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Endowed Schools—St John's Hospital, Exeter—Question

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 4 May 1876

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asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, Whether he is aware that the compromise amongst the conflicting opinions of the citizens of Exeter, embodied in the original scheme for the schools connected with St. John's Hospital, and approved by the late Endowed School Commissioners, has been broken through by the Clause in the present scheme which provides that the religious instruction in the Grammar School and St. John's Elementary School shall be in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England?

I have great doubts whether the House will not think that this is a Question which I ought not to be called upon to answer, for the following reason:—For two months, in accordance with the Act, the schemes for the Exeter Endowed Schools lay upon the Table, and during that period of two months, which expired before Easter, it was competent for any hon. Member to move the rejection of the schemes. As a matter of fact, the hon. and learned Member for Barn staple (Mr. Waddy) had a Motion on the Paper on three different occasions for this purpose, and on these occasions, when the subject could easily have been discussed and the decision of the House taken upon it, I, together with other hon. Members who are interested in this matter, put aside all other business engagements for the three separate nights on which successively the hon. Member put down his Motion, and waited in readiness to enter fully into the subject, being confident that we had an ample answer to the allegations which were made against the amended scheme, but on none of these occasions, as far as I could ascertain, did the hon. and learned Member for Barn- staple appear in his place, and he certainly did not bring forward the Motion for which on these three occasions we waited. As the full legal time of two months for objections expired before Easter, and as the ample opportunities for discussing the schemes were neglected, I am sure the House will feel that it is hardly right now to open up the subject as is done in this Question. But as a matter of courtesy to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I have no objection to inform him that I have gone carefully over the various memorials and counter memorials respecting many points in the schemes which we received from Exeter, representing, I believe, all the different opposing parties who took an interest in these matters, and I can find no trace of any allusion to a compromise having been made regarding this scheme, nor can I find that the Department had any cognizance of such a compromise as he refers to. In all cases, however, I must remind him that the Committee of Council is bound under the Act to consider upon their own merits local objections to Endowed School schemes which are brought before them at the proper time.