House Of Commons
Friday, 8th July, 1870.
MINUTES.]—PUBLIC BILLS— Ordered—First Reading—Drainage of Lands (Ireland) Provisional Order Confirmation * ; Inclosure * .
Second Reading—Sugar Duties (Isle of Man) * .
Report of Select Committee—Pilotage * [No. 343].
Committee—Elementary Education ( re-comm.) —R.P.
Report—Pilotage * [25–207].
Third Reading—Consolidated Fund (£9,000,000), and passed.
Withdrawn—Public Prosecutors ( re-comm.) * .
The House met at Two of the clock.
Civil Service Commissioners—Attendance Of Candidates In Police Courts—Question
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether it is the custom of the Civil Service Commissioners to send youths who are candidates for public situations to take notes of the daily proceedings in the London Police Courts, as a test of qualification; and, if so, whether in his opinion equally good results are not attainable in some way by which the risk of moral contamination involved in this enforced attendance at the scenes and details of Police Courts may be avoided?
said, that, strictly speaking, no candidates for public situations had to attend the police, or any other courts. The cases referred to by his hon. Friend were cases of candidates already selected by competitive examinations for the Indian Civil Service. After their selection they underwent a special training for a period of two years. Their duties in India would be of a judicial character, and as they would have to administer the civil and criminal law, it was rightly held to be very important that they should obtain not only familiarity with law books, but also some knowledge and personal acquaintance with the methods and habits—if he might use the word—of procedure in the civil and criminal courts in this country. Seven of the Reports required to be sent in by these gentlemen must relate to the police courts in London, Dublin, or Edinburgh, presided over by stipendiary magistrates. This was the regulation under which they attended our police courts, and he must say he thought it was a very wise one.
Census Of 1871—Questions
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he will lay upon the Table any representations he has received objecting to the different religious denominations in England being included in the Census of 1871?
Sir, I have examined the many memorials which I have received on the subject of the Census, and I am bound to say there are not any partaking of the character of those which, it is usual to lay on the Table of the House. The right hon. Baronet is, of course, aware that there are other means of ascertaining the opinions of the Nonconformists, and other religious bodies, besides memorials sent to the Home Office.
Sir, in consequence of the unsatisfactory answer I have just received, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether he has any objection to state how many Memorials have been presented to the Home Office respecting a Denominational Census, and whether they proceed from Churchmen or from Nonconformists?
Sir, I thought I did state distinctly that I have received no memorials in the ordinary sense of the word. I have received representations which were satisfactory, in the sense that they conveyed to me the feelings of the leading bodies of the Nonconformists on this subject. I never stated that I received memorials respecting a religious Census, and I do not think that the only sources of information on such a subject are memorials. As regards the memorials generally, I am willing to produce them. I may remark, however, that the only demand for a religious Census, as far as England is concerned, proceeds from the Statistical Society or the Society of Arts, I forget which. The other memorials relate to consanguineous marriages, the statistics of education, and other matters, which are very interesting in themselves, but which have no connection with the religious Census. If the right hon. Gentleman will move for the production of the memorials presented to the Home Department on the subject of the Census, I shall have great pleasure in laying them upon the Table.
Accountant General In Chancery
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether it is in contemplation to remove the entire or any part of the business of the Accountant General in Chancery to the Bank of England; if this is not the case, whether it would be possible to arrange for the payment of Chancery Dividend and Annuity Warrants at the Bank of England from August 20th to October 28th, during which period (with the exception of three days) the Office of the Accountant General in Chancery is closed; and, whether it is intended to fill up the office of Accountant General when the next vacancy occurs?
said, in reply, that it was not in contemplation to remove any part of the business of the Accountant General in Chancery. There was no present definite intention on the part of the Government to alter the arrangements for the conduct of business in that department. He thought it would be premature to express any opinion on the subject of filling up the office of the Accountant General if it should become vacant; but he could not conceive of that business being conducted, though the method of its conduct might be varied, without some officer at its head filling an analogous position. He was prepared to add that, in his opinion, the present arrangements for the conduct of that business, more especially those to which the hon. Gentleman referred in the second part of his Question, were unreasonable, and required modification and improvement. The whole subject of the organization of that office was under the consideration of the Lord Chancellor and the Treasury, and he believed that some practical conclusion would be come to which would remove the inconveniences which he imagined the hon. Gentleman had in mind.
Elementary Education (Re-Committed) Bill—Bill 167
( Mr. W. E. Forster, Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
Committee Progress 7Th July
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clauses 58 to 60, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 61 (Proceedings on default of authority to make Returns).
Amendment proposed, in Clause 61, page 23, line 2, after "Act" to leave out the words to the end of the Clause, for the purpose of inserting the words—
"The Education Department may appoint any person or persons to make such Returns, and the person or persons so appointed shall for that purpose have the same power and authorities as the local authority,"—(Mr. W. E. Forster.)
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 62 (Inquiry by Inspectors of Education Department).
said, the machinery of the Bill was to begin by calling for a certain number of Returns, which were to be forthcoming on the 1st of January, 1871. That hung up the whole matter until these Returns were made, and practically postponed the working of the Act till 1871, when the real business would begin by the sending down of Inspectors. Would it not be better to send down the Inspectors at once? He had very little confidence in Returns. The Returns of the existing schools would be all of a satisfactory character; and getting them would be a mere waste of time. It would be the "year's grace" under another name. The First Minister of the Crown said last night there could be no question of a school rate for two years. He heard the statement with dismay, and in order to hasten the operation of the Bill, he would propose, in Clause 62, line 9, to leave out all after "Inspectors" and insert—
"Who shall proceed forthwith after the passing of this Act to inquire into the sufficiency and efficiency of the schools in each school district, and shall, on or before the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, report to the Educational Department thereupon."
said, that in the case of Birmingham there were ample Returns from Mr. Fitch, in relation to the schools in that district. Would the right hon. Gentlemen at the head of the Department state what could be done under this clause there?
said, these clauses had been framed with the idea of giving the Committee of Council power to get the work done as quickly as possible, and his impression was that it would be very difficult for the Department to keep pace with the demands upon it that would arise under the clause, and that during the autumn they would have work almost equal to the work they had had during the progress of this Bill. How could they, without obtaining information, enter upon the most difficult task of supplying the existing deficiencies in education? By ignoring what existed, it might be possible, by means of a great waste of educational power, to get to work a few months earlier; but the time occupied in obtaining this information was not time wasted. He had made a slight alteration in Clause 34, in order that the Department might at once set to work to inquire what districts should be united. As to Birmingham, the information already obtained there would not enable the Committee of Council to dispense with the necessity of obtaining fresh Returns, though no doubt the information which existed would be of considerable assistance to the Department, and enable them to supply the Act much earlier there, and in other places where similar information was supplied, than in towns where there had been no inquiry.
said, his right hon. Friend had not answered one question. Supposing he were determined that, more schools were necessary in Birmingham, would he establish them at once, or would he wait till the beginning of January next? That was the most material point; for, although they might know that a town required a school, yet, as the First Minister stated last night, they might not be able to obtain it for two years.
said, this was a point on which the Government would have work to do. He did not think that time would be gained by endeavouring to do without Returns. His hon. and learned Friend was entirely mistaken when he said that the Bill would not get into operation for two years. In the metropolis they hoped to be able to get to work at once, and in willing towns, such as he believed Birmingham to be, the Act would be in operation much earlier than two years. He did not think there would be any advantage in sending an order to Birmingham at once to establish additional schools.
said, that the Reports of Inspectors were not necessarily infallible, and the right hon. Gentleman was right in adhering both to the Returns and the Reports.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
asked, whether it would be competent to the Committee of Council to employ female Inspectors for the inspection of girls' schools?
said, he would suggest that the Inspectors should be married men, and should take their wives with them.
said, that the education of girls was not so completely useful as it might be, and it would be better if their school training was less ornamental and more fitted to enable them to discharge the duties of their station.
replied, that the Education Department had power to appoint women as Inspectors; but the Inspectors under this clause would examine whether there was a sufficiency of education in a particular district, and that was not a case in which they would be very likely to employ women.
asked, whether such infant schools as were often found in villages would be recognized by the Inspector?
said, the precise instructions to be drawn up for the guidance of the Inspectors would be a work of considerable difficulty. He could not do more now than state the general principle which would be adopted by the Department: on the one hand, they would take care that the schools they found in the district should be efficient enough to be included; and, on the other hand, they would not think it right for such a purpose to exact all the conditions which were required in order that the school might receive public money.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 63 agreed to.
Clause 64 (Public inquiry).
said, he rose to move the insertion of words securing that due publicity should be given in the district to the Report of the Inspector who held the inquiry. As the clause stood, the Department was not obliged to let the world know what the Inspector had reported, and might even mulct the district in costs without disclosing the grounds for such a proceeding. He begged to move, in page 24, line 4, after "thereon" to insert the words—
"And the Education Department shall cause such Report to be published and deposited with the churchwardens or overseers of the parishes to which the inquiry relates."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 65 (Attendance of child at school).
said, he would propose Amendments so as to make the first part of this clause read as follows:—
The object of his Amendment was to make the compulsory provisions simple and straightforward in their application. In accordance with the provisions of the Factory Acts there were 85,000 children under a course of instruction perfectly compulsory, and that compulsory education had been found to be exceedingly beneficial; for he knew that such was the case in reference to nearly 2,000 children in his employment when he was in business. Many of them, instead of continuing to be factory hands, had entered into competition with small traders, and in many instances had obtained no slight degree of eminence among the middle class. His schools were under the British and Foreign School system; and one of the pupils, though religious instruction was not enforced by the Factory Acts, had become, after going to College, a clergyman of the Church of England. As a proof of the necessity of compulsion, he might mention that in Manchester some benevolent persons determined six or seven years ago to make an effort to give education to about 22,000 children, many of whom were idling about the streets, and likely to end in prisons or poorhouses. About three-fourths attended pretty regularly at first, but gradually the number sank down until there were not more than 10,000 on the books of the Education Aid Society. If they looked to the course of proceeding among persons of the middle class and in high life, they saw that compulsion was the rule; and he durst say that even many Members of Parliament regretted that more compulsion had not been exercised over their education. He knew of the case of a tutor at one of the Universities taking forcible possession of a student within ten days of the final examination, and, by giving him all the cramming possible, saved him from being plucked. With respect to the children of the poor, it was quite clear that, unless they were properly trained and taught, they became completely useless members of society; and what he wished was that the Legislature, having sanctioned the principle of compulsion in the Factory Acts, should now extend that principle further. With regard to the children of the poor, there was no doubt that this great scheme of education would be unproductive of all the moral and educational results they desired to attain unless they had recourse to compulsion; and he hoped that his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) would accept his Amendment, which he (Sir Thomas Bazley) believed was indispensable to the success of the Bill."The Education Department shall require every school Board exercising powers under this Act to put in force the regulations respecting attendance at school contained in the fifth Schedule to this Act, and for that purpose to appoint the necessary officers; and all costs incurred by such officers shall be defrayed by the school Board; any school Board failing to comply with this section shall be deemed to be a school Board in default."
Amendment proposed, in page 24, line 19, at the beginning of the Clause, to insert the words "the Educational Department shall require."—( Sir Thomas Bazley.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said, he was unable to support the Amendment, though no one was a stronger friend than he was of the compulsory system. He thought that the time was very near at hand when the system of compulsory attendance at school would be accepted by the people. A feeling in favour of it was becoming stronger from day to day; but the plant must be allowed to grow spontaneously, and could not be forced, and he objected to the Amendment because he thought it would have the effect of preventing the spread of opinion favourable to compulsion, and would cause a reaction against it. In the United States they all knew that the cities and townships had the power by law, and almost in every instance had exercised it, of framing by-laws for compulsion; but Mr. Fraser, one of the ablest of educational inquirers, had stated that that law was a nullity, because it was not in accordance with the feelings of the people, and that gentleman also remarked that truantism and absenteeism from school were increasing in the United States. Then what reason was there to suppose that compulsion would be more in accordance with the feelings of the people of this country than it was in America? Under these circumstances, he preferred to forcible measures the tentative process wisely adopted by the Government in the present Bill. At the same time, he anticipated that all the objections to a compulsory system would lessen every year in proportion as educated parents supplanted uneducated parents from time to time; because the former, appreciating the advantages of education, would be anxious to secure those advantages for their children. He, therefore, hoped the Government scheme of permissive compulsion would be allowed a fair trial. If it failed in any district, it would merely be the failure of a locality; but if a general compulsory law was passed and that failed, its failure would be a discredit to the Legislature.
said, he had an Amendment, the object of which was to turn the word "shall" in the proposal of the hon. Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) into "may." That alteration would place more power in the hands of the Education Department than the Bill as it stood at present gave; and, at the same time, it would prevent the Department from being forced of necessity, as the hon. Baronet's proposition would force it, to make attendance at school compulsory in every school district having a school Board. In all cases the Education Department might not deem the compulsory powers applicable; but, in extreme cases, when it was found that the children were still running about the streets in a wild or neglected state, the Department would have the discretion allowed them by his proposal of compelling attendance. He thought that there was great difficulty in the way of adopting the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Manchester, and some persons preferred indirect compulsion; but that appeared to him a most clumsy expedient. He knew that at the coalpits, where there was a great demand for labour, the schoolmaster's certificates, without which the young persons could not be put to work, were easily obtainable, and it had been alleged could be bought at the rate of 1s. a piece. They had already decided that in the boroughs the school Boards should be elected by the Town Councils, and he was anxious to avoid the danger which he now anticipated—that in the election of Town Councillors those who were in favour of educational compulsion might often be the least popular with ratepayers, on account of the expense involved in an educational rate. In the district in which he resided the Highway Act worked well, the roads had been improved, the rates kept down, and the farmers all liked it. But when the hon. Baronet the Member for Scarborough (Sir Harcourt Johnstone) endeavoured to introduce the Act into his own district, from being the most popular man there, he became the most unpopular. If, however, the power of introducing that Act had rested not with individuals, but with the Government, much of the feeling of irritation thus occasioned might have been avoided. The Health of Towns Act, again, was one which it was optional with the ratepayers to adopt, and, in many cases, they put it off as long as possible, the result being evident in the non-drainage and the neglect of sanitary arrangements within the district. If the enforcing of that Act were placed in the hands of a central authority, many of the evils now complained of would not be suffered to go unchecked. This Bill was intended to diminish the rates by diminishing the ignorance and consequent poverty and vice which pressed so heavily upon the ratepayer; and if the House did not believe that they were about to diminish poverty and crime, it was no use touching the education question at all. Drinking, which wrought so much mischief to the population was attributable mainly to the want of education; and strikes, that had so greatly harmed the mercantile interests of the country, had been vastly aggravated in their effects by the ignorance of the men who engaged in these proceedings. If, for the last 15 years, there had been in this country an educated class of working men, many of these struggles might have been avoided. Another important point to which he would allude related to the stream of emigration that was constantly flowing out from this country. These emigrants ought to be educated if they were to be of any use to the countries to which they went. His objection to the Bill as it stood was that it did not go far enough, and he wished to place more power in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster), and his successors at the Education Board. He therefore proposed to replace the word "shall" in the Motion before the House by the word "may."
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "shall," in order to insert the word "may."—( Mr. Pease.)
said, they were all anxious to promote the education of the people; but the question was as to the manner—how they were to get at the children in order to educate them, and what were the proper means for their education. The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) said the day was not far distant when the school Boards would compel the attendance of the children in the schools—that meant that the employers of labour would compel the children of the working classes, although no compulsion was to be exercised upon their own children. Now, did the House think that such a compulsion would be acceptable to the working men themselves? Did he think that such compulsion would, in any sense, be popular? The hon. Baronet the Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) had proved the contrary. Several years ago, when a great stir was made about education in Manchester, the promoters of the movement persuaded the parents of 20,000 poor children to accept free tickets for the school; but now the hon. Baronet said there were not 10,000, and ha believed he might say 5,000 such children in attendance. This showed that even a free education was not acceptable to the working men. Still less would it be acceptable if made compulsory. Such a proposition involved a contradiction in terms. For what was compulsion? Making a man do what he disliked. Compul- sory education was, therefore, necessarily unacceptable or unpopular. The hon. Baronet was therefore for putting the power of compulsion into the hands of the Education Board. He (Lord Robert Montagu) thought, however, that the argument in favour of that proposition would not hold good more than the other. What kind of education was to be forced on the children? Would the Board compel children to attend denominational schools? To that hon. Members on the other side of the House had already decidedly objected. But then he (Lord Robert Montagu) as decidedly objected—and there were thousands of persons in the country who just as decidedly objected—to the children being compelled to attend secular schools. But if the Education Board were not to compel children to attend either denominational or undenominational schools, it meant that there must be no compulsion at all. Now, as to the practical possibility of this compulsion. The hon. Member for Manchester afforded them by his Amendment a glimpse into the difficulties that would have to be encountered. What an immense amount of extra police the proper working of the measure would require. Take the town of Liverpool alone. It was calculated that there were in Liverpool 80,000 children, of whom 20,000 never attended school, while the attendance of 10,000 others was too irregular to be of any use. How were they to find the means of looking after these 30,000 children? There would be, of course, a great army of police with power, as they had heard, to enter houses to see whether the children were at school. But still compulsion would be impossible. In Liverpool it was said there were 20,000 removals in the course of the year; how were the police to follow up these families through their removals, and see that all their children were continued at school? How were the police even to know what children there were? There must evidently be an authoritative list; there must be a compulsory registration of births—a thing which the people of England would never stand, nor the House of Commons sanction. Then there must be another registration of daily attendances at school; and an army of police clerks must compare these lists daily, and schedule the discrepancies. There was a more grievous impossibility still. A poor man, barely able to keep himself out of the workhouse, was often dependent on the labour of his children for 30 per cent of his weekly income. Suppose a parent under such circumstances was taken up and brought before a magistrate for not sending his child to school, he would no doubt have a most piteous tale to tell. He would allege that the effect of a fine, or even of compulsory attendance at school, would be to condemn his children to starvation and himself to the poor-house, and the magistrate would have no choice but to let him off. By-and-by another case would come, not so heart-rending as the first, but still very hard. The magistrate would let that parent off, too. Then another would occur; till, in short, the system of compulsion would break down, just as it had done in America, where the law was a dead letter. He maintained that, in the first place, it was wrong in principle for the State to compel children to go to school; and, in the next place, that it was impossible. In some localities, it was true, the difficulties might be slight; but one general law could not be made for the whole country; such a law was impossible. The utmost that could be done was to leave the question in the hands of school Boards as the Government proposed; and he would therefore give that proposition his support.
Sir, the object of my hon. Friend's Amendment is to make education everywhere compulsory, and so to carry out to its fullest limits a principle which I understand the Government only to entertain experimentally. Although I am not by any means convinced that the principle of direct compulsion is applicable to English elementary schools at all, if we except those classes which may be considered to have forfeited their independence, and to have become for the time wards of the State—and although the plan of permissive compulsion is open, as my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Pease) has shown, to grave objections—yet, on the whole, I prefer the proposition of the Government to that of my hon. Friend. Of course it may be said, if you oppose direct compulsion altogether, you are bound to oppose it under any limitations; but I think that the cry for direct compulsion, has become so strong in some quarters, that perhaps the best method of meeting it is to show by actual experiment, and that under the most favourable conditions, what I am about to attempt to show by argument, that the principle is foreign to our tastes, habits, and sentiments, and that it will be found impracticable to apply it to the country at large. I must even demur to the theory upon which my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who will doubtless take part in this debate, founds his whole argument—namely, that the State is just as much bound to punish the man who neglects to provide his children with daily schooling, as it is bound to punish him if he neglects to provide them with their daily food. For there is no true analogy between the two cases. The mind does not necessarily perish because a child is not sent to a day school. The mind has a thousand sources of nourishment and development besides the alphabet. The exercise of the affections, the use of common observation, intercourse with those who are better informed than ourselves—all these nourish and enrich the mind; and over and above all these there is that education which, as Mr. Arnold has well said—
So that it no doubt very often happens that we find a child well-informed for his special position in life who never darkened the doors of a day school. There are 1,000,000 of persons in this country who are engaged in a daily struggle with pauperism. Will you punish the father because he staves off pauperism by the labour of his children, and throw the whole family on the parish in order that they may be taught? Now, there are many things which it is desirable to promote—many things which a good parent ought to do for his children, and which, under a paternal form of Government, the State, standing everywhere in loco parentis, insists upon his doing, but which under a free Government—a Government interfering as little as possible with the domestic affairs of the subject, trusting as much as possible to the force of good example and the existence of right feeling among the people, and as little as possible to an elaborate code of rules enforced by the omnipresence and omniscience of the police—the State refrains from insisting upon, wisely, as those of us who place faith in the conditions under which our country has grown great, believe—unwisely according to my hon. Friend, who is for ever casting a longing glance at the ways and institutions of the Continent, Continental notions of government, and Continental notions of liberty. No doubt there are advantages in the Continental system which we who pursue an opposite system must be content to forego. It is a great thing, no doubt always to be able to find a policeman when you want him, although he may be engaged in peeping through your own keyhole. It is a great thing to find your life mapped out for you by authority and fenced about with a thousand penalties; but the country to which we belong has grown so great in defiance of this system—in defiance of these principles—and we are still blind and old-fashioned and bigoted enough to rejoice that we are not a drilled nation, that we are not registered and inspected and certified from the cradle to the grave, that every Englishman's house is still his castle; we are still foolish and prejudiced enough to rejoice that we are free. Yes, free to do a great many things which may not be for our good, and to neglect a great many things which might be for our good; for in that freedom there is life, and it is this free life which, with all our presumed inferiority, makes it a prouder thing to be an Englishman than to be a Bavarian, or, for anything that I have heard to the contrary, to be a Wurtemberger. This exceeding difference of character, and sentiment, and condition, therefore, the difference between a nation like the Germans, with reference to whom Mr. Horace Mann says, that—"Governments neither give nor take away. In the air of England, in the commerce of his countrymen, in the long tradition and practice of liberty, there is for every Englishman an education without a parallel in the world."
between a nation which is on that account one of the least self-reliant, the least energetic, the most reverent for authority, used for centuries to lean upon its rulers, and a nation like our own, one of the most self-reliant, and the least tolerant of either ecclesiastical or police interference in the world; I say that this enormous contrariety must be taken into full account before we jump with my hon. Friend to the conclusion that institutions which embrace the very essence of the paternal system are admissible here. But there is another cause for the success of compulsory education in Germany, partial though it be, which remains to be stated—"The State steps in to take care of the subject almost as much as the subject takes care of his cattle "—
"The compulsory school attendance," says Mr. Pattison, in his admirable Report to the Newcastle Commission, "dates from the earliest period of the Reformation, and was a recognized religious duty long before it became a law of the State. From the time of Luther's address to the municipal corporations of Germany, 1524, this has been so recognized, whether it was enforced by enactment or not. It was the distinction of the Protestant child that it should be taught to understand and practise the doctrines and duties of its religion; it was the business of the Church to see that all its youth did so. The edict of 1716, which is popularly regarded as the source of the Prussian compulsory system, does really nothing more than give the sanction of a Royal ordinance to an existing practice."
I need not waste the time of the Committee in proving how opposite is all this to the sentiment in this country. In Germany all precedent is in favour of compulsory education—in England all precedent is against it; and the amount of police interference which would be required in order to carry into operation a law flagrantly at variance with the tastes and habits of the people no one in this country can say, for no one in this country has tried. But, Sir, I am prepared to contend that, even in Germany, my hon. Friend exaggerates the success of this system. Mr. Pattison gives the usual Table of attendance at schools, and remarks—"The schooling," he says elsewhere, "is compulsory only in name; the school has taken so deep a root in the social habit of the German people, that were the law repealed to-morrow no one doubts that the schools would continue as full as they are now. In the free city of Frankfort, there is no compulsory law, and I was assured, by persons most likely to be informed, that all the children of school age are as regularly sent to school there as in any other town of Germany."
And this irregularity is increasing—not in the outlying provinces merely, but under the very eyes of the Bureaucracy in Berlin itself. Former arrangements for securing attendance having been found insufficient; a new and severe system was organized in 1845."The above Table only represents the number of children entered on the school books, and conveys no idea of the regularity with which they attend. All who have to do with the elementary schools agree that here is their great difficulty. Where there is neither resistance to the law nor desire to evade it, there is a want of resolution to make the attendance uniform and punctual Districts vary very greatly in this respect. I have seen schools in which the absence book disclosed a most lax state of attendance, where the absences had increased to such a head that the master had ceased to register them."
Now, let us see this system in contact with the demands of labour. I have no doubt my hon. Friend will refer to Saxony—"These measures," says Mr. Pattison, "were at first attended by a steady diminution of the irregularities they were intended to subdue… Since 1850, a turn has taken place in the opposite direction, Factory labour and pauperism are both gaining ground, and irregularity in the attendance at the common schools is on the increase."
Now, for what is meant by being at school—"In Chemnitz," the centre of the cotton manufactures, "the Inspector assured me," says Mr. Pattison, "that he could take upon himself to say that there were no children, within the school age, who were not attending school in some form or other."
But let us turn to a country much more nearly resembling our own in its notions of freedom. Let us turn to Switzerland. Bear in mind that there is no compulsion in the Canton of Geneva, and yet education is just as prosperous there as in any one of the French Cantons. This is due to the existence of that popular sentiment which is not created by law in a free country, but which creates it, and without which the law is powerless—"In Chemnitz, child labour is employed in two kinds of manufacture—in the cotton mills and in the print works. In the former, the children, who have mostly been on foot since 3 in the morning (work begins at 6), go into school from 10 to 12. They then have one hour for dinner, and go to work again from I to 6, but are often kept later, there being in Saxony no limitation of the hours of labour. This arrangement of school hours is an improvement which has been obtained by the personal exertions of the local Inspector, working upon the humanity of the millowners. Before, the children worked from 6 to 6, and had to take their schooling in their dinner hour. All that the teacher could do, under the circumstances, was to read out something to them while they rested and ate their bread; often all they had to eat. In the print-works, where work can only be done by daylight, and, consequently, the employers insist on having the whole day, the children must go to school in the evening, in the regular school, and to the regular school teacher. Both teacher and class are too fagged for a successful lesson."
"But I take," says Mr. Arnold, "the largest and richest of the French Cantons—the Canton of Vaud. In the Canton of Vaud, the law makes attendance at school compulsory on all young persons between the ages of 7 and 16. At Geneva, the best informed persons did not hesitate to assure me that the obligation of school attendance in the Canton of Vaud was perfectly illusory.
And if we pass on to America, we shall find precisely the same state of things. They have a truant law in New York City; but, Mr. Randall, the city superintendent, tells us that there are—When I mentioned this at Lausanne, it was indignantly denied. I was told that the schools of Vaud were excellently attended, and its population almost universally instructed. But of this I had no doubt. So they are everywhere in the prosperous Swiss Cantons; so they are in Geneva, where education is not compulsory. What I wanted to find out was whether the legal obligation was actually put in force to constrain the attendance of children who, without such constraint, would not have attended; whether in Vaud, where education is compulsory, children went to school, who, in Geneva, where it is not compulsory, would have been at work or at home. I could not find that they did. I was told that it was necessary to execute the law with the greatest tact, with the greatest forbearance; but, in plain truth, I could not discern that it was really executed at all."
And if my hon. Friend should say—"New York is not America," let him turn to the New England States. Commenting upon the severe law of Connecticut, the State superintendent says—"100,000 children within the city who either attend no school, or whose means of instruction are restricted to the very briefest period."
And the Rev. B. G. Northrop, agent of the Massachusetts' Board of Instruction, remarks—"The provisions of this section have sometimes been enforced; but facts are too abundant to admit of a doubt that there are many children in this State whose education has been neglected in open violation of the laws."
No wonder, then, that Bishop Fraser sums up his Report upon the compulsory law in the States in the emphatic words quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell)—and no wonder that with this evidence before him he should have expressed himself the other day as follows:—"No fact connected with our schools has impressed me so sadly as the extent of truancy and non-attendance, and the strange apathy of the public as to this fruitful form of juvenile crime."
"If any system could be discovered by which the children of apathetic parents could be got into our schools, whether directly or indirectly compulsory—which would not be merely nominal, but real and effective—no one would rejoice more than he would at the result. But he wished it to be remembered that compulsion represented a power which, to an Englishman, was the most hateful of all powers. It was said the workmen desired compulsion; and, if so, the problem was solved; but he confessed that he received the statement with considerable doubts. He should like to have it proved by more direct evidence than he had yet seen. A law, and particularly a compulsory and prohibitory law, which was not obeyed,
For why is the law respected in England? Because it never goes beyond its own province; because it follows, and does not precede public opinion; because it bears with equal weight upon the rich and upon the poor. Reverse these conditions. Carry your laws beyond the limits marked out for them by the usage of centuries, precede public opinion instead of following it, and you will make law in England what it sometimes is abroad—a thing of prefects and gendarmes; a thing to be evaded whenever it is safe, and to be trampled under foot in the midst of tumult and bloodshed at the first opportunity. Now, Sir, before I sit down, I should like to quote a few words upon this subject, from a speech delivered in 1868 at Birmingham by a right hon. Friend of mine, who is still a Member of this House and of the Government, although, for the moment, he has withdrawn from our debates; and I am sure that any speech of his will have weight with my hon. Friend, because the other day he referred in terms which were very grateful to many of us, almost as though it were a national calamity, to the continued silence of that voice—and which was systematically trampled under foot, was about the most demoralizing and anarchical thing in the great interests of the stability of the social structure that any nation could have upon its statute books."
Sir, if this were the proper occasion, I should have pointed out where I think the existing system has missed it, and how great and numerous have been its defects—defects, but for the existence of which, we should never have heard this cry for compulsion. Some of these defects have been removed by this Bill. Others remain, and it will be the labour, as it will be the triumph, of those who aspire to make education really national to remove them. When they are removed, trusting, as I do, to the common sense and right feeling of the working classes, and to their notorious desire for education, I am convinced—and convinced with a persuasion which no clamour of leagues or unions can ever shake—that we may spare them the humiliation of a compulsory law. Sir, it may The that my views upon this subject disentitle me to be considered a sound Liberal; but I never yet heard that sound Liberalism consisted in a profound disbelief in the great body of my fellow-countrymen, in a studied disregard for the inviolability of their homes, in a contempt for that personal and individual liberty which is a grander, because it is a rarer thing than public freedom."I should recommend," said my right hon. Friend, "rather what I may call a steady progress than a great rush—because in making a great rush upon this question, and introducing measures based upon what I look at with great doubt—a compulsory and forced attendance at schools, I am not sure that you will not produce among the people a reactionary feeling, which would defeat the very object which you have at heart… And if you bring too much weight to hear upon the people before they are sufficiently enlightened to approve your efforts, you may find that there is a great reaction, and your difficulties become almost, if not altogether, insuperable."
said, it was quite evident his hon. Friend (Mr. Leatham) had undertaken to answer his speech before he had made it. But there was a short way of removing many of his prejudices with reference to the Continental system, and that was to take a return-ticket to Germany at an expense of about £20. If his hon. Friend did that he would, he felt satisfied, come back a very much altered man in his opinions. ["Oh, oh!"] If any hon. Member doubted what he said, let him read the Blue Books which were furnished to the Committee of 1867, or the Reports of Mr. Arnold. His hon. Friend contended that the system of compulsory education in Germany merely followed a custom which was already in existence; but he immediately afterwards turned round and talked about police, and the people being dragooned by them into education in that country. Was there not, he would ask, some discrepancy between those two statements? Now, no one could have a greater love or admiration than he had for his country. [An hon. MEMBER: Which country?] The country in which he was born, and of which he was proud to be a native. He thanked God that although of foreign descent and the son of an exile, he was born among the working classes of England, and had fought his way to his present position. Having made those remarks, he must express his regret that this the most vital portion of the Bill had never previously been adequately discussed. The question of compulsory attendance was a most serious question, and one that ought not to be met by sneers. They had thrown the whole burden of the supply of school accommoda- tion on the Consolidated Fund and on the rates, but it had not been decided how the children were to be got into the schools. His hon. Friend near him (Sir Thomas Bazley) proposed direct compulsion, and he believed his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council took much the same view. His hon. Friend who spoke last, however, seemed to think that all that was necessary to be done was to rely on public opinion. But what, he would ask, had public opinion as yet done for the promotion of education in this country? He was sure the time was not far distant when they would be astonished to think that they had not long had direct compulsion. It was said that compulsion was un-English; but many of the things which were un-English to-day became English to-morrow. Slavery was at one time English, but it had ceased to be so, and he hoped to see the time when pauperism and ignorance would cease to be so too. The cry for compulsion, he might add, came directly from the people—it came from below and not from above. No despotic Government had ever insisted on education. What had Italy, what had France, what had Spain, what had Russia, in which there was no such system, done for education? Education in Prussia and in Scotland came out of the Protestant Reformation. It owed its birth in those countries to Luther and John Knox. It was social pressure, the influence of the Church, and the appreciation of religious freedom which had promoted education both in Germany and in Scotland; and 30 years ago, when Germany found her towns were outgrowing these forces, she resorted to compulsion; but Scotland had not done so, and the result was that although no country turned out better men, still it was fast declining. In Glasgow, out of a total of 98,767 children of school age, 35,565 were attending school, and 63,202 were not; and an Assistant Commissioner of Education reported that in the whole country there was a considerable surplus of accommodation as compared with the attendance, that the majority of schoolmasters were of opinion that direct compulsion was an absolute necessity, and that many ministers and laymen held the same view. A quotation which had been made with reference to Saxony was not a fair one, because the passage was followed by another, which stated that the success of its system was complete, and that a temporary interruption to that success was due to a sudden rise in the value of labour in various districts. Besides, the French Commissioners who visited Saxony reported that an uneducated child was not to be found. He regretted that, although they were to have compulsion, it was not to be direct, and what they were to have was not to be universal. It was to be within the province of the school Board only, and the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) having been rejected, the school Boards were not to be universal either. But he rejoiced that the principle was conceded. They were, however, about to try compulsion under the most disadvantageous circumstances, and he wanted to know how the system of permissive compulsion was to work; for, in the cases of many large towns, which he was glad to know would adopt compulsion, thousands of men who worked in them lived outside the municipal boundary, and the consequence would be that those who were within it would be subject to compulsion, and those who were outside would escape it, and the former would be weighted in their competition with the latter. The object of the Bill was to provide education for every child; but what reason was there to believe that the provision would be used unless the children were brought to the school? Were they not told on authority that there was room for 300,000 or 400,000 children in existing schools which were not filled; that in the East-end of London, in one square mile, there were 28,000 children not attending school, although many schools were not filled; and that there were families spending 4s. 3½d. a week in beer, and 2d. a week in the education of their children. Nothing but compulsion would operate there, and he should like any person to point out an educated country in which compulsory education had not been enforced. As to America, where it was said the law had not been carried out, the compulsory law, like their Workshops Acts, had provided no machinery, neither had it been necessary until recently; but all American school reports were now unanimous in complaining of absenteeism, due largely to the country being deluged with emigrants; and they insisted that compulsion must be carried out. In some of the larger towns of the New England States there had recently been appointed "truancy commissioners." Lowell had three, who last year summoned 770 persons; and the result was that 97 per cent of the children were attending school. He was continually receiving American reports, and they all showed that the Americans were determined to carry out compulsion. As to interference with personal liberties and parental rights, was there any country in Europe so thoroughly paternal in its legislation—in many respects in the wrong direction—as this was? One in 20 was in receipt of Poor Law relief; 60,000 children of paupers were dependent upon the State; one death in six in the metropolis occurred in a public institution, either in a prison, a workhouse, or a hospital; and in the face of these facts could it be said that they had not a paternal Government? They were cruel parents after all, for they neglected children; they allowed, them to grow up to be criminals and paupers, and then they kept them in hospitals, workhouses, or prisons. Why could they not begin their paternal attentions a little earlier? Why should all the wrong be done to the children? Had they no rights? Under the protection of the police he had recently explored some of the crowded parts of London, and the sights which he had seen were of the most horrible character. He saw courts in which children, poor, miserable, squalid, and neglected, were as thick as flies in a sugar cask. In one court the children were so thick that he could hardly help putting foot upon them, and their parents were in the gin shops. Within a few yards of that House there were thousands of children who never came in contact with human love, who never heard a virtuous sentiment, who never had any teaching but that of the streets, whose parents were to be found in the gin palaces and the public-houses; and yet the State neglected these children because, forsooth, it respected the "liberty of the parents!" Yes, this was tolerated in the name of civil liberty, of paternal liberty, and of paternal rights; and the results were such, in 20 districts of London, that no language could describe them, and that no one could see them except under the protection of the police. These were the fruits of leaving education to popular sentiment, to the parents, and their religious teach- ing to the Churches. He tested dozens of these neglected children, and he did not find one in 20 who could say the Lord's prayer, or make out words of one syllable. Colonel Henderson and the Commissioners of Police would tell them that the only way of dealing with the condition of things he described was by beginning with the children, but they begrudged a few shillings a year; they debated about a 1d. rate for remedial purposes, while they did not mind paying poor rates of 3s. 3d. in the pound, spent £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 upon pauperism, and maintained prisons for the criminal fruits of ignorance. A meeting held in Manchester, presided over alternately by the Vice President of the Council and the Secretary of State for the Home Department voted unanimously in favour of compulsory education, and he was satisfied the working classes would, before long, demand it from that House. Soon after that meeting he received a letter strongly in favour of compulsory education, as necessary for dealing with ignorant and indifferent parents, and as producing indirect results in the elevation of parents equally valuable with the education of their children, from a German gentleman, Mr. Charles Ecker, one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of Chemnitz, that gentleman, who had seen the rise of compulsion in Saxony, prognosticated that the work of education would never be successful in England until the same principle was adopted, and testified to the vast improvement which had taken place in the habits of the Saxons as a consequence of this compulsory education. They had neglected their duty so long that they hardly knew how to set about doing it. There was more money spent every year in London in false charity than would educate the whole of the children of the country. Here, as in Switzerland and Germany, the first thing to be done was to clothe the children and make them decent to attend school; and this presented a large field of work for useful associations of women; but it was work that would soon be done by voluntary effort if the ulterior benefit of education were to follow. Compulsory education was necessary for the protection of the children of the honest, hardworking man in large towns; but the necessities of the working man confined him to localities like those he had de- scribed, and at present it was absolutely impossible to prevent his children associating with those of thieves and prostitutes, and becoming subject to the most horrible contamination. By their neglect they were fostering around them a mass of corruption; the great wonder was that it did not force itself upon public attention, and if it did not they might depend upon it that they would some day reap the bitter fruits of their neglect when famine, war, or some other great calamity occurred. If the Committee had not courage to give compulsion for the ages proposed, let them do so for children between the ages of 5 and 10, or 9. Where was the hardship in respect of the children of these ages? Other countries adopted it for children between the ages of 5 and 14. No country was so dependent as this upon the intelligence of its people. The Swiss, in a country without natural advantages favourable to commerce, were becoming, to the alarm of the French, the chief merchants and manufacturers of Europe; Austria had adopted compulsory education, it prevented children working under the age of 12, and it was to be feared that it would become an educated country long before England; and yet England possessed in her workmen a raw material which, if educated up to the point of intelligence, temperance, and thrift, would make it not only the freest, but the greatest and happiest nation in the world.
said, if time had not pressed, he should have been unwilling to interpose at this stage of the debate, conducted, as it had been, with such marked ability; but he thought the Committee would consider he ought to give the reasons why the Government had taken the particular line they had done. He also wished to ask the Committee to keep before them what he conceived to be the exact question. Although the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) had supported the Government plan, and the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had opposed it, in respect of general principles he agreed more with the latter than with the former. He did not believe for a moment it would be considered un-English to face this difficulty; on the contrary, he believed the English people, though slow to acknowledge it, would take a practical view of it independent of preconceived prejudices. He agreed that before long the principle of compulsion would probably be acknowledged; and, indeed, it was already acknowledged in the adoption of indirect compulsion. They were now adopting for the first time a law which said that there should be full provision for education. They must remember how much they were behind foreign countries, which, in advance of them, had acknowledged the principle that there should be provision for schools. They had not done so yet, and that was one reason why he was so anxious not to lose a year or even a month in doing so. Until the schools were provided it would be impossible to have compulsion general throughout the country. Even if they were to insert in this Bill the principle of universal compulsion, it would probably be at least two years with the utmost energy of the Education Department, and the utmost co-operation generally, before they could have all the schools provided throughout the country which would be necessary; and the real question was, whether, with the knowledge of the fact that they could not, for that length of time, have full provision made, it would be better to put compulsory provisions in this Bill, and, if so, what compulsory provisions. There were several courses, any one of which might be adopted, They might say nothing at all about compulsion; they might make compulsion universal, or, as the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) had suggested, they might throw the whole responsibility on the Education Department and say they should decide when and where should be compulsion, or they might take the plan which had been adopted by the Government and give power to the school Boards to say when and where compulsion should be enforced. He would state the reasons why the Government had adopted the last alternative. First, should they make compulsion universal? He did not believe they were in as good a position now to pass an enactment making compulsion general as they would be two or three years hence. They had not the requisite information as to the machinery that would be required. They did not know the circumstances of the different districts or the general rules that should be applied to this exceedingly difficult case; and that informa- tion they would obtain in the course of the inquiries they would have to make. If they legislated prematurely without being aware of all the difficulties with which they had to contend, they might legislate to great disadvantage. He agreed that they could not rely on public sentiment alone; but no doubt there would be an infinitely better chance of compulsion being carried out in a manner acceptable to the country, and really enforced, if there was a strong expression of public opinion in favour of the system when the time came for that law to be passed. Well, attention being now strongly directed to the subject of education, it was his opinion that next year public feeling would be stimulated in favour of compulsory attendance to an extent it never had been before. Parents might be expected to see the great value of voluntary attendance, but he did not rely upon that. He believed compulsory attendance would be necessary. But there would be a much stronger public feeling in favour of compulsory attendance by the time it would be necessary to pass a universal Act upon the subject than there was at this moment. That was a reason why they should not attempt to insert prematurely clauses for universal compulsion in this Bill. He did not doubt but that there were many cases in which the putting a child to school compulsorily, and depriving the parents in the agricultural districts of the advantage of its labour, would be felt as a serious hardship. When they were framing a measure of this character, they must consider the circumstances not of one or two particular towns, but of the whole country. It was said that the working classes who attended public meetings on this question were in favour of compulsion, but a line must be drawn between that opinion which helped them in suggesting laws and that opinion which insured that those laws could be administered. Those working men were most earnest, and, generally speaking, among the most intelligent and upright of their class, but they formed only a small minority of the working men in the country; and in administration they had to deal with the whole population. Besides, after all, the principle of compulsion was acknowledged.—at any rate, its direct application was novel. To say to a parent he was not the master of his child, and must not have the entire disposal of that child's time, was new to the mind of the people of England. It did not at once come home to them. A great many parents would revolt at it. There would be reluctance in some quarters and indifference in others. There must be a strong public feeling in favour of the principle before they attempted to legislate, otherwise they might defeat the object they had in view. He did not believe they could rely on indirect compulsion; it must be supported by direct legislation. They had pressed that principle as far as they possibly could. The state of their law with regard to indirect compulsion was in great confusion, and required to be considered whenever Parliament could attend to the subject. These were the grounds on which the Government had not thought they could put into this Bill the principle of universal compulsion. The hon. Member for South Durham recommended as another alternative that the discretion should be vested not in the school Board of the locality, but in the Education Department. Now the Education Department had not been slow to accept power or to ask for power; but he believed the Department would be slow to seek such a power. He should certainly hesitate a good deal before he accepted it. With all the other difficulties which they would have of deciding where there was a deficiency and how it could best be supplied, to make them the judges of the particular circumstances of each district in the kingdom—of how far direct compulsion might be applied in a district, or whether public opinion had reached such a point that it would be safe to apply it—would be imposing on the Education Department a duty which he feared they could but ill discharge; they had neither the time nor the information necessary to enable them to perform the task. The only other plan open to them was that proposed in the Bill, which gave to every school district in the kingdom the power of adopting compulsion, by first obtaining a school Board, and then making and enforcing by-laws. If the Government looked upon that as a final settlement they would deserve all the criticism and reproach which had been bestowed upon them, and he hoped the Committee would not suppose that he was not aware of the objections that applied to that scheme, as for instance, that it would be adopted in districts where it would be least needed, and not adopted where it was most required. But avowedly they regarded this as merely experimental and tentative, and as a means of obtaining information and guidance, and of stimulating public opinion and increasing pressure for compulsion as applied to all, if it should, as he believed it would, turn out a success. It seemed to some Members like his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), that it would be disadvantageous to the principle of compulsion to try it in that way. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) was not blind to the disadvantages, for he knew that the district in which compulsion obtained would be put into competition with the surrounding districts, and the object of the Board might be defeated by compulsion not prevailing around them. On the other hand, if tried universally it would have to endure the ordeal of being tried in districts where there was great opposition to it; whereas now they were about to try it in districts where there was no apathy, but rather a feeling in its favour. Therefore it was his belief that, not as a final measure, but as an experimental measure, it would be advantageous to the principle of compulsion to try it first in the manner proposed by this Bill. However, it was for the Committee to determine the question. At any rate, he could not regret that the clause had been inserted in the Bill. Two great objects had thereby been attained. The first was that the principle of compulsion had been brought before the public in such a way that it would not soon be forgotten. Like household suffrage, having been once admitted, it would carry itself out to its final development. Another advantage was that all excuse had been taken away from districts not providing school accommodation. If they had not given that power it might be said—Why rate us to make fresh school buildings and employ fresh schoolmasters when the present buildings are not filled, and when the present schoolmasters could do more work? There was now an unanswerable reply to that—namely, that they could themselves meet that difficulty by obtaining compulsory powers to secure the attendance of the children. Being himself convinced that upon this principle they must eventually more or less rely, he was very anxious that the Committee should not reject these clauses.
said, an Amendment stood in his name on the Paper proposing to omit the clause from the Bill. As the matter had been brought before the House in the able speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), he might be allowed to say that he entirely concurred with him in regard to this matter. The principle was not sound as he would show when the proper time arrived. He begged to inform the Vice President of the Council that he had frequently heard the subject discussed at meetings composed largely of working men, and he had not found the uniform sympathy with compulsion which was attributed to them. On the contrary, he ventured to say there was a strong feeling prevailing throughout the country that this was in every sense of the word a species of class legislation, specially directed against the working classes. Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that the infliction of fines with imprisonment to enforce payment would produce the result he had in view—an enthusiastic feeling in favour of the principle of compulsion? He (Mr. Lowther) believed the moment the clause was put into operation there would be an agitation of a very serious character. The people of this country would never allow the alphabet to be forced down the throats of their children with the policeman's staff. He maintained that the principle of the clause was one which the House ought not to encourage, as this was nothing more nor less than the substitution of the State for the parental authority, and thus removing from the parents the responsibility which they ought to bear. On these grounds he ventured to hope that the Committee would reject the clause when the time arrived.
said, he wished before the debate closed, to say a few words. Being a large employer of labour, he had some years ago erected a school, and having appointed a certificated master, he gave him instructions how he should proceed. Matters were so arranged that there was accommodation for about 300 children. The school was on the premises; every young person in his employment under 14 years of age, attended the school for two hours daily, and no deduction was made from their wages. On the other hand, no charge was made for school attendance; so that the permissive principle could not have been tried under more favourable circumstances. The attendance at first was good, but after some months the attendance gradually fell off, so that the master was obliged to report the circumstance. Efforts were then made to persuade the children to attend; the address which he delivered to them was successful for the time, but before many weeks were over the attendance dropped back again. The master then declared that, unless he could report the truants to the foreman over each department of the works who should have power to discharge children who did not attend school, it would be hopeless to go on. Having tried the permissive system some months ineffectually, he gave the schoolmaster the required permission, and in the first week afterwards about 50 boys under 14 years of age were discharged. The following week the parents of the boys, discovering what had occurred, asked permission for the children to return, promising that if their children were reinstated at work they would become responsible for their attendance in school; and from the moment that plan was adopted the school prospered, and there were no more reports of irregular attendance. It had been put before the House in many speeches that the working classes were in favour of compulsion; that he believed to be a great question, and he was by no means certain that, if the matter were put to them at a public meeting, working people generally would be in favour of compulsion. Parents knew very well that the labour of their children represented a certain amount weekly, and being themselves ignorant of the value of education, they preferred the money to the advancement of their children at school. Children themselves were not very anxious for education, though in time, no doubt, they might become so. In a generation or two compulsion might be no longer necessary in England, any more than in Germany and Switzerland, where, though compulsory laws existed, both parents and children were so well aware of the value of education that appeal to the laws became unnecessary. Looking, however, to the present, he feared that, unless some means were taken of enforcing the attendance of children, very many years must elapse before any great results from this Bill could be looked for. There were schools enough; the lack lay in the attendance of the children, springing, as he had already said, from the fact that the parents attached greater value to money than to education.
said, the Vice President of the Council had declared that there was scarcely anyone in the House who would not prefer permissive compulsion to no compulsion at all. But though he (Mr. Fawcett) had been one of the first to advocate compulsory education, and nobody, he believed, felt more strongly on the subject than he did, he ventured to think that if the House would listen to him for a few minutes on Monday he would be able to show that one of the most fatal things to the cause of compulsory education would be the adoption of the proposal of permissive compulsion contained in the Government Bill. It was true that it was only an experiment; but he believed it was an experiment which would be tried under such unfair, such unreasonable, such unfortunate conditions as to form a precedent that would inevitably tell against the principle of compulsory education. It was difficult accurately to define the position of the Government. He could understand them if they said—"This year we will provide schools, and next Session we will secure the attendance of children at these schools." But what was the policy of the Government? They introduced a Bill for providing schools, and with reference to the second and infinitely greater question they had absolutely no policy. They turned round to their supporters and said—"Agitate, agitate, agitate! Fish for a policy out-of-doors, make a great clamour; we have no definite opinions and no policy, but we will wait to see what you can do by clamour and agitation." It seemed to him that it would be more appropriate for a strong Government to tell the nation what they thought was right to be done, and if they really had a feeling in favour of compulsory education they ought to have spoken out strongly, boldly, and unhesitatingly. No persons were so powerful in instructing the country as the Government themselves; and if, after stating their own opinions, they discovered that they were unable to convince the nation of their truth and justice, they might then very fairly come to the House and say—"We have done all we could in favour of the principle of compulsory education, and we are now obliged to relinquish it." How were individual Members to bring round the feeling of the country to compulsory education if the Government shrank from the attempt? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) admitted that at great public meetings even now the intelligent working classes, the élite of the population, could be gathered, and that they declared unanimously and enthusiastically in favour of compulsory education. But he said, "There is a stratum below them, and we want to know their opinions." Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that it was possible to ascertain the feelings of the class of persons forming the substratum of society, who would not attend meetings, who could not read newspapers, and who spent their lives in dissipation? Did he suppose that in one year or in 20 years a feeling among them in favour of compulsory education could be created? Agitation would be renewed again this autumn, but what could it prove more than they already knew? They could again fill the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, and St. James's Hall in London, with the élite of the working classes; but what would be the use of this as long as they were unable to bring the right hon. Gentleman the opinions of those who lived in dens and alleys? The debate had proceeded upon the assumption that those who advocated compulsory education were introducing a novel principle. The arguments against compulsory education had been stated with great force and ability by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Robert Montagu); but, if he carried out those opinions consistently, he would be obliged to use the influence which he possessed with his party to induce them to repeal the very best Acts they had ever passed. For what were the Factory Acts but compulsory education? He was not old enough to remember the debates upon these Acts, but he had read them again and again, and the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) that evening reminded him very much of the speeches then made by the Manchester school of politicians. But, eloquent as his speech was, he must have known he was not expressing the opinions of those whom compulsory education would most affect, be- cause, much as the Manchester school of politicians had done for the working classes, those classes had never forgotten and could never forgive the opposition of the Manchester school to the Factory-Acts. The advocates of direct compulsion were constantly charged with a desire to diminish the earnings of the working man, but this charge seemed to him to be based on a most extraordinary fallacy. Just let them consider the exact position of the question. More than 20 years ago Parliament passed the Factory Acts, which, if anything at all, were compulsory educational Acts, because they laid down the principle that in certain branches of industry no child should be employed unless he attended school so many hours a week. Since 1848 the same principle had been applied with almost the unanimous approval of the country to every important branch of industry except agriculture, to which, however, the Government had promised to apply it next year. When that was done the Legislature would have recognized universally the principle that no child should be continued at work unless he attended school so many hours a week. He should like to ask the Vice President of the Council, whether the Factory Acts would have been worth the paper on which they were printed if they had been permissive measures, and if the local authorities had been allowed discretion in enforcing them. The Government said to the working men who sent their children to work—"We will not permit your children to work unless you send them to school," and the best class of working men, who were most in favour of the Factory Acts, said—"It is just the obligation of educating our children whom we send to work should be imposed on us; but it is not just that the same obligation should not be imposed on those who send their children neither to school nor to work." He believed those working men would not submit much longer to such exceptional and one-sided treatment. This Bill would put the country to an enormous expense, both by local and Imperial taxation. He did not object to that, but thought the country would object to building a large number of schools and to setting in motion a vast amount of complicated machinery if it were not certain that much good would be thereby effected. The Duke of Newcastle's Commission showed that there was 50 per cent more school accommodation than was used. Therefore, what was required was not school accommodation, but the power of securing the attendance of the children. He himself was acquainted with an admirable school, where the accommodation exceeded by 30 per cent the number of the children who attended it. Now, when the Inspector went down he could discover no fault with the school; but he would find that it was only about half sufficient for the number of children of school age in the parish. Yet, when this Bill was brought into operation a local rate would be levied and money drawn from the Imperial Exchequer to build a new school, although, as the master of the present school remarked—"There is no more chance of permissive compulsion being carried out in this parish than there is of my flying to the moon." When the subject came to be discussed, he felt certain he should be able to prove that permissive compulsion, like every other attempt at permissive legislation, would prove a melancholy and disastrous failure. As regarded the speech of the Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Liddell), he would remark that his hon. Friend came from a county which almost deserved to be described as an educational Paradise. It was rare in the rural districts of Northumberland for children to be sent to work till they were 14 years of age; and, indeed, the farmers could not get them even if they desired to do so. He could easily understand, therefore, why his hon. Friend thought that in each succeeding year compulsion would be less and less needed. Now, if he could discover any general facts to justify such a conclusion, so great was his dislike of Government interference that rather than introduce it he would be content to wait three, five, or even ten years. Unfortunately, however, the facts did not warrant such a supposition, for it could be proved from official documents that the evil was not curing itself, and that while districts continued to be better supplied with schools, and while school machinery and management were improving, the demand for juvenile labour increased, and the state of education retrograded. He felt certain that the mere multiplication of schools would not correct the evil. What they required, and what sooner or later they must have, was the power to compel the attendance of children at school. It had been argued that the Government had no right to interfere between parents and children, but that theory was once and for ever destroyed by the passing of the Factory Acts, and those who prompted it ought, to endeavour to be consistent, to endeavour at once to repeal the compulsory educational clauses in those Acts. His own opinion was that while the State ought to interfere as little as possible with grown-up people, it was the natural protector of helpless and dependent children. The hon. Member for Huddersfield said that there was so great an enthusiasm for education in many parts of Germany that if to-morrow the law enforcing compulsory attendance was repealed, that attendance would not be in the slightest degree diminished. Now, no better argument could be advanced in favour of a compulsory system, for it would be unnecessary always to fetter the country with Government interference if they came to dislike ignorance after having experienced the advantages which education was calculated to confer.
said, he could not approve the course which was proposed by the Government. He was altogether opposed to a system of compulsory education. It was in his opinion most unjust and tyrannical to prevent a poor man in the receipt of only 10s. or 15s. a week from supplementing that small sum by means of the earnings of his children. As it was forcibly put by poor people themselves—"Who, if all the children were sent to school, was to sit at home to help the mother to mind the baby?" In the views which he entertained on the subject he was borne out by the authority of the late Prince Consort, who in 1857, speaking of the position of the working man, said that his children constituted part of his productive power, and that the daughters especially were of great use to the mother in nursing the younger children. And how, he would ask, was a compulsory system to be enforced? It was all very well to say that a poor man who did not send his children to school should be fined, but he would probably have no money to pay the fine. How under these circumstances would the moral condition of the country be elevated by send- ing the father to gaol to associate with convicts and the mother to the workhouse. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had referred to the case of Germany, stating that there the compulsory system had been found to work very satisfactorily. The Rev. James Fraser, however, was of opinion that a person before arriving at that conclusion ought to read very carefully the Reports of Mr. Pattison and Mr. Matthew Arnold, who were both great authorities on the subject, and the former of whom stated that in many parts of Germany the attendance at school was compulsory only in name, while in the New England States compulsion was notoriously a failure. He was as anxious as anyone could be to see the people educated and to have schools provided for the children, but to compel them to attend would be to take a course which, he believed, would excite a strong feeling of hostility throughout the country. It would give rise to the impression that there was one law for the rich and another for the poor, and would lead to an inquisitorial inspection of the poor man's family, which would be extremely distasteful.
said, he had listened with very great interest to the debate which had taken place upon this important subject. What he could not help noticing, however, was the fact that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had not received sufficient attention. That speech, if it proved anything at all, proved this—that the part of the Bill which they were then discussing was altogether premature. The right hon. Gentleman told them that he was not prepared at present to carry out his own principles with respect to compulsion, because he was not sufficiently acquainted with the different parts of the country and the different circumstances which it would be necessary to provide for. The right hon. Gentleman had also spoken of the question of indirect compulsion in a manner which led him (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) to suppose that it was going to be considered by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and was to be made an educational process. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), who, in the course of his speech, attempted to frighten them with the prospect of an agitation in the autumn, spoke of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council as if he had no ardour in the cause of education; but in his (Mr. Gathorne Hardy's) opinion that right hon. Gentleman had displayed his ardour sufficiently and to the satisfaction of both sides of the House not only by the way in which he had conducted that Bill, but also by his previous identification with the interests of education. The remarks of the hon. Member for Brighton upon this point were most uncalled for. There was no doubt that the system of education under the Factory Acts was one of indirect compulsion. But what was that system of compulsion? Was it a system of education? No; it was not. It was merely a system of sending children to school, with no inspection, and with no guarantee for efficiency. If anybody would look back upon the history of that process he would find that the Legislature had stopped short at the point of rendering schools efficient, and requiring that children should be properly educated. He had not looked very closely into the recent Reports on the subject; but he remembered that it was clearly proved in many cases that worn-out factory men were made to take charge of children, who had, it was true, books set before them, but who received no education in the proper sense of the term where the system he was adverting to was carried out. The hon. Baronet the Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) had, however, spoken of a school with, which he was connected as a specimen of indirect compulsion. But in that case it was to be borne in mind that he not only provided the school, but provided an efficient school. The hon. Baronet had therefore shown that if the indirect mode of compulsion were adopted, they might secure for the children a good education, while interference with the parent or sending him to prison with all its consequences, together with the other evils connected with a system of direct compulsion might be avoided. It was true that if direct compulsion, as advocated by the hon. Member for Brighton, were adopted, the children might be forced on in the matter of what was usually called education at a greater rate than would otherwise be the case; but there were other things which constituted education. In his opinion it was not more important that lads of 10 years of age in the agricultural districts should learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, than that they should become familiar with the habits of different animals on a farm, with the management of a team, and other things connected with their future occupation in life. They owed that knowledge to their families. He should prefer to a system of fines and imprisonment one in which not the fears but the interests of parents would be appealed to, by their being told that unless their children were educated they would not obtain work. If the principle of reward and not of punishment were adopted, parents would be brought to understand the value of education in a way in which they would not understand it by being proceeded against before a magistrate and placed on the footing of criminals. He fully and frankly admitted that it was a crime and cruelty on the part of the State to leave children to grow up in the condition described by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). In his opinion it was not only the right but the duty of the State to step in and say to the parents that those children ought to be educated, and that it would not allow them to grow up and encumber the streets as vagrants or perhaps something worse. That was the principle upon which they had acted in regard to industrial schools, which, as far as they went, were intended to meet these very cases. But he would like to put it to the hon. Member for Sheffield to say what he would gain by telling the parents that if they did not send their children to school they must go to prison. He believed that many parents would sooner go to prison than take any trouble in the matter. Admitting, therefore, the right of the State to the extent he had described, the matter then became with him a simple question of policy as to the best mode of proceeding. He himself, for the reasons he had adduced, was an advocate for trying the indirect mode of compulsion—which the section of the Bill under discussion precluded from being tried—as a first experiment. What did the Vice President of the Council say in regard to that matter? Why, he declared that until he got Returns from the various districts he would not be in a position to deal fully with this question, adding that possibly he would not be able to do so till the year after next. But what was he going to do meanwhile? He was going to give school Boards the power of compulsion, a power which the right hon. Gentleman admitted could not properly be brought into operation for one or two years. For how were these school Boards to be brought into existence? They were to be called into existence upon a Report made as to the deficiency in the quantity or the quality of the education in a district, and this result would be attained in about two years. When the deficiency in quality and quantity was supplied, the question arose whether the State had a right to compel children to go to these schools. It would not be right to force them to attend schools which were inefficient, as had been done under the Factory Acts, in consequence of the schools provided not being looked after; and even when the schools were complete, the parents had, at least, some right to select the school in which their children should be taught. That being so, were they not proceeding somewhat prematurely? Was their experience of permissive legislation so favourable that they thought it due to the credit of the House to delegate their functions to others upon a point so important, and to call upon school Boards to enact something which they were not prepared to enact themselves—not to pass by-laws to carry out in detail that which the Legislature had indicated, but to perform the work of legislation itself? Was that a power to place in the hands of school Boards? What would happen? If it were true that the great mass of intelligent working men, who would have votes, were in favour of compulsion, then, where they were in the majority, school Boards would be elected to put in force the compulsory powers of the Bill; but, on the other hand, in places where compulsion was most needed, and where there was less enlightenment among the working classes, the school Boards would be elected upon a solemn pledge not to exercise their compulsory powers. He held that it was not becoming the dignity of the Legislature to delegate its authority upon a question of such importance. If the Committee meant to have direct compulsion, let them enact it; or if they intended to have indirect compulsion, let them enact that clearly, and call upon the local authorities to carry their legislation into effect. His belief was that when the right hon. Gentleman had improved his system of indirect compulsion, and put it upon an intelligible basis, all the old deficiencies would be supplied. Supposing, however, that that system failed after trial, then the Government would have good grounds for asking the House to provide compulsion more direct. He felt very strongly in favour of the one system, principally because of the effect which it would have upon the families whose children would be educated in these schools. According to the Revised Code children were entitled to earn a Parliamentary Grant who had attended school 200 times altogether in the year, mornings and afternoons included. He was speaking of districts to which the Factory Acts did not apply. Such an arrangement left to children in the agricultural districts a selection of periods of the year, giving them plenty of time for that special kind of light labour to which they were adapted. Thus they could get a certain amount of education at school, and have a large portion of the year for another process of education—on which he laid as great a stress—not only the physical development and improvement which they gained by out-door labour, but the moral benefit which they derived, from helping their families with their earnings. He did not believe that there was any greater moral training for a child than that which accrued from his taking home his half-crown or three shillings a week, knowing that he was thereby adding to the comforts of home. The practice tended to unite a family together in bonds that never were broken; and of all the beautiful things which were to be seen in the habits and conditions of the poor, perhaps the most beautiful was the care and love they had for each, other, which was greatly fostered by this plan of allowing the early earnings of the child to contribute to the comfort and happiness of his family. He hoped he had not occupied the Committee too long upon this subject; but he must earnestly press upon them not to delegate their functions on this point to the school Boards, nor, in short, at present to legislate on the subject. He felt the force of the observations made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, and admitted that when the country was compelled to erect schools and find quantity as well as quality of education, they had a right, in some shape or other, to tell parents that their children must be educated; but they were not entitled to do so at present. The proposal of the Government was an imperfect one, and it had been condemned in one of its fundamental principles by the hon. Member for Sheffield, who pointed out that the boundaries of boroughs by no means included all the inhabitants—he meant the people who worked there. Many hon. Members knew that as rates rose in boroughs emigration from them increased, in consequence of the great desire of people to get outside the boundaries and thus escape the high taxation. A similar plan could be followed in this case, and persons who worked in the borough would obtain exemption from the conditions imposed by the Bill. Considering that the right hon. Gentleman expected to obtain those Returns, and complete in two years those arrangements which would enable the Government to bring forward their final Resolutions, and that even by next year the indirect system might be made perfect, he implored hon. Members not to commit themselves to this imperfect scheme, when by waiting they might obtain one which would meet the wants and wishes of the country, and which, while providing the masses with the means of education, would also provide the means of directly or indirectly bringing the children to be educated.
Question put, "That the word 'shall' stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 92; Noes 259: Majority 167.
On Question, "That the word 'may' be inserted,"
said, he thought it would be more to the convenience of the House that the word "may" should be inserted, in order that the proposed Amendment "the Education Department may require" should come before the House; which Amendment, he need hardly say, after the explanation he had given, he should oppose.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment to insert the words "the Education Department may require," negatived.
said, he should have been well content with, the discussion which had arisen if it had raised a distinct issue; but many hon. Members voted against direct compulsion with the intention of supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease). He felt that he should be remiss in his duty to the country if he did not afford the Committee an opportunity of voting on the express question of direct compulsion. He wished to remove an impression that the police or the magistrates were the agents of direct compulsion where it was carried out. This was a mistake; the school Board was the agent. It was not until a man had been twice warned that he could be fined; and it was usually found that the moral and social pressure of the preliminary proceedings was sufficient without imposing a penalty. He proposed, in page 24, line 19, to leave out the word "may," in order to insert the word "shall."
Amendment proposed, in same page and line, to leave out the word "may," in order to insert the word "shall."—( Mr. Mundella.)
Question put, "That the word 'may' stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 230; Noes 92: Majority 138.
MR. FAWCETT moved that the Chairman report Progress.
said, he would suggest that, considering the time which had been spent upon the Bill, the extreme desire of the House to get through it, and the advanced period of the Session, the House should on Monday continue to sit in Committee on the Bill without paying any accurate regard to the precise time of night to which the sitting might extend.
And it being now Ten Minutes to Seven of the clock,
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Motion For An Address
said, he rose to move—
The Thames Embankment was the result rather of a long series of negotiations, and of Royal Commissions which preceded the Act of 1862, than of the operations of any distinct body of men. In 1860, a Committee of that House sat on the question of an Embankment on the north shore of the Thames, in connection with an improved system of sewerage for the metropolis, and that Committee recommended that the river should be embanked, and the works, now on the point of completion, commenced. In 1861, a Royal Commission was empowered to take evidence and consider plans which were laid before it for the purchase of such Embankment. In 1862, a Select Committee of the House of Commons sat on a Bill promoted by the Government of the day, and brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple), who then occupied the post of First Commissioner of Works. Before that Committee the various interests affected by the measure for the Embankment, and more especially the Office of Woods and Forests, were represented. He had amused himself that afternoon with reading the correspondence that had passed between the Office of Works, the Office of Woods and Forests, and the Lords of the Treasury upon the question, and he had found it to be most instructive. From that correspondence, it was clearly apparent that the measure was promoted by the Government of the day; and that the duties of maintaining the reclaimed ground for the purposes of public enjoyment and recreation were cast upon the Metropolitan Board of Works, at the instigation of the Government and in opposition to the wishes of the Metropolitan Board, who, on that occasion, were represented by counsel. The several interests that were concerned in, and affected by, the proposed Embankment were represented before that Committee; but there was one interest that was entirely unrepresented, and that was the interest of the rate and taxpayers of the metropolis, who were utterly helpless in the matter. By this Bill, after payment had been made to the Crown for the foreshore, and to the Conservators of the Thames, who had entered into arrangements with the Crown, all land reclaimed, which lay between the property of ordinary owners and the foreshores of the river—as that in front of the property of the Marquess of Salisbury, was vested in the Metropolitan Board of Works, who were charged with the duty of maintaining it for ever, as land for the purpose of public recreation and amusement. But when the land between Crown property and low-water mark came to be dealt with, the Committee came in contact with claims which he believed all Committees of that House were absolutely powerless to deal with; and, as a matter of course, that land remained under the authority of the Office of Woods and Forests, the land being vested in the Crown. The Government of the day, as representing the Crown, imposed on the Board of Works, as representing the taxpayers of the metropolis, the duty of maintaining all other land that might be reclaimed, for the purpose of recreation and amusement. There was, therefore, no doubt that the intention of the Government at that time was that the land so reclaimed should be held for that purpose. The particular piece of land to which he referred was shown in a Return which had been recently laid before the House. It consisted of some two and one-third acres, between Whitehall Place and Middle Scotland Yard and the Embankment. A portion of this was formerly used for the purpose of wharves, and lay exposed to the tide during a great portion of the day in a condition which was not conducive to the health of the inhabitants of the metropolis. But it was never intended, at any time, while the scheme for the Embankment was in progress, that this land should be covered with buildings. Up to the present time it had formed one of the breathing places which he believed were necessary to the health and the enjoyment of the metropolis. The ratepayers of the metropolis had paid, and would continue during a considerable period to pay, for the cost of reclaiming this land. All rights on the part of the lessees and others holding under the Crown had been fully compensated for by the Board of Works. In some cases, they had been, he might say, almost exorbitantly paid for by that Board with the money of the ratepayers. The Crown was, in no respect, damaged by the improvements which had been effected by the metropolis. On the contrary, the Crown property had been enormously improved and advantaged by the Embankment. But the whole cost had fallen on the ratepayers. And what they contended for was, that what they had paid for should not be taken away from them; that the area which they had enjoyed, and which contributed to the health of this great metropolis, should not be abridged, but should be left to the public as a means of affording them the enjoyment of pure air. This land would be practically taken from the public, if the Government erected buildings on it. If the Government took that land to build upon it, he apprehended that there was nothing to prevent them from taking the land between Palace Yard and Victoria Street, or Trafalgar Square, and building upon it; nothing to prevent them from taking any portions of the parks which they might choose to select and building upon them. Indeed, his case was much stronger than the case of those who objected to this application of the public parks; for the public had created the land in question, and given a value to that which the Government now sought to take away from them. Before the public money was laid out on it it was absolutely valueless. It was mere mud and slush. At an enormous cost, which still weighed heavily on the means of living of the poor inhabitants, this great public improvement had been carried out, and it was now proposed or suggested that public offices should be erected on that which the inhabitants had so obtained and created. He held the Crown to be in the position of a trustee for the public good. He held that the ancient land which belonged to the Crown under the circumstances was held only for the public pleasure and the public advantage. It would be a great abuse of those rights if they were so exercised as to deprive the people who created the ground of the advantage of it. Not very long ago the public had expressed their opinion in an unmistakable manner in regard to open spaces near the metropolis, and he (Mr. W. H. Smith) heard with great delight the opinion expressed by the First Minister of the Crown when an Address was moved to Her Majesty. The right hon. Gentleman stated that it was the duty of the Government and of Parliament to endeavour to preserve for the people of the metropolis all the open spaces possible, and in particular the open spaces to which reference was then specially made. Her Gracious Majesty, in replying to the Address, said—"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be pleased to direct that no public offices be erected on that portion of the Thames Embankment which is reserved to the Crown, and which has been reclaimed from the River at the cost of the Ratepayers of the Metropolis."
If it was necessary to preserve the open spaces in the neighbourhood of the metropolis much more was it necessary that there should be open spaces within the metropolis. The ratepayers did not come to Parliament to make any appeal for a grant. They only asked Parliament and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to leave them what they had, and which was entirely their own. The entire country would readily admit that the River Thames belonged to London, and that whatever was reclaimed from it should be devoted to the enjoyment of the people of London. He regretted that advantage had not been taken of the Act of 1862 to give a frontage or fringe to the Embankment. It might not be too late yet to give it a fringe; but the buildings contemplated on this site would stand out of the line of the other buildings on the Embankment, and coming into the bend of the river would obstruct the view and stop the current of air. This was not a political question. He could assure the House that he did not make his Motion for any political considerations. The question was one upon which the inhabitants of the metropolis felt strongly. He was always ready to support measures of sound economy; but he hoped no desire to effect a small pecuniary saving would influence the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a case in which justice spoke so clearly. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Motion which stood in his name."Concurring with you in the desire that open spaces in the neighbourhood of the Metropolis may, as far as possible be preserved for the enjoyment of My people, I will carefully consider how effect may be given to the prayer of this Address."
, in seconding the Motion, said, he did so for five reasons. The first was the very deep interest felt by the inhabitants of the City of Westminster, and, he might say, the county of Middlesex, in the preservation of this open space. He regretted that several important bodies, including the Dean and Chapter of Westminster and several vestries, including those of St. George's Hanover Square, St. James's, and St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, had not been able to obtain the interviews they had wished to have with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister, because if they had succeeded in seeing either of these right hon. Gentlemen perhaps there would have been no occasion for the Motion just made by his hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith). The second reason was the compromise come to in 1856 between the Office of Woods and Forests and the Corporation of London, by which it was agreed that in consideration of the sum of £5,000 to be paid in satisfaction of all past claims, and of one-third part of all future rents and profits, the Crown should grant to the Corporation as Conservators of the Thames, all the rights of the Crown to the bed and shores of the river, with the exception of those parts fronting Crown property. The third reason was the Parliamentary sanction which he believed to have been given to the proposition that the ground reclaimed by the Embankment should remain unoccupied for the purposes of public recreation. The Act of Parliament provided that out of the moneys contributed by the ratepayers the owners of all land, except Crown land, should be compensated if they were interfered with by the Embankment. The fourth reason was, that at the present time it was desirable to preserve in the metropolis as many open spaces as possible, and the Members of the House and the public out-of-doors were doing all they could to preserve them. The fifth reason was that afforded by the Report of the Committee of 1856, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) and the present Secretary of State for War were distinguished members, and which recommended that for the sake of economy and efficiency there should be a concentration of the public offices in the neighbourhood of Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament. If a building for the War Office or the Admiralty were built on this piece of ground on the Thames, that recommendation could not be carried out. On all those grounds he most heartily seconded the Motion made by the hon. Member for Westminster.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be pleased to direct that no public offices be erected on that portion of the Thames Embankment which is reserved to the Crown, and which has been reclaimed from the River at the cost of the Ratepayers of the Metropolis,"—(Mr. William Henry Smith,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
could not say that, on his return to Parliament, he found the public improvement of the metropolis much better carried on than when he last had the honour of a seat in that House. On the contrary, he thought the metropolis in that matter was now in some respects in a more unfortunate position. When he left Parliament there was every hope that the new Law Courts might be placed on the Embankment, so as to become a great ornament to that capital; but he found last year that question had been settled the other way, and that a great opportunity of improving and beautifying the metropolis was about to be lost. Again, the project now on foot with regard to the Serpentine was not likely to mend matters in that quarter. Whereas the money might have been thrown into the water before, now it was thrown into the mud. Now, the land reclaimed from the River Thames would provide a series of open spaces for the adornment of that district. The first of those open spaces would be situated near Scotland Yard, and then there would come the large space between Somerset House and Charing Cross Bridge. He found, from the Report, that it was intended to give up that ground to be reclaimed from the river to public gardens for the benefit of the people, and the intention had been the same with respect to the ground referred to by the hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. W. H. Smith). He did not know how far the Government were committed to placing the War Office or any other public building on that land; but, if they had pledged themselves to that, he said it was against every principle that had been laid down by every Committee which had sat on the public offices. The First Lord of the Treasury would bear him out when he said that it had long been a great object to have the public offices concentrated near the Houses of Parliament. He (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had himself once proposed a comprehensive scheme for the improvement of the metropolis; but the House did not appear to care for comprehensive schemes. His proposal involved the buying up the whole of the houses and the ground in Parliament Street, Great George Street, and even by the river side, and the placing of the public offices there; and the expenditure for that purpose would not have been more than £3,500,000. [A laugh.] His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) seemed to think that was an enormous outlay for such an object; but it should be remembered that they were now paying nearly £150,000 a year for the hire of buildings inconveniently scattered all over London for the public offices, and that sum would pay the interest on the capital if expended as he had proposed. Earl Russell had declared that they never would carry out any real improvement for the metropolis until they went upon a comprehensive plan and had the ground cleared. But when they bought a certain number of houses one year, and a number more of the adjacent houses another year, the effect of their first purchases was only to increase the price they had to give for their second and subsequent purchases; and, in the long run, they actually had to pay double what they might have got the property for if they had laid down a comprehensive plan in the first instance, and then proceeded to carry it out by annual Votes. What he understood was now proposed was that, having got an open space which would really add to the comfort and even the refinement of that city, they should put one of their public buildings there, and one, too, which would not be in the regular line of public buildings, thus blocking up that open space. The Report of the Commission of 1866 said that there was no satisfactory approach to St. James's Park from Westminster and the City side, and that a fine effect was thus in a great measure lost. That desideratum might be supplied by opening a direct communication between the Park and the Thames Embankment. He knew what the feeling of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in respect to the new Law Courts; and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to sympathize with those who wished to preserve a magnificent site for the comfort and advantage of the public. It was very hard that those who paid the rates and the expense of reclaiming that land were to be compelled to keep part of it as an ornamental ground for the benefit of the public, while, on the other hand, the Government, who had done nothing for the work, but had thrown impediments in the way, were to take possession of that ground and place a public building on it in the most inconvenient situation, in opposition to the Reports of all the various Committees who had recommended that the War Office and the other public offices should be concentrated as near as possible to the Houses of Parliament. There was an admirable plan drawn up by Colonel Clarke, of the Admiralty, for the concentration of the public offices—an object in which all parties agreed as to the desirability of effecting. That was a very important matter, and he earnestly appealed to the Government to pause before they committed a great blunder, and threw away one of the finest opportunities they were ever likely to have of beautifying and improving the metropolis.
said, he was very glad to see the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) back in that House; and in his humble judgment that hon. Gentleman had borne away the palm from the two hon. Members who had preceded him, because while they had both been injudicious enough partially to approach the merits of that subject, the hon. Gentleman who spoke last was wise enough to keep quite clear of them. That question only needed to be considered in order to be rightly decided by those who came prepared to listen to reason. The House was aware that reference being had to the arrangements made at the beginning of every reign, by which the property of the Crown was handed over to the Woods and Forests for the benefit of the public, till the next demise of the Crown, the Crown—that was to say, the nation, so far as all practical considerations were concerned—was the proprietor between Charing Cross and Westminster Bridge of 700 yards of frontage to the River Thames and its foreshore, including valuable wharfage. It was decided for the purposes of metropolitan improvement, and not in the least degree for the benefit of the Government and the Crown, that the River Thames should be embanked. That decision being come to, not for the benefit of the Government, but for the benefit and use of the ratepayers of the metropolis, the Government, in 1862, undertook to carry through this House a Bill for the purpose, and that Bill embodied agreements between the Metropolitan Board of Works and the riparian proprietors. The different proprietors made different terms for themselves, but the Crown had this peculiarity, that it was the only proprietor of the foreshore of the River Thames. Well, the Crown having this property, some 700 yards of frontage to the river, all the Embankment made upon the foreshores, and all the land reclaimed at the expense of the ratepayers of the metropolis, amounting to seven or eight acres, would by law have belonged to the Crown. Of course, that would not have been a just and fair arrangement. That being so, the arrangement that was come to was this—that the Crown should give up its right to the foreshore, not altogether, but to between five and six acres within the Embankment, which but for the Act of Parliament would have been its property, and that it should receive by way of compensation for this surrender two and a half acres of land, not to be held in trust for anyone, or having the least reference to metropolitan improvements, or to the ratepayers, but as a consideration for what it had given up. That arrangement had been embodied in the Act of Parliament, it was now the law of the land; under that title the nation, in the name of the Crown, held that land absolutely and without any obligation as to metropolitan improvements. The Crown or the nation held that land as absolutely its own property as any Gentleman in that House held his estate. The land that was given up to the Metropolitan Board, as trustee for the benefit of the ratepayers of the metropolis, was not to be built upon, but was to be used for the amusement and recreation of the people. Under the Act the metropolitan ratepayers took many benefits, and now by their representative they came forward to-night and proposed to retain all the benefits that they had got under the contract embodied in the Act, and to repudiate the considerations which had been given in return. It was, in fact, a mere question of the invasion of property. The hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith)—a great ornament of the Conservative party—rose in his place, and, amid the cheers of his Friends, asked the House to take from the public a property estimated at £5,000 a year, the value of which might be taken to be £150,000. The hon. Member asked the House to confiscate this property, for which value had been given to the metropolitan ratepayers, and he proposed this in the name of the public. That was a simple statement of the facts. The hon. Member did not in words say that he insisted upon taking away this property, but he might just as well take the land at once, as take away all possibility of making any use of it. He hoped it was not come to this in the House of Commons, that it was necessary to enter into any elaborate argument to show that the House should not take any step whatever to deprive either the public or any individual citizens of any portion of its property without giving any compensation whatever. It was not necessary to delay the House by any further argument. The case was as clear as anything could be. Here was a claim set up on sentimental or æsthetical grounds, on every ground, in fact, except the ground of right. If the metropolitan ratepayers desired the property of the Crown for any purposes of their own, it was quite open to them to enter into negotiations with the Board of Works for obtaining it; not to make sentimental appeals, but to pay down the value. He trusted the House would not lend its name to the proposal. It was quite clear if it did they could not stop there. This, though it might appear a comparatively small matter, might have a much wider effect than they supposed. If they were to deprive the Crown of £150,000 for the benefit of the ratepayers of the metropolis, with what face would they resist the claim to purchase places of recreation for the benefit of different populous towns throughout the kingdom? If they once set up claims on the ground of the great interest people felt in the matter, where were they to stop and what was to become, he would not say of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but of the Revenue of the country? He hoped he had said enough. He trusted that any Gentleman who should follow, if he had been so unfortunate as not to have convinced him, would address himself to the point of showing that this proposal would not deprive the public of a large portion of their property without giving them any consideration whatever.
said, the right hon. Gentleman hoped he had convinced the House, but he had only convinced them of one thing, that, per fas aut nefas, the public would be kept out of the land by plausible appeals to the rights of the Crown. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: The Crown is the trustee for the nation during the life of the Sovereign.] Very well; the Crown, as trustee for the nation, had obtained this land. The Crown might be the trustee for the nation, but the House of Commons was the adviser of the nation, and they were there as the adviser of the nation to recommend the Advisers of the Crown to make a proper use of this land. Assuredly the Crown, as trustee for the nation, held a good deal of land which it could not build over. There was Hyde Park, for instance, and Kensington Gardens, and many other places; and if it pleased the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put himself in communication with any large firm here or in America to cover those places over with model lodging-houses or shops, or to cut down the trees, he would soon find whether the arguments he had used to-night were sound or unsound. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had complimented his hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight upon shirking the whole question, but it was the right hon. Gentleman himself that had really shirked it. From first to last his speech was only an exposition—accurate, no doubt, and logical—of that legal condition of matters on which the hon. Member for Westminster had based his Petition. The proposal of the hon. Member for Westminster came really to this simple issue—he asked the Advisers of the Crown not to put one particular class of house on the land; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer from first to last had avoided saying one single word as to the desirability or non-desirability of putting that class of buildings upon it; all that the right hon. Gentleman had done was to argue the foregone conclusion upon which the Motion was based, and which nobody denied—that the Crown was the proprietor of the land. The right hon. Gentleman had, from first to last, avoided giving any reasons for putting public offices on that ground. The reason against doing so was not merely an æsthetical one, it was the necessity for the concentration of the public offices which had been recommended by the Committee of 1856—a Committee of singular weight and authority, presided over by the late Lord Llanover, and of which the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire, the Secretary for War, the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire, the late Mr. Ellice, and the present Marquess of Westminster were members. The Committee recommended that the public offices should be concentrated in the block lying between St. James's Park to the west, Parliament Street to the east, and Great George Street to the south—a block close to that House, and where the Minister would be almost as available as in the room behind the Chair. The Foreign and the India Offices were instalments of this project, but the remainder of the site was now covered over with wretched slums and streets reeking with the fumes of low public-houses—a disgrace to the nation. The concentration of offices was no scheme of the Conservative party; it was the offspring of the Liberal party in those days when there was an enlightened Commissioner of Public Works—Sir Benjamin Hall; and now, when the Liberal party was ashamed of its own child—one of the best children it ever put out to nurse—the Conservative party were willing to take the bantling before it absolutely expired of such shameless baby-farming, and try to set it on its legs again. But his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer became positively pathetic in his regard for the national purse, and his unwillingness to devote the land to any object so sentimental as the promotion of the health and the recreation of the teeming inhabitants of the metropolis. Last year, however, the Committee, presided over by his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire, to which the then First Commissioner, Mr. Layard, and his two immediate predecessors also belonged, recommended that a certain museum should be erected upon the Embankment, and on Tuesday last he had himself asked the right hon. Gentleman a question on the subject, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that the Report of the Select Committee was entitled to every respect so far as it related to the merits of the question, while he termed the scheme itself "excellent," but said that the plan which they recommended could not be carried into effect without taking away a considerable quantity of land which had already been dedicated by Act of Parliament for the purposes of gardens and ornamental grounds, and paying an enormous price for it. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Hear, hear!] At the same time, while commending what he called the excellence of the plan suggested, he was not prepared to ask for powers to carry out what would only entail a large expense. Now, the plot of ground they were talking about that evening was close to, and as nearly as possible equivalent to that ground, and was equally well suited for the purpose of the Natural History Collection of the British Museum. And yet in spite of the latter admission, made only the other day, the right hon. Gentleman now proposed not to leave the ground open for gardens, but to plant a public office upon it. He begged to assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if he were bent upon such a procedure the best course to take would be to erect the Natural History Museum upon the site, because such a building would not deprive the people of their recreation. A public office could not be said to afford any recreation to the taxpayer. It was a building which no one visited for his own amusement; but a museum full of beautiful works of art and interesting natural objects would afford pleasure and instruction to the thousands who would throng it for their holiday. When the question of erecting the Exhibition in Hyde Park was under discussion 20 years ago the present Prime Minister, in answer to the objections which were made to the selection of such a site, said that the erection of such a building on such a spot was the substitution of a higher kind of recreation for a lower one, and he might now say the same thing with equal force in favour of the erection of a Museum of Natural History on this ground, and in advocating this project he was in effect developing the views of the hon. Member for Westminster, and of those whose mouthpiece he was. The only alternative scheme was the erection of such a museum at South Kensington; but Professor Owen, Sir Roderick Murchison, Professor Huxley, and Mr. Cole were all of opinion that the Embankment was a site much superior to Kensington for the Natural History Museum, alike for museum purposes and popular gratification, and they gave that evidence explicitly and in reply to categorical questions before the Committee of last year. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so very chary, so very stingy, and so very scrupulous about this land, and if he desired that a public building might be placed there, the museum would afford him an excellent opportunity of using the ground with advantage, and yet of meeting the Petition that it should be devoted to popular recreation. Anyhow, the erection of the War Office there was about the last purpose for which it should be employed. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that if in this spirit of mad and reckless economy he endeavoured to smash the proposed concentration of public offices his name would go down to posterity as the marrer of a great scheme for the improvement of the metropolis, a scheme first started by his own party and now frustrated by their own political successors.
observed, that after what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said about the law of the case, it would be out of place for him to offer any opinion upon that point. He understood from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that this land was the property of the Crown, and that the Crown had, therefore, a perfect right to deal with it as it thought fit. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER was understood to disclaim this conclusion.] That, at all events, was the deduction which he made from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He presumed the right hon. Gentleman meant that this land was the property of the Crown by virtue of its having been foreshore. But, formerly, the land was absolutely useless, washed sometimes by the river and left dry at others, and being occasionally used as a convenient place for depositing dead cats and dogs. It was the ratepayers of the metropolis who had made that land valuable. The ratepayers, however, assumed no right whatever over the land; but, hearing that it was intended to use the land as a site for public offices, all they asked was that the space might be left open. If that, as he apprehended it was, was the meaning of his hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith), he should give his support to the Motion under consideration.
said, he should be very glad to find the Chancellor of the Exchequer rich enough and public spirited enough to provide recreation grounds for the people; but if that were done for London the boon ought also to be extended to other towns in the kingdom. In Liverpool, for instance, where they had commenced such a work, they had come to a standstill, owing to their having found the work more expensive than they had anticipated; and if the assistance now asked for were afforded, it would only be right that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should come to the rescue of the Liverpool people and give them also £100,000. London already enjoyed exceptional advantages and opportunities, and could better afford to make provision for its own wants than could many parts of the country.
said, he thought the metropolis well entitled to express an opinion as to the use that should be made of this ground, which had been reclaimed at the expense of the ratepayers from being a mud bank and a public nuisance. The making of the Thames Embankment had given the ground in question its present value; and that had been constructed by capitalizing a fund which was composed of fines, in the shape of a duty on coal, inflicted on the manufacturers of London in endeavouring to compete with the outports. What was now asked, therefore, was not at all unreasonable. They did not ask that the ground should be given to them. Land similarly circumstanced had been most liberally given by the Government to add to the gardens of some of the lessees whose property happened to lie along the river; and all he understood that was now asked was that buildings should not be allowed to project and to form a line altogether distinct from those along the river. There were special reasons why the Government should not view the question merely with reference to a paltry matter of £100,000. He was quite sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister himself would think £100,000 very well devoted if profitably used for the advantage of the metropolis, especially if it did not come out of the Exchequer, but was produced by acci- dental circumstances and from the contributions of those who in the metropolis asked now for nothing more than was reasonable.
was not disposed to undervalue £100,000, but when the Chancellor of the Exchequer talked of £150,000, he ought to give them credit for the £1,650,000 which the ratepayers had expended in reclaiming this land. They had paid their money, and they ought to have their money's worth. Those who had spent so large a sum were entitled to have some consideration paid to them. There was hardly one among them who had not contributed to that sum; he did not know how many twopences he had paid. The proposition of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) was most reasonable. The ground was not asked for any special purpose for themselves; but it should not be rendered hideous by buildings altogether unsuitable to the site.
No doubt, Sir, £100,000 is a sum of considerable importance; but there is something involved in this issue much more important than a sum of money. There is a great deal more money at issue, and a great deal more than money, which I shall endeavour by and by to explain. In the first place, let me put aside one or two questions which have been brought into the discussion and which are wholly irrelevant. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) said it would be an extraordinary proceeding if they proposed to turn Hyde Park to purposes of profitable investment. But Hyde Park is governed by express provisions of Parliament, and the Crown has no power to do anything of the sort. Then it is assumed that we are now deciding a question which has never yet been brought before the House of Commons—whether certain buildings connected with the Army and the Admiralty are or are not to be placed on this piece of ground, the property of the Crown. We are not deciding that proposal at all. It is not before the House in any shape. If the Government make such a proposal, then will be the time for considering it on its merits. I am quite sure that the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), if he should lose his Motion, would think it an unfair advantage if we should take that to be a decision that those buildings should be placed upon this ground. Then let us take the converse, and dismiss from our minds the question whether those buildings are to be placed upon the ground or not. The question now to be decided is a question of principle. First as to the nature of that principle, and, secondly, the extraordinary character of the Address by which it is proposed to carry it into effect—an Address which, if carried, would not be worth the paper on which it was written. First, as regards the principle. In former times it was the custom of the House to vote very considerable sums of money for the benefit of the metropolis; but it was also the practice to levy certain sums in taxation from the metropolis. That taxation gradually diminished. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer generously parted with the last of it, £80,000 a year, for cab duty. [Mr. SAMUDA: The coal duty.] For whose benefit was that? The Exchequer does not derive one farthing from the coal duty. It was so laudable and honourable according to the hon. Member opposite, to expend this large sum of money in reclaiming this ground, that the metropolis should be compensated for it at the public expense. ["No, no!"] That was distinctly the doctrine laid down by the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass). The ratepayers of the metropolis, he said, had spent £1,650,000, and they ought to have credit for that money. Well, the metropolis having now ceased to contribute specially one single farthing to the public Exchequer, Parliament has found the consequence of this system of grants to the metropolis was that similar demands came in from other parts of the country. One or two were made. It was found they rapidly grew to preposterous dimensions. Parliament bethought itself of the error it was committing, and came to the conclusion that although some fair plea might be urged for the continuance of the system till the metropolis had a local Board of Management, yet it was absolutely necessary to get rid of a system so costly, or a great, genuine, and just dissatisfaction of other large communities must be the result. That being so, Parliament gave local government to the metropolis, and determined to have done with local grants to the metropolis. The hon. Member for Westminster asks the House to reverse that principle, not by making a grant from the public Ex- chequer, but by appealing to the Crown to hand over Crown land, of which we are proprietors for the Queen's life-time, to benefit the people of the metropolis. On what principle is that demand based? He says—"It is entirely our own," that it has been reclaimed from the Thames, that the Thames belongs to London, and that London should have the benefit of it. Now, the hon. Member must be perfectly aware that the soil of the Thames did not belong to London, that London had no property in it. The soil is just as much the property of the Crown as any soil, unreclaimed, though still included in the estate of some private gentleman in the country, belongs to that private owner. The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) receives that statement with incredulity; but it is one that cannot be questioned, and the accuracy of which was acknowledged at the time when this land was reclaimed. An arrangement was come to between the reclaimers who sustained the cost of reclamation and the original proprietor of the soil, under which each received a certain proportion of the land reclaimed. And the part which was given to the proprietor in respect of the proprietary right, the hon. Member for Westminster proposes to take away. Perhaps I shall be told that in point of form he does not propose to take it away; but what he does propose is that it shall be kept by the Crown as a barren and unproductive domain—or, rather, that the Crown shall be at the expense of maintaining it for the people of London. That is to say, that this having been given to the Crown as a property, he proposes to convert it into a burden—because, of course, if it is to be kept up for the benefit of the public, it must be maintained in proper condition. [Mr. W. H. SMITH: As ornamental gardens.] Exactly so; the proposition as I now understand it is not only that £150,000—the value placed upon the property—shall be taken from the people of this country for the benefit of the metropolis, but that the property itself is to be turned into ornamental gardens, to be maintained, I suppose out of the Crown Estate. ["No, no!"] Well, then, who is to bear the cost? [Mr. BAILLIE COCHHANE: They are to be maintained by a rate upon the metropolis.] The hon. Member for Westminster never said so. The hon. Gentleman does not tell us by what authority he, the Member for the Isle of Wight, assumes to speak for the people of the metropolis, and to say that they shall be taxed for this purpose. The hon. Member for Westminster is my representative, and I repudiate the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight in that capacity. I will not further inquire to what use this piece of ground is to be applied; but I will say at once that I am not willing that we should make a grant of this kind from the public purse to the people of London. If we do this we break down a long and well-considered policy, embodied in a regular system, and open a way back to the old system, which, on account of its mischiefs, was deliberately abandoned. And I would further say that if we are, as the hon. Member for Westminster proposes, to make a virtual grant of £150,000 from the public purse for the benefit of the metropolis, I gravely doubt and I confidently dispute whether the best way to make that grant in the interests of the metropolis itself is by securing two acres on the banks of the River Thames. It would be, I think, an inconsiderate and improper application of so large a sum to expend it all at this one point, when, with the same money, much greater results in the way of benefit and comfort to the inhabitants of London might be obtained. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University evidently confuses together in a way fatal to the argument the two senses in which "the Crown" is spoken of in reference to the holding of public property. My hon. Friend said he would call the Crown the Crown. It would be rather a paradox to say the Crown is not the Crown; but, in point of fact, that would be nearer the truth than my hon. Friend's statement, for the expression "the Crown" is used with two widely different significations. My hon. Friend says that the Crown is the trustee of property for the benefit of the nation, and also that the House of Commons is the adviser of the Crown. That is only true in part, and the direction which is contemplated by this Motion for an Address is a permanent direction. The Crown is the owner of this property during the life-time of the Queen, and will also be the owner after the life-time of Her Majesty; but the relations of this House to the Crown before and after that period will be widely different. During the lifetime of the Queen the Crown is possessed of this property as a trustee in like manner as it is possessed of the Custom House, or other public building; and in the management of that property the House of Commons may be said to be the Adviser of the Crown. But this House, so far from being the Counsellor of the Crown in the future, has no more right to touch that property prospectively, to interfere with its productiveness, or to govern its uses from the moment that a change has been made in the person of the Sovereign than it has to interfere with the private estate of my hon. Friend himself, for there is the right of the Prince of Wales as heir of entail. [Laughter.] I am astonished to see a Gentleman smile below the Gangway. What I am now saying is no dictum of mine. The hon. Member will probably believe in the accuracy of what I am stating when I say that this is the basis of all the Acts of Parliament relating to the Crown with which he is or might be acquainted. There is not one of those Acts of Parliament which does not studiously preserve the interests of the Prince of Wales or other successor to the Throne; and the House of Commons has no right whatever to give any directions, even in the way of advice, to the Crown touching the use of that property, except such powers are, by distinct Acts of Parliament, conferred upon us. I cannot believe it, until I see it, that the hon. Member will ask the House to vote an Address which positively proposes to direct the manner of application or non-application permanently of that as to which we are simply possessed of a lease for life, and when that lease for life expires we have no right to say one single word. I will go further, and say that I presume, from what I have heard, that the hon. Gentleman is prepared to re-open the system of making virtual grants to the metropolis from the purse of the nation, but I do not mean to be any party to the re-opening of that system. I give him fair notice that we are determined that if this is done at all, it shall not be done obliquely and incidentally—it shall only be done by laying down some clear principle upon which, if grants are to be made from the public purse for the metropolis, they shall also be made for other parts of the country. I say plainly that I shall not agree to the proposal. I shall object to it, and if done at all, it shall only be done on the principle I have indicated. I now come to the last question—the terms of the Address by which my hon. Friend seeks to restrain the erection of buildings on that portion of the Thames Embankment which is reserved to the Crown. This property, by the admission of all, is capable of being turned to profitable uses; but the House is invited to join in an Address having for its object to secure that this land shall not yield any revenues or ground rents to the Crown, as it would do if public offices were built upon it. Now, the Address of the hon. Member is flatly opposed to the law. The law of the land makes it the duty of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to turn to the best and most profitable account the property of the Crown; and it is not competent even for Her Majesty to issue any directions to the officers of Woods and Forests desiring them not to do so. If this House were, unfortunately, to pass an Address in the terms proposed by the hon. Gentleman, it would, be the duty of the Crown to inform this House that its prayer was beyond the power of the Crown to grant, being contrary to the law of the land. The hon. Gentleman will perfectly understand me when I say that no directions issued from the Treasury or any other Department of the Government could release the Commissioners of Woods and Forests from their duty imposed upon them by law. And if an attempt be made to convert into an unproductive property that which now belongs to the Crown, and is capable of yielding revenue, the only way in which this can be done is by the action of the Legislature; it cannot be done merely upon an Address from this House. I admit that it would not be competent, under the rules of the House, for the hon. Member to bring in a Bill for this purpose, and, therefore, if he cared to raise the question, He must do so in some other manner. But I beg to point out to him the effect of this Address. As far as the attainment of his object is concerned, I believe it would be simply null and void; though it would not be so in other respects, because it would be the duty of the Advisers of the Crown to recommend that the legal facts bearing upon the Address should be stated in the Answer. And I, for one, should be very sorry to be a party, even in the discharge of duty, to placing upon record that which I think would not altogether accord with the dignity of the House of Commons and with the respect which it has invariably shown for the law of the land. I will say, then, with regard to the disposal of this property that the hon. Gentleman ought to be content to rest upon his oars. If the Government think proper to propose to Parliament to make any disposal of it such as he deprecates, he has a remedy in his hands, because he will be in a condition to object to the plan of the Government. It is his determination to anticipate the plan which has placed him and the House in this difficulty'—that we are asked to adopt an Address with which it is impossible for the Crown to comply. I think it will not be unreasonable to suggest to the hon. Gentleman that, inasmuch as the property is not now the subject of any application of which he disapproves, he should rest satisfied with the status quo as long as it subsists. It cannot subsist very long, because it will be our duty to make some propositions for turning that property to account. I recommend the hon. Gentleman to wait until that proposition is made, and then if it should, be objectionable he can, as a Member of this House, state any objection he may think fit to make.
said, that if the course taken by the hon. Member (Mr. W. H. Smith) was irregular, a statement to that effect at an earlier period by some Gentleman on the Treasury Bench would have saved the House a great deal of trouble in discussing this question. It seemed to him remarkable that the First Minister of the Crown should have dealt in a most elaborate speech with this question as if it were one of the most vital matters which had ever been considered by the House, but should have reserved his main point to the last, and then have stated that the hon. Member who brought the subject before the House had no locus standi. But whether he had a locus standi or not was perfectly immaterial, because the House had been asked to discuss the question upon principle. The House was asked to discuss it upon the point as to whether or not the Crown had a right to ride over them entirely upon every occasion, and was to be entirely distinct from the people. He had always understood that the Crown in this country derived its power from the people, and was established for the benefit of the people. He would not say that the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was unintelligible, but it did not go into the question at issue, and simply opened the argument that the Crown had certain rights, to which everybody was to give way. What were the simple facts of the case? The Thames Embankment had been made, and the foreshore of the river had been taken and reclaimed. There had been a foreshore in front of the property of a number of persons and of the Crown. The Temple was strictly forbidden to build upon any portion of the foreshore which had been reclaimed, but the Crown was omnipotent, and said it would do what nobody else was allowed to do, although the Act of Parliament never gave it this permission. That was a wrong and improper position, and it might bring the Crown into a situation in which he was sure the First Minister would not wish to place it. The question seemed to be of the mildest character, although it had created so much excitement. Here was a piece of ground which the Crown said belonged to it. He durst say it did; but they said to the Crown—"Do not act differently from other people." Do not disfigure it; do not put a building on it. No one would deny that for anybody to raise a building in this country was to disfigure the land. We all looked with horror on any building raised in this country. It was never ornamental or of any use; it was always an eyesore, and always disagreeable to the metropolis or to the nation at large. The Crown, in this instance, was simply asked to stay its hand, and not to desecrate that portion of the land which had been reclaimed, in the words of the Act—"For the health and for the recreation of the people of this metropolis." The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) said they were to have nothing for it. But he should like to know what Liverpool was paid for its foreshore. [Mr. MELLY said they paid very large sums indeed.] He was glad to hear it; and, no doubt, they had their money's worth, because they were a people who knew how to take care of themselves. The right hon. Gentleman said this land was worth £150,000. Who made it so? It was not worth 2d. until the ratepayers of this metropolis stepped in, and out of their hard earnings, paid the cost of re- claiming it. Yet the Crown claimed to hold it for the benefit of the people at large. He contended that that was dishonesty on the part of the Crown. The First Minister of the Crown looked at the matter as it might be regarded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sat by his side. In fact, there were two Chancellors of the Exchequer rolled into one, and neither of them considered the rights, interests, and feelings of the people at large. He had always maintained that the metropolis was an ill-used place. It was in a different position from any other city or borough in the kingdom. It was near the home of the House of Commons, and they had always sought to legislate for it. Hon. Members said—"We come here, we pass the Session here, we enjoy ourselves here." The Under Secretary for the Home Department shook his head; but of course he was placed in such a position that he could not enjoy himself. He was a hard-working individual who had been brought there against his will. But the hon. Members he now addressed were comfortable in that House and in this metropolis; and they said—"We will make everything more comfortable." First of all, they told the metropolis it must put its sewage into the water; then that it must keep the sewage out; and, lastly, that it must make an Embankment. All this had been done out of the pockets of the ratepayers of the metropolis. The poorest man had to contribute, even if he reduced his family to beggary in order to pay the rates. It could not be denied that there was poverty in the metropolis; and an immense amount of it was created by the heavy rates imposed. Further, a great portion of those rates had been levied to carry out those improvements which Parliament had said were necessary. That being the case it was a great hardship that when the Embankment had been made and the foreshore reclaimed at the expense of the coal duties and rates of the metropolis, the Crown should come to that House with all the insignia of office and scream out its demand to do that which no other owner of property on the bank of the river could do—namely, to misuse that which had been reclaimed from the bed of the river. He hoped the House would not be led away by the sophistry that had proceeded from the Treasury Bench. Hon. Members from other parts of the country might look upon this as a question which at anytime might happen to themselves, and he hoped that they would unhesitatingly pronounce that the action of the Crown in this matter should be in this, as in all other cases, for the benefit of the people. What was done should be done for the benefit of this great metropolis, containing 3,000,000 of people, and it was necessary for their health and recreation that every speck of land available should be kept open. And as for the Members of the Government themselves, if he could not appeal to their hearts He would appeal to their fears, and remind them that small-pox and fever were rife in the metropolis, and that it behoved them to see that a place where they spent so many months of the year was kept as healthy as possible.
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) would not be alarmed at the severe lecture he had received from the First Lord of the Treasury. His Motion was reasonable, and would certainly not be followed by the tremendous consequences described by the right hon. Gentleman. The reply which the Prime Minister might think fit to recommend her Majesty to make to the Address was not at present a subject for the consideration of the House; that was a matter which they could well leave to the right hon. Gentleman, and he had no doubt but that the reply, when delivered, would be found to be such as befitted a constitutional Sovereign to give to an Address from the House of Commons. Upon the main question he submitted that, if the property reclaimed by the ratepayers was worth £150,000 to the Crown, it did not come with very good grace from Ministerial lips to say that that property was at the absolute discretion of the Crown, and that the House had no right to interfere in the disposal of it, even to the extent of giving advice. And when circumstantial rumours were rife, and remained uncontradicted by the Government, to the effect that it was intended to devote this property to providing sites for public offices, in opposition to the opinion of a great number of hon. Members, it was but right those hon. Members should state their objections to the scheme. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had stated that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were obliged to devote this land to the most profitable purposes; but did the Motion interfere with that principle? It was perfectly open to any hon. Member to maintain that putting public offices on the land was not the most profitable way of employing it. Owners of land in the metropolis—the Marquess of Westminster, for instance—could establish that from their personal experience; and, inasmuch as the Motion simply asked the House to say that no public offices should be erected on the reclaimed land of the Embankment, he would support it. The argument which the right hon. Gentleman had based upon economy was perfectly fallacious; if the building of public offices on this land would be more profitable to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests than building private houses, then the bargain would be a bad one for the public offices, and the argument of economy fell to the ground. Practically speaking, what was the meaning of the Motion of his hon. Friend? It was that the House had heard of proposals for erecting public offices on the land in question, and that it was not expedient to entertain the idea. He cordially agreed with his hon. Friend. It should be remembered that this scheme was directly adverse to the proposed concentration of public offices which had been reported on favourably by the Committee presided over by the late Lord Llanover, who had also named a site for the purpose. This Report had been endorsed, after two years' deliberation, by a Treasury Commission appointed by Earl Russell in 1866. The site chosen by this Commission was the line from the present Admiralty down to Great George Street; and if this Embankment scheme were adopted, two of the most important offices would be cut off from the rest by a crowded thoroughfare with a railway running underneath it and another skirting it, while the great railway station at Charing Cross would be undeniably near to it, so that instead of the concentration it would be the isolation of the public offices. On these grounds he cordially recommended the Motion of his hon. Friend to the favourable consideration of the House.
said, he thought the metropolitan Members had been rather too strong in their assertions. It was an entire misapprehension to suppose that the metropolis had acquired any right, either legal or equitable, over the land of the Crown. The hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) had drawn a comparison between the foreshores of the Crown and the foreshores of the Temple, but the circumstances were totally different; the Crown had undisputed rights over the foreshores in front of its own property, but the Temple had no such rights, nor had any of the owners of land on that bank of the river. The Crown had two distinct rights—one was the undisputed right to the foreshore in front of its own property, and the other was a share of the Thames Conservancy in the general foreshore of the river. When the powers were taken for making the Embankment it was necessary that the metropolis should purchase the right of making the Embankment on the foreshore; and, in return, it got the road and the subway and the Embankment. The metropolis, in fact, got all that it wanted; but there was something beside which it did not want, and that was the reclaimed land—that portion of filled-in land between the Embankment proper and the old foreshore—to which, at the time the details of the scheme were originally gone into, no claim was made. The claims which had been advanced to-night on behalf of the metropolitan ratepayers were never heard of at the time of the passing of the Act authorizing the construction of the Embankment; on the contrary, it was thought that the metropolis was obtaining a fair bargain in getting all the reclaimed ground except that which fronted the land of the Crown and the Temple. The Crown might have made the Embankment itself, and have converted the foreshores into most valuable property. [An hon. MEMBER: Why did it not do so, then?] Had the Crown followed that course it might have realized more, after paying all the expenses, than the reclaimed land it held was worth. Under these circumstances, he did not admit that the metropolis had any claim, either legal or equitable, over the reclaimed land held by the Crown; and he submitted that the Motion of the hon. Member could not be supported, on the ground that it set forth that the land in question had been reclaimed at the cost of the ratepayers of the metropolis. Although that proposition might be true in one sense, yet the metropolis had obtained a good return for the money it had expended, and had got all that they had expected to get. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown that the Crown had the right to determine what use should be made of the reclaimed land could not be disputed. The Advisers of the Crown, however, in disposing of the property, were bound to consider the local as well as Imperial interests, and ought not to put it to a use that would disfigure the metropolis. He hoped that no building would be erected on the site in question so as to interfere with the symmetry of the place, or to prevent a free current of air along the Embankment, or to obstruct the view from end to end of that work. That, however, was a matter for future discussion, and did not arise under the present Motion, which he trusted would be rejected.
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) had asked in what respect the Crown differed from other owners whose property abutted upon the foreshores, and the answer to that question was that the Crown had rights in the bed and soil of the river which no other proprietors had. He had been greatly surprised at hearing the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners), who in a certain degree represented the Conservative party, supporting the proposal for as revolutionary an invasion of the rights of property as any project which had ever been submitted to that House. It simply amounted to this—that because a person under a deliberate bargain had expended money on another man's land, therefore the land belonged to him. It was quite sufficient if he received a portion of the land as an equivalent. When the Liverpool Docks were in the course of construction Lord Derby received no less than £60,000 for his rights over the foreshore of the Mersey, which, until that time, had not been worth a sixpence. If the ratepayers desired that the land should be preserved for their recreation and amusement, let them pay for it and do what they liked with it. He should certainly vote against the Motion.
said, that when the right hon. Member for South, Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple) had said just now that he thought the advocates of this Motion had been carried away too much by their zeal, and had consequently put their case too high, he had quite concurred in that view; but before the right hon. Gentleman had got to the end of his speech he thought his case, also, had been placed too high. With regard to the observations of the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. West) it seemed to him that the House of Commons might as well abandon its functions at once if it were not to be at liberty to give a temperate opinion in its Address to the Crown as to the way in which a portion of the Embankment might be properly and best applied for the public purposes. The right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown had advanced some propositions which seemed to him to be so totally untenable that they ought not to be allowed to pass for a moment. The right hon. Gentleman during the greater part of his speech seemed to be arguing as though the supporters of the Motion were asking for a grant of public money for the benefit of the metropolis. But no such application as that had been, or was likely to be, made. What might reasonably be asked, and what was asked, was this—that when property which had had its value so greatly increased that from being worth nothing it had become of enormous value by the application, not of the public funds of the country, but of the local rates of the metropolis, it might not be applied to purposes which would disfigure the general appearance of the Embankment. It was a little too much, under the circumstances, for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hampshire to say that the equitable rights of the ratepayers of the metropolis over the property were not such as to justify them in addressing the Crown. Then, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government went on to state that as this property was worth £150,000, the Crown would not be justified in surrendering it. But what was this property? It was property like that about which we had heard so much during the discussion of the Land Bill for Ireland—it was property to which the money of other persons had given value. The representatives of the Crown who held that property said—"We will take advantage of the benefit you have given to us, and we won't even entertain the question whether that property may not be most advantageously applied for the benefit of those by whose money it has been made valuable." The right hon. Gentleman had also said—and upon this point he entirely concurred with him—that the hon. Member for Westminster could not by law deal with this property without the consent of the Advisers of the Crown. There was, however, a broad distinction between bringing in a Bill to deal with this property against the consent of the Advisers of the Crown and bringing forward a Motion for an Address to the Crown on the subject. It appeared to him that the only question the House had to consider was, what was the best purpose to which this property could be applied. His hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) was of opinion that the erection of public offices was not the best purpose, and all that the Motion sought to do was to elicit from the House an opinion upon that point. He (Mr. Spencer Walpole) would, however, go further than that and say that the question was not one which ought to be decided upon the exigencies of the moment, but ought to be determined in such a manner that in future years it might be said that the property had been dealt with in such a way as best to conduce to the advantage of the people of the metropolis. In these days, when population was increasing at so rapid a rate, all must be agreed as to the desirability of preserving every open space in the metropolis and in other large towns, and it was with that feeling that he should give his vote in favour of the Motion.
said, the conditions under which the Embankment was made had nothing to do with the question before the House. Those conditions were settled at the time to the satisfaction of all concerned, and it did not rest with Parliament to review those conditions. The question was, whether the country was to be taxed to the extent of £150,000 for the local benefit of the metropolis. If the metropolis needed improvement it should be done at the expense of those who resided in it. The metropolis was not so heavily taxed for local purposes as many of the boroughs of the country.
said, in accordance with the arrangement that was made at the commencement of a reign with reference to Crown lands, it was competent for Parliament to take any course it might think fit with, reference to those lands. The arguments that had been used in favour of building on this site might be used with equal force for building on Hyde Park, St. James's Park, or on any of the open spaces within the metropolis that were vested in the Crown. Much misapprehension prevailed on the subject of the right of the Crown to the bed and soil of the river Thames. Some persons seemed to imagine that the right had existed from time immemorial. But previous to the year 1856, however, the Crown had never exercised any right, authority, or jurisdiction whatever over the bed and soil of the Thames; but about 40 years ago the Crown put forward a claim to it. Some ingenious solicitor, he supposed, suggested the claim, and a suit was commenced between the Office of Woods and Forests and the Corporation of London, which lasted 20 years. The case then came before the House of Lords, and remained there for 10 years more. Some Attorneys General, Solicitors General, and solicitors to the Woods and Forests must have realized fortunes by those proceedings; and, no doubt, the solicitor to the Corporation also made money out of them. At length, a compromise was come to, by the terms of which the Corporation paid the Woods and Forests a sum of £5,000, and the Corporation withdrew all claim to the bed and soil of the river, and the Woods and Forests, representing the Crown, agreed to make out a conveyance to the Corporation of the interest of the Crown in the bed and soil of the river, except such portions of them as were in front of property belonging to the Crown, or any Department of the Government, or in the possession of any Department of the Government, such conveyance being made subject to the proviso that the Corporation paid annually to the Woods and Forests one-third part of the rents, revenues, and proceeds arising from the bed and soil of the river. The Crown never was able to prove its right to the bed and soil of the Thames, or it would never have compromised its right for one-third of the revenues. There was one point which had not been placed before the House. The Crown held the property between Whitehall and the river from Richmond Terrace to Nor- thumberland House, to which the new roadway was of the utmost importance. That had been made at the expense of the ratepayers, and the value of the Crown property had consequently been nearly doubled. If the Department of Woods and Forests, which represented the Crown, had been able to enforce its views, the carriage traffic along the Embankment would have been turned off at Whitehall Place instead of being continued to Westminster Bridge. It was not to the Board of Works, but to Lord Palmerston and to his right hon. Friend the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple), the metropolis were indebted for the carriage way being continued along the Embankment.
said, the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) had argued that question as if the constituencies in the country were about to be taxed for the benefit of the inhabitants of London. That was not the light in which he himself or, he believed, his constituents viewed the matter, and the people of Sunderland must be very unreasonable if they complained that the ratepayers of London were to have the advantage of improvements effected with their own money. He himself had systematically voted, against such proposals as the making of a park at Finsbury, or the throwing open of the metropolitan bridges by means of the public funds, thinking that such things should be done at the cost of the community that was to benefit by them. The question now before them, however, was a very different one, and it lay in a nut-shell. It came practically to this—what was the value of that property before that great improvement was carried out at the expense of the ratepayers of London? Why, it was a mere song. The Crown, then, should not insist on its technical rights to the land, but let those have the advantage of it who had to bear the charge for reclaiming it.
said, he could not vote for the Motion as it stood. His hon. Friend who spoke last said that matter lay in a nut-shell; but he had touched only one side of it—namely, the question as between the ratepayers and the Crown; whereas they had also to consider this question—whether public offices were, or were not ever to be built upon that land. Certainly, it was rather a strong proceeding that land which was but ooze and mud, and comparatively worthless, should, immediately a value was given to it by the heavy taxation of the ratepayers of London, be seized upon by the Crown, and that no compensation whatever should be allowed to the ratepayers. In Ireland they were giving compensation to persons who had reclaimed land and had the use of it even for 30 years; but the ratepayers of London, who had reclaimed land and had no use of or benefit from it, were to receive no compensation for disturbance of possession. The claim of the Crown to the foreshores of the Thames was an infinitesimal part of a very wide and very important question, extending over the whole kingdom, which it was very desirable to have satisfactorily settled. The claim of the Crown to foreshores arose on the Clyde, and the Duke of Argyll—a Member of the present Cabinet—successfully resisted that claim, and beat the Crown. There was an association formed in Scotland which desired to have a legal decision of the question of right to the foreshores as between the Crown and the landowners, which was a continually running sore. But the Resolution before the House went much further than the matter of the foreshores, and was opposed to any public offices being ever erected on that portion of the Thames Embankment which was reserved to the Crown, and which had been reclaimed from the river at the cost of the ratepayers of London. The whole question of not building on those open spaces came before the Committee which sat last year, and of which he was Chairman. That Committee came to the conclusion that the part of the land between Waterloo and Hungerford Bridges was a most eligible site for a Natural History Museum, with gardens attached to it, and he believed the same arguments applied to the land on the other side of Hungerford Bridge. He was not prepared to say that for all time no public offices should ever be built upon that land. They had had various schemes proposed for the concentration of the public offices; and, in his opinion, the best scheme laid before the Committee of last year was that of Mr. Pennethorne, for concentrating the public offices on the land between the Duke of Buccleuch's House and the Charing Cross Railway Station. At the same time, it would be a great mistake for the House to sanc- tion the placing hap-hazard of this or that public office on that land, without having a comprehensive plan before them. He would vote for the Motion if the hon. Member (Mr. W. H. Smith) would consent to add the words—
"Unless the plans for such public offices shall have been laid before the House, and ample time shall have been given for their consideration, and the assent of Parliament obtained."
addressed the House, but the hon. Members were inaudible owing to continual cries for a Division.
The House divided:—Ayes 106; Noes 156: Majority 50.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be pleased to direct that no public offices be erected on that portion of the Thames Embankment which is reserved to the Crown, and which has been reclaimed from the River at the cost of the Ratepayers of the Metropolis.—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
, who had given Notice of an Amendment on the Motion for going into Committee—
said, that as under the vote just come to be should not be in Order in making his Motion, he would, to put himself in Order, conclude what he had to say with a Motion for the adjournment of the House. Last Session, when he had asked the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to legislate upon the subject, the right hon. Gentleman had offered to agree to the appointment of a Select Committee if he would move for it. It was, however, felt by those interested in this subject that nothing short of a Royal Commission would answer the purpose. He need scarcely remind the House that the interests concerned were very large. About a fourth of the whole population of the country were interested directly or indirectly in the question. The Odd Fellows and Foresters alone numbered somewhere about 800,000 members, and had surplus funds amounting to something like £4,000,000; the whole of the friendly societies in this country possessing a capital of from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000. They had been informed by the responsible officer of the Government, the late Mr. Tidd Pratt, that legislation would be most desirable to enable such societies to be properly conducted, and it was also admitted by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The only objection of any weight that had yet been urged against the appointment of a Royal Commission was one of expense; but that objection was more than counterbalanced by the magnitude of the interests involved, and the importance of the inquiry to those concerned. Irrespective of the lavish expenditure of these societies, there were allegations that the receipts were not expended for the purposes which were mentioned to the members at the time they entered, and it was not unusual on a death occurring, when £1 or £1 5s. ought to be paid, for the claimants to be put off with. 10s. or 15s., on the ground that the member was out' of benefit at the time of his decease. In addition to the societies he had enumerated there were certain clerical societies, which were managed to a great extent by clergymen, and he was happy to bear testimony to the fairness and liberality with which many of them were conducted. Indeed, the managers acted on the only sound principle which could be adopted, and insisted upon periodical valuations, which was an operation similar to stock-taking by a tradesman. An inquiry was necessary not only for the sake of the societies; but in order to ascertain whether the Government itself had done its duty towards them. It was well known, for instance that under 18 & 19 Vict. it was obligatory on the Registrar of Friendly Societies to tabulate the returns of mortality and sickness every five years; but since 1850 no such tabulation had been made, and the friendly societies complained of it as a grievance that the Returns which they were at great expense to obtain remained altogether untabulated. One large society—the Liver Society of Liverpool—thought legislation necessary, and they even prepared a Bill last Session, which, however, was not brought forward. The directors of that society would prefer an inquiry by a Select Committee, but they said that so many remarks had been made on friendly societies in general, and burial societies in particular, that they would offer no opposition to the appointment of a Royal Commission. As, however, it was not unlikely that a great many discharged servants might make statements injurious to the society, they wished to be represented by counsel in order that the evidence might be thoroughly sifted. The hon. Member, having made the Motion for the adjournment of the House, said, that having done so to place himself formally in Order he would now withdraw it."That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the existing state of the Law relating to Friendly Societies,"
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
said, in order to afford the hon. Member an opportunity of bringing forward the Motion he had placed on the Paper, he would move that the House should immediately resolve itself into Committee of Supply.
Resolved, That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee of Supply.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
MR. E. M. RICHARDS moved—
"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the existing state of the Law relating to Friendly Societies."
said, the Registrar of Friendly Societies had stated that out of some 23,000 or 25,000 of them hardly 20 were solvent. After such a statement everyone must admit that the Legislature ought to interfere. He might also mention that out of the 32,000 in-door paupers upwards of 4,000 had been members of friendly societies, which ought to have provided for them instead of allowing them to go on the parish. They had established the Post Office Savings Banks in order to give a Government guarantee to the industrial classes that their savings would be secure, and why, then, should not the State incur the trouble and expense of a Royal Commission with a view to show the poorer classes how they might invest their earnings and obtain a certain amount of independence in their old age? He had great pleasure in seconding the Motion.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the existing state of the Law relating to Friendly Societies,"—(Mr. Evan Richards,)
said, on the part of the Government, he assented to the Motion. It was impossible, after reading what had been written on this subject by those who had looked very closely into it, not to admit that it required consideration, while there was a general concurrence of opinion that inquiry must precede legislation.
said, though friendly societies had done a great deal of good, he thought it was high time the law, on the subject—was amended. It was matter for congratulation that the Odd Fellows and the Foresters were both advocating inquiry.
said, he desired to express his satisfaction at the assent of the Home Secretary to the Motion.
said, he would suggest that benefit building societies should be embraced in any inquiry.
said, he presumed the inquiry would extend to all registered benefit societies, as they were included in the Friendly Societies Act.
said, he thought that was a mistake; but as such a vast number of the working classes belonged to building societies, it was well worthy of consideration, whether they should not be included.
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to o inquire into the existing state of the Law relating to Friendly Societies.—(Mr. Evan Richards?)
Drainage Of Lands (Ireland) Provisional Order Confirmation Bill
On Motion of Mr. WILLIAM HENRY GLADSTONE, Bill to confirm a Provisional Order under "The Drainage of Lands (Ireland) Act, 1863," and the Acts amending the same, ordered to be brought in by Mr. WILLIAM HENRY GLADSTONE and Mr. STANSFELD.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 205.]
On Motion of Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN, Bill to authorise the Inclosure of certain Lands, in pursuance of a Report of the Inclosure Commissioners for England and Wales, ordered to be brought in by Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN and Mr. Secretary BRUCE.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 206.]
House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock, till Monday next.