§ (Viscount Sandon, MR. Chancellor of the Exchequer, MR. Assheton Cross.)
§ [BILL 277.] CONSIDERATION.
§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."—(Viscount Sandon.)438
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
, in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, principles have been introduced into this Bill since its Second Reading which were not then either mentioned to or contemplated by the House, which tend to disturb the basis on which Elementary Education now rests, to impede the formation of new schools, to introduce discord and confusion into the election of School Boards, and to place the management of schools in the hands of persons who neither contribute to their support nor are elected by the ratepayers,said: I hope the House will, in the first place, allow me to make a few words of explanation as to the exact form in which the Motion I am about to submit to it stands upon the Paper. My wish, of course, was, if the Forms of the House would permit, to place on the Paper a Resolution which would not in appearance have been so hostile to the whole progress of the Bill as that which now stands in my name. What I desired to do was to move the re-committal of the Bill, in order that certain clauses and provisions which were not in the Bill at the second reading might be considered and omitted, and I wished to place before the House the reasons why I desired to make that Motion. But on consultation with the authorities of the House I found that though it would be in my power to move the re-committal of the Bill, it would not be in my power to do so accompanied by a statement of the reasons which induced me to take that course, and I therefore was constrained to place on the Paper the Resolution which stands in my name. The Resolution which I have placed on the Paper, though undoubtedly hostile to the Bill, is, at the same time, not necessarily fatal to the progress of the Bill. If the Resolution were agreed to, the consideration of the Report would only be delayed, and it would be possible to move again that the Bill be re-considered. I admit in form it appears hostile to the Bill, and I have ventured, therefore, to offer to the House an explanation of the exact form in which it now stands. I need hardly tell the House I take that course with no intention of delaying the progress of the Bill. I do not think it necessary, and it is not my desire, that this Motion should lead to protracted debate. It would have been better if the principle of the Bill had been more fully and clearly debated, 439 and if that course had been taken, I think the time of the House would have been saved. I know it is the opinion of hon. Members opposite that a great deal of time has been wasted in the discussion of the clause of the hon. Member for Leicestershire (MR. Pell). I cannot agree in that opinion, because, though I think the clause to be most objectionable, I also think that the protracted discussion to which it was subjected, if it has not modified the spirit of the proposal, has to a great extent taken away its power of mischief—and I feel that time will not be wasted if I now ask the House at this stage of the progress of the measure to consider the changes which have been introduced since the Bill received the assent of the House on the second reading. This Bill was introduced, not as a change in the policy of the Education Act of 1870, but as an extension of the principles of that Act. The noble Lord, in the very moderate and judicious speech in which he introduced the Bill, dwelt chiefly upon the fact that under the Act of 1870 efficient schools had been provided almost over the whole country, that the advance in public opinion which had been made since 1870 had now rendered the country ripe for some further measures to enforce upon parents the undoubted duty of taking care that their children were educated, and that all that remained to be done was to proceed as we had begun. The country was now ripe for a system of universal compulsion of some kind or another. It is true they differed as to the direction in which that system of universal compulsion was to proceed. Many of us on this side of the House thought it would be a simpler and more efficient mode of proceeding if we advocated a system of direct compulsion, by making it the duty of every parent to educate his child, inflicting a moderate penalty to enforce this duty. That points of difference existed among us there can be no doubt; but at the time of the second reading we were almost unanimous in accepting the principle of the Bill, believing that principle to be the adoption of some system of universal compulsion in education. We were aware at the time that the Bill was to be for denominational schools, but we did not complain of this. I do not think it would be reasonable of us to expect the Government to throw away the great 440 advantages which denominational schools had acquired by the legislation of 1870. I do not think it would have been reasonable to expect that they should not have taken care that the denominational schools, for which it is well known they entertain a decided preference, should receive their full share, and perhaps something more than their full share, of the advantages which would be gained by all schools. But I ask the House to consider the effect of the changes subsequently introduced in the Bill on the position of denominational schools and of Nonconformists who were in favour rather of unsectarian than the denominational system of education. Under the Act of 1870 denominational schools have been to a very great extent established all over the country, especially in the rural districts. These denominational schools were in many instances a heavy burden on their managers, because they had not the means of obtaining the payment of fees, or of enforcing the payment of fees. By this Bill the managers will be relieved of a great portion of the burden hitherto cast upon them, because they will be in a position to exact payment of such fees as it may be in the power of parents to pay, and also because of the number of children who will be compelled to attend school. What is the position of Nonconformists under the Bill as introduced? They were forced for the first time to send their children to schools of the character of which they did not altogether approve; they were forced by the provisions of this Bill to contribute to the prosperity and success of schools of a character they considered objectionable, but which they hoped might in the course of time disappear, not by the action of any violent change, but by the gradual change in the public opinion of the country, and give place to a system which in their opinion was vastly superior. This is the position of Nonconformists under this Bill. They were called upon to submit to these disadvantages in the name of educational progress, and, as the logical consequence of the legislation of 1870, passed by their own friends, and I think the House will admit that these circumstances do not make the grievance any less than it was before. Who are the persons to whom I have been referring? Are they persons of whose feelings, sympathies, 441 and prejudices, the House ought to be negligent? Are they persons as to whose interests no respect ought to be entertained in this House? I will not go into religious topics. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, I know, have a monopoly of regard for religious education. But I would repeat what my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (MR. Richard) said on this subject. The Nonconformists are the descendants of those men who formed their congregations, not out of the ranks of the Established Church, but by going into the haunts of ignorance, poverty, and crime in times when the Church Establishment was less careful of religious instruction and education than it is now. But if I may not speak of religion, I may speak of liberty. I say these Nonconformists are men to whom, in this country, we owe a great deal politically. Almost every advance in liberty, from the time of the Stuarts to the time of the Reform Act of 1832, has been in a great degree promoted and assisted by the exertions of the Nonconformists. Its to them, as much, if not more, than to any other body in the country, that we owe the blessings of that free Constitution which, on both sides of the House, we prize so highly. These are men whose feelings and prejudices cannot be safely neglected by either side of the House. I should have thought, if not justice, at all events generosity would have led those having at their command a powerful majority in both Houses of Parliament to consider carefully the feelings, and even the prejudices, of these men, and when they knew that a measure would be distasteful to them they would have imposed it with the greatest consideration and forbearance. The Act of 1870 was in the nature of a compromise between the advocates of denominational and national, education. That Act contained much that Nonconformists disliked exceedingly, but it contained two provisions or principles, one of which was a palliative of the essential and inherent vice of the measure, and the other was undoubtedly a redeeming element. The two principles are these: The Act of 1870 proceeded on the principle that denominational education should only be established in those districts where the existence of a certain amount of voluntary effort in support of schools showed that the feeling of the locality was in 442 favour of the system. That was not by any means an exhaustive, it certainly was not an adequate test; but to a certain extent the existence of voluntary effort in support of denominational schools was a test of the character of the school, and that it was not in that district opposed to the feelings of the community. The second principle was the establishment of school boards. It was declared by Parliament that in districts where the community was not willing to come forward and make voluntary contributions in favour of denominational schools the management of the school should be not in the hands of magistrates or ministers of any denomination, but in the hands of representatives directly elected by the people. The principle, I say, was one which was, in the eyes of many, a redeeming feature of the Act of 1870. There are many of us—and I do not scruple to say I was one of them—who believe that the principle of school boards is the right and true principle in this matter. We believe that being the right and true principle, it will in the end prevail. We believe that when once the time has arrived that Parliament has declared the education of the country is the business, not, as formerly, of individuals, but is the business of the State itself, it becomes inevitable that, sooner or later, State education must be in the hands, not of individuals, but of representatives of the people. I think we have been in the habit of looking a little too much at the circumstances of the pecuniary support of schools as being the only element in the matter. No doubt schools cannot be supported without pecuniary contributions, and no doubt the making of those contributions gives to the contributors some right to interfere in the management of the schools. But pecuniary support is not the only element of the schools. The parents and the children are also important elements for consideration in the schools; and I do not know that we are to assume it as a settled principle that the pecuniary supporters of the schools alone are to be consulted about the management, and that the parents and the children are not to be allowed, unless under certain circumstances, to have any share in the management of the schools. Both the principle of voluntary denominational education and the principle of school 443 boards have been attacked—not by the Bill introduced by the Government, but by measures which have since been introduced. It is quite true that the noble Lord, when he introduced the Bill, explained that there would be a provision in it which would relax in certain cases the existing rules as to the term of existence of schools in rural districts; but the provision was not a very clear one, and the House had no conception how it would work or the extent of its operation. Since the second reading that clause has been withdrawn, and it has been replaced by a clause which altogether abandons the principle hitherto adopted by Parliament—that assistance should be given to denominational schools only in proportion to the voluntary contributions. Is it now no longer a necessary condition that that voluntary support should be given. In fact, the word voluntary ought in this matter now to disappear altogether. These schools may be maintained entirely through the fees paid by parents, or by Parliamentary grants. They are denominational schools, but they are not voluntary schools with the provision which has hitherto existed. I need hardly say, after the lengthy debate on the clause of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (MR. Pell), that the school boards are attacked by the Bill. It is all very well to say that it is unnecessary school boards that have been attacked; but that adjective will not be any great comfort to those school boards that are in danger. What is the moment chosen by the Government and the Party opposite to attack the school boards? They have selected a most injudicious moment. At the very moment that the necessary work of the school boards has been, to a great extent, completed, and at a moment when, under the circumstances of the case, the school boards are most unpopular, that very moment is selected by the Party opposite to make this attack on the school boards. We know there is nothing in this country more unpopular than increasing the rates. We know that in many districts of this country the school boards must have caused a considerable increase of the rates. Compulsion, direct compulsion, too, may not in all cases be very popular—at all events, until its beneficial operations are made apparent. Whatever unpopularity may spring from 444 these causes has full effect now, and this is the time selected by the Party opposite in making their attack on the system. Neither can we pass by the language used by the Government in speaking of school boards. I admit that in his opening statement the noble Lord spoke without disparagement of school boards; but in the course of the discussion in the Committee we have heard the noble Lord utter threats and hints—and they were terrible hints—respecting the unpopularity of school boards; and the language of some of the supporters of the Government, as we all know, has been more open and more decided. They have not taken the trouble to veil under any hints whatever their uncompromising hostility to school boards, whether in the case of necessary or unnecessary school boards. Now, I believe the Resolution which I have placed on the Paper makes certain assertions, and I venture to say none of them are capable of contradiction. I wish to go over those assertions one by one; I say that "principles have been introduced, into this Bill since its second reading which were not then either mentioned to or contemplated by the House. "The principle to which I refer is doing away with the condition of voluntary support to denominational schools. There was nothing said by the Government to induce any one to believe that the attack on the school boards would have received their support. I say further that this principle "tends to disturb the basis on which elementary education now rests," and I have endeavoured to explain to the House what, in my opinion, is the basis on which education now rests. The basis of the school-board system has undoubtedly been disturbed. I go on to say that this measure will "impede the formation of new schools." That statement cannot be contradicted. I say that "discord and confusion have been introduced into the election of school boards," because where before the question before the electors would be mainly educational, now you introduce a new element—whether the school board is to be allowed to exist any longer or not. Although the Amendment refers only to school boards which have no schools, all that a school board will have to do in certain cases will be to transfer its schools to denominational managers, and then they can get rid of the school board al- 445 together. The concluding clause of my Resolution—namely, "that the Bill will place the management of schools in the hands of persons who neither contribute to their support nor are elected by the ratepayers," is a proposition which is self-evident, and upon which I need not dwell any further. Nothing is more frequently said than that education ought not to be made the subject of political debate. Nothing is more assented to, but nothing I think is more generally disregarded. My opinion is that that is inevitably so. I, for one, am unable to see how questions which affect the mind and conscience of men can be removed altogether from the arena of politics, and however much we may wish it, I do not think it is in our power to remove them from the political arena. I am of opinion that it would be well in the interest of education that a truce, and as long a truce as possible, should be secured between the contending Parties in educational politics. I believe that previously to the clause of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (MR. Pell) being introduced in Committee, it was possible that such a truce had commenced, and might have been extended to an indefinite period. I know very well that in many towns there are persons who are extremely anxious to re-open the war on all controverted questions. But I do not believe that the public opinion of the country was with them, and I think they felt themselves that the time had not arrived when the agitation upon the education question could be re-opened. But I must say that the action of the Government has gone very far towards re-opening the whole question. I cannot see on what ground of political justice it can be contended that if the Party in power has the right, and exercises the right, of altering the settlement made in 1870, the other Party will not be justified when they have the opportunity, in re-opening the question. Therefore, I think it is right that we should take this opportunity of placing upon record our opinion, and I for one, most distinctly and decidedly hold that if these educational controversies are to be re-opened, it is due not to the Party on this side of the House, but to the action of the Party that sits on the other side. It is for these reasons—because I think the changes introduced are educationally inexpedient, and some of them politically 446 unjust, and because they tend to re-open questions and divisions amongst us, which might otherwise have been settled or remained quiet—that I have ventured to place this Amendment upon the Paper, and I ask the House, at all events, in dealing with this Resolution, to allow me, and those who agree with me, to thus place upon record the objections we entertain to this Bill.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, principles have been introduced into this Bill since its Second Reading which were not then either mentioned to or contemplated by the House, which tend to disturb the basis on which Elementary Education now rests, to impede the formation of new schools, to introduce discord and confusion into the Election of School Boards, and to place the management of schools in the hands of persons who neither contribute to their support nor are elected by the ratepayers,"—(The Marquess of Hartington,)
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
The noble Lord has told the House that he would be glad to establish a truce on educational subjects, and, at the same time, has not hesitated to inform the House very plainly that, in his opinion, educational matters can hardly help being treated politically. Now, I confess that this remark is calculated to increase the satisfaction with which I listened to the noble Lord's opening words, when he said that, looking at the Government Bill, and, putting aside two or three clauses, he could not avoid paying a tribute to the measure as a whole; for it is, indeed, considerable praise to the Government Bill that it should obtain so high a meed of approval from the Leader of the Opposition at the very moment when he states that education can hardly help being treated as a Party subject. Gratified though I am at the noble Lord's approbation of the Bill as a whole, which makes me feel that when he has more fully considered the Amendments to which he now objects he will not find them of the serious nature he apprehends, I was rather astonished, I must acknowledge, at some of his criticisms upon the conduct of the Government respecting the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (MR. Pell), because I cannot but 447 remember that the Committee has not, during the prolonged discussions on the Bill, received that active assistance from the noble Lord which, if he felt so keenly on the subject, they had a right to expect; and I, for one, must honestly say that when the noble Lord is not here it is always a great loss to the sense and wisdom of the House. I will not follow the noble Lord into a discussion of the old issue between direct and indirect compulsion, as, surely, we have amply discussed this question, and the opinion of the House, at least, may now be considered on that point to be virtually settled. When, however, the noble Lord speaks of the general assent which has been given to the principle of the Government Bill and pointedly charges this side of the House with the responsibility of any interruption of that harmony, I must remind the noble Lord that the Government has had to run the gauntlet of two set debates, and of three formal Divisions, any one of which, if successful against the Government, would have been, of course, fatal to the Bill. There has not, therefore, been that lying down of the lamb with the lion which might be supposed from the noble Lord's speech. First, the hon. Member for Sheffield (MR. Mundella) moved a Resolution in favour of direct compulsion, which was rejected by a considerable majority. Had this been successful, of course the Bill would have been lost, as the Government measure was framed on quite a different principle. The second reading was also divided against, though it was carried by a great majority. Further, the Bill had again to fight its way against another great obstacle. There was the important proposal moved by the hon. Member for Merthyr (MR. Richard), on going into Committee, that all schools should be put under public management. The noble Lord, with great consistency and courage, had opposed that Motion; but I think I have showed that, independently of various attacks in Committee on vital points, the earlier progress of the Bill has not been conducted through that calm and sunshine to which the noble Lord has referred. The noble Lord's remarks simply come to this, that formal attacks from his side of the House are not to be considered as interruptions of harmony, that the Government is to be applauded, as we 448 have been, for assenting to many Amendments coming from his side—and almost all, and very important ones too, we have accepted from hon. Members on the Opposition Benches—but that if hon. Members make Amendments on this side, and the Government, having refused the greater number of them, accept at last some few which they consider improvements, and which do not affect the principles on which they announced their measure to be based, then we are all to be taunted with destroying the harmony of our proceedings and being the causes of the violent, unusual, and prolonged opposition which the noble Lord's Friends have lately displayed.
I must be allowed once more to remind the noble Lord that, in my opening speech, I invited Amendments, provided they were within the principles of the Bill, feeling anxious, on a subject of such importance and complexity, to get the advantage to the country of all the experience of the House; and also, that when on going into Committee I announced certain changes which, after the second reading debates, Government proposed to make in the earlier parts of the Bill, I expressly reserved to myself the right to propose or accept other Amendments—and this announcement of my reserve was warmly cheered by the noble Lord's Friends. But I pass on to further points in the noble Lord's speech. He was certainly quite right in saying that Members on the Ministerial side could not be expected to interfere with voluntary schools, as certainly he might have said the same of the Government. But more, I had assuredly hoped that he would also have said it of himself and of those with whom he now acts. For surely, neither he nor the Committee have forgotten that in 1870 the Leaders of the Party opposite declared that this Bill was not intended to interfere with voluntary schools at all; but now the noble Lord appears to be in favour of a universal school board system, the adoption of which would give the death-blow to voluntary schools. Unless the noble Lord and the Party opposite have changed their platform, he ought to have said boldly—"We do not wish or intend now, any more than when we assured the country of this in 1870, to attack or destroy voluntary schools." But the case seems now to be 449 different. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (MR. W. E. Forster) then said that his object was only "to fill up the gaps," and "not to supplant," but to complete the voluntary system. Now the noble Lord has raised a suspicion that if he could he would attack voluntary schools, though, I must say, I shall no longer be able to compliment the noble Lord on his wisdom, to say the very least of the proposal, if he intends, as his speech to-day would lead us to suppose, using a common phrase, to "run a rig" against the 12,000 voluntary schools all over the country. The noble Lord's speech has placed this matter in so serious a light, that I must beg the House to listen to the assurances of the then Prime Minister, on the faith of which the country accepted the Education Bill of 1870. After the right hon. Member for Bradford had assured the House—"Our object is to complete the present voluntary system and to fill up gaps," the right hon. Member for Greenwich (MR. Gladstone) said, on the third reading of the Bill of 1870—It was impossible for us to join in the language or to adopt the tone which was conscientiously and consistently taken by some Members of the House who look upon these voluntary schools, having generally a denominational character, as admirable passing expedients, fit indeed to be tolerated for a time, deserving all credit on account of the motives which led to their foundation, but wholly unsatisfactory as to their main purpose, and, therefore, to be supplanted by something they think better…..I am quite sure it will be felt that it has never been the theory of the Government."—[3 Hansard, cciii. 746.]I cannot, however, bring myself to think that there is real cause for alarm, for the voluntary system has been built up gradually by our people themselves, and is in harmony with our habits and institutions, and I have a conviction that, as a matter of fact, the voluntary system is so deeply seated in the hearts of the people of England that even if it encounters the opposition of the noble Lord I believe it will survive his hostility. But I must now allude to an extraordinary assertion of the noble Lord's. He says that this Bill will for the first time force Nonconformists to send their children to denominational schools, of which they disapprove; but at this moment, wherever you have bye-laws for compulsion this may easily happen under 450 the Act of 1870, for that Act does not allow the fact of there being only denominational schools available for a child to be a reasonable excuse, but only when they have no conscience clause would such a plea hold good. Further, however, the noble Lord must have forgotten or overlooked the fact that MR. Dixon's Bill for universal compulsion and universal school boards in every town and village of the land, for which the right hon. Member for Bradford, I believe the noble Lord himself, and many of his friends, on various pleas, in concert with the hon. Members for Merthyr, Nottingham, Leicester, and other leading opponents of this Bill, voted earlier in this very Session, would have swept the Nonconformist children into denominational schools, for MR. Dixon repeatedly said that under his Bill the school boards would have no power to interfere with voluntary schools or to build any where they were not wanted, any more than under the Act of 1870. Yet that Bill established compulsory school attendance everywhere. [MR. W. E. FORSTER: By school boards.] Yes, but that did not alter the thing in the least, for no option was given to these universal school boards under MR. Dixon's Bill, and whether there was only one school or many, they were to be bound to pass bye-laws to compel the attendance of children at school if they were not otherwise instructed, provided there was a Conscience Clause. Thus it was indisputable that Nonconformists' children would be just as much swept into denominational schools under the Bill brought forward by MR. Dixon in three successive Sessions, and receiving the whole Nonconformist support on the side opposite, as under this Bill of the Government. If the noble Lord would examine the speeches made by MR. Dixon and the right hon. Member for Bradford, they would put the matter beyond all shadow of doubt. The noble Lord said the Nonconformists had hoped that the voluntary schools would disappear. I did not think it possible that any legislator could take his stand in an argument merely upon the unsupported hopes of any Party. I want to know what reason had the Nonconformists for entertaining more than a a vague hope that the voluntary schools would disappear? During the discussions on the Act of 1870 the Noncon- 451 formists were told repeatedly by the Leaders of the Liberal Party in Parliament, the authors of the measure, that these schools were not intended to disappear. It seems then that they had no solid ground for considering the overthrow of the great voluntary school system of England as a part of the scheme of the Act of 1870; they had perhaps general, and perhaps not unnatural, aspirations that these schools to which they were opposed might perish under the new Act; but surely the noble Lord cannot seriously take up these vague hopes, which his own Government said at the time were not justified by their measure, as an element which ought to be taken into consideration by the House on the present occasion. The noble Lord has made so much of his attack depend upon the supposed fact that Nonconformists will be grievously wronged by the Bill owing to its driving Nonconformist children into denominational schools, that I must endeavour to show him that he is really mistaken as to its operation. I must therefore again quote the printed Circular issued from Birmingham after I introduced the Bill, by the Central Nonconformist Committee, which represents, I believe, the whole Liberal Party in the Nonconformist Bodies. I will ask leave to read the principal passage—The effect of these proposals will be to introduce both direct and indirect compulsion into many parts of the country where Nonconformists are numerous, but where the only schools in existence are schools connected with the Established Church. The Committee feel strongly the injustice which is involved in compelling the children of Nonconformists to attend schools which are established with the avowed intention of educating children in the principles of the Church of England, and which are under the almost irresponsible control of the clergy. But practically the injustice already exists. It is one of the inevitable evils resulting from the denominational system. Nonconformists of every description are anxious to give their children as good an education as possible; but in many parts of England they have no choice of schools. They are obliged to send their children to the schools of the clergy or to leave them uneducated. We believe, therefore, that the number of Nonconformist children who are not actually at school, and who would be driven into Church schools by Lord Sandon's Bill is extremely few. The children whom the Bill would reach are for the most part the children of ignorant or careless parents, and it is better that they should be driven into the schools of the Church than that they should receive no education at all. While, therefore, we recognize the strength of the abstract objection to the compulsory proposal of the measure, we cannot recommend that these 452 proposals should be resisted. In the interest of the neglected children and of the country at large, we think that they should be accepted.—Signed by W. Middlemore, J.P., chairman; R. W. Dale, H. W. Crosskey, J. Jenkyn Brown, hon. secs.; F. Schnadhorst, secretary.It is signed, as the House has heard, by the well-known leaders of this party, and surely the House could not have better or less prejudiced evidence on this point than this testimony of the members of the Birmingham League. Some hon. Members had ventured to say that the Government had no care for the Nonconformists of this country. This was a very serious accusation to make, and should not be rashly made. I deny it entirely, and it is certainly a strange and unfortunate time to make such an assertion, seeing that the Government has within the last day or two willingly accepted a clause of no slight importance, which makes it the duty of the local school attendance authority in every town and village to report to the Education Department any infraction of the Conscience Clause. The noble Lord, according to the statements made by the public Press, mentioned this yesterday as an important clause, and I was publicly thanked in this House by the hon. Member for Merthyr (MR. Richard) for the cordiality with which the Government had accepted it. This one fact is worth many pounds of sentiment, and it shows the anxiety of the Government that no real grievance should be imposed under this Bill upon the Nonconformists. The noble Lord has gone over the different points in his somewhat remarkable Resolution. The first point was that the Government had introduced into the Bill since its second reading "principles which were not then either mentioned to, or contemplated by, the House." Does the noble Lord remember what passed with regard to the Act of 1870? I have never heard that it is wrong to introduce after the second reading very considerable Amendments into a Bill, and I imagine that older Members of the House would say that frequently large Amendments have been accepted by the Government after second reading, when a Government has had the advantage of hearing the criticism of Parliament and the country during the usual debates on introduction and second reading. I find, with reference to the Act of 1870, that many great alterations were accepted by the 453 Government of that day, of which the noble Lord was a distinguished Member, at a very late stage. For example, the school boards were, in the Bill as read a second time, to have power to allot rates to voluntary schools. That was a most important feature of the measure, yet it was swept away after the second reading, and thus the whole character of the Bill was altered by the action of the Government which introduced it. There was then a Conscience Clause, but not a Time-table Conscience Clause; and the whole character of that Conscience Clause was changed by making it necessary that the religious teaching, &c, should only be at the beginning and end of the teaching. That change again was made after the second reading. Then they all remembered the famous "Cowper-Temple Clause," which was not even foreshadowed in the early part of the debates on the Education Bill of 1870. That clause, as its title indicated—the "Cowper-Temple Clause"—came from an independent Member, and altered very materially the whole colour of the Bill. When the Bill was introduced we heard that there was to be perfect freedom of religious teaching; but by the adoption of that clause, religious teaching was shackled, and formularies distinctive of a particular denomination were forbidden in board schools. Again, the cumulative vote was accepted at the hands of a private Member after the second reading—a very considerable change both in principle and practice, and acknowledged to be a most important experiment in election arrangements by leading politicians all over the world. Again, have hon. Gentlemen opposite forgotten that vote by ballot was dragged in after the second reading of the Bill? The ballot was then one of the most hotly-disputed matters in politics; but it was foisted in, in obedience to the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke), at the end of the debates on the Bill. The country, I think, will surely feel that, in view of those great changes, the mouths of hon. Members opposite ought to be closed in respect of the two or three small changes which had been made in the present Bill, which did not exactly coincide with their views, but which were not for a moment to be compared in magnitude 454 or wide-extended effect with those which the late Government introduced into their Education Bill of 1870—changes which were mostly exceedingly distasteful to hon. Members on the Conservative side, and of which no hint was given when they were invited, with success, to support that Bill in its earlier stages. But, next, in this famous Resolution it is said that these changes in our measure disturbed the basis on which elementary education in this country now rests. This is a very grave and a high-sounding sentence. I quite acknowledge, as the noble Lord has said, that the Government announced they were against any great reversals of policy, unless the country generally, and beyond a doubt, declared such reversals necessary, and I gladly again repeat what I said on this subject on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. But I must frankly say that beyond this general principle which affects all past legislation, I am not aware of any great compact such as the noble Lord alludes to, having been made by the Act of 1870. Hon. Members on the Conservative side gave, I must say, a very generous support to that measure, without which I do not believe it could have been carried, and being anxious primarily to secure the education of the whole people they made many sacrifices of matters connected with schools which were very distasteful to them, and I am sure they received very slight concessions to their views in return; but, to grant for one moment, only for the sake of argument, that some compact was made—which, however, Idol not assent to—how have hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition Bench, how has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, how have hon. Members below the Gangway, kept that supposed compact? Has the compact remained up to this time unbroken? If the Government were to be told that they were culpable for having departed from that compact, why did hon. Members opposite vote for MR. Dixon's Bill for the establishment of universal school boards, and for universal direct compulsion, involving a change of the general basis on which education rested? And why but a year or two ago did hon. Gentlemen opposite vote for abolishing the 25th clause, which was one of the essential arrangements of the famous Bill of 1870? I cannot, then, under- 455 stand how hon. Gentlemen opposite can, with any feeling of propriety, throw into the teeth of the Government the charge that they were disturbing the basis on which the system of elementary education rests, when early this very Session, as before, they themselves had tried to disturb it still more. Further, how does the change as to the 17s. 6d. disturb this basis? Of course, as the House is well aware all State aid to schools is now made by Government upon the principle of payment by results. But Her Majesty's Government felt that this principle was not fully and fairly carried out, as deductions were now made from such earnings, unless half the expenses were met locally by fees or subscriptions. The change, therefore, which the Government had lately proposed was, that the State should hereafter ask no questions as to whence a school was supported, but should contribute up to 17s. 6d. per head, if the children earned it by their intellectual acquirements, a payment which would represent a simple solid education, but no more. This change, I must remind the House, had been urged upon the Government by such a concurrence of good educational opinion of various sorts that they felt convinced that it was the best course to pursue in the interests of the country. I trust the House has not forgotten the very earnest appeal which was made on this subject to the Government by the London School Board, one of the best education authorities in the land, who represented that the promise made in 1870 had been really broken, because the average increase in the Government grant had not risen to more than 25 per cent, whereas expectations were held out in Parliament when MR. Gladstone's Government decided that the provision should be taken out of the Bill by which school boards might aid voluntary schools out of the rates, that an increase of something like 50 per cent would be made in the State grant to all schools. Now, the figures quoted by the London School Board and elsewhere showed an enormous increase in the cost per child. Appeals from various quarters showed that owing to the conditions imposed by the Government the burdens were becoming almost intolerable to the schools both board and voluntary. The London School Board entreated the Government to interfere, on the ground that public injury of a 456 very serious character would accrue to education if any large proportion of good elementary schools now under Government inspection were closed, or were transferred to the board, and that the destruction of these schools, independently of the educational loss, would entail such an enormous increased charge on the rates as could not be contemplated without apprehension; so that, for the sake both of the voluntary and board schools, the Government were strongly urged to do something in the direction of what had been promised in 1870. The state of the case was this—The average cost per child was now 32s., and the average Government grant was 13s. 8d., which still left 18s. 4d. to be supplied locally; so that, taking the average of fees at the high figure of 10s. per annum, a considerable sum was still left to be supplied by voluntary subscriptions. I do not deny that the scheme, proposed principally for the sake of the poorer districts—and they were very numerous in both town and country—is not a small matter, but the object in view is to meet and remove a grievous injustice. That injustice is not disputed. The more it is examined the greater it will appear to be. The burden of keeping up a school in Bethnal Green, or in poor country village, is far greater in proportion than it is in more prosperous districts; but in proportion to the poverty of the school, the Government grant dwindles. I feel sure that so great a grievance cannot be left unredressed, and we have endeavoured to meet it in the broad way which the Committee has now approved, and I ask whether in the change we have made there is not complete security that, as a matter of fact, the rich districts would have, in most cases, considering the figures I have just quoted, to supply still a large amount of local subscription? It was a mistake on the part of the noble Lord to say that this was a complete change as compared with the Act of 1870. The noble Lord seemed to be under the impression that under that Act schools were obliged to have subscriptions to meet the Government grant. That is not so, and I have before shown in detail, during these discussions, that a considerable number of schools are self-supporting, that is to say, are maintained wholly by the children's fees and the Government grant without any sub- 457 scriptions, and a larger number probably almost self-supporting, of which the great proportion belong to the Nonconformist bodies. So far, therefore, as principle is concerned, there is no change whatever. We have been boldly told, as if it was an indisputable fact, that the schools could no longer be considered voluntary schools. I deny altogether the soundness of the basis, and the supposed facts upon which the argument is rested. I have shown already, taking the high average all round of a payment per child in fees of 10s. per annum, that owing to the great increase of the cost of schools, even where the children do well at the inspection, there must remain a very considerable margin of money in the great majority of cases to be supplied by voluntary subscriptions. But even supposing there was not, do hon. Gentlemen forget, and count for nought, the invaluable personal services of the promoters and managers of voluntary schools? Do they think the annual maintenance and reforms of the schools are nothing? Further, still, do they overlook the enormous amount of capital that has been sunk in the schools—£13,500,000 spent voluntarily on the school buildings, to which the State had added only some £1,735,000? Of the entire £15,250,000, no less than £13,500,000 had come out of the pockets of the volunteers! Surely the possessors of those valuable schools have a right to be considered in this matter, and also in virtue of these invaluable contributions to the education of the people. Surely they have a most valid claim to have these schools accounted as voluntary schools, ranking in a different category from those bought or built and maintained by the rates alone? I will not now allude to the special moral and social advantages of these schools, as well as to the gain to the community of having a variety in their schools, besides the healthy competition which is kept up by these different sorts of schools. Upon all these points, if the question of the voluntary system is really raised, a great deal will be found to be said of a very weighty character. But, considering the light and jaunty way in which some hon. Members treat the question of the maintenance of our great system of voluntary schools, I should like to call attention to the serious pecuniary difficulty in which, the House would find 458 itself if they were to get rid of this system, which now was, as a matter of fact, part of the national life. The school board schools, numbering nearly 2,000, had involved an expenditure of £6,500,000, and they afforded accommodation for 550,000 children, being an expenditure of £11 10s. per head, as against £5 10s. in the case of the voluntary schools now numbering some 17,300, with accommodation for over 2,772,000 children. If by sane legislation voluntary schools were destroyed, I want to know what the noble Lord proposes to do to find school houses for the 2,772,000 children now accommodated in the voluntary schools. Does he propose to confiscate these buildings to the State? He cannot, for no private property would then be safe. Does he propose a forced sale? Is he prepared to oblige the ratepayers to supply the £13,500,000, which the volunteers have spent upon them? in addition to the £6,500,000 already imposed upon them by board schools? or would he charge thorn on the Imperial funds? but surely the £13,500,000 required would rather upset the Budget of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. All this goes to prove, I think it must be now agreed, that every consideration both economical, educational, and social, shows that the State ought to show every regard for the managers who possess this great body of voluntary schools, who keep them up, and give in many cases, from their personal interest in, and knowledge of, education, what no merely State system can secure, their time and their care—more valuable than any money. This management would be valued every day more by the parents, as it became known more and more by experience that the weak point of the rate-supported board schools is, and is likely to be, the management of their schools. Then, to go on with the Resolution, it proceeds to connect in some mysterious way the clause of the hon. Member for South. Leicestershire, accepted by the Government and the Committee, which provides for the dissolution of unnecessary school boards, with a check to schools themselves—it says it will "impede the formation of new schools!" How, I cannot make out. Really, as in the former parts of the Resolution, the noble Lord is very much astray on this matter also. The noble Lord says that everybody will 459 represent school boards as unnecessary; but he could not have read the clause of my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (MR. Pell), for if he had he would have seen that it referred to school boards which had no schools and no sites, and these boards could only possibly be 500, but it was more likely the number would be under 200. The real position of the Government as to that clause was this—they did not feel bound to make the proposal if the subject was not mooted, as they did not think it necessary to put in their Bill all the various improvements into our education system, however desirable they might be in themselves; but the moment they were brought face to face with it—and it was brought before them from various parts of the country as well as in the House—they saw they could not decline to consider it, and on considering it their opinion was that there was no tenable argument which could be urged against it. The noble Lord had said that the Amendments which the Government had adopted would impede the formation of new schools; but here, again, a little more consideration would have shown the mistake into which he had fallen. As the law stood at present, no school board could build a school unless it was needed in the locality; so that, under the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire, no alteration which impeded the formation of new schools was made, because, although the school board might have been dissolved, the Department would retain and exercise the power exactly the same as before, and as at this moment under the Act of 1870 to order the erection of schools in all places where it could be shown that they were needed. With regard to the transference of schools, the course was equally clear. If any governing body of a private school wished to hand over their school to a public body, they had only to close the school, and if the necessary accommodation was not supplied forthwith a school board would and must be established by the Education Department to supply the want. I think then I have shown that this part of the Resolution has as little foundation in fact as the preceding portions. The noble Lord goes on to urge in his Resolution that the changes made in the Bill will introduce discord and confusion into the elec- 460 tion of school boards. How the possible dissolution of unnecessary and inefficient boards can effect this result I cannot imagine, nor has the noble Lord enlightened us in his speech—and no other change we have accepted can even, remotely affect elections of boards. On the contrary, the only change as to the election of school boards which we ourselves proposed is the one by which bye vacancies are to be filled up by the boards themselves—a great boon to large towns specially, as saving them unnecessary expense and election excitements. If we had accepted the proposals coming from the right hon. Member for Birmingham (MR. John Bright) and from others of the noble Lord's Friends, who desired to place the management of schools in the hands of Town Councils and Boards of Guardians and to give them all the powers of school boards, we should indeed have introduced discord and confusion with all the religious difficulty into the elections, not of school boards, but of every leading municipal and local authority in the Kingdom. Happily, however, the Government and the Committee refused to entertain these disastrous suggestions—so I think this part of the attack also falls to the ground. The noble Lord, in conclusion, had laid great stress upon the point that by changes in the Bill, the management of the schools was allowed to be in the hands of persons who did not contribute to the maintenance of the schools, and were not elected to the positions of governors; but this might and did occur under the Act of 1870, and I do not think the state of things will be much altered by the provisions of the present Bill. And as to these schools not being under public control, they were under a much greater control than mere local control—their whole curriculum of study, the whole of their arrangements were, in fact, under the control of the Education Department—and they could hardly stir to the right hand or to the left without the assent of the Code or of one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. The State certainly had full control over all the schools, voluntary and board just alike, which received her grants, and took good care at this moment that the money was spent for purposes she desired. It is a mistake to suppose that the present Bill will prevent the establishment of school boards in localities where they 461 are desired by the inhabitants, or that the Government had done anything to prevent them—and I must remind the noble Lord that he entirely refused to countenance or accept the Amendments of my hon. Friends the Members for Bury and Newcastle, which proposed to prevent localities which had sufficient schools from having boards if they desired. I have been so frequently taxed of late with being hostile to school boards, because when hon. Members chose to say that they were so generally liked by the country, and were so excellent, and that therefore it was a kind of sacrilege to allow localities to get rid of unnecessary ones, I felt bound to say that the printed official Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors and other public documents, if I was obliged to quote them, would show that not a few boards were not efficient instruments for education, and that the feeling of the country was, in many parts, against them. I can, however, assure the noble Lord that I have no desire to run down school boards as an institution, and I have, as the House remembers, on many occasions defended them here against attacks from various quarters. But as my position towards, and opinion of, school boards has been so much misrepresented and has been alluded to by the noble Lord, I had, perhaps, better frankly state what my views are respecting them after the official knowledge of the last two years and a-half. I believe that in the large towns the school boards are generally doing an admirable work, and that they are mostly free from that sectarian atmosphere of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (MR. Bright) has spoken so bitterly as pervading school boards in general, and in which he said, as I formerly quoted, no good thing could thrive. In towns of medium size the school boards are frequently doing good work; but it must be admitted that in these places cases occurred, more often than they could have hoped, in which the board seemed to think more of sectarian differences than of the education of the people. As far as school boards in small rural districts are concerned, the system has, to a considerable extent, broken down, partly owing to the fact that the smallness of the areas made it impossible to get fitting people to act as members of the boards. This, then, is my opinion of the 462 working of school boards, which I think it only right, after the noble Lord's remarks, that I should place at the disposal of the Committee. I believe now I have gone over all the points of the attack of the noble Lord, and I flatter myself that the Committee will agree with me that the matters in which the noble Lord blamed the Government have been fairly proved to be without foundation—so that nothing remains now but to accept the more agreeable part of the noble Lord's speech, in which he gave an evidently sincere approval of the Bill as a whole. The Government has throughout endeavoured to look at the question from the point of view of the interests of the children of this country, and I have a full confidence that those who look at it in this way, and not with a view to any bye objects, will give it an increasingly hearty approval. If, however, hon. Gentlemen opposite choose to take up the position of being the advocates of universal school boards, the Government will be glad to meet them on that issue before the country, and will willingly await the general judgment on this ground. If, further, they wish to stand forward before England as those who insist upon retaining school boards in places where two-thirds of the inhabitants have stated, and the Education Department has affirmed, that no board is any longer wished for or is necessary for purposes of education, I certainly will not grudge them this strange satisfaction. If they wish to appear as the opponents of that relief to the poorer schools, and that impulse to education generally, which our removal of the present vexatious restrictions upon the Government grant will afford, at the entreaty of many of the most experienced friends of education, it is not for me to ask them to forbear. And if, beyond all this, the noble Lord thinks it wise that his Party should be considered the enemies and assailants of a great national institution like the voluntary school system, which has struck its roots deep in every community, I cannot interfere with, nor do I apprehend the results of, their policy. We shall leave them willingly to settle these matters with the schools, with the ratepayers, and with their countrymen generally, and can only trust for their sakes they will find their self-chosen position a useful and beneficial one. For my own part, I sincerely 463 believe and earnestly hope that the action of the Government has been that which is best calculated to promote the sound education of the whole country. We have kept steadily in view the great and important object of maintaining the freedom and responsibility of the parents as much as is consistent with the welfare of the children, and of interfering as little as possible with the habits and necessities of honest industry; and I can truly say that, in all the dealings of the Government with this great and most important but difficult question, we have looked principally to what was, to the best of our belief, for the good of the children, and for the continued honour, happiness, and welfare of our common country.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) was altogether wrong in supposing that after a Bill had passed the second reading, no Amendments, except such as referred to points of detail, could be introduced in it. The Amendment, therefore, of the noble Marquess must be rejected, for if such a doctrine were once allowed to prevail all proceedings in Committee upon Bills would become practically useless. Why did not the Nonconformists do as the Roman Catholics did? The Roman Catholics built schools for their own children; why did not the Nonconformists, who were a more wealthy body, do the same? The Roman Catholics considered the Conscience Clause a sufficient protection, and he was at a loss to conceive why it was not so considered by the Nonconformists. ["Divide!"] He considered that to compel children to learn by forbidding them to work was a mistake. Children should before all be educated to be useful and earn something for the family. This was even better than the three R's. It would be wiser to provide that children shall go to school at certain hours and under certain conditions, and interfere as little as possible with their useful employment. The education of the poorer classes ought to have reference to their useful employment and earning a living. But education—especially of girls—was now sometimes calculated to make them too proud to work. Thus it was very difficult to obtain domestic servants. How would it be under this Bill? It would be easy to provide 464 for children of decided talent a higher education. With regard to school boards, the Department would not allow any school board to be dissolved which it might be necessary for the cause of education to maintain. Now, he wished to say nothing against school boards, for there was no doubt however they might have worked in some cases, in others they had done well. At the same time, he could not understand the indignation felt by hon. Members at the idea of touching a school board as if it were a sacrilege to do so. It was not zeal for education, but for education without religion, which animated the strong opposition which was now given. The question with those Gentlemen was not whether school boards were or were not the best means of educating the country, but whether secular education was to be indefinitely extended. The country, however, had come to the conclusion that denominational education was best, and it was for giving children that education which would make them when they grew up useful citizens and loyal subjects of the Crown.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the House was very anxious to divide, and he would not detain them more than two or three minutes; but so many allusions had been made by hon. Members in the course of these discussions and by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council that evening to the Act of 1870, that he might be pardoned for saying that it was distinctly on account of the relations of this Bill to that Act, and of the changes made in it, that he felt called upon to vote for the protest made by his noble Friend. He would not for a moment attempt to give a history of all the controverted questions raised at the passing of the Act of 1870; but he thought it would be acknowledged by both Parties that the Government of that day had, along with a sincere desire, a difficult task in hand—to do all they could for the improvement of education. In doing that they acknowledged the existing schools, and while saying that they were not sufficient to meet the educational want, they proposed the system of rate-aided schools. Consequently, when the Bill of 1870 became an Act of Parliament it had two systems; it worked with the voluntary system, supported by denominational energy; and with the rate system, re- 465 lying on the principle of elected bodies taking care of the education of the locality. No one could doubt, and he was himself perfectly aware, that it was a difficult matter to get these two systems worked together. He would not detain the House with reasons for that; but they had passed an Act which, after much discussion, kept these two principles side by side as it were to take care of themselves. On one hand, the denominational school had denominational zeal to support it; on the other hand, there was the possibility that a rate would be a danger to voluntary schools, because a man disliked giving a subscription to relieve another man's rates. Every one who remembered the discussions must be aware of the forces and principles brought into action. Parliament passed the Bill with the understanding that each of these forces and principles was to take care of itself and do what it could in the matter of education, and he thought it was a mistake of the Government now to introduce any change which would supply to any extent the want of denominational energy and zeal by any additional State aid. The noble Lord in his opening speech stated—and he had not the slightest doubt of the fact—that the object of his Bill was to meet the attendance difficulty and get the children into school. On that side of the House he (MR. Forster) and those who were with him had differed to some extent with the noble Lord in his mode of meeting the difficulty; but, at the same time, they fully acknowledged and appreciated his intentions. He would not go through the differences which existed between the advocates of direct and of indirect compulsion, but he was free to admit that the Bill in its progress had been very much changed, and changed for the better, so far as regarded the educational part of it. They had made several important changes in it. The noble Lord said that there had been three important debates on the subject; but there were only two, because he did not think the debate on the second reading lasted three minutes. There were great changes which he considered were to the advantage of the measure. It had been declared legally to be the duty of the parent to educate his child, and the 7th, now the 8th, clause as altered was almost as powerful as the bye-laws of the Lon- 466 don School Board, inasmuch as it enabled work and school to go on well together. But all these changes, although they were, as he had said, for the better, appeared to him to be strong arguments why the Government should not have altered the relations between the school-board system, the rate system, and the voluntary system. There was no doubt that in order to meet the educational difficulty something had to be done by the Government which was a blow at the rate system. Many hon. Members on that side of the House would have preferred to meet the attendance difficulty by universal school boards, but even those who were most strongly in favour of that mode of meeting it were aware that it was hardly possible for the Government, after the debates and divisions of the last two years, to have made that proposition. At the same time there could be no doubt that while the establishment of new authorities and school boards, and giving them the power to sweep the children into the schools, was very necessary for the cause of education, and could not perhaps be avoided, yet in itself it was a great blow to the rate system as compared with the voluntary system, and a great boon to the denominational system. This was not because it was intended to confer an advantage upon denominational schools, but because they could not make progress in education without it. But the Government ought to have recollected that there were very many persons who would consider the step they took in the interests of education was disadvantageous to them. They ought not, therefore, to have altered the settlement of 1870 as between the two classes of schools. He would not for a moment say that there was anything in the Act of 1870 that ought never to be changed, but he did say that the compromise, or the relations between the two systems and the two principles, had been arrived at after very great discussion and difficulty, and it was most unwise on the part of the Government in any way to change it. The changes introduced by the Government, in his opinion, had this effect. One of them discouraged school boards, and the other encouraged denominational schools. The clause which looked forward to the dissolution of school boards, although minimized and frittered down by the week's debate, 467 was, he thought, still a discouragement to school boards, and he thought that the clause which enabled a large number of schools to be conducted without voluntary subscriptions was a great encouragement to denominational schools. He believed it was unwise for the Government to have made that change, and although he agreed with the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council in his opening remarks, and although he would not have voted positively against the third reading, so as to get rid of the Bill entirely, because he believed that it was an educational step in advance, yet he did think it was their duty to put on record their protest against the change being introduced at this time. He did not wish to be misunderstood. He believed that this was a great encouragement to voluntary schools; but he thought it would eventually do them more harm than good. The noble Lord said there were schools in this particular position under the Act of 1870. It was quite true, but there were very few of them. Under the present Bill there would be a great many more, and especially in those places where there was likely to be most opposition to having voluntary schools without voluntary subscriptions. He was quite sure that the Government and their Supporters would one day regret that they had put denominational schools in the position of being sham denominational, instead of real denominational schools. He could not do otherwise than vote for the Motion of his noble Friend.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
thought the conclusions advanced by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) had been so satisfactorily met by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council that the House might without difficulty have proceeded at once to a division. Replying to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Bradford, he would admit, as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, that he found himself in great difficulties in 1870 with respect to the conflicting claims of the voluntary and national systems, but those who then sat on the front Opposition Bench did all they could to enable him to get over those difficulties, and the course pursued on some occasions by the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues was not altogether a fair return 468 for the facilities that were then afforded to him. If there were difficulties in passing the Bill of 1870 were there no difficulties six years afterwards in endeavouring to cure the defects and supply the wants in the practical operation of that Act? These difficulties they had to encounter during the present Session of Parliament, and he thought they might have appealed to the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends for a little more consideration and aptitude to assist them during these protracted debates. His noble Friend had to meet the great attendance difficulty, and the right hon. Gentleman must admit that that difficulty had been met in a manner to which little objection could be made. It was said that changes had been made, one of which would have a tendency to discourage school boards in general, but it was only where the facts of the case proved that school boards were unnecessary for the purposes of education that the clause of his hon. Friend would apply. The other change, it was said, would have the effect of encouraging denominational schools. He had yet to learn that such a charge should be fatal to any measure that it would encourage a system of education in the country which by every test that could be applied had proved to be the system which most accommodated itself to the feelings, wishes, and convictions of the people. It was very much on that ground that he hoped the House of Commons would ratify by no inconsiderable majority the stage at which the Bill had now arrived.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 182; Noes 120: Majority 62.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered.
§ On the Motion of Viscount SANDON, the following clauses were agreed to, and added to the Bill:—
Page 9, after Clause 19, to insert the following clause:—
(Returns of registrars of births and deaths to School Boards.)
Every registrar of births and deaths, when and as required by a School Board, shall transmit, by post or otherwise, a return of such of
the particulars registered by him concerning deaths and births of children as may be specified in the requisition of the School Board.
The School Board may supply a form, approved by the Local Government Board, for the purpose of the return, and in that case the return shall be made in the form so supplied.
The School Board may pay out of the school fund to the registrar making such return such fee as may be agreed upon between them and the registrar, not exceeding two pence for every birth and death entered in such return.
Page 11, after Clause 24, to insert the following clause:—
(Power of officer of local authority to enter place of employment.—See 30 and 31 Vic. c. 146, s. 9.)
If it appear to any justice of the peace, on the complaint of an officer of the local authority acting under this Act, that there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is employed in contravention of this Act in any place, whether a building or not, such justice may by order under his hand empower an officer of the local authority to enter such place at any reasonable time within forty-eight hours from the date of the order, and examine such place and any person found therein touching the employment of any child therein.
Any person refusing admission to an officer authorised, by an order under this section, or obstructing him in the discharge of his duty, shall for each offence be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding twenty pounds.