§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, the ratepayers of Manchester applied to the Legislature to enable them to rate themselves to a common fund, which, by a proportionate distribution amongst all their primary schools, would supply adequate education to all classes, according to their own views and inclinations. He was glad that the Bill had been brought forward apart from other private business, because it would be treated, in this stage at least, more—as he should wish it to be treated in every other stage—as a public Bill. Although a private and a local Bill, it was, he regretted to say, the only measure on the subject of English national education before Parliament in the present Session. He regretted much that it was a private Bill; but he regretted more that those, by whose fault alone it was a private measure, were not ashamed to take advantage of their own fault and use it as a ground of opposition to the Bill. He understood the Government intended to make a ground of objection to its being proceeded with, that it was a private Bill. But though a private Bill, he engaged that, as far as he was concerned, it should be treated as a public one; for when it had passed through Committee he should move its recommittal in a Committee of the whole House, so as to ensure the fullest discussion. Neither would he shelter himself under the local nature of the measure. He acknowledged that, though nominally local, it was, in fact, a general measure, because, so great were its merits, that he had not the slightest doubt but that in a very short tine every city and town in the kingdom would follow in the wake of Manchester in adopting it. There could not be a more important measure brought before. Parliament than this, and, though now the attention of the country was fixed on the impending war, he hoped the House would not allow 1046 questions of social improvement to be deprived of their due discussion. Her Majesty's Government last year carried reforms in the Penal Laws, which they allowed to be unjust, except as based on the supposition of an extended national education; and Lord John Russell said, "What hypocrisy to say to the people, we Jan educate you in gaol, but have scruples about educating you so as not to get into gaol!" They also proposed this Session to proceed to a reform of the electoral franchise, but on a former occasion they had announced that this reform also ought to be based on a preliminary extension of national education; this measure, however, they now withheld, and he, therefore, following their principles, but inverting their practice, bespoke their support for this great fundamental measure on the prior necessity of which they themselves had insisted. The Bill which he (Mr. Adderley) was then moving was drawn up by a body of Manchester gentlemen, who deserved the thanks of that House and the acknowledgments of this country for the part they took in pressing forward this measure. They had spared no personal exertion or expense; and had shown great perseverance in year after year pressing the question on the attention of the House. He was supported not only by a majority of the ratepayers—40,000 of whom signed a memorial on the subject on a previous occasion—but he was also clearly supported by the recent expressions of opinion of the town councils of Manchester and Salford, for though they had sent up a petition against the measure being treated as a private Bill, yet a clause which was proposed in the first draft of the petition, condemnatory of the measure itself, was unanimously, with the sole exception of its proposed at the meeting, struck out. This was the third time the Bill had been brought before Parliament. During three successive years it had been brought forward, and postponed from year to year, very much at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), who had shelved it twice upstairs, in a Select Committee, which, after all, came to no report; and this was the treatment this great question received at the hands of a Government which arrogated to itself the championship of education, and from a body of Gentlemen who claimed to be the special leaders of the intellectual advancements of the age. He (Mr. Adderley) was quite prepared to meet the op- 1047 ponents of the Bill on its merits in detail; he would disprove the fears raised about the magnitude of the rate which would be required, and he could satisfy the discontent expressed with the proposed mode of election of the School Committees. But on the second reading principle only should be dealt with. Nor would he again attempt to open the subject from its first principles. He could assure the House that this question was not now to be opened; but that it was already concluded in the mind of every thinking man in the community. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London opened the whole question of national education last year; and he (Mr. Adderley) knew of no difference between the measure of the noble Lord and the present, save that the present went a little further. It provided free schools, for instance, while the noble Lord's Bill did no more than raise a rate in aid. There were three classes of theorists existing in this country with regard to education—the voluntary, the secular, and the denominational. The voluntary theorists asserted that no legislation was required, that private charity was sufficient for everything connected with national education. Indeed, they were not satisfied with the present state of things, but thought we had departed too far already from pure voluntaryism, and that we should return to our former position of an entire absence of all public grants for the purpose of national education. The secular theorists wished to have a common rate for the purpose of education, but that that common rate should not be levied except for purposes in which all were agreed. Religion they, therefore, excepted from the object of the rate; and proposed that merely secular instruction should be provided. The denominational party proposed that a rate should be levied and distributed amongst the existing schools, so that the educational foundation to which the country had become habituated might still be maintained and made more efficient. Now, for his part, he could not see the difference between a self-inflicted rate and a self-inflicted contribution, except that the one was general and the other partial. So much for the voluntary system. With regard to the two other theories, he thought he could show that the secular system was one so impossible in this country that it left little choice to that House but to adopt the denominational theory, or else leave the matter alone altogether. When the advocates of the voluntary sys- 1048 tem said, "Leave all to private charity," he (Mr. Adderley) partly agreed with them, and said to the Legislature, "Do not attempt too much." He thought too much had been attempted, and that distributions of grants for the purpose of advancing general knowledge and instruction had been pressed too much on the working classes, to the exclusion of industrial skill. The consequence was, first, the creation of a class unfitted for labour, and unprovided with any livelihood without labour; and secondly, the exclusion from the benefit of the public grant of the lowest class, for which it was mainly intended. Having made that admission, he could not go further with the voluntary theorists, as he believed experience proved that private charity would not accomplish all that was requisite. The principle of voluntary contributions had been tried for many years, and, if the House might trust the evidence laid before it by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. M. Gibson), it was freely confessed that it had entirely failed to fulfil its part. He (Mr. Adderley) was not one of those who deprecated gratuitous action for educational purposes, but he held that the free rate of a free community was the contribution of that community levied upon itself, and was little more in essential principle than a voluntary contribution—the only distinction that could be drawn between a voluntary contribution and a local rate being, that the one was fluctuating and the other permanent; that the one rested upon individuals, and that the other was spread over the whole community. The objection made by the advocates of the voluntary principle to the imposition of rates, upon the ground of so many different doctrines and creeds being taught which did not agree, went to the extent of an objection to any public system of education whatever, for no tax is levied for any purpose in which more than a majority agree. To pass from the voluntary to the secular system, he would observe, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester was the advocate and spokesman of a body calling itself the National Public School Association. Now, he contended there was nothing more national in the composition of that association than in the body he represented. If the measure was to be esteemed national according to the extent of its acceptation and popularity, he thought their nationality would be, in relation to the nation, very much in the proportion of 1049 the three tailors of Tooley Street, to the people of England. What did this body propose? That a rate should be levied for secular instruction, and that all religious instruction should be left to take its chance. Their argument was, that a common rate should only be levied for common purposes, and that secular instruction was the only part of national education that could be agreed upon by all. They, however, proposed to inculcate in the instruction imparted on their principle general morality, truth, humanity, justice, and universal benevolence. But how do they determine that morality is a matter of common agreement? We read in Clarendon's History of the Ten Commandments being put to the vote in this House, and carried only by a narrow majority. How, then, could they introduce even this much in addition to secular teaching? That the secular and the religious teaching could be separated, he fully admitted. Among the higher classes in this country the distinction was habitually recognised—they sent their children to be taught almost every branch of secular knowledge in courses of lectures reserving the religious instruction of their children to themselves. That was done not only in the higher, but the middle, classes in this country; and the principle was fully admitted in the whole system of the schools of design recently introduced into many parts of the country. In these there was a complete system of secular education in the department of design; but it would only lead the House and the public astray to suppose that such a separation could be admitted into any complete system of national education. It must be complete or not at all. In England it had been proved by experience that the lower classes were left so short a time in the primary schools that they had little time to do more than give the necessary religious instruction in the national schools, and as to trusting to the Sunday schools or the parents, they all knew there was no hope of anything effectual being done in those quarters, as to a very large proportion of the children of those classes. They had the evidence of the town of Manchester itself, and of the City missionaries, that the Sunday schools were wholly inefficient as a national provision for their purpose. The gentlemen of whom the right hon. Gentleman was the organ trusted to a model system introduced from the other side of the Atlantic. These gentlemen measured everything by the American model; if it 1050 fitted that model any proposition was good; if it did not it must be rejected; in fact, they used the United States model as a sort of Procrustean bed, to which all propositions must be made to conform. They said that the denominational system had been tried in that country, and had failed, and that the secular system had superseded it. They said, also, that America had continued to be a religions nation, in spite of the secular system of education. Now, first these gentlemen misrepresented the existing state of things, and then they drew wholly false inferences. The denominational system never really existed in any country but in England, and it was never known in England till about sixty years ago. As to the effects of the secular system on the religious character of the nation, they had the conflicting testimony of two gentlemen upon that point: Mr. Tremenheere, on the one side, said that the secular system of education had proved fatal to the interests of religion; Mr. Twistleton, on the other hand, was of a different opinion; but it must be borne in mind that what they saw of the religious character in America was not the effect of the secular system of education now existing, but the remains of that highly religious national education which had been first established by the Puritan fathers of New England. But, at all events, it was clear that the secular system was unpalatable to the English nation. It involved the destruction of the existing schools, and a very uncertain fate for the interests of religion. If, then, this system were impossible in England, there remained only the denominational plan, identical in principle with the voluntary, but more efficient in practical result, to be adopted. He could not but think that a simple proposition such as he now made to the House, of forming in a borough a local committee, to whom the ratepayers could pay over their contributions, and having nothing to do with the system of education to be taught, but simply as bankers receiving the rates and paying them over, by a fixed regulation, to all existing schools, was more likely to be acceptable than any other proposition. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) not to stand in the way of his own recorded opinions, that something in the nature of an education rate was necessary—not to deprive his constituents of what they wished for, and not to deprive the town of Manchester of the credit of taking 1051 the lead in this great question. He asked the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleague, and the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden), how they could show their faces in Manchester if they tried to obstruct his plan, and produced no counter-proposition of their own. He would also appeal to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), whether, having shown an inclination to deal with the subject, he would now suffer the proposition he had the honour of bringing forward to be rejected. Would he reject his own offspring, so brought back to his arms by the care of a foster parent? He would ask the noble Lord whether he was going to sanction the laying down of a general rule that no measure for the imposition of rates could ever be dealt with by any private Bill? Why, he had just allowed the Middlesex Magistrates to introduce a private Bill for rating their county for reformatory schools. He might be told that it would be better to wait and see what was the nature of the Education Bill which the Lord Advocate was about to bring in for Scotland; but was the principle of that Bill to be based upon the sentiment attributed to the Lord Advocate, that, rather than mathematics should not be taught at public schools Christianity should be excluded? He defied hon. Gentlemen opposite to throw out the second reading of this Bill for the sake of an abstract proposition, and at the same time to maintain their credit with the country, as sincere in their professed ardour for national education.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed—"That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, it was his confirmed opinion that education, to be supported by public rates, was a subject which ought not to be dealt with by a private Bill. He concurred with many of the remarks which had been made by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire as to the motives of the promoters of this measure. He believed they had acted from disinterested motives, and with a sincere desire to do some public benefit, and that they deserved well of the neighbourhood in which they resided. But the question for that House to consider was, whether they could deal with the subject of national education—a subject of high public policy upon which Parliament at present had pronounced no clear and definite opinion—by adopting the system of what 1052 was called private legislation. He believed it was an abuse of private legislation to resort to it in connection with such a subject, and that it was never intended, as the forms of that House would show, that such matters as national education and constitutional reform should be introduced in the shape of a private Bill, which could not have the advantage of those full and deliberate Parliamentary discussions which public Bills necessarily had. He gave the hon. Member full credit for his zeal in the cause of education; but he must say he could have wished him to have tried his legislative powers upon Staffordshire rather than upon Manchester and Salford. The hon. Gentleman, being the representative for North Staffordshire, came forward and proposed to educate by a special law the people of Manchester and Salford. He proposed to commit the House, in order to get that special law passed, first of all to what he called a principle of national education. Now, he (Mr. M. Gibson) asked, were the Government and the House prepared to commit themselves to a principle of national education by means of a private Bill? The hon. Member not only asked for a special law for the purpose of educating the people of Manchester, but he proposed to put a rate upon the inhabitants—to add considerably to the poor-rate—for the purpose of teaching all the various forms of religion, and for carrying on a system of education which had been proved to be defective. On the other side, he and his hon. Colleague came forward as the representatives for Manchester, expressing, as they believed, the feelings of the great body of the ratepayers, inasmuch as they appeared there armed with the authority of an unanimous vote of the corporation, who protested against the scheme, and prayed that House not to pass it into law. Now, if the House agreed at all to pass a measure imposing rates upon a particular locality, it should only be on the ground that the measure was called for by the inhabitants of the district. Here they had the very reverse. The people of Manchester, speaking through the municipal council, opposed the measure altogether, and declared they would have none of it. If that House was prepared to deal with the subject of national education, it should in the first place decide upon the principle on which a national system should be based, and then, having adopted a broad and comprehensive resolution of that description, private Members 1053 might bring in Bills relating to particular localities. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire had followed a course entirely different. He had brought in his private Bill in the first instance, before that House had expressed any opinion as to the principle on which a national system of education should be founded, and upon that had asked the House to come to a decision. Surely the House would never consent to deal with a great question of public policy in such a way as that, Suppose he brought in a Bill to enable a particular town to adopt the vote by ballot—should he not be told that Parliament had not yet assented to the principle of the ballot, and that the secret vote was properly a subject of public and not of private legislation? It was not necessary for him to go into the merits of this Bill; he took his stand upon the principle that it would be inexpedient to make matters of general public policy still in dispute the subject of private legislation. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman in the chair, whether this course would not be extremely inconvenient? At present the hour between four and five o'clock was devoted to private Bills; but, if measures adopting public principles not yet assented to by the House were introduced as private Bills, the debates upon them would supersede all other debates and set aside the general business of the House. The Bill of the hon. Gentleman had never appeared in the house before, but now it had jumped to a second reading. If it had been introduced as a public Bill, the hon. Gentleman must have asked for leave to bring it in, and would thereupon have been obliged to explain the provisions of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman said, he would consent to its being made a public Bill. But here the question arose, could it be made a public Bill, or would the House suspend its Standing Orders, to meet the convenience of the hon. Member? Supposing the Bill was read a second time, it would be sent to a Select Committee, and counsel and agents would be heard on the preamble. What was the preamble of the Bill? The preamble was principle—the principle upon which a national system of education in England was to be founded; and so they would have paid advocates discussing, in a Select Committee of that House, such questions as liberty of conscience and the propriety of teaching all forms of religion. Where were the precedents for such a course? He knew of none. If the hon. Gentleman really 1054 wished to deal with the question of national education, he should have asked leave to bring in a national measure, and so have given the House an opportunity of discussing its principle in the ordinary way. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) had told them that he himself contemplated a measure of national education, and Earl Granville, the President of the Council, was about to introduce a measure to provide for the education of destitute and pauper children. He trusted the House would, therefore, wait until they saw what kind of Bills the Government would submit, before they gave their sanction to the scheme of the hon. Member for North Staffordshire, a scheme which was denounced in the petition of the corporation of Manchester as ill-timed and uncalled-for. That petition prayed the House to defer legislation upon this subject until some general measure was proposed by the Government. They also represented that it was unreasonable to expect them to incur a heavy and unnecessary expenditure in opposing, before a Committee, a local Bill of this description, in the principle of which other communities were equally interested. The unanimous opinion of the corporation was, that any measure which professed to deal with the subject of education should be of a general and not of a special or local character, and should be prepared by, and on the responsibility of, the Government. It was right, perhaps, that he should confirm the statement of the hon. Gentleman as to past proceedings in this matter. No doubt a private Bill was introduced some two years ago upon the same subject, and the objection that he now took, that it was not a fit subject to be dealt with in that way, was urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, he believed, by other gentlemen of great experience. The House concurred in opinion that it partook of the character of general public policy, and, instead of reading it a second time, appointed, not a Select Committee, but a Public Committee, to inquire into the general subject of education. He had the honour to be Chairman of that Committee, and they made no report, because the members, he supposed, could not agree upon any opinion on the evidence. Of course, the Committee not having reported, he could not express any other opinion but his own, and that was, that the measure then proposed, though different in many respects from the pre- 1055 sent Bill, was extremely ill-adapted for the only localities to which it was proposed to apply it, that it would lead to great religious rancour and bitterness, and give rise to questions very much of the character of church-rate controversies, because it proposed, in a community like Manchester, for the first time, to put Roman Catholic schools, Protestant schools, Jew schools, Church schools, denominational schools—at any rate, all who would permit themselves to be so placed—upon the public rates of that locality. He felt that it would violate the conscientious convictions of vast numbers of persons, and he came to the conclusion, whatever scheme it might be desirable to introduce, the Manchester and Salford local education scheme was not likely to give satisfaction. At the same time he felt, and he would repeat it again, that the gentlemen who had expended so much money, and devoted so much time and labour to perfecting, as far as in them lay, that scheme, deserved the thanks of those who were anxious in the cause of education; and, although he conscientiously differed from their policy, he gave them credit for their most disinterested exertions, and thought their labours would be productive of great good. He begged to move the Amendment of which he had given notice.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'Education to be supported by public rates is a subject which ought not to be dealt with by any private Bill,'—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he did not rise to enter into this discussion, but he understood the hon. Member (Mr. Adderley) to have made some observation on a sentiment supposed to have been expressed by him—when or where he did not know—on the subject of education. He understood it was said, he had declared that rather than mathematics should not be taught in public schools, he would prefer that Christianity itself should be excluded from them. As he had said, he did not know when it was supposed he had expressed that sentiment, nor had the hon. Gentleman given any authority for making the statement, but he was quite sure it was totally inconsistent with every sentiment he had ever entertained. He might possibly have said that rather than leave 1056 the people in ignorance, he would teach them that on which no difference of opinion arose—that he would teach them what he could, rather than not teach them at all. Although this scheme by no means came up to his abstract idea of what an educational measure should be, he could not throw an obstacle in the way, by voting against the second reading.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he had rather put the matter as a question, and asked if that was a principle of the Lord Advocate's own Bill on this subject? He had seen a statement to that effect, and would give the right hon. and learned Gentleman the authority on which he made it—that he had seen it in Dr. Brice's pamphlet.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he made no complaint against the hon. Member; but if such a statement was in Dr. Brice's pamphlet, he could only say it was a complete perversion of his views on the subject of education.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he felt considerable difficulty as to the course which it was right to take on the present occasion. On the one hand, the Bill was applicable to one of the most populous communities of this country, the object being to remedy an admitted evil of the greatest magnitude. They had that Bill promoted by parties at a considerable sacrifice of time and expenditure of money, in conformity with the strict rules of that House, which bound them to proceed with it as a private Bill, if it was to be applicable only to Manchester; and he thought the parties entitled to the greatest credit, and to the gratitude of the country, for the laudable zeal they had evinced in this matter. On the other hand, he must confess the objection to proceeding with it as a private Bill weighed very strongly on his mind. When they looked at the principle and provisions of the Bill, he thought it impossible to allow it to remain in the category of ordinary private Bills, to be read a second time, to be referred to a Select Committee, and to be returned to the House merely to pass through the succeeding stages. It was impossible to look at the provisions of the measure and the evidence before the Committee of which the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) was chairman, without seeing that the principle involved, although professing to be applied only to Manchester and Salford, yet had general application—he would not say universal application, but general appli- 1057 cation—to large populous municipal boroughs within this country; and the hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading, unconnected altogether with Manchester himself, warned the House not to consider it as one of merely private or local application, and, whilst avoiding altogether any allusions to its particular adaptation to Manchester, recommended the Bill as of general application in the principle of which he was prepared to concur. He would tell the hon. Gentleman at once, he was also ready to concur in the principle of the measure. He was not now going to consider it on its merits; but this he must say, that, having attended last Session the Committee on the general question of education, to which this and other schemes were referred, he was prepared, as at present informed, to support the Bill, if made of general application. It might not be the best abstract mode of supplying the want of education, if they were sitting down to devise a new theory; but, under present circumstances, it was the best mode that could be adopted, because the proposed scheme co-operated with the existing organisation of schools widely diffused throughout the country, bringing in local taxation, not to supersede the exertions of those who had devoted their time and money to supporting voluntary education, but to provide a fund to aid those voluntary efforts. At the same time he felt that the proposal of the hon. Gentleman to refer the Bill to a Committee of the whole House, while it remained applicable only to Manchester, did not meet the objection. The reason why the House sent Bills of a strictly local nature to a Committee upstairs, where counsel could be heard and evidence received, was, because it was impossible so to deal with them in a Committee of the whole House. In a Bill of this kind, if the principle was objectionable, Parliament might reject it at once; but if the principle was fully recognised, and the objection was to its application to a particular community, that could only be made before a Select Committee, in the way Parliament had decided such objections should be made. If the Bill went to a Committee of the whole House, he was quite sure assertion would be met by assertion as to what were the opinions of the people of Manchester on this subject, without its being possible to ascertain the truth; indeed, after all the evidence before the Committee last year, he was unable to satisfy himself whether the preponderat- 1058 ing opinion was in favour of the scheme. There was one party who advocated voluntary efforts, thought no legislation necessary, and objected to levying rates altogether—who told the Committee, and endeavoured by witnesses to prove, that voluntary efforts were producing immense results, and would provide an adequate remedy for the want of education throughout the masses of the community. There were two other parties, the one advocating this scheme, the other what was called the national scheme, who agreed up to a certain point, but there widely diverged in opinion—who agreed in the statistics as to the deficiency of education, who agreed as to the cause of that deficiency, and who agreed that the remedy to be applied must be by local rates, either as a substitute for, or in aid of voluntary funds, but diverged when they came to the application of those funds; and he confessed he saw with regret, notwithstanding the time the Committee sat, no approximation towards an agreement of those parties, by giving up their extreme views and meeting on some common basis, on which they could join in recommending a Bill to Parliament. With these difficulties, being extremely unwilling to do or say anything in the slightest degree to deprive Manchester of the benefit, of the exertions of those gentlemen, to whom too great praise could not be given; he at the same time felt it was very desirable some other course should be taken by which their object might be obtained, consistently with the proper forms of that House, and not only consistently with the forms of the House, but in a manner which would be more conducive to the general diffusion of the advantages of such a Bill than would otherwise be likely to be conferred upon the country. He should have been glad to have heard from Her Majesty's Government the course they would take on this subject. It was, no doubt, a very wise practice for Government not to take any part in merely local measures; but this was an exceptional case, and he thought his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) who had paid great attention to the subject of popular education, might, with great advantage, suggest to the House the course he thought it expedient for them to take on the present occasion. The only suggestion he should make would be, that this subject should be dealt with in a public Bill ab initio, not a private Bill, only applicable to Manchester, but a general and permis- 1059 sive Bill, embodying the principle of this measure, and, as in the case of the Baths and Washhouses Act, enabling a certain portion of the ratepayers to apply it to any particular locality, without coming to Parliament for any fresh powers. If his noble Friend held out a hope that such a scheme would be taken up by the Government, or if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley), who seemed to be master of the subject, adopted the suggestion, he should certainly give it his cordial support, considering, as he did, that it would be unfair to get rid of the Bill altogether by merely declaring it ought not to be dealt with as a private Bill. With regard to the objection strongly urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, as to the opinion of the town council of Manchester, that had no weight whatever on his mind. That petition did not refer to the merits of the Bill, but simply to the question whether it was public or private; and of that question he thought that House more competent to judge than the town council of Manchester.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, he could not help feeling that Parliament was in a humiliating position with respect to this great question of education. It was one which the Legislature must grapple with, and it was their duty to consider it promptly and fairly, and to come to its consideration in a proper spirit, prepared to make mutual concessions for the sake of attaining a great object. Sooner or later, he repeated, Parliament must grapple with the question, which undoubtedly was one of considerable difficulty. The supporters of the present scheme, finding year after year that no general educational measure was brought in, tried to obtain one for their own town. They brought in a Bill for the purpose, in accordance with the rules of Parliament, and were now told that the subject was not proper for a private Bill. They had consequently expended a great deal of money and time in carrying on the scheme, and it would certainly have been more honest and straightforward to have saved them this, and told them at the outset that the Bill, as a private Bill, would not be allowed to pass. It was not proposed to introduce a new system, but only to take up the system which was now supported out of the national funds; and if that system was wrong, they had no right to apply the national funds in its support. The people of Manchester were an intelligent and spirited community, and were anxious to see among the working classes greater means of edu- 1060 cation than existed in other parts of the country. When, therefore, the great body of the ratepayers came forward with a local measure, he thought it would be a dereliction of duty, if they turned them back upon a mere formal matter to wait until the general measure of the Government was presented. He felt it his duty to do everything to assist them in their laudable object. They did not ask for assistance out of the public funds, and their request ought to be attended to. He quite agreed with the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) that the opinion of the town council ought not to have any weight with that House, seeing that they were not elected with reference to education. There might be peculiar circumstances in Manchester to render a particular measure necessary, and if the principle were a good one, it was not a fair objection that the Bill only applied to one town. The education of the humbler classes was the most important object which could engage the attention of Parliament. In communities such as those of our large manufacturing towns, where and how could the children of the working classes have a proper education? Yet those classes, by their toil and labour, created all the wealth of these communities, and were fairly entitled to expect that some care should be taken as to the education of their children.
§ MR. G. E. H. VERNON
thought that one of the arguments of the right hon. Member for Manchester told against himself. The Member for Manchester said that where an attempt to introduce a public measure had failed, it was absurd to bring in a private Bill. He (Mr. Vernon) would say that the failure of the attempt to introduce a general measure was a strong reason for the introduction of a local Bill. His hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire, whose zeal in this matter could not be too highly commended, had stated that 40,000 ratepayers were in favour of a measure of this kind. The necessity for doing something for the moral training of the children in Manchester was patent and obvious to all who had ever made it their business to inquire into the condition of that city. He (Mr. Vernon) had had no intention of speaking on this question, but, thinking that they ought to give effect to the earnest efforts which were made to apply a remedy to an admitted evil, he had risen on the spur of the moment to tender his support to the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. WIGRAM
said, that if he agreed with the Bill in its principles and details 1061 he should support it, and he should not deprive Manchester of an important measure on the mere technical objection that the Bill ought to be dealt with as a public Bill. But it was impossible to treat the Bill as a mere private Bill, and so read it a second time, without considering the principles involved in it; more especially impossible for this reason, that they could not but be aware, if this Bill was passed, it would become a great public precedent for the large towns throughout the country. If the principle was one of which he could approve, he should vote for sending it to a Select Committee, to see if it could be adopted in Manchester; but if it contained that of which he could not approve, he would not send it to a Committee at all. The important question was, whether the principle was a good one. They had now existing an extended system of public education, which everybody knew had conferred great benefits on this country. He believed that in the last thirty years the amount of education had risen from 1 in 17 to 1 in 8. That system, too, had conferred great benefits without disturbing the peace of a single family, had worked in perfect unanimity with the feelings of the people, and produced no unkind rivalry between schools established by members of the Church of England and by Dissenters. He said, then, whatever they did, in any measure of education they introduced, they should beware of deranging a system which had effected so much, and of disturbing that spirit of peace which so happily prevailed. He doubted much whether it was possible ever to introduce into this country a system for supporting education by common rates which would not interfere with the existing harmony, and he would beg the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) to bear in mind that that large class of the people who took a deep interest in religion, would strongly object to all rates for supporting any system which did not combine with it religious instruction. Now, so far from promoting the present system, this was a Bill which must destroy it. The framers of this measure conceived truly that, if they introduced their proposed system, it must be a part of it, that every school which received the benefit of the rate should be a common school, open to every inhabitant of the town to send his children to it. But it was perfectly well known that the great body of existing schools were supported by parties who assisted the poorer classes in educating their 1062 children religiously. The schools of the National Society required them to be educated in the principles of the Established Church. The schools of the British and Foreign Society required that Christian principles and the Scriptures should be taught in them. Well, but the religious principle of all the existing schools would be subverted by this Bill. For, in order that all the schools aided from the rate might be common schools, the 45th clause was introduced, and that clause provided that no school should have the benefit of the local rate that made any distinctive religious creed an essential of their school. [Mr. ADDERLEY: No, no.] But it was so: the clause would have this effect. To give an illustration: Where a Christian school was established by Christian people who wished the children to be instructed in their views of Christianity, should the school take the benefit of the rate, and a Mormonite, residing in the place and having, therefore, a right to send his child there, objects to their teaching his child Christianity, unless Christianity was surrendered that school could not partake of the benefit of the rate. He defied any one to say that was not the effect of the clause. Now that was the clause on which the whole Bill hinged. In order that every school should be a common school, that all the population should have the right to send their children, any parent was to be allowed to prohibit the teaching of any distinctive religious creed to his child. That principle was a necessary part of this Bill, and it must deprive of the benefit of the rate that great body of schools which considered religious instruction an essential part of their system. The probable consequence would be that the schools would be ruined. He wished to call attention to another very important clause of his Bill, which he regarded as most objectionable. The framers of the measure, knowing that the National Schools were all subject to a trust that the children committed to their care should be educated according to the principles of the Church of England, and that other schools were bound by like trusts, and that their conductors would consequently be bound to say, "We will not take assistance from the rates upon the terms on which it is offered," proposed, by the 37th clause, that no trustees or managers of any schools should, by placing such schools in union with the Committee appointed under the Bill, be deemed by any court of law or equity 1063 to have committed a breach of trust. He thought that one of the most objectionable provisions ever attempted to be introduced into an Act of Parliament. Here were schools founded on certain trusts, which required that the children should be educated on religious principles, to which the subscribers never would have contributed but on those principles; and yet the major part of the trustees were to be authorised to put them into connection with this new system by which they would be bound to receive children, and, if the parents required it, withhold any distinctive religious teaching. He would earnestly concur in any measure which should steer through the difficulties involved in the subject, but he could not support this Bill, involving these grave violations of principle; and, objectionable as it was to throw the Bill out by the terms of a Resolution in which he could not say that he entirely agreed, yet, if a division were taken, he should certainly vote in opposition to the second reading.
said, this debate showed the vast importance of this question being taken up by the Government, in order, if possible, to remove the difficulties with which it was surrounded. He could also add his testimony to that of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken as to the great progress education had made in this country during the last thirty years; but its present state ought to point out to the Government that the existing system could not provide that general education which was now required. Something was wanted to make the system more general, and the Government must undertake to lay down such principles and rules as they thought would be generally applicable to the community. He was, therefore, disposed to agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) with his view of the question. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Wigram) had alluded to the great obstacle to the spread of education in the necessity for teaching religion; and he (Mr. Hume) believed that they would never overcome that difficulty, unless the Government laid down rules for secular education, without interfering with religious classes. He thought that education ought to be general—that it ought to be secular—giving to the schoolmaster the schoolmaster's peculiar duty, and leaving the duty of the clergy to be discharged by the clergy themselves. They ought not to impose upon the schoolmaster the double 1064 task of teaching the rudiments of education and the rudiments of religion at one and the same time. He thought that the giving secular education was the only way of putting an end to these never-ending contentions which prevailed among religious sects. He was further of opinion that education ought to be provided by means of a public rate upon the whole property of the country. He held it to be as imperative a duty to educate our children as to relieve their physical wants. The law would not allow that any individual should starve—it provided against that by the imposition of a rate; and was it not equally important, nay, was it not more important—that they should provide the means of training them and of implanting in their minds those proper principles which education only could impart, in order to protect their own property, in order to protect their own persons, and to render every individual born and brought up in the State capable of properly performing his duties as a citizen? At present our people grew up utterly incapable of performing properly even the most ordinary public duties, and yet the law cast such duties upon them. He did therefore most earnestly entreat Her Majesty's Government, as he had never ceased to do for the last twenty-five or thirty years, during which he had been an active supporter of the Lancasterian system, to bring forward a measure which would put an end to the existing difficulties, and give our population the benefit, not of instruction in reading and writing merely, but of that in which he should have infinitely more confidence, a real and effective training. By neglecting to do this they were doing a great injury to the State, for as matters now stood we were bringing up a nation of ignorant individuals open to all the temptations of vice and crime; and the result was, that our prisons were filled with criminals, whose offences might be traced in a very great degree to their not having been properly trained in their youth. He did therefore entreat the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) not to allow a measure of this kind to pass, but to propose a general measure, which should meet at once the difficulties of the question, and should be applicable, not only to Scotland, with which it was, he understood, proposed to deal, but to this country also.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I have been asked several times in the course of this discussion to state what is 1065 my view with respect to the question which is now before the House. I am, Sir, about to comply with that request, although I am afraid that my view will not be of much use to the House in guiding it to a decision upon this subject. It seems to me that there are difficulties insuperable with respect to the proposition which is now before us. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) who brings forward this Bill is entitled, I think, to great credit for having under taken that task. Still more credit is due to those gentlemen in Manchester who have gone on, year after year, bestowing great labour and much of their time in endeavouring to bring to perfection a scheme of education which might be for the benefit of the community, and especially for the benefit of the poor of that city. Sir, I am Sorry to think that the forms of this House should interpose any difficulties in the way of accomplishing so laudable a desire. But it is evident, in the first place, that if the society or association who are the promoters of this Bill had taken what appears to be the natural course, and attempted to introduce it as a public Bill, they would at once have been stopped; that you, Sir, would have interposed your authority, and would have stated that the provisions of the measure being applicable to Manchester alone—it being a measure for the education of the people of Manchester, and not in any way extending to any other part of the country—it could not be permitted to be proceeded with as a public measure. Then, Sir, it having been introduced as a private Bill I must confess I think that the resolution of my right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) "That education to be supported by public rates is a subject which ought not to be dealt with by any private Bill," is, in itself, an abstract proposition which the House ought not to support. It seems to me that if the members of any community are satisfied that there would be great difficulty in carrying any general measure applicable to the whole country, and that the order, the morality, and the welfare of their own community would be promoted by a Bill allowing them to raise rates for the maintenance of a system of education the House, I think, ought not to interpose any obstacle to their obtaining that object. But, Sir, the difficulty here is, that the community of Manchester are not agreed in reference to the merits of this scheme and this appears to me to be the real objection to proceeding with the Bill. The 1066 objection of the dissentients is, certainly, put in this form—that they do not think that the question should be dealt with by a private Bill; but the obvious meaning of the objectors is, that they do not think that they ought to be obliged to enter into the details of this Bill, or to oppose it, in whole or in part, at their own private expense, but that the measure, if brought forward at all, ought not to be applicable to Manchester alone. Now, if the community of Manchester generally had said, "We want a Bill of this sort; we think that it would be a great benefit to Manchester; the number of those who are opposed to it is very small; will you allow us to vote some of our own money, to be raised by rates among ourselves, to purposes of education?"—I should have been one of the last persons to prevent their having that measure. But a resolution has been passed unanimously by the town council, representing the ratepayers of Manchester, and requesting, in effect, that the House will not proceed with the measure. Now, Sir, with respect to the measure itself I do not wish to enter into details, because I think the details, if it were a public measure, might be subject to any amendment or improvement that might be suggested; but I confess that I see, with respect to one part of the measure, very great difficulties. I allude particularly to that part of it to which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram) has referred. The present system on which this Bill professes to be founded is a very intelligible system. Each religious denomination—the Established Church, the Protestant Dissenters, the British and Foreign School Society, and the Roman Catholic Association—all in their several degrees have founded schools, have contributed their own money to the support of those schools, have laid down their own rules of management, and have appointed persons of their own communions to conduct them from time to time, and to take care that those rules of management are not infringed. This being done, the Government and the Legislature have stepped in, and have said, "As you are agreed in your general system of education, and as you support that system with your own money, we will contribute such sums from time to time as will enable you to improve the character of the education you give, and to perform the better the task which you have undertaken for yourselves, and 1067 we will provide for a general inspection of your schools, in order that you may be able to raise them to the height of the very best-conducted schools in this country." This system you may call an imperfect system. It is not such as any one, laying down a theory of national education, would propose as the best that could be devised; but it is a very intelligible system, it is a very practical system, and it is a system which, by experience, has been found to extend the amount of education, and to improve its character in a very great degree. But according to this Bill, as I understand it, the ratepayers are, by means of a Board which they are to establish under the measure, to undertake to pay the whole expense of the schools. They are to become free schools, and they are likewise, one and all, to be obliged to admit persons as pupils, who do not conform to the rules, with respect to religious teaching which the several managers have laid down by the different religious communities. Still it is proposed to be provided, that the schools shall continue under the same management as heretofore. Now, it seems to me that there will be great difficulty in carrying out that system. I can understand that men may devote themselves with great satisfaction to the management of schools, to the funds of which they have contributed their 1l., or 2l., or 5l., or 10l. every year. I can understand their saying, "We have founded these schools in conjunction with some of our neighbours who agree with us in opinion." Whether they be members of the Church of England, or Dissenters, or whatever else they may be, I can understand their saying, "We are agreed as to the rules by which these schools are to be governed, and we will attend them from week to week, and from month to month, to see that they are perfectly conducted according to that system which we conscientiously believe to be the best;" but when you say that these persons shall no longer contribute their money, and that the rules which they have laid down as the best shall be open, in particular cases, to exceptions, it seems to me that they will cease to take the interest which they have taken hitherto—that they will cease to perform from week to week that duty of superintendence which is now a labour of love—and that you will, therefore, no longer be able to depend on their continued attention to the management of the schools. It appears to me, Sir, therefore, that, upon that part of the 1068 subject, there would be great difficulty in carrying out the very laudable object in view. My right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey) has suggested that a permissive Bill might be introduced, in the nature of a public Bill, to permit committees to set up schools according to one system, or according to several systems. Well, Sir, if there is a desire in Manchester to establish schools of that kind, I think that such a measure would be better—seeing the objection made by the town council—than urging any further progress in the Bill before the House. I am afraid it will be long before we shall be able to realise anything like a national system of education, in which there shall be anything like uniformity. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) appears to think that there is no difficulty in the matter which might not easily be got rid of by a very simple exercise of the powers of the Government. He says, that if the Government would only make up its mind to such a system as he proposed, for the establishment of schools for secular education over the whole country, leaving the religious teaching to the clergy, and to the ministers of the different denominations, the question might be settled at once. I think, in the first place, that there would be great objections, on the part of this House, to entertain such a proposal; and I think, in the second place, that even if this House could be induced to assent to such a scheme, there would be great repugnance on the part of the country to adopt it. Sir, I have never been able to persuade myself that that secular scheme, which seeks to get rid of the religious difficulty, would be suited to the people of this country, or that we should be acting in conformity with our duty in endeavouring to promote it. It seems to me that religion is a thing not apart from, but connected with, secular instruction, and that it is one of the very first things which, in teaching the poor of this country, you ought to teach, because by so doing you will be teaching them what they are to do in their progress through life; and if you instruct them simply in reading and writing, in geography, and history, and arithmetic—if you do not tell them what their duty is—if you do not make them understand the obligations which they owe to God and man—you do not perform the office you have undertaken, and leave the work of education incomplete. I think the notion that one part of this work may 1069 be loft to the schoolmaster, and the other to the clergyman or minister, is a very unpractical one. It is impossible that the clergy, or the ministers of any other denomination, can have time, without becoming schoolmasters themselves, to attend daily at the school, and to give the sort of instruction which is contemplated. I see, therefore, not only great difficulty, but great objection, to the introduction of such a plan. It has been stated, that there are three systems of education—the voluntary, the denominational, and the secular, at present before the country; and that the selection and adoption of any one of these systems would get over the difficulty. But every one of these plans is full of difficulties of its own. The denominational plan is subject to many difficulties, which are hardly got over even in the plan at present entertained, of giving grants of public money; and when you come to impose a compulsory rate, you will find those difficulties increased tenfold. I will put the case of a parish where the inhabitants are chiefly Churchmen, or where the Dissenters are not so numerous as to justify the establishment of a separate school on their own account. In that case what are you to do? Are you to establish a school according to the National plan, in which every child is required to go to church and to learn the catechism? Would the Dissenter not think it hard to be required to contribute by a rate to the maintenance of the school under such circumstances as these? Then, again, there are a number of Roman Catholics in the country, whose opinions would hardly be satisfied unless separate schools for Roman Catholic children were established; and, on the other hand, there are a great many Protestants to whose feelings it would be very repugnant to pay rates for the support of Roman Catholic schools. The difficulties, indeed, are so numerous that I might occupy some time in stating them, but I only wish it to be understood that it is not from mere neglect upon the part of the Government that the difficulties laid in the way of the settlement of this question have not been removed, and that there are really grave reasons why we should pause before we attempt to introduce and to carry out such a system as that to which I have referred. Before I sit down, I wish to say that I have been misapprehended with respect to something that I said on a former occasion on the subject of education in Scotland. What I 1070 said was that it was absolutely necessary to legislate upon that subject; that a Bill would be introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, and that an opportunity would be afforded for ascertaining the opinion of the House, on the discussion which would take place upon it. I did not say that I should be prepared to recommend the extension of the same measure to England, because a plan which might be very suitable for one country might be very unsuitable for the other. The result, therefore, to which I come is this. I think that the House can hardly, in the face of the strong protest against the passing of a private Bill upon this subject on the part of the town council of Manchester, put the people of Manchester to the expense of going before a Committee. I think there is a great deal of good in this Bill, and that it is a most praiseworthy attempt, but I think we must pause some time before any general and uniform system of education can be successfully carried out.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he must express his dissent from the observations of the noble Lord on the subject of secular education. He thought it quite possible that secular education might be given to persons holding different religious views; for there might be many religious differences which would not affect secular education in any degree whatever. He regretted, therefore, that the noble Lord should have put forward this argument at a time when the evils resulting from a deficiency of educational means were so generally felt and acknowledged. He trusted he might not be misunderstood. Nobody had a higher sense of the importance of religious education than himself; but, in the first place, he thought that religious education must be a domestic education; and, in the next place, he believed that the experience of our public schools confirmed hint in that opinion—that it must be received in the home of the parent in order to be of any practical value. The argument of the noble Lord was this—that the Government would not plough the ground and render it fit to receive seed until they knew what seed was to be thrown into it; whereas his argument was, that they ought at once to plough it and prepare it, and then it would be ready to receive seed at any time. His opinion was strongly in favour of the second reading of this Bill, and he thought the House would be doing an injustice if it refused to 1071 vote it. What were the arguments by which it was opposed? The evil was admitted. It was admitted, also, that Manchester was a place where increased means of education were required; but the Bill was opposed on one side of the House because it was introduced by a Member for Staffordshire instead of a Member for Manchester, and on the other side because it was said some form of the House stood in the way of its progress. He should, however, vote for the second reading, because he thought that reasons so trivial as these ought not to stand between the Legislature and the application of a remedy to an admitted evil.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, that his main objection to the Bill was its tending to establish, to prolong, and to extend what he considered a highly inefficient system of education. He should care little if the education of the people could be promoted by the Legislature, whether it were done by public or by private Bill; but in case of its being attempted by private Bill, he thought two requisites were quite essential: one was, that the system proposed should be acceptable in the locality to which it was to be applied; the other, that it should be sound in principle, and of such a nature as that House would be ready to adopt with respect to the country at large. Now, as to the acceptability of this Bill in the locality to which it especially referred, he knew, as a Member of the Committee which had sat upon this subject, that there were a great number of persons in Manchester who had devoted themselves in a most exemplary manner to a consideration of the state of things which formed the foundation of the measure, and who believed that they had found in it an appropriate remedy. He cordially joined in the praise which had been bestowed upon the individuals from whom the measure emanated, but he could not forget that there was also another party in Manchester who had bestowed time and pains and expense upon this subject, whose intentions were equally good, and whose zeal was equally honourable, and who had preceded in their exertions the parties who had originated this measure. He thought that they were entitled to praise as well as the other party, and that it would ill become that House to give a triumph to one class over the other, and to subject those whom, after all, the majority of the people of Manchester would be most probably inclined to support, to be rated for the support of a system which 1072 did not stand foremost in their estimation. The object of this Bill was to extend the denominational system—a system which was utterly incapable of realising the advantages of a thoroughly national education. They were told that the people of this country were religious, and that their inclinations led to favour an education which bore a religious character. No doubt this was so; but did any man's religious feeling lead him to desire an education which should bear the impress of a religion which he might believe to be erroneous and pernicious? Did the religion of the Trinitarian lead him to desire to establish what he deemed the Unitarian blasphemy? Did the religion of the Unitarian incline him to support an education which would advance what he sometimes called the Trinitarian idolatry? Did it incline the members of a Protestant community to be rated to establish the worship of the Virgin, or the Catholic to be taxed for the support of what he regarded as the fatal Protestant schism? No man's religion could go that length; and he could imagine no man who could really wish to endow religious schools of every sort and kind, going beyond the bounds of orthodoxy, beyond the bounds of heresy, beyond the bounds of even Christianity itself, to whatever was called religion by any set of people, however wild in fanaticism, however gross in superstition, and applying public rates to the support of that system? What had the existing system in this country done for the people? Its effect was scarcely perceptible in the state of our gaols, except that it gave us criminals who had been to school, instead of criminals who had not. It was far otherwise in Ireland, where an admirable system had been established, which, without neglecting religion, recognised the necessity of that intellectual development and that general knowledge which made religion all the more valuable, when introduced into the mind. Education was desired as a barrier against crime; the prison returns, up to the latest dates, would show how utterly it had failed, as now conducted in this country, to construct that barrier. It was destined to prepare the population for the duties of life, yet of the 300,000 persons who were married last year no fewer than 117,000 could not write, and were obliged to indicate their names on the marriage register by a cross. The fact was that it was felt, under the present system, that there was scarcely time enough to teach the children religion, and 1073 the result was that they were taught little, and that the value of the religious teaching was impaired, because it was not accompanied by a corresponding training of the intellectual power, and by the formation of the general character. He would invite the attention of the Government, not to either of the systems alluded to by the noble Lord, but to a fourth, which was worth them all. It was proposed by the Bishop of Ossory, who suggested that the Government should send inspectors to the different schools to estimate the number of pupils who were properly instructed in a certain course of sound secular teaching, and should remunerate the teachers accordingly, having nothing further to do with the management of the schools, but leaving them to be purely secular, or as religious as the managers might please, open to all or exclusive to the Church, or to any particular denomination. None would admit more readily than he that religion was a vital part of education, but, at the same time, he affirmed that it was a part with which Government and local rates could have nothing to do. The schoolmaster would, at best, make but a very imperfect religious teacher, and this imperfect teaching he would be substituting for that sort of work which he was able to perform with credit to himself and advantage to the community. On these grounds he could not vote for the second reading of the Bill, and he thought the House should not let it go beyond the present stage.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he must, at the outset of his remarks, express his very deep dissatisfaction at the speech which he had heard that evening from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell); and he must at the same time, also, express his regret that the noble Lord had left the House in the midst of a most interesting discussion on the great subject of the education of the people, brought before Parliament for the first, and perhaps the only, time during the present Session. He could not forbear from saying that the noble Lord would have done no more than his duty had he remained present to listen to the expression of their opinions by the different Members of that House. When, indeed, he looked at the state of the Treasury benches, and when he beheld the Government so neglectful of the pressing and important question under discussion, as not to be represented by a single Member of the Cabinet, he thought he might receive it as a remarkable proof of the per- 1074 fect carelessness with which Her Majesty's Ministers were disposed to regard the question of education during the present Session. He did not care one iota whether the Bill was a public or a private Bill, but he did care very greatly for its contents and its principles; and he did hope that a Bill so important in its objects, and so legitimate in its principles, would not be pushed on one side by a petty dispute as to whether it ought to be considered a Bill or private Bill, according to the forms of Parliament; and he did think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), the mover of the Amendment, had been long enough in Parliament to know that by the rules of the House a Bill which was local in its character, and which sought by local means only to effect its objects, could only be introduced as a private Bill. On this ground, therefore, no complaint could be urged against the promoters of the Bill, for everything had been done by them in the frankest and fairest manner; and if the House would read the Bill a second time in its present form, they would in all its future stages proceed with it as a public Bill. Now what was the principle of the measure? Why, that education ought to be universal—that education ought to be religious; but, at the same time, that that religious teaching should be conducted upon the fairest and most tolerant principles. On that account he was prepared to give the Bill his most unhesitating and cordial approbation, and he considered that, without exception, it was the most important measure upon the great question of education ever yet submitted to the House of Commons. But it acquired tenfold importance from the extraordinary part which Her Majesty's Government had taken with respect to the question. For when they took office last year they held out education—and, in his opinion, most correctly and justly so—as the grand requirement of the age; they held it out as the great object for which they wished to provide. Well, following out their professions, Her Majesty's Government introduced a Bill to provide for the education of the country generally; but their Bill was never even carried to a second reading. The Bill which they were now discussing after it came out from the hands of the Select Committee—
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
The Bill to which allusion had been made was not the present one, which had never gone before a Select Committee at all, and the Committee was a general Committee upon the general question of education in Manchester and Salford.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he was quite aware of all that; but the right hon. Gentleman knew that he himself in 1852 moved its postponement, that the Committee sat all that year, that it sat again last year, and the Bill was hung up pending the promise of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that his Bill would in the meantime come to a second reading—a feat, however, which was never accomplished. This year, however, the noble Lord had informed them that the great requirement of the age in reference to which he was prepared to legislate last year was quite overlooked in this, but that instead he would bring forward a Reform Bill, which nobody wanted, and which, as it now turned out, nobody cared for. They were, forsooth, to have a fanciful device for representing a minority, instead of a Bill providing education for the thousands of ignorant people throughout the country for whom education was most desirable. He could not help expressing his surprise, or rather his disapprobation, that when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey), entering very fairly into the question, said that it was a very insignificant point whether the Bill was a public or private one, and then called upon the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) personally to take the Bill up and make it a public Bill, applicable to all England—that the noble Lord, instead of responding to the application, only turned his back upon the House, and said that there could be no difficulty in the promoters embodying the Bill in a public one. He certainly had hoped that the Government would have undertaken to make it themselves a public measure. The measure before the House was of enormous importance to Manchester and Salford, but doubly important when regarded as the model from which we were to adopt the principle on which our other populous districts were to be educated. The noble Lord had dwelt much on the advantages of the present system of education. Now, the question which that House had to determine was whether the present system met the demands 1076 which existed in the country? He thought it was perfectly clear that it did not. Indeed, he believed it would be admitted that they had no system of education deserving the name of a national system. Nor was it worthy of this country to be lagging behind the rest of the world on such a subject, and to be without a system adequate to the wants of its swarming population. It was true the voluntary principle had its advocates, and it seemed to him, from what fell from the noble Lord, that he was willing to trust mainly to it, as was also the case with his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram). His hon. Friend had said that the present system had conferred and was conferring great benefits on the country. No doubt that was true, and they were indebted to it for a very much larger amount of education than the country had previously enjoyed. But considering all the statistics of the question the conviction was inevitable, that whatever might be the merits of the voluntary system, or whatever amount of good it had achieved, it was quite inadequate to meet the demands of the population, and the requirements of the country. He must here ask permission of the House to allude to a statement which he (Sir J. Pakington) had made at a very large and interesting meeting held at Birmingham not long ago in reference to reformatory institutions, for several attacks had appeared against him in the public press for his statistical statements regarding the extent of education in this country. He had on that occasion stated, and gave his authority for the fact—that of Mr. Keith Johnson—that the total numbers receiving education in this country did not exceed 1 in 12 of the population. In his statistical tables on the subject of education that well-known gentleman based his statement on the consideration that 1 in 6 of the population ought to be receiving education, and that was the case in Prussia, as well as in Switzerland, Baden, in Wurtemburg, and Denmark. In Sweden, Norway, three provinces of Holland, and five departments of the east of France, 1 in 6½; in Bavaria, 1 in 7; Austria, 1 in 9; Belgium and France generally, 1 in 10; Scotland, 1 in 11; whilst in England and Ireland the proportion was only 1 in 12. And what was the state of education in the United States of America? That in the north-eastern states, such as Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, it was 1 in 1077 6, and in Vermont and Rhode Island, 1 in 7; in Delaware, 1 in 9; North Carolina, 1 in 10; and Georgia and Louisiana, 1 in 12. So that England and Ireland were only; on a par with the lowest slave States of America. That was a statement which Dr. Guthrie had laid before a Committee of the House of Commons last year; and though that statement, in reference to England and Ireland, might be somewhat exaggerated, still he would ask, was the state of England and Ireland in this respect what it ought to be? According to the returns of the Registrar General, what did they find? That while, out of a population of 18,000,000, 2,100,000 were stated to be on the school books—that is, about 8¾, or nearly one-ninth of the population—only 1,750,000, or one-tenth, were known to attend school. Now, surely those figures proved that something ought to be done beyond the voluntary system. And he had himself, therefore, come to the conclusion, though reluctantly and with hesitation, that, at least in the case of the populous districts of England, resort must be had to an educational rate. Whether, however, it would be necessary to do so in the rural districts was another question; though in the populous and large towns he did not believe it possible otherwise to educate the people to the extent to which they ought to be educated, without an education rate. Well, one of the objections urged against an educational rate was, that it would interfere with the voluntary system. But could that be so? He was decidedly of opinion that it could not; and in illustration of his views, he would refer to the working of the poor-law system, and ask had its administration put a stop to the efforts of private charity? It did not; neither, he believed, would our providing for the moral man in the same way in which we provided for the physical, put an end to voluntary efforts. It was also found that in the United States, where a compulsory system of rating was in existence, voluntary exertions on a scale of great benevolence were always to be observed. Now, if they adopted a system of rating for educational purposes, that system ought to be applicable to every portion of the population—all ought to have access to the education so provided; they must make it universal, and, in his opinion, they ought to make it free. Well, such were the principles of the Bill now before them; education was to be offered to every one gratuitously, and offered to every one willing to 1078 come into the terms it prescribed. But then came the question really at issue between this Bill and its opponents, and which had been so pertinently raised by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox), are we then to adopt a system of purely secular, or a system of religious teaching? He, for one, could only say, that he was most decidedly opposed to the purely secular system, for he believed that if they adopted it, they would be thereby disregarding what was the main object of education. Mere education was vain and worthless—standing alone; while, with the religious system, they imparted to the child, not only secular instruction, but a knowledge of those higher duties which would be so valuable to him in after life; and on that point the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had that evening expressed most just sentiments. But, independently of the objections of the noble Lord to a purely secular system, he believed that any such system would be wholly repugnant to the feelings of the people of England. And if that were true, how could they possibly levy rates to support a system to which the people of England could not possibly be got to submit? If this opinion were, as he believed it, sound, they could adopt no course which would be more oppressive, or more unjust in its nature, than first to make a rate and then to compel the people either to go without the advantage of it, or else, if they took advantage of it, to adopt a system opposed to their convictions and repugnant to their consciences. And might they not derive some advantage from contemplating the experience of the United States? Let him remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester of the evidence given before the Committee over which he presided with regard to the feelings of the people of America on the effect of the secular system there. [The right hon. Gentleman then read an extract from the evidence of Mr. Payne, who described how the doctrines and principles of Christianity had been, to a great extent, undermined in America, in consequence of want of religions instruction in the schools.] Now it was perfectly true that the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had submitted to the Committee a very able letter from a clergyman of the name of Thompson, who gave vent to very strong opinions on the subject of a secular system of education. But, at the same time, it must be allowed, that there was very great 1079 difference of opinion on the subject generally; that, at all events, there were gentlemen competent to form an opinion—men of great experience, and thoroughly conversant with the work of education in America—who felt that the results of that system which it was wanted to introduce into England had evinced not only a general disregard for religion, but an ignorance of fundamental religion, which were alike perilous to the welfare of the individual and to the future welfare of the State. And was it, then, come to that, that their unhappy religious divisions were to become an insuperable bar to their forming a religious system based upon fair and tolerant principles? He felt bound to express his opinion that the measure before the House had been conducted in a manner which did the greatest honour to the people of Manchester, and that it opened out a path by which the religious feelings of the people of this country might be respected, and by which, at the same time, education might be made universal. Believing that the measure would attain that end, he thought it right to urge the House not to throw aside the Bill upon a light and unimportant question. The principle of the Bill was, that a rate should be levied to support schools, which were to be open to persons of all religious denominations, but with the condition that, whatever the teaching of each school might be, the parental rights and religious scruples of those parents should be respected who desired to send their children to such schools for the benefit of secular instruction. He could not entirely agree with the hon. Member for the West Riding in a statement which he had made in a late discussion upon this question at Manchester; for, although the census would show, undoubtedly, a very large number of persons who were in the habit of never attending any place of worship at all, yet the proportion, as stated by the hon. Gentleman, he thought was rather exaggerated. The hon. Gentleman said, that there were about 5,000,000 people who never attended any place of worship, or about 1,000,000 heads of families. That was a statement which he could not agree to, although he would admit that the proportion was very large. The hon. Gentleman went on to say:—Now, I ask every candid man who really wants education, how will you reach, through our religious organisations, those people who never go to chapels or to any place of religious worship? And 1080 then, there is in reserve this more terrible fact still—that the very persons who never go to church or chapel are just those persons, above all, whom it is most important we should reach through our school organisation.He was prepared to concur entirely in the latter part of that statement, but he was compelled to dissent from the first part. He would say that that proportion of the population which are insensible to their religious duties was precisely that to whom should be extended the blessings of whatever system of education was devised. The plan of the noble Lord, however, would not reach that portion of the population. The noble Lord said that no one ought to be assisted from the rates who did not pay for their own schooling; and the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram) seemed to entertain the strongest objection to that plan. He said:—"There would be the same objection to raising rates for educational purposes as there were now to church rates." But he (Sir J. Pakington) maintained that that depended on the manner in which those rates were applied. If they raised rates, and applied them exclusively to the benefit of one system of religion, then undoubtedly objections analogous to those that were urged against church rates would be made. But if they were raised upon tolerant principles—principles which had respect for religious scruples, and which did nothing to force particular creeds or catechisms upon those who were unwilling to learn them—he believed there would be nothing at all of such objections. The noble Lord said that this was an imperfect system, and that you could not force the Church system upon Dissenters; certainly not, and the Bill did not propose to do so. He himself knew of a case in point. It was in a rural parish where there was a large church congregation and only a few dissenting families—too few to have a school of their own; but there was a school connected with the National Society, and where the rule of the Society with regard to the catechism was rigidly enforced. And what was the result? Why, that the children of these dissenting families were altogether unprovided for. Now was that a Christian or a tolerant mode of action? He must most distinctly and broadly state his opinion that the National Society would do well to relax their rule with regard to religious education. What he desired to see was 1081 that in that parish a school should be maintained—a Church of England school, teaching Church of England doctrines; that those doctrines, inculcated through the creeds and catechisms of the Church, should be taught to all who were willing to receive them; but that in the case of dissenting families the children should be allowed to come to the school, their parents being responsible for them, and undertaking to relieve the schoolmasters of the duty of inculcating religious instruction. Now, would religion suffer from the execution of such a plan? On the contrary, he believed the ends of religion would be greatly promoted, and that simultaneously they would be increasing sentiments of charity and good-will, which would do much towards putting an end to that feeling of acrimony which so often was found to exist between those who were members of the Church and those who dissented from it. He thought it could not be too generally known that one of the finest establishments in this Kingdom for education—he meant King Edward's Grammar School at Birmingham—was conducted upon a system which gave general satisfaction to the various classes of religious denominations that sought its advantages. By the last accounts he had received respecting this school, it appeared that there were 1,200 scholars enjoying the advantages of the large revenue attached to this school. It was well known that the present Bishop of Manchester was for many years the head master of that grammar school. He held in his hand a printed copy of a statement made by the Bishop in relation to that school, in 1842. There were at that time 1,133 scholars receiving education in it. Of that number 748 belonged to the Church of England; 133 were Independents, 116 Wesleyans, 60 Baptists, 38 Socinians, 10 of Lady Huntingdon's Connection, 8 Roman Catholics, 7 Swedenborgians, 6 Presbyterians, 4 Jews, 1 Quaker, 1 Irvingite, and 1 of the Plymouth Brethren, and yet they were all receiving the same system of education in the most harmonious spirit. Dr. Lee said that his plan was this:—the religious lessons were given first in the day, and any parent who objected to the particular religious instruction that was then given had the liberty of keeping the child at home until that part of the education was concluded. No single complaint had been made of this system. On the contrary, the greatest satisfaction was evinced by all religious sects and 1082 classes. In his humble opinion he thought that they might safely meet the difficulty so far as regards all denominational schools, by allowing them to have their own peculiar religious doctrines exclusively taught in them, and not endeavouring to force upon them doctrines and creeds to which the people of the place conscientiously objected. There, however, arose a difficulty connected with the teaching and establishing of schools in places too poor and destitute for any such denominational establishments to be formed. That difficulty was, however, met by what were called the building clauses of this Bill. He did not look at this measure simply as a Manchester Bill; but rather as a model Bill to be followed by others of a similar character. He had no hesitation in saying that in the case of a school established by rates in destitute districts where there was no denominational school established, such school should be established on the principles of the Church of England. He could not understand how any objection could be raised to such a plan. He found a number of precedents for this course on the Statute-book. The most recent was the Act which was passed four years ago for the establishment of what were called the district pauper union schools. In those schools were appointed Church of England chaplains and was taught the Church of England doctrine. There was, however, all due respect shown to Dissenters, who were admitted to the advantages of those schools under limits, to receive instruction in their own doctrine from their own parents or guardians. The same principle was adopted both in gaols and workhouses. He was, therefore, fortified by those precedents in saying that in such cases as he had referred to the education in those schools should be conducted on the principles of the Church of England. He found that in Manchester this argument was frankly admitted by Dissenters. If they took the population, or the census of religious denominations, they would find an enormous majority belonging to the Church of England. Taking, too, the amount of money expended on education through the year—the numbers of scholars and of schools—they would find the Church of England greatly in the ascendancy. On those grounds, therefore, he contended that he had taken the fair and legitimate view of this part of the question. He would lay down the rule that every child should be free to benefit by those schools, and that the child should 1083 be at liberty to remain away during religious instruction if the peculiar kind taught be objected to by the parents. It was for these reasons he was disposed to give his support to the second reading of this Bill. Although he did not exactly approve of the plan of conveying education as proposed by this Bill, he considered it on the whole as a noble measure—the most important measure upon education that had ever been laid upon the table of that House. He had himself recently seen in Manchester something of that spirit abroad which had led to the preparation and introduction of this Bill. He must say he thought that the men of Manchester had held out an example to all England by meeting together—though of different persuasions—and mutually laying aside their religious differences for the purpose of supporting such a measure of education as this Bill proposed. They had met together on the common ground of Christianity, and had agreed to this Bill, which had been brought forward in a manner most honourable to themselves. He thought then that it was only due to them that their Bill should be treated with all due respect by that House, that it should be read a second time, and then sent before a Select Committee. If it should be subsequently considered necessary to submit the provisions of the Bill to a Committee of the whole House, he was confident that the promoters of the measure would have not the slightest objection that it should go through that ordeal. The House should understand this point, that the petition to which the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) referred, was not one against this Bill. What were the words of this petition of the corporation of Manchester? Here they were—"without giving any opinion on the principle or details of the Bill:—[Mr. MILNER GIBSON: Read the prayer of the petition.] If the right hon. Gentleman would allow him he would read what he liked. He would, however, read the prayer, but with the right hon. Gentleman's permission he would read what preceded the prayer first. The petitioners said:—That without giving any opinion on the principle or details of the Manchester and Salford Education Bill, your petitioners respectfully, but firmly, protest against its introduction, or further progress, as a private Bill in your Honourable House. Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the propriety of attempting to deal with the important and generally interesting subjects of education, by means of a private Bill, may not 1084 receive the sanction of your Honourable House and that the proposal to read the Manchester and Salford Bill the second time may be negatived.Very true; but why? Why, upon the ground that the Bill was a private Bill. It was on this ground that they distinctly objected, and withheld any expression of opinion on the principle or details of the measure. But this was not all. When the decision of the council was arrived at, it was only after debate; and when the petition was first drawn it was differently worded. As first drawn, the petition did object to the principle of the Bill; but an amendment was carried, that the disapproval be struck out, and these words substituted—"without giving any opinion on the principles or details." But further. If he were called upon to choose between the expressed opinions of the town council and the whole body of ratepayers upon such a subject, he should say that the opinion of the whole body of ratepayers was more to be trusted on this question than the town council. For what had occurred when the ratepayers were canvassed upon it? Why, that no less than 40,000 of them had petitioned Parliament that the Bill should pass; and he believed it would be found that these 40,000 constituted a great majority of the whole. Under these circumstances, he would set the decision of the ratepayers against the decision of the town council, even if the town council had expressed a distinct opposition to the principle of the Bill, which they had not, for they declined giving any opinion upon it. In conclusion, he would not deny that in this Bill he did not look altogether to Manchester. It was a model from which that House might derive sound principles for extending universal instruction to all the populous and destitute districts of the country; and on these grounds he was desirous that it should be read a second time.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) had, in his opening observations, spoken as if he thought the gentlemen promoting the Bill had some right to complain that himself and his right hon. Colleague (Mr. M. Gibson) had blamed the course they had taken. They did not, however, blame their course, for they did not see how they could easily have taken any other. The fact was, the forms of that House would not allow them, even if they had wished it, to bring in as a public Bill a Bill for local objects like the present; while at the same time the 1085 obvious requirements of justice to the people of Manchester, and to the persons who dissented from the measure, made it impossible, in their minds, that the House could allow such a subject to be dealt with conclusively as a private Bill. The promoters ought not to be blamed; they could not help the accidents of their position. Neither himself nor his right hon. Friend found fault with them, although dissenting from them on important details. For example, they were not willing to admit that the promoters of the present Bill were the only persons in Manchester who had advocated the cause of education. Everybody knew that an educational movement had existed in Manchester for several years; that it was commenced by persons who opposed the present Bill; and it was only after they had made great progress in securing public opinion on their side that the gentlemen promoting this Bill brought the measure forward in opposition. Both parties, therefore, were entitled to commendation; both were entitled to a fair hearing before Parliament. But the other party, who first moved in this matter, knew perfectly well that they could not carry their measure as a private Bill. They might have brought a private Bill before the House just as this private Bill was now brought, but they knew perfectly well, as his right hon. Friend had always advised them, that it was not the way to get the question settled at all. Such being the position of the Gentlemen who could not agree to the present Bill, they had a right to ask the House to hear their objections to the present Bill being read a second time. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) had made some rather extraordinary observations towards the close of this speech. He repudiated the views of the corporation of Manchester, and contended that they were not elected for educational purposes. They were not elected, any more than he himself was, for educational purposes; but he must say that if there ever was a body capable of expressing the opinions of the whole community which it governed, that body was the council of the city of Manchester. Everybody who knew anything of the proceedings of the city council of Manchester since its first establishment, would admit that there was no town in the United Kingdom more indebted to the indefatigable and enlightened labours of its municipal representatives than was the city of Manchester. The amount of money they 1086 had expended was enormous, but the results they had achieved were not less astounding. Now, for what did this Bill ask the House? Brought in by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), and the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers), neither of them connected with Manchester, it asked Parliament, under the modest guise of a Private Bill, to tax the ratepayers of that city to the amount, as estimated by some, of no less than from 40,000l. to 50,000l. a year, but of 25,000l. a year even according to the promoters themselves. It proposed to take either of these vast sums from the ratepayers of the city for the purpose of educating the people. Now, he would ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) what he would say if his right hon. Colleague (Mr. M. Gibson) and himself were to bring in a Bill for the purpose of extending the principle to the county of Worcester? What would the right hon. Baronet say if the Bill so introduced proeesed to levy a county rate, and to appoint a district school committee, with power to draw upon the county treasurer to the extent of 50,000l. or 100,000l. a year? Such a measure, he rather thought, would be opposed by every county magistrate in that House; and he could hardly bring himself to think that the right hon. Baronet, who made such a pertinacious stand against the County Rates Expenditure Bill last year would support it, as he, had the present measure, in a speech of an hour's length. The thing was monstrous and incredible; and but that the right hon. Baronet was looking rather to Manchester than Worcestershire, and allowing his praiseworthy sentiments in favour of education to dim his sense of justice, he would see at once that nothing could be more impossible than that the House of Commons should consent to impose such an amount of taxation on the ratepayers of Manchester, opposed as the proposition was by his right hon. Friend and himself, who at least represented somebody in the borough, and opposed also by the unanimous vote of the corporation. The corporation were not even mentioned in the Bill. The Bill had not been submitted to a single public meeting in Manchester, and it had not even been circulated in that House. Indeed, he would undertake to say, that not one Member in ten had ever seen it at all. He could not see, under such circumstances, how Gentlemen who valued the representa- 1087 tive principle, or municipal institutions, could oppose the concurrent sense of a great community upon a private measure merely because it was called an Educational Bill; and the promoters must themselves feel that here was an obstacle of an insurmountable character against the course they had been recommended to pursue. He would not go into the details of the Bill further than to say that, without once mentioning the corporation, it proposed to establish, under the system of voting according to Sturges Bourne's Act, a district school committee, which should demand from the overseers of the poor the large rates he had stated, annually, for the purpose, not of opening new schools, but of keeping open the existing schools in Manchester under their present management, with the condition that they should be free schools for the whole population. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey), as well as the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington), had referred to the petition from the corporation; and the latter had argued from it that the corporation did not object to the principle of the Bill. He laid particular stress upon the word "therefore," as if it referred only to the three preceding lines which he read, but it referred, undoubtedly, to the affirmations in the whole of the preceding part of the petition. Here was one of them:—That your petitioners fully recognise the necessity of legislation for the purpose of providing free schools for the poorest, most destitute, and dependent classes of children in this country, and believe that thereby many of the social evils resulting from the want of education which at present unfortunately exist amongst such classes, may be materially lessened, and the amount of crime amongst juveniles considerably diminished.But this was wholly different from the propositions in the Bill. The Bill provided that the whole of the children in the city should be educated at free schools—those of the rich, of the middle classes, and of the working classes, all alike, if they chose to attend there. This was a very different thing from what the corporation laid down in their petition, which was that Parliament should legislate, not by a private Bill, for the purpose of providing education "for the poorest, most destitute, and dependent classes of children in this country." They recommended, also, that means should be taken to secure the attendance of children at schools. Then what became of the statements of the right 1088 hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth, and of the right hon. Baronet opposite, that the corporation of Manchester had expressed no opinion upon the principle of the Bill? They did express an opinion; but it was an opinion in favour of a principle opposed to that of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Pakington) had stated that when the Bill was before the corporation an amendment was made which had the effect of altering the petition. The fact was, the amendment was a friendly amendment; it was proposed by a member who was in favour of the Bill, though not as a private Bill; and then the council carried the petition unanimously. It was, however, one of the most remarkable circumstances connected with the whole case, that the corporation of Manchester, representing between 300,000 and 400,000 persons, who would be affected, should the present Bill pass, by a tax amounting to 40,000l. annually, was not, owing to the forms of the House, able to present a petition to the House respecting it. His right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) had such a petition, engrossed upon parchment and sealed with the broad seal of the corporation, but all to no purpose. Where was this petition? It was stowed away in a room fifty or one hundred yards off—in some of those small rooms or cells which Sir Charles Barry had built for concealing everything about the House—and it could not be laid on the table. It had not been presented, and could not be. But suppose the Bill went before a Committee, what a ludicrous state of things would ensue. Who would be upon that Committee? Neither himself nor his right hon. Colleague, who know everything about the Bill, but only Members who had no knowledge whatever concerning it. They would discuss the matter for several days; all sorts of questions about conscience would be asked; whether the Roman Catholics would agree to do this, or the Unitarians that, or the Church people to do something else. Now, he would put it to the House whether anything could be more inconsistent or absurd than that a matter of this sort, involving such important questions, ought to be settled by five hon. Members upstairs, with the assistance of the gentlemen of the long robe. It was said that this was to be a model Bill. But we had already a Bill for Ireland; why not take that as a model? A Bill was to be brought in for Scotland next week; why not take that 1089 as a model? Here were measures affecting two-thirds of the United Kingdom; why not have another for England and Wales? Would they practise their experiments upon Manchester when Manchester did not ask for it, but denounced it by its legitimate authorities? There was another reason why he was sure the House would not consent to this Bill. It would not work. Did the House think that if they passed a Bill in the face of sixty municipal councillors, aldermen, and more, the Bill would work? Would they set up another authority in the shape of a district school committee, with the power to put their finger annually upon vast sums, whose whole office and business was repudiated by the municipality of Manchester? Were they to proceed upon the theory which this Bill adopted, that every man, whatever his religious opinions, must contribute directly and annually for the teaching of every other religious opinion in Manchester, some of which he believed to be dangerous and erroneous? He saw the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) looking in amazement at such a proposition. The House had not heard anything of his peculiar propositions this year; but the hon. Member was conscientious, and he certainly could not pay a rate under this Bill. He (Mr. Bright) was also conscientious, and he could not pay a rate under this Bill except with the same violence that would be done to his convictions in the case of church-rates; and here he would express his solemn conviction that if the Bill passed in this shape, or in any shape, it would only import into the town of Manchester all the evils of a churchrate, from which evils Manchester was now free, and cause such a revulsion in the public mind with regard to the question of education, that parties who were gradually approximating to rational views upon it would be driven from each other, and that public education, instead of being promoted, would be retarded for many years. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) had not been quite fair in his opening speech in treating himself and his right hon. Colleague as if they were opposed to education. They were not opposed to education. They had both stood upon the same platform with the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), and they agreed it must be desirable to have some experiment in the way of a permissive Bill, in order to discover if the 1090 problem could be worked out. He (Mr. Bright) thought it might, but it never would be worked out by a Private Bill brought in, by Members not connected with Manchester, and in opposition to the opinions of the town council and of a vast majority of the people of Manchester. This, indeed, was a delicate question, which could not be finished in one Session. The respectable gentlemen who promoted the Bill had not hitherto been much in favour of public agitation. They had only been at it three years, and were rather novices yet. It would require another, or perhaps two years, before discussion in Manchester could assume, a shape to enable a Bill to be brought in with such an amount of general acceptance as to give it a chance of working with anything like success. His own opinion was that the proper course would be to withdraw the Bill, and then persons interested in a measure for Manchester, with some from both sides of the House, might probably, at no distant period, agree upon a Bill that might be brought in by the hon. Member (Mr. Adderley); or, what would probably be better, it might be offered to the Government, who might perchance consent to bring it in. It should, however, be a general measure, legislating very little, but giving permissive powers to the various corporations in the country. Parliament leaving thus the settlement, each corporation would be left to adopt the measure for itself, and apply it to its own locality as far as public opinion in the community required. He was not against an experimental education in the city of Manchester. The majority of the people there were not opposed to it; but they would not have it tried upon principles such as were involved in the present Bill; principles contrary to the sense of the whole municipal authority, and contrary to their opinions of what was just with regard to the consciences of individuals. If any hon. Gentleman thought he opposed the Bill upon any other ground, he was altogether mistaken. He had much respect for the gentlemen who proposed it, and he would not deny that they had made concessions which entitled them to great attention; and being extremely anxious that this great question should be put in a train for a settlement of some kind, he would assist it in any way he could conscientiously. But as he believed he best comprehended the wants of the locality, as he knew the 1091 wishes of the people, and as he knew the nature of the Bill, he asked the House not to consent to the second reading.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he concurred with his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) in thinking that the Government had manifested a great disregard to this important question by almost wholly absenting themselves from the House during the present discussion. He thought it was somewhat hard that the House should be asked to deal with a question so immeasurably great as education, which ought to be argued on general grounds, in the shape of a private Bill. And this, too, when they had it made manifest to them that the opinion of the inhabitants upon whom it was to operate were divided upon the measure. There was not the name of any Member connected with the city of Manchester, or with Salford, on the back of the Bill. When it was known how eager all persons had been in endeavouring to advance the cause of education, it was, at least, a strong evidence that there was a great division of opinion upon the proposed arrangement, when no one representing the interests of Manchester or Salford had consented to his name being placed on the back of this Bill. He was decidedly in favour of the diffusion of education among the people, provided that education were based on religion; but because he believed that, as drawn, the Bill was not based on religion, and, so far from that, must inevitably fritter it down, and bring it to nought, he disliked the principle of the measure; he objected to the Bill also, because, whilst in terms it professed to be tolerant, it evaded tolerance in truth. It was impossible to read the clause, the 47th he believed, which professed to secure tolerance to all the children in the schools, without seeing that, "keeping the word of promise to the ear," it would "break it to the hope." Moreover, he confessed that he objected to the principle of rating laid down by the Bill in its present shape, and he quite concurred with the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) that if the proposed system of rating were attempted to be enforced, they would have all the evils of the church-rate system, including all its heart-burnings, without even the advantage of prescription which church rates enjoy. How would the trustees of schools be affected? They might apply to participate in the general rates of a town. 1092 The Bill said to the trustees of schools, in effect, "You shall have a share in this rate if you will commit a breach of trust. Give up what you have promised to perform, and which you believe you ought to fulfil, and here is a share of the rate. But, whether you do so or not, of this be assured, you shall pay your rate for what you believe to be error." His right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) had based his argument to-night on the present insufficiency of education. But what did he do? He said he disapproved of the mode proposed for an extension of education by the Bill. But if he disapproved of the mode he (Mr. Henley) confessed he did not understand upon what ground his right hon. Friend had determined to support the second reading. For, whilst his right hon. Friend declared that the extension of education was necessary, he disapproved of the plan by which that object was proposed to be accomplished by the Bill. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) had said a great deal about the present state of education in this country, and he (Mr. Henley) presumed that every one would be ready to admit that there was much room for adopting increased means of education. But some of the arguments of the hon. Gentleman were not, as he thought, quite well founded, or sufficient to prove all his assertions. For instance, with regard to the state of crime, the hon. Member said that, though there had been a great increase in the amount of education, there had not been any relative decrease in crime. Now it seemed to him (Mr. Henley) that the hon. Member had not attached sufficient weight to the facts which, contemporaneously with the increase of education, had been going on. He did not consider that while there had been an increased number of committals there had also been increased means provided for prosecuting crime, the public having undertaken to pay all the expenses. By that one circumstance the number of committals was greatly increased; still, he believed that it had had the effect of checking crime. He believed the primary duty of the State was to teach children their duty to man and to God, and that they could not be taught their duty to man without being taught their duty to God. And whatever might be said respecting Ireland, he did not believe that in this country—especially in the densely-populated manufacturing districts 1093 —any one would hold that, if they gave children a secular education, they had provided the means of ensuring them religious teaching also. Unless, however, they could do that, he maintained that they would be doing only that which was a secondary duty, and leaving undone that which was their primary duty. He agreed with the hon. Member for Oldham that it was a good thing for children to receive a domestic religious education; but it was his opinion that, whether from the incessant employment of the parents, or from their inability or their want of will, they could not be trusted in imparting to their children that indispensable portion of education. In trusting to such a source he feared they would be trusting to a broken reed. In his opinion it was our duty, in the first instance, to provide a religious education, and then to engraft a secular education upon it. These were the views which he conscientiously entertained with regard to the subject of education. It was undoubtedly a subject upon which there were, and would always continue to be, great differences of opinion. He deeply regretted that the Government had shown such a total want of care respecting it, for, whilst hardly favouring the House with a distinct opinion, they had actually shown their contempt of it, by not taking the trouble to listen to what other persons had to say upon the subject. He considered the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) as tantamount to voting against the second reading of the Bill; and, so regarding it, if the right hon. Gentleman went to a division, he (Mr. Henley) should give him his support.
§ MR. WILSON PATTEN
said, he could not vote for the Motion of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), because he felt that, if the measure were rejected, he should thereby be assisting to put an end for ever to all attempts on the part of any town or community to bring in a Bill connected with education; and he would not be a party to preventing a town which desired it from obtaining an Act for educating the children within its precincts. He did not understand upon what principle it was that they allowed towns to provide themselves with gas, with water, and with other necessaries, by means of local rates, and yet refused to allow them to provide themselves with education. The question of the second reading of the Bill upon the table, how- 1094 ever, rested on very different grounds. He had had a great deal to do with the private legislation of the House of Commons, and he had always acted on this principle—if he found the great body of the inhabitants of a town, backed by their Members, were in favour of, or opposed to, a measure connected with that town, he for one had uniformly given the greatest weight to their opinions, and generally those opinions had regulated, almost exclusively, his conduct in reference to the second reading; but on the present occasion he found himself precluded from taking so decisive a course. In the first place, he found the two hon. Members for Manchester to be dead opposed to the Bill; and of course he was quite ready to give all due weight to their opposition; but then he happened to know the opinions of these hon. Gentlemen, and he knew that their desire was to establish a secular system of education in this country which was diametrically opposed to this Bill. Then there came another question with regard to the municipal body which governed Manchester; and if he were convinced that that corporation were, equally with their Members, opposed to the measure, he would not hesitate to follow the course he had hitherto pursued on every Private Bill, and pay the same deference to the municipal holy of Manchester that he had paid to other municipal bodies. He happened to know, however, that on a former occasion the corporation of Manchester expressly objected to the provisions of a similar Bill to the one under consideration, on opposite grounds to those now alleged, namely, because it imposed upon them duties connected with the education of the town. In the present instance, on looking at the course which that corporation had taken, he found that it had been proposed to them to oppose this Bill; but instead of taking the direct course of opposing it, they adopted a petition, in which they merely prayed the House not to pass the Bill as a private one. Now, with all due deference to the corporation of Manchester, he must be permitted to say that he did think they were bound to afford to Parliament some more distinct intimation of their views than was contained in their petition to the House. As things were, therefore, he had the greatest unwillingness to let go his hold on the Bill, and for the following reasons. For some years past he had taken a lively interest in the question of educat- 1095 ing the labouring classes in the county he represented (North Lancashire), and he well knew that differences of opinion existed respecting it in Manchester and every part of the county. He had seen proposition after proposition made and fall to the ground, in consequence of that diversity of opinion; and when he found that the exertions of men who had devoted a great portion of their time to the promotion of education in Manchester were so far successful with the principle they advocated that they had secured the support of 40,000 of the inhabitants of that town, he would not consent to lose his hold of a measure which commanded such an amount of support as long as there was the least chance of its being successful. He believed the question was as between three distinct systems of education—the voluntary, the denominational, and the secular. His belief was that so great was the difference of opinion on these three systems, that if they propounded any one of them by itself, they might wait for the next fifty years before they would get any system of education established in the country at all. They were now acting upon the voluntary system, and he knew well what great advantages had arisen from it, and the progress it had made throughout the country. But who that looked into the matter would be satisfied with that progress, however great it might be? Taking the population of the country, it would be found that the voluntary system was totally inadequate to the wants and requirements of the community. Again, so strong was the feeling in all parts of the country against the secular system, that nobody had yet dared to propose that as a national system of education. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) said there was a larger petition for that than this. But had any one ventured to propose a Bill founded on it in this House?—[Mr. M. GIBSON: I have proposed it.]—But the right hon. Gentleman was not permitted to read his Bill a first time, a pretty convincing proof of the opposition which such a system would meet with. The feeling of opposition was equally strong throughout the country against the denominational system also. Seeing, then, that not one of these three systems could be generally approved and adopted, he thought the House ought not to look with indifference upon any scheme like the one now before them, when it came supported by so large a number of the inhabitants of the town from which the measure pro- 1096 ceeded. He was going to suggest, since it appeared that every Member had been led astray by the petition of the corporation of Manchester against the Bill, that the hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill should postpone the second reading until the town council of Manchester had had an opportunity of expressing their opinions more decidedly than they had yet done on the measure before the House, and of conveying to the House what they believed to be the feeling of the city of Manchester upon the subject. He thought the hon. Member would act wisely by adopting such a course. He, for one, should positively despair of any system of education having a chance of success, especially if brought forward by an individual Member, if something like the present measure should not be adopted.
said, that several hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House had expressed an opinion that the voluntary system of education was not adequate to the wants and requirements of the country. Now he, for one, was not prepared to make that admission. He believed that the voluntary principle in education, carried out as it was now being carried out, was everything that the country could require; and, whatever might be its deficiencies, he was perfectly persuaded that if the country would continue to give it its confidence, it would prove the best system that had ever yet been adopted. He would refer to a few facts in support of this statement. In the first instance, having sat on the Committee which had inquired into this subject two Sessions, he would beg to call the at attention of the House to the circumstance that at Manchester itself there was a larger amount of school accommodation than was shown to be necessary by any of the evidence adduced before the Committee, and the peculiar position with regard to the employment of the young in which Manchester was placed rendered a shorter term of education necessary in that place than in rural districts where such occupations did not exist. In proof of this, he would refer to the facts, which were shown by the census, that, while at Manchester the attendance at day schools was 1 in 11½ of the population, at Exeter it was 1 in 6½; and at Manchester the attendance at the Sunday schools was 1 in 7¼, while at Exeter it was 1 in 15½. Several witnesses had been called before that Committee, who had endeavoured to show that the proper term for the attendance of a 1097 child at school was seven years, but when they were pressed as to the fact, they all felt they were bound to admit that only four years was the average term of the attendance of children at schools. Although he deplored that there were in Manchester, as well as in every large and populous city in the Empire, large numbers of destitute and criminal children who required an opportunity of education, and who at the present moment were not supplied with it, yet he took these to be exceptional cases, to which the same principle could not be applied as that which was applicable to the rest of the population. But, even while making this admission, he would call the attention of the House to the meeting which had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), at which several highly esteemed noblemen and gentlemen had given their opinion upon this section of the subject, and while they saw, in common with himself, the necessity for something being done with regard to those children, yet so strongly did they feel that hesitation was necessary before substituting for the benevolent aid of persons who were interested in their welfare a governmental or municipal plan, that they made use of the following observations with regard to it:—The Earl of Shaftesbury, While maintaining that Government grants were needful, said that 'Government aid, if alone given, would soon become cold, formal, and ineffective.' The Earl of Harrowby said, 'If it were desired to have moral action brought to bear upon the individual—and this was indispensable to reformatory establishments of the class contemplated—it would be necessary to bring the heart of one man to bear on the heart of another; and no Act of Parliament could secure that amount of enthusiasm and zeal which was necessary for reforming the heart of a criminal, whether adult or child. It was not enough to appoint well-paid officers, or to have a number of persons scrambling for Government appointments, and too happy to receive Government salaries. They must, on the contrary, look for assistance to those who had already distinguished themselves by personal sacrifices and great exertions in the work.' Mr. Commissioner M. D. Dill, Q.C., alluded to the success of reformatory attempts already made, and asked upon what principle all this had been done, 'Was it by the order of Government, or under the hope of Government reward? No; it was gratifying to find that all that yet had been done in this matter had been the result of the voluntary principle, and not by the paid agency of the State.'Then he would refer the house to the census as the strongest possible proof that education had been advancing in this coun- 1098 try in a far greater ratio than the population itself. From 1818 to 1851 the population had increased 54 per cent, but the educational increase had been 218 per cent. In 1818, there were 19,230 day schools, with 674,883 scholars, or one in 17.25 of the population. In 1833 there were 38,971 schools, with 1,276,947 scholars, or 1 in 11.27. In 1851 there were 46,114 schools, with 2,144,377 scholars, or 1 in 8.36 of the entire population. Sir John Kay Shuttleworth had said that he should never be satisfied until he that 1 in 8 of the population attended day schools. The census showed that between 1818 and 1851 the proportion of the population attending them had been raised to 1 in 8½. What, then, could justify the Government or the country in interrupting the course which was being followed by benevolence to promote the welfare of the people? He had noticed the difficulties under which the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) laboured in speaking on this subject. The noble Lord seemed encompassed by difficulties, and so he would be if the Government stepped out of its proper course. He (Mr. Peto) maintained that the office of the Government was to protect all classes of the community, but that it was no more the business of the Government to be the educator of the people than to be their manufacturer or trader; and if, as the Marquess of Lansdowne had said, Governments and municipalities would become traders or manufacturers, they would be found to be the worst manufacturers or traders the people could have. They wanted a feeling which no Government officials or Committees could ever possess to be brought to bear in carrying out their object, and the efforts of active, true benevolence alone could impart to all who were connected with it that feeling, which was, that the welfare of the children was to be placed above all other considerations. The only way in which they could attain that object was by supporting the voluntary system. He would now refer to unendowed schools. In 1818, there were 861 unendowed public schools, with 110,062 scholars; in 1833, there were 5,724 schools, with 390,734 scholars; and in 1851, there were 11,478 schools, with 1,263,536 scholars. From 1818 to 1853, there had, therefore, been an increase of 665 per cent in the number of schools, and of 255 per cent in the number of scholars; while from 1833 to 1851, the increase in the number of schools had 1099 been 201 per cent, and in the number of scholars 323 per cent. He knew that there were a great many people who did not think much of the results of the establishment of Sunday schools. He believed, on the contrary, that they had never had an agency in this country more blessed by Divine Providence, or more useful to the working classes than Sunday schools. In 1782, the first Sunday school was established. In 1818, there were 5,463 Sunday schools, with 477,225 scholars. In 1833, there were 16,828 schools, with 1,548,890 scholars. In 1851, there were 23,498 schools, with 2,407,409 scholars. The number of teachers had increased to no less than 302,000; being 1 in 60 of the entire population. The mere fact of 1 in 60 of the population having devoted themselves to the education of youth upon their day of rest—this being a greater sacrifice on their part than it would be on the part of those who were occupied solely in the education of youth—must have exercised a most beneficial influence. He believed that the benefit which had been derived from Sunday schools could only be appreciated by those who were well acquainted with them. He knew, from his intimate acquaintance with Lancashire and the neighbourhood of Manchester, that it was impossible to appreciate the amount of good which they had done in that district. Let them now look at other sources for the diffusion of educational influences. He would take, for instance, the Ragged School Union of London. There were now 20,000 scholars belonging to that Union only. Let them also take the mechanics' institutes. In 1823, the first institute had been established in England. In 1850, there were 622 institutes, with 103,522 members or attendants. Every hon. Gentleman would recollect that when the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) had spoken with regard to the educational measure of last Session, he had referred to the fact of 500,000l. per annum being expended for educational purposes in this country, derived solely from the children's pence who attended the schools, and had in a feeling manner dwelt upon the necessity of not interfering with so beneficial an outlay. These facts showed the House that if they had not arrived at that point at which they all desired to arrive, they were pursuing a course which, if they were allowed to pursue it without being meddled with by State and municipal institutions, would lead them 1100 to a happy and beneficial result. When that result had been achieved, let them consider the good they would have done. Voluntary education benefited both the person giving and the person receiving. It bound together the various classes of the community in a way in which no other kind of instruction could bind them. With regard to the effects of Governmental education, he would refer to the example of France, and he would ask whether they would like to see the circumstance take place in this country which had taken place there in the reign of Louis Philippe, who had been obliged to discharge 2,000 schoolmasters at once, because they, the paid agents of the Government, were becoming too troublesome, and had inculcated unsound and dangerous principles into the minds of the children? Let them look at Prussia, where the system of education was much of the same character as that which was recognised by this Bill. It had often been asked, what was the feeling of the children in that country and of their teachers with regard to religion. Nine-tenths of the teachers in Prussia were infidels. Most of them acknowledged that they considered that the religion they taught was a lie, but that they were paid by the Government for teaching it, and did so to gain their bread. In Holland, he found that a secular system of instruction, without religion, prevailed. A friend of his, while staying in that country, had inquired of one of the teachers when the children received religious instruction. He said he did not know, but he would ask the children, and the inquiry was actually made of some twenty of the children before one could be found who had received any religious instruction at all. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), that if they were going to have education without religion for its basis, and without the beneficial influence of the voluntary principle, they would make a sacrifice of the independence and self-reliance of the people of this country which they were not called upon to make, and which Parliament ought not to permit to be made. If this question was to be agitated with reference to the introduction of any Bill by the Government, they might yet have ample opportunities of thoroughly ventilating the subject of education, and, therefore, he would not now detain the House any longer, as several other hon. Members were doubtless desirous of addressing them; but he wished to 1101 impress upon them how strongly he felt that, if they once departed from the principle of voluntary education, and substituted for it the machinery of State or of central education, they would always regret the effect which would thereby be produced upon the character and the feelings of their countrymen.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
said, as one whose name had been placed on the back of the Bill he had, in the name of the promoters of the measure, to thank the House for having accorded to it so full and fair a discussion. No one denied that the measure was a most important one, and that by its discussion there was no doubt the question of public education had been advanced a stage. He could not, however, agree to the objection which had been urged to its introduction in the form of a private Bill on the ground that it was a measure for establishing a system of national education. It was no such thing. It was not a measure for setting up a system of education at all. It was, in fact, simply a scheme for promoting and sustaining a system of education now in existence in the city of Manchester and borough of Salford. The promoters had not been so unwise as to attempt to solve a problem which had divided the country for forty years; but, having found a grievance in their own locality, they thought themselves justified in endeavouring to redress it. Manchester had a right to do what it could for itself. It had 40,000 children not at school, and with reference to a great portion of whom there was no satisfactory reason why they were not. It had an excess of school accommodation and abundance of teachers. The problem to be solved was to render this of use for the education of these children. To solve this problem two schemes had been proposed, one that which they were now discussing, and the other that of the National Public School Association, which was supported by the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) and other hon. Members of that House. Between the supporters of this Bill and its opponents the difference was not a difference of principle so much as of plan. Both supporters and opponents agreed that something ought to be done to educate the people. The latter said, "Give them a secular education." The former urged the importance of the religious element in education, and were willing to support the present denominational system. There was undoubtedly this much to be said in 1102 favour of the Bill as against the secular education party—namely, that all classes of religionists opposed a merely secular education. He did not then argue whether that was right or wrong; it was sufficient to declare it to be a fact. As to the other opponents—the voluntaries—they opposed altogether the principle of a rate for educational purposes; yet they sanctioned a rate for the education of vagrants, paupers, and criminals. The Bill went but one step further, and asked for a rate to educate the poor neglected children who would otherwise be hanging about the streets of Manchester and receiving no education at all. If the State might stand in loco parentis with regard to vagrants, paupers, and criminals, wily might it not also hold the same position with regard to that great mass out of which those three classes were replenished and helpless? The voluntaries would do well seriously to consider that by the course they were taking they were preventing the State from interfering until the very mischief which education was to prevent had happened. But it was said that the corporation of Manchester was opposed to this Bill, and that therefore it ought not to be forced upon that city. Now, the fact was, that the ratepayers, or a majority of them, had given their assent to a Bill similar to the one before the House, differing indeed only from it in not being so much of a compromise. But if there were any doubt as to the wishes of the city of Manchester this Bill might be made permissive only so as not to come into operation unless a clear majority of ratepayers should desire it. Surely there could then be no objection. It would then be of an experimental character, and this was a most opportune moment for trying the experiment. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) had shown by his speech that he was no nearer to the solution of the question of national education than he had been for years past, nor was there any statesman much nearer to that solution than the noble Lord. Why not, then, allow this Bill—as a first step in the right direction—to pass, and then watch its result? Not only was the time opportune, but the place was appropriate. Where should such an experiment be tried sooner or under fairer conditions than at Manchester? Its population was large enough, its varieties of religious and political creed sufficiently numerous, to make the test a conclusive one. Above all, education is there re- 1103 quired in a pre-eminent degree, socially, commercially, and politically, with the present formidable manufacturiug competition of the Continent. Manchester required education for the improvement of her artisans—for the improvement of her designers—in order to secure her present supremacy. She required it also for the improvement of her population generally, who were asking for the extension of political rights. Let not the House wait for some sublime piece of national legislation which would meet the views of all parties—and from which we seemed as far off as ever—but rather rest satisfied with a measure like this, which offered a chance of advancing, although but one step, in the right direction.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, he had always been deeply interested in the question now before the House. It was to be regretted, when so large, wealthy, and respectable a population as Manchester had been for so long a period engaged in the preparation of such an important measure, that a proposition should be brought forward in that House to reject the measure on its second reading. It was true, as stated, that the Bill had its opponents in Manchester; but it ought also at the same time to have been stated that the Bill was supported by 40,000 Manchester ratepayers. He implored the House to consider the question seriously, and not ungraciously reject the measure because another system was sought to be set up—the National School system—which excluded the Bible as the basis of education. He never would support a plan of education for the people which had not the Bible for the basis of their morality and the ground of their spiritual expectation. He would adduce one fact, which he would volunteer in place of a speech—it was on this fact that he grounded his views of the necessity of giving the people a religious education, otherwise damage instead of benefit would ensue. The Reformatory Prison in Great Smith Street, Westminster, had worked beneficially, because it effected a moral reformation of criminals. The Report from that prison stated that mere secular education did not prevent crime; for out of every hundred criminals it was ascertained that eighty-three had received good general education—thus showing that mere secular education, that is, education without religion, did not prevent crime, and was rather hurtful than beneficial to the people.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he wished to 1104 offer a few words upon the inconvenient position in which the House had placed itself by this discussion on a private Bill. There were two most important principles contained in the measure—the one was, the principle of a compulsory rating for providing education in the city of Manchester; and the other was a principle which would enable parties to divert endowments from the original purposes of the trust if they passed the Bill in its present form. Now, if they admitted the principle of compulsory rating for the purpose of establishing a system of general education in Manchester, they would there establish the principle of church rates, with all the inconveniences attending those rates, and without the justification which had hitherto existed with regard to them. Let it be remembered that church rates were introduced at a time when all the people of this country entertained the same opinions—that they had prescriptive usage in their favour—and that the property which paid those rates was either inherited or purchased with that burden upon it. But if they introduced the principle of compulsory rating for the establishment of a system of education in the different towns of the Kingdom, they had not, in doing so, a single particle of one of those reasons which justified them in having and maintaining church rates—for it is not introduced when there is an uncertainty on the subject—there is no prescriptive usage in its favour, and the property of the town has hitherto been free from it. Thus they would introduce all the evils to which church rates were liable, while they would be putting a burden on property which hitherto had not been called to bear any such burden. Now, whether it might be wise or prudent to adopt the principle of compulsory rating for the purpose of establishing a general system of education in England, on the ground that by voluntary exertion they could not provide that general education, that was a principle which they ought to have the fullest opportunity of discussing, and of which they ought to have the fullest notice, as well as the fullest information, before they came to any conclusion upon it. It is not a subject to be discussed and decided on the second reading of a private Bill. The other important principle in the Bill involved this difficulty—that since every child in a town where a district free school was established would be at liberty to attend that school for pur- 1105 poses of education, while yet through his parents he could refuse to be taught according to the system of religion upon which that school was founded, it might turn out that so many children would be introduced into the school that they would be numerically greater than the other children to be educated therein according to the system which the founder laid down, and thus the whole trust would be subverted. Now, that was a question which, when they came to discuss it as a great public measure, would necessarily impose upon Parliament the duty of considering whether it was not drying up the sources of voluntary charity and benevolence, by making that charity and benevolence dependent, not on the law as the founder of a charity knew it to be at the time he endowed the school, but upon the casual majority of the ratepayers in a particular district, who could by their votes subvert the whole principles on which be intended the school to be endowed, and on which the trusts of that school were to be carried on. He (Mr. Walpole) must say before they established such a principle as that with regard to a system of compulsory rating, they ought not to do so upon the second reading of a private Bill, or without having full and ample discussion, being fully sensible at the same time that it was an entire innovation. He made this remark to show the House the extreme inconvenience they were incurring by adopting this Bill, which contained the principle of a great public measure, and which ought not to be raised upon a private application to Parliament. For it must be remembered that private Bills were brought in without notice, and read a second time without being circulated amongst hon. Members; and Gentlemen came down to the House without knowing the principles they contained till they were discussed, unless they were accidentally informed of those principles by the promoters of the Bill; whereas, in the case of public measures, the House and the country received full notice of their true nature; they were either brought in or watched by Gentlemen connected with Departments of the State, who thus became responsible for them; the fullest information was obtained upon every point involved in them; and if the Bill was an important one, its second reading was postponed till hon. Members had had time to consider and deliberate upon its provisions before they were called upon to adopt it or repel it. It was said, however, that this Bill 1106 was simply a private Bill in the strict sense of the word, and that, according to the forms of the House, the principles of it, as such could now be, as fully as was necessary, discussed. From that notion he entirely differed, and he hoped that the House would never consent that such a practice should be adopted. There were many matters which might be brought forward as private Bills, which, if they wished great public privileges, ought not to be sanctioned in that character. Suppose, for instance, they were to bring in a private Bill, by which they bound the majority to contribute by rates to the general fund for maintaining, repairing, or building of churches and chapels, for the religious denominations of every body of Christians in Manchester, did they think such a Bill would be tolerated for a single moment as a private Bill? Would not the Government say, and very properly, "You must bring it in as a public measure and discuss it, and we shall see whether such a principle can be adopted, because it may be extended over the whole Kingdom?" So as regards the system of education proposed in this Bill, it ought to be treated as a public measure; and he must say that the experiment, or the experience of that night, call it what they would, was a good lesson to the House, or rather he should say to the Government, not to allow this kind of legislation. He regretted very much that some member of the Government at the commencement of the discussion did not get up in his place and point out the extreme inconvenience of proceeding with Bills of this description, taking up the whole time which ought to be employed in the public and not the private business of the country; and he ventured to add, that if this Bill had been given notice of for a Government night—on either a Monday or a Friday—it would not have been allowed to proceed till that hour (eleven o'clock). These evils he deprecated as necessarily incident to the introduction of private Bills of this description, involving great public principles, and which might cause the postponement of the business of the House by constantly leading to adjournments. His hon. Friend (Mr. Adderley) who had brought forward this measure, as well as the people of Manchester, had devoted great attention to the question, and he (Mr. Walpole) should be sorry to thwart them after the great pains and trouble they had taken in devising a good system of education. But that did not get rid of the 1107 objection in this case, and the question was, how could they introduce such a measure for Manchester without establishing a precedent which might not hereafter be extended to the other towns of the Kingdom. He could not, however, entirely assent to the Amendment of the right hon. hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson), for that Amendment would amount to this, that, under no circumstances could education be supported from public rates. He was not prepared to support a proposition so large as that; for he would not assert that in no case whatever should such a proposition be made. That would be prejudging the general question, whether they should have a general system of education maintained by rates or not. Then, as to the Motion for the second reading of the Bill. His own impression was, that the object of the Bill would not be defeated by postponing it for a short time, but, in point of fact, that it might be furthered by such a postponement. He should regret if, supposing the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester should be rejected, any hon. Gentleman should move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. That would be putting the gentlemen of Manchester in a position in which, after the great exertions they had made, they ought not to be put. It would defeat their intention, without a chance of renewing them. In the midst of these difficulties he would, therefore, recommend that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman should be withdrawn; and then that, on the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, the House should simply refuse to agree to its being read a second time now. This course would not preclude the promoters of the Bill from going on with it at a future time, if the Government, or any Member of the House, were not prepared to submit that this or any other system of education should be made applicable to the great towns of the Kingdom. By taking such a course he believed that we should obviate most of the difficulties which embarrassed us at present, while we preserved to the House—what he hoped it would always preserve to itself—the right and the power of saying, that when a great public measure was proposed involving a great public principle, it ought to be brought forward as a Public Bill, in order that they might have the fullest information and the fullest discussion of which the subject would allow.
§ MR. MIALL
said, he perfectly concurred 1108 with the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that it was extremely inconvenient, and even inappropriate, to discuss a great question of public policy on so narrow a basis as a private Bill; and he thought that by sending such a measure to a Committee upstairs, they would be forestalling the decision of Parliament upon a vital question, which the House was unable to settle for itself. If difference of opinion prevailed in that house relative to the effect of the measures proposed to be brought into operation by the present Bill, it was to be remembered, also, that much the same differences of opinion prevailed in Manchester, where the Bill was intended to apply; and he would avail himself of that opportunity, with the permission of the House, to put it into the possession of the opinion of those who entertained what were called "voluntary principles." Much had been said about education, and it had been divided into three classes—first, charitable education; secondly, education by means of public rates; and thirdly, no education at all. But no real statement had been made of the true principles to be enforced on this subject. He had read, a few days since, the report of the Committee for the Improvement of the Dwellings of the Labouring Poor, and he thought that if a statistical return of such were made, it would be of great advantage, and would go far to prove that proper provision had not been made for the poor; but he should never think, on that account, of coming to the conclusion that Parliament ought to provide suitable habitations for the poor. But it was said, why put the one burden on the shoulders of Government if you did not put the other? and why put such a charge upon Government at all, since the primary duty of education devolved, no doubt, upon the people themselves, who should, and in the majority of cases could, provide such for their children? The fact was, that the fault generally might be traced to the parents of the children, who in many cases made gain of them by getting them employed in factories and workshops at an early age; and until the disposition of parents in this respect was reformed, little improvement could be made. Most parents among the lower orders could, by giving up a portion of their beer a day, find the means of giving their children some education, and it was, in fact, the want of will in the parents to send their children to school, which was the great drawback to all measures of improvement 1109 of this kind. If they valued education as they ought, there was already plenty of educational machinery at command. There was an abundance of ignorance in the country, verging on crime, and occasionally exhibiting itself in the deepest crime. Would their free schools touch that? Would those schools be valued by the class which was steeped in such gross ignorance? Wherever the State stood in loco parentis to a child, let the State fulfil the duty of a parent, and provide education for the people; but do not let the State undermine their self-reliance. They talked of enlarging the basis of the representation; but let them beware, lest, when they had a fuller representation of the working men, those men applied the lessons now being taught them by the promoters of this Bill, and, instead of using their own individual energies for their own personal good, relied on legislative machinery; and came to Parliament, not for education only, but for clothing, and decent habitations. Let the House once admit that principle, and act upon it, and he did not understand how they could do anything short of carrying it out to its fullest extent. He entreated the House not to decide a question of such momentous bearings on the narrow basis of a private Bill.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
said, that he believed it would be impossible for the Bill to be carried into beneficial operation without the consent of the inhabitants of Manchester and Salford; and, therefore, to pass it in opposition to their wishes would be unwise as well as useless. The inhabitants of Manchester had petitioned against the Bill being taken as a private Bill, and the town council of Salford had expressed no opinion, and these he thought sufficient reasons why the Bill should not now be read a second time. The great objection of the inhabitants of Manchester to this Bill, he believed, was the expense. Another objection was the making those schools common to all classes of the inhabitants. Every one admitted that the poorer classes should have some provision made for the education of their children; and he would suggest that those persons who were excluded from the franchise should have the benefit of those free schools. If such schools were limited to the children of persons occupying houses under the value of 10l. or 6l., there would be a class provided with an education to which he believed the other inhabitants would be willing to contribute. He was 1110 glad when he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) state that there was a strong desire in that city on the part of those who had hitherto been opposed to approximate, and he (Mr. Brotherton) had reason to believe, that if there was a short delay allowed there would be a closer approximation than there had hitherto been, as there was a general wish, both in Manchester and the borough of Salford, that they should have a system of education. He considered Manchester, of all places in the Kingdom, the best wherein to solve the question as to whether the different classes could be educated together; and he proposed that, if the Bill passed, it should be limited to a period of three years. Then, if the experiment succeeded, the measure could be extended; and if not, then die people would not be required long to pay for a Bill from which no good resulted. He should be under the necessity of voting against the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for Manchester, as it involved a principle which he should regret to have established; and, if the Amendment was negatived, he should propose that the second reading should be postponed for a month, as he was confident that arrangements could be made to frame a Bill that would be generally acceptable to all parties.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he wished briefly to state to the House why he, although most anxious for the education of the people, should vote against the present Bill. If a similar Bill were to be introduced for Birmingham, and the town council and the inhabitants petitioned against it, he should find himself in an extraordinary predicament if he voted for the present Bill. If the town council of Manchester would come to Parliament with a Bill proposed by one of their own Members, and accompanying it with a petition in favour of it from their own body, he would be ready to give his support to such a measure, but not otherwise. It was not as a private Bill that he objected to the measure before the House; but he did so because it was introduced and opposed in a manner of which he could not approve. He was as anxious as ever that education should be both secular and religious, but he retained the conviction that we should never have a general and ample system of national education worthy the name, except it was conducted on the purely secular principle, and he would rather have the people 1111 imperfectly educated than not educated at all.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
, in reply, said, that if the proposal made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey) at the commencement of the discussion had been acceded to by Her Majesty's Government, he should have been ready to adopt that proposal. But it seemed to him that the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) had only evaded the question when he had said to him (Mr. Adderley) across the table, that he might, if he chose, undertake to introduce a public Bill upon that subject. He concluded, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government would neither take up the question themselves, nor have the courage to state at once that they would not attempt to deal with it. He would further observe, that the Bill was not opposed by the town council of Manchester except on the ground of its being a Private Bill, and he therefore must divide the House on the second reading.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he wished to introduce an alteration in the Amendment by the introduction of the words "at the present time" after the words "ought not," so that he would merely affirm that the subject was one which ought not as yet to be dealt with.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words Education to be supported by public rates is a subject which ought not at the present time to be dealt with by any private Bill,' instead thereof.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 76; Noes 105; Majority 29.
§ Words added:—Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ The House adjourned at Twelve o'clock.