience. If the Motion were carried, the noble Lord would only succeed in making a most inconvenient arrangement, rendering necessary constant resort to this House for the purpose of making changes in detail; whereas the method of proceeding should be a flexible one. While, therefore, fully admitting the reasonableness of giving some indication of the general policy which was proposed by Parliament, an indication upon which parties might at any time fall back for protection from a capricious exercise of discretion, possibly by a single executive officer, in limitation of the wishes of Parliament, he hoped the Motion would not be pressed.
said, he had not ventured to use the language of menace; but he had thought it fair to say, on behalf of himself and others, that they did not accept the principle of increased grants to the existing denominational schools. He was not quite so much afraid of agitation as the noble Lord seemed to be. "Agitation" was a word generally used by Gentlemen who were afraid of public discussion; it was a word of opprobrium employed with reference to public discussion by Gentlemen who did not like this discussion, and thought it might turn against them. A six months' agitation on this question would prove whether he and those who thought with him were right or wrong. Disapproving of these increased denominational grants, he said fairly he should use every opportunity that offered of opposing them. Meanwhile, like reasonable men, they made the best of the situation. They tried for what they wanted, and took what they could get, not wishing to obstruct the progress of this measure; but it was only fair that the Gentlemen with whom he acted should reserve to themselves the right of dissenting from the principle of increased grants to denominational schools. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government censured him the other day rather severely, saying he understood him to say that the Amendment of the right hon. Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple) was pure and undiluted denominationalism. That was a mistake. The Amendment was intended to temper the denominational system; and he said that the effects of a combination of the two systems would be to increase the growth of the denominational system.
said, that though he commented on the speech of his hon. and learned Friend, according to what appeared to be its plain meaning, he accepted with satisfaction the true construction which the hon. and learned Member had now given of his meaning, and that he did not now see in the Bill the character which he thought he had seen in it.
said, he would be the last person to throw any obstacle in the way of the passing of the present measure; but, at the same time, he thought he was justified in pressing the Vice President of the Council to give some assurance that, while concessions were made to one party, the other party should not be left in future years to the tender mercies of some other Vice President, who might entertain different intentions from those now expressed on the part of the Government. He believed that if the minimum as well as the maximum amount of aid were stated in the Bill, a provision of that kind would give satisfaction.
said, he was as anxious as anyone to see the Bill passed this Session; but he could not assent to the argument of the Prime Minister that want of time justified them in abstaining from doing what was really just. The Prime Minister also stated that the Code was of such a complicated nature and so full of minutiœ that if they attempted to put it in the Bill then the measure would fail of having that elasticity necessary for carrying out the new system of education. Nevertheless, though the minute points of the Code were not put in the Bill, still its main and broad principles might be sot forth, so as to prevent any future Vice President of the Council from treating one set of schools in a different way from another set. There ought to be some security that the grants would be made to all schools upon a similar scale and on similar conditions. He had therefore put some words on the Paper, but they would be considered in an after part of the Bill.
agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu), that all con- cerned with voluntary schools should have some fixed knowledge of what amount of aid they were to receive. He had had the management of a voluntary school for a great many years, and had watched the Reports of that school; and he had found that one of his greatest difficulties arose from the uncertainty of the receipts from the Education Department. Those receipts had varied from £29 a year to £7 a year; and in a small school, where the total expense did not much exceed £100 a year, not to know whether a portion of the receipts was to be as low as £7 or as high as £29 constituted a great difficulty. In fact, the school managers did not know what to do. He was rejoiced that some addition was to be made to the grants for voluntary schools, though he was surprised at the amount of the maximum of 50 per cent, which was about 15s. per head per child, because the school with which he was connected had been in the habit of receiving only 3s. or 4s. per head per child. As 15s. constituted the maximum, probably the actual aid would not be much greater than the school had hitherto received; but he should like to see something in the Bill on the subject. Then, as representing a large body of Nonconformists, he thought it was important that these matters should be laid down with some little accuracy. What was the amount to be charged on the Consolidated Fund? What was the amount which they would be called on to contribute? The right hon. Gentleman did not state what was the number of schools, nor what was the amount of grants, and without these matters they were working in the dark. He would not give any vote to delay the Bill, and he hoped the noble Lord would not press his Amendment to a Division.
said, with regard to the amount which was to be charged on the Consolidated Fund, he did not know what it was nor did he know what it would be. The amount depended entirely on what Parliament would do. His first objection to the noble Lord's (Lord E. Montagu's) Motion was that this was not the time for it. Clause 7 stated that one of the conditions to be observed in the management of an elementary school was, that it was to be conducted in accordance with the conditions attached to the Parliamentary Grant, which meant that it must be carried on in accordance with the Code. This Bill was divided into two parts; the second part related to the grant and the Code; and the proper time for considering the noble Lord's Motion would, therefore, be when the Committee came to deal with the second part of the Bill. A second objection to having the Code embodied in a Bill was, that it was advisable, through the revision of the Code, to utilize information obtained as to the working of it, and in that way to stimulate the progress of education. The noble Lord said that he (Mr. Forster) ought to be able to frame a Code before the Bill left the House, and that if he (Mr. Forster) could not do it, he (Lord R. Montagu) could. He did not think the noble Lord overrated his own knowledge and experience, although undoubtedly he had far overrated the knowledge and capacity of him (Mr. Forster). The Department had now to consider carefully all the information obtained during the last five or six years, as to the effect of the Code as revised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the respects in which it had failed to answer the expectations formed at the time of its revision; and he had not been able, in addition to framing this Bill, to go through the labour of adapting the Code to the Bill, a work which would require the greatest thought and care. The Government would be acting unjustly if they did not consider how any increase of the grant could be spent with the greatest advantage to the cause of education. The money was not to be given for the sake of giving it, but for value received; and the Department might be to blame if they did not do more than the percentage of good represented by the additional grant. If, however, the principles on which the Code was to be revised were to be embodied in the Bill, the proper place to do that would be in Clause 82; and before the Committee came to that clause the Government would be prepared to deal with the question. There was no intention to make any difference between the grants to different kinds of schools; they did not mean that they would necessarily be the same, but that all schools would have the same opportunity of earning them, and the amounts they obtained would depend upon their qualifications. The Department must hold to the great principle of results; and it was impos- sible to say what was the minimum any school might earn.
said, it was necessary to clear up a point with reference to the proffered increase of the grant; and in elucidation of that point he read the following extract from a letter from a gentleman who had charge of a school in his own county:—
The parts of the Code referred to were Sections 40, 44, and 52; and the last of these implied that the rate might be 15s. per scholar, according to the average attendance. Suppose a school with 60 scholars on the roll, and an average attendance of 40; the earnings of 40 at 4s. each would be £8; suppose 50 to pass in all subjects, they would earn 8s. each, or £20, which would give a total of £28, and that would be an average of 14s. each for the 40. At this stage of the Bill it was desirable to have from the Government some clearer explanation of this so-called concession, as to whether it meant that more money was to be given, or that there was to be greater liberality in applying that already given."We are at a loss to know what Mr. Gladstone means by saying he will increase the Government Grant 50 per cent. Do, please, ask if possible. He assumes (correctly enough), that the average cost per child is 30s.; but he says that the grant is one-third of this sum, and will be increased by one half of this third—i.e., in all 50 per cent, or 15s. per head. Clear enough, only that at present by the Revised Code we are actually entitled to, and do receive, if earned 16s. per head. See the Code. For instance, I have got within the last few days £70 grant, and our school pence and contributions equalled about £71. Hence we got about 50 per cent. Possibly he means in poorer parishes there will be less stringency and more liberality, so that those who might now get 50 per cent, but practically get 33 only, would really get the 50. If so, the Code must be revised; but it ought to be understood that ha is not really increasing the terms of the Revised Code, but leaving it stationary with most schools, and only making its maximum attainable in others. So that we have little to be thankful for."
said, he was not surprised that his noble Friend (Lord Robert Montagu) should have taken an opportunity of obtaining from the Government a more distinct assurance than the Committee had yet received with respect to the increase of the grants to voluntary schools, and he thought that his noble Friend had enforced his views in a becoming manner; but, on the whole, he did not think the Committee could receive a more satisfactory assurance from the Government in this debate than they had received. Considering the nature of the Bill before them, it must necessarily be a moral assurance. To suppose that any Government, much less one represented by the present Prime Minister, should have made the statement which they had made respecting these increased grants, and that in due season they should not stand to their guns, was really to suppose that the Public Business of this great country would be carried on by men actuated by very different principles and contrary sentiments to those recognized by both parties in the House. He hoped, therefore, that his noble Friend would hesitate before he asked the Committee to come to a Division on the subject, satisfied with having asked the House to state its opinions on the subject, totally irrespective of the particular mode of the scheme of time, although that question must have some influence when the House was dealing with matters of this importance. He confessed that he was not at present prepared to stereotype the Revised Code. He did not see, for instance, how it was to work as regarded certificated masters. The whole subject required time before the House could meet the exigencies of the case. Under the circumstances, he trusted that his noble Friend would not ask the House to come to a Division. It appeared to him that the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) was not altogether acquainted with the case. He appeared to think that the supporters of the voluntary system would, under the Government proposition, secure some pecuniary advantage. But the hon. and learned Gentleman must be labouring under an error, because the advantages of the proposal would not be confined to the voluntary schools, but would be shared in by all schools alike. Under these circumstances, he thought that the contemplated agitation in the autumn must be founded on some other principle. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford would be reduced to this alternative—an agitation which would ask the country to decide between the comparative merits and advantages of local rating, and the resources of the Consolidated Fund. He did not himself see in this issue any of the elements of national enthusiasm. Speaking, perhaps, from a longer experience of this particular sub- ject than that which the hon. and learned Gentleman had enjoyed, he was bound to express his belief that, if there were to be a competitive examination by the country of the respective merits of local rating and of the Consolidated Fund, the national verdict would be in favour of an attack being made upon that great fund which hitherto had been so popular with Ministers as a means of getting them out of difficulties, and of extricating them from perplexities out of which they saw no other means of escape.
said, that in consequence of the distinct and unequivocal assurance of the Prime Minister, he would follow the advice of the late Prime Minister, and would not give the Committee the trouble of dividing, but he would rather have his Amendment negatived than withdraw it.
DR. BREWER moved, sub-Section 4, page 3, line 29, at end, add—
"And the master or mistress of every rate-supported school shall keep a register of every admission and dismissal, which shall be laid before the school Board at every meeting thereof, and the register shall contain columns indicating the proficiency of the scholar leaving the school in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and certificates of such proficiency shall be given to the parent or guardian of such child on leaving."
said, that the Government would not be able to accept the Amendment; but he must also point out that this was not the proper clause in which to move it. He objected to the Amendment because he thought it unwise for Parliament to attempt to lay down for the Education Department rules affecting those details of management which ought to be left to its discretion.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he should withdraw the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely—
his intention being to vote for the Amendment on that subject in the name of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright). The other Amendment of which he had given Notice was the last relating to Clause 7. It was to this effect—"In any school assisted from public rates the religious instruction which may be given therein shall be confined to unsectarian instruction in the Bible;"
He did not attach, great importance to the wording of the Amendment. He was quite willing to admit that it might be imperfect in its character, and he would accept any method of dealing with it consistent with the principle he intended to raise. The principle he asked the Committee to affirm was this—that in the case of every public elementary school in the country the parents should have some voice in its management. He could conceive no principle of more capital consequence than that. They were going to establish two classes of schools—one rate-aided schools, subject to the regulations with which they were familiar; and the other voluntary schools. That was not what they had wished; but, as reasonable men, they accepted the situation, and dealt with it as they found it. And with reference to what had been stated by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) as to the autumn platform, he ventured to observe that he did not altogether accept the situation he was good enough to offer. They were not going to agitate for local rates against the Consolidated Fund. They were quite willing to rob the Consolidated Fund, though, probably, the right hon. Gentleman, from his experience as Chancellor of the Exchequer, knew better how to do it than they did. They were ready to dispense altogether with rates, and take all that was necessary from the Consolidated Fund; but their principle was this—that neither from rates nor from the Consolidated Fund should money be applied to the extension and increase of the denominational system. That was the autumn platform, in the success of which, if the right hon. Gentleman would join them, he should feel assured. But, now, how were they to deal for the future with voluntary schools? On what footing were they to be? Did they, or did they not, intend to admit parents to any voice in their management—above all, in the choice of a schoolmaster, on which the future of their children so much depended? The Bill, as it at present stood, gave the subscribers who provided 20 per cent of the whole cost of the school the sole control of its arrangements, and would not permit the State, or the parents who provided the other 80 per cent, to have any voice in the matter. A Roman Catholic subscriber of one-sixth of the cost of the school could use the five-sixteenths supplied by the public to serve his own sectarian ends; and, besides this, a subscriber might even control the school in the matter of secular education, and possibly insist that the secular instruction should consist of nothing but Latin and Greek. He was aware that he should be told that, unless this provision was inserted, voluntary efforts would suffer discouragement; but he replied that, buying voluntary aid too dear, they were selling the birthright of British parents to control their children's education for a miserable mess of voluntary pottage. He believed that hon. Gentlemen opposite were as anxious to get the children to school as he was, only they thought there was a better method than compulsion. Well, then, what better method could there be than to give parents confidence in the schools? And how were they to have confidence so fully as when they had a voice in the management? He did not want to exclude the landlord. He would give him a voice in due proportion to his liberality. But in this country there was as much absenteeism as in Ireland; and while the parishes where the landlords resided were petted and cockered, there were many educational Cinderellas who were left to pine in dust and ashes. Least of all did he wish to exclude the clergymen, who were usually the most intelligent men in the parish, and who were far from being so exclusive, especially the younger portion of the country clergy. The Government, he trusted, would expressly state their opinions on this subject, which had not been hitherto fully discussed. It was proposed to give to those who contributed only one-sixth of the cost the entire control of the schools, and this, in his judgment, was extremely unfair. He hoped the House would affirm the principle that the parents of the children attending a school ought always to be admitted to a share in its management. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment."5. In every such school provision shall be made for giving to the parents of the children educated therein, and contributing thereto, a representation on the management of such school according to regulations to be made for that purpose by the Education Department; and in case such school shall be in receipt of a Parliamentary Grant, provision shall in like manner be made for giving a proportionate share in the management of the school to the householders resident in the school district."
said, he could not allow this Amendment to be put forward without stating that, according to his experience as a school manager, the proportions of the contributions to schools in the rural districts to the other means of support were very different from those put forward by the hon. and learned Member. If they put the proportions at 20, 40, and 60, he believed it would be found that the children's pence represented 20, the voluntary contributions 40, and the Government aid 60. The deductions from those figures was, that in such cases the voluntary contributors should be appointed managers, and not the parents of the children attending the schools.
said, he wished the parents to have a proportionate share in the management.
said, that in that case they ought to know what the precise proportions were. Another strong practical objection to this Amendment would be that, according to it, the parents of the children to be taught would have the appointment of the school teacher. Now, the appointment of a teacher was no easy matter, and required a special kind of knowledge, which was not likely to be of avail if they were simply to consult the wishes of the parents.
said, he could not delay any longer the appeal that had been made to him by his hon. and learned Friend for his opinion on this question. He did not intend to reply to his hon. and learned Friend's objections to the increased grant, as there would be an opportunity of debating that point at a future stage of the Bill. The hon. and learned Member commenced by stating that he would not adhere strictly to the words of his Amendment, but that he stood by the principle; but surely it was highly desirable that the wording of practical Amendments should be precise. In fact, his hon. and learned Friend had found that his words would not do. This showed how difficult it was to frame words that would carry out the principle.
rose to explain. His statement was, that he adhered to the words of his Amendment; but that if his right hon. Friend objected to them he should not be unwilling to substitute others. What he wanted to know was, whether his right hon. Friend objected to the principle of the Amendment?
said, that in the case of a great many schools there were no contributions whatever; and, consequently, according to the terms of the Amendment, the parents of the children attending them would have no share in the management. The Amendment went on to say—
This Amendment was proposed to a clause affecting schools which received Parliamentary Grants, and he confessed his inability to understand the distinction made by his hon. and learned Friend. In the latter part of the Amendment his hon. and learned Friend abandoned the parents and spoke only of the resident householders, so that a school might possibly be managed by people who neither contributed to its support nor sent their children to it. This showed the difficulty of settling a matter of this kind by Act of Parliament, instead of leaving it to the general feeling of the country; and if his hon. and learned Friend had had the experience which he himself happened to have had, first as a manager and then in connection with the Education Department, he would hardly have supported his proposal by the arguments which he had used. The hon. and learned Gentleman contended that the public should have a voice in the management of these schools, and they had. Large sums of money were contributed by the public towards their support, and they exercised, in his opinion, a much more powerful control over them by adhering to the system of strict inspection and payment by results than if they themselves were to step in and take a part in the daily management. But then his hon. and learned Friend said it was contrary to the principle that representation and taxation should go together, that the parents of children should have no voice in the control of the schools. The real question, however, was not one of taxation and representation, but of purchase and sale, and he could state from experience that the parents in a great number of instances used their right of purchase very fully indeed. It was even a not unfrequent complaint of the Inspectors that they used it to the disadvantage of education. Some parents were apt, for instance, to take their children from school for very slight causes, which had nothing to do with the religious difficulty. As matters stood, persons who did not possess much wealth, but who did possess much benevolence, found it necessary to bring in parents into the control; but he was sure it would not advance the object which his hon. and learned Friend had in view if he were to attempt to do that by law. The Privy Council said in those cases—"Provide us with good schools and give a good secular education, and we will pay you according to the result." Nor did he believe they would gain by becoming managers themselves, or by creating some sort of machinery to bring parents into the matter. He would, therefore, appeal to the Committee not to agree to the Amendment."In case such school shall be in receipt of a Parliamentary Grant, provision shall in like manner be made for giving a proportionate share in the management of the school to the householders resident in the school district."
said, that he thought those who sat on the Opposition Benches had some right to complain of the course which was taken by hon. Members sitting below the Gangway on the other side of the House. They had reason, for instance, to complain of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. V. Harcourt) and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), who were constantly bringing forward cases which had, with rare exceptions, never occurred. Indeed, had not the religious difficulty been put in the mouths of the people, it would never have been heard of in the voluntary schools. It was, in his opinion, a most mischievous thing to tell the parents of those poor children that they ought to have a voice in the management of the schools. From his own experience, he could state that a great proportion of the children whom it was sought to educate were without the advantages of education because their parents had never received any education whatsoever, and never took the trouble to send them to school. If such parents were placed on the school Boards, he ventured to say that it would not be taking a step in the right direction. The voluntary schools, as had been acknowledged on all sides, had done their duty admirably, and if they were to be continued they ought to be encouraged.
said, he could not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last, because he thought those parents who had no education themselves were often those who desired it most for their children. He thought it was a sound principle that all should have a voice in the school management who found any portion of the money, and that the school Boards should be composed partly of persons representing the subscribers, partly of persons elected by the parents whose children attended the school, and partly by nominees of the Government. Those who were interested in the operations of the school Boards were the most likely to take an active interest in the persons who were to constitute the Boards. He sympathized with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. V. Harcourt) in the object of the Amendment; but he did not think they could adopt his words, and he did not see how they could adopt any form of words which would not be open to serious objection. He could not vote for the Amendment as it now stood, although he agreed with the principle of it.
said, he believed that great confusion would be introduced into the Bill by the adoption of the Amendment. The concessions made by the Vice President of the Council would be quite sufficient to meet the requirements of the case.
said, the Vice President of the Council did not really apprehend the meaning and purpose of the Amendment, which was simply that those who were to use and pay for the schools should have some share in the management of the schools. Those who lived on the spot represented very fairly the taxpayers of the country, and it was just and reasonable that they should have a legal and avowed status in the management of the schools.
said, he thought a strong case had been made out by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. V. Harcourt). The Vice President knew well that the subscriptions to schools were very often mere shams; and, when they were real, were insignificant in amount, as compared with the school fees and the Government Grants. It appeared to him a monstrous thing that the parents of the children who contributed so much should have so small, and the subscribers who contributed so little should have so large, a share in the management.
said, nothing would be so fatal to the efficient conduct of a school as that the parents should have a share in managing it. The best proof of this was a case mentioned the other day, in which the inhabitants had in their hands the election of a schoolmaster, and by far the worst was chosen. If the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman were adopted, the principle must be carried further; and the great public schools—such as Eton, Rugby, and Harrow—must be managed by the parents of the children.
said, they must keep before them the interests of education, rather than the forgotten theories of representation of two years ago. The question was how they could get the best schools, and how they could secure the best management? In many instances the parents would be labourers, hedgers, ditchers, and game watchers, who had never been to school in their lives. And were these the persons to manage schools—or was not more intelligence required than they could bring to the duty? As to their purchasing the education, they obtained three times the value they paid for. Besides, even if it were a purchase, the argument would not hold good; were those who purchased bread always to determine the size and price of the loaf? The principle set up in favour of the Amendment, was, moreover, not carried out by the Amendment itself. According to the principle, the Privy Council ought to appoint one-half the managers; for every one who contributed to the Consolidated Fund had as much right to be represented as the householders who contributed to the local rates.
said, the opponents of the Amendment, at their wits' end for a sound argument, had invariably misstated its terms. It was not proposed that the parents should have the power of appointing or dismissing a master, or that labourers should have the supreme management; but it was thought that it might be conducive to the interests of a school if even hedgers and ditchers could have a slight voice in its management; and he hoped the sense of the Committee would be taken on the proposal. In the pamphlet of Sir James Kay-Shuttle-worth, there was a statement to the effect that the small proportion which school-pence bore to the whole income of a school was a sign of the small interest taken by parents in the education of their children; that they were seldom present at examinations; and that few persons had the foresight displayed by Dr. Temple when he proposed, that the parents should select a certain number of their body to act upon the school Committee. He would suggest to his hon. and learned Friend the propriety of taking the Division on the first part of the clause only.
said, he was quite willing to adopt the suggestion.
said, he had made the experiment of interesting parents in the management of a school, and the results had been quite surprising. They took pride in the excellence of the school and in the master, in whose selection they had a voice; and if the Bill were carried, it would similarly enlist in the promotion of education a large number of persons all over the country. He hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a Division.
said, he hoped that if the Committee divided, on the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend it would be on a clearer view of the case than that given by some hon. Members who had taken part in the debate. He objected in limine to the representation that persons who subscribed one-sixth of the expenses of a school were, by the Bill, secured the management of five-sixths of the funds. One-sixth was the proportion to which it might be possible for the managers of a school, by fortunate circumstances, to reduce their liability; but they were the persons who were responsible for all mischance, and, if anything went wrong, they must supply the deficiency. One-sixth was the minimum which was demanded from them; but that proportion might increase indefinitely, from causes partly dependent upon their prudence and partly under their control. His hon. and learned Friend endeavoured to unite two things which were absolutely incompatible. Taking the first part of the proposition, they were dealing with voluntary schools, and would the idea of a voluntary school admit of the compulsory application of a Parliamentary machinery devised by the Executive to regulate it? There was nothing in the Amendment about a "very slight" representation of the parents, and the case was not mended by thus narrowing the ground; for, if representation was to be made the basis of the management of the schools, it ought to be the predominant element in the management. How was it possible for the Education Department to work on such a clause as that of his hon. and learned Friend? If he wished to attain his professed object, and supposing there, were no incompatibility, it ought to be attained not by a few words introduced into the sub-section of a clause, but by a clearly-constructed and well-developed measure. What did he require the Education Department to do? To give the parents a representation in the management of the school. And what did his proposition involve? Why, the construction, for each school in the country, of a complete electoral and representative system. Even for the purpose of attaining the limited aim of the hon. Baronet who spoke of a "very slight" representation of the parents, there must be for every school a body of representatives qualified to sit and vote, and a registered constituency to elect them. What qualification was to be given them for voting—was it that they had sent their children to school for a single day? Those questions might be termed cavils, but they were real and substantial difficulties. It was not for the Executive Government to have cast on it the duty of making a proposition practical, and to develop on it the construction of an organic section of this kind. Parliament alone ought to undertake the business of legislation such as this. He thought the proposition was one to which it was absolutely impossible to agree. He wished, with his hon. Friend, that an efficient control could be established over the schools, so that they should not fall into the hands of one class, even though it might be distinguished by munificence of management. It was desirable by all means in their power to promote and encourage a course of things by which the most competent and intelligent persons should associate themselves together for the purpose of managing the schools. But it might be relied on that no person could have a greater interest to make the school popular than the managers of them, and the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) should bear in mind that any failure on their part in that respect would be punished by heavy pecuniary responsibility, in consequence of the falling away of the scholars. Everything that could be adopted for securing the adequate association of competent persons to govern the schools on a broad and liberal basis deserved consideration; but his hon. and learned Friend, however laudable his aim, had embarked on a course for attaining it, which was shown not to be practicable; and if his hon. Friend thought it practicable, he was bound to demonstrate that such was the case by means more efficacious than a few words in the shape of a Motion which cast over the responsibility wholesale to the Executive Government.
said, he was glad not to have heard from the Prime Minister the language which had come from hon. Gentlemen opposite, which he called very dangerous language, and which reminded one of the celebrated apostrophe of the right hon. Gentleman, who might ask whether, after all, the children are not our own flesh and blood? He was sorry to have heard from the Vice President of the Council that the interests of the parents of the children at the national schools were only a matter of purchase and sale. That was the very basis of his (Mr. V. Harcourt's) objection to the scheme of those voluntary schools—that they allowed the patron to purchase the parents by the Government selling the interest of the parent to him for his contribution. He wanted the parents not as customers, but as purchasers. The noble Lord (Lord R. Montagu) had likened these schools to a baker's shop; and what he wanted to prevent was the noble Lord and his Friends from always making the bread, and of judging the exact quantity of alum they should put into it under the circumstances. He should like good household bread to be baked by the parents, which would be more wholesome than anything that could be produced under the monopoly of his noble Friend. It had just now been said by the Prime Minister that he ought to have drawn up a scheme to give the proposed representation; but it was impossible for him to do so, because the scheme must vary for every parish, according to the contributions of the pa- rents and the grants from the Consolidated Fund. But what he asked for was, that the householders should have a voice in the management, because they contributed to the Consolidated Fund. ["Divide, divide!"] The question had not been discussed before, and therefore it was desirable the Committee should hear what had to be said upon it. ["Divide!"] It was of no use to try to put him down by clamour, because in so doing they would gain nothing. He was supported in his Motion by the Report of the Endowed Schools Commission, that body having recommended the introduction of one-third of the parents of the children into the school management. He warned the Committee that their Division, so far from settling the question, would be but the commencement of an agitation of the point both in and out of Parliament. In conclusion, he stated that he should divide on the first part of his Motion, and he consequently proposed to add to the end of Clause 7 the words—
"In every such school provision shall be made for giving to the parents of the children educated therein, and contributing thereto, a representation on the management of such school according to regulations to be made for that purpose by the Education Department."
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "5. In every such school provision shall be made for giving to the parents of the children educated therein, and contributing thereto, a representation on the management of such school according to regulations to be made for that purpose by the Education Department."—(Mr. Vernon Harcourt.)
Question put, "That those words be there added."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 329: Majority 248.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 (Determination by Education Department of deficiency of public school accommodation).
MR. W. E. FORSTER moved that the following words be added to the clause:—
"And in considering whether a school is suitable or not, the Education Department shall have regard (among other matters) to the religious opinions of the inhabitants of such district."
said, the question raised was second to none in importance, for on the interpretation of the clause depended the whole machinery of the Bill. The clause would give power to the Education Department to make an education Census of the whole country, and by the addition now proposed they would have power to make a religious Census over an equally extensive area, and in his (Mr. Liddell's) opinion a religious Census was opposed to the opinions of the people of this country. The greatest possible attention should be paid to the directions given for obtaining this information, as the experience we had had of the educational census which was made in regard to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds, was not such as to create unbounded confidence in such an operation. He held in his hand a letter which was addressed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster), and which had had a considerable circulation. It was entitled "Strictures on the Reports of Education in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds," and was evidently written by a man well acquainted with the whole question. Yet he stated that the methods adopted by the Commissioners were "fallacious in the highest degree;" that it was a mystery "how the Commissioners committed all the mistakes and misrepresentations all in one direction;" that "it was difficult to speak of these Reports with patience;" and that he only "hoped we should be spared the misfortune of their being quoted as veracious and trustworthy documents." After this we should be very particular as to the instructions given to those who would have to discover whether educational destitution existed or not, and whether schools were suitable to a district. Any information we might have should at least be accurate. And he would say, in passing, there was one class of information which we did not want—namely, useless comparisons between the condition of this country and other countries, with which we had nothing to do, such as those which we often heard in regard to Prussia, where there was a compulsory system, and in America, where such a system only existed nominally. What we required to know was the amount of accommodation to be supplied, the number of children not at school, and the number for whom school aid would be required.
expressed his re- gret that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) should have thought fit to propose the Amendment, which implied that the Government was concerned and had to discharge a duty with reference to the religious condition of the people, while it was professed that the Bill was a secular measure. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the matter, or he (Mr. Candlish) would certainly ask the House for its decision on the question.
said, he had devised the Amendment because he thought it met the views of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. V. Harcourt), as expressed last evening by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). When the words were mentioned last evening there were no expressions of dissent. It was intended not to interfere with any district which was found to be properly supplied already with "sufficient, efficient, and suitable" schools. If the schools in any district received Government assistance, they would become public elementary schools, and would, of course, be affected by the Conscience Clause. The question raised by the Amendment, which stood in the name of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford, was founded on the assumption that there might be some schools which might not be suitable on account of the religious teaching imparted in them. In order to obviate all difficulty on this score he had proposed the addition of the words now under consideration; but he did not think them necessary, and he should be willing to withdraw them if they gave offence to anybody.
said, he certainly objected to the words when they were first mentioned.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. HIBBERT moved, at end of clause to add—"And they shall give public notice in each district of their decision in the matter."
said, he thought the suggestion a valuable one, and would adopt it; but he would prefer inserting it in Clause 9.
said, he would withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
proposed to amend the clause by adding to it the following proviso:—
The hon. and learned Member said his object was to have it enacted distinctly that no school, whether it accepted a Parliamentary Grant or not, should be taken into consideration in relation to national education, unless it acquiesced in the terms laid down by Clause 7."Provided nevertheless that they shall not take into consideration any school other than a public elementary school which does not conform in all respects to the regulations hereinbefore provided in respect of public elementary schools, so that in every school district there shall be provided a sufficient and efficient school or schools conducted in accordance with the regulations made in this Act in respect of public elementary schools."
said, he thought this was one of the most extraordinary propositions he ever heard in the whole course of his life. The hon. and learned Member did not ask for anything for the schools from the Government, or from the rates. But suppose there was one in a parish where there were 200 children, and suppose those 200 children went to the school, which was perfectly fitted for their education, and that they were educated there either on Church or Dissenting principles, the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed that such a school should not be taken into consideration in reckoning up the accommodation of the district, and that an appeal should be made to the ratepayers to set up a rate-aided school to put it down. He (Mr. G. Hardy) did hope that the Committee would never listen to such a suggestion.
said, there was only one addition to be made to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that was that, when the rate-aided school was built, if the children liked the existing school better, no one should come to the new one.
said, he thought that as the clause at present stood, too much would depend on the character of the Education Minister of the day. They might have a Minister like the present one, who would take a wide and practical view of education, and on the other hand they might have one in strict accord with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his ideas of economy.
said, he would not enter into the question of the Reports referred to by the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell). It was perfectly true that some of the facts contained in the Report of Mr. Fearon were disputed; but he was not aware that they were disputed by more than one gentleman, who had written the pamphlet to which his hon. Friend had referred. It would be surprising, indeed, if the Report of an important inquiry were not found fault with by some one; but he had great confidence in Mr. Fearon, of whose accuracy on previous occasions he could speak in the highest terms. The hon. Gentleman complained that the powers embodied in the clause under discussion were too strong; but with all deference to the hon. Gentleman he begged to say that strong as were these powers they were necessary. Government must first of all find out what was the educational wants of a district before they would be able to supply them. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), he quite agreed with the observation, that it was very unreasonable to enforce the levying of a rate upon a district to establish a fresh school, when the parents might be perfectly satisfied with existing schools. Moreover, they must all admit that a very considerable number of the unaided schools would not in their present condition be likely to fulfil the requirements of an efficient education. He really thought that with the protection given by the Bill, and with the advantage which would be got from the adoption of the hon. Member for Oldham's (Mr. Hibbert's) Amendment, every reasonable facility for education would be given. He hoped, therefore, the Amendment would not be pressed.
said, the Vice President must have felt that something akin to that embodied in the Amendment now proposed was really necessary, or he would not have brought forward his own Amendment, which he had just abandoned. That Amendment provided that in every district there should be a school accessible on fair terms to the children residing in that district. The Amendment, therefore, of his hon. and learned Friend, which enacted that a school should be open to everyone on fair and reasonable terms, was not so monstrous as had been alleged. He hoped the Vice President would, upon the Report, see whether he could not make the words of the clause more definite and effective.
said, that if his hon. Friends would think upon some form of words which would effect their object without defeating the spirit of the clause, he would be glad to consider them upon the Report.
said, all he wanted was some definition of the word "suitable."
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he should be glad to hear from the Vice President what was to be considered sufficient accommodation. He himself knew of a most efficient voluntary denominational school, which was amply sufficient for the accommodation of the district in which it was placed, and yet it was not more than two-thirds full. The Government Inspector would infallibly report that that school was amply sufficient, efficient, and suitable for the district. But, as the master had said, if compulsory attendance were enforced the numbers attending it would be doubled, and it would then become insufficient to meet the wants of the place. Now, in such a case an Inspector could not know beforehand whether the accommodation would or would not be sufficient, because that would depend on whether compulsion was or was not resorted to. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when the Inspector visited the various districts of the country, he would, in calculating what amount of school accommodation was sufficient, base his reckoning on the supposition that all children who were of school age would attend school?
said, the Inspectors would reckon not only the number of children who did attend school, but all those who might do so; because Clause 5 said in reference to schools that they should be "available for all the children resident in such district." One of the chief reasons why he had introduced permissive compulsion into the Bill was to prevent the inhabitants of a district saying that it would be unfair to rate them to supply schools when the children could not be forced to attend them. The clause referring to this point contemplated the enforcing of compulsory attendance, wherever such was considered to be necessary. An hon. MEMBER asked whether the Inspectors, in estimating the sufficiency of school accommodation, would take into consideration the nature of the industrial occupations of the districts in which the schools were situate?
said, he thought the school age should be fixed before the Inspectors made the calculations on which the requirements were to be based, because, if children were to be compelled to be at lower schools for six years, school accommodation would be required for one in nine and a-half of the gross population; but if the period was only four and a-half years one-eleventh only would require accommodation in the school buildings.
said, that both these questions were illustrations of the complications into which the Committee would be led by trying to define what the Department was to ascertain. It would undoubtedly take into account the circumstances of each locality and its industrial employments, and how far in that respect the education provided was sufficient; but that could be done without words being inserted in the clause. With respect to the remarks of the noble Lord the school age must depend on the circumstances of each district, for if he were compelled to fix an age he should put a maximum in the Bill, and that would give an unfair impression.
said, there was one point in connection with the clause upon which it was desirable that the Committee should have distinct information. It would be expedient to explain how far the question of a Conscience Clause would affect the claims of any voluntary school to be declared "efficient" in the Report of the Inspectors under this clause. It had been already settled that the Conscience Clause was a condition of the rate - founded schools, and a condition also of a voluntary school receiving Privy Council aid. But how far would the Vice President admit that voluntary schools, which did not and could not accept the Conscience Clause, should be reckoned as integers in making the calculation as to the sufficient educational requirements of any district?
said, the Inspectors would consider whether the education was sufficient and suitable. If any school provided education for 50 or 100 children of parents who had strong religious convictions no Member would wish to force a district to provide other accommodation to that extent.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 (Notice by Education Department of public school accommodation required).
MR.VERNON HARCOURT moved, as an Amendment, the omission of the end of the clause, which provided for an appeal against the decision of the Education Department. He wished by the Amendment to shorten the process of bringing the Bill into operation. As the Bill stood it was proposed to send out for Returns, which would not come in until the 1st January next, and he ventured to predict that those Returns, when they came in, would be worth nothing. After the Returns came in there was to be an inspection. But if they were to end with an inspection he did not see why they should not begin with one, instead of waiting for Returns, which, when sent, could not be relied upon. If they relied upon an inspection alone, which was what the matter must come to ultimately, they would get rid of all the cumbrous machinery contained in Clauses 58 to 64, and prevent all that litigation and delay of 12 months or two years in bringing the Bill into operation which would otherwise occur. It was true that an arbitrary power would in this way be given to the Education Department; but he was willing to give his right hon. Friend the most extensive powers in this respect.
reminded the hon. and learned Gentleman that the appeal provided in the Bill was a double one—against the decision of the Education Department where it stated that the education of the district was sufficient, as well as where it stated that the education was insufficient. He thought this power of appeal was in both ways an advantage to the district, and he hoped the clause would be left as it stood.
said, the proposition of the hon. and learned Member was a monstrous one. The powers taken by the Privy Council were enormous, yet the Committee were now asked to take away the moderate solatium proposed by the clause, and arm the Go- vernment with this power upon the mere Report of the Inspector, who would be sure to take the departmental view. He was sure it would not be to the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman himself to possess this authority.
said, his hon. and learned Friend had proposed the Amendment out of kindness to him, but he hoped it would be withdrawn. The quickest way of setting to work was to procure Returns, and there would be nothing gained by endeavouring to force a rate upon a district without giving that district the opportunity of protesting against it. It was true that the Government asked for large and strong powers; but it was impossible to do the work without them, and the Government wished to make those powers as acceptable as they could to the country. There was a strong tendency in Parliament, expressed by the wish of the country, to invest the Government of the day with great discretionary power, and that was not very pleasant for the Government, which was held in check by a strong and a tight rope; and it was impossible for the Government to undertake the responsibility without the safeguards provided by this clause.
said, if his right hon. Friend had the courage to meet the hon. Member for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance), there was no reason why he should interpose further.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.
Committee Bill Ordered
, in moving that the House resolve itself into a Committee, with a view to obtain leave in Committee to bring in a Bill to provide for the constitution of Parochial Councils in all parishes in England and Wales, and to define and enlarge the powers of Parishioners with respect to the conduct of Divine Worship in their Parish Churches, said, he thought the subject deserved considerable attention, and he assured the House that he had not taken it up rashly, or without due consideration. In proof of this, he might mention that some three or four years ago he had occasion in Staffordshire, at a meeting of Church of England people, to touch on the subject of what hindrances stood in the way of gaining the affections of the people of England to the Church of England, and he then ventured to say that the great hindrance was not owing to the weakness, the infirmity, or the bad feeling of any one class of men, and still less of the clergy, but to the position in which the clergy were placed in their parishes by the law. That position was one of almost entire independence of their parishioners, and was dangerous for any person to occupy. He thought that by it they lost the support of laymen which they might otherwise obtain. He was aware that objections were entertained by many persons to subjects relating to the Church of England being brought forward in the House of Commons, and the first he would notice was that that House was not a proper body to legislate with respect to the Church of England. If not, what was the proper body? Was it Convocation? In Convocation, as at present constituted, and consisting of two branches, he did not see on any side a disposition to place such implicit confidence as to lead to the belief that the country would allow the Church of England to be changed in its character by the sole action of Convocation. Another objection raised to attempting legislation in that House on these subjects was that the Nonconformists, forming an important body in that House, and in the country, would oppose any measures that tended to make the Church of England strong and vigorous. From that objection he entirely dissented. He inferred, from the education discussions which were now occupying the time of the House, that the leaders of the Nonconformists were rising above a mere desire to aggrandize their own religious bodies, and willing to operate with Churchmen to make the Church of England, within its own limits, as efficient and as truly a Church of England as possible. The third and last objection to the discussion of Church subjects in that House was that no religious matters whatever should be touched on in the House of Commons. He could not conceive a more empty and futile objection. When they saw these great questions of religion shaking all countries and communities, it would be an absurd and untenable position to maintain that such questions should not be discussed in the Legislature of this country. He trusted, then, that he had disposed of the preliminary objections to these subjects being handled by that House. And now, to proceed to explain the cause for the Motion which he was about to make, his own opinion was that within the Church of England they must always be prepared, of course within certain limits, to have a great variety of opinion, or otherwise the Church of England could not pretend to be the national Church. They must be prepared for a considerable variety of opinion, administrations, practice, and worship. In some churches there was a musical service, in others a non-musical service; in some there was much decoration, and in others none; some churches were remarkable for their ceremonials, and others eschewed all those matters. Granted, then, that, in a national Church, there must be considerable variety in these matters, who ought to decide what should be the practice in each parish church? He felt he was now on delicate ground; but, as things stood at present, there was no doubt that the incumbent had almost absolute power as to the colour and tone of the services in the parish church. That might be wrong, or it might be right; but, at present, he was only concerned with the fact. It would be an invidious task, as the House would well understand, for him to go into the position of the clergy upon his own authority; but, as it was essential to the object he had in view, he would quote from a pamphlet recently published by an able clergyman, holding an important benefice in this city, and bearing the name of Ereemantle—a name always to be mentioned with special honour on the Conservative side of that House. He states as follows:—
If the incumbent had all this power, how far could the Bishop or parishioners interfere with it? He would quote another passage from the same writer, who, it must be remembered, was secretary to the present highly-respected Archbishop of Canterbury during his remarkable tenure of office as Bishop of London, and who, therefore, knew the relations existing between incumbents, parishioners, and the Bishop. Mr. Free-mantle said—"It would hardly be too much to describe the position of the holder of a benefice as similar to that of a feudal baron. He holds his living as a freehold, not during good conduct. In the exercise of his office he has an almost unlimited freedom, and this freedom is not curtailed in matters which affect the rights of others. Practically, no doubt, living as he does in a self-governing country, and being amenable to public opinion, a clergyman is indirectly controlled. But if he chooses to disregard such restraints, there are hardly any others. A man may hold a benefice for 50 years, and be so idle in his ministrations that he does no good; he may act so offensively towards his parishioners that they cannot accept his offices; he may set himself against every good movement among his people; or he may, in con- troverted matters, by his own sole will, change every feature of the church fabric and Church services. No other public servant is allowed a discretion like this in the exercise of his office. Now, the ritual question has brought out this autocracy of the beneficed clergyman in a very marked manner. The utter helplessness of the laity has been shown again and again,"
Thus, it appeared that the power of the incumbent in his church and parish was almost unlimited, the laity and the Bishop, even acting together, having very little power to control him. He should be very sorry to diminish the rightful independence of Church of England clergymen, or to make them dependent upon their congregations, as were the ministers of many of the Nonconformist churches. They must, however, remember how clergymen of the Church of England were appointed to their livings. Had the parishioners any voice or veto in their appointment? They had nothing whatever to say, except in an infinitesimally small number of cases, in the appointment of their ministers. He did not wish to change the present system, because he thought it carried with it greater diversity of opinion, thought, and influence, and many other advantages. But, without changing the whole system, surely, the position of the parishioners required greater acknowledgment; for not only had they no voice in the appointment of their ministers, but they must always be uncertain whether perfect strangers will not appoint them; for, if hon. Gentlemen would only look over the papers of that morning, they would see 140 advowsons or next presentations for sale. Considering, then, that the parishioners had no veto upon the appointment of their ministers, and that a large number of these livings were constantly passing into different hands by sale, it was absolutely essential for the protection of their civil rights that the law should make some fresh provision by which the parishioners should have some voice as to the kind of service which was to be conducted in their parish churches, and as to all changes in their churches, in which they had all a right to a place and around which some of their dearest and tenderest recollections gathered, such associations it being of the utmost importance to the nation to cherish, instead of doing their best to weaken and destroy. His object in introducing the measure at this late period of the Session, was to draw public attention to this important subject, and, to endeavour to bring about such a state of opinion as might enable them hereafter to solve this problem in which, he believed, the national welfare was involved. He would now proceed to explain the provisions of the Bill he would ask leave to introduce. In the first place, with regard to parishes. He included under that head all legally-constituted districts with a cure of souls. He next proposed that a certain number of parishioners should be annually elected as sidesmen, at the same time, by the same constituency, and for the same period, as the churchwardens, who are elected by the parishioners. Preferring, as he did, in making changes, to keep up as much connection as possible with the institutions created by the wise and good men who have gone before us, he had adopted the old name of sidesman—finding in Cripps, On the Laws of the Church, that in ancient times—"I may add a result of personal experience. When I was chaplain to the Bishop of London, the greatest difficulties were constantly occasioned not by matters of doubtful legality, but by such as were clearly within the law, and as to which the discretion rested with the clergyman alone. Such matters as the intoning of the Prayers, the chanting of the Psalms, the use of a Lectern, the introduction of the Offertory, the selection of Hymn Books, &c would give rise to a dispute. The parishioners would come to the Bishop and would refer him to the clause in the preface of the Prayer Book which states that those who diversely take anything shall resort to the Bishop to resolve their doubts. In such cases, if the parishioners and the Bishop had had any concurrent power with the rector, the dispute might have been easily settled, the Bishop acting as moderator between the various parties. But it was found that no one had any rights at all except the incumbent; and his answer was invariably that he had no doubts to resolve, and therefore there was no need of his resorting to the Bishop. Quite similar is the case with regard to church ornaments, such as crosses, altar-cloths, the arrangements of chancels and pews, the painting and decoration of the interior of the church. It is true that, technically speaking, these matters are supposed not to be left to the discretion of the clergyman, and that not the minutest thing can be changed in the church without a faculty from the Bishop's Court. But this is a case in which the stringency of the law over-reaches itself. It is rightly felt that to go to the Bishop's Court for every little change which may be proposed is impossible; and then where is the line to be drawn? The consequence is, that one change after another is made on the sole authority of the incumbent, and this becomes so habitual that it is only in exceptional cases, and in those where actual opposition is raised that the Court is appealed to; thus, it becomes to be thought invidious to go to the Court at all."
Three should be elected for parishes below 2,000 inhabitants; six for parishes below 5,000, and nine for all larger parishes. These sidesmen, together with the two churchwardens and the incumbent, he proposed should form a Church Council; the incumbent being chairman with a casting vote. The constituency for the sidesmen, as in the case of the churchwardens, would consist of all denominations; but his Bill would require a declaration on the part of sidesmen that they were members of the Church of England. He proposed that the Council should be obliged to meet twice a year, or might be summoned by the Bishop, the incumbent, one churchwarden, or two sidesmen. The Council should have power, within the limits authorized bylaw, of making any changes in the accustomed manner and times of conducting the services and ministrations of the church, in the ornaments and decorations of the church, or of the minister, or in the furniture or fittings of the church. He also proposed that no changes in these matters should be made without the sanction of the Council, and that the Council should be a body corporate, having the same power of accepting and holding contributions for the maintenance of the fabric, services, &c., of the church as was given to trustees under the Church Rate Abolition Act. These were all the powers he proposed to confer on the Council; but there were one or two other details to which he wished to direct attention. He proposed that no change in any of the above matters should be made without 14 days' notice to the Bishop, which, notice should also be affixed to the church door, and remain so till the change was made; that the parishioners might appeal to the Council or to the Bishop; that the incumbent should have the same appeal to the Bishop, who should give his decision in writing within one month; nor could any change be effected until those various appeals had been decided by the Prelate presiding over the diocese. If the Bishop objected, no change could be effected unless the Council were unanimous; and all matters in dispute under the Act would be taken out of the Bishop's Court and be heard by the Ordinary in camerâ. From this sketch of the Bill it would appear to be a simple one; but he did not wish to conceal from hon. Members that it proposed to introduce a great change into the constitution of the Church of England, and it was for this reason that he thought it best to bring it forward at the end of the Session, and merely to invite discussion on this preliminary stage, instead of trying to commit the House to any principle by a second reading on a subject which required the careful and calm consideration of the country. No one could shut their eyes to the movement which was taking place in public opinion in favour of securing for the laity more power in the Church of England. Mr. Freemantle had established a Church Council voluntarily in his own parish of Marylebone. The incumbent of Paddington was trying the same experiment, while in Shropshire two clergymen were adopting a similar course; but in these Councils, it must be remembered, there was virtually no real power in the hands of the laity; without power there was no sense of responsibility, and common action was almost impossible. It was natural to ask what was the feeling of the higher dignitaries and leaders of opinion of the Church in regard to an important movement of this kind? The Bishop of Lichfield, who must be confessed by all to have great weight in this matter, when speaking with regard to a dispute at Wolverhampton, arising out of some of those miserable subjects of Church controversy, made a remark which was well worth consideration. The House would remember that the Bishop of Lichfield was the well-known Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand. He had by his side the Bishop of Wellington, and he remarked to him that—"Bishops were wont to summon divers men out of each parish to give information of the disorders of the clergy and people, and these, in process of time, became standing officers called synodsmen, sidesmen, or guestmen; and the whole office of these persons seems, by custom, to have devolved on the churchwardens."
The Bishop of Manchester, speaking, he believed, with reference to a dispute on the subject of the surplice, had said—"Coming, as they had done, from Australia, where the relative position of all parties in the Church were well defined, and there was mutual understanding and co-operation, it was a novelty for them to find, as in this case, the clergyman acting and the laity protesting against his acts. There the clergy and laity worked together, and mutually supported and checked each other. He, as Bishop of New Zealand, could not introduce alterations without the consent of the laity, and the clergy without their consent could not be controlled by the laity. If such a state of things were at work in the diocese of Lichfield it would be saved from much trouble and disaffection."
The Guardian, representing a large body in the Church, commented upon this by saying—"I would wish it to be remembered that in these indifferent things, especially when the law is not perfectly clear, the great maxim, mos prolege, holds. It would be a most unwise, indeed scarcely a justifiable step, in a minister to thrust a change of this kind upon an unwilling congregation. 'Let all things be done decently and in order' is a great maxim; but 'Let all things be done unto edifying' is a greater; and the end of all our ministrations is to win our people's hearts, not to alienate them; to build up, not to disunite or destroy."
The Rev. Mr. Ryle, representing quite another party in the Church, had said—"If changes are introduced without notice or explanation, and in such a manner as to imply that the congregation have no voice nor will in the matter, it was not surprising that they should resent or be alarmed at changes which seemed to be capricious, and of which they can neither estimate the extent, nor the design, nor the end. These considerations clearly point, though the Bishop does not say so, to some such arrangement as that which Mr. Freemantle, as we recorded last week, is attempting to establish in London. A Church Council in every parish would give the clergyman the exact opportunity, which is so much needed, both of explaining to his congregation the meaning of any changes he may be contemplating, and of ascertaining their views upon them. There is probably no practical reform more needed in our Church than this."
He would venture to call one still more important witness—the Prime Minister—who, alluding in Lancashire, two years ago, to some remarks which had been made in his presence urging a greater development of the energies of the Church from within, as regarded the position of the laity, had said—"I plead for the general recognition of the mighty principle that nothing ought to be done in the Church without the laity, in things great or in things small. I plead that the laity ought to have a part, and voice, and hand, and vote in everything that the Church says and does, except ordaining and ministering in the congregation."
Then, referring to the Church Rate Abolition Bill, the right hon. Gentleman had said—"That, I own, is an idea to which I am very greatly inclined."
Again, he would call their attention to the second Report of the Ritual Commission which had been laid on the Table: there it is recommended that, where a few persons in a parish complained with regard to vestments, or matters of that kind, it should be incumbent upon the Bishop to take cognizance of the matter, and acting in camerâ, if he found the complaints well founded, to order the discontinuance of such practices. It must be remembered that, at the head of the Commission which made this Report was the late Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Longley), and among the other Commissioners; were the present Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Tait), the Lord Chancellor (Lord Hatherley), the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Cardwell)—surely a body of the greatest weight. Would it be the laity alone who would be the gainers, independently of the higher benefit to the Church at large, by the change he proposed? No; he believed it would be a great advantage to the Bishops to have some constituted body to whom they could appeal in every parish as to the feelings of that parish on disputed points; and to the parochial clergy themselves he had the conviction that the gain would be still greater. One of the parish clergyman's greatest difficulties at present arose from the want of means of ascertaining the real feeling of the parishioners. He was very much at the mercy of the wealthy members of his congregation, who, on expressing an opinion, would naturally generalize rather freely and describe their opinion as the feeling of the body of parishioners. How was the clergyman to test it? He might take action upon this presumption, and alienate the best part of his parishioners before he discovered his mistake. All he knew was that a few well-remembered faces left the Church. But in the meantime he may have lost his most valuable hold upon his people. He therefore thought that changes such as he proposed, instead of complicating the position of the clergyman, would greatly add to his legitimate influence; and that the members of the Council would become, in many cases, his assistants and supporters in the good works of the parish, and would relieve him of much unnecessary labour and care. Of course, there were some people for whom nobody could pretend to legislate—such an one, for instance, as a speaker at a meeting of the Church Union, who said that the laity had their own proper place, and their place was to obey. That was an opinion which he thought very few Members of that House would endorse. Such remarks belonged to a very different age to the one we lived in, and would, he thought, be made by a very small number of the people of this country. He begged to assure the House that in bringing forward this Motion he was actuated by no spirit of hostility or ungenerous opposition to the clergy. His whole inclination, old friendships, long associations, and early training led him rather to entertain for them the highest esteem; and putting aside all personal considerations, who must not acknowledge that the clergy of the Church of England were a just object of national pride? He did not believe that any country in the world could show 20,000 men of so high a character, so highly educated, so distinguished in classics, science, poetry, and general literature, as the clergy of the Church of England. Going deeper still, he might be permitted to say that the debates of the past few days had unmistakably displayed the enormous sacrifices made by that clergy on behalf of the great cause of education—sacrifices which utterly put to shame what the laity had done—sacrifices which made the laity blush for the little they had done in comparison. And, going yet deeper, if people would only walk through the dark alleys and fetid courts of our large towns, they would find that there—in places where even the police rarely strayed—the clergy of the Church of England were accustomed to move about educating, teaching, and ex- horting the people, blessing as they went, and being blessed. Taking all this into consideration, he felt that he would be worthy of all reproach if he threw any slur upon the clergy. He certainly had no such intention. All that he asked of them was that they should relinquish and cast aside the position of irresponsible power which they had assumed, and which he had always regarded as a source of weakness and not of strength. He appealed to Parliament to look at this matter as a national question. He appealed with confidence to the Nonconformists to assist him in his endeavours, for they were well aware that the Church of England could not go far wrong without the Nonconformist Churches suffering as well, because there was, happily, no hard and fast line between Dissenters and Churchmen. What affected the Church as regarded the luxuriousness of its Church service would soon affect the Nonconformists, and if there was a want of spiritual power in the service of the Church the same would soon be found in connection with those who dissented from her. The sons and daughters of both alike were acted upon in the same way, either in the direction of ultra-ritualism, infidelity, or any other thing that was hurtful to true religion. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not consider this as a mere Church question. His plan might be bad or it might be good. He did not wish them to consider the matter in the light of the Bill which he brought before them full of imperfections, as he doubted not it must be, but he entreated the House to consider whether the broad principle which he strove to lay down was not worthy of real and serious consideration. He entreated them to consider whether, in view of the difficulty of defining what should be and what should not be the worship of the national Church, the safest, the most straightforward, and, perhaps, in the long run, the most successful course was not the one he was recommending, and whether it was not best to leave the ultimate decisions of the questions he had been adverting to the decision of the people themselves assembled in their various parishes. The noble Viscount concluded by moving that the Speaker should leave the Chair."I own I considered it a great recommendation of that Bill that it would bring the laity forward in the concerns of the Church on the one hand; that it would render them more effective supporters of the clergyman, and more liberal co-operators with him in works of mercy—a matter which is very greatly wanted; and that, on the other hand, it would give a much more effective control upon the clergyman—a matter which is also, in my opinion, greatly wanted—with respect to the conduct of services of the Church, and with respect especially to the introduction of alterations in these services."
said, he rose to second his noble Friend's Motion, because it related to a subject which, even in this crowded and laborious Session, well deserved the attention of the House. No one could read the signs of the times without seeing that public opinion was fast preparing itself to deal with the question of Church reform in the parishes, to deal with it moderately but, at the same time, he hoped, effectively and firmly. There was, in his opinion, a natural sequence and connection between reform in the State and reform in the Church. The great Reform Act of 1832 was followed by a series of proposals for reform with regard to the Church of England, and he might refer, in particular, to that action of the Ecclesiastical Commission which led to such marked improvements in the parochial system, and in the organization and development of voluntary zeal. In like manner, the agitation which culminated in the recent Reform Act would now be directed to the improvement of the institutions of the Church, and to infusing into them a larger popular element. Everyone must see that much zeal was now at work in the Church. New fabrics were being erected in every direction, and abundant provision was being made for increased beauty and decorum in the decoration of the churches. Unfortunately, however, the desire to alter and improve the mode of conducting the services created jealousies, antagonism, and strife. These changes were, for the most part, in matters of detail, in respect to which the law was silent; so that under the existing system they were practically left to the decision of the clergyman. The vestry and the churchwardens might complain; but they possessed no controlling power. What was wanted was that there should be some means of ascertaining what the people who worshipped in the church desired. He thought the balance of argument was in favour of extending the concurrent power beyond the congregation to the whole body of parishioners. The position of the national Church suggested that the offer of its advantages and belongings should be given according to residence and not according to any special profession of faith. For his own part, he did not apprehend any serious inconveniences from the differences of opinion which might exist among the parishioners. His noble Friend had mentioned cases in which voluntary committees had been formed of the parishioners to express opinions on the points to which he had referred. But that was not sufficient; there must be responsibility in order to secure the full discharge and execution of those functions. To give a controlling and dispensing power to the laity would be far better than attempting to make the law more stringent, or endeavouring to secure general uniformity. In matters which so much concerned the laity they ought to have a share in the decision. It would not be well that where congregations differed in their degree of culture and in their tastes they should be compelled to submit to an exclusive and minute law. Such an attempt to govern the Church could not succeed. The organization which it wanted was a living government, capable of dealing with the circumstances of the time, and adapting those circumstances to the requirements of the people. That would, in his opinion, be a far better mode of proceeding than to seek by coercive measures to restrain all change and improvement. But, although he believed an Act of Parliament ought to be passed, giving such power to persons in parishes, still he did not at all sympathize with those people who would treat the Church of England as if she were the creature of the law or a Department of the State. He, on the contrary, looked on the Established Church as an external embodiment of a spiritual organization, which had proceeded from a Divine source and was maintained by a supernatural force; but that external embodiment, which served as an instrument through which the spiritual force acted, necessarily restricted its freedom of action, although it concentrated its force. He thought it should be the policy of Parliament to give as much freedom as was consistent with universality to the Church in its execution of the great purposes for which it was established. In a matter of common worship it was far more important that the people should have what they asked for than that the clergyman should have that which he happened to think best. The Bill, in his opinion, would give ample scope and latitude for the free action of the persons resident in each parish, and thus we might hope to see the Established Church become a better manifestation of religious impulses, and a more efficient promoter of piety and virtue. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider of providing for the constitution of Parochial Councils in all parishes in England and Wales, and to define and enlarge the powers of Parishioners with respect to the conduct of Divine Worship in their Parish Churches."—(Viscount Sandon.)
said, the principal reason for a measure of this description was found in the scandal which had been caused of late years by unauthorized changes in the ceremonies of various churches—changes made without authority, although they were dictated by good feeling, and were often in accordance with the wishes of a very large portion of the congregation. Such changes had often rent asunder entire congregations, and given infinite trouble to the Bishops of the Church. Parochial councils would be of inestimable value to the beneficed clergy of the Church not merely in aiding them in the introduction of variety into the ceremonial, according to the spirit of the times and the wishes of the people, but also assisting them in the general management of their parishes. In the North of England there were parishes of enormous extent and containing immense populations, and all the assistance which the clergy obtained from Scripture readers, Bible women, schoolmasters, and the other machinery of a parish was often totally insufficient to reach the hearts and minds of the people. He was satisfied, he might add, that a large number of the clergy themselves were most anxious for such aid as the Bill would afford. In the neighbourhood with which he was connected it had been the usage for many years to invite the laymen to confer with the clergy on matters of general interest to their parishes, and the Bishop of Lichfield had expressed his sense of the necessity which existed for such association. Now, parochial councils would, he thought, form a very useful basis for an organization of that kind. It would not effect a great organic change in the constitution of the Church, but rather a restoration to ancient usage, the powers of the churchwarden being more extensively called into requisition, as in former times, when he was required to do many things which were at the present day practically ignored. Such a measure as this would be extremely useful in taking them back to old paths; and, though he would not pledge himself to all its details, he should give to the principle on which it was founded his hearty-support.
said, that although introduced as a very small measure, a very wide question was opened by the proposal of the noble Lord—namely, whether it was right that the nation should distinctly declare itself a Christian nation. The doctrine that the State had nothing to do except with the security of body and goods was one which, no doubt, many Members had swallowed in reading Macaulay's Essays; but which had given him, at all events, a good deal of trouble to digest ever since. After the recent debates in this House on education, they might fairly come to the conclusion that the English people had resolved distinctly to declare themselves a Christian nation; and, presuming that to be so, the next question was, whether the most acceptable way of making such a declaration was not by putting the Established Church in the most efficient possible state? That was a question which must be answered in the affirmative. We had in the Established Church the best means of proclaiming that which the nation wished to be proclaimed. For 1,000 years it had performed this function; and in its constitution and doctrines it was the broadest of all the Christian bodies in England, or in the whole world. It comprised among its members men who differed widely in the doctrines they held; and that was a great advantage to the country. Again, the English Church was, of all other bodies in this country, most under the control of the State. It was a thoroughly national Church. The Queen was its head; in the last resort cases affecting it came before the Supreme Courts of the country, and the ultimate Governing Body of the Church was the ultimate Governing Body of the nation, so that Members of this House, whatever their opinions, could not help being a part of the Governing Body of the Church. The Church of England, so far as he knew, was, of all Churches and all sects of Christians, the one that adapted itself most easily to the changing circumstances of the times. Her first characteristic was her wide toleration of differences of opinion on theological questions; her second a great desire for union. Within a few hundred yards of that House there met, the other day, a body of learned Englishmen of all Churches and all sects, gathered together by a summons from the Dean, to assist in revising the translation of the English Bible. What happened on that occasion? The Dean of Westminster summoned the learned persons of all denominations who were to take part in this great work. He had previously ascertained that they were ready to join in communion with the Bishops and other persons of the Church of England who were engaged in the work. There had been no altar in the Chapel of Henry VII. since the time of the Civil War. In the late restoration of the Abbey the Dean had discovered a small portion of the altar on the tomb of Henry VI. He had had it restored. He had it placed upon the grave of Henry VI.; and round that altar the whole of the translators—the whole of the learned Englishmen who had been summoned were gathered together under the auspices of the Church of England. There were members of the Church of England, there were Presbyterians, members of the Established Church of Scotland and of the Free Church, there were Baptists, there were Wesleyans, there were other Nonconformists, and there was a Unitarian minister gathered round that altar and accepting from the Church of England the Holy Communion before commencing their great work. This showed that the Church was able to meet the changing circumstances of the times, and it should be both a duty and a pleasure on the part of the House of Commons to adopt any reforms which the members of the Establishment thought necessary for the efficiency of a Church which during 1,000 years had expressed before the whole world the Christianity of the nation. In past times the Church had mistaken its work, and been a persecuting body; but now it recognized the fact that it was not a power to command obedience or to dogmatize, but to be a great storehouse of blessings for the nation and the exponent of the Divine life. Many clergymen were gathering around themselves volunteer councils and consulting them; but he agreed with the noble Lord that, excellent as this was, it did not really meet the difficulties of the Church, and if these con- ferences were to become valuable they must assemble under the authority of an Act of Parliament. For these reasons, he cordially supported the Motion of the noble Lord.
said, he did not yield to his noble Friend or to anyone in his desire and in his personal exertions to bring the laity into more active co-operation with the clergy, and he agreed with the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. T. Hughes) that there existed a deep feeling of the necessity for an endeavour to make the Established Church, to a greater extent than it was at present, the Church of the nation, in action no less than in theory. He was not, however, prepared to accept the scheme of the noble Lord as the best means of attaining that end. It was a very good scheme on paper, neat, precise, and terribly uniform; but of all nations in the world, we built up our institutions on practice and experience rather than on mathematically regular theory. The jealousy of premature legislation and of overstrained regularity was one of the secrets of our national progress and of the grand successful vigour of our corporate life. It was happily true that the practice of clergy and laity taking counsel together was becoming more and more frequent around us; but, he asked, might it not be well on that very account to let this movement work itself out and spread and organize itself before we sought to crystallize it by Act of Parliament? There were Church societies, Church committees, gathering sometimes in the vestry of the church, sometimes in the clergyman's parlour, sometimes in the squire's parlour, and sometimes in the school-house, growing and growing in every parish in the land; and he asked whether it was not the wisest and the most prudent course to allow the system to organize itself, as it did, throughout the country, not in one uniform shape, not by Act of Parliament, but in the particular shape everywhere into which local circumstances led it to frame itself, and relying for acceptance not on statutory obligations but upon the voluntary goodwill of flock and clergyman? The same constituency would never do for the country which would do for the towns. Frequently he believed in country parishes the clergyman would most wisely and most easily vitalize the old ves- try and give it life, and, above all things, spirituality. This was being done in some instances, and it told, for our farmers, shopkeepers, and poor people knew what "meeting in vestry" meant; if they are told that they are to go to the vestry to talk about the organ, or new hymns, or a second sermon in the afternoon, they feel themselves at home. When such, things are to be considered, are consulted in the vestry, they feel that the clergyman is taking them into council on mutual terms. On the other hand, if there was to be a new law, a new system of election, and a new body, the name of which had not been heard before, they would shake their heads, they would not understand it, or else they would think there was something strange and wrong about it—they would not trouble to vote at the election, or they would get up a contest in a suspicious spirit; and either the council would become a matter of parochial brawling or else a "ticket" would be elected, because people would not take part in the election and make it a reality. If more than a vestry was needed, goodwill in a parish would create that something more; but still he would rather, in the country districts, stick as long as possible to the old name and thing, and let the vestry become something more than, a mere taxing machine. Then let the House consider the very different case of the towns. By the necessities of the case the Church of England in the large towns was becoming congregational, and ceasing to be, in the old absolute sense, parochial. ["No, no!"] He said yes; and he would tell the House why. In all the parishes there was a variety of tastes and opinions; all the speakers in this discussion had admitted that with great liberality and candour, and they had admitted that that variety of taste was not to be snubbed, but rather to be encouraged. It was impossible that all the people in our large parishes should think alike as to the forms and services of our happily-elastic Prayer Book; it was impossible that they should all think alike as to the character or length of the services, or that they should all like the same hymns. In the country, from the non-accessibility of any other church, the wise clergymen and the well-conditioned congregation gave and took and hit off some compromise. But in the towns where one class of church was available within a quarter of a mile, and another class as near in another, there was no call for that compromise; common sense and common charity dictated, within due but liberal limits, the indulgence of every kind of laudable taste in worship. Those who preferred one kind of service went to one church, and those who preferred the other went to another. This might not be a development of our strict legal and parochial system; but he believed it was consonant to common sense and to the spirit of the times, and that it led to a deeper unity and to a greater spirituality in Churches. But then he did not wish to see these churches divested of their parochial responsibilities and of the legal accidents which pertained thereto. It was the union of the congregational character with the maintenance of parochial rights, in which consisted the peculiarity—the anomaly if they would—but, as he contended, the real safeguard of the town Church of England of our days, for the Church in the cities had stratified itself—if he might use a geological term—in different formations: if upon this semi-congregational system you were to impose, as his noble Friend wished, a rigid system of parochial councils, you would introduce a "fault" which would cleave and crumble the strata. But passing from the parishioners, what would the effect of this Bill be upon the clergyman? In one parish the people, dissatisfied, perhaps, with the ministrations of their clergyman, had gone to the next parish, while the people of the next parish, for the same reason, had come into theirs. What would be the result of this Bill if it imposed upon both these good men an alien council of persons, the order of whose religious life proved them in either case to be exactly those men who were least suited for the post? Would it be nothing to the good earnest man, whose heart was in his pulpit, but who cared little for musical services, to be required by the council of his parish to carry out a full choral service? And would it not equally tend to discourage the clergyman, who, while equally attending to his preaching, believed that he but attuned the hearts of his flock to communion with the Most High by all the glories of sacred beauty, to be nailed down by the council of his parish to a severe simplicity? Both these clergymen would be doing a good work in a different way, and in either case the council would spoil that work without the power of finding an equal substitute. These Church councils, supposing it was a right thing to create them, must in the towns be congregational councils, and then the system must be allowed to develop itself gradually, by mutual gravitation rather than by Act of Parliament, or else the matter would not be put on its right footing. It would be affectation to deny that the question had been pushed into prominence by the development of so-called "Ritualism." On this head, while deploring the absurdity of many of its manifestations, he was bound to state that it was a perversion of fact to denounce them, as was often done, as instances of sacerdotal tyranny. On the contrary, they were often examples of lay tyranny, brought broadly to bear by an exigent congregation upon a not very willing clergyman. The leaders were laymen—often men of the less opulent professional class, whom it had hitherto been so difficult to get at all to church—under artistic influences, and it was often the congregation who urged the clergyman on. Well then, if there was a Church remarkable on one side or the other for practices not strictly within the Rubric, but acceptable to the congregation, the result would be, should a parochial council put an end to them, that the congregation would secede to a private chapel of their own. There was too much tendency already to lean most to proprietary chapels; and if, as he feared, the forced creation of parochial councils fostered the tendency, the increase would be a great and lasting importance to the Church. He repeated that if there were to be Church councils in the large towns they ought to be congregational and not parochial councils. On these grounds he doubted whether the Bill of his noble Friend would meet the evils they were all anxious to avert, or foster the good they were all striving to develop. He would remind his noble Friend that what he wished to accomplish—lay co-roperation—was already in course of being done. The stone was rolling; the question was in the atmosphere. It was shaping itself, not merely in the parish, but in the archdeaconry and the diocese. It was agitated at Church congresses, at Church associations, at Church unions, at Church assemblies of every kind and degree. He thought the question had better be left to be fought out in the arena of voluntary discussion than be stamped out by Parliament at this stage taking formal action, and prematurely adopting too narrow and rigid an organization without the due consideration of local circumstances.
said, he did not intend to enter upon a discussion of the general question; but to express his opinion that the law in relation to this subject was in a most unsatisfactory state. The Bishops were often blamed because they did not take immediate action when complaint was made to them of the introduction of new and objectionable practices in the celebration of Divine worship. The truth was, that the Bishops had very little power in the matter, and if a complaint was brought before them, the only answer they could safely make was, that this was a legal question, and that it had better be brought into Court, and tried before the Vicar General. In England, the procedure in the Ecclesiastical Courts was tedious, full of technicalities, and attended with enormous expense. The cost of two or three proceedings recently instituted to decide subjects of extreme simplicity as regards the material question involved were so erroneous as to constitute a reproach to the law of England in connection with this matter. In Ireland, they had had some experience on the subject, which pointed out a mode of remedying the evil he adverted to. In 1865, the Irish Bishops, with the assistance of Lord Palmerston's Government—and there was never a Government which, in connection with the Church, whether as regards its patronage or policy, was more deserving of the confidence of those connected with the Church—framed a measure, which cheapened and simplified the whole procedure of the Ecclesiastical Courts in Ireland. He had experience of the working of that measure, and he knew if it were adopted in England all the expenses and procrastination complained of might be got rid of, power being given to the Bishop in the first instance, analogous to that which the visitor of a College possessed, to proceed in the matter, and a reference being given to a Court, in which clergymen and laymen were joined, for it would not be right, in his opinion, that the ultimate tribunal should consist of ecclesiastics only. If in addition to such, an arrangement a simpler mode were established of appealing to the Privy Council, the public mind would be satisfied, and the demands now made would cease.
Great harmony of feeling and opinion, generally speaking, appear to prevail with respect to the Motion, and I congratulate my noble Friend who made the Motion (Viscount Sandon), and my right hon. Friend who supported it (Mr. Cowper-Temple), on that harmony, because it is due to the spirit with which they approached the subject. The speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, led us into a field of great importance, into which, however, I will not enter, because I believe the present object is rather to prevent mischief than to apply legal remedies. The noble Lord has frankly, and, as I think judiciously, explained that his object is to draw the mind of Parliament and of the country to the consideration of the question, with a view to the adoption of some measure at a future time. He has spoken modestly of the degree of power possessed by himself as an independent Member; but I do not think it would be in the power of any person, however experienced, or even of any Administration, to frame a measure on a question of this kind which can be passed in the present Session. The public mind must first be prepared for legislation on the subject. Legislation must be the result of gradual action in the public mind—weighing the difficulties and advantages of both sides of the question, gradually adopting the best methods of procedure, and, finally, happily arriving at some satisfactory conclusion. What we have now to consider is the general justice of the proposition of the noble Lord. As I understand him, his complaint is that according to the system of the Church of England the sole power of the clergyman is a great evil and grievance. The noble Lord has carefully guarded himself with respect to the position of the clergy. No one who listened to him could suppose that he was either actuated by a spirit of hostility to their Order or disposed to do injustice to the very remarkable personal qualities of the body who claimed as a right the legal position of clergymen apart from the merits of clergymen themselves. The noble Lord takes ground I am not prepared to contest. Long before the election speech which he quoted of mine—20 years ago—I did, as a member of a voluntary Church in Scotland, urge on my fellows in that Church the expediency and desirableness of introducing lay power into the government of that Church. Therefore, I am quite prepared to accept the general principle of the noble Lord. I think this sole power is an evil and a grievance. Occasionally we find that it places in the hands of the clergyman the means of precipitate or ill-judged measures, taken upon his own responsibility alone, which constitutes a real mischief, and causes dissension amongst his parishioners. Occasionally, too, it happens that measures are taken, not in themselves ill-judged, but which become unacceptable and causes of difference, simply because they appear to proceed from the arbitrary will of the clergyman, and carry with them the stamp of no previous general concurrence. On the other hand, it is also true that the example of theoretical excess on the part of the clergyman frequently means an actual deficiency of practical power. It tends to narrow the clergyman's legitimate sphere of action and his power of falling back on the concurrence of the people in cases where it would not be difficult to obtain it, and where, if obtained, it would be of great value to the object he has in view. Therefore, as regards the general proposition, that this sole power of the clergyman ought to be modified and to some extent transferred to others, while its exercise may be controlled and strengthened, I do not question it. Undoubtedly some difficulties may arise; I, for one, think there is a good deal of weight in what has been stated by my right hon. Friend who seconded the Motion (Mr. Cowper-Temple), and by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. B. Hope). It is not necessary for me to enter into detail on that part of the subject. It would be anticipating difficulties which have not yet arisen. By degrees, no doubt, as we come to deal with the question and contemplate practical results, we shall discover the means of circumventing those difficulties. I am not prepared to accede to any general rigid proposition as to the mode in which parochial councils are to be elected. There is no doubt, on the one hand, that where possible it is extremely desirable, without drawing any distinction by way of subdivision, to maintain the old relation of the parishioners to the Church. On the other hand, there is an equal necessity of admitting that in the condition of many of our parishes, with the vast populations they contain, and the great diversities of thought and of opinion that must be found among them, there would be extreme difficulty, and even danger, in attempting to deal with them as absolute ecclesiastical unities for the purpose of impressing uniform character upon the usages of worship in matters fairly open to difference of opinion in all Churches found within their limits; and my hon. Friend pointed out with great justice that a danger lies there in this respect—namely, that if you endeavour to apply undue pressure, if you endeavour to narrow the liberty congregations ought to possess, and which our object should be not to narrow but to confirm, from the action of a body elected in a great degree by those who do not belong to the congregation and never enter the church, and do not care for the worship except to interfere with it, you will produce a very strong tendency on the part of that portion of the community of different colour and views to avail themselves of resort to proprietary chapels in which they would escape from all parochial responsibility, adopt a purely congregational system, and at the same time probably claim for themselves the power of more extreme development in respect of ritual, preaching, music, and whatever else might be in question, than any to which they had yet reached. But that is a matter which we are not bound in any manner to attempt to settle at the present moment. It is enough to introduce the general principle, and the proceeding of the noble Lord, as I understand it, is founded on the principle that it is desirable at once to confirm and control the power of the clergyman by enlarging the body through means of which it is exercised. The noble Lord has told us of Mr. Freemantle, who deserves great credit for bringing the public mind to the consideration of this question, having himself in his own congregation endeavoured to see what by his own resources he can effect in rallying around him a well-organized body of parishioners for controlling and assisting him in the administration of his parish. I think there is extreme reason and good sense in that method of proceeding, and any of the clergy who are disposed to follow Mr. Freemantle's example, and arrange for themselves councils, assemblies, parochial synods—call them what they like, for the purpose of consolidating union between lay and spiritual action in the government of their parishes, will bestow on us an important service, and by the result of their voluntary efforts may throw much light on the practical bearing of the question, and assist Parliament in its deliberations when we come to endeavour to legislate in regard to a matter of so much importance. The noble Lord has said he has been for some time engaged on this question of very great interest. For my part, as a Member of the Government, I feel that the noble Lord has been discharging a most useful function in preparing and breaking the ground on this question. It is a mistake to suppose the end we have in view is easy of attainment. I am prepared to find—partly, perhaps, from the nature of the case, partly from the jealousies with which this subject is surrounded—considerable difficulty in our way; but I believe he has taken the right course with regard to initiative measures for having brought into notice considerable public evils, and likewise public evils we may have power of averting not merely as something to limit, control, and repress, but something we may convert into agencies of good and strength, and great utility to the ecclesiastical institutions of the country. So far as the Government are concerned, we shall readily support the Motion of the noble Lord.
said, he was glad the Government did not intend to oppose the introduction of the Bill; not that he wished to see it carried into a law in its present form, but in order that the subject might be ventilated. The whole discussion reminded him of the saying of the Dean of Chichester, who had done so much good for the Church. When asked how he contrived to manage his parishioners so extremely well, he replied—"I manage my parishioners! I do nothing of the sort; they entirely manage me." That was practically true, and all wise clergymen should endeavour to follow the Dean's example. A century ago, the country was dead, so to speak, to all religion, and it was the clergy who first started its revival, and in consequence of their great exertions, they had had heaped upon them duties which, in his opinion, ought to have been undertaken by the parishioners. They did net now wish to have all the power taken out of their hands; but all that was wanted was to get these parishioners thoroughly interested in parochial work, and to work with them in every way. That could not be effected by Act of Parliament, but only by a good feeling existing between the clergy and the parishioners; and he hoped they would find that their interest was so to work together as to render legislation upon the subject unnecessary. He felt satisfied the Motion had been made from no party feeling, but from a desire to prevent clergymen adopting practices contrary to the wishes of their parishioners, and which all must deplore. He was quite sure that public feeling was growing to such an extent that clergymen were gradually beginning to see that they must consult the feelings of their parishioners if they wished to win their feelings and save their souls. He believed the clergy would more and more consult the feelings of their parishioners, and he was sure the country would find that the revival of sidesmen to act as churchwardens in the performance of their early functions would have the greatest possible effect.
, in reply, said, he wished to thank the House for the kind way in which they had received the subject, which he wished to apologize for introducing at a time when they were so busy with another topic. He had introduced it in no party spirit. He trusted the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope) would do him the justice to acknowledge that he did not wish to exalt the authority of the parishioners at the expense of the clergy. His object was that a clergyman who should be appointed to a St. Albans, Holborn, or to a Low Church, should not be able to make great changes without the concurrence of his congregation. It would be presumption in him to ask the House to express an opinion on the details of his measure; he was satisfied with the general expression of opinion he had elicited in favour of its principle. He was especially glad to find from the cheers that came from the Nonconformist Members that when a question affecting the Church of England was started they were ready to listen with respect, and to treat the Church with as much tenderness as if it were their own. In conclusion, he thanked the Prime Minister for the support he had given him.
Question put, and agreed to.
Matter considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Resolved, That the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave he given to bring in a Bill to provide for the constitution of Parochial Councils in all parishes in England and Wales, and to define and enlarge the powers of Parishioners with respect to the conduct of Divine Worship in their Parish Churches.
Resolution reported:—Bill ordered to be brought in by Viscount SANDON and Mr. COWPER-TEMPLE.
East India Company
Motion For An Address
Sir, I have to present a Petition signed by 129 officers, late of the East India Company's Armies in India, praying for redress of grievances. I was in hopes that the Petition might have been printed with the Votes, and in the hands of Members this morning, and that the Members might have been cognizant of the specific grievances and their nature; but, the forms of the House not permitting it, I fear I shall have to trouble the House at greater length than I intended. Since the Address of this House to the Queen on the 2nd of May, 1865, a General Election has taken place, and above 200 new Members have taken their seats. It is due to those Members to offer some explanation of the origin of the grievances of the Indian officers, and their repeated appeals to this House for redress. Before the Mutiny of the greatest portion of the Bengal Army in 1857, the East India Company had three armies embodied—those of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, comprising a body of 5,338 European officers, including the medical service, and 287,782 men of all arms. The system of promotion of the European officers was by strict regimental seniority up to the rank of major, when the field, officers were thrown into line seniority. Notwithstanding the reputed insalubrity of the climate of India for European constitutions the senior officers would not die, and they were too poor to resign, and there was an absolute stagnation in promotion, and lieutenant-colonels of above 40 years' standing and majors of 37 and 38 years' standing were numerous, as instanced in the following extracts from the Indian Army List of 1841, and which had existed for years previously:—
"BENGAL ARMY.—Colonel Pattle, of 43 years service; Major John Graham, 72nd Regiment 37 years; Major Richard Home, 73rd Regiment, 37 years; Major George Young, 68th Regiment, 37 years; Major Edward Gwatkin, 13th Regiment, 37 years.
"MADRAS ARMY.—Major R. B. Hutching, 51st Regiment, of 35 years' service; Major Henry Moberly, 49th Regiment, 36 years; Major Charles Snell, 30th Regiment, 35 years; Major C. J. Grant, 52nd Regiment, 35 years; four Lieut.-Colonels of 41 years.
This state of matters occasioned not only great discontent, but was highly detrimental to the public interests, as it kept worn-out men in India who were no longer fit for field service. Well, Sir, the officers generally appealed to the Court of Directors to withdraw the interdict which had existed since 1793 against buying out seniors, and the Court, with the consent of the Board of Control, and, therefore, of the British Government, transmitted the following despatch to the Government of India, dated 29th November, 1837, and published in Government General Orders, 2nd May, 1838:—"BOMBAY ARMY.—One Lieut.-Colonel of 44 years' service, and 3 of 40 years; Major W. Ogilvie, 26th Regiment, 38 years; Major Stratford Powell, 2nd European Regiment, 33 years; Major Christopher Newport, 23rd Regiment, 33 years.
"1. Government consider that the practice which has for some time obtained, although now for the first time brought to notice, of inducing time-expired officers under the rank of Lt.-Colonel to retire from the service, must conduce to the contentment of the officers and to the efficiency of the army.….
"2. We see no necessity for interfering with the arrangements which the junior officers of a regiment may make in individual cases for adding to the comforts of a senior officer on his retirement from the service upon the pension to which he may be entitled.
The purchase system being thus sanctioned, the manner in which the buying out of regimental seniors was as follows:—A fixed sum was to be given to the regimental major on his retirement—usually in an infantry regiment, £3,000; but I have known as much as £7,000 paid to a lieutenant-colonel in a cavalry regiment; and Major General Pears, now Military Secretary at the India Office of the Madras Engineers, received £6,000 on his retirement. A smaller sum was to be given to the senior captain who retired—the contribution gradually diminishing with the lower standing of the next officer. The exact sums are stated in the Petition which I have presented. In like manner, the sum each officer was to contribute was fixed. The senior captain,"3. The Regulation of 1793 requiring officers upon retirement to make oath that they have received no pecuniary consideration for quitting the service, has not been enforced by us in any single case of retirement in England during the period of nearly 40 years which has since elapsed."….
Payment or bonus to each Officer on his retirement in the Infantry—
To ensure these payments, the following were the usual contributions according to regimental seniority:—
|No.||Rank.||Amount to be paid to the Retiring Officer.||Amount to be paid by each Officer Junior to the one Retiring.|
This practice continued without interruption, and with the sanction of the authories,
who succedeed the retiring major, had to pay the largest contribution of any officer. The Petition states the next captain somewhat less, and the other officers of the regiment a gradually diminishing sum, according to their senior-ship—the senior ensign £80 and the youngest £10. The Petition states the detailed sums, which accumulated made up the sum of £3,000 to be paid to the retiring major, and this was called his "expectation." The following is the scale of contributions in a Bengal Infantry Regiment; but the scale slightly differed in the different armies; indeed, in the same army:—
until the transfer of the armies of the Company to the Crown in August, 1858. Act 21 & 22 Vict. c. 106, which passed the House of Commons, contained the following clause:—
"On the Transfer of the Indian Government to the Crown by Act 21 & 22 Vict., c. 106, s. 56, August 1858, taking place, the following guarantee formed part of the Act, and was repeated in Act 23 & 24 Vict., c. 100, 20 August, 1860, and is called Henley's Clause:—
"And be entitled to the like pay, pensions, allowances, and privileges, and the like advantages as regards promotion and otherwise, as if they had continued in the service of the said Company.
"And the advantages as to pay, pensions, privileges, promotion and otherwise ….shall be maintained in any plan for the re-organization of the Indian army."
This Act was passed by the Conservative Government of Lord Derby, and his Lordship, in introducing the Bill into the House of Lords on the 15th July, 1858, made the following declaration:—
"The Bill also provides, as far as it relates to individuals and bodies, that they shall have reserved to them all rights, privileges, and expectations which they were led to form at the time of their admission into the service."
The House will recollect what the "expectation" of a regimental officer was—that he should get £3,000 from his regiment when he retired as major.
Here was a pledge of the Prime Minister. In August, 1860, Lord Palmerston, being then Prime Minister, and Sir Charles Wood, Secretary of State for India, the Act 23 & 24 Vict. c. 100, was introduced; and to make surety doubly sure, Mr. Henley, the Member for Oxfordshire, insisted on the insertion of the Guarantee Clause of the former Act, and this clause is popularly known as the Henley Clause. Sir Charles Wood accepted the clause, and assured the House—
"There will be no change in the position of the officers, and to give them assurance of that I am willing to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), with respect to the rights and privileges of the officers and soldiers of the local Army of India."
Well, Sir, the House will learn with surprise how the above pledges and promises have been fulfilled. The bonus or purchase system had continued to the advantage of the public service, when it pleased Sir Charles Wood to establish at each Presidency a Staff corps of officers, in which promotion was to take place by length of service, and not by regimental seniority. These Staff corps officers—some 2,213—were withdrawn from regiments in which promotion by seniority and the buying out system existed. But, as the Staff officers obtained their promotion independently of buying out seniors, they, of course, would not contribute to their respective regimental funds, and the remaining officers in each regiment being too few in number to make up the requisite sum to induce a senior to retire, the bonus system fell to the ground, and the contributions that the officers had previously made were practically confiscated by an act of the Indian Minister. So much for the fulfilment of the promises of the Conservative Minister respecting "expectations," and of Sir Charles Wood that there would be no change in the position of the officers. But this is not the only breach of promise; the names of the Staff officers were left in the cadres of their respective regiments as blocks to promotion, and the result was, that as they got their promotion by length of service, they superseded their seniors in their own regiments.
The local regimental officers, who had spent their money—upon which most of them had to pay the high interest of 9 per cent to the banks—in buying steps with
the authority of the Court of Directors and the British Government, applied for compensation for their losses, caused by a voluntary act of the India Office and British Government, and were told they had not any claim. The reply caused general indignation, and Petitions to the House of Commons were poured in to the number of 712, humbly praying for redress. On the 2nd of May, 1865, the attention of the House of Commons was called to these Petitions by Major—now Colonel—Jervis, Member for Harwich, and myself, and other Members, and the following Address to the Queen was voted, notwithstanding the opposition of the Conservative Government:—
"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to redress all such grievances complained of by the Officers of the late Indian Armies as were admitted by the 'Commission on the Memorials of Indian Officers' to have arisen by a departure from the assurances given by Parliament by 21 & 22 Vict, c. 106, and 23 & 24 Vict. c. 100."
Consequent upon the Resolution of the House of Commons of the 2nd May, 1865, Lord Cranbourne, in his speech to the House, 6th August, 1866, used the following language, but not until 14 months after the Address had been presented:—
"But, putting the guarantee aside, I think it is clear that if your servants have been largely damnified by any sudden or unexpected act of yours, the principle that is and ought to be observed in every branch of the public service is that we ought to do something to compensate them. And, assuredly, if there is any branch to which we should desire to apply that principle it is to those who risk their lives in our defence. Viewing the matter in that light, and not in the least questioning or attempting to reverse the decision of former Governments, we still thought it our duty to attempt in some way to meet the complaints of officers on this head. Now, the House will observe that the subscription of a bonus had for its immediate object to get a step of rank. That step carried with it increased pay; therefore, the object of that subscription was to a certain extent obtained."
But, Sir, that is a mistake—a 10th Lieutenant had to pay for 10 steps before he got his company, and all this time was out of his money. Lord Cranbourne continued—
"The officer got his advance in rank, and, of course, increased pay earlier through the subscription than otherwise. If he had not purchased out his superior officer, he would have had to remain longer in his inferior grade. Therefore I say the Indian officer has already got to a certain extent compensation for his subscription. We have no intention to pay that over again; but our proposal is this—We understand it is stated by several officers that they have not received full compensation in that way—that they paid a very much larger sum than they had any immediate chance of receiving, in the hope that when they came to retire they would receive compensation from the subscriptions of their junior officers. Our proposal is that in each Presidency a committee shall be appointed which, as soon as an officer retires, shall inquire into his case in order to ascertain how much money he is really out of pocket in payments to officers who have retired, and the loss, whatever it be, the Government propose to make good to him. [An hon. MEMBER: With interest?] No, not with interest. Considering the enormous stimulus to promotion that has taken place, the many advantages that officers have received, and that you never in practice give compensation to public servants for the whole of their loss, we think that interest on neither side should be allowed—either for or against the officer. The House, and especially those hon. Members who take an interest in Indian matters, may wish to know what this operation is likely to cost. We have had it calculated by General Hannyngton, a very competent authority on such a subject, and his view of the matter is, that it will cost about £160,000, extending over 20 years, or £8,000 per annum."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 2092.]
Whereas only £90,000 has been claimed by 212 officers, and less than £20,000 paid. To carry out these views the following instructions were sent to India by Lord Cranbourne, dated 8th August, 1866:—
"With this view, the following course will be adopted:—
"A committee will be formed at each presidency, for the purpose of investigating and reporting upon claims of this nature on the part of officers, borne on the strength of the Indian army on February 18th, 1861.
"An officer proposing to retire from the service, or having retired since February 18th, 1861, and being below the rank noted [if in the artillery or engineers, below the rank of colonel commandant. If in the cavalry or infantry, below the rank of regimental lieutenant-colonel] at the time of retirement, will submit his claims to compensation for the loss of sums subscribed for the purpose of assisting his seniors to retire, through the usual channel, to the Government of this presidency, by whom they will be referred to the above committee. He will submit, at the same time, a declaration, upon honour, as to the sum of money, if any, that he has received, or expects to receive, from the officers of his cadre on retirement.
"It will be the duty of the committee to ascertain, with all possible accuracy, the following circumstances:—
"1st. The number of retirements among his brother officers to the purchase of which the officer had contributed up to February 18th, 1861. This will, of course, not include arrangements which may have been made with officers transferred to the invalid establishment.
"2nd. The amount ascertained to have been actually paid in each case by the officer in question to the retiring officer.
"These facts may be gathered from the statement of the officer himself, supported by such proof as the committee may consider sufficient; but it will be competent for your Government, in communication with those of Madras and Bombay, to lay down any general rules that you may think fit for the guidance of these committees.
"The above sums will be placed to the credit of the officer in each case.
"On the other hand, the committee will estimate the value in money of the advance in rank or position which accrued to the officer from the above arrangements, and will debit him therewith.
"The balance, reduced by the sum, if any, which he may receive from the officers of his cadre on his retirement, and, in the cases of officers who have already retired, by the value of any special annuity that may have been granted to them in addition to the regulated pension, will be paid to the officer on his resignation of the service appearing in orders, provided, in the case of the cavalry, infantry, and Staff Corps, such retirement or resignation takes place before he attains the rank of regimental lieutenant-colonel, and, if in the artillery or engineers, before he attains the rank of colonel commandant.
"Special periodical reports of the sums so paid will be made to Her Majesty's Government.—I have, &c., (Signed) "CRANBOURNE."
With respect to the sums paid to officers transferred to the invalids, the following were the orders of the Government of India:—
"10. No sums paid to officers transferred to the invalid establishment can, under the orders of the Secretary of State, be credited to an officer under any circumstances; and in all cases deductions from sums due under paragraphs 6 or 7 of this order, must be made to the extent of any amount the retired or retiring officer may have received, or may receive, from the juniors of his regiment or cadre, or from his regimental retiring fund, and also on account of the value of any special annuity a retired officer may have received in addition to his regulated pension."
Now, Sir, it mattered not to the officer who had paid his money to remove a senior, where that senior resided—whether in India, London, or Jericho; he was not the less out of pocket. In regard to giving extra pensions, the following are extracts from the Report of the Royal Commission, 1863, on the grievances of Indian officers, showing the reason why the extra pension was given:—
"Par. 54.—As regards the 'complaint' as to the course pursued by Government to encourage retirement from among the senior officers of the cavalry and infantry, in consequence of the very large reductions in the number of the native regiments, there were a number of Lt.-Colonels and Majors for whom it was impossible to find employment. These officers would in ordinary course reach to the rank of full Colonel, and so become entitled to Colonel's allowances. It was considered that by offering them an addition to the pension on, which, by their length of service, they were entitled to retire, they might be induced to retire, and so that a considerable boon would be conferred on the officers who should remain. A scale was therefore framed, fixing the sum to be offered to field officers below the rank of Colonel, as an inducement to them to retire. The amount varied according to the standing of those to whom it was to be offered, and to officers who were of a standing which made it likely that by remaining in the service they would soon become full Colonels, an additional pension was offered, amounting to £550 per annum; to those further removed the sum was less, descending as low as £200 per annum; and if as many as 300 officers should not accept these terms, they were to be offered to Captains of 25 years' standing and upwards."
Now, Sir, as at this date, 1863, the bonus or purchase system was declared illegal—contrary to fact, however—by Sir Charles Wood, the giving extra pensions as an equivalent for the money, confiscated in the abolition of the bonus system, could not for one moment have been contemplated. The extra pensions were entirely for the advantage of the Government to save money in India.
And now I beg to put the results before the House. The generous and high-minded character of Lord Cranbourne—now Marquess of Salisbury—puts the "initiation" of the sordid devices in the despatch of the 8th August, 1866, to reduce the claims of officers for compensation, out of the question—and these devices must have originated with subordinates—devices which have rendered the proposed redress a mockery. The complaints of the officers are—1st, that the expectations of the regimental officers are not to be fulfilled; 2nd, that deductions are made from money actually out of pocket for what is called accelerated promotion; 3rd, that officers are refused credit for the sums they contributed to remove officers from their regiment to the invalids; 4th, that they are refused altogether any compensation in case they have received an extra pension; which had no relation or connection whatever with the bonus system—the extra pensions having been given for the advantage of the Government and unsolicited; 5th, that officers who paid sums after 18th February, 1861, are refused all compensation. In explanation of these grievances. I have made the House aware of what "expectations" means. When an ensign joined a regiment, he expected, on his retiring as a major, to receive £3,000 from his brother officers in case he had subscribed to the bonus or purchase funds, and this was the expectation promised by Lord Derby. 2nd.
With respect to deductions on account of accelerated promotion, a legal Member of the House, who is unhappily called away from London by county quarter sessions, declares them to be illegal. For illustration—In case I paid premiums to an insurance society, to secure a stipulated sum at a fixed date, and on demanding payment was to be told I could not receive the stipulated sum, but that my premiums would be returned to me with deductions—I presume such an act would not only be illegal but fraudulent. This is precisely analogous to the premiums or bonuses paid by officers to insure a payment of a fixed sum on the occurrence of a certain event. Again, would a gentleman who buys a commission in the Royal Army, and, subsequently, a commission of a higher grade, and who, after a few years, desires to sell, be told he could not receive the whole amount of the money he had paid because he had accelerated promotion and had received increased pay? Moreover, in case the purchase system were abolished in the Royal Army—as the bonus system was abolished in the Indian Armies—would the most economical House of Commons refuse compensation for the money laid out in purchasing? I will just show how unjustly this deduction system has acted—and two or three instances are as good as 100. I hold in my hand a Parliamentary Paper, No. 90, of 1870, showing the ranks and names of those officers who have claimed a return of their bonus contributions—124 Bengal; 51 Madras; Bombay, 37; total, 212.
BENGAL.—Major A. le Gallais, claims £258—nil, his increased pay exceeded his claim; Lieutenant-Colonel A. Parsons, claims £420—is made a debtor to the Government because he has an extra pension of £50; Lieutenant-Colonel P. A. P. Bouverie, £425—gets £10!!!
MADRAS.—Colonel J. Babington, Artillery, claims £655—nil, because he had £50 pension; Colonel G. Carr, Infantry, £1,100, nil; Lieutenant-Colonel G. S. Cotter, artillery, £4,421, nil; Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. M. Chesney, £240, nil.
BOMBAY.—Captain H. G. Raverty, claims £337—gets £22; Major M. J. Battye, claims £976—£631 cancelled and £135 allowed.
This officer was, as a lieutenant on diplomatic employ, on a consolidated allowance of £75 per month. He had paid £976 for regimental steps, and got his captaincy; but he still remained in diplomatic employ, on his consolidated
pay of £75 per month, and did not gain one shilling by his accelerated promotion, and yet, most unjustly and strangely, £631 is deducted from his claim. In regard to the fourth grievance—the refusal to give a shilling compensation to officers who have paid sums for the removal of an officer to the invalids to the advantage of the service—the injustice is manifest, for the loss to him is absolute, whether the invalid officer resides in India, or London, or Jericho. With respect to the fifth cause of complaint, the Government had arbitrarily fixed the 18th February, 1861, as the date after which no compensation would be granted, while some officers, in ignorance, had bought out officers a few days or weeks after that date, and were refused a shilling of compensation.
Finally, Sir, it is with great pain, but under a thorough conviction of its truth, I say that the claims of the officers for compensation have been met in a spirit of meanness and heartlessness—meanness in elaborate devices for reducing claims for compensation, which Lord Cranbourne admitted to be well founded, and heartlessness that 5,338 officers and 287,782 men, who, aided by a proportionable body of Royal officers and troops, had won an empire for the Crown which would have excited the envy of Alexander the Great and Augustus Caesar, should not have experienced some generous consideration for their triumphant services; but, on the contrary, the sole object seems to have been by what devices the claims for compensation could be reduced to a minimum amount. Let me remind the House, that in May, 1865, it voted an Address to the Queen for the redress of the grievances of the Indian officers. Those grievances have not been redressed in the sense in which that vote was passed, owing to the reductions in the compensation ordered by Lord Cranbourne's despatch of the 8th August, 1866, and the officers again humbly appeal to the House to sustain its former vote. The hon. and gallant Gentleman concluded by moving for an Address.
said, the Order or Regulation dated November 29th, 1837, clearly gave the officers of the late Indian Army to understand that their rights and privileges in this matter of buying out their seniors should not be interfered with unless under particular financial circumstances, in which case full notice should be given to them beforehand. He could not understand how that Order could be repudiated, and the officers told that they had no claim upon the Government. The Marquess of Salisbury, when at the India Office, was of opinion that if the officers had been damnified by the change they ought to be compensated; but, instead of getting compensation, they were refused the repayment of the sums which they had previously expended. The case of those officers was another instance of that cheeseparing policy which had created dissatisfaction, not only in the Indian Army, but in our own. There was no one, he added, who could fail to have the highest respect for the Indian Army, which had produced as many distinguished officers as any army in the world, and he hoped the House would again express it to be its opinion that their claims to remuneration should be met to the fullest extent. He begged to second the Motion.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that as the orders Her Majesty was graciously pleased to give for the redress of the grievances of the Officers of Her Majesty's late Indian Military Services, consequent upon an Address of the House of Commons, dated the 2nd day of May 1865, have not been carried out, in the sense of the Address, owing to deductions being made from the bona fide claims of officers on the ground of accelerated promotion and on the ground of increased retired pensions, Her Majesty may be graciously pleased to direct a further consideration of the subject, with a view to the redress of the still unsatisfied claims."—(Colonel Sykes.)
said, that justice was not dealt out in this case as it would have been to civil servants in this country. The Government of India did not recognize the bonus system until very lately. They then recognized it in an indirect way. There was no claim upon the Indian Government so long as the Regulations of the service continued as they were; but when the Regulations were altered and put an end to the fund from which these officers were to benefit, and to which they had subscribed, there was then a most decided claim on their part against the Government. Pensions were given to get rid of supernumerary officers; and this was a point well worthy of consideration. It was too bad for the Government, having gained all the advantage of the bonus system, to turn round on the officers and refuse to repay them the amount which they had actually disbursed.
said, it was the duty of all Governments, and of the Indian Government among others, to see that the interests of its servants were fairly and liberally cared for; but it was likewise the duty of all Governments, and of the Indian Government among others, to remember that its servants existed for the people which it ruled, not the people for its servants. In this spirit he wished to examine his hon. and gallant Friend's proposal; and, first, his Resolution seemed to have been framed under some misconception. He asked for a further consideration of certain alleged grievances, because "the Address of this House, dated the 2nd day of May, 1865, has not been carried out in the sense of that Address, deductions having been made from certain claims upon various grounds." But his hon. and gallant Friend had apparently forgotten that the Address of the 2nd of May, 1865, was for the redress of such grievances of his clients as were admitted by the Royal Commission of 1863 to have arisen out of a departure from the assurances given by Parliament. Now, the Royal Commission of 1863, referring to this very complaint of the loss of bonus on retirement, declared in so many words that the Parliamentary guarantee did not extend to this claim, and therefore the Commission of 1865 did not and could not entertain it at all. What really happened was this. After a long agitation—very detrimental, indeed, to the discipline of Her Majesty's Indian Army—the Government of the day, then represented in this House by Lord Salisbury, announced, on the 6th of August, 1866, a measure of the most comprehensive and of a more than conciliatory character. That statement appeared to give, as well it might, great satisfaction to those whose interests were concerned. The instructions sent by Lord Salisbury to India were drawn up in a sense accordant with the sense of his statement, and were carried out by the appointment of committees composed of officers of each of the three armies, Bombay, Madras, and Bengal—who were to investigate the amount of claim made and established in each case. There was not a shadow of evidence that the officers appointed did not most fairly and most liberally consider all claims brought before them. Indeed, it was in the nature of things that they should do so, for they represented the complaining officers, and must have shared largely in all their feelings; while, with regard to the action of the Government, he believed that the only cases in which the decisions of the committees of officers had been interfered with, had been cases in which from a mistaken interpretation of their instructions they granted an officer less than the Government thought right to concede to him. If that was not liberal treatment, he wondered what kind of treatment would be entitled to that name. Looking back upon the dealings of the Indian Government, as reconstituted in 1858, and of this House with the East India Company's Army, looking at them with strong sympathies for that army arising from family connection—he confessed that he could find in all history nothing to equal it in liberality. Here was an army, on the larger and more important portion of which, the Bengal Army, had fallen a disaster altogether unparalleled in modern military annals—unparalleled, so far as he knew, in any annals, unless it were in the story of Carthage and her mercenaries, as told by Polybius. Many armies in modern times had melted away under the pressure of extreme physical privation, and some had been pulverized and utterly destroyed by a hostile force; but did modern history tell us of any other army falling to pieces in the hands of its own officers, in a time of profound peace, in the middle of the territory which it was set to guard? [Colonel SYKES: The officers did not do that.] He fully absolved many of these officers from blame. Many of them, both before and after the outbreak, did their duty, and more than their duty; but would anyone venture to say that, after all allowances had been made, a Government which treated officers, whose regiments had disappeared, as if their regiments had still continued in full efficiency, was not an almost preternaturally generous Government? Yet that was precisely what the Government did; for when the time came for reconstructing that military power which had been so rudely shaken, the Government and this House forgot the past, and applied to all alike—to the officers of the Bengal Army, of which so large a portion had disappeared, as well as to those of the Bombay and Madras Armies, which had come through 1857 almost unscathed, the same measure of ungrudging liberality, the same Parliamentary guarantee. In the interpretation of that guarantee, and in all the arrangements connected with the amalgamation, disputable point after disputable point was yielded. Every one was treated as if he had been not only innocent, but impeccable. Rules which would have been extremely liberal in the case of officers whose regiments were absolutely perfect were applied to officers whose regiments had vanished into space, till at last all men thought that conciliation and kindness had been carried to the utmost imaginable limits, and that no officers of the old Indian Army would ever again dream of even naming the word grievance. At the close of his speech, already referred to, the present Lord Salisbury, then Lord Cranborne, said—
The hope which Lord Salisbury then expressed had, unhappily, not been fulfilled. It had seemed good to his hon. and gallant Friend to do what he could to rekindle the embers of what all thought was a burnt-out agitation. He deeply regretted that the hon. and gallant Member should have thought fit to lend the sanction of his advanced age and long experience in Indian affairs to so evil a cause. The responsibility the hon. and gallant Member had assumed was certainly no light one, and he would be no sharer in that responsibility by giving the slightest shadow of hope that the present Government, any more than the past Government, or indeed any conceivable Government, would ever listen to the demands which he had made. Just one word as to these precious expectations, about which his hon. and gallant Friend had spoken so much. The expectations which his hon. and gallant Friend wanted the Indian Government, alias the people of India, to pay for in hard cash, were expectations of success in a highly speculative transaction, not to use a stronger term. If each Indian officer had got up to the top of the regimental list and then retired, the subscriptions paid by each would just have balanced his receipts on retirement. Now, the Government had refunded all the net subscriptions; but what these gentlemen wished to be paid for in hard cash were the expectations which they had formed that many of their comrades in arms who stood above them in the regimental list would die, and so save their subscriptions. They wanted a nice round sum in hand out of the Indian taxpayer's pocket as an equivalent for the "bloody wars and sickly seasons" which they had lost. He did not think the House of Commons would say "Aye" to that proposal. He had only once more to repeat the assurance that every claim advanced by these officers had been most carefully sifted, and, where even tolerably reasonable, admitted; that the taxpayers of the Indian Empire had been most heavily amerced; first, to be just, then to be generous; lastly, to be almost prodigal to them; and that the Government would ask the House to support them in giving the most determined opposition to a most extortionate demand—a demand which, in two words, was this—that these officers should retain every possible advantage which accrued, or might have accrued, to them from the old system, which crumbled to dust in their hands; that they should obtain every possible advantage, direct and indirect, from the new system, which had to be created; and that the unhappy people of India should pay for all in this wonderful game of "Heads I win, tails you lose!""I will only conclude my answer to my hon. and gallant Friend by saying that I hope he will use his influence, if he is satisfied with this arrangement, and that all others who have taken up the case will use their influence, to do all they can to put a stop to a system of agitation most mischievous to the Indian Service and most inconsistent with the ordinary attitude which officers ought to assume towards the Government. I do earnestly hope that as far as this House is concerned we may now close this thorny and disagreeable subject."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 2094.]
said, he could not remain silent after hearing what had fallen from the Under Secretary of State. He could hardly have believed that anyone who had reached manhood in the years 1856–7–8 could have got up and used the terms the hon. Member had used with reference to that gallant Indian Army. They were told for the first time to-night that it was owing to the want of discipline that that great army of India crumbled into dust. Were officers who, in the service of their country one after another fell under the hands of Hin- doos and Mahomedans, leaving widows and children, to be spoken of in this way? What was said in this House by Lord Cranborne was that, if the terms proposed gave satisfaction, he trusted the agitation would cease, and the terms thus frankly stated he frankly accepted. But what were they? Lord Cranborne said, considering the magnitude and all the circumstances of the case, he was prepared to deal liberally, and he would repay the officers all that they were out of pocket; and these terms were utterly repudiated by the present Under Secretary of State. Sir Stafford Northcote, in a despatch which he sent out, expressed the opinion that the instruction of Lord Cranborne had not been carried out. He wished to make no charge against Her Majesty's Government, for this was a matter which more or less affected four different Governments; but he protested against that narrow-minded spirit which, for the sake of a few paltry pounds, created the most intense dissatisfaction, while millions were expended of which no account whatever could be obtained.
said, he wished to make one remark, as the speech of the Under Secretary of State might go abroad, that the Indian officers had not done their duty in the Mutiny. The hon. Gentleman said that some officers had done their duty, implying that some had not done their duty. Now, he wished to say, from his own personal knowledge and experience, that all the Indian officers had done their duty in that terrible time, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman would get up and say so.
said, that last year, when the subject was likely to come on, he took some pains to investigate its merits, and he came to the conclusion that there was a real case of grievance. As he understood, Lord Cranborne promised that the officers should have returned to them all the money which had actually been paid by them, and the contributions corresponded to payments made to an insurance office to be returned after a certain time had expired. Lord Cranborne was understood to promise that these officers should have returned to them, not all their expectations—not the large sum which they expected to receive originally in allowances to the highest rank, but the actual amounts they were out of pocket by the payments they had made from time to time at each step in promotion. The Indian Government kept the word of promise to the ear but not to the hope; and when it came to consider the claims of these officers it said—"Oh! but for these payments you made from time to time you have got each time a certain advance in position in your regiment by the retirement of the officer above you, who was induced to retire by your contribution;" and in some instances, by a minute calculation, it had been made to appear that the officers, instead of having a claim, were actually in debt. He knew a gentleman, fortunately for himself, in easy circumstances, who, having paid something under £1,000 in respect to these policies, had a calculation brought against him, and he was told that £10 was the sum he would receive for all he had contributed. This was not considered by these officers the fair way of carrying out Lord Cranborne's intentions, and was not, he understood, what was meant by Lord Cranborne himself when he made the speech referred to, and penned the despatch to the Governor General of India. The demand was of a limited nature, and it would be better to meet it than to let these gentlemen have ground to complain of want of faith on the part of a British Ministry and Parliament.
said, having gone carefully through the Papers in connection with this case, he found he could not support the demand of these officers. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had entirely misconceived what Lord Cranborne said, for that noble Lord most distinctly stated that he would deduct from the sums to be paid to the officers what they had gained by accelerated promotion.
said, he had listened with disappointment and dismay to statements of the Under Secretary for India that the Indian Army must not expect that the present Government or any other Government would ever give ear to the complaints now brought before the House. That was not the proper spirit in which those complaints should be met. The question was, were there or were there not individual instances of injustice and grievance which the House was bound to consider? If there were, the faith of the Government of this country was pledged to inquire into them, and to afford a remedy. Though a large proportion of officers might have received the measure of justice they were entitled to in the shape of increased pension and accelerated promotion, there was good ground for belief that beyond these there was yet a residuum of hardship and injustice, which the Government were bound not to overlook. He knew the case of an officer, who should have received £4,000 by reason of this bonus fund, to which he was compelled to contribute by social considerations and the pressure of his commanding officer, and who only got £500. That was an illustration of the grievance which was suffered, and he protested against the absolute language of the Under Secretary for India that, under no circumstances, could he hold out the hope that these Indian officers would receive further attention or inquiry as to the reasonableness of their claims.
The House will, perhaps, allow me to observe, with reference to the warm speech of the hon. Member for Harwich (Colonel Jervis), that, in criticizing the acts and language of the Government, he has ascribed to my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India words and ideas which do not properly belong to him. The hon. Member was evidently under the impression that my hon. Friend had declared that the calamitous revolt and dissolution of the Bengal Army were owing to their want of discipline, and that this was chargeable upon the officers. I heard the speech of my hon. Friend, and I certainly heard nothing which conveyed or resembled such an imputation; it was as far as possible from the intention of my hon. Friend to convey any imputation of that kind. Let us, therefore, put out of the way any extraneous matter in approaching the consideration of this question. As far as I can understand the point at issue, it is not one of any great difficulty. My hon. Friend's allusion to the past acts and the probable conduct of any future Government of India was not an allusion altogether gratuitous. The proceedings which have been taken are in perfect conformity with those of the late Secretary of State for India, and unless my hon. Friend is very much mistaken indeed, the late Secretary of State would have been in his place to-night to affirm and sustain the doctrines which have been propounded, if, from urgent causes, he had not been compelled to leave London. Knowing this, therefore, it was no unnatural allegation for my hon. Friend to make that neither the present nor any future Government of India was likely to give in to this claim. What is the claim? It is contended that the rule laid down implied a pledge; and the whole question is, whether that pledge has been fulfilled? The Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend insists, in terms which are certainly very strong, that the House should be prepared to address Her Majesty, stating that the orders given for the redress of the grievances of the officers of the Indian Army have not been carried out in the sense of the Address of the 2nd of May, 1865. If that Motion be adopted, the Members who vote for it will take upon themselves a heavy responsibility, for they must first have examined into the matter and satisfied themselves that the pledge has been given and not redeemed. Let me ask, has there been such a definite and positive pledge as should induce the House to vote an Address like this? I am not now saying that we should refrain from making any further investigation; in a case of this kind, where individual interests are concerned, even if there be a slender case shown, I think that there should be a full investigation into every point and allegation that is raised. We shall be perfectly ready to investigate when any deficiency is shown in the proceedings that have occurred, and with even greater facility when we do this ourselves, and not under the stringent terms of the Motion that my hon. and gallant Friend would bring to bear upon us. But have expectations been held out which have not been fulfilled? My hon. Friend bases his statement apparently on a promise by Lord Cranborne. [Colonel SYKES: And of Lord Derby in the House of Lords.] I have not got the words of Lord Derby before me; but I shall be quite prepared to give to them all the consideration to which they are entitled. The words, however, of a responsible Minister, speaking in the name of the Department with which the transaction lies, seem to me about as authoritative testimony as it is easy to obtain. It is contended that the engagements made with the Indian officers under the bonus system have been broken because certain deductions have been made on the ground of accelerated promotion and increased retiring pen- sions; but what does Lord Cranborne say, speaking in this House on the 6th of August, 1866?—
I ask my hon. and gallant Friend how he gets rid of that statement of Lord Cranborne's? The very thing Lord Cranborne says he will not do is the thing which is now complained of as a breach of faith. [Colonel SYKES: That is the complaint.] If so, my hon. and gallant Friend is shifting his ground, and shows still more strongly that this Address cannot be agreed to. He cannot say, as he now appears to say, that Lord Cranborne was wrong in refusing to pay this over again, and then, in the same breath, declare that the promise was made and that faith has not been kept. In a despatch of the 18th of August, 1866, which Lord Cranborne addressed from the India Office to the Governor General in Council on this subject, he said, having enumerated the sums which would be credited to the Indian officers—"Now, the House will observe that the subscription of a bonus had for its immediate object to get a step of rank. That step carried with it increased pay; therefore, the object of that subscription was to a certain extent obtained. The officer got his advance in rank, and, of course, increased pay earlier through the subscription than otherwise. If he had not purchased out his superior officer, he would have had to remain longer in his inferior grade. Therefore, I say, the Indian officer has already got to a certain extent compensation for his subscription. We have no intention to pay that over again."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 2093.]
With this evidence before us, patent and unquestionable, I say that it is impossible my hon. and gallant Friend can ask the House to vote this Address, whereby the House binds itself to complain that engagements were broken which there is distinct ground for believing were never entered into."The above sums will be placed to the credit of the officer in each case. On the other hand the value will be estimated in money of the advance in rank or position which accrued to the officer from the above arrangement, and he will be debited therewith."
, speaking from personal recollection, declared that at a time when the upper ranks of the service in India were greatly choked, the bonus system was introduced to clear them, and it was just as much understood that the money contributed by those officers was to go towards the in- crease of rank as any other regulation in the service was understood.
, in reply, quoted the speech of Lord Derby when, as Prime Minister, in 1858, he introduced the Bill into the House of Lords. His words were—
With regard to the statement of the Under Secretary for India that the poor Natives of India would have to pay the amount, what was the sum required? 212 officers had claimed £90,000, and they had had adjudged to them £20,000. Yet the Government that refused this sum had raised the taxation on India by £2,000,000. He should divide the House on his Resolution."The Bill also provides, as far as it refers to individuals and bodies, that they shall have reserved to them all the rights, privileges, and expectations which they were led to form at the time of their admission to the service."—[3 Hansard, cli. 1461.]
The House divided:—Ayes 113; Noes 92: Majority 21.
Motion For A Select Committee
, in rising to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the hardships inflicted on the Colonels of the British Army in consequence of their supersession by the Colonels of the Indian Army, said, that after the Royal Commission of 1862 reported on the subject of Colonels in the Indian Army, and the Warrant being issued thereupon, many Petitions were presented to the House complaining of grievances, among others of that of which the House had heard to-night. A Royal Commission, of which Lord Cranborne was Chairman, was appointed to consider the subject, and the result was an alteration by which colonels of the Indian Army were now about to supersede 260 older colonels of the British Army. The latter had just reason to complain; and, although they had not taken any steps of their own accord to force their claims upon the attention of the House of Commons or the public, their grievance was not the less great. The effect of the warrant which was issued was foreseen by Sir William Mansfield, who pointed out the injustice that would be inflicted, and urged that some steps should be taken to obviate the evils that would ensue. A protest coming from so distinguished an officer was worthy of consideration, but it did not meet with attention, for the India Office took a year to think about the matter, and then wrote that the subject was one which should be submitted to the War Office and the Horse Guards. A correspondence ensued between the Departments which extended over two years, and when the present Secretary for War took Office a Committee was appointed, who reported that it was advisable to promote 45 colonels to the rank of major-general; but as that step would cost money the recommendation was not carried out. The colonels felt it to be a great injustice that their claims should be ignored on that account, especially when they had contributed to the reserve fund, £570,000 of which had been appropriated by the Treasury. He had received communications from nearly all the colonels of the British Army who were now in England, and they all expressed dissatisfaction with the measures which had been proposed. He therefore moved the appointment of a Select Committee.
seconded the Motion. He disclaimed any idea of it being an attack upon the present Government; they had only inherited a difficulty from their Predecessors. All that was asked for was that promotion should be dealt out equally to every branch of the service.
said, as the Motion involved no foregone conclusion, he would assent to it. He believed, however, it would be found that the origin of the evil complained of was as far back as 1854, and that the evil itself was connected with proceedings that had taken place in Parliament.
thanked the Secretary of State for the kindness he had shown throughout the whole proceedings.
Motion agreed to.
Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into complaints of hardships urged on behalf of the Colonels of the British Army in consequence of their supersession by the Colonels of the Indian Army."—(Major Anson.)
And, on July 6, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Sir PERCY HERBERT, Mr. GRANT DUFF, Sir JOHN HAY, Mr. BRAND, Sir RAINALD KNIGHTLEY, Mr. KIRKMAN HODOSON, Mr. CLAY, Mr. SCLAIER- BOOTH, Sir EDWARD COLEBROOKE, Mr. GOLDNEY, Sir CHARLES WINGFIELD, Mr. BOURKE, Mr. WEST, and Major ANSON:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.
Dublin City Voters Disfranchisement Bill
On Motion of Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND, Bill to disfranchise certain Voters of the City of Dublin, ordered to be brought in by Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND and Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 184.]
House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.