§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Lord Advocate.)1531
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
, in moving the following Resolution:—That this House, whilst it strongly approves of provisions which require sufficient school accommodation, and the attendance of children at school, is of opinion that a school rate should not be employed, directly or indirectly, as a means of giving religious teaching,said, he did not think he need offer any sort of apology to his Scotch friends for crossing the Border to-night, and following the line on which he had decided, because he hoped that, whenever there was a question which involved a great principle, no Member of the House, on whatever side he sat, would be afraid of crossing the Border or crossing the Channel in order to say that which he felt. This to his mind was no local matter—it was the assertion of great principles which must have influence upon every part of the United Kingdom. His belief was that if this Bill had been introduced, not with regard to Scotland but with regard to Ireland, it would not have been left to him, at the eleventh hour, to move the Amendment which stood in his name, and to assert the great principle on which it was based; but the paper would have been black with Amendments. The principle was well known to them all, but it would bear repeating—it was that it was the duty of the State to teach them what they were to think in the ordinary business of life—in such matters as reading, writing, and arithmetic; but it was not the duty of the State to teach them what they were to think in matters of religion. While he would himself never ask the help of any State machinery to teach him what he believed, so would he, as long as he had a seat in that House, oppose to the utmost of his power every attempt on the part of other people to get State assistance for the creed or doctrine in which they believed. The Amendment of which he had given Notice touched the question of the school rate, and he might with great fairness be asked why object to the use of a rate for such a purpose, and not to such moneys as were taken out of the Imperial Exchequer? But the fact was he objected equally to both. There was no sort of difference in principle between the two. The application of a rate for such a purpose was a retrograde movement on their part. Before his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) introduced his Education Bill 1532 for England two years ago, it was a fixed belief in the minds of a large part of the Liberal party that whenever a rate for educational purposes was levied and made compulsory, it should in no way be applied to the purpose of religious teaching, and it was a very great and serious disappointment to a large portion of the Liberal party when they found that his right hon. Friend disregarded that principle. He was aware that remark did not apply to Scotland. For a great number of years that country had been accustomed to apply what might be called a rate to schools in which religious teaching was given. But though an English Member he ventured to question whether the effect upon that country had been good. He, as an Englishman, would wish to pay the very highest tribute of respect to the Scottish character. He thought there was no one of them who was not impressed with the energy, the resolution, the power, the self-help which Scotchmen showed in every position in life, and in every part of the globe in which they were to be found. But there was one great feature in the Scotch character which did not command their respect, and that was the austere, the narrow, the gloomy, the harsh character which marked their theology. ["Oh!"] He was glad hon. Members did not believe that such was the case, because if they did not it was a sign, at all events, that they did not approve it. But he would like to read on this subject what was said by a man whose words deserved some attention—It was in this way that in Scotland everything conspired to strengthen the religious element which the force of circumstances had at an early period made prominent, and which now threatened to absorb all the other elements of a national character. The clergy were supreme, and habits of mind natural and becoming to them were diffused among all classes. The theories of a single profession outweighed those of all other professions, and not only war, but trade, literature, science, and art were held of no account unless they ministered to the general feeling. A state of society so narrow, so one-sided, never existed in any other country equally civilized. Nor did there appear much chance of abating this strange anomaly. As the 17th century advanced, the same train of events was continued, the clergy and the people always making common cause against the Crown, and being by the necessity of self-preservation forced into the most intimate union with each other. Of this the preachers availed themselves to strengthen their own influence. For upwards of a century their exertions stopped all individual culture, discouraged all independent 1533 inquiry, made men in religious matters stern and austere, and coloured the whole national character with the strong hue which, though now gradually softening, it still retains.These were the words of Mr. Buckle. He need not have turned over many pages to find language still more severe than that. Well, he ventured to think that this bad and hurtful custom of applying a rate to the aid of religious teaching had some influence in this matter, and if the Scotch, as a nation, were distinguished for a curious paradox of character—a great liberality in politics, an liberality in religion—the fact that they had not separated altogether State influences, State machinery, State aid from religious teaching, had something to answer for. There could be no doubt that religious teaching would be given under this Bill at the expense of a rate. The teacher must be paid; the books, the rooms in which the teaching was given must be paid for, and would all cost something. But the indirect effect would be very much greater. When people said that in Government schools they required that religion should be taught, nobody in this House or outside it meant religion in the abstract—what they meant was their own particular religious opinions. If what was meant was religious teaching belonging to nobody in particular and embracing everybody—if such a thing could be—then every Member in the House ought to vote for an Amendment which would throw open the doors of the school-house after school hours to the ministers of every religious body, so that all might have an equal opportunity of teaching. He did not think for a moment that Members were prepared to do that; and as they were not, that settled the question very distinctly. When they said they wanted religious teaching in national schools they meant the teaching of no particular sect or body. Well, as there must always be a great conflict going on between various religious opinions, the effect of giving over the school-house to the majority of a school board or the majority, of the ratepayers, would be to interfere very materially in this conflict of opinions. There could not be the slightest doubt as to the advantages that would be conferred on that sect or body which happened to have the control of the school-house. There were three questions 1534 which he wished to ask in reference to this perseverance in the application of rates to religious teaching, and he hoped that, if not to-night at some future time, a definite answer would be given to them. He wanted first of all to ask was it in the interest of secular education if this religious education was mixed up with it? Ought not the experience which they had in England to be some sort of guide in legislating for Scotland? He wanted to know whether they were willing to learn anything from what was passing around them? Had it not happened again and again that many school board elections had turned upon this false issue. Instead of the question being as to the election of the best men, school boards were rather elected upon the religious cry. Were not Scotchmen like themselves in this matter, and were not religious differences as rife in Scotland as in England? And, under this system, were they not likely to increase year by year as with them? He knew of one case in which the minority of a school board retired from its office because, having been elected for a particular religious purpose, it was unable to carry out that purpose; and in another case with which he was acquainted there was a threat to do the same. That day he had received a letter from a friend, a Member of that House, asking him not to bring on his Amendment, because, said the writer—"You will drive this Bill into a religious siding, and while we really want to talk upon educational points you will do your best to revive a religious discussion." There was great force in the objection; but what he was doing on a small scale tonight, his hon. Friend, by acquiescing in the principle of this Bill, was going to do on a large scale in all the districts and parishes of Scotland. It was far better to raise a religious discussion in that House than leave it as an heritage to all the school boards in Scotland. He would like to know how the Government proposed to deal with the Roman Catholic difficulty in Scotland, where, in some of the large towns, there were large bodies of Roman Catholics? Bishop Goss, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Liverpool, said that while he would build all the denominational schools for Roman Catholic children he could, he should be content that the residue of Roman Catholic children should go into 1535 secular schools, but he would oppose to the utmost of his power their going to a school where there was an open Bible or any sort of religious education. Bishop Goss was consistent, and the course here indicated was, from his point of view, quite justifiable. In the large towns of Scotland where there was a Protestant majority upon the school board, how was this difficulty to be overcome? They might rest assured that the Time Table Conscience Clause would not help them out of it. The second question he would ask was, whether it was for the interest of religious teaching that it should be mixed up with secular teaching? For his part, he thought it an unfortunate thing to mix up these two kinds of teaching. He agreed entirely with those who said that secular instruction alone, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, was quite insufficient to develope the higher nature which be longed to them; but while agreeing so far with many others, he did not approve the ordinary manner and subject-matter of religious teaching. He believed that in teaching they should rather lead a child to inquire than to believe—they should rather prepare his mind to form its own judgments than attempt to form judgments for him, and that in place of explaining great mysteries to him in their own fashion, they should rather leave them to read their own lessons to him in after life. However this might be, he was convinced that the great problem of the present was to discover the form of religious teaching best suited to reach and influence the higher parts of their nature; that this problem could only be solved by allowing the freest play to all thought and feeling on the subject, and by calling out the individual efforts of every earnest and thoughtful person; and that the effect of placing religious teaching under school boards would be fatal to all such activity, while in his own judgment both parents and teachers were too ready to take advantage of the willing credulity of children, so as to inflict upon them whatever opinions they themselves happened to hold. Whether in this matter others agreed with him or not, to this, at least, they would assent, that anybody of opinion, whether religious, political, or social, either ceased to improve or else deteriorated if protected from competition with other opinions. Yet this was what the Bill would do. 1536 It would give an unfair advantage to the opinion which happened to command a local majority, and would stereotype that opinion throughout the parishes and boroughs of the country. His complaint against the Bill, as against the Act of 1870, was that there was a most unfortunate inversion in the matter; that, where it should bring men together to co-operate in a common work in friendliness and a neighbourly spirit, it would come as a sword between them; and, on the other hand, where they wanted life, energy, and difference of opinion, the Bill would inflict a sort of paralysis. The last question he had to ask was, whether the mixing up of those two things was for the good of the whole community? The highest office of the Government, he believed, was to teach the nation that which ought to be taught and which ought to be left alone. There was a party abroad—he knew not whether it had any influence in this country—which was not unwilling to flinch from the position of preventing the teaching of such religion as it believed to be hurtful to the people. It might be that they should never see such an association possessed of much power; but it might have power, and he would ask the House whether it was not about to furnish them with an excuse for their conduct hereafter by giving them the example of employing the authority of the State in favour of certain religious teaching. Feeling strongly as he did on the subject, he did not for a single moment hesitate to say that what he claimed from the Government was a frank recognition of principle in the matter. He did not ask for any of those small concessions which had been made on previous occasions, at a time of great excitement. He considered such a concession as that which had been made by his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council when he introduced the Education Bill for England as being almost worse than useless. He alluded to the concession which prevented the use of any catechism or formulary. If it was right to teach the subject matter itself, it was but reasonable to allow those by whom it was to be taught to teach it in the best way they could. If it had a value, that value was that it showed the Government knew they were acting on a wrong principle. He desired that when secular education 1537 was given it should be complete. While there existed in this country two opinions with respect to the Bible; while there were those who accepted it as containing a supernatural revelation, and those who did not do so, all parties had hitherto been united in treating it with great respect. Whatever view a man might take on the subject, he would be a very poor student of the advance of human civilization who should deny such respect. But he was nevertheless certain that the placing the Bible in their schools as a means of ending the present controversy—and he said that having once held a contrary opinion—would be rather to diminish than increase the estimation in which it was held. He believed it to be unworthy of those who treated it as containing a supernatural revelation to impose it upon others, and unworthy of those who did not view it in that light either to submit to its being read, or to use it as a shelter from behind which to urge secular education. He knew the defence of the present Bill would be the same as that which was urged in the case of England. He might be told—"You maybe right or wrong, but that for which you ask is not in accordance with the wishes of the people." Well, that, he maintained, was an argument which ought not to have the slightest influence on the conduct of the House. The real question was, whether the Bill was in principle bad or good, and if he might venture to point a moral, it would be that the difficulties in which the Government found themselves daily involved, and their waning popularity, were to be attributable to their having chosen in all their measures to act in accordance with what they believed to be the feeling of the country, and the amount of support they were likely to receive. In conclusion, while thanking the Government for the good which the present Bill contained, he begged to move his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, whilst it strongly approves of provisions which require sufficient school accommodation, and the attendance of children at school, is of opinion that a school rate should not be employed, directly or indirectly, as a means of giving religious teaching,"—(Mr. Auberon Herbert,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. TREVELYAN
*: Sir, it is not, perhaps, generally necessary, or in the best possible taste, to thank the Government for having given us a tolerably early and clear night for the discussion of this Bill; but, whether or no, I shall not attempt to evince any gratitude in the way which the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert) has adopted. I shall try to justify their indulgence by discussing the question in a tone of moderation, and from an exclusively educational point of view. It appears to me that we should do very wrongly by endeavouring to make this an opportunity for paying out any old grudges against the Government for their conduct on any other occasion whatsoever. We should speak in accordance with the Preamble of the Bill, remembering that we have met to amend the existing law of Scotland on the subject of education, in such a manner that the means of procuring education for their children can be furnished to the whole people of Scotland. I deeply regret that any Amendment has been moved in this House to the second reading of the Bill which is now before it, and I regret especially that such Amendment proceeded from this quarter of the House. I earnestly hope that in the division which is to ensue Gentlemen on these benches will so vote as to show that when a Bill is brought into this House that is already good, and may be made much better in Committee, instead of doing their best to consider it on the threshold, they will do what they can to improve it according to the forms of the House. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert) made some remarks which implied that the people of Scotland were exceedingly anxious about this Bill; and from that he appeared to argue that we should vote in agreement with the opinions of our constituents, and not in agreement with our own opinions. I hope the House will allow me to say that I represent a constituency in which a very large majority are as ardent secularists as the hon. Member, but I should have scorned to curry favour with them, for they are very much too sensible to fling in the face of the Government a Bill which proposes to establish 1539 a school board in every district, and compulsory education in every school. I should scorn to take a course which may prevent the settlement of the education question in Scotland for 12 months, and possibly for an even longer period, by following the hon. Member in a wild-goose chase after an object which he knows to be unattainable. Why could not the hon. Member, when he speaks of teaching religion, wait to see whether the Government were not prepared to accept, with reference to this Bill, an Amendment similar to that which they adopted in the English Education Bill, instead of taking the course he has seen fit to adopt? If the hon. Member refers simply to secular education, I can only say that, like him, I am a secularist; but, unlike him, I am anxious to obtain what the time enables us to ask for, and what the Government and the House of Commons are fairly willing to give; and I hope no one in the House or out of it will think that this desire—I mean a moderate man—proceeds from any political cowardice. I must say that, for another reason, I am sorry this question has been started in a controversial manner, because it is exceedingly important that the people of Scotland should be enabled to read this Bill by the light of a full and free discussion in Parliament. The Bill is drawn with admirable clearness; but, like other Bills, it cannot be read by those who run; and as I suppose there are very few people in Scotland who have had the opportunity of reading the very admirable Report of the Scotch Commission, the Members of which had the Revised Code at their fingers' ends, it stands to reason that the only light they have had to read it by has been that extremely angry and questionable one which has been thrown from platform and public meetings. In this Bill there are certain provisions which it will be the duty of certain Members, including myself, to resist with all the energy that conviction can give. There are omissions which must be supplied before the Bill can give to Scotland a system that is worthy the name of a national system. But these defects lie on the surface; they are not intrinsic or essential to the machinery of the Bill, and, above all, Government is not committed to their maintenance. Therefore, if to-night we can quietly discuss them on the second reading, and 1540 afterwards remove them in Committee, I believe this Bill will give to Scotland a system worthy of its former educational position and do justice to the expectations of the country, without doing injustice to any denomination or individual. First of all, let us consider what Scotland has got already in respect to education, and what she wants further to obtain. The Commissioners, who—and I am sure I can appeal to the late Lord Advocate in confirmation of what I am about to say—were never accused of understating the case, tell us that of children between the ages of 5 and 13, out of 510,000, 418,000 are on the roll of schools, and that out of the 92,000 who were not at schools, 57,000 are or were to be found in Glasgow alone, and the other 12,000 reside in the insular parishes of the Hebrides. These figures prove that there are a very small number of uneducated children in Scotland. Over the rest of Scotland the defects of Scotch education are local rather than general. From the Registrar's statistics it appears that the proportion of scholars to population in the Hebrides is 1 to 7; in Glasgow it is 1 to 9; and in Scotland generally the proportion, excluding the large towns and the islands, rises to 1 to 6, or something very little below the average of Prussia. In Peebles 100 per cent of the men who married in 1861 signed the register in writing, and in Dumfries the percentage was 97. The figures I have quoted are from the Report of the Commisioners, who proceed to say that the mass of the Scotch population in the rural districts have received education; nor have we to create a taste for education. In many parts of the country the appreciation of the benefits of school-learning that exists among the manual classes in Scotland puts to shame the apathy of the middle class in other parts of the island. If hon. Members want to judge of the difference between English and Scotch education, let them compare the speech in which the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Forster) introduced the English Bill two years ago, and that in which the Lord Advocate described the present Bill to the House. The Lord Advocate went into a very interesting disquisition upon certain minute details of educational organization, the mere discussion of which proved what a deep and ancient national interest in 1541 education is to be found in Scotland; whereas, on the other hand, the speech of the Vice President of the Council was one sad tale of educational penury, and showed us how, of children between the ages of 6 and 10 years—not of 5 and 13–700,000 were helped, and 1,000,000 remained unhelped; and how, of children between the ages of 10 and 12, 250,000 only were taught, and 500,000 were neglected. Can we wonder that the Vice President of the Council on that occasion, applied to us in tones of pathos—Shall we never forget to throw aside religious prepossessions, sectarian prejudices, and aspirations for administrative uniformity, in order to rescue a generation from ignorance and vice?That is not the case in Scotland. There is no fear of the Scotch people growing up in ignorance. If that was all, it would be sufficient to have introduced a Bill dealing with Glasgow and the insular parishes of the Hebrides. The effective demand for education exists; the supply is on the whole equal to the demand; but what does not exist, and what without the courageous action of Parliament cannot exist, is the organization of that supply, its improvement, and its consolidation. Our object is, and the opportunity has arrived for attaining it, to equip Scotland with an educational machinery as perfect as human frailty will allow. We wish Scotland in the 19th century to hold relatively the educational position which she held in the 17th century. The Scotch system has educated Scotland into a generous discontent with its own shortcomings, and we wish to interfere, not because Scotch children are running about in the gutters, but because the present system is irregular, uncertain, and expensive—a system which does not diffuse education equally and economically over the country; because there is too much education in one district, too little in another, and none in a third. One of England's greatest educational reformers once said—You can never really unite those three qualities—that education shall be voluntary, that it shall be efficient, and that it shall be universal.This is our main reason for taking the course we have now adopted. Therefore it is that the Assistant Commissioners ask—Is there any reason why the education of a great country should be kept in an unsatisfactory 1542 state because the clergy and the people are split up into religious sects, who, though they differ in some respects, are at one upon the necessity of education? The country, so far as we could learn from the counties and parishes visited, is all but unanimous in answering that there is no reason. People of every class and of every denomination are agreed that Scotland is fully ripe for a national system. The defects of the present system are want of organization, want of supervision by some competent central authority, and want of thoroughness in teaching. These defects can only be cured by wide, vigorous, and careful legislation. The re-organization of the schools in Scotland is not a task to be undertaken unadvisedly.Sir, there is no reason why we should undertake this question unadvisedly. We have before us in the country specially concerned the working of a system which has now lasted into its fourth century, and the experience of two years which have elapsed since the passing of the English Education Act. How, let me ask, is the organization of the Scotch system to be accomplished? My opinion is that it will be best accomplished by adopting the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Forster's) words—namely—The education of the people's children by the people's officers, chosen in their local assemblies, controlled by the people's Representatives in Parliament.In these days no system can be uniform, efficient, and durable unless understood and worked by the community at large, and we have the good fortune to possess a Government which recognizes the tendencies and possibilities of the time, and has ordained that the election of school boards in Scotland shall not be partial or optional, but universal, instant, and obligatory. When I read the 4th clause, with its simple and forcible wording, I felt a shame for the country of my birth, and a touch of exultation for the country of my political adoption. I remembered that many an English village had its social life embittered by miserable struggles, that the neighbours rallied to prevent the existence of a school board, and that coercion, misrepresentation, and appeals to bigotry were sometimes mixed up with appeals to the pecuniary interests of the ratepayers. I have great pleasure in recognizing the popular spirit of this Bill. The Lord Advocate has given a vote in the election of the school boards to every householder; has, in fact, restored to them the rights of which they were deprived by the Act of 1803, which rendered Scotch education oligarchical and sectarian, whereas before it 1543 was national and undenominational. Let me in this connection quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster), who is supposed to stand in the position of mediator between the two parties. He says—There are difficulties to men, as between one another, of theory and conscience, rather than difficulties in the mutual education of the children. We want a good secular training for these children, a good Christian training, and good schoolmasters. Children of these ages can hardly be supposed to require doctrinal or dogmatic training to any great extent.Again, the right hon. Gentleman says—The religious difficulty has been felt, not so much by those concerned with teaching, as by those who wish to concern themselves with those who are concerned with the teaching.This is the case in England, but it is much more the case in Scotland, where children of different creeds are so intermingled on school benches that it is difficult to tell the religion to which they belong. How can we obtain the teaching to which I refer? Here I may best quote the words of Mr. Forster again. The right hon. Gentleman said—If you bring this practical work home to the school boards, and tell them that it is their duty, and they must do it, and that if they fail the State will do it for them, my belief is that the religious difficulty will disappear.Again, the right hon. Gentleman said—Almost the first effect of the Bill (referring to the English Education Bill) will be to give religious, though unsectarian, training in the great moral truths, for children mostly under twelve years of age are not those to whom it is easy to teach theological doctrine.I do not wish to commit myself absolutely to the constitution of school boards as they are at present elected in England, and with the duties imposed upon them; but if you entrust the care of the education to the representatives of the parents, religion, as an influence and element in education, will be strong and vital, but as an impediment will be the shadow of a shade. Let us, then, have school boards in every parish in Scotland. We have the essence of a national system, and it only remains to induce all schools to conform to that type, not by compulsion, but by conferring upon them certain advantages. The question now is, are you going to foster or to discourage this national system? Let me entreat hon. Members to believe that I have no desire to rake up old differences when I recall their attention 1544 to what occurred in 1870 as a warning against what may possibly happen now. In 1870 Parliament was invited to fix a model school, and spent a great deal of time in doing it, and then, instead of inviting all schools to put themselves under the national system, made increased grants to voluntary schools, in order that they might not suffer by competition with school-board schools they had themselves called into existence. I believe that the fact of denominational schools not being encouraged to put themselves under school boards is the secret root of the bitterness from which ill-feeling has sprung, and that the agitation against the 25th clause of the English Education Act is rather a symptom than an effect of the bitterness. The question of whether the denominational grant is to be increased, and thereby every inducement is to be removed for the adoption of a system constructed with so much care, is the very thing and turning point of the measure. I therefore would appeal to the Government in as direct a manner as the forms of Parliament will permit, to reconsider their determination, if they have resolved to repeat in Scotland the policy they adopted in England in the year before last. I do this the more because I am convinced that the Scotch people are not thoroughly aware of the importance of this question, and are not attracted to the Bill, because they may think the denominational grant is about to be increased. I am aware we shall be told that the Free Church are anxious to come into some such arrangement, and that she finds, according to the Commissioners, the support of her schools a great and increasing burden upon her strength; but when the Commissioners made the Report to which I am referring, there was no talk of the grant to the Free Church schools being increased, and the question now is, whether the Free Church will be able to resist the enormous temptation of only having to pay £25 where they now have to pay£50. Let us consider whether it is worth while to mortgage our national education for a sum which is not more than the cost of a gunboat or the pay of a battalion in the Army. I cannot myself perceive any argument in favour of increasing denominational grants. Before leaving this branch of the subject, I wish to observe that when the Bill gets into Committee I shall give 1545 hon. Members an opportunity of voting against the increase to which I refer, and also to vote against allowing any new denominational schools to receive grants from the public purse. I, however, would congratulate the Lord Advocate upon the courage he has displayed in having used the word "denominational" with regard to these schools, instead of having veiled their attributes under the euphonistic title of "voluntary." The Commissioners, in the Report to which I have referred, express the opinion that in Scotland the denominational system is unnecessary, and recommend its abolition; and if the Government have anywhere obtained an opinion which traverses that recommendation, they can only have done so from Ireland, where Roman Catholic electors pledged themselves to oppose the election of any candidate who refused to uphold denominational education. This declaration preceded the pronunciamento of the Manchester Conference, and may, perhaps, be taken as excusing the strong stand there made. I am delighted to find that the Government has pledged itself, in framing this Bill, to many very excellent proposals—the first of which is an uncompromising enforcement of compulsion. I can only hope that a general acceptance of this principle in Scotland will strengthen the hands of those who wish to see compulsion enforced at this end of the island also. I am sure that all who take an interest in this question will be glad to see the steps in advance which are taken by this Bill, one of the most important being the vindication of the right of the State to take control of the educational training of the children. I am glad, Sir, in this place to say that the Bill has courageously placed educational matters in the hands of the public themselves. As an advocate for secular education, I never could have held up my hand for that Bill until I saw the first list of Inspectors under it. Of those 13 gentlemen—though none of them, I regret to say are Nonconformists—every one of them is a layman. But we are told that our constituents take a different view on this subject. I am quite sure that our constituents have a strong feeling on this subject; but whatever the feeling of our constituents, the duty of the Members is clear. I am sure that they are anxious to have a Board in Edinburgh. The Scotch people have 1546 no great love for that. They show a generous repugnance to getting public money for national purposes out of the Imperial Treasury. I do not know whence that feeling comes; but there is a reaction against that infamous policy by which Scotland was governed at the end of last century and the beginning of this. Whence it comes, however, it matters not, so long as we find it to be a great preservative of political independence, morality, and purity. Whilst the Government is about it, making the Inspectors undenominational, let them make the training schools undenominational too. We have a right to demand it, because the larger portion which comes out of the national pocket goes to the support of the training schools. The expenditure in 1870 for the schools connected with the Established Church was—by subscription, £725; by Governments grants, £7,549; for the free normal schools the subscriptions were £81; and the Government grant, £8,286; and to the schools connected with the Episcopal Church the subscriptions amounted to £301; and the Government grant to £619. That is to say—in the case of the Established Church we pay £10 for educating teachers in the principles of the Established Church to every £1 that the Established Church pays itself; in the case of the Free Church, for every £1 we pay £100. As to the advisability of this—what sort of masters do we want for these schools? I shall quote to the House the words of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) himself. He says—We want good schoolmasters. These schoolmasters should not feel themselves fettered in any way. Children of these ages could hardly be supposed to require doctrinal or dogmatic teaching to any great extent. The way to get such is not to bind them over to a particular sect, as a condition of their entering their profession, to ply them at intervals during training with minute recondite points of doctrine, to bid them show from Scripture that the Real Presence is essential to salvation, and that the words 'Protestant faith' indicate a ridiculous impossiblity, and finally send them stamped, sealed, and invoiced with the title of a particular denomination. We want those who, as schoolmasters, teach faith; who are religious men—not mere members of a sect.Surely national training schools are possible in Scotland—in Scotland, whose boast used to be that elementary schoolmasters were members of those national Universities where men of all shades of 1547 theological belief meet in the same classes with equal rights and privileges as students, and, meeting together, learn to respect and esteem one another—surely in Scotland we can be allowed to have undenominational training colleges. In the opinion of the Commissioners, whatever may be the general school system of Scotland, the money now paid by the heritors must be permanent. The amount is now £47,000 a-year, and in Scotland a halfpenny rate brings in £30,000. To say that the people of Scotland should be saddled through time immemorial with a three-farthing rate in order that the landowners may be saved, is an injustice to the people; and more than that, it is a libel on the landowners. The Scotch landowners proved how little they wished to escape burdens of that nature by going into the lobby to prevent their obtaining the relief which would be afforded by the measure which the Member for Edinburgh creates so much controversy by calling "the abolition of Church rates." Are we to choose this time to throw away the noble heritage bequeathed by the nation to her children at the moment of a great religious deliverance, and hand it gratuitously to men, the majority of whom pocket it with reluctance? And now, Sir, I approach the last point. We may utilize our experience of the English Bill by refusing to abnegate our functions as an Imperial Parliament, and throw those functions on the backs of the school boards. We know what the effect of this has been in England. It has been the source of great bitterness, strife, and animosities, and we know likewise that the evil has been greatly aggravated by the culminative vote. This latitude of function was far too great for the shoulders of Parliament. Then, how far too heavy was it for the school board under the extra aggravation? The almost lamentable effect of it was to keep out from the school board all the prominent educationalists, and to elect denominationalists—in some cases men not at all distinguished for their capacity. Why, in Manchester, two of the most successful candidates were Catholics; whereas men that had taken the greatest interest in education were either left out or came in at the bottom of the poll. If in English villages they contend as Calvinists and Huguenots over this bone of contention, what will 1548 be the result in Scotland, where the mind of the people is well known to be passionately fond of argument, and where they are constitutionally unable to yield one jot when the question is a matter of principle. Therefore it is that my hon. Friend wishes to put Scotland in as good a position as England, of transferring the 11th clause, enacting that no religious catechism or religious formulary, which is distinctive of any particular denomination, shall be taught in the school. We shall be told in the House by one Member of the Government that the Scotch peasant is looking forward with great pleasure to catechizing his children when they get home, and we shall be told in the lobby that the Scotch constituencies insist on formularies. Sir, the Scotch people have been very much misrepresented in this matter. They are quiet folk, and not over fond of holding public meetings, and that indisposition has been strengthened by those gentlemen who have been scouring the country, and holding meetings in the interest of denominationalism, which they call the interest of the Bible. They appear to have less affected the people of Scotland than the framers of this Bill. It is a great misfortune that on occasions like these there is such an excitement of Synods and Presbyteries, because the national voice comes to Parliament through the medium of strictly ecclesiastical bodies; but even those assemblies are by no means unanimous. Mr. Adam Black, in his admirable Appendix to the Report in question, says—The United Presbyterian Church, which comprises about one-fifth of the population, have always declared their preference for a national system, and I know that large numbers of the ministers and elders of the Established Church hold the same view.Now, Sir, I maintain that if you appeal, not to any large body of clergy, afraid of each other and of their own position, but to the people, you will find that they want religion for their children, but not the religion of the catechism, but the religion of the Bible. The Report says—The religious, as distinct from the ecclesiastical difficulty, seems to have no real existence. Presbyterians of all denominations—Established Church, Free Church, United Presbyterians, Independents, and all other sects—send their children to the same school as the Episcopalian and the Roman Cathoiic.1549 These itinerant denominationalists affix a cruel stigma to undenominationalists by saying that they are opposed to the Bible. I should almost like to move for a Return for the number of quotations which have been made during the last three months by these gentry from the Cottar's Saturday Night. In Glasgow, a gentleman who seconded a resolution concluded—A virtuous populace may rise the while,And stand a wall of fire around our much-loved isle.The next speech contained at first no flowers of poetry; but a little further on we find the orator illustrating the beauties of the parochial system by assuring us that—However crowns and coronets be rent,A virtuous populace may rise the while,And stand a wall of fire around our much-loved isle.In that celebrated poem a most faithful picture is drawn of the Scotch home circle, and no one can depreciate the importance of having Burns on his side. What is the course of family worship? They began by singing psalms to old Scotch airs—for Burns preferred them to Italian airs—such as "Dundee" and "Elgin." Then comes the reading of the Bible, on which the poem dwells with special fondness; and then prayers. Then the children are examined, and the father delivers to them certain injunctions—obedience to the schoolmaster, diligence in their studies, and closes with a very touching, and certainly most undenominational exhortation to the fear of God. I most certainly protest emphatically against this practice of dragging the sacred name of the Bible into dogmatic controversies. While I am on this subject of manufacturing political capital in an offensive form out of matters which are not fit subjects for controversy, I must protest against speeches in which Lord Shaftesbury and others endeavoured to insinuate a charge of disloyalty to the Royal Family. We have recently been referred to the case of some continental countries, where they have retained the principles of denominationalism; but it seems to be forgotten that in those countries the struggle is not between Liberalism and Conservativism, but between Ultramontanism and liberty of conscience. On that subject I can assure the Government we entertain a stronger feeling than that of party, and most 1550 earnestly do we protest against any provisions which, by their operations, will cramp or limit a system worthy of the acceptance of Scotland.
§ MR. C. DALRYMPLE
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) deprecated a controversial tone; but he appealed to those who had listened to the latter part of his speech to say whether it was calculated to dispel controversy. His hon. Friend lad been very severe upon the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert); but little as he (Mr. Dalrymple) agreed with the hon. Member, he was glad he bad put his Amendment on the Paper, for it showed that the debate was not to be conducted by Scotch Members alone, but that the question was to be treated as an Imperial question. He repudiated the notion that any Bill was better than none, and could not allow that a sweeping measure such as that before the House could be accepted as better than none. Certainly it was the duty of the Government to supply a better system than that they proposed to abolish; but, above all, not to pull down before they bad built up. The Bill attempted far too much. It was well to establish school boards in the boroughs where they were needed; but in the country districts not only wore educational means abundant, but it would be difficult to find material for boards. The desire for symmetry bad evidently carried the Government too far in this respect. The non-appointment of school boards in the country districts would not destroy the uniformity of the system; there would still exist under the Bill national schools and side schools supported by individualliberality. As regarded compulsion he endorsed the remark of the hon. Member for Edinburgh University (Dr. Playfair) on Tuesday, that it was impossible to have compulsion without religious education. He could not congratulate the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate upon his policy; he had exaggerated the religious difficulty, and had taken refuge in silence. "Let us say nothing about it," said the right hon. Gentleman;" relegate the question to the country, and say—'We give you full liberty to do as you like.'" The conduct of the Government in that respect was another instance of what the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire called "intrepid plausibility." The Government knew very well that if there were no examination in religion, and, 1551 consequently, no payment on account of excellence therein, the masters would neglect religious instruction, and to that extent the system would be unpalatable to the Scotch. With regard to the Time Table Conscience Clause, it appeared to him that if that provision was superfluous, as had been alleged by the Lord Advocate himself, it was a pity to impose upon a great number of persons that which was offensive to their feelings; and that it was unnecessary to insist upon it in this Bill merely for the purpose of making it statutory, if it was true that there was always a practical time-table in the schools. The only difference between the existing system and what it would be under this Bill was, that at present there was the liberty of carrying on religious instruction at such periods of the day as might be convenient, while it was now to be confined to a short half-hour at the commencement or the end of the day. What little was said in regard to religious education in this Bill appeared to be confined to prohibition; but there were people who desired to cut down even the little liberty that remained. Recently a deputation had waited upon the Lord Advocate, which purported, as all deputations did, to represent the opinions of the majority of the people, and which was attended by eight Members of Parliament, when one of the speakers, a learned Professor, of whom he desired to speak with every respect, urged that the Bible ought to be taught in the schools without dogmatic note or comment. But the distinction thus drawn was, he (Mr. Dalrymple) believed, far too subtle for ordinary minds, and he need say nothing on this point after the crushing exposure the principle received on Tuesday night. The course pursued by the Government—this negation of the teaching of the Bible—apart from the disrespect shown to the Bible and the bad effect such a principle must have on the mind of the teacher—would only lead to an increase of the sectarianism which they professed themselves so anxious to check. The whole subject of religious education, as dealt with by this Bill, was thoroughly unsatisfactory; it gave nothing in the way of facilities and opposed everything in the way of prohibition, and he, for one, would be no party to any plan which made the religious instruction of children contingent upon the mere chance of the majority of a school board consenting 1552 to permit it. Upon this subject he earnestly trusted that in the course of the Bill through Committee they might obtain some more satisfactory provisions than the Bill at present contained.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that if it came to be a question whether they should have no Bill, or that this Bill should pass, he should vote for its passing; but that was no reason why they should not endeavour to point out the faults and blemishes in the Bill, in order to their amendment. He thought the people of Scotland had been to some extent misled by the allegation that the Bill was to be managed entirely by the Privy Council Board in London. A large number of the people were in favour of that course; while another section—perhaps the larger—proposed that it should be administered by a Board resident in Edinburgh. There was, however, another plan supposed to be shadowed forth though not designated in the Bill, which had not been explained to the House. It was said to be intended that there should be an intermediate Board between the Board in London and that at Edinburgh; that three or four gentlemen were to be appointed, with large salaries, between whom Scotland was to be divided, and each of those gentlemen was to report respecting his own department to the Privy Council. The authority was supposed to be contained in the 3rd clause, which enacted that it should be lawful for the Scotch Education Department to—Appoint such officers in Scotland as they shall judge necessary to perform the duties connected with the said Department which it shall be deemed proper and convenient to be performed there, and the said officers shall be subject to the control of the said Department, and may lawfully perform any duties of the said Department which shall be committed to them respectively by the said Department, and the expenses of the said officers shall be deemed part of the expenses of the said Department.Now, nothing was said here about the number of officers, but that information he found supplied at the interview of a deputation to the Lord Advocate a short time ago. His right hon. Friend said it would be necessary to appoint officers in Scotland—men of high-class qualifications—to advise the Government as to the different districts, and particularly at the commencement. Now, it was clear that these men were a sort of Archbishops, who were to administer this Act; and if that were so, they ought to 1553 have some information as to the probable amount of the salaries they were to receive, because all this work which was to be allotted to them was done in England by Inspectors; and he submitted that, if Inspectors could do the work for 22,500,000 of people in England, there could be no difficulty in the way of Inspectors doing it for 3,500,000 of people in Scotland. In addition to that, names were freely mentioned in Scotland of parties who were to be appointed to this dignified office. If that system were to be adopted, it would be far worse than the Edinburgh Board. He would twenty times rather have a Board that was responsible than have an irresponsible Commissioner going about all parts of Scotland, sending confidential reports to the Privy Council, and the Privy Council acting on those reports without anybody knowing what they were. As to the subject of religious education there were many different views taken of that matter in Scotland. There were some who advocated a secular system of education; others were willing to take the Bill as it stood; others urged that religious education should be provided for in the Bill. He wished at the outset of this part of his remarks, to urge strongly that it was a great error to suppose that those who advocated secular education were men who did not care for religion. The very opposite was generally the case. He might mention an instance in the city which he had the honour to represent. One of the oldest citizens, a gentleman long well known in that House—he was a Sunday school teacher for half-a-century—he was in favour of secular education; and there were others—men well known and distinguished for their piety—who advocated secular education on the ground that the religious education given in the great majority of schools was little better than a sham. The denominational schools in Scotland, he ventured to think, ought not to be encouraged to continue as denominational schools; but, on the contrary, they should be encouraged to merge themselves in the national schools. With that object in view he had put an Amendment on the Paper, by which it would be provided that no State grant should be given to the existing denominational schools. His own Amendment, however, he should be happy to withdraw in favour of another 1554 Amendment more happily worded, of which Notice had since been given by an hon. Friend. He held that the great defect of the English Act of 1870 was that in place of encouraging denominational schools to merge themselves in the national system by increasing the Government allowance, it tended to maintain them. But whatever might have been the state of things in England, that could not apply to Scotland, because there, with the single exception of the Roman Catholics, all other denominations held substantially the same views. He did not except even the Episcopalians, for he was told by those who knew better than he did, that the Confession of Faith in the Church of Scotland was the same in principle as that contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. Therefore, apart from external appearance there was no real difference. With the exception, therefore, of the Roman Catholics there was no substantial difference of creed in Scotland. But as to religious teaching, he objected, as his hon. Friend near him (Mr. Trevelyan) had already done, to anything being taught in these schools of the character of a catechism or similar formulary. He could not imagine why the Government, after prohibiting catechisms from schools in England, should leave the question to be fought over and over again in every one of the thousands of school board districts. In parishes where a large number belonged to the United Presbyterian Church, who generally objected to these formularies, and others to the Free Church, or the Established Church, or the Independents, and other bodies, it would depend upon the relative proportion of those persons who might be elected to the school board whether the catechism should or should not be used. He said, then, that whatever rules were made with respect to English schools should be proposed also in Scotland. At the same time, he was clearly of opinion that the Bible should be taught and not read merely. A simple reading of the Bible to young children without any explanation, or at least the same pains bestowed upon it as any other book, was a perfect mockery. He believed the schoolmasters to be honest men, and that it would be to their interest to teach in unison with the feelings of those who appointed them; and he did not believe that there was a schoolmaster 1555 in the whole of Scotland who would pervert his office in order to draw children from one Church to another. With those feelings, he did hope that the Government would not insist on allowing this battle to be fought in every school board in Scotland. It had been suggested that they ought to legislate on abstract principles. That he entirely denied. He held that they were bound to look at the feeling which existed, and that no legislation in any part of the United Kingdom would ever be effective which did not take the general sentiment of the people into account. It must be an element in all sound legislation. Take an example. An Act was passed some years ago for closing all public-houses in Scotland on Sundays. That Act was in entire accordance with the sentiment of the population; the great majority of the people heartily sympathized with it, and honestly supported it. But if the same law was passed in respect of the metropolitan districts, which contained a population nearly equal to that of Scotland, he doubted that that would be in accordance with the sentiment of the population, or that they would endeavour to carry it into effect—or rather, he doubted whether they would not rebel against it, and resist the authorities, and whether the magistrates of the district would not cease to enforce it in despair; and in that way, instead of the law being respected, the law would be broken and brought into contempt. He thought they were bound, therefore, to have regard to the sentiments of the community in Scotland, and he believed they would do that by having the Bible taught to the exclusion of catechisms and formularies. One of the Amendments he had put upon the Paper had been misunderstood. It had been supposed to disapprove of the Lord Advocate's clause for allowing all persons on the registration roll to vote for school boards. Certainly, that was not his intention. He entirely approved of the Lord Advocate's clause as it stood. His only object in putting that Amendment on the Paper was to provide for the case of the parish ministers. It was not generally known to Members on the south side of the Tweed, and they would perhaps find it hard to believe, that although the clergy in Edinburgh were burthened with the payment of all kinds of local rates, and their benefices were taxed to the same extent as if they had a 1556 freehold estate of the same value, yet in Scotland, except in Edinburgh, the parish minister paid no poor rates whatever. But the school rate was levied as part and parcel of the poor rate, and his Amendment was intended simply to have the effect of providing that a minister might, if he chose, pay the poor rate and the school rate as a part of it, and if he did so, he should be liable to vote or to be elected a member of the school board. If the words were too sweeping, or not sufficiently explicit, he should be most happy to make them convey more clearly the intention with which he put the Amendment on the Paper. As to the heritors' money, he heartily approved of the recommendation of the Royal Commissioners. That Commission contained many large landowners, who were quite qualified to look after their own interests, and if they recommended that the payment should continue to be made, it was to be assumed that there was justice in the proposition. However, rather than raise a difficulty, he should be ready to make a compromise to this effect—that all those landowners who paid to the fund in times past should continue to do so, with the qualification that any new rate to be levied should not touch them until it should come to more than the rate they had been paying up to that time. In that way no hardship would be inflicted, and the £47,000 would remain in the Act as the fund which was commenced in 1696. He could say very much more on this subject, but that as there were present so many Scotch Members, and they had such few opportunities of expressing their views, he thought it would be wrong to take up more time, and he thought he might ask also almost as a matter of right, that no Members not belonging to Scotland who might have unspoken speeches in their pockets which they did not get delivered on Tuesday, should not fire them off tonight, but should allow Scotch Members to take part in the debate.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
said, he did not feel open to reproach for taking the liberty of expressing his sentiments on this important question, notwithstanding that he had the misfortune to be an English Member, inasmuch as this debate had been commenced by an English Member, Reference had been made by an hon. Member to a paper issued by an Association, and to a statement which 1557 it was supposed to contain about Spain and the Dark Ages. As the hon. secretary of the Educational Union, he denied that the paper bore any such meaning as that which had been attached to it. The real fact was, that when the present Lord Derby was the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he asked the Ambassadors to report on the state of education in the countries in which they dwelt, and the information collected was submitted to the country as facts merely, not in any way as recommendations or even suggestions. He by no means intended to impute to the secular party a desire to exclude religion from the education of our people; but, beyond doubt, their theory, if carried into practice, must result in purely secular teaching. He believed that many of the advocates of the system did not contemplate the complete severance of religion from education, but he could take no blame for assuming that which must be the inevitable result. It was somewhat unfair, however, not to distinguish between the statements they made on behalf of their cause and the result which their opponents believed must necessarily ensue if that cause were triumphant. One hon. Member (Mr. Trevelyan) had stated that evening that a stimulus was given to denominational education by the Act of 1870. Why, not more than 48 hours ago his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council made a statement to the effect that the Act had dealt an almost deadly blow to the denominational system. For his own part, he (Mr. Powell) heard that statement with great regret, and he could not help thinking that if it had been made in 1870 the measure would have encountered more severe opposition than it actually did from the friends of denominational education. The clause relating to the transfer of schools was to be condemned, inasmuch as it would be productive of great hardship and injustice. He knew of one case where a noble set of schools was constructed only two years ago, and there was now a risk of their being transferred to a school board, contrary to the wishes of their founders. He thanked the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) for his remarks about the desirability of teaching as well as reading the Bible. The explanation of the Bible would, he hoped, never be prohibited in their 1558 schools, for if there were to be a complete instruction of the people of any Christian nation, some explanation of the Bible must enter into that instruction. How was it possible to teach Assyrian, Babylonian, Grecian, or Roman history without reference to the Holy Scriptures? Reference had been made to the Roman Catholic difficulty in Scotland, and it was extremely gratifying to him to know that the children of the Roman Catholic persuasion attended Protestant schools in Scotland to so great an extent. It was stated before a Select Committee, of which he (Mr. Powell) was a member some years ago, that Roman Catholic children in that part of the kingdom attended Protestant schools in connection with mines. This fact ought to be welcomed as an advance towards Christian union, and it was to be hoped that a circumstance of this kind would be a basis of increased concord among Christian people. The hon. Member who brought forward the Resolution (Mr. A. Herbert) remarked that advantage ought not to be taken of the willing credulity of children; but what influence would the hon. Member apply to a child who in early youth began to err? For his own part, he believed there were no means by which they could bring a child into a happy docility except by Christian influences, in the absence of which his mind would be moulded by others for their own evil purposes. As an English Member he regretted that the Time Table Conscience Clause adopted in the English Act was not to be included in the Scotch Bill, and also that grants to future denominational schools were to become practically extinct. He did not see why these institutions should be deprived of the Privy Council grant—it was strangely inconsistent with that justice which distinguished the whole course of modern legislation. He desired to point out that the mere fact of electing a school board would not necessarily produce an efficient system. In proof of this he might point to the last Report relating to the schools in Pennsylvania, which State was thoroughly provided with school boards. One of the Inspectors said—The greatest obstacle in the way of improvement is the indifference prevalent throughout the county in regard to the prosperity or downfall of the cause of education. The enemies of 1559 the school system are ever active, while its friends are regardless of the issues at stake. Could more interest be aroused greater advancement would be made. Then low salaries, short school terms, incompetent teachers, careless directors, indifferent patrons, bad schoolhouses, and many other hindrances would be among the things of the past. This apathy is sucking the life blood from our institutions, and unless the evil is removed their overthrow is certain.Some hon. Members seemed to think that compulsion would produce regular and prompt attendance at school; but that did not follow. For himself, he did not share the opinions of the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdon (Lord Robert Montagu) as to compulsion; on the other hand, he hoped the time was not far distant when they should have everywhere a moderated and carefully-adapted system of compulsion, and when half time would be made universal—not necessarily affecting every half day or alternate days, but securing to education so many days in the year. Something like this they had in the manufacturing districts; he hoped soon to have it in the mining districts, and that before long the same principle would be adopted in the agricultural districts. When that should be the case, he thought the country would be prepared to accept a generally compulsory statute. On the effect of compulsion, however, he wished to read the following passage, quoted and endorsed by Mr. Philbrick, superintendent of the schools of Boston, from the Report of Mr. Northrop, agent of the Board of Education of Massachusetts—No fact connected with our public schools has impressed me so sadly as the extent of truancy and non-attendance, and the strange apathy of the public as to this form of juvenile crime. This great evil calls loudly for a remedy. In a few towns the laws in reference to truants and absentees from school are faithfully executed, and with the happiest results, while in others these laws are overlooked or utterly disregarded.The following extract from Mr. Philbrick's Report showed that we must be prepared for a considerable expenditure in the carrying out of universal compulsion—The fact is that some parents will not send their children to school; they want their services to procure chips, or beg, or steal, in fine, to get anything in any way they can. If a school be established for them, it would require 50 constables, each possessing extraordinary vigilance, to catch them every morning and bring them to school. They will not attend school unless they are deprived of their liberty. My experience has 1560 satisfied me that the industrial school is the only one that will be of any service to this class of children.It was asserted by some that if we expelled religious teaching from our schools there would be entire unanimity as to the remainder of the subjects to be taught. But he challenged this suggestion. Professor Kingsley had ceased to be Professor of History at Cambridge because, as he said, the more he studied history the less he found he knew of it. Was there no difficulty in teaching history in Irish schools? In a model school in Dublin he had heard boys rehearse, with true Irish eloquence, the tale of Waterloo and that of the Battle of the Nile; but what might have ensued if one had told, with genuine Irish pathos, the tale of the Battle of the Boyne, and another had narrated in dramatic fashion the events of the Siege of Derry? Even in the accurate science of mathematics there was now an excited controversy as to the definition of a straight line; and in classics there was great doubt as to the manner in which Latin ought to be pronounced, and old scholars could hardly recognize "Arma virumque cano" in the pronunciation of new teachers. There were some who seemed to regard religion as a series of facts, rather than as an influence. Now, anyone who had studied history would agree with him when he said that Christianity was a force of great power in the world, which had done much for civilization, and that mankind had greatly advanced under its influence. He would venture to say that there was no power of ancient or modern philosophy which could compare with it for controlling the passions of the people or elevating their position. The hon. Member who had introduced the Amendment said he did not care for the wishes of the nation. He believed the hon. Member had no sympathy with any one of the nations which formed the United Kingdom. He had no regard for the feelings of Scotland or Ireland, neither had he any regard for the feelings of England, where no doubt there existed considerable apathy on the subject, but where the paramount feeling was in favour of the principle of affording fair opportunities to every parent in the country to have his children taught in the day schools according to the precepts and doctrines of the Christian faith.
§ MR. GRAHAM
said, he would not detain the House longer than to recall its attention to the real subject of debate. He had already on a previous occasion expressed his approval of the Bill, and his belief that, to a large extent, it was approved by the Scotch people, and he had seen no reason to alter his opinions; he was still desirous of seeing the Bill pass a second reading, and dealt with in Committee, although he must confess that the text of the Bill did not answer fully the expectations raised by the speech in which it was introduced. No doubt it provided education for the Scotch people sufficient in quantity, but he doubted whether it took adequate guarantees for the quality. If there was one thing more than another on which the people of Scotland looked with satisfaction, and which they desired to conserve with the utmost jealousy, it was their ancient educational superiority. Scotland had possessed for centuries a system of education very simple, inexpensive, and humble in appearance, but which, nevertheless, afforded to all classes, down to the very poorest, the means of giving their children not only the instruments and elements of education, but a good education itself, so that the village school was the porch of the higher school and of the University. The superiority of the Scotch system had been acknowledged on all hands, and notably the Vice President of the Committee of Council had on more than one occasion expressed himself envious of it for England. In all the discussions it had been shown that the Scotch were anxious above all things that the standard of their education should be maintained, and next that it should not be subject to the interference and control of the Privy Council. He had hoped that the Lord Advocate would not have brought in a less favourable Bill this year than he had introduced last year, and therefore he had been greatly disappointed at finding that the right hon. Gentleman had omitted from the present measure the provisions contained in Schedule C of last year's Bill, which were calculated to maintain the present standard of Scotch education, and had not provided any substitute for them—an omission that, in his opinion, was a very serious blot upon this measure. The Scotch, no doubt, did not desire that the same standard of education 1562 should be maintained in all the schools, but the omission of any such provisions as were to be found in the Bill of last year shook his confidence in he security given for the maintenance of that which they so greatly valued. The Scotch Bill had been spoken of as likely to exert a beneficial influence on he English system; but, instead of the Bill being a lever to elevate the English standard, he was afraid it might have an opposite tendency. Some institution distinctly Scotch in its constitution ought to be interposed between the Privy Council in London and the Scotch school boards and schools, with the view of maintaining the Scotch standard of education. In other matters the Lord Advocate had shown a praiseworthy desire to meet and reconcile the various views which prevailed among the Scotch people; but as to the right of control over their own affairs, and as to the maintenance of a high standard of education, he was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman had surrendered himself entirely to the influence of the Privy Council. Over the selection of the so-called Scotch Educational department of the Privy Council neither the people of Scotland nor that House had any direct control—it would be made in the inviolable secresy of the right hon. Gentleman's room—and who could guarantee that the control over that department might not pass into the hands of those in whom the people of Scotland had no confidence? On these points, therefore, he could not help regarding the Bill as being defective. Again, he was sorry to find, from an interview he had had with a deputation of teachers who had come to London, that an apprehension existed that their interests were not properly protected, and that they were liable to dismissal at the caprice of the school boards or of the Inspectors. Looking at the importance of maintaining the status of teachers, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce such Amendments in the Bill as would afford those persons the security which their education and position demanded. The next subject he desired to advert to was the important one of religious education. Here he must remind the House that practically the religious difficulty did not and never did exist in Scotland, although it had been quickened into a sort of theoretical existence by the introduction of this new 1563 system. The religious difficulty had much to answer for; for it had put a stop to educational progress in this country during the last quarter of a century, and upon its skirts was the blood of two generations of children, who for want of a proper educational system had drifted away into darkness and crime. As a Dissenter and a voluntary, he sympathized with the principles of religious equality and of toleration, and with the rights of conscience, and disbelieved entirely in its being the duty of the Government to interfere with or to undertake to give religious education to the children in the schools; but at the same time he did not for a moment desire to say that his conscience should be the conscience of every other man—on the contrary, the principles of toleration were even dearer to ham than were those of religious equality. When he found one set of men of high character and great intelligence denouncing in the name of conscience a particular system of education as godless, and those who advocated it as irreligious men, because it excluded the Catechism and the teaching of the religion they believed and revered, and another set of men of equally high character and intelligence, also in the name of conscience, deliberately setting themselves to obstruct and to defeat the great educational measure which was passed into law the year before last, and which was working with so much promise of success, and to sweep away every vestige of religious instruction from our schools, he became almost disheartened when he heard the name of conscience pronounced. Was it not too often the case that mere personal opinions and controversial rancour and political theories sheltered themselves behind the name of conscience, that still small voice which speaks to a man when in his quieter hours he reviews the actions and the motives of his daily life? He trusted that feelings of this sort would be put away, and that they should consider this subject as honest, single-hearted men, desiring above all things the welfare of the people. Let them leave open the great text book of religion, the Bible—God's inspired Word—but having regard to the feelings of the ratepayers, he thought that the Bill failed in this, that it did not exclude the use of formularies and catechisms, which however 1564 venerable in themselves might lawfully be objected to by a large number of the parents of children who were to be educated in the schools. He trusted that the Lord Advocate would accept in Committee the Amendments of which Notice had been given with respect to this point. There was another point on which he desired to say a word. He could not see the wisdom of throwing upon the ratepayers of the country the £40,000 or £50,000 a-year which it was proposed to make a present of to the heritors. That was a large sum to throw into the hands of those who had acquired or had inherited their property with that burden attached to it, and he thought that the best course to pursue was to adopt the compromise suggested by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), and to give the heritors a special place upon the school boards. It had been said that they ought not to continue the burden upon the heritors when hey took from them the control of the schools; but the money paid by them was a debt due by them, and there was no reason why they should receive large pecuniary compensation at the cost of the public. He thought, however, the payment of that sum entitled the heritors to a special place on the school boards; and he believed the boards would be raised in position and weight, and the character of the education improved, by a considerable representation of the heritors, even with some or all the defects which had been pointed out. In any case, however, he would accept the Bill as it stood rather than a measure dealing with Scotch education should be deferred for an indefinite number of years. He looked upon this measure as a real step in advance, and he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the admirable manner in which he had solved many difficult questions, and he trusted that in Committee he would so shape the Bill that it would be rendered suitable and acceptable to the great body of the people of Scotland.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
said, he was ready to support the second reading of the Bill, and hoped it would be well considered in Committee. He agreed with other hon. Members that there was really no religious difficulty in the educational question in Scotland. In the 4,500 elementary schools the Bible and Catechism lad always been used ever since they 1565 were established, and in the few charters of the schools receiving Parliamentary grants there was a distinct obligation upon the managers to teach the Bible and the Catechism, as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Roman Catholic parents, moreover, except in very few instances, did not object to their children attending the Bible class in the parochial schools—indeed, he had known them insist on their doing so. The schools, being thus denominational, were consequently voluntary, and even the heritors' contribution was partially so, for whereas they were only required to pay £35 per annum to the schoolmaster, they usually gave considerably more, or the £50,000 which had been mentioned would not be made up. A compulsory rate would of course alter the position, by including not only voluntaries, but all those who objected in theory to the State paying for religious teaching. Many of them, however, like the hon. Members for Edinburgh and Glasgow, did not object to the use of the Bible in schools. Roman Catholics, too, would object to Protestant teaching. Taking into account, therefore, all the difficulties which must arise he had come to the conclusion—and he believed it was the legitimate conclusion—that under a national system of education they should have united literary and moral instruction and separate religious instruction. Under such a system he believed religion could be more efficiently taught than at present. Not that he demurred to the State ministering to the spiritual wants of the people; but this, in his view, was already done by the support of the Established Church; but what was logically correct was often not expedient, or not in accordance with the feelings of the majority of the people; and he believed the great majority of the people of Scotland wished that the Bible, and it alone, should be read and taught; and in deference to them he would waive his own opinion as a secularist, as he had been called, accepting the proposal that the use of the Bible should be imperative, and that formularies should be excluded. As regarded the other points of the Bill, he wished to allude to the suggestions of the hon. Members for Edinburgh and Glasgow with respect to the maintenance of schools. Up to this they had an admirable system in Scotland, for which the heritors had paid 1566 some £50,000 a year. Was this sum to be thrown away, or put into the heritors' pockets? He thought it would be folly to throw it away, and that there was no justice in abandoning it for the benefit of the heritors. The heritors' contribution should be continued, and he approved the suggestion of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) on this point. A central Board should be formed, composed of heritors, with a representation of the ratepayers in case their contribution had to be supplemented by rate. This would be a simpler and more efficient machinery than the local boards created by the Bill. Then, as regarded schoolmasters' houses, the bill proposed to make the maintenance of schoolmasters' houses optional after their present occupants had vacated them; but it was sometimes difficult for a new-comer to find a suitable dwelling. He thought a provision should be made compulsory, that there should be no school without a good schoolmasters' house. The Bill omitted to provide compensation to masters whose schools were discontinued by the local board. This, he presumed, was an oversight—it could hardly have been meant that they should be sent adrift upon the world. Then, with regard to the removal of schoolmasters, it was proposed to make a schoolmaster removable for inefficiency or incompetency on the certificate of an Inspector; but he would advocate the retention of the right of appeal to a second Inspector as at present allowed by the Privy Council; the master might otherwise be the victim of personal pique. The Bill provided that he might appeal to the local board for a public inquiry, and that on the evidence then taken he might appeal to the Court of Session. Now, members of a local board were not accustomed to take evidence, and he should move in Committee that a qualified assessor take the evidence in such cases. It did not plainly appear whether a master would be entitled to a Privy Council grant, or whether, if so, the local board might deduct such amount from his salary. It was important that his interests should be guarded. As to the denominational clause, grants were not to be made in respect of religious instruction; but how was this consistent with the present charter obligation to teach the Bible and the Shorter Catechism? He thought it would be a gross injustice to deprive 1567 these schools of grants. Gentlemen gave their money on the distinct understanding that religion should be taught in these schools; yet here was a Bill which broke faith with those gentlemen, and said these schools should not receive grants if religious instruction were imparted in them. [The LORD ADVOCATE: "No, no!"] He thought one of the best parts of the Bill was the compulsory clause, and if the Amendment which had been shadowed out by his hon. Friends about him were adopted he believed they would make this a good Bill for Scotland.
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
said, that before proceeding to state the objections he had to the Bill, he would remind the House of the various attempts that had already been made at legislation on this subject. Before 1864, when the Royal Commission was appointed to which allusion had been made, there were several attempts made to deal with the question of education and legislation; but they all ended in failure. That was principally because the parish schools, which had done so much for Scotland, were attacked, and were not left, as he thought they ought to have been, as models for the other schools which were to be set up. This failure of legislation led to the appointment of a Royal Commission, and some of the ablest men in Scotland were placed upon it. By this means valuable information was obtained as to the state of education in Scotland, and a Bill was recommended by which the defects in the system in education were to be met; and his principal complaint against the Government now was that they had not followed the plan of that Commission. The Commissioners proposed to leave the old parochial schools much as they were, calling them old national schools, and that new schools should be set up and called new national schools, and that the existing denominational schools should be "adopted" and called "adopted national schools." Very excellent machinery was recommended by the Commissioners, by which the three sets of schools would be gradually put on the same footing; so that in the course of time there would have been a really national system of education. There was a Bill brought into the House of Lords to effect that object, based upon the Report of the Commission; but when it 1568 was brought down to the House of Commons, in consequence of mismanagement of the Government, its progress was so delayed that the House of Lords declined to consider the Amendments made in that House, and the Bill was lost. He had always considered that an excellent Bill. It had one objection—it did not deal with the religious difficulty. It left it in doubt whether the Bill was one to secure religious education or not. There was great apathy in the country at that time, which he was happy to say did not exist now. Last Session another Bill was introduced in this House; but in consequence of the overwhelming pressure of other business, it was not proceeded with. That Bill entirely ignored the recommendations of the Commissioners. The Lord Advocate had treated Scotland as if there were no system of education in it at all, and produced a measure which he was sure would give very little satisfaction to the country. It would give very little satisfaction to the people of Scotland to know that the Bill of this year was much the same as the Bill of last year. In that year there were 903 Petitions signed by 70,000 people against the Bill; whereas the total number of Petitions in favour of the Bill was only 51, signed by 4,860 persons. When, therefore, the Lord Advocate found that Bill so unpopular, it did astonish him that he should have brought in another in substantially the same terms, and that he should have ignored altogether the recommendations of the Commissioners. Another objection to this Bill he had was to the sweeping character of the changes it effected. It left nothing alone. It established a school board in every parish. Why should they in Scotland be compelled to have school boards, when in England these were left optional? It seemed to him that in this respect Scotland was to be made an experiment for England, to see how these boards would work. He objected to those provisions entirely. It seemed to him that it would be much fairer if school boards were established in those parts only where there was an ascertained deficiency in education. The parochial schools had worked well in the country, and he did think that the Lord Advocate would have done much better to have adopted the recommendations of the Commissioners in this matter, instead of attempting 1569 to force upon the people those various school boards. There was another point of detail in which he differed from the Lord Advocate—that was, as to the way in which the schoolmasters were proposed to be dealt with. At present, the schoolmaster had a minimum salary attached to his office. This was the first Bill on which there was not to be such a minimum salary. What sort of teachers would they get if there was no fixed salary to depend upon? It seemed to him they would have in the course of time a very inferior class of men. It was quite clear they would not have the present parish schoolmasters, when they could have no certainty for the continuance of their office. With regard to another point—the people of Scotland were unanimous in favour of establishing a Board of Education in Edinburgh—for such a Board would be far more likely to know the wants, feelings, and wishes of the people in respect of education than a Board sitting in London. Then, as to the question of finance—he had to complain of the great addition that was made to the number of officers. First of all, they were to have a returning officer for the education school board. Then they were to have a treasurer, and then a clerk, who would also be paid. He did not know whether the same man was to do the two offices. Then there was to be an additional officer to compel children to go to school, and his salary would entail an additional expenditure. These were the principal objections he had to urge. He would not detain the House further; but he hoped that the Bill would be very considerably altered in Committee.
§ MR. GOURLEY
said, it was not his intention to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert), neither was he prepared to support as a whole the Bill of the Lord Advocate, inasmuch as it proposed to perpetuate the denominational system which was now being carried out under the provisions of the English Education Act. If this system were adopted in England and Scotland, there must be denominational education in Ireland, and the Government must yield to the demands of the Roman Catholic clergy—in other words, there must be "concurrent endowment." In the town which he represented great bitterness had arisen under the Act of 1870; and many 1570 of the advocates even of the denominational system admitted that unless the Act was amended, there would year by year be increasing religious animosity such as ought not to exist in any civilized community. He hoped, therefore, that the denominational clauses in the present Bill would be modified so as to avoid in the large towns of Scotland the bickerings which had unhappily grown up in England. He could not understand how the Bill as it stood could be supported by Members coming from Scotland—a country which boasted of having secured for itself a purely voluntary system, apart from State support.
§ MR. FORDYCE
said, he agreed with the remarks of the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Gourley); but he could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert), for he should be sorry to see the Bill thrown out. He confessed he was one of those persons—and he believed there were not a few in Scotland—who scarcely knew whether they wished the failure or the success of the Bill as it at present stood. On the one hand, he was ready to admit it was the best Education Bill which had ever been offered, or which they were likely to have offered to them. He also admitted it was a Bill the machinery of which would work smoothly in Scotland; and that not only would the working of its machinery be successful, but that it would cope successfully with the mass of ignorance which existed in Scotland. Those were very great advantages; but he felt very deeply that there were disadvantages which counterbalanced them—he felt that the price they were asked to pay for the Bill was a very heavy one. What was that price? That they should consent to a system of what was, in his opinion, nothing less than one of concurrent endowment, and that they should sanction the indefinite extension of a system of paying taxes and rates for supporting sectarian and religious instruction. In other words, they were asked to pass an Education Bill which was opposed to the principles of the people of Scotland. If the Scotch system of education was to have been remodelled, it should have been remodelled in the direction of a more truly national system, which the ratepayers could have supported without any violation of the rights of conscience. 1571 He believed the religious instruction of the people of Scotland could he very safely left to the people themselves and to the Churches of Scotland, and that if that had been done, the people of Scotland would have risen equal to the occasion. He sympathized very much with the schoolmasters, because he did not think the Bill gave sufficient security for their independence—it was his conviction that the school teachers in Scotland would be starved where the poor rates were high. His experience of education boards in rural districts in Scotland was that they might be depended upon, except where they were asked to put their hands in their pockets. In the case of a parish where 6d. in the pound and a school rate of 6d. was imposed, the parents thus taxed could not afford to pay fees, and thus one source of the teacher's maintenance would be cut off in many cases. Then, last year the amount of the grant was stated, but this Bill left it quite indefinite. The teachers, in many cases, would merely have their salaries to depend on. He thought there were many deficiencies and shortcomings in the Bill, which he could not help thinking had been very carelessly drawn. For instance, in the Bill of last year provision was made for the case of poor parishes in the Highlands; but this had now disappeared, and not only so, but a sum amounting, he believed, to £700 per annum, which had hitherto been devoted to such a purpose, was now proposed to be withdrawn. He hoped that the Amendment would not be pressed; but there were several Amendments suggested on that side of the House which he thought might be advantageously adopted in Committee.
§ MR. ORR EWING
said, that the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert) had made a very startling and extraordinary statement—namely, that Members of the House were not to consider or be influenced by the opinions of their constituents, or of the country—but that they ought to act independently of opinion out-of-doors. He thought he might safely leave the hon. Gentleman to his constituents, who would doubtless take him to task on the subject. His right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate was actuated by no such motive. Anyone present when the Bill was brought in must have been struck with the earnestness, nay, 1572 almost the solemnity, of his manner. His right hon. Friend felt the importance of the question, the responsibility of endeavouring to deal with it, by the difficulties which he would have to encounter. These difficulties his right hon. Friend had greatly increased by an endeavour to serve two masters—namely, the people of Scotland and the Birmingham Education League. But when his right hon. Friend appealed to both sides of the House to yield a little of their own opinions for the sake of the 92,000 who were growing up in ignorance in Scotland for the want of an Education Bill such as this, he heartily sympathized with his right hon. Friend. He was sure he spoke not only for himself, but for all on that side of the House, when he said that they would enter on a consideration of this great question impartially. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite would meet them in a corresponding manner, so that they might all enter upon the consideration of the Bill in the spirit of that appeal, and laying aside all party or political motives, all approach the question with an anxious desire to do the best they could for the interests of their native country. Let them in that spirit consider what was the best system of education they could adopt, so that Scotland might maintain the high position she had hitherto held amongst civilized nations as a highly educated people, and the noble position she had held, too, in science, art, literature, manufactures, and agriculture—and, if it would not offend the hon. Member for Nottingham, he would say that Scotland was also distinguished for the fidelity with which her people preserved their religious principles, and for the loyalty and devotion they had shown to the Crown and to every constituted authority. He approved of many parts of the Bill—of the provisions of infant schools, and of the industrial and evening schools; also of undenominational and universal inspection, and of the means provided for building schools according to the requirements of the nation. He also approved of the clauses for compulsory education, although he feared that practically it could be only carried out by indirect instead of direct means. He would much rather reward the parents who educated their children, by allowing them to be employed at an earlier age than other children. The 1573 other alternative of sending the parents to prison for not educating their children would lead to many difficulties, and the result would be, as they had been warned in the case of the Vaccination Act, that the clauses could not be carried out, and would fall to the ground. He wished to correct some statistics quoted by his right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate, which appeared to him to be fallacious. The computation of 92,000 as the number of children who ought to be at school, but who were receiving no education at all, was a considerable exaggeration, arising from the fact that the Commissioners in their Report of 1867 assumed that the proper age at which the children ought to be at school was between three and 15. In Scotland, however, the children were rarely or never sent until they were about six, and the working classes generally removed their children as soon as 12. Where could these 92,000 children live? The deficiency of education must be in the cities and boroughs, for, with the exception of the West Highlands, the means of education were sufficient in all the country districts. In 1867 these districts had one child at school for every 6.3 of the population—a larger proportion than could be found in Germany or the United States. Yet the Lord Advocate by this Bill destroyed the schools of the very districts in which there was sufficient education. He destroyed the parish schools, which were the boast and pride of Scotland. It was said that the elementary education of Scotland was inferior to that in England; but that was because in Scotland more attention was given to the higher branches. As was shown by the Report in the hands of hon. Members, there was a considerably higher percentage of children who passed examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic in Scotland than in England. In England, the number of children who passed the preliminary examination in reading was 90 per cent; in Scotland, 98. In evening schools, the number that passed in reading was, in England 92, and in Scotland 98 per cent. In England, the children who passed in writing were 88, and in Scotland 91 per cent; in the evening schools in England 85, and in Scotland 86 per cent. In arithmetic, the children who passed in England were 75, and in Scotland 88 per cent. So that the elementary education of Scotland was superior to that of 1574 England. The Lord Advocate had stated that the number of children at school in Scotland amounted to 313,000, of whom 88,000 were being educated at the parish schools and 224,000 at voluntary and other schools. These figures were very misleading to Members not acquainted with Scotland, and would lead to the impression that the Church of Scotland had only educated children to a small amount. Yet those hon. Gentlemen who proposed to sever the connection between the Established Church and the parochial schools—that connection which had existed for centuries—must well know what an enormous amount of good that Church had done by establishing schools in districts where no schools previously existed. In the Report of the Commission of 1867 it was stated that there were 4,451 schools in Scotland, of whom no fewer than 2,751 belonged to the Church of Scotland. On the day of examination 200,000 children were examined, and 214,000 were on the rolls. Now, what had the Dissenting bodies done? Out of 4,500 schools in Scotland, the "true blue" Nonconformists of Scotland had only 45. The largest portion of secularists belonged to the United Presbyterians, who had built only 45 schools, which were attended by not more than 3,114 children. If the United Prebyterians had done their duty with regard to schools in the same way as the Free Church and the Established Church, there would have been no want of education in Scotland, and the Bill before the House would have been quite unnecessary. But those who had so long lagged behind now came forward to offer every obstruction they could unless they should get their own way. Then there was another fact which deserved to be mentioned. It might be supposed that the United Presbyterians would refuse to partake of the public grants. But the schools in Glasgow which belonged to that body did partake of them. Well, then, having committed this little sin, why should not their consciences go a little further, and allow the great body of the people of Scotland the kind of schools which they approved? Much had been said about the religious difficulty. In Scotland up to the present time there had been no religious difficulty, for every school, whether belonging to the Free Church, the Established Church, or the United Presbyterians—even adventure schools, 1575 which properly belonged to no Church, though often in charge of the parish clergyman—all taught the same way. The Shorter Catechism was taught in them, the Bible was read, and the precepts of the Bible were explained. Could there be a better evidence of the general feeling in this matter than the fact that in all Glasgow there was but one secular school, and that not a very large one? An attempt was made to establish a second, but it failed. For his own part, he did not see how education was to be carried on in Scotland unless the Bible were permitted to be read. The minister connected with the largest school in Scotland—a school comprising 1,300 children—observed not long ago that there the religious difficulty, as it was called, was no religious difficulty at all. There had, he said, always been a special hour for religious instruction, and he was not aware of any complaint. Among the 1,300 children receiving education, there were only 23 claims for exemption; and the number of those who objected to the common Catechism was only 2 per cent of the whole. To show how catholic the spirit of Scotland was on that question, he might remark that in the parish schools 37,000 children belonged to the Free Church, 23,685 to the United Presbyterians, 1,680 to the Episcopalians, 5,380 to Roman Catholics. In the Free Church schools 10,605 belonged to the Established Church, and 974 were Roman Catholics. Further, of the 3,114 children in the United Presbyterian, schools, 675 belonged to the Established Church, and 289 to the Free Church. From these figures it was manifest that there was no religious difficulty in Scotland. Parents sent their children to the nearest school, not caring whether it belonged to Established Church or Free Church, or to some other religious denomination. He was surprised that the Lord Advocate, who knew so well the facts of the case, should have said in introducing the Bill that he sympathised with the secularists. He was surprised, because he had read with considerable interest the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at Stranraer in the beginning of this year, in which he said that he regarded the religious question as one of the first importance, and that a child who was without instruction in religion would be unfit for his duties in this world, however humble they might be. Why, 1576 then, did not the right hon. Gentleman stand up to his convictions, and when he knew that almost the unanimous opinions of his countrymen coincided with those views, why did he not bring in a Bill to give that religious instruction which the people of Scotland had, and should have, independently of any Bill? The right hon. Gentleman would reply that he must regard the consciences of other people, however few they might be; but he (Mr. Orr Ewing) would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether their consciences were not regarded in the Conscience Clause? The House was to pay attention to the consciences of secularists—to yield anything that they demanded. They who held with him (Mr. Orr Ewing) did not wish to force their religion on secularists; but secularists did not extend the same kind of liberality to them, taking for granted that they had no consciences. The secularists seem to take for granted that those who advocated a religious education had no conscience; for they supposed that secularism presented a neutral ground upon which every man could stand without doing violence to his conscience. He held that secularism was a religion. ["No, no!"] It was a negative religion. The difference between them was one of principle, and to endeavour to impose upon them a system of secular education, which they detested, was to do a most tyrannical and bigoted act. He was as much opposed in principle to his children being taught secularism as secularists were to their being taught the truths of Christianity. They were quite willing to accept a compromise—to make the system of education in Scotland un-sectarian and national—but they were not prepared to make it irreligious. He believed that this Bill, so far from establishing a national system, would make the education of Scotland more denominational and sectarian than at present, and destroy one of the best systems of schools that ever existed in any country. He trusted the Lord Advocate would not go on with that portion of the Bill which proposed to exempt the landowners of Scotland from the contribution of a certain amount of money, and to supply the deficiency by contributions from poor occupiers. Taking into consideration the expenses to be incurred under the Bill arising out of the various elections for the school boards, the appointment of clerks 1577 and treasurers, and the erection of polling-booths, he asked whether he thought that the people of Scotland would be pleased with the burdens thus cast on them. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would do well to think over the suggestions which had been made by the hon. Members for Edinburgh and Aberdeen in that matter. He thought the true course would be to continue the burden on the land and liberalize to any extent they pleased the present boards of management. He desired to make a few remarks on the position of the schoolmasters as it would be under the Bill. The existing schoolmasters were a well-educated body of men, who had chosen an arduous though honourable profession. It required rare qualities to be efficient teachers of youth. A schoolmaster must not only be an educated man and possess the art of imparting knowledge, but he must have perfect control over his own temper, and be gentle and kind. One would have supposed that the learned Lord Advocate, who knew the difficulties attending the position of schoolmasters, would have sympathized with them and endeavoured to raise their status; but throughout the Bill there was exhibited an animus to injure and degrade the profession. As placed at present, under the charge of the heritors and minister, they received a fixed salary and were provided with a dwelling-house and garden. But the Lord Advocate would change all that. The Lord Advocate did not provide any dwelling-house or garden grounds for the schoolmasters—and, what was worse, they were to be elected subject to dismissal at the caprice of the local boards, without a trial or appeal. If the Lord Advocate proposed to deal in a similar manner with the sheriffs, what would Parliament House in Edinburgh say? The salaries of schoolmasters had been increased from time to time, till in 1861 £35 was fixed as the minimum and £70 as the maximum. But the Lord Advocate changed all this without complaint from any quarter, and even in the face of remonstrances from his friends, the United Presbyterians. His scheme was entirely a whim of his own. What did he expect to gain from it? In all his speeches the Lord Advocate had given no trace of these changes except as to the salaries of the schoolmasters, and that he said must be left to the law of supply and 1578 demand. Now, if the law of supply and demand was good for the regulation of schoolmasters' salaries, why did it not also hold good in regard to schools and scholars? The fact was, that the law of supply and demand, while it regulated well and satisfactory whatever was necessary for the natural requirements of man, was wholly inapplicable to what was necessary for the moral nature of man, and it was necessary to stimulate the supply in order to rectify the defect. He trusted the Government, in Committee, would alter this Bill so as to bring it more in unison with the general feeling of Scotland. There could be no doubt what that feeling was. The people of Scotland wished a religious combined with a high secular education. They were justly proud of their parish schools, which sent one in every 1,000 of the population to the Universities, while Germany sent one in 1,800 and England only one in 5,000. If the Government did not bring the Bill into conformity with the public feeling, the people would cast aside the Parliamentary grants and rates, and raise for themselves schools on the principle which John Knox had carried out for the Godly up-bringing of the youth of Scotland; for they firmly believed that without religion a people could neither be moral, industrious, nor energetic.
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
*: Sir, since 1854, six Education Bills for Scotland have been before this House, and now we are at a seventh. Of these only one, that of 1861, became law, and it was of a limited character, and related chiefly to the abolition of tests in regard to teachers. And, while we have thus dallied with legislation, three generations of school children have passed through their periods of training, subject to all the imperfections which this House was called upon to remove in 1854. Three generations of school children have become men and women, many with no education of any kind, many with education of a most imperfect kind, and have become citizens not of that intelligent and orderly class which formed the pride of Scotland and a support to England, but ignorant citizens such as we will before long have to account with for not having given them the advantages enjoyed by their forefathers. Our Scottish pride is apt to be nourished with the traditions 1579 of the past, and we shut our eyes to the realities of the present. It is quite true that Scotland was once a nation with nearly universal education; it is not true now. Her old national system of education, once a glory to her, does not now meet the necessities of a sixth of the school children; and the denominational efforts to supplement it, though they have been as zealous and self-denying as those in England, have been, like them, partial in their effect, and often the most active where they were the least needed. And so we find startling instances of ignorance prevailing. In some parts of the Highlands there is an educational destitution which I hope and believe has no parallel in a civilized country. The Commissioners tell us of three populations, amounting to 6,000 souls, among whom only 48 could write their own names. No doubt, that is an extreme instance; but its existence, as a fact, and its very possibility, throws upon us a heavy responsibility for dallying with Scotch education since 1854. Nor if you take general, instead of exceptional, instances, can we comfort ourselves with the belief that Scotland is any longer a highly educated nation. In the specimen Lowland parishes examined by the Commissioners, only 55 per cent of the children from 5 to 15 years of age were found to be in actual attendance at schools, and, of these, one-fourth is pronounced to have bad teaching and unsuitable structures. If you pass from country districts to urban populations like that of Glasgow, the Commissioners assure us that from half to two-thirds of the school children are not in any school. With such facts as these, I was astonished to hear the hon. Baronet the Member for Peebles and Selkirk (Sir Graham Montgomery) generalizing from his own district, and doubting the existence of educational destitution in Scotland. I admit that there are no correct data by which to decide whether there are 90,000 children, as the Commissioners believe, or 50,000 children, as the Census indicates, without the means of education. But we have abundant information as to the extraordinary inequalities of educational provisions, and this in itself is sufficient to show the necessity of a national system. Thus in the county of Selkirk, represented by my hon. Friend who generalized his knowledge, there is, according to the 1580 Commissioners, as large a proportion as 1 to 5, and, according to the Census, as 1 to 7, of the population having the means of education; but the hon. Baronet might have pointed to another county in Scotland where, the Commissioners tell us, there was only 1 in 14. In individual parishes there is a wide range of variation, beginning at 1 in 4, and going as low as 1 in 30 of the population. These inequalities suffice to show that the existing means of education have failed to meet the wants of the population. But even such education as exists in towns seems to fail in producing its proper fruits. Edinburgh has excellent free schools, and yet the last Factory Report tells us some most startling facts. Dr. Blair Cunyngham, the certifying surgeon under the Factory Acts, tells us that of the children who came under his official cognizance in 1869, only 1 in 3½ could read and write fairly; while he congratulates the country on improvement because he found only 1 in 2 in that condition in 1871. He elicited how much of this ignorance was due to children of Scottish birth, and he found that 55 per cent of Scotch children in the first year, and 43 per cent in the second year, who came under the Factory Acts, could not read and write fairly. Inspector Walker, writing from Dundee, after describing these and other startling facts, concludes by saying—There is no subject upon which numbers of my countrymen labour under a greater delusion than in maintaining that education is more general in Scotland than in other countries.I am sorry to say that I agree with him. If you want to see educational efforts that are being made for factory children, you must not look to Scotland, but to Lancashire and Yorkshire. With such humiliating truths before us, we dare not again neglect to pass a Bill for education in Scotland. What, then, are the rocks and shoals upon which the previous Bills have been wrecked, and which stand in our way even now? Do not let us shut our eyes to them; they are the ecclesiastical jealousies of the Churches. The Church of Scotland once was most intimately, and still is largely, associated with the education of the people. It was fortunate for Scotland that this was the case; for though the parish schools were always national, still the State and the nation only attended to education 1581 by fits and starts, while the Church uniformly recognized its importance. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Church still desires to retain its hold on the education of the people. But this is no longer necessary, for the State fully recognizes and wishes to co-operate in the duties of education; while the Church of Scotland, which once included the whole people, is no longer in that position. Besides, the interests of the State and of the Churches, though often allied, are by no means identical; for, while the State looks to schools as nurseries for good citizens, the Churches are too apt to look upon them as nurseries for Church members. Scotland has a population, of whom 90 per cent are Protestants, and 10 per cent Roman Catholics. Of the Protestants, 4 per cent are Episcopalians, and the remaining 86 per cent are Presbyterians, not only having the same faith, but the same forms of worship. Surely our duty ought to be simple. If we adequately protect the consciences of the minority, there is a singularly homogeneous majority to deal with in matters of faith if we avoid matters of ecclesiastical polity. Practically, we ought to have no difficulties of religion to contend with; but actually there is at present much religious excitement in Scotland about this Bill. I cannot deny that, chiefly on account of the ecclesiastical obstacles which have been put in the path of educational progress since 1854, there is a rapidly growing desire among the people for separating secular and religious instruction in the school, with the view of confiding the latter to the Churches. That view commends itself to my own mind as theoretically the best. But, as yet, public opinion is not sufficiently pronounced on it to make it a safe basis for legislation. There is, on the other hand, a strong desire that you should not only continue religious instruction along with the secular, but actually enforce it by law, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen (Mr. Gordon) proposes to ask you to do. This is what is called the "use and wont" system, because it is undoubtedly the universal practice in Scotland for the teachers to teach the Bible and Catechism in the school. The Catechism is a compendium of Christian doctrines prepared by an Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and is therefore 1582 not, like the English Catechism, devoted to the formulas of any Church. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly very dogmatic, as for example in relation to predestination and election, and, as a matter of fact, it contains opinions from which many pious Christians do most strenuously dissent. If you impose them upon all schools by statute, you ought to re-enact the tests which you formerly abolished, for otherwise there is no security that the beliefs which you impose by statute will be inculcated. But it is useless to occupy the time of the House with this subject. The day is past when this House will either enact beliefs or tests for any part of the population. We now thoroughly admit the truth of Sydney Smith's axiom—"That if experience has taught us anything, it is the absurdity of controlling men's notions of eternity by an Act of Parliament." The Bill of my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate neither proscribes nor prescribes religion. In this he has acted wisely. If it be, as I think it is, the desire—and it certainly is the use and wont—of the people of Scotland to have religion taught in their schools, there is nothing in this Bill to prevent the fulfilment of that desire. Nor is the mode limited. They may either continue to intrust it to the teacher, or they may arrange for religious instruction by that higher form of denominationalism, by which each sect provides for the dogmatic instruction of its own sectarians. This appears to me to be an advantage, for by it we would gather experience whether the growing feeling in Scotland can be realized as a system. Abroad, it answers admirably; but, then, the separate ministers of religion are either paid for instructing the children belonging to their denomination, or it is made a duty on their appointment; but, in our country the devotion of any portion of Imperial or local taxation to such a purpose would be stigmatized as "concurrent endowment." I want, then, to see whether voluntary zeal, especially where the minority is small, suffices to secure method and regularity in religious teaching. If it do not, it is not reliable as an educational system; and I have before me the knowledge of education in Ireland, where it has practically failed altogether. This Bill gives a fair trial to use and wont, and to the separate systems; but whichever a school board adopts, I have sufficient reliance on the 1583 religious feeling of my countrymen to be assured that they will not allow religion either to be entirely ignored or practically neglected. Surely, my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gordon), on the opposite side, cannot think that it was the statute of 1861 which, by continuing a religious declaration on the teacher, has preserved religion in our schools. If he believes so strongly in "use and wont," why does he not trust to it without statute? Scotland is, undoubtedly, a religious country; but it is so because religion has welled up from the hearts of the people, not because it has been squirted over them by Acts of Parliament. These may, indeed, be sometimes necessary to protect minorities, and, in this view, we have a Conscience Clause introduced to this Bill. Yet there has been long in Scotch schools an unwritten law which has acted with equal force, and, in consequence of it, all sects are intermingled in them. Though the Churches have, no doubt, struggled to obtain the direction of schools, the people have not sympathized with their ecclesiastical cravings, and so have used the schools with the most perfect indifference as to their denominational managers. Even the 10 per cent Roman Catholic minority has relied on the fairness of the 90 per cent Protestant majority; for of their children at school, 59 per cent are in Protestant and only 41 per cent in their own Roman Catholic schools. Nevertheless, if you desire statutory instead of an unwritten law for the protection of conscience, there will be no real opposition to it. But it does not follow from this that, while we free the minority from religious instruction, we shall force it on the majority. No doubt a certain number of religious and zealous men ask for that, though it is illogical when they base it on their reliance on "use and wont." Religious zeal, however, is not fed on logic. But why the League swell their opposition to this Bill passes my comprehension. I can conceive my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) disliking the question of religious education being left to the discretion of local boards. But, in the face of a whole nation desiring religious instruction, and in the absence of experience regarding the working of the separate system when based on voluntary zeal, what else could the Lord Advocate have done? My hon. 1584 Friend says we determine the future of Irish education by the course we now take. I devoutly hope we may. If the Irish will take example from this Scotch Bill; if they will rate themselves largely for education as the Scotch have already done, and now ask powers to do much further; if they will pass over their non-vested schools from their priestly managers to representative laymen elected by the ratepayers; if they will accept a Conscience Clause conceived in the liberal spirit of that in this Bill, it will be a glorious example for Ireland, and will confer many benefits on its population. If it do all this, I am not afraid to give the ratepayers of Ireland all the power we ask for the ratepayers of Scotland. Try as you will, you could not make Irish education more denominational than it is now, unless you abandon altogether the Time Table Conscience Clause for the protection of minorities. Are you afraid of Scotch example for Irish imitation? Offer them this Bill as it is, but not as my hon. and learned Friend opposite would make it, and all friends of liberal education will rejoice. Leaving now the religious question, which is apt in an Education Bill to cast up such clouds of dust as to obscure the real educational provisions of a Bill, let us now turn to these and see whether they are calculated to promote efficiently the education of the people. As respects quantity, I think they are; but I think that I can convince you they are not fitted to maintain the quality of Scotch education. On this point, I do not think my right hon. Friend, in his opening speech, stated the case with fairness to Scotch education. He told you truly that the parish schools, and many of the denominational schools, taught subjects beyond mere elementary instruction, such as grammar, geography, history, mathematics, French, German, and even Latin and Greek. He then mentioned that, when examination by the Revised Code was first introduced into Scotland, these schools did not give such a high percentage of passes in "the three R's" as English schools; and hence he drew the conclusion that elementary instruction had been sacrificed to higher instruction. My right hon. Friend did not tell you—perhaps he did not know—that this was for a few months only, and that ever since Scotch schools have stood higher than English schools. The reason 1585 was not that assigned by my right hon. Friend. Scotch teachers had different habits of teaching from English teachers. They believed, and still believe, that the natural evolution of a child's faculties indicates that all the subjects of the standards should not be begun simultaneously, and consequently they postponed the teaching of arithmetic till a child became of sufficient age. But the Revised Code had no such conception, and thought a child's brain was like a man's brain, but in a box of a different size. So for a few months, when all those subjects were demanded at all ages, the Scotch schools could not compete with English schools; but, as soon as they understood the theory of mental evolution of faculties on which the Committee of Council constructed the Code, they altered their mode of teaching, and my right hon. Friend ought to have told you with what result. Ever since then, the percentage of complete passes in Scotch inspected schools has been higher than in English schools, and that in every standard from the lowest to the highest. What can be the reason for that? Mainly, as I contend, because the life and vigour thrown into a school by its higher subjects pervades every part of it, and carries on all by the large wave of instruction passing through it. My right hon. Friend pointed out in one of his speeches that the extent and value of this higher instruction is over-rated, because only a few scholars, in proportion to the whole number, go up to the Universities from the parish schools. Undoubtedly that is true, and it would be extraordinary if it were otherwise. Even from secondary classical schools in England, such as Eton and Harrow, and from those in Scotland of a like character, only a few scholars pass to the Universities. Hon. Members may be surprised that any at all should go from Scotch parish schools; but the number is absolutely great, though relatively small to the 450,000 children at elementary schools. Nevertheless, it is one chief cause why the Universities of Scotland are so truly national, for they have 1 student to every 800 of the population, whereas in England there is only 1 to 5,800. In every parish school in Scotland, and in many other schools belonging to the Free Church, every child above a certain age learns such subjects as geography and grammar. But it is 1586 quite true that only 4 in 100 learn Latin. My right hon. Friend thinks that an insignificant proportion; but I take issue with him, and contend it is a very large one. Let us follow out the working of a school with 100 scholars, of whom 60 are boys and 40 girls. The highest class in such a school cannot number more than eight boys, and when you find 50 per cent of this highest class learning Latin, and 25 per cent mathematics and French, and 12½ per cent Greek, I say this is a remarkable result for the peasantry of any country. But that is the sort of education which has enabled Scotchmen to fill situations where trust and intelligence are required all over the world. Let me give you an illustration; and I am sure there are few who will sneer at the idea of even raw Highland lads being taught mathematics in a parish school. Some years since, an emigrant ship bound to Melbourne touched at the Cape de Verde Islands, where fever entered it. Many died, including the doctor, and the surviving officers were prostrated with fever, and there was no one to take observations or to keep the reckoning. In this emergency two Highland lads, among the emigrants, offered to apply the knowledge which they had acquired at the parish school of Barray, an island in the Outer Hebrides; and they took charge of the ship, and guided her in safety to the Cape of Good Hope. Can you be surprised when you know that the character of Scotch education produces such an intelligent population, that we are jealously anxious to preserve its characteristics? It is less the number of those who learn higher subjects, though that is large; less the number of those who struggle upwards from the small rooms of the parish school to the wider halls of the University, that produces the character of Scotchmen; but it is more the fact that the possibility of advancement is within the reach of every peasant and artizan in the kingdom. The intellectual fund of a nation is never absolutely large; but happy is that country where every man can contribute to it who has within himself the sources of intellectual wealth. I must now, to my great regret, express my profound dissatisfaction with this Bill on these important points. It fails to grasp the characteristics of Scotch education, and will seriously deteriorate its quality. The Lord Advocate tells us that he is going 1587 to nationalize all schools on the type of the parish school; but he, at the same time, excises from all schools the very two characters which make the parochial school typical. In the first place, a parish school is essentially a rate-supported school; but the Lord Advocate's school of the future is only to depend on rates if other sources of income are deficient. In the second place, a parish school possesses a high class of teacher, because he has ample statutory security for adequate remuneration and fixed tenure of office. My right hon. Friend justly thought he would get our sympathy when he used the parish school as his type; but he invites us, by his bill of performance, to the play of Hamlet, not only with the character of "Hamlet," but also with that of "Polonius" omitted. For the two characters of the parish school no longer appear—namely, a substantial support by rate, and a high class of teaching. With regard to the first, I believe the temptation held out to the ratepayers of Scotland that rates will only be required to cover a deficit is an utterly illusory one, for a rate, as I will show hereafter, is inevitable in every parish; but this temptation to parsimony is nevertheless on the face of the measure. But for the present let us turn to the position of the teachers. The Lord Advocate trusts that the ordinary operations of demand and supply will ensure adequate remuneration to teachers. He instructed us, in this House, very little on that primary lesson of political economy; but he dwelt largely on it in his speeches to his constituents. My right hon. Friend has been studying, with much effect, Adam Smith's first book; but he forgot to turn to the fifth book, where that author shows the principle is inapplicable to elementary education, and where he recommends that teachers should partly be paid a salary from the public purse, and partly by fees. Is not the very raison d' être of his Bill that there is such a languid demand for schools, and such an insufficient supply of them, that he must stimulate the demand and force the supply? Let us see, however, how the Lord Advocate proposes to trust to the natural operations of demand and supply in his Bill. A school is the subject of their application. What is a school? It is not the school-house, and it is not the school board. The two essential parts of a 1588 school are the schoolmaster and the school children. The first has education to sell to children who are the buyers, while the school board is merely in the position of a market committee to superintend the orderly transactions of the market. But the market is so sluggish that the Government intervene to stimulate supply by means of bounties; and the demand is so insufficient, that my right hon. Friend has framed compulsory clauses for his Bill to gather the buyers from the highways and byways and force them to come in. No doubt both these operations are in favour of the schoolmaster who is the seller; but they are only resorted to because the ordinary operations of the economical law are insufficient to meet his case. Now, if the schoolmaster got what he earned both as bounties and fees, the principle of a healthy competition would come in aid of a good supply. But the Lord Advocate breaks his political principle at every step. Neither bounties nor fees go to the vendor, but are tumbled hotchpotch into a common fund of the local board. And the reason for this is a strange one. Various schools are under this board, and as some teachers may earn large bounties and a large amount of fees, while others, being less efficient, earn much less, it will be possible for the school board to supplement the deficiency of a bad man's earnings by the excess of a good man's earnings, and so save the necessity of going to the ratepayers for a rate to supply a deficit. You tumble all the earnings into a hotchpotch, and then ladle them out by contract. It may, indeed, be the interest of a school board to push the good man into abnormal activity to save the deficit; but such a slave-driving pressure is as nothing compared with the spur to exertion which a man has when he knows that he has a direct interest in the result, and reaps the fruits of his own labour. The Lord Advocate says that he secures efficient teaching because he enacts various grades of certificates of proficiency, though he gives no motive for taking a higher one than the minimum. But it is not the Legislature, but the local board which will determine this point. For whoever has the power of fixing the price of an article, determines the quality of the article; and the immediate, though not perhaps the ultimate, interest of the local board is to save the 1589 pockets of the ratepayers, and to have an article at a minimum price. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent this. Let us take an extreme, though not at all an improbable, case. Suppose a local board advertises for a schoolmaster at £40 a-year and a suit of clothes—that being the minimum remuneration fixed under the powers of an Act for a Scotch policeman, whose qualifications are that he must be 5 feet 7 inches, and can read and write. In the Act of 1803, the Quarter Sessions could interfere and direct that such an inadequate salary should be raised. But in this Bill there is no such provision, not even one forcing the local board to appoint a teacher, supposing none applied, on the salary offered; and an ordinary court of law would scarcely do so, when the very principle of this Bill is to make the local board sole judge of what salary should be offered. I do not say there are many local boards who would put themselves in this position; but I do say that it is not the fault of the Bill if they do not, for it holds out to them that temptation by not enacting as heretofore a substantive rate, but making that contingent on their being unable to screw out their expenses from Government grants and school fees. All the experience within my knowledge is against trusting to an unrestrained contract between teachers and local boards. That idea was admitted into Ireland, and has produced disastrous results. The Government allowance to Irish teachers was originally considered as a mere contribution, which the liberality of the district would amply supplement. But that which was deemed a mere subscription became ultimately the whole remuneration; and now you have some 12,000 teachers spread over Ireland with less salaries than the policeman's which I have quoted, centres of discontent against the Government, whom they look to as their sole paymasters, as the localities have neglected their part of the duties. My right hon. Friend will tell us that he is only following the example of the Act of 1870, and that I did not attack these provisions at that time. But I may remind the House that I deplored very much my inability to discuss the educational provisions of that Bill on account of our being pushed into an ecclesiastical siding, and in Committee silence was the best policy which educationalists could 1590 adopt to get it through. But what I object to especially now is that the Lord Advocate abandons a system of substantive educational rates, for which we have centuries of experience in Scotland, for a contingent system in case of a deficit, when the fruits of such a plan are as yet wholly unknown to us. I know that one system works well, and I expect that the other will work badly; but, in any event, there is not as yet an atom of experience in its favour. My right hon. Friend is determined to Anglicize our Scotch schools in every possible way. But he is wrong. England and Scot-land, though they form parts of the same kingdom, are as different as an English bull-dog is from a Scotch terrier, and each requires its own kind of training. The Bills of 1869 and 1871 admitted this difference, for each had a schedule laying down the principles on which a Scotch code of education should be constructed. But this Bill contains no such safeguards. The three Bills of 1869, 1871, and 1872 are successive steps in the Anglicizing and lowering of Scotch elementary education. The first Bill, prepared by the late Lord Advocate, now the Lord Justice Clerk, did try to protect it, for it provided for a national board in Edinburgh, and for national principles in the construction of the code. The Bill of 1871 adhered to these principles, but invented a Scotch Education Department in the Privy Council, in the actuality and potentiality of which no one believes; and now this Bill has struck out the last shadow of protection which we had for the preservation of our Scotch system of education. The parish schools, under the management of heritors, had the security of being superintended by men of culture and education. I hope this will be continued by a careful selection of representatives on the part of the ratepayers, and I believe it will. But why was it necessary to turn all the local boards into directors of public instruction? They would have been content with administrative functions; but you give them far more power, and make each a sort of Ministerial bureau of education in the district, both for lower and upper schools, if they happen to have the latter. When we see danger to the enlightenment of the country in this, we are told, in the same breath—first, that the Scotch Education Department has reserved no power 1591 over local boards; and then my right hon. Friend tells us to trust to the protective power of his new departmental invention. But when we asked the Vice President of the Council what that department really was, my right hon. Friend, with his usual candour, confessed it was essentially to consist of himself and the Lord Advocate. Both my right hon. Friends know that, personally, I hold them in high esteem; but neither of them has that inner faith of the advantages of the Scotch system that induces me to put unreservedly into their hands the unknown future. This Bill, in its present form, is not a Bill for promoting Scotch education; it is, and it should be so entitled, a Bill for extending low elementary English education throughout Scotland. I would have comparatively less anxiety even on this point, if I felt sure that the high qualifications of teachers would be kept up by this Bill, because they would delight to impart the knowledge which they possessed. But here again the Lord Advocate abandons all Scotch experience, and rushes open-mouthed into the English system of certifying teachers—a system which, since 1857, has been continually lowering their qualifications. I could point out to you many teachers who, as mere pupil-teachers, during their apprenticeship, passed a far higher examination than a principal teacher in an English school now requires to pass. Nay, more—and I do not say these things carelessly, and I shall be glad to be challenged to the proof by my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council—I could select numerous boys at our parish schools in Scotland who are far more highly educated than the teachers as they now leave training schools in England. But that is the condition to which our teachers must be brought by this Bill, for they are subjected to the same deteriorating influences. Our existing system of certifying teachers is through the Universities, with which they have had an intimate connection in training, and with which they are proud to continue associated by the results of their teaching. But this Bill changes all this, cuts off the Universities altogether from certifying teachers, and, with its love for English assimilation, throws them into the deteriorating system of the Committee of Council. The intention of the Lord Advocate 1592 could not have been to lower the qualifications of teachers; but he has adopted a, system of examination which has progressively deteriorated them ever since 1857, and very largely since 1861. I think the origin of his error is in magnifying the importance of school managers, who count for very little, and in depreciating that of the teacher, who counts for very much in a school. Yet every one with educational experience knows the truth of the axiom—"As is the teacher, so is the school." His habits, his activity of intellect, his morality, his religion, his general character, are all reflected in the children as if in the fragments of a broken mirror; and yet, instead of cultivating the individualities and excellences of schoolmasters, this Bill treats them as it would not treat traders; and it treats their commodity—the education of the rising generation—as it would not treat potatoes in a common market, if it desired a good quality of supply. At the present moment, England and Scotland are under different educational codes. English teachers are paid by the results of their pupils' examination under the Revised Code; while, though Scotch children are also examined by that Code, the Scotch teachers are paid on their certificates of qualifications by the Code of 1860. The amounts which these carry vary from £15 on the lowest to £30 on the highest. But, though the Government pays these allowances on certificates, it does not leave the teacher to make his own bargain with any school managers who may desire to engage him. The Government, on the contrary, exact the condition that double the amount, in addition to the certificate allowance, shall be secured to the teachers by the managers—one-half from subscriptions, and one-half from fees. Suppose, for example, that school managers desire to secure a teacher with £20 on his Government certificate, they have to enter into a guarantee with the Government that they will pay another £20 as salary, and a third £20, at least, from fees. And school managers have not complained of these conditions as being at all unreasonable. Under the Revised Code, which will in substance be applied to Scotland when this Bill passes, teachers will no longer be paid by Government on their certificates, but by the results of examination of the school children. Now I want, by Amendments 1593 which I will put on the Paper, to combine the advantages of the present certificate system with those of the Revised Code, for in combination they have produced great advantages. Under this combined system, which in effect I simply desire to continue as it is now, our Scotch inspected schools stand at the present moment 14 per cent higher than the English schools in all the elementary subjects; for if you take, as the most effective test, the percentage of children who have passed completely in each subject of all the standards, you will find by the last Report of the Education Department that, while England passed only 68.8 per cent of the children examined, Scotland passed 82.3. But, in addition to this elementary instruction, we have the higher subjects, to which we attach so much importance, and which are thus proved not to be incompatible with, but, on the contrary, to be largely accessory to, elementary subjects. My right hon. Friend says that payment for higher subjects will be continued by the Code; but what will be the use of that if you lower the qualifications of the teachers, so that they cannot teach them? My Amendments will propose to put ratepayers in the same position as school managers are now, and to impose upon their elected school board the same obligation of paying on certificates that is now imposed on all school managers who employ certificated teachers. But I intend to propose a wider range of payments, beginning at £10 for the lowest certificate, and ending at £50 for the highest. This maximum cannot be considered inordinately high, for it is only the average of the salary of parochial schoolmasters at present. This range will have an advantage in giving a larger field for selection. Suppose a small side school is required in a Highland glen, a teacher with a minimum certificate might suffice for the purpose; while in a good parish school, or in an urban population, a teacher with a maximum certificate would be in demand. This proposal asks nothing more from Imperial taxation; it only asks powers for the ratepayers to tax themselves. And, in practical working, it will not add one shilling to the burdens which this Bill would put upon them as it stands. For, though its provisions only speak of rates as covering a deficit, if Government grants and fees do not suffice, the ratepayers 1594 should be under no delusion on this head. They will get no Government grants at all under the Revised Code, unless the income of the school from rates and fees equal the Government grants. It is, therefore, a perfect delusion to suppose that rates will only be needed in certain cases. They will be needed in every case. All, then, that I ask is that these rates, which are inevitable, may be applied in a way which Scotch experience has proved to be so advantageous in the past, and in regard to which there is as yet no English experience whatever, but only the analogy of law. I wish to keep up the combination of certificate qualifications with examination by the Revised Code, so as to prevent the mechanical operation of the latter squeezing the life out of our educational system. All thoughtful educationalists are now convinced that higher subjects introduced into a school give to it vigour and life; and that is only another way of saying that low education produces low results, and high education produces high results. And while elementary instruction flourishes under the latter system better than under the former, the intellectual wealth of the country is being augmented, and not impoverished. In short, I want to continue Scotch education as it is, and not to Anglicize it. But I have not yet spoken of the clauses relating to the upper and burgh schools; and I scarcely feel sure bat I understand their full effect. Their object is unquestionably a good one; and as the burgh teachers have, as I am informed, petitioned in their favour, I presume my misgivings as to their effects are unfounded. But what strikes me is that you remove from them some sources of income without supplying others. The clauses propose to remove the elementary schools which are often attached to the upper schools, so as to let them more freely exercise their legitimate effects on higher education. But it is these elementary sections which win the Government grants. These schools receive support from general civic funds, called the "common good." Now, as town councils are removed from their management, this source of income, which, with one or two exceptions, is now insignificant in amount, is not likely to be increased. Can these schools support themselves when separated from their primary sections, without increased 1595 aid? I am not clear about this. Again, I do not see any provision for the support of structures or school-houses such as the law at present provides. As, however, the local board is to manage them, surely the Lord Advocate intends to make contributions from the rates, or what is the justification for the change of management; and if I am right in this supposition, although I confess I cannot find it on the face of the Bill, I think these clauses, with some modifications as to the qualifications of teachers, will have a good effect in promoting secondary education in Scotland. I have spoken much more at length than I am accustomed to speak in this House; but you must recollect that this is a question of supreme importance to Scotland. Many of my English Friends, on both sides of the House, know Scotland well, for they have stalked the deer on its rugged hills, and wandered over the heather in search of grouse and of health. Have they ever wondered—when they have followed their sport in the mountains or glens, or fished in the rocky rivers—what could make such a country peaceful, prosperous, and contented? They know that it is restricted in area, barren in soil, and possesses only in one small portion of it the elements of mineral wealth. Then they would find it difficult to give any other explanation than that its inhabitants are, on the whole, an educated and a God-loving people. That our education has deteriorated it is true, or this Bill would not now be before us. But its peculiar characteristics remain as of old, and it is the duty of all Scotchmen to see that they are maintained. We have had a glorious inheritance from our fathers, and we should transmit it, not only unimpaired but improved, to our sons. This Bill is the testament by which the Scotch Members of Parliament of this generation will be judged by posterity. Let us support it in its excellences, but try to remove its defects before it acquires the force of law.
§ MR. GORDON
*: Sir, I certainly think that the last speech must have satisfied hon. Members who are not so intimately acquainted with this question as the Scotch Members are, that we are dealing with a question of vital importance to Scotchmen, and deserving of the most attentive consideration of this House. It must be distinctly understood from 1596 our conduct this evening that we have no wish whatever to obstruct any Education Bill which shall contain provisions calculated to maintain the high character of Scotch education both as regards secular and religious instruction. Though this Bill contains many things which are distasteful to this side of the House, we offer no opposition to the second reading, for this reason—that we wish the opinion of the public to be elicited, as I think it will be after this debate has been concluded, and more time allowed for the opinion of the country to be expressed than the short time that has elapsed since the introduction of the Bill has permitted. We reserve, therefore, to ourselves liberty of proceeding either by way of Resolution or otherwise before this Bill goes into Committee; and if we do not take that course, at all events we reserve to ourselves entire liberty to make Amendments, and most material Amendments, upon the provisions of the Bill. I scarcely think that the House will be surprised to hear, after the speeches we have heard, that the Bill will require to be amended materially, for there have been objections taken to it from every point of view—religious, secular, and educational. Let me just state how one dealing with this question of Scottish education ought, in my humble judgment, to have proceeded. We have a system of education which cannot be too highly prized, as affording the means of instruction not only for elementary purposes, but also for higher purposes, and that education is brought within reach of the humblest peasant in Scotland. There are about 4,500 schools in Scotland. We have heard of the educational destitution of 92,000 children—a statement which was made in the Report of the Commissioners. But my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) showed, on the introduction of the Bill, that estimate to be entirely fallacious. One estimate which they make is based upon this—they take the children from 3 to 15 years of age, requiring all children to be 12 years at school, which is perfectly absurd. The other statement is based upon children from 4 to 13 years of age being at school, and even that is excessive, although it would reduce the number not educated far below 92,000. The state of matters is this—so far as regards the education of the children, there is really a very small 1597 amount of destitution except in the large towns, and in Glasgow particularly. In the country parishes, with all due respect to my hon. Friend who has just spoken (Dr. Lyon Playfair), there may be exceptional cases, such as the Island of Lewis, where distances from schools are great, but no provision is made by this Bill for supplying the deficiency in such an exceptional case. Notwithstanding that exception, and a few other instances which were not named, we have one child in 6.5 in attendance at school, which is fully as great as the attendance at Prussian schools. Therefore, so far as regards the necessity of provision for the education of the children, taking it upon an average, there is really no great educational destitution. Indeed, in the country districts there is really almost none. I find, from the returns which were given in the last Census, that the number of children from 5 to 13 years old receiving education is put down at 503,986—being about 6.30 per cent—showing that since the Commissioners' Report the educational supply has kept pace with the increase of population. That is the state of education as far as regards the actual necessities of the case. I quite admit that in some of the large towns, such as Glasgow, there are educational deficiencies; and we have always said, provide for those large towns—and in these and in the country, where there are educational deficiencies, we have been perfectly willing that these should be provided for, and that you should establish a rating system for the purpose. The number of schools is, roughly speaking, about 4,500; the parish schools number about 1,200; there are about 1,200 or 1,300 in connection with the Established Church of Scotland; so that there are under the superintendence more or less of that Church about 2,500 schools. There are about 600 supplied by the Free Church, 45 by the United Presbyterians (the denomination which has caused the most difficulty connected with the religious question), there are a few Roman Catholic and Episcopal schools, and the rest are private or adventure schools. Such being the state of matters, what has been the way in which the question has been considered with a view to supplying the deficiencies in the towns and in the country where such can really be proved to exist? The 1598 predecessors of the Government issued in 1864 a Commission, which was composed of men of great distinction and liberal opinions. We have their Report. They state that they do not wish to disturb the parish school system which had worked so well, and they recommended that there should be supplementary schools only for the purpose of supplying any deficiencies. That Report was made in 1868. In 1869 this Government introduced into the House of Lords a Bill founded on these principles—recognizing the parish schools, subject to certain conditions, but declaring that wherever there was a deficiency of schools, there should be new or rate-supported schools established. No opposition was offered to that proposal. The Bill came to this House, and what did it do? This House—and at that time hon. Members were fresh from the hustings—expressly excluded the parish schools from the operation of the Bill. Thus you have a concurrence of opinion on the part of the Commissioners, of the present Government, and of this House of Commons, because there was a unanimous opinion that the parish schools should be exempted from the operation of the Bill. I want to know why are all these principles, which were approved of in this manner, to be overturned, and why one of the leading principles of this Bill should now be that the parish schools should be entirety altered—these schools which have done such benefit to Scotland? What change has taken place? It may be said that in 1870 an Education Act was passed for England. Why, if I wanted an additional confirmation of my view, I should draw it from that fact. For what principle was established by that Act? The Vice President said at first—and he repeated the statement to the House the other night—that in 1870 he recognized all existing schools, and that he intended only to supplement them with a view to provide for existing deficiencies. Why do the Government entirely alter their policy when they come to deal with Scotland, where education is so dear to the people, and where it has done such benefit? We had a quotation from Mr. Buckle, the historian, made by the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert). Mr. Buckle may be a faithful historian of facts; but I venture to say that the inferences which he draws are by no means to be 1599 relied on. But I will give the opinion of a greater man than Mr. Buckle. I will quote from the words of Lord Macaulay, who, when he was a Member of this House, spoke in a debate on the subject of education in 1847. Talking of the poor state of education in England at that time, he said—But, Sir, if the state of the southern part of our island has furnished me with one strong argument, the state of the northern part furnishes me with another argument, which is, if possible, still more decisive. A hundred and fifty years ago, England was one of the best governed and most prosperous countries in the world; Scotland was, perhaps, the rudest and poorest country that could lay any claim to civilization. The name of Scotchman was then uttered, in this part of the island, with contempt. The ablest Scotch statesmen contemplated the degraded state of their poorer countrymen with a feeling approaching to despair."—[See 3 Hansard, xci. 1018.]Lord Macaulay goes on to state that Fletcher of Saltoun, a brave and accomplished man and a patriot, despaired so of the ignorance, idleness, and lawlessness of his countrymen, that he considered the most severe measures necessary for the improvement of his countrymen, which he advocated in a pamphlet. But, says Lord Macaulay—Within a few months after the publication of that pamphlet a very different remedy was applied. The Parliament, which sat at Edinburgh, passed an Act for the establishment of parochial schools. What followed? An improvement, such as the world has never seen, took place in the moral and intellectual character of the people. Soon, in spite of the rigour of the climate, in spite of the sterility of the earth, Scotland became a country which had no reason to envy the fairest portions of the globe. Wherever the Scotchman went—and there were few parts of the world to which he did not go—he carried his superiority with him. If he was admitted into a public office, he worked his way up to the highest post. If he got employment in a brewery or factory, he was soon the foreman. If he took a shop, his trade was the best in the street. If he enlisted in the army, he became a colour-serjeant. If he went to a colony, he was the most thriving planter there. The Scotchman of the seventeenth century had been spoken of in London as we speak of the Esquimaux. The Scotchman of the eighteenth century was an object, not of scorn, but of envy.Lord Macaulay proceeds to describe the improvements thus brought about as regards the people, cultivation of the soil of Scotland, and the increase of wealth. The results as described by him almost resemble those we read of in Eastern story—like the changes effected by the possession of Aladdin's wonderful lamp. I trust that the Lord Advocate will not 1600 be able to induce the people of Scotland to exchange their old lamps for new ones; for I venture to say that if he succeeds in passing this Bill, he will bring about a result similar to that which followed from the giving away the old lamp in that Eastern story. So much with reference to the parochial schools. You must keep this in view—that these schools were originally established as schools for religious instruction; for it was expressly stated in the first Act (1567) that it was necessary that the young should be brought up in accordance with the Word of God, and that view has been acted upon in Scotland ever since. When you are going to deal with old institutions such as these—institutions in which the people of Scotland feel very much interested—ought you not to proceed with caution? Ought you not to be careful that you do not destroy in attempting to reconstruct? It is said—"But this is a very symmetrical Bill; it will produce great uniformity." I do not wish for uniformity. I think you will find, even in educational matters, that there is sometimes an advantage in having different systems, and leaving something to the energies of each teacher. By doing so, you avoid getting into one groove; you have an opportunity of trying which is the best system. Let different plans be tried, and experience will show which is the best. Hitherto we in Scotland have thought that we really possessed a system that was entitled to the very highest praise. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, so recently as last autumn, was invited to some complimentary entertainment at Banff, and he made a speech there. He said—Our connection with Scotland has been, I will not say mainly, but in a great degree valuable to us from keeping closely before us a high standard of education. I confess it was my early intimacy with Scotland, and my comparison of the advantages which the national system of education had given Scotland, with the want of them in other countries, which gave me a strong and early interest in the question, and which made it my principal subject of interest during my career in Parliament. I may say that Scotland has shown us the way in the matter of education, and it is perhaps in the three counties, of which Banff is one, that we may look for the most satisfactory example of what national education is.Again, he said—I am most anxious to assure you that, with reference to the treatment of the subject by the 1601 Parliament of England, I am quite satisfied that the fears and suspicions entertained and widely expressed, that there would be, either on the part of the Parliament of England or that branch of the Privy Council which is entrusted with the administration of education, any desire whatever to meddle with the glorious system of education which has produced such great honour to your country, are groundless. It is impossible to mix with the simplest Scottish people without seeing what a marvellous effect upon the Scottish character the existence of those schools has had which opened before them so large a vista of future success. If a father has a son gifted with ability and industry, there is no end to the honourable ambition which he may entertain on his behalf.And what is the first act which the right hon. Gentleman does this Session? He puts his name on the back of a Bill which repeals all the previous statutes upon which our school system is founded. How is that conduct to be reconciled with the statements he made at Banff? These statements were made in a district where education has really been brought to the highest pitch—in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray. How is that? The answer bears upon another part of the question. There was a large fund bequeathed by two patriotic Scotchmen for the purpose of increasing the salaries of the teachers of the schools in those counties, where we have the very best teaching in Scotland, and the liberal remuneration of the schoolmasters in these districts has produced the best results. This shows the importance of dealing fairly and liberally with the schoolmasters. Why should you, then, upset this system, which has worked so well? Why not adhere to the policy of the English Bill—the policy which influenced the Government in 1869, and the Commissioners in 1868? I cannot for the life of me understand what has been the motive which induced this departure from that policy, and I trust that before the conclusion of this debate we shall hear from my right hon. Friend what has been that motive. There can be none assigned other than the desire which I venture to think is absurd—the desire for uniformity. After the admirable speech of my hon. Friend who represents the Universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrews (Dr. Lyon Playfair), I think it is not necessary for me to do anything in the way of pointing out the deteriorating and degrading effect which the system proposed by this Bill will have upon education in 1602 Scotland. I concur in all the views which have been stated by him in reference to this part of the question. The question which requires to be answered is—Why do you upset all these principles which are of such importance? I cannot quote a higher authority on this part of the subject than Mr. Lingen, formerly secretary to the Privy Council Department. He said—I hold strongly this opinion, that Scotland has a much more excellent type in her parochial schools than anything we have ever offered. Our system offers nothing equivalent to theirs.So much with reference to secular education. Now I come to a question which I admit is a delicate and difficult one—though I think that the difficulty has been raised by the course which has been followed by the Lord Advocate. I mean the question of religious instruction. He admitted, when introducing the Bill, that religion is taught in our schools from the Bible, and from the Shorter or Westminster Catechism, which is used by all the Presbyterian Churches; and he added, that—When it was said there was no religious difficulty, it was meant that the parents of all the children attending the schools were content with this system. There were no heart burnings or complaints upon the subject whatever. They were quite content with it.What more can you require? Nobody objects to the religious instruction; it has never caused the slightest difficulty; it has been in existence for centuries, and you have the children of all the various Churches mingling together and receiving the same instruction. Could you wish for a more happy example of religious instruction given to children of different denominations than has been offered by our system as reported upon by the Commissioners in 1868? Speaking as a lawyer, I venture to say that according to the law, even before 1861, if the managers of the parish schools had attempted to exclude instruction in religion from the schools, the Courts would have interfered and required them to give religious instruction. In the Act of 1567, we have the most express reference made with regard to the Word of God being taught. The subsequent statutes have recognised that Act, and the custom of legislation for centuries has been in accordance with these provisions. In 1861, the connection between 1603 the parish schools and the Church was to a great extent put an end to. An Act was then passed declaring it to be not necessary that the schoolmasters should be in connection with the Church. The people were anxious on the subject of continuing the recognised mode of religious instruction, and that the Bible and Shorter Catechism should be taught by the schoolmaster as they had been for centuries before. A provision was accordingly inserted in that Act—as I read it—that the teaching should be in conformity with the Bible and doctrines contained in the Shorter Catechism. What is the course taken in this Bill, which it is represented does not interfere with what is called the religious difficulty? You first repeal all the statutes which recognise the religious instruction given to the schools; and then you go on, not to meet the difficulty created by this repeal, but to evade it by leaving it to local boards to determine what is to be done. I do not think this is a wise course. I think that, if possible, Parliament should settle this question. I am glad to hear from the hon. Member for Edinburgh that he has given in his adhesion to this—that the Bible should be read and taught in schools. [Mr. M'LAREN intimated that he had long been of that opinion.] Well, I know that at a meeting of the hon. Gentleman's constituents, at which the Lord Provost took the chair, his Lordship said the people would not be satisfied unless such a provision as to Bible teaching were made. Who are the parties you have to deal with in this matter? I may explain that yesterday the Established Church came to the unanimous opinion in their Commission of General Assembly against any change in this part of the law. The Free Church party have been divided on the subject to this extent—about two-fifths of those present at their meeting were of opinion that the Bill was not satisfactory, and opposed to it in this respect; while about three-fifths were of opinion that, as there might be difficulties in the way of dealing with the question of religion, they desired the continuance of the old system of religious instruction; they would not object to the Bill, provided always that care is taken that there shall be no interference with the teaching of the Shorter Catechism. With reference to this matter of the Catechism, I may tell 1604 the House that the people of Scotland are deeply attached to it, and there are very many who would object to any Bill which enacted anything to prevent its being taught. It is very difficult to instil a dogma into the minds of children; but the Catechism is useful in this way—when the children grow up they have some system to which they can refer their ideas of religion. It thus has some influence upon them in after-life. But apart from this, my difficulty is this—I hope we may say that the majority of us are agreed to this extent, that there shall be instruction given in the Bible, with the exception of the hon. Member for Nottingham, who, crossing the Border, has made a foray against all religious instruction in Scotland. You are agreed that there shall be instruction in the Bible. [Mr. FORSTER: Hear!] I rejoice to hear the Vice President of the Council assenting to this, and I only wish he had exercised a little more influence in framing this Bill, for then I think we should not be discussing this question. The reason why I wish the Catechism to be taught is this—How are you to regulate the teaching of the Bible by the teachers, unless you have some authorized book to which you can refer as that by general conformity to which the teaching can be regulated, subject to a right to withdraw any child from this religious instruction? Eighty-six per cent of the population are agreed upon this, and have the Catechism in constant use, and the others have never made any objection. Why change the system which the Lord Advocate tells you is assented to by the parents? At all events, why not continue the use of the Catechism in those schools where it is used at present, even if you try a new scheme in the towns and in places where there are deficiencies in education, and where you wish to set up new schools? This question, I assure the House, is of very serious importance. Having treated the question with reference to parish schools and religious education, I now come to the question of a central board. Almost every public body in Scotland has expressed an opinion in favour of there being a controlling authority in Scotland. My right hon. Friend in his opening statement, said—"How will the Glasgow people like to be placed under an Edinburgh board?" No doubt there are local jealousies, and a skilful 1605 use is made of them; but it is not an Edinburgh board that we desire. It is a national board that we want. When the Scotch Education Bill was introduced in 1869, all the Members of the Government were favourable to a Scotch board. Why have they changed their opinion? Let them answer this question. The Bill in truth proposes to establish something similar to what we have lately heard called "a phantom board." It has been suggested that the board should consist of the Vice President of the Council and the Lord Advocate. The Vice President will find enough to do attending to English schools, so much increasing; while the Lord Advocate, owing to the other duties of his office, cannot be able effectively to discharge the duty of superintending education in Scotland. With reference to the teachers, it is important that there should be good schoolmasters; and I think it unfortunate that better provision has not been made to afford some security of tenure of office, and to provide that a teacher shall not be removed except for proved in-competency on his part. As to leaving the salaries of schoolmasters to be fixed by the liberality of the ratepayers, I may refer to a recent case at Queensferry, where, on a vacancy occurring, the salary was reduced to £10 a-year. The heritors of Scotland have hitherto acted very liberally towards the schoolmasters, who have entire confidence in them. The only other matter to which I would refer is this—an attempt was made last year to make some improvement in the burgh schools. I could not then understand how that was to be effected, because we were told at a meeting with the Vice President that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would never consent to money being given for the benefit of middle-class education. This Bill, however, proposes to abolish elementary education in those schools; yet such classes are their best feeders, for they invite pupils to go on from the elementary classes to the higher. Such a change would, in my opinion, prove very detrimental to those schools. I shall only add that we are sincerely desirous to have a good and safe Education Bill passed. I ask the Government to re-consider their position, and to bring themselves within the provisions of their own Education Bill of 1869, the Report of their own Commissioners, and of the principles of the Education 1606 Act of 1870. Let the parish schools continue. I am ready to consent to a provision for liberalising and extending the management of the parish schools, leaving, to a certain extent, the present managers in possession, but opening up the management by a representation of those who pay less than the present managers. Then continue the religious teaching; nobody objects to that teaching. Make provision for the town districts which require such provision, and for other districts where deficiencies exist. Then we shall have a Bill which will meet with acceptance by the people of Scotland; but if you abolish the parish schools, and put rates upon the farmers, in every parish you will find they complain very much. A farmer in Fifeshire has written to me stating that if the school in his parish is not in future able, as at present, to afford education in the higher branches, he will be obliged to send his children to a school in town, and he will have, in addition, to pay a heavy school rate. This is not a political question. There are men of all shades of politics taking the same views for which we are contending. In the other House, Lord Kinnaird, the Lord Lieutenant of Perthshire, a supporter of the Government, has brought in a Bill based upon that of 1869. The views I have expressed are not confined to the Conservative party, for these opinions are shared in by many who belong to the other party. The hon. Member for Perthshire knows this well. Looking to the religious convictions of the people of Scotland, I think there will be a very serious question on the hustings—where hon. Members may soon have to appear—as to the manner in which they have dealt with this Bill, which proposes to overturn a system that has proved beneficial—a system which, we are told and know, has never been regarded as causing any heart burnings on the matter of religion. And for what purpose does it do this? Who are the parties you are trying to conciliate? The only parties who have petitioned against religious education are the members of the Birmingham League, principally English Nonconformists, who have for many years objected to Government interference with education. Their views ought not to be regarded. I hope that before we go into Committee the Government will consider this matter in a 1607 conciliatory spirit, and that we shall have Amendments proposed in accordance with the views which have been expressed on both sides of the House. I think that the Bill which is now before the House requires very great Amendments. I trust that it will receive such Amendments, and that those Amendments will prove satisfactory.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
Sir, I certainly cannot complain of the course of this debate, or the tone of the criticisms which have been passed on the Bill before us. I have also to acknowledge with gratitude the commendations which have been passed on certain portions of the Bill by some of my hon. Friends, amongst some observations of a less flattering character to myself with regard to it. The Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Notingham (Mr. A. Herbert), on the second reading of the Bill, appears to me to relate to matters which may with great propriety be dealt with in Committee, and which will, most certainly, be the subject of discussion there. That Amendment is the expression of an opinion that the school-rate should not be employed directly or indirectly as a means of giving religious teaching. That obviously means that religion shall be forbidden in every rate-supported school. Without anticipating the discussion in Committee with reference to this consideration, I may observe that the amount of the rate would certainly be diminished in no respect whatever by excluding religion from the schools. With respect to many of the topics touched on, it is not my intention to allude to them at all; and with relation to others, I think I may promise to be very brief. It is not my intention either to repeat what I endeavoured to say on the occasion of introducing the Bill, or to anticipate what I may have to say in defence of its various provisions or the Amendments which may be proposed on them in Committee. There is one subject, however, on which I must say something. I heard with very great interest the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Lyon Playfair). He appears to me to have so much misapprehended what I thought and said with regard to the higher teaching in the parish or other schools, that I must take the liberty to set him right. If he is under the 1608 impression that I think lightly of the advantage of this higher class teaching, or could ever bring myself to think lightly of it, he is under a mistake—I attach as much importance to the higher class teaching as anyone. The provisions of this Bill, if they are attended with the success which I anticipate, will not only not deteriorate the teaching—will not only not lower the standard of teaching in schools—but will materially promote its improvement. My hon. Friend spoke of the people of Scotland in a way which, I think, upon reflection, he will be disposed to correct. He spoke of them as being very languid in their demand for education. So far from that being the case, I firmly believe the demand for education, and education of the best class, is strong and earnest, and by no means languid. The purpose of this Bill is not to stir up any supposed languor into something more earnest, but to give to those who are already earnest the opportunity of improving education by means of an organized system devised for that purpose. The hon. Gentleman said there was in this Bill no protection for the higher class teaching in schools. I should like to know what is the protection for the higher class education in the schools now, except the desire of the people to have it? The desire to have it was followed by that higher class education which they possess, and I believe they will not only retain it, but that educational progress will yet grow as the country progresses. The first point of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh was that there ought to be some provision by which the qualifications of the schoolmasters should be ascertained by Professors of the Scotch Universities, and his second point was that a certain minimum allowance should be paid to schoolmasters out of the rates according to the class of their certificates ranging from £10 for the highest to £50 for the lowest. Now, as far as the qualifications of the teachers are to be ascertained by the Department, through the medium of its own Inspectors, these qualifications refer merely to the Government grant. The Government says—"If you, the ratepayers, through your popularly-elected school boards, desire to have teachers in your schools with higher qualifications than those which we prescribe as the 1609 condition of giving a grant, then you make what qualification you please; and if you think the qualification will best be ascertained by examinations conducted by Professors in Universities, why, it is entirely your own affair: it is in your power to prescribe the qualifications, and to appoint those who are to examine: all we do in the matter is to prescribe the qualification which we think will do as the condition of your participation in the Government grant." There is, therefore, here no interference whatever with the higher class education in such a manner as to lead anyone, candidly thinking of the matter, to suppose that it would be in any way deteriorated thereby. My hon. Friend said there was a departure from the existing system with respect to rates, inasmuch as that now there is a rate compulsory in each parish, while hereafter, according to the provisions which will be passed into an Act, there will only be a rate in those parishes where a deficiency of funds is found to exist. But my hon. Friend pointed out very conclusively, in correction of another hon. Gentleman, that there must be of necessity, according to the provisions of the Bill, a rate in every parish, for he pointed out that without a rate there would be no grant. There must, therefore, in the future, as well as in the past, be a rate in every parish, and there will be in the future what there has not been in the past—a rate in every burgh also. But my hon. Friend suggested that parsimony might prevail with the school managers; that is to say, that the school boards elected by the ratepayers might be induced to employ schoolmasters of an inferior description, whom they could get for a small remuneration. That assumes, in the first place, that the people of the district are regardless of the education of the district. If you assume that the people of Scotland care for the education of their children, and that they would rather have good schools than bad schools, I apprehend they will do what in them lies, without unnecessary extravagance, to provide and equip schools which may properly be characterized as good schools. The consideration of a good education for their children is some point, unless you think the people of Scotland are indifferent on the matter of education altogether—which is hardly 1610 consistent with the view of any Scotch Member whatever. But, in the interest of economy also, have they not every inducement to provide good and efficient schools? It has been suggested that they would be desirous of getting as much of the Government grant as they can in order to save the rates. How can they do that without having good schools? For it is contemplated that hereafter the Government grant will be distributed according to results. It would be the interest of the ratepayers to obtain as much Parliamentary grant as possible, and, therefore, to have as little rate to pay as possible; and therefore they will secure good teachers, and good teachers only. Why is it necessary to prescribe a minimum salary for those whose interest it is to employ good teachers? They can only be procured by the payment of good salaries, and, I ask, why should not the people of Scotland be left to themselves in this matter? The teachers will not take too little—why should the people be compelled to pay that which, in particular cases, might be too much? I shall not go into the question of supply and demand, which has been alluded to, as the principles which govern it are well understood; but I apprehend that the matter may be left to those ordinary rules which are found efficacious, satisfactory, and sufficient in all analogous cases. So much for our interference with the higher class education. It is left to the people. If they desire to have it in future as they have done in the past, they have the means in their own hands of providing the money which will be required to secure it, and in a more extended manner than they heretofore have had. A good deal has been said by several hon. Members as to schoolmasters' houses, and some have thought that it would be a proper provision that the school boards should be compelled to provide houses for the schoolmasters they employ. That, too, I think, may be very well left to the common sense of the people themselves. The infinite peculiarities of the various districts of Scotland cannot well be provided for in a Bill of this description. It was all very well to have such a provision in the Act of 1803, which limited the obligation of the heritors to provide one school in each parish; but the obligation is not so limited now, and it 1611 might be mere superfluous waste to provide houses for schoolmasters in localities in which they could much better provide houses for themselves. [Mr. ORR EWING: What about the rural districts?] How is that to be defined? Why not leave it to the people themselves? In the rural districts, where distances are great, it would be obviously better to give houses as part payment; and surely that would be done; but in the great cities—Glasgow, Dundee, and others—how many schools would there be, and how many houses would have to be built? Surely it would be superfluous waste and extravagance to provide a house for each schoolmaster in those localities where provision can otherwise be easily made. There is only one other remark to make before I conclude. I will not upon this occasion anticipate what will have to be said as to the particular provisions of the Bill in Committee, and for that reason I will not enter on the religious question; but I must state what has failed to be noticed in connection with the subject of heritors' money. The present rating is not confined to the heritor alone, and we are passing an Act providing for the rating of owners and occupiers of land and houses. At present the rate is not on the owner alone, any more than it will be under the Bill. It is half on the owner and half on the tenant. ["No!"] The law is clear to that effect. The owner pays the tax, but the collectors are entitled by the Act of Parliament to demand half from the tenants, and they do it regularly. ["No, no!"] I beg to say I know an infinite number of cases in which it is done. I know it is the common practice—[Mr. GORDON: No, no!]—but I also know that a landlord, when letting a farm, will stipulate with a tenant that he shall pay his share of the school-rate. Of course it is taken into account when adjusting the rent. I know another practice, which is not so common, but not unfrequent, and that is a stipulation that the tenant shall pay both his own share and that of the landlord; so that you have it every way—sometimes the landlord and sometimes the tenant pays the whole; but where there is no covenant the law is that each shall pay half. We are not now about to make a law with reference to special cases, but to settle what shall be the general law of the land, and it is 1612 impossible to make any provisions for that subject. It seems to stand thus—whereas the rating at present is according to a rule which it is desirable to alter, because of its incidence, it being on the value of a roll made some centuries ago, that roll must be abolished before we can do away with inequality of the incident of the rate. But why should we make the ratepayers pay double? No doubt there would be a larger area of taxation, and you will bring into the operation of the rate a much greater number than now. You will have works, manufactories, and a great deal of property which is not subject to the rate, because it is not land. So much with respect to heritors' money. That is the last subject to which I have to advert, except a point adverted to by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Gordon). He asked how the burgh schools would be provided for, and professed his inability to see. Probably the best way of ascertaining that is to see what the teachers and masters say. Now, there was a meeting held in the High School of Edinburgh on Saturday last to consider this Bill. The Rector of the High School was called to the chair, and in the course of some preliminary observations strongly urged on those present the importance of co-operating with the Bill; and after a long discussion on the clauses, the meeting unanimously agreed to Petition in favour of the Bill, with certain Amendments of the clauses relating to the higher-class public schools. My hon. Friend will have them all discussed in Committee; but the general provisions of the Bill met with their unanimous and hearty approbation. They are prepared, no doubt, to suggest something which they consider an improvement, and we shall be prepared to give their suggestions the most careful consideration. I hope the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert) will not press his Amendment to a division; but if he does hon. Members should bear in mind that by voting for the Motion they will not be pronouncing an opinion on the subject-matter of the Amendment, but merely voting that the Bill be read a second time, and that, if the Amendment is carried, the second reading will not even be put to the House.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he regretted to see in this Bill the omission of the cumulative 1613 vote. The cumulative vote was passed unanimously in the English Act of 1870, and though the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) last Session attempted to repeal it, the House re-affirmed it. It had given satisfaction to the great bulk of the electors of this kingdom, and if it was good for England it ought to be good for the other parts of the United Kingdom. The Bill dealt very unfairly with the subject of religion. The Conscience Clause worked admirably in the public schools in England. A Turk or a Jew could receive a secular education in the secular hours in those schools under the Conscience Clause, and the rest of the scholars could receive a religious education during the hours set apart for religious instruction; but in this Scotch Bill no opportunity was given for the teaching of religion, because the Bill enacted that secular education should proceed four hours consecutively. He did not know any school in this country in which the teaching went on for four hours consecutively. The people of Scotland were supposed to be more religious than the people of England. Why, then, should not the same opportunities for teaching religion be given to the people of Scotland as were given to the people of England? The Bill dealt harshly with denominational schools. It said that no denominational schools should be established unless the children belonged to the denomination for whom the school was intended. As long as a good secular education was given, what religion taught in a school ought not to be inquired into. A school ought not to be in a worse or a better position because it did or did not belong to a particular religious body. In Scotland, as in England, there should be a representation of all classes and all creeds on a school board.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Anderson.)
appealed to the hon. Gentleman not to press his Motion. It was evident that the debate was very nearly exhausted, and he was sure the House would listen very willingly to any remarks of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had made several attempts to speak before, but half-a-dozen Members had, by occupying 50 minutes each, prevented him and many 1614 others from doing so. He wished to state that a very large and influential meeting on the subject of the Bill had been held that evening in Glasgow, and that while supporting the Bill, it wished it to be amended that its character should be made much less denominational. The right hon. Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen had asked why they could not accept the same educational measure that was proposed in 1869. The reason was that circumstances had much changed since then. At that time so many attempts had failed that it seemed to be impossible to pass an Education Bill; but since then one had passed for England, and Scotland now required a measure of a more liberal character than that which the Liberal party were willing to accept in 1869, but which was rejected by the right hon. Gentleman's party. It had been said that the present Bill would repeal all existing statutes upon the subject of education, but it did not repeal the 39 George II. He wished to know why, when certain sections of the Act of George II., c. 39, were repealed in 1867, at the time when the right hon. Member (Mr. Gordon) was in office, there were left unrepealed portions providing that keepers of private schools for attending an episcopal meeting-house once should be liable to six months' imprisonment, and for a second offence should be transported to His Majesty's plantations, and if they returned be imprisoned for life? That that omission was intentional was evident from the fact that the offence of wearing the Highland dress was abolished by repealing some of the clauses of the Act. He would congratulate the learned Lord Advocate on having now offered Scotland the best Education Bill that was ever offered to the House and the country. There were some points on which he wished to see it improved. He did not wish to see denominationalism extended any further, and he desired to see catechisms and formularies excluded from religious teaching, as they were in England. He was surprised at the way in which the so-called religious party made a shibboleth of the Shorter Catechism. For religious teaching it was not worth fighting for. Children did not understand it; but learned to say it by rote, and it was a mere mnemonic lesson, in which the highest attainment 1615 was to be able to say the answers from beginning to end without the interposition of the questions, or to say them backwards. He entirely concurred in the spirit and principle of the Amendment, and would support it if made an Amendment on clauses, but he could not support it in opposition to the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
, although he concurred in the object of his Motion, appealed to the hon. Member for Nottingham not to press his Amendment to a division.
protested against any withdrawal of the Amendment. He had been in the House since 5 o'clock, and objected to Members who had only come in at 12 o'clock striving to bring the debate to an abrupt conclusion—especially as there were several hon. Gentlemen present who, like himself, had sat through the weary hours of debate, in the hope of stating their views upon the question. He objected decidedly to the Amendment, and should oppose its withdrawal.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 238; Noes 6: Majority 232.
|Beaumont, Captain F.||Williams, W.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||TELLERS.|
|Parry, L. Jones-||Herbert, H. A.|
|Stapleton, J.||White, J.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday, 21st March.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.