§ Order of the Day read for the adjourned debate on the Motion for the Second Reading.
§ *THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, there appeared on the Paper yesterday notices of two Amendments either of which, if passed, would have been fatal to the Second Reading of this Bill. I am glad, however, to think that both these notices have been withdrawn, and I gather, from the speeches which were made from this side of the House yesterday, that there is no intention in any quarter of the House to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. I think that the decision thus arrived at on the part of the Opposition is a wise one. Whatever we may think of this Bill, however we may object to some of its provisions, however we may regret the spirit in which it appears to have been framed, whatever we may think of the injustice and the hardships, the unnecessary hardships, as some of us believe, which will be inflicted by this Bill on the owners and trustees of voluntary schools 1181 and on large classes of parents, whatever infringement we may hold that it contains of the principles of religious freedom and toleration, still the Bill comes to us sanctioned by so great a majority of the other House that, even if we thought it was incapable of Amendment such as would make it a fair and final settlement of the education question, it would be our duty to give the fullest consideration to its principles.
It will be our duty, I think, to reserve our final judgment on the measure until we see what is its shape after the Committee stage; until we know what concessions, if any, his Majesty's Government are prepared to make, and, if no concessions are made, by what reasons their refusal can be justified. I do not think that the Government will deny that the Bill does require very full consideration on the part of this House. Although it comes to us backed by a very large majority of the other House, still the discussions in the other House have revealed differences of opinion on the part of considerable sections of that majority which deprive its verdict of the weight which it might otherwise have possessed. Party allegiance, no doubt, has enabled the Government to carry the whole of their proposals by very large majorities, and has enabled them to defeat Amendments which they considered inconsistent with the principles of the Bill. But it has not been accepted as a final settlement with anything approaching unanimity.
The concessions to the voluntary schools which the Bill contains have called forth loud protests from a section of the Nonconformist supporters of the Government, and in the course of the discussions a large and increasing body of opinion has manifested itself in some sections of the House, especially among the members of the Labour Party, in favour of a system of education based upon secular principles as opposed to a denominational or an undenominational system of religious teaching. Therefore we are entitled to satisfy ourselves as far as we can that in passing this measure in its present form or in an amended shape that we should be giving effect to the clear opinions of even the majority in another place.
1182 We shall all desire in this debate to confine ourselves to a discussion of the principles of the Bill, but I confess that I find it rather difficult to discover what are the principles that this Bill contains. Mr. Birrell, in introducing the measure stated two principles, or rather one principle and an opinion. He stated that the principle of the Bill was that, where public money was taken, complete public control must of necessity follow, and in a later passage in his speech he said the Bill was based upon the happy experience of thirty-six years of Cowper-Temple teaching. I, and I think most of your Lordships, fully accept the principle of public control, but I do not think it carries us very far. I do not think that Parliament has ever acted upon any other principle. That principle only asserts what nobody would dream of denying, that when Parliament takes the money of the public either in the form of taxes or of rates it is bound to control the application of those funds.
But as I had to argue over and over again in 1902, chiefly, I think, with my noble friend Lord Rosebery, whom I am happy to see in his place, that control may be exercised in two ways. It may either be exercised by direct instruction given by Parliament as representing the whole body of taxpayers, and that control may be exercised through a State Department presided over by a Minister responsible to Parliament; or, on the other hand, Parliament may delegate all of some of its powers more or less completely to local authorities as representing the ratepayers. As a matter of fact Parliament, in educational legislation, has always so divided the control which it has exercised over funds applied to public elementary education.
Under the Act of 1870 schools were for the first time built and wholly maintained at the public expense. Parliament then decided to leave the management of these schools, the appointment of the managers and teachers, and the direction of secular education given in them entirely to the local authorities, subject only to the inspection of the Education Department to secure the efficiency of the education given. As to religious education, Parliament permitted one form only, that which is 1183 known as the Cowper-Temple form of teaching. But it left the local authorities to decide whether religious instruction should be given at all, and it left them also largely to decide what character that undenominational teaching should assume. In 1870 largely increased grants were given to the voluntary schools, and Parliament at the same time decided what sort of additional control should be exercised over these schools. The decision to which Parliament came was to give the school boards no control whatever over these schools. It required a certain standard of efficiency tested by strict inspection, but it left the management and the appointment of the managers and teachers wholly to the owners or trustees of these schools.
As to religious instruction, Parliament did not interfere at all with the previous arrangements, except to insist upon the conscience clause being observed in every case. Parliament in 1870 deliberately, and as I think rightly, decided to adopt different forms of control for different schools, differently provided and differently maintained.
Under the Act of 1902 almost the whole cost of the maintenance of the voluntary schools was, for the first time, thrown upon the rates. That rendered a further measure of public control necessary for them. Parliament thought fit in 1902 to enact that the local authorities should, for the first time, have complete control over the secular education given in those schools, and gave them a share, if not a preponderating share, in the management of those schools and the appointment of the teachers. At the same time Parliament thought fit to take securities for preserving the denominational character of those schools. That may have been a wise or an unwise arrangement. It was not an arrangement, in my opinion, in contravention of the principle of public control, which, under the Act of 1902, was exercised, as it always had been, partly by Parliament and partly left to the discretion of the local authorities.
The Bill, in my opinion, makes no advance whatever in regard to the principle of public control. It proceeds on the old lines. The control exercised by the State over all the schools is still one which is divided between regulations 1184 framed by Parliament and the delegation of the powers of Parliament to the local authorities. If you meant by public control complete local control over all the schools, you would have to allow the local authorities to decide what religion should be taught. But you do nothing of the sort; you maintain, you even extend, the prohibition in the Act of 1870 against any but undenominational instruction in council schools. You extend it, for you will not even allow Cowper-Temple teaching in school hours. You extend it, because this Bill gives no discretion to local authorities; it extends the prohibitions of the Cowper-Temple Clause of the Act of 1870 to transferred schools, and the limitation of local control is maintained and extended under the present Bill. The prohibitory character of the former is always extended in the direction of discouraging religious teaching, denominational or undenominational.
The settlement of 1902 was always opposed by a considerable minority— by a large minority in the other House, by a small minority here. That minority in the present Parliament has become a large majority in the other House, and of course it is open to that majority if they think fit to revise or even to reverse that settlement. But I take it that a reversal is not the inevitable or logical consequence of acceptance of the principle of control by a local authority, but of the altered opinion of the other House. I am afraid that so long as wide differences of opinion exist between us on religious matters it is idle to expect that we can arrive at any finality upon I the religious question in elementary schools. We cannot arrive at that unless we can find a compromise in principle universally or generally accepted.
True, the settlement of 1902 was founded on a principle not universally accepted, and it is also true that the principle upon which your Bill is founded is either not understood, or certainly not accepted by very large numbers in the community; and unless you can find some compromise founded on a principle we can all accept, the cause of education must continue during the present, the next, and perhaps many Parliaments to be disturbed and weakened by a perpetual recurrence of the religious difficulty. I find, therefore, very little 1185 or no assistance in the principle invoked by Mr. Birrell as the principle of the present Bill.
I think we must regard the proposals we find in these clauses as separate unconnected—perhaps I might call them empirical—proposals that must be discussed on their own merits, not as bearing upon a general and accepted principle, and such a discussion is more appropriate to Committee. Some of the proposals in the Bill are of an extremely intricate and complicated character difficult to understand, but the first clause has, I admit, an engaging appearance of simplicity, and I believe there is a general disposition, even on the part of many who think that large Amendments will be necessary, to accept the principle of the first clause. I imagine many of your Lordships have seen the "Lay" memorial addressed to the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury by a number of eminent members of the Church of England not being Members of either House of Parliament, a memorial which has, I believe, received the benediction of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Ripon, whose speech last night I regret I did not hear. The first statement in that memorial declares, as in accordance with the plain will of the people, acceptance of the fundamental principle contained in Clause 1.
Now I am not quite sure, as I think I have indicated, that I know exactly what is the fundamental principle embodied in Clause 1, and perhaps it is more important to try to ascertain what will be the effect of the clause. Having discovered that we shall be in a better position to ascertain how far that effect will be qualified or mitigated by subsequent clauses. The clause enacts that transferred schools are to become provided schools and subject therefore to all the incidents of provided schools, including the Cowper-Temple clause. What is the Cowper-Temple clause? It is very often spoken of as if it were a clause establishing some sort of religious teaching, but it does nothing of the kind. The Cowper-Temple clause is simply prohibitory, and merely enacts that no catechism or religious formulary shall be taught. This teaching, then, is prohibited in transferred schools.
1186 But then Clauses 3 and 4 go on to enact that in certain transferred schools religious formularies may in different degrees be taught—a curious method of drafting. I trust the Nonconformist supporters of His Majesty's Government will take note that the present Government is responsible for the partial repeal, at all events, of the Cowper-Temple clause in certain classes of provided schools. Though the clause is prohibitory only, a certain form of religious teaching has grown out of it; and I conceive that the real effect will be to give a preference, a strong and decided preference, to that form of undenominational teaching over any other form of religious teaching the schools may have been established and subscribed for to provide. Undenominational teaching may be given by teachers at the expense of the State, but other forms of teaching are to be treated as extras, to be given not by expert teachers and to be paid for, not by the State, but by the trustees. I confess it seems to me to be a singular arrangement, and, whether it be good or bad, I deny that it is in accordance with the clearly expressed will of the people.
I deny that the Government has received among its numerous mandates any mandate for the creation of a set of schools in which denominational teaching shall be permitted but discouraged and placed under disabilities. I am not qualified to discuss from a theological point of view simple Bible teaching, the teaching of the great truths of Christianity, or any form of religious teaching which supporters or opponents of the Cowper-Temple clause may prefer to call it, but certainly I entertain for the Cowper-Temple clause no such aversion as has been expressed by many on both sides of political opinion in the other House. I recognise that it is accepted as a satisfactory form of religious teaching for children, as opposed to adults, by a great many sincere and earnest Christians, and by a very large body of parents of children. I recognise also that it is regarded by others as insufficient, and by some as actually mischievous, and among these are included a number of parents of children attending elementary schools.
But I confess I cannot understand the view of those who dogmatically assert 1187 that while Roman Catholics or Jews cannot be expected to accept this form of teaching it is good enough, or ought to be good enough, for all Protestants. I do not claim to decide whether it is good enough, or ought to be good enough, for Protestants. It is quite enough for me to know that there are a great many whose opinions are entitled to respect who do not think that it is good enough; and I regard it as unreasonable and, what is worse than unreasonable, as intolerant, to attempt to force it upon those who hold that opinion, to the exclusion of any more definite form of religious teaching. And, therefore, my Lords, although I think that this Bill goes much further than is necessary in establishing the Cowper-Temple form of teaching in every one of our elementary schools, I am glad that His Majesty's Government have refused to yield to the pressure which has been placed upon them by those who would impose it indiscriminately and without exception upon every school. But that is not all.
Besides the Cowper-Temple clause there is another incident attaching to transferred schools in their new character of provided schools. The managers will be appointed in future by the local authority, and the teachers will be appointed by the same body. The effect of that is, that every security that has been provided by the deeds of Church schools for having Church teaching by Church people in Church schools will be absolutely swept away. The trustees of those schools may not inconceivably see instruction given under the name of simple Bible teaching which it will be their duty to their very utmost to counteract as far as they can in the two days of the week in which they or the teachers appointed by them have liberty to enter the school. And this, my Lords, is the plan of the Government for establishing religious peace and solving the religious difficulty. This is a consequence graver and far more injurious to the religious character of the voluntary schools and to their objects than the mere introduction into them of Cowper-Temple teaching. This consequence the Bill makes no effort whatever to avert.
There are other clauses in the Bill which extend the effect, which I have 1188 endeavoured to describe, of Clause 1 They appear to be designed to discourage, if not actually to forbid, all teaching of religion, whether denominational or undenominational. Both these forms are now to be excluded in school hours, and, as to denominational instruction, teachers, even if willing and anxious to give that instruction, are prohibited by the Bill so to do. I should like to ask what is the necessity for such sweeping and drastic changes. I think I have shown that they are not the necessary and inevitable consequence of the accepted principle of public control. They are not necessary to the efficiency of secular teaching in our schools.
In my opinion, the only justification for the revision of the Acts of 1870 and 1902 lies in the existence of a grievance of certain parents which, I believe, all of us are ready to admit. That grievance has existed since 1870; it is not removed, I admit, by the Act of 1902. That grievance consists in this. A parent, perhaps a Nonconformist parent, while he has in some, not by any means in all, districts to pay rates and taxes in support of denominational schools, has no access for his own children to the religious instruction which he himself would accept for them. That is a grievance which I think we all admit, and would all be ready to the utmost of our power to attempt to remedy. But we must remember that Roman Catholics and members of the Church of England in other districts when there is no school accommodation except in board or council schools have precisely the same grievance of being forced to support those schools although they cannot get in them, or anywhere, the religious instruction which they desire. If justice requires us to redress one of those grievances, surely justice also requires that we should attempt to redress the other.
I have no doubt Amendments will be moved in this House for obtaining facilities for denominational teaching in council schools. For myself, I desire to see as little disturbance as possible of our existing system, and I do not desire to commit myself to support such Amendments, until I see what, if any, concessions the Government are prepared to make in regard to giving 1189 real facilities for denominational teaching in the transferred schools. But if no concessions in that direction are to be made, then I am of opinion that there is a great deal to be said for a provision which will place all provided schools on the same footing in regard to religious, as well as to secular, instruction.
But while I do not desire to commit myself to any proposals for altering the status of the present council schools—I am dealing only for a moment with the Nonconformist grievance, which I think is the sole justification for amending the provision of the Act of 1902—I may say that it appears to me that the problem which has to be solved is that, when parents in any appreciable number desire that they should have access to Cowper-Temple or undenominational teaching, means should be found for providing them with such access. But that does not seem to me to be a problem which ought to be insoluble by means less violent and drastic than those provided in the Bill. I cannot think that this not very heroic task makes it necessary to disturb the religious character of every voluntary school and to remove every security that remains in respect to it whether these, schools be Church schools, Catholic schools, or Jewish schools. There are, not in towns alone but in the rural districts also, hundreds, and I think thousands, of them against which no voice of complaint has ever been raised, which offend no conscience, and which are doing good work to the satisfaction of the parents of the children who attend them, to whatever religious persuasion they belong.
With regard to such schools as these, under such circumstances as I have described, I am tempted to ask—Why cannot you leave them alone? Why are you, without inquiry, without examination, without inviting any friendly discussion between local authorities and trustees of voluntary schools, going to impose upon those schools a uniform and a cast-iron rule which will offend the consciences of as many as, if not a larger number of parents than those whom you are going to please? I know that this suggestion will be considered an audacious one, and will be absolutely scouted by members of his Majesty's Government, but I ask any members 1190 of that Government who are going to take part in this debate whether the description I have given of a large number of existing schools in the country is not a true one, and I will ask them to say for what reason the good work which they are doing is to be disturbed.
The most rev. Primate, in the great speech which he addressed to the House yesterday, indicated Amendments which he thought might be moved on the clauses of the Bill with the object, in some degree, of making them more effectual for the purpose which they profess to have in view. The most rev. Primate suggested Amendments which might make the facilities so grudgingly given in the Bill real; and, as I understood him, he proposed to expunge some of those clauses which appear to be directly aimed at the destruction of the security for the efficiency of religious instruction, either denominational or undenominational, hereafter to be taught in our schools. I believe I am entirely in sympathy with the suggestions of the most rev. Primate; but there is one point on which I cannot altogether agree with him.
The most rev. Primate said that in his opinion a great opportunity for a great measure had been lost. My Lords, in the present divided state of opinion on religious matters to which I have referred, I doubt whether any measure, however wisely framed, however moderate, or however tolerant it might be—I doubt whether any great measure dealing with thin difficult problem could be made acceptable. I hold, on the contrary, that the Government have immensely exaggerated the magnitude of the question with which it is necessary for them, to deal. I believe that but for political exigencies the question might have been dealt with on far less ambitious lines. I think the Government themselves have shown some perception of this fact; for they have introduced clauses the object and intention of which appear to be to mitigate the, rigour of the treatment which the first clause and other clauses, will impose on voluntary schools, I fear that the scope and effect of those clauses are too wide and far reaching to make them susceptible to substantial mitigation. At all events, in their present form, as amended in the other 1191 House, they are extremely complicated, intricate, and, I think I may say of some of them, almost unintelligible. I shall not attempt on this occasion to discuss them. I will only say that these clauses appear to me to fall short to an unnecessary degree of what I may call a just and tolerant arrangement. I am, therefore, confident that no Amendment that can be devised to the framework of this Bill can make of it a final settlement or one which can be acceptable to those who care for and value definite religious teaching. Still less can I expect the Government, fettered as they are by me of their supposed mandates and exposed to the pressure which has been constantly applied to them throughout the discussions in the other House by some of their extreme supporter's, will be permitted to agree to many of the Amendments which may be proposed, however reasonable they may appear to be.
It has been suggested that this House should decline to undertake a task which appears to be almost an impossible one, and should leave to the Government the responsibility of passing an un-amended Bill which will probably prove unworkable and will certainly produce widespread and strong reaction. I think that this House, if it adopted any such suggestion, would be failing in its duty. I think it is our duty, however little hope we may have of success, to approach the consideration of this Bill in Committee with a firm and strong desire to mitigate every grievance which can be proved, and at the same time to obtain some securities for religious instruction in our schools, which I believe the country is determined to have in some form or another. I think it is the duty of this house to endeavour to show the country that there are alternatives to the violent and unnecessary disturbance of our educational system which, with all its faults and imperfections, his for thirty-six years done a work of which we have no cause to be ashamed; and until we have done this, until we know how our efforts in these directions will be regarded by His Majesty's Government and by the other House of Parliament, we shall not be called upon to make the final and momentous decision which at some later period we may have to take and which 1192 may involve consequences far wider even than any that are involved in connection with the present measure.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, the keynote of the second night of this debate, if I may venture respectfully to say so, could hardly have been struck more suitably than by the speech to which we have just listened; and what has fallen from the noble Duke is a great encouragement to one who holds such opinions on this matter as I do myself. We on this Bench share to the full what must have been the feeling of the House during the first stage of this debate—namely, that this is not only a matter which raises very real and very grave issues, but one with regard to which the House must so far as that is possible, adopt a judicial attitude. There ought to be no question here of Party victory, because there is indeed no Party bond that unites the critics of this Bill.
The issue which we would desire to put is an issue of fairness, a simple issue and one which we can make clear to our own consciences, with regard to which we may deserve respect, we hope, from public opinion outside. I could wish we had here, as well might be if this House should ever be amended, representatives of the great Nonconformist bodies, because then I think we should have this case better set out, and, I must be allowed to add, because I should like the House to have an opportunity of forming an opinion on a good deal of Nonconformist argument and Nonconformist attitude at first hand. In the speech of the most rev. Primate last night there was a good deal of reference to the past history of the matter, and it has been touched upon briefly to-night by the noble Duke. The merest tyro, looking on at our debate or reading it, would find that there have been now for a century behind us two great bodies of opinion in this country, to which our controversial jargon has fixed the titles denominational and undenominational.
In 1870, though that is by no means the beginning of the matter, we find a great settlement in which both those bodies of opinion were recognised, one having the advantage of position because 1193 the supporters of denominational schools had been earlier in the field and had made great sacrifices, and the other having the advantage of the prestige which emanates from public administration and the great help which comes from a double hold on the public purse. We remember how in 1870 it was prophesied that that twofold condition was merely transitory, that it was quite plain that voluntary schools could never hold their own, and that a few years would suffice to see them pass away. That feeling prevailed among many members of our own body, and a number of schools were sacrificed which might have been saved to us.
But when we come to the beginning of the new century we find that, so far from having been nearly extinguished, the voluntary schools have, roughly speaking, doubled in number, the number of children using them has doubled as well as the number of their supporters. I venture to hope we shall not hear any more in this debate of what I may call the ungenerous belittling of that great body of denominational effort on the ground that it was assisted in certain places by railway companies, or because in other places the desire to be relieved of the rate had a great deal to do with the matter. Is there any movement in politics or in history which, as it proceeds, does not gather round it a good deal which, is not congenial to its main principle? We should ask ourselves upon what principle does this movement depend, what set it going, and what put it in a position to receive these tributary streams? I do not doubt that any fair-minded person will answer that it was due to the strength of denominational conviction. You had, on the one hand, great numbers of people up and down the country putting their strength into the working of denominational schools and making great sacrifices for them; and you had also a new body of people representing the other principle, and I think we may be proud to have amongst us perhaps the ablest, the most distinguished, and the most untiring of the public servants who have given their work to the support of the undenominational system—I refer to the noble Lord who sits near me, Lord Stanley of Alderley.
1194 The position, was still the same in 1902. I am not going to worry the House by dwelling on the weak side of the double arrangement of that date. It was quite plain that while the two bodies were at least equal in conviction and in earnestness one had got a grip of public money which the other had not; and the Act of 1902 was, as it appeared to me, a reasonable effort in that sense to maintain in its main feature the settlement of 1870. I quite admit that in order to maintain its main feature it had to depart from that settlement in other respects, but the settlement had been already departed from in favour of undenominational schools. The 3d. in the £1 of Mr. Gladstone had gone up to the 1s., the 2s., and, I believe, even, the 2s. 6d. in some places.
Meanwhile, I believe that in the region of opinion there had taken place a good deal of change which, unless I greatly misread things, has been accelerated since. I believe that the opinion, strong in the first flush of its growth in 1870, in favour of an undenominational system which should, it was hoped, remove all difficulties, has grown a good deal more diffident and doubtful of itself since; and I believe, on the other hand, that the sense of the essential truth of the denominationalist argument, of the argument that if religion is to be real it must be the religion that people do themselves believe, has gained very much strength. And if you ask me for any proof that I am right in that respect I should be willing to take this thing, of which we hear a great deal, called facilities, which is now accepted by persons of all kinds as one of the most obviously just expedients towards a solution of the question.
We have the two-fold condition existing, not merely as a relic of the past, but in a state of the fullest vitality on both sides, and with the arguments both ways tenaciously held and vigorously set out; and it is in those conditions that a Government called to meet in some way that settlement, called to deal with certain grievances to which it was liable, have offered us what the Prime Minister has described as an undenominational Bill. What I am asking your Lordships' House to consider is whether this looks 1195 like, or is likely to be, a reasonable and fair solution. The Bill says that having got your two-fold system you shall, in order to remedy the grievance, pull down one half of your system; that you shall destroy all that satisfies the denominationalist body of people of all kinds who care so much, and work so hard, and help so loyally in the work of the undenominational system, for the men who have done most for voluntary schools have often been prominent on the school boards throughout the country. You destroy all that satisfied that body of your citizens and you take the principle which is identified with the other side. You take the very formula which represents that principle in the old controversial form. You change the whole character of the denominational schools without asking whether they desire it or whether it is needed; on the contrary, you are pleased with yourselves for the very comprehensiveness of the first clause. I ask, does that look like a fair arrangement? If we could get a dispassionate judge this seems to me the case which we could put to him with a tolerable hope of success.
Then, with regard to the teachers. You have a large body of teachers, many of them very religious people, and you are going to silence them as regards a great deal of what they have been accustomed to teach, and you are going to allow them to teach under a sense of restraint, which I do not think has been fully realised as the effect of the working of the Cowper-Temple Clause. When a teacher is not quite sure how much the Cowper-Temple Clause means, what those in authority will interpret it to mean, he will be timid, not only about how far he dare express, but how far conscientiously he ought to express his real convictions. I wish we could adjourn this debate and go round the country and have a series of object lessons of what this means in the concrete. If your Lordships would visit these schools in various parts of the country between now and the autumn, you would find some, no doubt, which you would have good reason to criticise, but I am sure you would find cases which, to use a simple phrase, would go to your hearts; and when you had learnt the story of 1196 what the schools had cost and the work that had been accomplished, you would say that to satisfy political theory or to remove some fragment of conscientious grievance, surely it required a less drastic remedy than this. It may be said to me—' You are putting the case all your own way, and you are not observing that this Bill is a compromise.'
Indeed, I think one speaker last night went so far as to make the extraordinary statement that the Act of 1902 was not a compromise and this Bill was. We must be rather careful about what a compromise means.
With regard to what the Church did in 1902, I venture to say that the Church did undoubtedly attempt some sort of compromise. Was it not the case that, at the time when we on our part asked that the State should give us an additional measure of public help from the rates, we felt at once that it was only just that on our side there should be some considerable concession? I have in my hand the conclusions arrived at by the Convocations of Canterbury and York sitting together in 1901. It was agreed that, for the first time, into the government of every school there should be admitted two persons who, if the authorities were to appoint them, might be as alien as possible from the principles of the school, but who would secure to everyone connected with the school that there was some independent person in the governing body privy to all the secrets and able to see that there was no unfair play or unreasonable dealings with any children.
Along with that we passed another Resolution to which I do not think attention has been sufficiently directed, because it was not, unfortunately as we think, taken up by the Government in 1902. It was this, that whenever a reasonable number of parents desired that religious instruction in accordance with their belief should be given to their children, opportunity for such instruction should be secured to them by statute in all elementary schools, provided this could be done without expense to the managers. If it had been possible to insert that in the Bill of 1902 I think it would have gone a good way towards removing the necessity for 1197 this Bill. I think that was an instance of a fair and reasonable attempt at a compromise. This Bill cannot in any way be described as a compromise. Is there under this Bill any single point at which the denominational side of the community stands to gain? If there is no-two-sided account it is difficult to call it a compromise. That has been perceived by some controversialists on the other side, and we have seen resolutions lately which have attempted to show that the advantage was partly on our side.
At a conference held in London last week a resolution was adopted declaring that this Bill is not a settlement of the question, and that it is the profound conviction of a large number of Liberals and Nonconformists that it will leave several of the greatest wrongs unredressed while still further subsidising all the old denominational schools. In many cases, continues the resolution, it strengthens their sectarian character and fails to secure the teachers of such schools and three-fourths of the population against the imposition of sectarian tests. I venture to think that at the rate we have been educating ourselves by this debate everyone in this House will feel that the statement about further subsidising all the old denominational schools and in many cases strengthening their sectarian character, is really hardly worth criticism. I think the same remark may be applied to the other statements contained in the resolution passed at this conference. What we are now offered is not a compromise, and it cannot be supposed that you are going to advance a stage toward a settlement of this matter unless you do something to meet the claims from both sides. Unless this is done you will not get nearer a solution, but will be plunged deeper into the difficulty. This is one reason why this Bill has net with such opposition in the country.
Noble Lords who come from all parts of England must have had opportunities of judging for themselves, and unless their experience differs greatly from my own, both first-hand and second-hand, they will know that the Bill has created an amount of opposition among people who are not at all inclined to excite themselves or take part in political matters 1198 of which there is no parallel in this generation. It is not merely that a large number of people have come together on this subject. It is by no means merely a matter of excitement; it is one of very deep feeling. If you go beyond those who have joined in opposition to the Bill I think you will find that many who started by saying, "Do not oppose the Bill", have been obliged to make such criticisms upon it as constitute a most formidable condemnation of it in the eyes of anyone who looks at the matter from the point of view of common fairness.
We shall hear my right rev. brother the Bishop of Hereford, whom I am glad to see in his place, present from this Bench the most favourable estimate that can be made of this Bill; but unless he has altered his opinion, which is not very likely, he will tell you that the action of this Bill in silencing the teachers in the matter of denominational teaching is harsh. He will tell you that it is quite unreasonable not to give facilities, and he will tell you that by leaving out religion in school hours you are doing great damage to the cause of religious education. I know the Bishop of Hereford so well that I am sure he will not take exception to my quoting him in that way. But it is not a single person. The same thing may be said of persons who do not generally agree with those who are taking a strong line on this matter. The noble Duke quoted a declaration made by people who held a meeting the other day. If the modifications which those people suggest were introduced in the Bill it might fall very short of what many of us ardently desire, but it could not be said that the Government's Bill had not been altered to a degree which would amount almost to a transformation of it.
I ventured to ask just now that one statement which I thought ungenerous might not be repeated. There is another statement, constantly made in, the newspapers, that the Opposition to this Bill comes only from Roman Catholics and a very small section of persons, chiefly clergy, within the Church of England, who are so misguided as to have some affinities with Roman Catholic opinion. That really is so grotesque a perversion of the state of things within the Church of England that I hope we shall not hear 1199 any more of it. In my own diocese a committee of 400 laymen has been formed to carry on agitation against the Bill, and the only clergyman who has been admitted to their body is a leading evangelical incumbent. It is not one party in the Church of England which is making this resistance. The resistance comes from all those—and they have been greatly increased in number under the power of this controversy—who feel the necessity, if we are to keep religion, that that religion should be real and vital.
I am glad that this debate is not to terminate with any division or any attempt to reject the Bill on Second Reading. I think that would have been scant courtesy, not only to the other House but to those outside. But I am glad also on our own account. I believe that the effect of the threshing-out of these arguments in your Lordships' House, not only in this debate on the Second Reading but in the Committee Stage will be very great indeed. I believe that, as we go on, under unfettered conditions of criticism both as to the justice of the Bill and its details, it will more and more come out that it is not such a settlement as the country can accept, and that it cannot be passed into law without a far greater grievance existing than that which it professes to remedy. I hope that at some future time in some way or other we shall all unite and find the means of so framing our educational system as that the denominational principle and the rival method shall find full and final and permanent expression.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
My Lords, there is a certain element of artificiality about this debate because it is agreed that the Second Reading is to be conceded, and that the struggle is to take place on the Committee stage. But the speeches which have ended by accepting the Second Reading have been characterised throughout by such hostility to the essence of the Bill that the arguments would have been more naturally translated into a rejection of the measure. Although for various political reasons it was thought impolitic to enter into a conflict with the other House at this stage, I would say that if, as the result of the Autumn discussions, such 1200 demands should be finally insisted upon by this House as would be incapable of acceptance in the other House, the very grave consequences indicated in the most weighty and serious language by the noble Duke would follow—
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
Consequences which might be more serious even than the passing of this Bill in an unamended form. When the noble Duke gives that warning we know that it indicates deep conviction. We have had addresses in this House, and I think too much in the country, in which this Bill has been talked of as remedying a Nonconformist grievance, and as, in the course of doing so, inflicting greater grievances on Anglicans and Roman Catholics. The right rev. Prelate who has just spoken expressed regret that the representatives of Nonconformists were not here, partly that they might have their say, but still more, I think, that he might have the pleasure of refuting them.
I do not approach, and never have approached, this question of education from either the merely Anglican or Nonconformist point of view. To my mind, the question of a little more or a little less in the exact measure of religious instruction or even of theological dogma that you can impart to children between the ages of three and fourteen is a very trifling matter. In nine-tenths of the Anglican schools the teachers do in fact teach the Bible very much in the same way as they teach it in the board schools; and the professional instinct of the teacher makes him, when he comes to the Catechism, teach it also in such a broad and moderate way that he only draws the same kind of lessons from the Catechism as the board school master would draw from the Bible. I approach this question much more from the point of view of the citizen; and I think the debates in your Lordships' House have too much ignored the fact that the grievance in regard to the management of schools receiving a large measure of public aid is that the administration offends against the principle of municipal self-government. The essential thing, in my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of the great 1201 resented the over-ecclesiastical atmosphere in which they had been brought up. I think that, in the long run, you cannot expect that a large force of 70,000 or 80,000 teachers should all be men or women of fervent piety, any more than the whole of the curates of the Established Church. Whenever you take a large body you must take the mass of them, who are very average people. It is sufficient, so long as it is understood, that one who is not desirous of giving this teaching has only to say he does not wish to give it and can be excused. In the case of a teacher who has declined to give religious teaching as an assistant, the authority would think twice before they appointed that teacher as headmaster, in which position he would have to supervise all the teaching; and I am afraid that that indirect test would apply.
The third proposition is that definite religious teaching must be accessible to those children whose parents desire them to have it. I take it that that means that in every council school hereafter, whether formerly a voluntary school or not, there shall be opportunities for the children of parents who desire it to obtain definite religious teaching. When you are establishing a great national system, if the parties honourably and freely recognise that there shall be the one public system under public management, I think it is not an unreasonable thing to ask that those parents who desire anything special shall not depend for the chance of getting it upon the mere fact whether in the town or village in which they live there happens to be a board school or a Church school. I should not feel myself that that claim was an unreasonable one.
The next suggestion is that the teachers who have spent some of the best years of their lives in acquiring religious knowledge shall not be silenced from giving that instruction. The noble Marquess the late President of the Board of Education asked yesterday what he was to do in connection with Seaham School, which has 1,100 children and thirty-three trained teachers. I was very glad to hear that the noble Marquess had such a fine staff in his school and I congratulate him on his public spirit. I feel that it is essential that in the future the teachers 1202 shall be the servants of the municipality and not the servants of any ecclesiastical organisation, and that whatever is necessary to protect them from that in the future must be done. In the existing denominational schools which are being transferred the teachers are taken over with the schools. They are not subject to any test on being taken over; they have been appointed by reason of that test; and I cannot see any injustice in allowing the existing teachers in the voluntary schools to place their services at the disposal of those who wish to give definite religious teaching so long as they remain in these schools. At the beginning there would be practically no break at all, and I think it is our business, in bringing in a new scheme of national education, to make the transition as easy as possible. I think these concessions in the towns would be valued very highly by those who now manage those schools.
The next suggestion was that the managers should have some voice in the appointment of the teacher. I was glad to hear the most rev. Primate pay a tribute, which was absolutely well deserved, to the old managers who worked so well under the London School Board. He was quite correct in saying that those managers were gathered together regardless of the denomination to which they belonged and regardless of their profession. But they developed a keen interest in their work and were a valuable element in education in London. I agree with the most rev. Primate that unfortunately too much officialism has now grown up. I think that large bodies dealing with education do want the assistance of local knowledge and local interest in helping them to find teachers for the schools.
May I say one word as to what I think about the interests of special minorities in the staffing of their schools? I do not think the local authority can be asked to violate the law by imposing a test as to the religious opinions of the teacher, but so far as there are teachers of the special religious association of the school, those teachers, if otherwise fit, will inevitably drift into those schools. There are not so many Jewish teachers as there are places for them in schools 1203 frequented by Jews. Any Jewish teacher would undoubtedly try to get into one of those schools, and certainly the local authority would endeavour to place him there, because there is a very practical difficulty in this matter in regard to school holidays and the various Jewish feasts and fasts. As a matter of practical administration, everyone would desire to put Jewish teachers into Jewish schools.
I come next to Roman Catholics. I think a Roman Catholic teacher would naturally apply for a school where he or she would be among people of the same religion and where the associations were pleasant. The local authorities will, as far as possible, fill up the posts in those schools by teachers of that type. It is one thing to say that this will be done in the ordinary way, but it is another thing to ask a public body to set aside a better teacher for an inferior teacher because the latter holds those opinions. The teachers will gravitate to the schools with which they have sympathy. The right rev. Prelate referred to St. John's school, Kennington. I am sure that in connection with that school no difficulty whatever would be experienced in getting applications from qualified teachers. These things will work automatically.
I now turn to the appeals which were made by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. Let me say that, grateful as I am to him for the kind way in which he spoke of me, I am not prepared to allow him to make my speeches for me. The right rev. Prelate spoke most strongly, and I am sure from the bottom of his heart, of the possibility of finding some common line of union. He spoke too much of the common line between Nonconformists and Churchmen. He ought to have spoken of the common line of action between all who care for the children and the work. I am not new to this work. Long before the Act of 1902 was passed, and all the time that these storms were in the air, I have been earnestly seeking whether some of the leading people of the Church Party could not, while there was time, come forward and find some basis of agreement. May I refer to a great friend of mine and a great friend of the Bishop of Southwark; I mean the Late 1204 Principal of St. Mark's College. He was a man of fine character, of great public spirit and a great straightforwardness, and if any man could have influenced the leaders of the Church to frame some settlement, I think he might have done it, if his life had been spared. But, my Lords, was not the time for compromise before the passing of the Act of 1902?
We hear a great deal about the parents now. The noble Marquess who spoke last night from the Front Opposition Beach devoted the greater portion of his speech to talking about the parent, and he laid great stress upon the paramount claim of the parent. I should like to ask the noble Marquess why he and his Party showed no regard for the rights of parents when they were legislating on this matter. It was urged in the House of Commons that of the four foundation managers the parents might have been allowed to elect two; that would have left the old school managers two and the public authority two. But not at all. That proposal was rejected. There has been a great deal of lip service done to the cause of the parents, but when it came to a question of doing something effective in their interests the Amendment was rejected and the Bill was forced through, giving control to the old managers. In the Principality of Wales, in parish after parish throughout the rural parts of the country, the population is two-thirds, three-fourths, or four-fifths, and in some cases unanimously, Nonconformist. And yet, because in former days the squire chose to give the school with strict trust deeds to the National Society, the one man who was incapable of being headmaster of the school was the man who taught all the children in the Sunday school and worshipped with them in the same chapel. No effort was ever made to remedy that. I venture to think that it is a little too late now for noble Lords opposite to talk of the parents. If they had thought of the parents in the time of their triumph they would not have had to appeal to them now in the days of their adversity.
For forty years and more of political life I have been closely associated with Nonconformists, and I have made it my business to know the point of view of the various Churches and their leaders, and I wish to say that Nonconformists 1205 mass of popular forces which have returned this overwhelming Liberal majority to the House of Commons, is that the feeling behind the demand for this Bill is that the schools should become a municipal and not an ecclesiastical institution, and that they should benefit by that broad current of public life that flows from popular election and popular self-government.
When I saw that the noble Duke was going to resume the debate this afternoon I had hoped, having regard to his past career and to the fact that we are within one day of the 30th anniversary of the occasion when the noble Duke as Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons moved a hostile Resolution on the report of the Bill of 1876, that the old spirit would have revived in him, and that we should have heard from him some words worthy to be put side by side with those which lie spoke in the debate on Lord Sandon's Bill of that year. But as I listened to him I thought, to slightly parody Tennyson, that "Men may pass on stepping-stones of their dead selves to other things."
We have had summaries of the history of this education question which are remarkable by their omissions and by their misrepresentations of the fact. It was a singular thing to my mind that the noble Duke, in giving the history of this education question during the period when he was responsible largely for it, should have entirely skipped over the year 1876. The noble Duke spoke even of the Cowper-Temple clause with an air of detachment and indifference which seemed to imply that he had quite forgotten that he was one of the parents responsible for it. I see also on the opposite Benches the noble Viscount who began his distinguished political career by being the champion of religious liberty and equality in the University of Oxford. He took an active part in the invasion of ancient trusts and the abolition of ecclesiastical restrictions which made the Universities and their colleges available to the country. He, too, is one of the veterans who denounce the breaking up of the compromise of 1870, and he took the extreme step of dividing against the Third Reading of Lord Sandon's Act of 1876.
1206 But what I wish to call attention to are the remarks which the noble Duke made as Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons on August 3rd, 1876. After pointing out, with great truth, that the Act of 1870 was a compromise, that there were many things in it to which Nonconformists and Liberals objected, yet he said there were elements in the compromise which made it accepted. At any rate, the presumption for the future was in favour of the public management of the schools, and voluntary schools were permitted to exist on the strict obligation that they should be responsible for one half of the annual cost. In reply to the right rev. Prelate who has just sat down, I would remind the House that every invasion of the principles of 1870 has been in favour of propping up voluntary schools which found they were unable to keep pace with the competition.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
The right rev. Prelate complained that the public spirit of the ratepayers and their determination to do the work properly had caused the education rate to go up considerably higher than Mr. Forster anticipated. But that was an act of sacrifice on the part of the ratepayers. The ratepayers had it in their power to do the work in a niggardly and cheeseparing way, but I have never heard before that any section of the citizens had a right to complain of the public spirit of the community as a whole. But what was it that the noble Duke said in moving his motion on the Bill of 1876? He said—there are many of us, and I do not scruple to say I am 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 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 the representatives of the people.That was admirably put thirty years ago, and I had hoped to hear that principle 1207 again enunciated to-night; but, instead of that, the noble Duke declared his inability to understand what the first clause means when it says that all schools shall be under the control of the representatives of the people. As we cannot have the services of our lost leader we must inarch on without him, and we can only hope that some day or other he may receive the lost knowledge. Where he will meet us I do not know.
I should like to pass for a moment to the historical recapitulation given by the most rev. Primate. The most rev. Primate, curiously enough, omitted to bring out the signification of the century-old conflict in this fight for the education of the people. He quoted for 1847 from a very small controversy between Mr. Bright and Mr. Macaulay. But if anyone will take the trouble to read the speeches he will see that the essence of Mr. Bright's opposition was that the rules of the Privy Council put the whole money expended into the hands of the Church. The most rev. Primate did not remind us of the persistent and obstinate resistance of the clergy and dignitaries of the Church of England at that time to what were known as the management clauses. He also entirely passed over the Act of 1876. Time is short, and I only wish to note in passing the hardly complete narrative of the history of the education question sketched by the most rev. Primate, which left a great many chasms not seen.
The most rev. Primate put forward certain definite Amendments which he considered essential, and failing to get which, apparently, he would wreck the Bill. I do not know how far he is prepared to stand to his guns or how far your Lordships are prepared to stand by him; but I should like briefly to run through the suggested Amendments because, though this is a Second Reading debate, I think we may fairly indicate the points beyond which it is idle to suppose the great Liberal majority in the country and the great body of parents will go in the settlement of this question. The first proposal was that there should be religious teaching within school hours, subject to the conscience clause. The impression I get from looking at the report of the most rev. Primate's speech is that he wants the imposition of a Parliamentary obligation on the managers of all 1208 public elementary schools to give religious teaching. But if he merely means that the religious teaching, subject to a conscience clause, when given shall be within school hours, that, it seems to me, having regard to the attitude of the Government in the House of Commons, is an Amendment which, if your Lordships passed it, would hardly be resisted. But it is a very different proposition to say that the State should take the responsibility of laying down a new parliamentary religion to be imposed on every local authority. The most rev. Primate shakes his head, and therefore I suppose his policy is the more moderate of the two.
The next proposition is that this teaching must be given by men who feel what they say. Does that mean a test for teachers, or does it not? I had to do for many years with a body which employed a larger number of teachers than any other body in the country. The School Board for London had in their service some 12,000 certificated teachers, and that Board, as the result of the heated controversies of twelve years ago, passed a resolution giving a far wider charter of immunity from tests for teachers than anything which has been put into the Government's Bill. That resolution prohibited not only inquiry as to whether the teacher belonged to any Church, but as to what his religious opinions were; it forbade any inquiry, direct or indirect, as to whether he possessed certificates which would suggest that he belonged to any particular Church, and it forbade managers from trying to pry into the teacher's religious opinions. Of course, in the case of any great body of men you will have people who volunteer to teach anything regardless of whether they care for it or not. Yet I think the most rev. Primate will admit that the teachers of London have been an honourable, earnest, and thoughtful body, who have given this teaching in a proper spirit and with reverence and seriousness.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
Yes, but I have seen a resentment of theology coming from schoolmasters trained in Church colleges. They have 1209 utterly disclaim and repudiate the idea that they are asking for any advantage as Nonconformists and for Nonconformity. They claim that there shall be no partiality and no favour for any Church, and they claim that the schools shall be municipal institutions. You may say that it is inconsistent with that to advocate the general Christian teaching which is popularly described as Cowper-Temple teaching. All Nonconformists have been brought up by means of the Bible. The Bible has been an important part of their moral, spiritual, and intellectual means of sustenance and they, especially Wesleyans and Presbyterians, find it very difficult to say that that book, which is to them so precious, shall not be included in the school curriculum. But many of them feel that the Bible can speak for itself. In Wales especially the Bible is read, but these same people who will not have the Bible taught in the day school are not content with the Sunday school, but large numbers of these children go not only once but twice on the week-days for definite religious instruction in their chapel. It is not that they are opposed in any way to religious instruction, but they do not wish to mix it up with the day school.
The most rev. Primate made an impassioned appeal on the ground of the past, quoting from Mr. Gladstone as to the effect religious zeal had had in the fashioning of the education of this nation. I think that what the most rev. Primate said with regard to religious zeal was perfectly true. But will the most rev. Primate allow me to quote, as an estimation of the value of this factor in promoting national education, the opinion of his predecessor in St. Augustine's Chair—the Rev. Frederick Temple? Giving evidence in 1860 before the Duke of Newcastle's Commission, the Rev. Frederick Temple, who was advocating the establishment of a rate-supported system of schools under public management, was asked whether this substitution of the rates would not greatly diminish the effect of religious zeal; and he replied—Yes, but I do not think a diminuition of religious zeal an evil. I think much of it is very unhealthy.1210 Then he was asked by Sir John Coleridge whether he would define what he meant by religious zeal, and he replied that religious zeal meant—Activity of religious leaders to get the management and control of the education of children, in order to educate them in their own opinions.That was not an occasional opinion of the Rev. Frederick Temple, because anyone who will take the trouble to read a most important essay of his published in the Oxford Essays in 1856 will see an elaborately-written essay in which he recurs to this question of religious zeal and to his desire to see something else substituted for it. He said that what he would prefer as a moving force for the education of the people, instead of religious zeal, was a quiet sense of duty. The religious zeal on which the most rev. Primate relies is a fluctuating and uncertain foundation upon which to build a system of education.
May I sum up what I think cannot be accepted, and, if pressed by your Lordships, will certainly lead to that lamentable conflict which the noble Duke who opened the debate foreshadowed? Firstly, any diminution of the absolute management by the local authority of all schools supported out of the rates. I think that Clause 1, the absolute management by the local authorities of all schools is essential. Secondly, any attempt to impose tests on teachers or to interfere with their liberty to give or not to give Scripture teaching. Thirdly, any attempt to set up a Parliamentary religion and to enforce it on the local authorities. This measure cannot be described as confiscatory or a spoliating Bill, any more than the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, for which the noble Duke who resumed this debate to-day was responsible as one of the Cabinet. That Bill confiscated, without one penny of compensation, all the parochial schools of the Church of Scotland and transferred them to the newly-created school boards.
*LORD BALFOUR OF BURLETGH
I think that is a statement which the noble Lord will have some difficulty in supporting.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
I have in my hand the extract from Hansard of that year. An Amendment was moved in the House of Commons against the taking of these schools, and—
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
Far be it from me to dispute with my j noble friend in an interlocutory manner with regard to this point; but these parochial schools, which were under heritors, and almost entirely managed locally by the minister, were taken away from the people who then owned them, and transferred to a new body which was the result of popular election, and which was under no obligation whatever to continue any form of Presbyterian teaching in those schools. That is quite enough for my purpose. That shows an absolute diversion of trust property from one set of owners to a new body, who were under no obligation in the way I have suggested.
*LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
There were no trusts in connection with the heritor's or parochial schools.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
I am not going to prolong my speech by discussing side issues relating to Scottish education with the noble Lord. The House of Commons will never again in another year deal with a measure of such complexity, and therefore I warn the House of the danger of drifting into that secular system which I agree that the majority of the people of this country do not at present desire, but which, if the various Churches cannot settle their disputes, they may welcome as a counsel of despair in their desire to have done with confusion.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I think I should be most ungrateful if I did not recognise on the whole the conciliatory spirit displayed by the noble Lord who has just sat down, and as I hope to set the example of rather shorter speeches I propose to follow Lord Stanley point by point, and certainly not to defend the noble Duke. I had not the pleasure of hearing his speeches thirty years ago, but he made a noble speech to-night. It seems to me that the whole fallacy in regard to tests for teachers lies in confusing tests with qualifications for the work. If the noble Lord is ready to allow those who teach to be tested as the curates of the Established Church are tested, we shall be quite satisfied. With regard to public bodies, I am quite prepared to say that most public bodies will act fairly, but what about the West Riding of Yorkshire and the Councils of Wales? I know that Nonconformists honour the Bible, but the Church brought the Bible to England and taught it here centuries before there were any Nonconformist bodies at all. What we want is a free teaching of the Bible, and not the Bible edited by the County Council. As to religious zeal, if there ever was a man fired with religious zeal it was Dr. Temple, our late Archbishop.
Having answered in these few sentences some of the points raised by the noble Lord I wish very temperately to explain what our grievance is in this matter.
What is a Christian school? In speaking of these matters I feel the difficulty which the most rev. Primate expressed yesterday. These things are so sacred with us that I hesitate to speak of thorn even in so sympathetic an Assembly as this. But I answer the question, "What is a Christian school?" not in the words of some extreme High Churchman, but in the words of the Dean of Canterbury, who may be said to be the leader of the Evangelical Party in many respects. He says—the name of God and of Christ are in the forefront. Everyone knows that the school was established by the Church of Christ, in the Name of Christ, for the purpose of teaching the lambs of Christ's flock; and thus all the children who are taught in it, and all who work in it, live, as it were, under the shadow of the great Name, under the vault of that spiritual heaven which it constitutes; and, notwithstanding their imperfect apprehension 1213 and realisation of all that it involves, it is in the main hallowed and held supreme. That is the purpose for which the Church establishes a school, just as it is the purpose for which she builds churches.I have read that because I want to make as my next point that the Evangelicals are as keen about these Church Christian schools as anyone else. In our diocese we are always dealing with various clergy of different schools of thought, and during these months of controversy it has been one of the few redeeming features to me that Evangelical and High Churchmen have been at our back in this matter side by side.
An attempt has been made to prove that the atmosphere for which we ask is some intolerant sectarian atmosphere. I venture to say that that attempt has wholly failed. We heard some years ago a great deal about Gace's Catechism, but we have hoard nothing of it for the last few years. We cannot discover a place whore Gace's Catechism is ever used, and we firmly believe that the sale of it was largely due to the efforts of the Liberation Society. Again, the denominational aspect of the school has this meaning. We believe, in starting these schools, that you should not, at the end of a child's school career, leave that child in the air, so to speak, but should hand it on to a religious society which shall carry on its religious education. In saying that any education which leaves the child in the air on leaving school is a bad one, I have the support of Dr. Dale, the great Nonconformist of Birmingham. Dr. Dale asserted that any explanation of the Bible which could be described as "undogmatic" he always regarded with distrust. He argued that religious teaching which would not be likely "To attach the children to any particular denomination" would end in detaching them from all. Undenominational teaching, if genuine, he believed would ultimately leave men without a religion at all. That gives us the answer to the question, What is a Christian school?
I will not dwell on this, because I want to leave out all the points which have been pressed upon your Lordships already, with far more eloquence than I can command. For years this system has been carried on by voluntary effort in England. I have gone into the statistics as far as I can, and I find that 1214 the amount spent has been about £10,000 a week for ninety years. People do not spend £10,000 a week for ninety years unless it is for something which is very dear indeed to them, and it has been proved that this ideal is just as keenly attractive in the slums as in other places. I think we misunderstood the noble Earl the Lord President. At first I thought that in his speech he was going to call the Church of England the Church of the rich, but I believe we misunderstood what he said, because I am certain that in his fair-minded way he would be the first to recognise that the Church of England has taken the load in the slums, and may more fairly be described as the Church of the slums. There are tracts of these slums where there is no one else working except the representatives of the Church of England. Therefore, when I find that this ideal of Christian schools is so dear to the poor as well as to the rich, it gives mo an added grievance that these schools are to be done away with.
Perhaps your Lordships will permit me to give a concrete instance. I went down to a very poor district in London not long ago, and heard the vicar just saying to his people—We are going to have a great pleasure this week. We have been collecting for twenty years for anew wing to our school. This wing will be opened in the course of the next week or fortnight.I want your Lordships to picture these people in that poor district for twenty years giving their pennies and their sixpences and their shillings because they loved this Christian school in their midst. We opened, only a few years ago, a school to which we had given out of our own pockets £8,000. Before the school was opened, it was full in anticipation, because in the slums of East London they love to have a Christian school. This ideal still survives in 14,000 cases throughout the country.
I am perfectly ready to admit that the ideal breaks down in two points. There are two grievances, one in the country and one in the towns. The noble Duke has dwelt upon both of them, therefore I will only spend a few moments in dealing with them. It is a grievance that the Nonconformists in the country should not have some special teacher to come in and teach their children in the country schools. Then it is a grievance with us with 1215 regard to the 1,000,000 town children in what are called board schools that we have not access to them. No one recognises that more than Mr. Birrell himself. In an excellent article in the "Independent, Review"In 1903, he says—there are more than 1,000,000 children of Church of England parentage under the operation of the Cowper-Temple Clause, and so prevented from being instructed in Church principles in their day school. It cannot he denied that 1,000,000 children are worth considering.Now if the Government had come in with some scheme to redress those two grievances, I would have supported it with all my heart. We have done our best in a voluntary way to redress those grievances ourselves. In Spitalfields it was found that there were 100 Jewish children in a Church school. Without asking me whether he might or not, because he knew that I should agree with it, the rector sent over to the Jewish Rabbi and asked for a Jewish teacher to be sent to teach the Jewish children. When we hear of the three days of what is called "simple Bible teaching," and the two days of denominational teaching, it should be remembered that that represents an effort on the part of the country clergyman to be fair to his Nonconformist children. If he teaches the Catechism chiefly on only two days, it is because he is making an effort to be fair to the Nonconformists, so that they shall withdraw their children only for those two days, and he gives on the other three some teaching to which the Nonconformist parents cannot object. Therefore I feel with the noble Duke that a Bill of far less magnitude than the present would have redressed the grievances which I admit in those two respects. If the Bill had dealt with the country grievance and with the grievance of the towns, I believe it would have been a most useful and blessed measure.
My Lords, what has happened? This Bill—and this is why I say that the whole Church of England turns against it in its present shape with tremendous indignation and a deep souse of wrong—by a stroke of the pen alters the whole character of those 14,000 Christian schools. The Member for Cambridge University in another place said—and he was not contradicted— that if the Bill passed, in no single school in England and Wales would any parent be able to claim his 1216 legal right to have religious teaching given to his children. When I read that, I thought for a moment it was an exaggerated statement, but on thinking it over I have come to the conclusion that the Member for Cambridge University was perfectly right. In no single school in England and Wales will a parent be able to claim the right to have religious teaching given to his children at all. Therefore I need not dwell any further on that point.
The noble Duke has shown how public management would have been perfectly consistent with leaving denominational schools. It is not my business to point out the inconsistency of the Bill, especially if the inconsistency was meant to help us. But how is it possible for Clause 4 to be reconciled with Clause 1, if public management is to reign over all the schools? It is impossible for me to fit Clause 4 into Clause 1. What I desire to do, in the few minutes during which I shall further trouble your Lordships, is to point out the unsatisfactory nature of the substitute which is to be allowed when you have swept away our Church schools. I am not going to say a Mingle word about Cowper-Temple religion. For nine years, year after year, day after day, I have stood with Nonconformists in the open air in East London fighting for our common truths. Therefore, I do honour to those truths which are common to us all, and before which Mr. Gladstone himself said he bowed his head—the doctrine of the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the Holy Trinity.
I should like, in passing, to say how much we recognise the spirit of those Nonconformists who put out the manifesto the other day, stating that the teaching they wished was not to be inconsistent with the Apostles' Creed. My point is that you will not get that at all under this Bill. Of course, I want to make it clear that as a Church we have never recognised Cowper-Temple religion as the normal religion as being satisfactory at all. Everyone admits that it left out the doctrine of the sacraments and the history of the Church. There has been an attempt to make out that we acquiesced in it. The fact is, that when we could not cover the whole ground we took what was given us and worked with it to the best of our power. But I should like to make it 1217 perfectly plain that the Church of England has never acquiesced in Cowper-Temple religion as being satisfactory as the normal religion of the country. As the most rev. Primate pointed out in an interruption which he addressed just now to the noble Lord, the teachers who have given this excellent teaching which has been spoken of under the school boards were trained in our denominational colleges, and the teaching under the school board has been kept up to a higher level by the competition, or by the existence side by side, of the denominational schools. I do not know whether your Lordships have noticed it, but I have myself noticed a down-grade tendency in the Cowper-Temple teaching ever since it was started years ago. I believe that Mr. Cowper-Temple himself would have been absolutely astonished if he had been told that Cowper-Temple teaching would ever be understood to be either reading the Bible without note or comment, or something which was "not to be inconsistent"—I quote these words from the debate in another place—"with the religion of the saintly Martineau or the holy Channing"; in other words, with Unitarianism. Whatever those who started it meant, there is not the slightest doubt that the teachers who teach it feel hampered in their teaching, and are prevented from imparting any definite dogmatic truth, for fear of acting against the clause. Therefore I cannot at all admit that the substitute which is to be given, by which Cowper-Temple religion is to be forced upon all schools as the normal religion, satisfies mo in the least.
That being so, I am left with the facilities. It has been pointed out that the denominational teaching is not to be given by the teachers. This Bill is called a charter of freedom for the teacher. It is a charter of tyranny for many teachers who bitterly resent having their mouths closed. Children need not attend the educational instruction, and the whole thing is at the mercy of the local authority, who may not take over the school at all. Therefore, when I come to facilities, I find very little comfort in them. My Christian school is swept away before my eyes. Clause 4 may apply to a few of our schools, but the most rev. Primate has pointed out how small the number will be even at its 1218 best. If the Jews are to save 100 per cent, of their schools, and the Roman Catholics nearly one half of theirs, while we save only 25 per cent, of ours, I should like to ask why it is that we, who have done so much in our humble way for the religion of the country, are to be singled out to be penalised more than every other body under Clause 4?
Then I come to my next point. I am glad to see the noble Lord on the Woolsack in his place, because I am going to appeal to him, for whose sense of justice and honour I have the greatest possible regard. Is it or is it not the fact that under this Bill that school which we opened five years ago, and on which we spent £8,000 out of our own pockets, if we do not choose to come under this Bill, is to be taken away from us by the Commission of Three? I have road the Bill over and over again, and it seems to me that supposing I, as a trustee for a great many schools in London, do not see my way to hand over those schools under this Bill, holding them as I do on a trust before God, I am to come before the Commission of Three—composed of able and honourable men though we know it is, but who can only administer the law—and be forced to hand over that new school in Bethnal Green, which is only a type of hundreds in the country. If that is so, I say that it is an act of intolerable tyranny and injustice.
Lastly, my Lords, I object to the Bill because it throws down an apple of discord at every election throughout the country. I find a great number of people not particularly keen about the Bill whom you might have expected to support it. I find that a leading Nonconformist in another place said that he was not very sanguine of the Bill becoming law, and personally he would not break his heart if it did not, so long as Clause 4 remained in it. Dr. Clifford's Vigilance Committee makes this statement. It registered its protest against the acceptance of the Education Bill of 1906 as a settlement of the question, and expressed the profound conviction of a large number of Liberals and Nonconformists that it leaves several of the gravest wrongs inflicted on the country by the Act of 1902 unredressed—and so on through a long Resolution. I know the mind of the Church of England, and therefore if all these bodies disagree with and throw over the Bill, 1219 what an apple of discord you are throwing down in every municipal election throughout the country by passing this measure! The introduction of this Bill can only be justified if it is going to appease religious strife and settle the religious difficulty. But if, as I look into it, I find that it produces more religious war, and does not settle the religious difficulty at all, I only hesitate to press for its rejection on the understanding that we shall be perfectly free in the autumn to open up this whole question of the destruction of our Church schools, and that, if the nation does decide that they are to be destroyed, we shall discover a substitute more in accordance with justice and religious equity than is provided by the present Bill.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
My Lords, we have been told several times in the course of the debate that this is a Bill for placing elementary education under popular control. I venture to say that it is nothing of the kind. This Bill cannot be a Bill for placing elementary education under popular control if elementary education be what is contemplated by the Bill, for the simple reason that this has already been done by the Bill of 1902. The local authority has at this moment the complete control of the secular education given in all the elementary schools of the country. Does the Lord President deny that? No teacher can be appointed in any of those schools of whoso efficiency in regard to the secular instruction the local authority is not satisfied. Every teacher who is found inefficient in regard to secular education can be dismissed by the local authority. No child may be refused admission to the school, even though it does not belong to the religious denomination owning the school. The conscience clause withdrawing such child from religious instruction to which its parents may object is of universal obligation. The local authority can order what alterations it desires in the structure of the school building. There is only one thing the local authority cannot do—it cannot object to the appointment of a teacher, or insist on the dismissal of a teacher of whose efficiency in regard to secular instruction no complaint can be made. But since this Bill expressly excludes religious teaching from school hours, and proclaims an absolute indifference as to the religious opinions of the 1220 teachers, whether they have any religious convictions or none, and leaves it free to the teachers to decline to give religious instruction, it is not open to the Government to say that this exception, or the control by the managers of the religious teaching given in the school, in any degree diminishes the completeness of the popular control at present possessed by the local authority over the elementary education of the country as contemplated by this Bill. No, my Lords, this Bill is not a Bill for placing elementary education as denned by the Bill under popular control; it is a Bill to deal with education in its relation to religion, and I desire to draw your Lordships' attention to the nature of the proposals to which you are asked to assent.
Now, my Lords, to judge those proposals, there is one preliminary question which must be settled. It is this: what do we mean by education? We moan, the training of the children's faculties, their instruction in all useful and necessary knowledge, their equipment with the necessary means of getting on in life; but is that all we mean? Is that all we desire for our children? Surely we desire something more than this. Do we not desire the correction of what is bad in thorn, and the drawing out of what is good? We desire the formation of their character. We desire that our children should grow up into good men arid women, men and women who shall so play their part here as to fit them for that eternal future which awaits us all hereafter. In other words, we believe that education to de-servo the name must be religious. And the whole question resolves itself into how, in view of our unhappy religious differences, the religious character of any system of compulsory elementary education is to be preserved consistently with the rights of conscience. If we were all agreed as to what was essential religious teaching, the difficulty would vanish. The religious teaching accepted by all as essential would be given to all. But this is, unfortunately, not the case. It is because it is not the case the difficulty arises, and it is that fact which constitutes the difficulty felt by the Bishop of Ripon in his eloquent speech last night. In view of the actual circumstances is it not obvious that if any compulsory system of 1221 education is to remain religious, without doing violence to the rights of conscience it can only be, as Lord Salisbury said last night, by a frank recognition on the part of the State of the rights and wishes of the parents whose children it compels to go to its schools, and by maintaining a friendly but impartial attitude as regards the religious teaching of all the different churches and denominations alike. I do not see how this can be seriously denied. Yet this is precisely what this Bill does not do.
Consider, first, how this Bill deals with the religious character of education In general, and next how it treats the rights of conscience. I will not detain your Lordships by going through the details of the Bill; they have been dismissed already, and there will be further opposition for dismissing them at another time. But no one in the face of the provisions of the Bill can deny that such recognition as the Bill gives to religion in its connection with education is of the most grudging and unsatisfactory character. Religion by this Bill is treated as the thing of the least importance in the elementary schools of the country. I do not think that can be denied.
Now, my Lords, I turn to the manner in which the Bill deals with the rights of conscience, more particularly with the rights of conscience of the members of the Church of England and of the Roman Catholic body. We have been told that Clause 1 is the Bill. By Clause 1 the Bill destroys at one blow all the denominational schools of the country, for the exceptional and limited facilities given by subsequent clauses for denominational teaching in some of the existing schools do not apply to new schools, and are quite illusory and insufficient. And further, it establishes in those schools —that is in Anglican and Roman Catholic schools — the very kind of religious teaching those schools were built to exclude. I would ask you to consider the injustice of such proposals. What has the Church of England, what has the Roman Catholic body done to deserve such treatment?
Long before the State concerned itself about education, it was the Church of England, as the most rev. Primate has reminded us, that first took up the cause of elementary education throughout the 1222 country. Well might Mr. Mundella say, as he did in Parliament in 1870, and Mr. Mundella was a Radical of the Radicals—That the Church schools had done a noble work, which Parliament had neglected to do,Adding that—after all the clergy were the best friends of education.Your Lordships know the efforts that have been made since 1870, the millions that have been raised by private effort to maintain the denominational schools and to make those schools efficient. And I ask why, in the face of such a record, are those schools to be destroyed? Why are the members of the Church of England, why are the members of the Roman Catholic body, who have done so much for education in the past, to be deprived of the religious teaching in their schools which those schools were built to maintain? There is only one answer to that question, and it has been given by the Prime Minister himself. It is not because those schools are inefficient, it is not because persons have complained of them, it is because it is the deliberate and avowed intention of the Government to destroy the denominational schools— your Lordships will forgive mo for using hard words—in order to please the political Nonconformists. I defy any member of the Government to deny it. What did the Prime Minister say on June 27th in the House of Commons—This," he said, "is an undenominational Bill, netting up an undenominational system."…It would be a false Bill if it were to the mind of the denominationalists.Mr. Birrell, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Bryce, Mr. Lloyd-George have all said the same thing. My Lords, who are the supporters of denominational religious teaching? Roughly speaking, the Church of England and the Roman Catholics. Who support undenominational teaching t With the exception of some of the Wesleyans, all the Nonconformists. There can be no illusion on the subject, the Bill is not a Bill to remedy any legitimate grievance the Nonconformist may possess, unless the existence of any denominational school is a grievance in the eyes of Nonconformists. The only shadow of a grievance they possess is in single-school districts, a grievance which could easily 1223 be remedied without injury and injustice to anyone. This is a Bill which deliberately and of set purpose attacks the schools of the Church of England and those of the Roman Catholic body. Mr. Birrell himself appears so conscious of the injustice and inconsistency of his proposals, that he has gone out of his way to show that the undenominational religious teaching set up by the Bill is not the religion of Nonconformists. I think the President of the Council and certainly Lord Burghclere said something to the same effect last night. It may not be the religion of Nonconformists; it certainly is the religious instruction of which they approve.
The facts of the case disprove Mr. Birrell's theories. One example out of many which is within my own knowledge will be sufficient. The Nonconformists in Leeds had formerly some sixteen schools of their own. How many have they now? Not one. They surrendered their schools one after another to the local school boards. They did this either because they were too indifferent as to the religious education of their children to make the slightest sacrifice on its behalf, or because they were satisfied that the sort of religious instruction they desired would be given at the cost of the ratepayers. There is no doubt that the latter reason is the true one. The Nonconformists at Leeds surrendered their sixteen schools when they found they could get for their children at the public expense the sort of religious instruction they wanted. Other Nonconformist bodies have done the same thing all over the country, and, having succeeded in establishing and endowing their own undenominational religious teaching out of the rates, they now refuse any share of the rates and any recognition on the part of the State to the denominational teaching to which they object. The plain truth is, and this Bill is the proof of it, however much they may dislike its being said, that the Nonconformist leaders supported by the present Government, want to deprive all the religious bodies with which they are not in agreement of their right to have definite religious instruction in the schools those religious bodies have built, and, utilising the dread of mere secular education, demand that the religious 1224 instruction they themselves favour shall be given in all schools at the expense of the public.
And now, my Lords, allow me to turn to what is the heart of the Bill, to the question of what this undenominational religion is, which henceforth is to be endowed by the State and which the Government propose to establish in all the Church schools of the country. My Lords, I would ask you to bear with me for a few moments, for this is the point on which the whole issue turns. Undenominational religious teaching is, we are told by the supporters of the Bill, those simple truths which the Protestant bodies are supposed to hold in common. Those truths do not include belief in a priesthood and a regard for the Sacraments. Roman Catholics, Mr. Bryce informs us, hold these doctrines. They believe in a priesthood, and they value the Sacraments. Every consideration, therefore, says Mr. Bryce, ought to be shown for their convictions, but such doctrines are not the doctrines of the Church of England. I would refer your Lordships to the opening questions of the Church Catechism to show the falsity of that statement. The statements of the Catechism in regard to the Sacraments —I note in passing, that the Church of England declares these Sacraments "To be generally necessary to salvation," and insists that all her children before they come to Confirmation shall be instructed in the Catechism—are according to Mr. Bryce, "metaphysical and theological" definitions incomprehensible to the simple mind of a child, and the only form of Christian teaching that could properly be given to a child was comprised in those few fundamental truths in which all Protestant bodies were agreed; those fundamental truths being the kindness and goodness of the Creator, the duty to love Him, and keep His Commandments, and the sacred precepts of the Sermon on the Mount. My Lords, a Jew or a Mahommedan might say as much; yet it is this practical Unitarianism masquerading under the name of simple Christian teaching which it is the object of this Bill to substitute for the definite Christian instruction, as set out in the Church Catechism, our schools were built to maintain and teach.
1225 Let me emphasise the point, for it is all-important. Undenominational religious teaching, I say it deliberately, is to all intents and purposes in its tendency and effect Unitarian religious teaching. Everything said in and out of Parliament about this Bill proves it up to the hilt. It is not what is read of the Bible that is at fault, it is what is left out, and it is the effect of what is left out that is so fatal to the character of the teaching given under the Cowper-Temple clause. So far as undenominational religious teaching in the past has preserved any of the salt of Christianity, it is due to two facts, first, that the great majority of teachers in board or council schools have hitherto been trained in training colleges belonging to the Church; secondly, that the existence of Church schools in which definite religious instruction was given, side by side with the board schools, has kept up the standard of the religious instruction given in the latter. Neither of these securities will continue if this Bill becomes law. Church schools will cease to exist, undenominationalism will be taught in all schools, and the training colleges are directly threatened. Reading of the Bible as a literary or an ethical lesson may continue, but what will that be worth? Mr. Asquith has recently told us in the interests of such Bible teaching that the Bible is the greatest masterpiece of English literature. Yes, my Lords, it is that, but it is something more, and it is just that in it which makes it more than a mere masterpiece of English literature, that signifies to us. Mr. Asquith has also been good enough to tell us what the religious teaching is, as opposed to "controversial dogma," which he understands by "simple Bible teaching," and which he wishes taught to little children. It is "To fear God, to serve the State, to hate injustice, to love their neighbour, and to do their duty with all their might."In what does this differ from Unitarianism? And it is this teaching which has nothing distinctively Christian about it, which some people support, and like to call simple fundamental Christian teaching. It would be better to try to be intelligent and honest, and say at once as Mr. Goldwin Smith has been saying in his new book: "Christian dogma is built on belief in the Incarnation and the Atonement; that the inferences of science are fatal to dogmatic Christianity," but that 1226 because we reject the Incarnation and the Atonement, we by no means, reject Christianity, since the "Essence of Christianity is belief in the Fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man." Again practical Unitarianism. Mr. Goldwin Smith is, indeed, profoundly right when he goes on to say that the authority of conscience is, and must be, religious. And that apart from religion all that is left us is "a domination of self-interest without regard for moral considerations," but Mr. Goldwin Smith because he says that, though we may hope that he is on the way to Damascus, is not, and does not profess to be a Christian, and belief in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man does not constitute Christianity.
But, indeed, my Lords, it is not necessary to labour the point. We have it clearly confessed by its supporters what this undenominational religious teaching, what this simple Bible reading really is. What did Mr. Herbert Paul say in the House of Commons on Monday? I apologise to your Lordships for alluding to such a person, but Mr. Herbert Paul, who began his career in the House of Commons by abusing those of his countrymen who had fought for England in South Africa has continued his career by abusing the Church, and the other day, he told us that simple undenominational teaching was "religious teaching in those simple religious principles upon which Protestants are agreed, and which many Free thinkers have no objection should be taught their children." Mr. Herbert Paul informed the House of Commons on the same occasion that "the Bishop of London was the most innocent of God's creatures, though his innocence was as much mental as moral,"In other words that he was a fool, because he had asserted his conviction that the Church of England would never acquiesce in such undenominational teaching. No one will accuse Mr. Herbert Paul of innocence, either mental or moral, but he was certainly lacking in the guile of the serpent when he defined undenominational religion as being the kind of teaching "which Free-thinkers think suitable for their children." the members of the Unitarian body have also recently been saying that undenominational instruction is a foundation agreeable to themselves on which persons 1227 who do not agree with them may build such other things as they like. I have no doubt that it is a foundation agreeable to the Unitarian body, but it is not the foundation on which Christianity reposes, it is not a foundation consistent with the Christianity of the Christian Church; and to accept it, or to acquiesce in any compromise in regard to it in Church schools, would be a betrayal of the faith and fatal to the most sacred rights of the children of the poor. There is no book that requires so much explanation as the Bible. Everybody is not qualified to explain the Bible. "the Church to teach, the Bible to prove." Simple Bible teaching as handed down by the Church is what has to be preserved in our schools. But it is precisely such teaching, hitherto given in Church schools by trained teachers in school hours, under adequate authority, which under the provisions of this Bill is to be forbidden.
My Lords it was an Apostle who said "No scripture is of private interpretation." It is the Church of England which declares in the Articles that "the Church is the keeper and witness of Holy Writ "; but this Bill leaves the teaching of the Bible to teachers whose fitness for the task is to be determined, if at all, by local authorities and county councils, who, as a noble Lord opposite, Lord Stanley of Alderley, has very justly remarked, seem likely to be invested by this Bill "with the authority of the General Councils of the Church."
My Lords, it is impossible to discuss this question adequately without entering into these theological considerations. I beg your Lordships to forgive me for having done so, but these things must be said and it is perhaps as well that a layman should say them.
Let me turn for one moment to what is more a layman's province, that is to one practical aspect of this question. Your Lordships will have noticed that in the Return of the religious instruction given in board and council schools it is an almost universal condition that no attempt be made to attach the children to any religious denomination. I do not quarrel with such a provision in such schools. I refer to it to show the necessary insufficiency, to use no harsher word, of undenominational religious teaching and more especially to show one of its practical 1228 results. The whole effect of that teaching, and the better such teaching is the more certain its effect, is to create "unattached Christians." the children, so taught, go out into the world; they come up, we will say to London; they are alone in this vast town; they are exposed to all its dangers and temptations. What could you most wish for a son or daughter of your own under such circumstances? Would it not be that their previous religious training—and remember, my Lords, that there are masses of children who, if they do not get religious training in school, will get it nowhere—would it not be, I say, that their religious training should, amongst other things, be such as would throw them as a matter of course amongst the members of a church or some religious denomination who would be likely to look after them, and be just the people to help them and keep them straight in the way they should go? Simple Christain teaching, simple Bible teaching, call it which you like, which does not attach children to some religious body is practically of little use in the circumstances I am describing. Yet this is the religious teaching which is henceforth to be universal.
It may be right to pay for such a mutilated Christianity for those who prefer it, so long as equal facilities and equal assistance are accorded to definite Christian teaching in the schools of the Church. We have done so in the case of the board and council schools, but the Church can never accept it for herself. It is a very insecure foundation. Do those who make such a proposal the least understand the state of religious thought at the present time? Have they the least idea of the consequences which must ensue from the adoption of such a principle? Do they know in the least the dangers to which Christian belief at the present moment is exposed? I ask the question in all seriousness; it is one that demands an answer.
Before sitting down let me pause for one moment on loss important matters. I should like to ask His Majesty's Government, if undenominational religion is to be paid for out of the rates and taxes, why not denominational religious teaching? All pay rates, all pay taxes. Why are those to be used for the support of one kind of religion and not for the support of the other? Why are members 1229 of the Church of England and Roman Catholics who pay more than half the rates, to be forced to pay not only for a system of religious instruction of which they disapprove, but also to be made to pay for having this religious instruction of which they disapprove forced into their own schools, schools expressly built to exclude it? Again, I would ask has a parent the right to have his child instructed in the religion he himself believes and approves of, or has he not? Liberty of conscience would seem to demand it, yet this Bill refuses this liberty. In all County Council Provided schools where religious instruction is given at all this undenominational religion is now all that may be taught. Church parents demand a right of entry into these schools that their children may be taught the Church Catechism by Church teachers. The Bill says—No, you shall not, and we shall no longer allow you to have your children taught even in your own schools in the way that you desire.My Lords, I say emphatically that unless justice and the rights of conscience are mere idle words, things to be disregarded when it is convenient, to be insisted upon only when they apply to yourself, and to be ignored when they apply to others, the provisions of this Bill ignore the sacred rights of Christian children and Christian parents, outrage the rights of conscience, and flatly contradict those principles of justice to which appeal is so constantly made in words, but which so far as this Bill is concerned, are so entirely disregarded in practice. We have been told that the object of an Education Bill ought to be to place all religious bodies on an equal footing—that is precisely what this Bill does not do.I have always believed,Mr. Asquith said only last Monday—That any scheme for a settlement founded on injustice is a settlement founded on the sand.That is precisely what the Bill is. Let us have equal justice in all schools, whether council schools or others; lot the Government give effect to the principle and we shall be nearer agreement than we are at present.
My Lords, this Bill is impossible in anything like its present shape, and can 1230 never pass unless radically amended. Those who oppose this Bill are not prepared to see the definite Christianity of the creeds banished from the land. They are not prepared to see our trust-deeds torn up, the property we have devoted to the spread of Christ's religion confiscated. They would deem themselves traitors to the faith if they abandoned the elementary right to have the children of the country taught the faith once delivered to the saints' by the lips of their natural instructors, and as an integral, as well as the most important part of their education.
My Lords, those who oppose this Bill ask for no favour, for no privilege. They ask only that education shall not be divorced from religion, that the State shall not establish and pay for a mutilated Christianity, the most odious form of establishment possible, for it is the reassertion of that most detestable principle cuius regio eius religio. They claim that fair play and equal dealing shall be dealt out to all alike. They desire the redress of any legitimate grievance which the Nonconformists think they possess, they wish to see the opinions of non Christians and Agnostics respected; but what they claim for others they claim for the Church of England and for the Roman Catholic body. They claim in the name of justice that no preference shall be given to undenominational religious teaching over denominational teaching; that religious teaching shall be given in school hours by the teachers in the school, and shall not be given by those in regard to whom there is no security that they believe what they teach; that the Bible shall not be treated as a more reading-book or as a convenient vehicle for ethical instruction. They believe that education to deserve the name must be something that helps to bring out the possibilities of man's nature, to develop what is good in him, to eradicate, as far as may be, what is evil. They believe that there can be no real education for man, as God has made him, apart from the knowledge of and contact with the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They can accept no national system of education that ignores and gives no place to the Christian religion. They believe that the acceptance of such a system means individual and national disaster.
1231 How then, in the face of our unhappy religious divisions, are these principles to he maintained? Not, I submit, by ex-eluding all religious teaching from the national system of education, not by the State constructing a religion of its own and compelling all to pay for it, but by the frank recognition on the part of the State of the religious teaching of all denominations alike, by a friendly neutrality on the part of the State to all religions, and by the maintenance by the State of all schools, whether denominational or not, which comply with the State requirements as to educational efficiency. There is no other satisfactory solution of the education question. Such a solution is quite compatible with complete popular control, and it is the solution demanded alike by a regard for religion and by respect for justice. Such a solution is easy. Continue the council schools as they are, but give the parents who are forced to send their children to those schools the right of having denominational teaching if they desire it.
In all single school districts give the Nonconformists the right of entry into Church schools and Roman Catholic schools, and extend the provision of the Act of 1902 so as to assist the Nonconformists in giving that teaching if they so desire. I for one should be more than willing to see the million offered for the rent of Church schools given to the Nonconformists for this purpose. If these things are conceded, if in some way or another the denominational character of our schools is preserved, if we have security that the teachers in Church schools are fit and proper persons for the post and believe what they have to teach, if justice and a regard for religion are allowed to determine the solution of the question, the religious difficulty will be settled and there will be peace. If those things are not secured, if the Bill should pass in anything like its present form— if it is not completely transformed and made a juster measure than it is at present—the religious difficulty will be further removed from settlement than ever and the signal will have been given for a religious war throughout the length and breadth of the country. Every one who has the interests of the country must deplore such a prospect; no one will deplore it more than I shall; 1232 but it will be inevitable, and the responsibility for it will rest on the shoulders of His Majesty's Government.
§ *THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (LORD TWEEDMOUTH)
My Lords, we all recognise the intense earnestness of the noble Viscount who has just sat down, but I must offer some protest against the doctrine he has laid down in his speech. The noble Viscount stated that this Bill will destroy all Christianity in our schools.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I did not say it excluded all Christianity; I said it imposed undenominational Christianity.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I think I am in the recollection of the House. The noble Viscount said that it took Christianity out of the schools that were subject to the Cowper-Temple Clause. He claims that this Bill should give equal justice to all schools. That, my Lord, is the object of the Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to extend equal justice on equal terms to every school throughout the country. At the beginning of this evening debate, we had a very powerful speech from the noble Duke—a speech which undoubtedly impressed the House, but one which seemed to lead to the certain conclusion that this Bill should be rejected on Second Reading. If the noble Duke's proposition were made good, undoubtedly the only course that the House could take would be to reject the Second Reading of the Bill. I am glad to say that the right rev. Prelates who spoke yesterday did not go to that length. The most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury at any rate held out some considerable hopes of an agreement being arrived at, and the Bishop of Ripon went still further when he declared that there wore three courses possible—one being secular touching, the second equal facilities and support for all denominations, and the third compromise; and it was perfectly clear that the right rev. Prelate wished to arrive at a compromise.
Very strong language has been used against this Bill. It is said to be a Bill of robbery and confiscation—that the schools are to be taken away from their owners. That I maintain is not the 1233 object of the Bill, nor will it be its result. It is said that the money expended in the erection and upkeep of these voluntary schools will be taken away. That is not the case. It is also said that violent hands will be laid upon the ancient rights of the Church in these schools. No proposal is to be found in the Bill to take away the property from those in whose hands it now is, whether they be owners or trustees. The property remains in exactly the same hands which now hold it. Under the Act of 1902 these schools were left under private management, or nearly under private management. Under this Bill they will be under public management. That condition is imposed necessarily by the fact that they are to be in future supported entirely out of public funds, supplied either from the rates or from the taxes. The Bill does not propose to take away these schools from the owners or from the trustees; it proposes to take the use of the schools for five days in the week. It does not take the schools in the evenings or on the other two days in the week. The schools are left to the use of the owners or trustees on every evening and on Saturdays and Sundays. That surely is no small advantage to denominational institutions. The use of the school as a Sunday school is not a thing to be lightly regarded, for surely the Sunday schools of the Church have done more than almost anything else to spread religious feeling amongst the children of the country. But besides that it must be remembered that the schools are not taken for nothing, but rent is paid for them; and not only is rent paid for them, but the Bill undertakes that they shall be kept up at the public expense, so that the cost of the repairs is taken off the owners. It is further provided that whore the owners or trustees wish it the the local authority shall, if it desires to make use of the schools at all, permit denominational instruction to be given on two mornings in the week, though it is also provided that such instruction shall not be paid for out of public funds, but shall be given at the expense of the denomination itself. Surely that also is a reasonable requirement, and one that may well be approved. Again, where four fifths of the parents are anxious to have denominational instruction in the schools, there they may have it on every morning in the week, and the teaching 1234 may be carried out by the teachers in the schools. The Bill insures the continuance in one form or another of voluntary denominational schools in certain areas —at any rate in urban areas with over 5,000 inhabitants.
It is also complained that the Bill removes the tests of teachers, and that in future there will be no guarantee that teachers will be found to teach religion in the schools. I do not think that will be the case. I believe that the local authorities themselves will take good care that the teachers are fit to discharge the duties required of thorn. We have some proof of that from what has taken place in Scotland during the last thirty years. Ever since the Scottish schools were handed over to the school boards throughout the country we have found that the local authorities, the school boards, have chosen teachers who have taught religion in the Scottish schools in a way that has been thoroughly satisfactory to the parents of the children attending them. The Bill is further said to be a wanton disturbance of the work of education in the country, and an attack on the Church of England. It is not intended to be either. The intention is to improve education, and least of all to make an attack on the Church of England. But the purpose of the Bill is that the Church of England shall not be in a privileged position, but shall take its share with all the other denominations of the country. It is said that the Bill gives a preference to Nonconformity, and that Cowper-Temple religion is the religion of Nonconformity. That is a proposition which I entirely dispute. The teaching given under the Cowper-Temple clause is not a denominational education, but it is a Christian education; and how is it possible to maintain otherwise in the face of what has been said by the most rev. Primate himself on the subject of Cowper-Temple instruction, namely—That it is almost inconceivable that any Christian man who knows the facts can speak of the Christian teaching given under the London School Board.…
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
‥‥" as worthless because it is undenominational. Such instruction lays the foundation on which ampler teaching of the Christian Faith can be securely built.
THE LORD AECHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I am sure the noble Lord does not desire to misrepresent me. Those words were not used of Cowper-Temple teaching throughout England as a whole, as it is now interpreted by various authorities. They refer to Cowper-Temple teaching in London, as it was given by teachers whose work was inspected under the London School Board, which makes all the difference.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I think one hears from provincial districts also that exactly the same kind of teaching is given under the various great school boards all over the country. I do not think the most rev. Primate is justified in saying that it is confined purely to London.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I really must interrupt again. I never said that it was confined to London. I said that the words which the noble Lord has quoted had reference to London. There are many other places, I am thankful to say, where the position is exactly the same, but I must not be represented either as applying the statement to the whole of England, or as having intended to limit it to London alone. Those words were spoken with regard to London alone, but there are many other places as to which the same can be said.
§ *LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I contend that on the evidence that we have received from all parts of the country we may safely rely on a form of religious teaching in our schools, similar to that which originated under what is known us the Cowper-Temple clause, being given as a basis, and that that basis is one on which all denominations can agree. It does seem to me to be above all things desirable to secure in our schools the teaching of a form of religion which will be accepted by all denominations alike as a basis of common Christian belief. I contend that the present Bill has gone as far as possible to secure, 1236 consistently with full control by the authority and the freedom of the teaching profession, efficient elementary schools in every corner of the land, and to provide for religious instruction suited to the needs of the great majority of the parents of the children attending the schools, with special arrangements for the special needs of special cases.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
My Lords, it is thirty-five years since the adoption of the compromise of 1870. At that time I had the honour of being a Member of your Lordships' House, and I have carefully noted all the modifications of legislation which have taken place; but it is only now for the first time that we have seen any responsible statesman of either party coming forward with a measure like the present, which tears to pieces the first principles of the Bill of 1870. Those principles were supported equally as much by Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster as by Lord Salisbury and Mr. Balfour, and hitherto they have been respected. The noble Earl on the front Bench opposite endeavoured to show that they were disregarded by the Bill of 1902; but that Bill maintained the same condition of things, under which there wore two sorts of schools, one wholly maintained by public funds under the control first of the school boards and afterwards of the county councils, and the other built by private effort for the maintenance of religious teaching, which were to be still in part supported by voluntary funds as far as the maintenance of the fabric was concerned, to carry on the denominational instruction according to the religion of those by whom they wore founded. The Bill of 1870 respected the work which had been solely built up by voluntary effort, and especially by the effort of the Church of England, while on the other hand it provided for efficiency by the machinery of the board schools.
Something invidious has been said as to the grants of money which have been given to the voluntary schools. But it must not be forgotten that when it was not so clearly held as it now is that it is the duty of the State to educate the children, these schools were doing the State's work, and the money paid to them may be regarded as being paid for doing 1237 what the state is now inclined to consider its own business. This Bill for the first time proposes to break up the system entirely, by establishing a unified system of schools and altogether sweeping away the partially voluntary system. The noble Lord opposite spoke with great enthusiasm of everything being under municipal control. The great evil of this Bill is that it establishes one unified system, and I contend that no unified system, whatever it may be, can meet the various wants of the country. I can appeal on this point to a high authority which will command some respect from noble Lords opposite. Years ago Mr. John Stuart Mill said that while it was the duty of the state to see that the children were educated, schools wholly controlled by the State ought to be merely one experiment among many, and that their business should be to be an example and encouragement; that it would do mischief, and cramp and narrow the minds of the people, if they had one system of education imposed by the State—that is by the dominant power for the moment, whatever it might be— which should try to impress its own mould upon the whole of the children. I must say that I respect Mr. Mill as a higher authority than Mr. Birrell, and it is the radical vice of this Bill that it intends to impose one unified system upon the whole country.
We have been told in some quarters that this is the plain will of the people. I suppose that that statement is founded on the result of the last general election. We remember that Lord Salisbury, I think it was, said that the people at a general election were in the position of a jury who had to decide a number of oases and give one verdict upon them all, whatever their merits. The noble Lord opposite suggested that no Liberal candidate would have been accepted who was indifferent upon this subject. We all know that a candidate who says anything to offend a portion of his supporters is an undesirable candidate; but will the noble Lord, or any noble Lord on that side of the House, assert that their success was wholly due to this one question of education? If education had been the one question before the country, would their Party be where it is now? There is no proof of that whatever. I was not one of those who agreed with 1238 the objections raised to, or shared in the alarm created by, the idea of a small duty on com, but we know what effect it had in the country. I cannot admit, however, that the men who imagined that the price of corn was going up to sixty shillings a quarter were, in consequence of their vote on that subject, to be considered as strong advocates of a unified system of education. I do not believe that any of those who took the advice of the noble Duke who spoke first to-night, and voted as he recommended against all who took a particular view of the fiscal question, thereby proved themselves to be strong opponents of the Bill which the noble Duke himself piloted through this House. I do not believe that the country has ever spoken upon this subject. You have a Parliament elected on a powerful cry, in which this education question was merely an incidental matter. I hope, indeed, that we shall have some expression of the views of the country during the Recess, so that we shall be able to judge what really is their view.
We have heard a great deal about the necessity of public control, and the noble Earl used the argument that he who paid the piper should call the tune. The same argument was used in 1902, and I remember the very effective answer then made to it when it was asked whether those who used the argument would be prepared to allow the majority of rate-payers, if they wore denominationalists, seeing that they who paid the piper should call the tune, to set up everywhere strictly denominational schools, with or without a conscience clause as they pleased, and to impose whatever tests they thought fit on the teachers. That would be local control. But what you have in this Bill is a mere one-sided control, as it allows the local authority to establish secularism but not to establish denominationalism—to exclude the Bible but not to admit the Church Catechism. If you had local control which could be worked either way, under which both clause 1 and Clause 7 might require the consent of the local authority before they became law, your local control would be a reality, and not the empty name and mockery which it is in this Bill. The condemnation of this plan is to be found in the existence of any clause like the Cowper-Temple clause itself, because every argument used for them is an 1239 argument in favour of withdrawing the question from the local authorities. The argument that it might create burning local animosities is in itself an argument which goes to the root of the whole principle of local control, and is identical with the arguments used in the seven-teeth century against the extension of the powers of Parliament, namely, that it would create faction. That argument was a powerful one, but we have not found it powerful enough to induce us to object to our Parliamentary Constitution. Something may be said for settling all these matters by a central authority, and something may be said for allowing thorn to be settled by the locality; but these two principles cannot be reconciled. The man who is enthusiastic for local control cannot be enthusiastic for the restriction of the local authority in the matter of denominational teaching.
I do not wish to detain your Lordships by going into the question of tests; I should not have mentioned it at all had it not been that the noble Lord on the Woolsack alluded to what passed in the school board. I think in a letter which he wrote some time ago, and which attracted some attention, he asked how it could possibly be that the other Party in the school board had acquiesced in the resolutions to which he alluded. A good deal has been said about finding a common basis of agreement. The noble Lord alluded to the vehement religious controversy which arose. I think it would be worth while mentioning that it arose on a point which I should have thought was common to all Christian bodies. It was proposed to insist on the teaching in all schools of the solemn doctrine accepted by all Christians. The proposal was opposed by almost every Nonconformist representative on the board, and by the whole of the Party who acted with them, on the ground that one dogma would be followed by another, and that it would involve denominationalism. In the midst of this contest, when considerable obstruction was going on, the majority of the school board being unwilling to raise a fresh controversy which would occupy what was left of their time, which needed to be otherwise devoted in order that they might carry through what they thought were very important matters, said they were willing to agree to some- 1240 thing which otherwise they would have objected to.
Then as to the facilities for denominational teaching, I cannot see why they should be given in the urban districts only. It seems to me that it is not in the urban districts only that parents may have a care for the religious education of their children, or that there may be a reasonable desire to have such teaching. Why should the demand of the majority be disregarded unless it is a majority of four-fifths? I cannot see how the minority can be injured; they would be under protection. If the minority was smaller than one fifth, there might be a danger of their rights being infringed upon; they might feel the singularity which they would incur; but there could be no singularity whore the majority was not much larger. I cannot see, on the ground of simple justice, why a bare majority should not be allowed to have these facilities. I hope that this Bill, if it passes this House, will do so only after the most drastic Amendments. We shall be threatened, no doubt, with possible consequences to this House if we do not pass it. We have heard that threat before. On a former occasion when this House rejected a Bill, we read next day in the Press of a statement by a member of the Cabinet who had even ventured to discuss the manner and method as to how a Bill might become law without the services of this House, which meant, of course, the possibility of dispensing with this Chamber. I, for one, fully realise the constitutional privileges of this Chamber, and while we enjoy those privileges it is for us to deal with all matters submitted to us in the manner in which we think the interests of this country as a whole may best be served.
§ *LORD KILLANIN
My Lords, I desire to make a few remarks during this debate on the attitude of Roman Catholics towards this Bill. The noble Duke who spoke last evening pointed out what was the attitude of Roman Catholics in this country, and of the Roman Catholic Peers in this House. The noble Duke explained to the Government that although the Roman Catholic Peers might acquiesce in the Second Reading of this Bill, that action must not be taken as 1241 showing that they were satisfied with the Bill, and he stated that in order to meet their wishes the Bill would have to be drastically changed. As the noble Duke spoke on that subject it might seem unnecessary for another Catholic Peer to address you. I am, however, not only a Roman Catholic, but also an Irishman, and in speaking I wish especially to ask the House to bear in mind the position of my co-religionists and follow countrymen in this country in regard to this Bill. They are for the most part very poor people, living in the industrial centres in this country, far from their own land, separated from their friends, taken, so to speak, out of their natural surroundings and the religious atmosphere of their own land, and forced by the calamitous events of the history of their native land, to leave it and seek a livelihood elsewhere. On their behalf, on behalf of the Irish Catholic parents and children of this country, whose interests and position must and do, both on national and on religious grounds, appeal, most strongly to me, I wish, therefore, to say a few words. And I would that I had the abilities, and the eloquence, and the debating experience, all of which qualities were so admirably placed at the service of this cause by the Irish Nationalist Members in another place. I differ politically from those hon. Members, but I desire to be allowed to associate myself wholeheartedly with them in the splendid work they have done in this cause. But, in saying that I am thinking mainly of the Irish Catholic children in this country, I should not like to be understood as meaning that I excluded in any way from my sympathy and J support the religious and educational I interests of other denominations, but I know and can see and hear what powerful advocates they have in this House.
My Lords, when we come to look at this Bill and to consider the clauses which deal with voluntary schools and which purport to give religious facilities to them, I must say I agree with previous speakers who have shown that these clauses, as they stand, are so bad and illusory and worthless that it seems waste of time to dwell on them. And so one is forced to leave them aside and consider the Bill in its general character and effect. As I understand this Bill, under its provisions the voluntary schools, numbering, in this country, about 20,000, will cease on January 1st, 1908—the hegira of the 1242 new Nonconformist era—to be recognised or assisted out of public funds, and are cither to be starved out of existence or robbed of their religious character, unless they can come to certain arrangements with local authorities and come to certain agreements, and unless they can comply with a number of exacting conditions, which arrangements and agreements and conditions, if made use of, must deprive the great majority of the voluntary schools of their religious character. My Lords, I believe the Catholic schools of this country would rather starve than give up or jeopardise their religious work. Their schools have been built by faith and enthusiasm, and faith and enthusiasm will defend them, if necessary. They have been founded and supported by the pence of the poor or by the noble-benefactions of those who have recognised the religious and educational wants of the industrial classes of this country. The question before the House and the country is whether those schools are to be starved out of existence and deprived of their religious character in spite of the wishes of their founders and supporters. For that is the present aspect of affairs, that is the religious intolerance and liberty with which we are threatened by the Liberal Party. For this is not an Education Bill. It was not brought in to provide education for anyone, or to improve the education of anyone, but it is an attack on religious liberty. The Bill, as it stands, I fear shows unmistakable signs of political bias and unfairness and intolerance of any religion but that of one political body. And is religious intolerance any the less religious intolerance because it is exhibited and practised by a Parliamentary majority? How is it better than that of any despotic power? We read of such things in history and deplore them. Yet certain sections of the Liberal Party pride themselves on this self-same intolerance because they have been placed in power by the votes of an election and possess what they call a "mandate."
It will be said, perhaps, that I am exaggerating the lack of provision for religious education under this Bill, because, it will be alleged, religious education is provided for under the Cowper-Temple clause. Now, my Lords, I wish especially to draw attention to the relation of the religious teaching that can 1243 be given under the clause to the Roman Catholic position. The teaching that can be given under that clause may or may not satisfy the Protestant community in this country. It is said that it does satisfy some Protestants, and that for others it is good so far as it goes, but that it does not go far enough. But in the eyes of Roman Catholics, the religious teaching that can be given under the Cowper-Temple clause is not merely imperfect or inadequate, but it is hostile and opposed to the whole Catholic ideal and to Catholic teaching. Because it is essentially Protestantism, and if you change a Roman Catholic school into a council school you not only confiscate it and deprive it of its religious character, but you are turning a Roman Catholic school into a Protestant school. As between this Protestant sect and that Protestant sect, Cowper-Temple religious teaching may not be denominational or distinctive of one sect more than another, but, to a Roman Catholic, that teaching is denominational and distinctive. Why, my Lords, was not simple Bible teaching the very cry that separated Protestants from the Church of Rome, which has always maintained and taught that Christ founded a church to guide the faithful and to interpret the Scriptures? Therefore, I should like to point out to the Government and to the Nonconformist body that you are going to endow out of the rates Cowper-Templeism, and we are to pay for it though it is in our eyes denominational and distinctive religious teaching. You are endowing a form of religion, and making us pay for it, and it is, in its essence, spirit, and context, Protestantism, and distinctive of that creed as compared with Roman Catholic teaching. But I should be very much misunderstood if I were thought to be suggesting that we objected to paying for the religious teaching you can give under the Cowper-Temple clause. For we are under no circumstances secularists, and we recognise that Cowper-Templeism satisfies or suits the religious aspirations of a great number of the people of this country, and we are willing to pay our share for teaching it to them; but you in turn must not grudge us the teaching of our religion in our own schools. Religious teaching in the education of the child is, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, of 1244 supreme importance. We think it to be of importance for the sake of the individual child, both here and hereafter, and also for the sake of society and of the State. Secularism in any form is abhorrent to the Roman Catholic Church, and we believe it, also, to be most injurious in its social aspect. We do not believe for a moment that the State, by banishing religious teaching from its schools would conduce to its own stability or produce "perfect citizens." I read, the other day that an unfortunate individual who threw a bomb into the midst of a certain Royal Procession had received "an excellent secular education," and the information is significant. Therefore, my Lords, we Roman Catholics who are a small and a poor body in this country, but also an earnest one, ask to be allowed to continue our Catholic schools for poor Catholic children with teachers employed in them, who can, by their personal example and influence teach so much more to the little children under their care than can be taught by the mere word or lesson in the religious instruction class. I hope then that this House will so alter the Bill by widening the application of the "facilities" clauses and by ensuring their efficient operation as to make the measure a fair one for the entire community, and I hope the Government will assist us and so bring the measure into consonance with the speeches of the President of the Board of Education and other Ministers. And, by so doing, I believe that this House will prove that this is one of those striking occasions when the true, and just, and sober spirit of the country has looked to this House and not looked in vain — unruled as it is by the influence of momentary cries and election mandates and party reprisals—to express and give effect to its real feelings and its abiding sense of what is right and fair.
§ LORD NORTHBOURNE
My Lords, I have only a few words to say on the Second Reading of this Bill. There has been a great deal of controversy and a great deal of wordy strife, and I doubt whether the slightest benefit will be conferred on one individual child after all has been said and done. We had a most capable and interesting speech from the noble Duke this afternoon. I gather that he based his views concerning the 1245 educational system of this country on the Act of 1902. To a great extent that Act was due to the late Archbishop of Canterbury. My noble friend Lord Stanley, in a speech made a short time ago, referred to the events dealt with in that wonderful essay of the late Archbishop entitled "the Educational World." I go back co the speech which the late most rev. Primate delivered on the Second Reading of the Bill of 1902. It was the last speech he delivered in this House. He said he considered that that Act of 1902 must be regarded as a compromise. Nobody will deny that the late Archbishop knew and understood his subject. Will anyone deny that he was a broad-minded man? That Bill of 1902 was a compromise. The late Primate was right; he knew the conditions; he had given years of his life to the cause of religious education. One thing he said was that he knew many clergy in this country who, for the sake of these schools, had starved themselves, their homes, and their families, in order that they might keep up religious instruction for the children. Are the efforts of these men to be set aside at one single swoop? This Bill not only does violence to them in material things, but it does violence to their minds. Is it possible to reconcile such a state of things with religious liberty or religious equality? It would be interesting to note what has been the motive power behind the Government in bringing in this measure. I doubt whether there was any strong feeling in the country on the subject during the General Election. Out of the Act of 1902 there has sprung into existence what is known as "passive resistance." I do not approve of that attitude: I rather condemn it. I do not know the source of it. I have heard that it had its source in the University of Oxford. I consider it a very dangerous weapon, anyway, for it is a two-edged weapon. It can cut both ways. I am certain that if this Bill passed in anything like its present form, you would find passive resistance spread all over the country, and to such an extent that you probably would have to build additional gaols to put the people in. We know the views of the Roman Catholic community and we know how they regard this Cowper-Templeism. It would not afford me any surprise to 1246 learn later on that what had been "passive resistance," had sprung into active resistance.
In order to satisfy the Nonconformists the Government have brought in this Bill, the very first clause of which relates to popular control. The question of popular control already has been dealt with very ably by the noble Duke. But I should like to say one word on the subject as it affects the Nonconformist body and the Anglican Church. I know the Nonconformists: I have represented many of them in Parliament from time to time. I consider the Nonconformist element to be a most valuable element in the community. I know how it has kept up the standard of morals, and in in regard to many public questions, we have had to feel grateful for Nonconformist influence. But circumstances are greatly changed. Nonconformists do not stand quite in the same position that they did sixty or seventy years ago. The greater part of their grievances have been redressed. They have not the same political strength nor the same political influence that they had, insomuch that they had become divided into bodies, some of which are anxious to give support to the Anglican Church. I remember what was once said by the late Mr. Gladstone, who was fond of quoting Sir Thomas Grenville. When Mr. Gladstone asked Sir Thomas Grenville what he considered to be the most striking factor in modern history, he said that nothing appealed to him so much as the vigour and activity of the Church of England. This was sixty years ago. What would be said of their activity and their disorganisation, the extension of the Episcopate, the work of the Ecclesiastical Commission and their schools now? The Church of England is much stronger and greater now than it was in that day. And the Church of England regards nothing as being of greater importance than its schools.
However, the electors have returned the Government with a big majority and the Government have taken advantage of it and are asking us to accept the Bill which we are now considering. We understand and appreciate to the full the principle of popular control. But it is a very different thing to give to A what belongs to B. I am a trustee of one of these schools, and I can say that it is not a question of taking away property so much as the 1247 taking away from me of what is more sacred than property. The trust I hold is that religious instruction shall be given to the children of the school, and it is only common sense that I, with all other trustees of schools, should desire to continue to fulfil that trust. We have already had a simile in respect to this question upon the subject of sterility in milk. I am going to ask you to listen to another story on the same subject. An unfortunate woman who had been living in a dilapidated condition for a number of years felt constrained to ask her neighbour to oblige her with a little milk. Her neighbour, being a kind-hearted man, was anxious to oblige her, and he said he would send to the farm and see if he could get her a a supply, or, if the woman preferred it, she could go to the farm herself. The woman went to the farm, not once, but many days, and she actually got into the habit of believing that the cow which gave her this supply of milk belonged to her. She kept on believing this, and so firmly had she become convinced that the animal was her property that when she died she left the cow in her will to her nephew. Now, my Lords, these 14,000 voluntary schools are being treated in exactly the same way by His Majesty's Government. This Bill practically is dead. It has given satisfaction to no one. It does not satisfy the Anglicans, the Nonconformists, or the Roman Catholics. As to the teachers who will be employed under this Bill, I can only say that I have known many teachers—excellent persons of ability—who dutifully and with pleasure instructed the children in religious lessons and without any interference secured the very best results. Now these teachers will have to be under the supervision of some central authority. The whole Bill is mischievous and irritating in the extreme. I can only say that I hope it will never pass into law in anything like its present shape. Already it has been productive of a great deal of harm. Personally I have taken no part in the agitation that has been going on in the country, but I know the feeling that exists in my own county. Nothing can be more unfortunate than the continual stirring up of religious controversy and strife. I am quite sure that when the Bill has been through this House it will be so altered that the Government will have difficulty in recognising their own child. I am absolutely 1248 confident that in the long run those who have stirred up this religious controversy and strife will meet with their proper reward from the common sense of their fellow countrymen.
§ *LORD WINTERSTOKE
My Lords, I rise with some diffidence to speak on this great question, because this is the first time that I have spoken in this House, and in consideration of the number of very able speakers who have preceded", me. This Bill should be regarded as an amending Bill pursuant to the Act of 1902, which Act the new Bill certainly would strengthen in character. The Bill by no means contains all that we might desire, but it is a compromise, and should be a settlement which will give us peace from the everlasting discussions on the subject of religious education. There is much stronger ground for calling the Bill of 1902 an Anglican Bill than for designating this a Nonconformist Bill. It is not a Nonconformist Bill. Whatever claims are made by Free Churchmen they make as citizens and not as Nonconformists. They claim that all public voluntary schools shall be under popular control, and that is what the Act of 1902 purposely avoided. It was not unnatural that the Party then in power should try to strengthen their position. I do not blame them. But it would have been better for them and for the country if they had adopted a more moderate and conciliatory measure. The feeling which the Act of 1902 created in the country was very strong indeed. I know how strong it was in my own county. And now it cannot be said that the action of the Church Party in opposing this Bill is an unnatural one. The Church, which less than forty years ago enjoyed the privilege of compelling every child in the voluntary schools to learn the Catechism and to go to Church on Sundays, cannot be expected to give up its vantage ground without a struggle.
Whatever Amendments are made in this Bill, I hold that the measure, as it stands, is most valuable because of three principles which it embodies; first of all, that schools will be under local and State control; secondly, that religious opinions will not be tested in the appointment of teachers; and thirdly, that no religious teaching of a sectarian. 1249 character will be allowed in schools. It is upon this third point that the Church Times has been continually pouring out the vials of its wrath in a manner which could not be more bitter if it were the faith of Mahomet which we were trying to force upon the rising generation. The Church Times said on November 29th, 1901 —there is always with us the Cowper-Temple Clause.Now the Cowper-Temple Clause was the work of a strong Churchman, and not that of a Nonconformist, and yet certain of the clergy have described it as establishing a new religion and enforcing heresy on the children. I draw the attention of the House to this fact, that in 1902 Sir William Anson moved an amendment to apply the Cowper-Temple clause to secondary education. The result was that 318 members voted in favour of it and only twenty-nine against. If we were strictly logical we should teach elementary education and leave religious instruction to the religious bodies. But the country is not prepared for that. There are the other alternatives; namely, denominational teaching, which is not possible, and there is the Cowper-Templeism, which is satisfactory to the great majority of the electors of this country. I have been for many years in a position which enabled me to note the wishes of the industrial classes in regard to education, and I am sure that the average working parent does not desire any more religious teaching for his child than is contained in the syllabus of the London School Board and that of Bristol. Lord Hugh Cecil claimed the right of the parent to choose the sort of education his child should receive. No one disputes that, but we cannot teach all the different opinions in one school. If the children receive the religious instruction which is provided in this Bill, they will be well grounded in the teaching which it is contended is necessary for the moral welfare of the nation. I regard this Bill as an honest endeavour to effect a lasting settlement of the question, and I shall support the SECOND READING.
§ LORD BLYTHSWOOD
My Lords, I have read this Bill through from start to finish, and I cannot find the slightest evidence that the children of.this country will be one tittle the better 1250 for its having passed. It leaves us en tirely where we were before, and I think it is a great compliment to the Act of 1902 that the authors of this Bill should not have seen fit to change the provisions of that Act. No one denies that the instruction which is to be given is to be undenominational. It may be Cowper-Templeism or anything else, but it has to be undenominational. I draw your attention to the meaning of the term "undenominational." It means that in no case shall any denomination have any cause to be annoyed by any teaching that may be given in the schools. If you teach the doctrine of the Atonement you offend the Unitarians, and if you teach the efficacy of the Sacrament you offend the Society of Friends. It is not possible to teach any single form of religion which will satisfy everybody, but I would point out that you propose to give what you call "education of the highest character" and yet you leave out the most necessary part of that education, simply because you say someone will object to it. Remember that—Offences will come, but woe unto him through whom they come.I say that the children of this country will call out to you for the Bread of Life in future days and you will give them a stone. I am opposed to this Bill root and branch. If we can amend it so much the better. I will do my very utmost to amend it, so as to secure that teaching in the schools of the country which alone can make the lives of our people happy.
My Lords, I have here a copy of the Return to which the Archbishop of Canterbury referred a short time ago, the Return which deals with the class of teaching adopted in our board schools. This Return gives us some idea of the religious teaching which the children can in these board schools receive. And I think the instances, taken at haphazard, I am able to quote will satisfy your Lordships that the scholars are not without Christian and religious instruction of a very helpful kind. I take a passage relating to the Bedford County School, in connection with which it is provided that the Bible shall be read and that they shall be given such Christian instruction as is suited to the capacities of the children. It is of course necessary to leave it to the teacher to say how the 1251 lessons shall be given to the children of different ages and in accordance, with their individual capacities. I turn to another page and refer to the Hastings county schools in connection with which it is provided that the parables and miracles of our lord, the Betrayal, the Death, the Resurrection, the Ascension, etc., shall be taught along with its ordinary moral and home duties. I turn to the next page and refer to the Maidenhead Borough, where there is a very liberal system of religious teaching. There the Old and New Testament Scriptures are taught and there are five pages describing the lessons to be given. This does away with the idea that religious instruction is not given in the board or provided schools. I think, my Lords, that you will have gathered from the speech of Lord Halifax the reason why a large number of our fellow-countrymen, both Churchmen and Nonconformists, were determined that the children of the country should not be handed over to the teaching which Lord Halifax and his friends and the Roman Catholics desire. I hope that the appeal made last night by the Bishop of Ripon will have effect, and that your Lordships will consider whether we cannot pass through this House a working Bill which the country will accept. We cannot expect to satisfy the Roman Catholics entirely, or the extreme Party represented by Lord Halifax; but I think we can expect to satisfy the great middle common sense community of this country.
Lord Stanley of Alderley in the speech which he made and which should appeal to the sense of all moderate men, suggested a plan whereby this House might be able to present a practical measure to the country. I believe a large majority of the people of this country would support an Amendment to provide that religious teaching should be given during school hours, if only for the sake of the physical welfare of the children. It has been pointed out to me that bad parents probably will keep their children out of school during the hours of religious instruction in order that their children may earn the extra few pence which the parents seek. We know there are such parents and we have to consider facts as they are. The parents probably would keep the children away from school during the early part of the day and the 1252 children would get no religious teaching at all. Then in regard to the teaching. I think the majority would also wish that, the teacher should have the right to give religious instruction. I do not think the country would accept the re-imposition of tests, but I think they would like to see this right given to the teacher. Under any circumstances it must be considered a desirable thing that the head teacher at any rate should believe that which he teaches, and that which his staff teaches to the children. I will mention an instance given to me shewing how the present system works, told to mo by the chairman of a sub-committee appointed to choose a teacher on which there were two agnostics. There were five teachers from whom to recommend a headmaster. There was one man who stood out clearly as the best—there was no doubt about that from his qualifications—but it was pretty clear that he wag not probably a member of any Christian Church, and probably did not much trouble about religion of any kind. They were asked to arrange these, and the Prebendary, who was in the chair, said we must put down so and so as No. 1. The agnostic said, "I shall move that we recommend No. 2, because I think that probably you will find that the other man has not given much time or thought to the higher instincts of the child." He said, "I quite agree, but I should not have thought of suggesting it myself." It was then moved, seconded, and carried. He said to me. "I find if you treat your opponents fairly, they will treat you fairly in return. If I had tried to make No. 2 the best, I should not have had a chance of carrying it."then we had Huddersfield referred to by His Grace the Archbishop as not having religious instruction, in the board schools. Do you not think the better way was not merely to hold Huddersfield up as irreligious, but to try to influence the opinion in Huddersfield as in Birmingham, where a wonderful change has taken place since it has been left to the people to decide for themselves.
With reference to one other point. We have had a good many instances given to us with reference to a point about which many in your Lordships' House, and especially on the Episcopal Bench, are much afraid, namely, that the Church and not only 1253 the Church, but that religion will suffer—for I honestly believe they do not merely think of the Church of England but of all the Churches of the land—that they would suffer if the schools were not in their hands or in some way under their influence. As a Scotsman I may perhaps take a view different from some of your Lordships. As a member of a school board there, and as chairman of it for some years, as well as from my connection with many schools in England, I believe that in Scotland since we went in for a national system of education we have found that the people are at heart religious and do want religion to be taught to their children; and that if once we have settled our minor differences, and if once we can get agreed to go forward in a national system of education, placed on a religious basis, and further, it is, I think, the duty of the Churches to impress upon the young people that they should go in as teachers and take up that profession—one of the noblest anyone could possibly take, not second, if I may venture to say so, oven to the holy ministry itself. In the foreign mission field we have attracted many of the best of our young people, but I am afraid here we have not succeeded in impressing on young people in this country that to be headmaster of a school is one of the greatest honours that can be given to any man. May I just give another experience in connection with one of our school missions? We have had some illustrations one way; may I give one another? Within fifty yards of a certain mission school there was a large school board. They did not want the trouble to build up a new school and they wanted 600 more places at an additional cost, I think, of about £30,000. The board had merely to ask for the £30,000 and they got it, and I think they had 1,600 children when I last visited the school. The children were known just as well in that board school as they were by any clergyman in his own school. I need not multiply examples, my Lords, because there are plenty of them, but I do hope that the appeal of the Bishop of Ripon will remain in our hearts and memories, and, through the Press, will be read by every member of your Lordships' House; and that when we meet in October we shall meet with a desire to sink minor differences, to agree to such a Bill as may be to the benefit of the children 1254 of the land, and hand on to them not the strifes and quarrels of which we have been so often reminded during the past year, but a national system of education based on religious principles. I believe England may have just as good and religious a national system for its children as they have in Scotland, and that together, clergy, laity, and Nonconformists, may all work for the benefit of the children to hand on to them the best education we can after we have passed to our reward.
I want particularly, as Lord Halifax is not here, to correct one statement of the noble Lord. He represented that Lord Halifax had said that his desire was to teach the Roman Catholic faith. His desire was to teach the Catholic faith, not the Roman Catholic and the errors connected with it. The thing he pointed out that what our Church schools were wanting to do was to teach the Catechism and the Creed. I am pleased indeed to find that we have all realised the importance of this education question, for the future of the country depends upon the way in which our children are brought up; and I am pleased that we do not seek to end, but rather to mend the Bill, because for the sake of our education and the sake of our people, we want to heal as soon as we can the divisions which have been caused and to get some statesmanlike settlement which will be fair to all. Then we may hope for some permanent settlement of the question. Unhappily, the Bill as it at present stands, so far from doing this, makes it a perpetuation of religious strife. Even when you come to the question as to how many parents decide this and that, there must be an election every three years to decide how far people will go one way or another. That will in nearly every parish create religious strife. The noble Lord behind me has been speaking with approval of the different syllabuses that are supported by the local governing bodies. It is perfectly true the syllabuses are given, but they are not enforced in the parishes under the control of the local governing bodies. The local governing body is always changing— it is an elective body. Every three years there will be all the religious bitterness possible for the purpose of getting a 1255 majority one side or the other of the Churches who are interested in the religious question. That, again, is another reason why you can never have peace if you have opened the door for this continual animosity. I was very much surprised—I think it was Lord Stanley told us we need not be troubled about becoming a Christian nation or not. It all depended on what the people wished, and the people could show what they wished by appointing good Christians at these elections every three years. But what we feel is that if the principles of this Bill are carried out as it stands, all the denominational teaching will be set aside, and the coming generations will grow up in an un-Christian manner. They will have no standard to go by, and then you will have — you are already preparing for it by your Bill— you will have that secular education which you profess not to want to have. The Bill comes up to us with one very curious mark or mandate upon it. By a very large majority secularism has been put down and said to be an impossible thing at the present time. The Government profess to say that their Bill is to prevent secularism, and they claim for it that it is a religious Bill; but I venture to say that as long as you have no compulsory attendance at the religious hour, and so long as you take 14,000 schools where now the Christian religion is taught by catechism and by creed and by well-trained teachers, and hand them over to the mercies of the local governing body, which is, as I say, an elective body, and you give no mandatory directions to have religion you may call your Bill a religious Bill, but it is perfectly impossible that it really can be so.
It is very generally supposed that our existing law is an utter failure. I have been interested from my early youth in the education of our people, and a greater advance to the general cause of education than our present law has been is not to be told. In my own schools I took an interest in getting or trying to get to represent the county council and the parish the most prominent Dissenters we could have. There is no doubt there is some difficulty—there are some inconveniences, but they have boon very much exaggerated. In the first place it is said that there are such a lot of different bodies 1256 of Nonconformists that we cannot by any possibility treat them as a whole. Well, now, in a great number of our country districts there is only one body of Nonconformists — the Primitive Methodists or the Methodists. In other cases there may be more, but all I can tell you about the religious difficulty is that in one school of which I am chairman I had two passive resistors, and we also had at our school a Wesleyan teacher. When I first took the chair of my new body, I said that I was perfectly prepared that the Wesleyan children should be put during the religious hour under the Wesleyan teacher, and I was told that they had no objection whatever to the religious teaching that was going on in the school. On another occasion, in another school that I was connected with, I had a petition from the Wesleyans, who said: "Will you allow us to come and teach in the school during the religious hour?" I immediately gave them leave. There was some difficulty about it, but if a system of that sort had been generally accepted there would have been little difficulty about religious education as far as general agricultural villages are concerned. It is not the education that you give, but it is the man who gives it. I will not occupy your time long, but the other day I came across a sermon by Dr. Clifford reported in the Christian World. I have every reason to suppose that it would be well reported. The subject he took was the religious atmosphere. I will read you two short extracts. He says that many of the mistakes of Parliament as well as of the Churches arise from their failure to recognise the power of atmosphere in the training of a child. The training was of course effected by such things as books, mechanical arrangements, maps, plans, etc., but it was pro-eminently a question of atmosphere. For the educational culture of a spirit made in the likeness of God an atmosphere was necessary in which were various ingredients. First there was the ruler—the superintendent, the manager, the person in command—then there was the room or building in which the children were confined. Much depended upon that, also the display on the wall, the pictures representing great facts and personalities. And then he finished by saying a good teacher was the making of a school. The school would be a good school if it had a good teacher; 1257 it would be a bad school if it had a bad teacher. His weekly visits to his Sunday school had practically no value except to himself. It was the teacher with his scholars around him looking into their eyes and bringing out his religious influence who was doing the real work of teaching. What we want is that the education of this country for the future shall be a Christian education. We want religion to be written on the face of the Bill as it is in Germany, as it is in Canada, where they take care that whatever the religious teaching may be, there shall be an inspection to show it is properly given. We want to have it given by trained teachers who have at heart the religion they profess to teach, and in that way and in that way alone, when the country comes to understand it, shall we be able thoroughly to carry out the country's demand for a religious basis to our education.
§ LORD CASTLETOWN
My Lords, I have no right to interpose in the debate to-night as one dealing mainly with educational questions in Ireland, but I have always taken a very deep interest in education. I have gone abroad to study what has happened there. I have also worked hard in my own district, and I am glad to say that I am now managing five or six schools in the sister country. One thing which strikes me in the debate to which I have been listening —listening, as I say, rather as an outsider; but very often the outsider sees a, good deal of what is going on—is that though the Bill is called an education Bill nearly all of the speeches made have been upon the question of religion. Now education may be secular, it may be denominational; but I do not think it is considered to be entirely a religious question. Therefore I venture to say that the issue of the Bill and its object seems to me to be rather confused by many of the speakers. I would venture to say also that the three great essentials of good education are (1) control by the people who pay for the education, (2) a proper thorough training to fit children to compete in the world and to compete also and especially with foreign nations, and (3) religious teaching when desired and where desired. The Bill, in my opinion, gives us these three essentials. 'The most noble Prelate the Archbishop 1258 of Canterbury, dealing with the first essential, gave his qualified approval of the mandate which the country has given to the present Government, that is for the control by the people of educational questions. So too, I may venture to say, it fulfils to a certain extent No. 2. The great problem of education to my mind, is —does the Bill provide a good system of teaching, one which will fit the present generation to compete in the struggle of life, I have been studying, as I said before, education in many countries. I have been studying the problem for some years, and lately I have had the good fortune to be in Belgium and study the problem there. I honestly say in this House—I daresay it may be a strong statement— but I do not hesitate to say that nearly every child in Belgium is infinitely better fitted by the educational system in that land than our children. Training is much more comprehensive, and much more perfect, and I would ask you to note, too, my Lords, that they have a religious training which is very similar to that provided in this Bill. Some of the clauses of this Bill dealing with religious training seem very much, when one looks into the Belgian law, as if they had been taken from the laws of that country. While I am on the religious point, I would like to say how much struck I was by the terse and strong speech of my noble friend the Duke of Norfolk, who spoke on behalf of the Roman Catholics and the Roman Catholic Party. Living in Ireland as I do, I yield to none in my admiration of the splendid lives lived by many of my fellow countrymen, Roman Catholics—all through love of religion—and the high moral tone of their lives, but I would ask them, and if my noble friend were in his place I would ask him, if they are satisfied, as I understand they are satisfied in Belgium with the training that is given to children in that great Catholic and industrial country—I would ask them how can they find fault with the religious teaching which is provided for in this Bill. I have by me the education law of Belgium. I will quote you a very few clauses dealing with religious teaching, and show you, if you will permit me, the analogy. I do not propose to inflict on the House the reading of the clauses in French, but I will try and put them as rapidly as possible into English. These are the clauses 1259 dealing with primary instruction in Belgium. Primary instruction comprehends necessarily the teaching of religion and morals, writing, reading, arithmetic, the legal system of weights and measures, elements of language, geography, history of Belgium, notions of hygiene, singing, gymnastics, and for girls it also brings in working with the needle, and for boys a, knowledge of agriculture. Then it goes on to say what is most interesting to us, that what is the local authority there has the right to extend the different systems where they are possible and where they are well advised. Then as far as the religious question goes, the ministers of different religions are invited to give in the primary schools submitted to the present law, teaching in religion and in morals, and the law goes on to explain the hours that are to be given for religious instruction; and then in the last clause of all it refers to the inspection by Government of the religious instruction to see that that instruction is properly given. Now, my Lords, there is an analogy which I venture to say exists between what is the present Belgian law and what is, roughly speaking, the suggestion made in the Bill.
What strikes me—again, if I may use the word, as an onlooker — is that the value of necessary education during these debates is being forgotten in pursuit of what I may venture to call a religious shadow. The child and its teaching, even the future of its existence, are being made, if I may say so, the shuttlecock of politics. I believe in religious training, but I do not believe in bewildering children with dogmas. If the parents in Belgium, as is provided under the law I have quoted, are able to do their duty as they are—I have been there and asked the question— then this Bill gives ample scope if they are vigorous in this country to do their duty here. If the local authority which is put into the Bill does not do its duty and does not interpret the Bill in the spirit desired by those who pay the rates, and who pay for the work of education, and control education, I must say I think very poorly of Englishmen if they are not able to see that the work they pay for is carried out in the way they would wish it. I rejoice to see in the Bill that Wales has been able to secure, so to speak, a council of 1260 education for itself. I think it does great credit to Wales, and to the Welsh people, and it does great credit, if I may say so, to the Government for dealing so broadly and liberally with these people. Wales has done fine work educationally, and her people, I think, will very likely set a good example to other local authorities throughout the land. This brings me to the essential of the best training to fit a child for life and work. That is the great problem you have to face. The Bill, as we have it, has many facilities, and I hope the local authority, as the directing and controlling power, will act vigorously and, fearlessly. I fancy Wales will give a very good example, as I said before, to authorities throughout the land. I have been through a large part of the Continent studying this question of education, and I say there is very little time to lose if we are to fit our children as the children, of the Continent are being fitted. They are bettor equipped than we are, and if we remain squabbling over the question of religious teaching, they on the Continent will be forging ahead. From the very able and kindly speech that I heard from the most rev. Prelate the Archbishopof Canterbury, and from other indications, I cannot help hoping that in all likelihood, when we come to Committee, means may be found to make this Bill a great, if not a final, settlement. I would ask all those who are here to remember when that time conies that then, and as long as this education contest goes on and the fire is kept alight, we are delaying the proper treatment of education while our competitors are, as I said, forging ahead. We thereby endanger—and I think it is the greatest danger to which a nation can be exposed—the future of the children of this generation. We endanger their future in life, we endanger their existence, and I think I may safely say we endanger the very existence of the nation itself.
§ *LORD HYLTON
My Lords, after the President of the Council rose yesterday afternoon, he expressed regret that while the Church of England and the Church of Rome were well represented in this House, there was nobody, he thought, who could speak with equal authority on behalf of Nonconformist bodies. I think we all welcome the appearance of so weighty a representative as my noble friend Lord Winterstoke. We 1261 do not agree, perhaps, with all his conclusions, but it must be of considerable advantage and value to our deliberations, that Nonconformity should be represented in this House by one so well calculated to speak on its behalf as his Lordship.
I should not have ventured to intervene, my Lords, this evening if I had not sat for some years as a member of a County Education Committee, and, like a great many of your Lordships, attended pretty regularly to my duties as manager of one or two elementary schools. I take, of course, an interest in education, but I do not know, thinking it over, whether that really is any excuse for my rising to-night. My noble friend Lord Cast let own just now gave as his J reason for speaking his zeal and interest in education, but the fact is, as has been pointed out by more than one speaker, this Bill, though professedly a Bill for the better promotion of education, has hardly anything to do with education at all. The noble Earl, Lord Crewe, lamented in his speech yesterday that some nineteen-twentieths of the discussion which had taken place in regard to this matter within the last six months related to so-called religious difficulties, but surely the fault of that, if fault there be, lies at the door of His Majesty's Government. This Bill is almost exclusively concerned with the question of religious observances, and if passed in its present form I have no doubt whatever that it would result eventually in the ousting of religious observances from nearly every one of the elementary schools of this country. I am perfectly willing to admit that such is not the intention of the framers of the Bill. Lord Crewe and others who spoke on behalf of the Government have told is that suck is not their intention, and we on these benches are perfectly willing to admit that they are accurate in what they say on that point. But I think this Bill might be correctly described as a Bill for rendering doubtful the continuance of religious instruction in on schools. The Government is not entirely to blame in this matter, for the situation has been growing very grave ever since the passage of the Bill of 1902. The evil will be greatly increased, I believe, if the present Bill passes into law, but the evil has been growing ever since the 1262 Act of 1902 was passed. I will return to that point presently, but all of us on this side of the House expected and understood, as a result of the late General Election, that some amending Bill would be introduced in regard to that measure. I for one — of course I can only I speak for myself — could not oppose various Amendments to the Act of 1902. No measure that is passed in Parliament is a perfect measure, and no doubt the Act of 1902 did require and did suggest Amendments. There were many of us I know on this side of the House who would have offered no opposition whatever to an amending Bill endeavouring, where grievances could be proved to exist, to remove those grievances. I will not refer in detail to what those grievances were—those of the passive resisters, and, in certain cases where further so-called popular control should, be given in the voluntary schools. Wherever grievances could be held to be created by the Act of 1902, I am convinced many on these benches would have cordially supported His Majesty's Government in a measure to redress them. But the grievances that I believe did exist under the Act of 1902 were not, I think, general throughout the country. They were only of a sporadic nature. Your Lordships will have in your recollection the case of Kennington that was referred to by the most rev. Primate yesterday. The most rev. Primate referred to this case in his knowledge where voluntary and board schools existed side by side, where there was no compulsion on the parent who disliked voluntary schools to send his children there, and how could it be said that in places like Kennington any grievance existed which made it necessary that legislation of so drastic a character as this should be brought in? The only grievance that in a case like Kennington can be said to exist is that in denominational schools denominationalists retain the right to appoint the teacher, a right dearly purchased by sums provided by voluntary efforts for providing sites and buildings. The case like that of Kennington is by no means an isolated one; there are similar ones all over the country. In my own neighbourhood I happen, to know of three small towns, or large villages, where the population 1263 consists largely of miners, nearly all of them Nonconformists, and in each of these villages or towns there exist a voluntary school and a board school. The parents have the option of sending children to one or the other just as they please, and in cases like that again how can any grievance be said to exist? Take the case of another large group of schools such as that at Seaham referred to by the noble Marquess Lord Londonderry yesterday evening. Seaham, the noble Marquess mentioned, has a large Church of England school which is attended by numbers of children of Nonconformist parents, but not one of those children was taken away from the religious instruction in that Church of England school, and there was no grievance, no religious difficulty felt whatever. My Lords, I am anxious not to take up unnecessarily the time of the House, but I could have quoted the case of another Church of England school well known to me in the village where I live myself. There are a number of children of Nonconformist parents attending that school, and I asked the clergyman if he had ever known a case of a single child of Nonconformist parents being withdrawn from religious instruction in that school. He told me not one, and he added that the religious instruction given in that school was and always had been of a character calculated in no way to ruffle any susceptibilities nor to include any doctrine or formula that could be distasteful or objectionable to the parents of Nonconformist children that attended the school. I mention that case because I think, my Lords, it may perhaps strengthen my argument that the religious difficulties we have heard of are not general at all, or spread over a wide area, but are essentially of a sporadic character; and surely in cases like those I have referred to, the most fair, generous and liberal course would be to ascertain the wishes of the parents of the children attending the schools before any change is made in the existing conditions.
After the eloquent speeches we have listened to yesterday and to-day from right rev. Prelates it would be useless for me to insist upon the necessity of our maintaining religion 1264 as the basis of all elementary education in this country. I think, with hardly any exception, that is the general wish both of your Lordships' House and of the country. If your Lordships were not convinced by the eloquent speech of the most rev. Primate there is nothing else that I can say, but I believe all of us must agree that some religious instruction should be given, and that the children must attend it unless the parents like to take advantage of the Conscience Clause. I cannot admit the argument of the noble Earl the President of the Council that religious teaching is of no value where it is compulsory. I think the noble Earl might just as well attempt to argue that secular education would be of no value where it is compulsory. What do noble Lords do in the case of their own children? When it is Sunday they tell their children that it is time to go to Church. When it is time for them to go to school, they tell them to go to school. There is compulsion in that. Whoever heard of children being able to receive any education, secular or religious, unless to a certain extent it was compulsory? My Lords, if we are agreed that some religious instruction should be given in every elementary school, how are we to attain that object? The noble Earl Lord Carrington said yesterday that religious and not secular instruction was one of the principles of the Government measure, but when he was challenged by the Bishop of St. Asaph to explain how that principle could be found in the Bill, it was quite impossible for him or for anyone else to find that principle included in the Bill. It is certainly not in Clause 1, and it is not in paragraph 2 of Clause 8. Let us try to insert that principle in the Bill by which we shall please not only those on our own benches, but I hope also the noble Earl Lord Carrington.
Whilst I contend that the principle of religious as opposed to secular instruction is not contained in the Bill, there are certain clauses indicatory of the principle, but they are clauses of the most slippery and elusive character. By the Bill all voluntary schools must relinquish their property; but that is a mere question of £ s. d., and comparatively unimportant. 1265 The voluntary schools have to relinquish a great deal more than their property, and that is, their present opportunity of giving I religious instruction. We are taking away all certainty in the matter, and in return we get chances. We get a chance of facilities; a chance of extended facilities; a chance of contracting out I of the Bill under Clause 5. But then, suppose we succeed in getting these chances, at a cost of what friction, what strife and what waste of energy shall we have secured them? Supposing we do not succeed in getting these facilities or extended facilities, then we must fall back on what the Education Committees like to give in the way of syllabuses, that simple Bible teaching. which no teacher may teach and which no child need be taught. That must eventually lead to secular instruction, and the mischief, I am sorry to say, has begun already. His Majesty's Government is not wholly responsible for that. It is partly the result of the legislation of 1870 and 1902. We learned yesterday from the discussion what is taking place in Wales, where, in numbers of schools, no religious instruction is being given at all. And then we learned of Huddersfield. There is nothing to prevent that spreading. I have here a Return from the County Education Committee in Somerset as to the syllabus of religious instruction followed in the county schools, and this bears out thoroughly the contention that religious instruction is gradually being whittled away under this system. The syllabus is an excellent syllabus and is followed in ninety-two cases, but in forty-six schools an abridged form, is followed, and in four schools there are syllabuses other than that adopted by the Committee. I am not going to trouble your Lordships by going at length into details, but of twenty-six schools enumerated on the first page of this Return I may mention that in sixteen there is no inspection whatever of the religious instruction that is being given. Under those circumstances, I think I may say that the religious instruction that is being given in the provided schools is not quite satisfactory and not likely in the future to be of a satisfactory character. I should like to see it, in Committee, made illegal in the case of provided 1266 schools for these religious syllabuses to be tampered with or curtailed or for others to be used in their place. I should like to see the power of drawing, up these syllabuses withdrawn from the Education Committees, and for Parliament to resume the power delegated in this matter. This is a national matter, and not a local one. Religion, it seems to me, is as vital in Wales or Huddersfield as in Hampshire or any other county. Many of these syllabuses are excellent. The Minister for Education, when introducing the Bill in another place; particularly singled out one or two-counties. However different their views of thought—Roman Catholics, Church of England, Dissenters—on the different county education committees, they meet together, and in almost all cases have found no difficulty in forming syllabuses on which they could agree. I should like to see this done in a national way, and I cannot see why it should be impossible for a Conference to meet in London, or elsewhere, where leading men representing all Parties, laymen as well as ecclesiastical, should meet and that some national syllabus should be drawn up-for use in all provided schools. And I should like to see Parliament then-sanction the labours of the Conference and make it statutory for local authorities and managers to see that such syllabus; was used in all provided schools. I should not object to seeing it applied in Church of England schools, where the majority of the parents wish, though, of course, different treatment would be required for Roman Catholic and Jewish schools. But this is an age of tolerance, and I cannot understand why so many politicians should take such an intolerant view of this matter as it seems to me they are doing. There are, of course, many other provisions of the Bill, but at this late hour, and after having, I am sure, exhausted your Lordships' patience with the remarks I have already made, I shall only say that I hope this Bill will be most drastically and thoroughly altered in Committee when October comes.
§ *LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, it is not necessary for anyone to make a 1267 special apology for speaking on this occasion. One and all, I imagine, feel in a special degree the responsibility imposed upon us by the Constitution of the Realm, and that sense of duty which was so eloquently expressed by the noble Duke who spoke from these benches in the name of Roman Catholics yesterday evening. I think that any Member of your Lordships' House who thinks that on account of what he has heard or seen or observed, he can add something to the discussion, ought to do so on this occasion. It is on those grounds, and on those grounds alone that I venture to address your Lordships. This is a national question. All questions, of course, are in a sense national, but this is in a particular degree a national question, a question we cannot leave to be fought out on conventional Party lines by the two front benches of this House under rules and restrictions as rigid as those of a field day at Aldershot, and with a result as certain and inevitable as that of a stage duel. We want to discuss this question, because we hope for something more than a mere Party vote to result. It ïs a discussion which we hope will lead to the alteration, the formation, and the confirmation of opinions. I speak, not only for myself, but also I am sure for many others on this side of the House when I say we should be heartily and sincerely glad to see His Majesty's Government solve this question to the general satisfaction of the nation. Your Lordships will note that. I say the nation, and not merely the large majority in the House of Commons. That is a different thing altogether, and I think it is pretty clear that no noble Lord on the other side of the House would attempt for one moment to deny that the nation as a whole will not be satisfied with this Bill. It is not necessary for me to dilate on the dissatisfaction itself, or the nature or cause of that dissatisfaction; that has been done amply and sufficiently already. That it exists, nobody in their senses can for a moment deny, and I shall therefore endeavour to confine myself to a brief examination of the general principles for which we are striving.
1268 I think the Lord President was perfectly right when he said in the opening words of his speech that our object is to establish a national system of education. That is the object of the Bill. I think it is equally beyond dispute that the nation does actually want a national system of education. The nation is not always able to express clearly what it does want, but undoubtedly there was a mandate for public control where there is public expenditure, and I think that the inner meaning which lies beneath, that mandate is a conscious or half conscious desire for a national system of education. I also freely and fully admit, while I am on the subject of mandates, that there was a mandate for a final settlement of this longstanding problem—a mandate for the removal of the grievances of Nonconformists, which I do not think are denied by any fair-minded or reasonable Churchman. So far, then, I admit the existence of the mandates on which His Majesty's Government rely. There is no doubt that we must have a Bill giving full public control over public expenditure in the matter of education, and we must have that Bill with as little delay as possible in order to put an end to this interminable and embittered strife.
But another thing, I think, is perfectly clear, although it is not said to be supported by a mandate, and that is that the nation is not prepared to have, in fact, will not have, education divorced from religion. It seems to me to follow from this—of course every man can only speak for himself and from how things appear to him—it seems to me that what follows from this is, that what is required is a Bill to establish a national system of education of which religious instruction is to be an essential part. That, my Lords, I believe, was the mandate of the nation, and so far almost all men, I think, are agreed. But it is precisely at this point that we come to the difficulty, and that is, what is to be the form of that religious instruction? The only solution I can see is that each denomination should be equal, absolutely equal in the eyes of the State, and absolutely equal in the eyes 1269 of the law. And I cannot, for the life of me, see why such a system cannot be established. It has been done, and with great success, in other countries. I was very glad when the noble Lord who spoke from the Government Benches a short time ago, alluded for the first time to the subject of educational systems abroad, for it is my object to say a few words this evening on that point, passing on as quickly as I possibly can. The Bill does not provide that each religion shall be equal in the eyes of the State and in the eyes of the law. The Lord President, in moving the Second Reading, told us clearly that it is an undenominational Bill, and that the object of Clause 1, which he declared to be the Bill, was to place an undenominational school within the Teach of every child whose parents desired it to attend one. That, he added, would remove the Nonconformist grievance. I think the noble Lord was more honest I than discreet when he made that statement, for in doing so, my Lords, to use a somewhat vulgar phrase, he let the cat out of the bag. What we cannot get to be understood, and yet it is the whole point of this difficult question, is that un-denominationalism is not neutral, it is not non-religion, it is something very definite, and something which is just as abhorrent to ardent Churchmen and ardent Roman Catholics as Churchmanship, Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, are to Nonconformists themselves. Undenominationalism is, in fact, the religion of the Free Churches, and the point of the whole question is that you cannot establish undenominationalism, on the assumption that it is something neutral, in preference to other systems of religious instruction. What you must have is equal facilities for all. I said just now that other nations have been through the same difficulty. When the noble Lord who spoke last but one began to allude to Belgium, I hoped very much indeed that he would tell you how the neighbouring country of Holland has been through precisely the same difficulties in regard to the educational problem as we are now engaged in ourselves. In fact, the history of the religious and educational questions in Holland affords a most striking parallel to that same question in our country during the past 100 years. I will not presume to detain your Lordships 1270 by dilating upon or explaining that parallel. Probably it is familiar to many Members of this House, and anyhow the whole history of the question is easily accessible. The only thing I should like to suggest is that the systems of these other countries are well worthy of consideration at the hands of those who are endeavouring to solve this problem.
The foreign system on which I wish to say a few words this evening is that of Germany. I have a special reason for wishing to do so, and that is that I was brought up in my youth to a great extent in Germany, and that I have a very great affection and admiration for Germans and things German. I do not think I need enlarge any further on my reason for referring to the German system. I am only surprised that the German system, which I think is very generally admitted to be one of the most thorough and efficient in the world, has not been brought into these discussions, either in this House or in another place. The thing which I think strikes one first of all in considering the German system of education is that the Germans know what they want in the way of education. They have an ideal. They know what they are striving after. They know what they want education to do, and therefore they know equally whether it ought to be, and what they want to make it. I daresay your Lordships have seen an interesting book on Industrial Efficiency by Professor Shadwell. I trust you will allow me to quote a short passage from it because it expresses better than I could in my own words the idea I wish to convey to your Lordships' minds. He says of the German system, that—the aim is clear, precise and practical. The function of the elementary or pupil school (Volksschule) concisely defined, is to train up the young in religion, good conduct, and patriotism by education and teaching, and to instruct them in the general knowledge and the acquirements requisite for a civil life. This definition gives the key to the whole educational scheme. Character and conduct are the primary objects, then love of country, then such general knowledge as will enable the child to take its part in the ordered life of the community whether as men or women.What I want your Lordships to note is that religion comes first as the 1271 foundation of morality and conduct. The German people have decided, if I may quote once more—That morality cannot lie taught efficiently apart from religion, and further that religions teaching to be effective must be dogmatic. For this the law carefully provides. The schools are denominational and separate for Roman Catholics and Protestants except where there are not enough children of one confession to form a separate school. In that case they are mixed—Paritätische or Simultanschvden—but the children receive religions instruction from teachers of their own confession. In many towns there are also Jewish schools, and occasionally one or two of tome other sect.I must not delay your Lordships long with the details of this system, which are extremely interesting and which have a very real and practical bearing on the problem we have to face. When it is not possible to form three schools, two schools are formed, and where it is not possible to form two schools, one school is formed which receives the children of the three or more different confessions. In those cases the headmaster is chosen from among the members of the church to which the majority of the parents belong. The second teacher represents the religion of the parents of the minority. That is roughly the principle, and even if there is a minority of no more than twelve children, the local authorities are bound to provide separate religious instruction and financial difficulties are not admitted to be an excuse. That is the German system, and it seems to me to solve the very problem we are struggling with ourselves. These German schools are in all cases on a footing of equality before the State and the law, which ordains religious teaching, but leaves the choice absolutely free.
Let me say a word or two about the instruction itself. This instruction is divided into (1) Biblical history, (2) Catechism. The latter, of course, is dogmatic. Each has so many hours a week given to it, as a rule three to Biblical history and two to Catechism. In Evangelical schools both are taught by the teachers. In Catholic schools Biblical history is taught by the teachers, and the Catechism by the clergy. I should like to tell your Lorr1 ships, if I may read one more extract, what in the opinion of Professsor 1272 Shadwell, a great student of foreign systems, are the results of this system. He says—Just as the Germans have known how to retain the classical element in their higher education while adding the higher developments of science and other modern studies, so they have known how to build up the most complete system of national education on the old foundations of character and conduct. They have-not flung away the old in acquiring the new, but have combined both. The retention of systematic religious teaching has a far-reaching influence on the national life which is plainly visible in many directions, and not least in the industrial sphere. To it may be traced the sense of duty and responsibility, the respect for law, the steady effort, the self-restraint, the maintenance of a higher ideal than the materialism of Social Democracy. And to these may be added the striking absence of corruption in public life which is the indispensable condition for the healthy exercise of those municipal functions that are carried on upon so large a scale in German towns to the benefit of the community.I have only one more word on the German system, and that is, that the teachers are trained in seminaries or State colleges, that they have the rights or duties of civil servants, and that as a matter of general observation, the German school teacher has no need of self-assertion and consequently he does not teach it. It is idle to assert that there are not alternatives other than those which have been already mooted when we have these examples of other countries before us. The noble Lord, Lord Burghclere, who spoke yesterday, professed to have exhausted all possible alternative schemes, but he devoted his energies chiefly to flogging a dead horse in disposing of an alternative not seriously advocated by any large number of people in this country, viz., the so called secular solution. The Lord President, in his pleasant and witty speech, made an eloquent final appeal. He said: Is it not possible that this long strife may be made to cease? My answer to that is yes, if the Bill is purged of those elements which lead to religious strife. But it is for his Majesty's Government, and for those who support them, to make the first move. It is for them to withdraw that which is destructive and that which is vindictive in the Bill. It is for them to withdraw those things which many people in this country consider unfair, unjust, and an 1273 outrage to their consciences. It does not matter at all whether the majority think these people are wrong in considering the Bill unjust and unfair. The fact remains that a number of our fellow-countrymen do, and you cannot have a settlement of this question unless you provide some arrangement which will not seem to them unjust, unfair and outrageous. It is possible to bring an end to this strife if His Majesty's Government will not rob Peter to pay Paul; if they will not, in endeavouring to remedy old grievances, create new ones for ourselves—I mean for the members of the Anglican Church. We do not want concessions and facilities. What we want is justice and the maintenance of our rights. We do not want an undenominational Bill any more than the Nonconformist wants an Anglican Bill, or the Roman Catholics a Free Church Bill. What we want, and I think what the nation wants, is a national Bill, a Bill which instructs the local authority to provide schools of all classes, Church, Roman Catholic, Undenominational and Jewish, in which children can be instructed in accordance with the wishes of their parents. And when I say children, I mean all children. There should be no possibility of any child being excepted from these facilities. Give to every single parent in this country what he wants. Give us a national Bill like this, and I am sure that I am not speaking only for myself when I say that we will help His Majesty's Government with all our hearts.
§ *EARL CAWDOR
My Lords, there has been I think we shall admit one very noticeable thing with respect to the Bill we are now going to discuss—I mean the wide divergence between the statements made by individual members of His Majesty's Government and the result when we attain to the collective wisdom of the Cabinet. The country was thrown some time ago, I think, into a certain state of fancied security chiefly by statements made by the President of the Board of Education, until one day we found laid before us the Bill that we have to discuss to-night, and then the security afforded by the statements of the President of the Board of Education seemed to fade away. I think it is 1274 worth while to consider for a few moments some of these statements, for they show us at all events the trend of thought of some of those who had studied education carefully; yes, and had studied it from the Nonconformist point of view, and before that pressure of political exigencies came about which has resulted in the production of the present Bill. Pious hopes were expressed by various members of the Government that they would do all that was fair to every parent. Every parent was to select what he wished as to religious instruction, and all these individual members of the Government were going to see that the parent got it. May I quote a short sentence from a speech by the President of the Board of Education only as far back as January last? He said he longed to see one kind of elementary schools for the whole country. He believed it was not passing the wit of man to devise a scheme whereby the public authorities should have complete public control over all the public elementary schools in the land, and whereby the wishes of the parents should be consulted as to the kind of religion they wished to be taught, and when and how they wished it taught in those schools. Those were the views of the President of the Board of Education in January last. I am afraid we seek in vain for one sign of that policy in the Bill before your Lordships' House to-day. I ask where in the Bill can you find that the wishes of the parents are to be consulted and safeguarded as to the religious teaching they wish for, or when and how they wish it taught? All is relegated to the control of the local education authority; and at the beck and call of the local education authority all religious teaching in any school may, if this Bill passes, be swept away. Nowhere in the Bill can we find any parent secured the religious teaching he demands for his child. Nowhere in the Bill, as it now stands, can he have secured to him the teaching for his child by the teacher whom he selects. The statement of the student in his calmer moments studying the real educational requirements contrasts badly with the action of the politician forced to accept a Bill which he cannot and does not like and which he has to accept because of political exigency.
1275 My Lords, we are told very often—I think we have been told in this debate already—that we cannot provide religious teaching for all the sects because of their number. May I quote an authority on that subject, dating back only as far as 1903, after the passing of this poor Education Act of 1902 of which we have heard so many hard things? What does my authority say?—there still remains the question as to the nature of the religion taught in all the schools. Here the parents really must, whether they like it or not, conquer their shyness, and making their first appearance in this ancient and horrid controversy, tell us, when they send Tom and Jane to school, whether they wish them to receive any—and if any, what— religious education. There is no chance of the multiplication of strange parental religions. We are not an imaginative people. Jews, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Dissenters in a lump will usually exhaust the list. The great body of Dissenters will be found ready to accept the same broad simple Bible teaching which for the most part characterise board school Christianity.My Lords, those are weighty words, and they are the words of the present President of the Board of Education written in the Independent Review for October, 1903. What becomes of the statement that you cannot deal with all the claims of the different sects because they are so numerous, and what becomes of the statement of one of his colleagues that to talk of Dissenters in a lump was an insult to them? There seems one peculiarity about this Bill when one comes to study its details, and that is that wherever there is any facility granted or any concession made in principle there seems to dog the steps of that concession some evil spirit within or behind the Cabinet, I know not which, which inserts into the machinery of the Bill that which makes the concession worthless. May I give your Lordships a few examples? First of all, I touch on Clause 2. There there is no mandatory power to compel the taking over of a school by the local authority, and therefore the taking over of the school by the local authority becomes void. It need not be carried into effect, though you profess openly that these schools are to be taken over. We have plenty of pious hopes that they will be taken over, but that is not business, and I do not think we shall thrive on them. There is no power to compel local authori- 1276 ties to take over any schools if they do not choose, and if facilities are pressed for the local authorities can still decline to take over the schools. Then what becomes of your facilities under Clause 2? I say they are destroyed by the machinery of the Bill.
Then I come to Clause 3. There we have no definition of facilities at all. No one can tell what they are. Parliament apparently is not going to decide what facilities are. You are going to leave it again to the local authority and what can the local authority do? The President of the Board of Education admitted some time ago that though he hoped all authorities would behave sensibly—he went so far as to mention the words "stupid" and I think "obstinate" with respect to some of them—without expressing any opinion on the subject, but assuming that some are stupid or obstinate or vicious, the local authority can get rid of the facilities under Clause 3 absolutely and entirely. They can restrict hours under which religious teaching is to be given exactly as they please; they can restrict the number of days as they choose. Parliament and the Government may say they think facilities should be applied to every day, but the local authorities are much bigger people than the Board of Education and the Cabinet itself. They can regulate these things exactly as they like, and though we put down what we think should be done, there is nothing to ensure facilities under Clause 3 and there is no appeal.
I now come to Clause 4—that clause which is considered to be a safeguard of many interests affected by this Bill, and which we are told was introduced— I know not if it be true or not—in order specially to meet the case of Roman Catholic schools and Roman Catholic children. We have the ballot by parents, and though I do not mean to dwell upon it I detest the idea of ballot by parents in voluntary schools. We are to have a ballot by parents, and first of all it is to be conducted by the local authority, to whom the parents are appealing for a change in the regulations of the school. That ballot is to be secret. We are told that is one of the great merits of the Bill. We accept that and 1277 we assume the Government wills that it is made absolutely secret. What happens then? Turn to Sub-section (b), Clause 4, and the four-fifths who apply in order to get extended facilities. Under Clause 4 four-fifths must prove that there is public school accommodation in schools not affected by a permission given for the children attending the school whose parents do not desire those facilities. What is the result? Your ballot is secret, absolutely secret. You do not know who the four-fifths are who have voted in favour of the extended facilities, and therefore you have not the slightest idea who the one-fifth are. You do not know the minority,and if you do not know the minority how are you going to make the inquiry to satisfy anyone that this minority of the children can be given accommodation in other schools? It is an impossibility. Unless you know and can put your finger on the children of the minority you cannot say whether there is a sufficient and proper accommodation for them in that particular district. The only answer to anyone holding the inquiry under the terms of this clause must be that the case is not and cannot be proved for extended facility. Therefore, I say again that Clause 4 is made nugatory, killed and made of no effect, simply by its own machinery. It is a serious thing to say, but it is nothing much less than a fraud—I do not mean an intentional fraud for a moment: I do not want to use so hard a word as fraud—but it is an absurdity that you should offer with one hand certain extended facilities, of which so much has been made, and yet allow the machinery of the clause to make them an absolute impossibility. There may be an answer to this, and if anyone can tell me what the answer is I shall accept it with gratitude, and with much humility.
With regard to these extended facilities it is true that the local authority need give none. I should have thought the extended facilities ought to have been made mandatory. Further, I should have thought that the natural duty of the Education Department was not to say yes or no as fancy determined, and as political exigency might affect the decision, but to see that the mandatory 1278 effects of an Act of Parliament were carried into force. That, I am afraid, is far from the intention of the Bill, and that again to my mind makes the whole of Clause 4 practically useless for the purpose for which it is intended.
I want to touch for a moment, if I am not detaining you too long, on one point in Clause 5. I should be very glad if some Member of the Government would tell us what is the object of Sub-section (3) of that clause—inserted so I am informed on Report. It states, with reference to the appeals as to extended facilities, that an appeal under this section shall not be entertained unless it is made before the 1st January, 1908. Why, I am at a loss to conceive. Why not after the 1st January, 1908? Is it not possible that a rural district may change to an urban district after that date, and that a population of 4,999 may possibly grow into a population of 5,000? Is it not possible that a majority of those who wish for extended facilities may come into existence after that date? Is it not possible that an alternative school may have been provided? In each of these cases the extended facilities would; be justified and would be the right of the people in that district. But for some reason I do not know how to explain the door is to be closed on 1st January, 1908, and apparently however large a district may become, however much the population may grow, however many schools may be built, you have, shut the door as far as appeals under this clause is concerned. Perhaps it will be explained, but at present I do not understand it at all. I do not suppose an injustice is intended, but if the point I put is a true point there must be the grossest injustice in the future—after the clock strikes on the 1st January, 1908. Whatever be the rights of parents they should be extended into these districts when and as the cases and conditions differ and change, and I can see no reason why that extended facilities appeal is to be barred because they happen to have reached one particular date.
One further point on that. The ocal education authority only take over these schools for a term of years, and 1279 I think this applies also to cases that come under the orders of the Commission set up by the Bill. They could then drop an agreement, make a fresh arrangement and grant no facilities. But if it is past the 1st January, 1908, no one has a remedy or appeal under the Bill. These are questions, I submit with deference to His Majesty's Government, which ought to receive a clear, definite and absolute reply.
One more point as to the Commission. The Commission set up under the Bill is to act on the principles of the High Court, though no sooner have we said that than the Bill proposes, under Sub-sections (a) and (b) to abolish the principles of the High Court, but to abolish them only in one direction. It only abolishes them and says they are to be deviated from in directions suitable to the local authority. The whole of the deviations are in favour of the local authority and against those who may be appealing before the Commission. Why tamper with the principles of the High Court? If they are good enough for the High Court I should think they are good enough for the Commission under this Bill. But if they have to be deviated from there are many more which should come in so that the deviations may be all-round deviations and not unfair and onesided deviations as they are to-day.
I crave your Lordships' indulgence for a few words words with regard to Part III., which includes the Council for Wales—a very astonishing proposal dealt with in the most astonishing way. I have never heard this proposal supported by anyone in charge of the Bill either in this House or in another place. The President of the Board of Education, in another place, slurred it over and left it aside. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill into your Lordships' House—you will remember the way he dealt with it. I do not think he gave us the impression that it was a part of the Bill near to his own heart. If he did so he had a peculiar way of showing the inner workings of his own heart. But what is this Council of Wales to do? Indeed, it is very difficult to know. One has to watch the Bill of the Government day by day to see what is going on with regard to this part of the Bill. What is perfectly clear is that this 1280 part of the Bill has been thrown on the Table of the House of Commons and is now set on the Table of your Lordships' House without any thought as to its details or any knowledge as to what it is intended to do. Let us see first what the original proposal was under this Bill, for though it is only one clause it has taken three entirely separate and different forms within a very few days, and to find out what has been going on you have to read three separate Bills. Let me read the original proposal as it appeared in the Government's Bill—the following powers and duties, so far as they relate to Wales shall, subject to such exceptions as His Majesty may make by Order in Council, be transferred to the Council in Wales: (a) the powers and duties of the Board of Education; and (b) the powers and duties of the Board of Agriculture with respect to instruction connected with agriculture and forestry; and (c) the powers and duties of the Central Welsh Board for Intermediate Education. The Board of Education shall in each year pay to the Council of Wales any money which may be granted by Parliament in respect of education and science and art in Wales, with the exception of money granted in aid of universities and university colleges.The Council is to have the whole of the powers of the Board of Education in that draft of the Bill—they are to receive £800,000 a year of Imperial funds for grants, to be handed over without any check, control, or Ministerial responsibility of any sort. That I do not eomment upon, but that was the proposal in the Bill when it was first printed. In Committee, and as I am informed without any notice at all, the following Amendment was carried:—the Order in Council shall provide for the appointment by His Majesty of a Member of Parliament, whether a Member holding office under the Crown or not—mark this, my Lords—who shall be responsible to Parliament for any act of the Council of Wales done in the exercise of any of the powers of the Board of Education delegated to the Council under this section, and shall have full control over the Council in respect of the exercise of such powers.What became of the Council then? You have first of all pleaded that it is a necessary thing to give to Wales its own Council and its own absolute control of £800,000 a year of Imperial money to be dealt with without check by any human being, and now, by a stroke of the pen. 1281 you abolish and get rid of the whole of that, because if you have a Minister responsible to Parliament for the act of that Council we know what that means: he is to be responsible for the doings of that Council all the way through from beginning to end. But what happens? Before the ink of that was dry something else takes place. It seems as if one was telling a sort of fairy tale, but I assure your Lordships I am speaking solemn facts dug out of the proceedings of Parliament. On that Amendment of the clause this extraordinary Minister—by-the-by I ought to have said he was not to have provided for him any office, or any salary, or any control over the Council he was to represent, and for which he was absolutely responsible to Parliament—it is an absolute fact, my Lords; I am perfectly serious. He was to assume a control which the Government told us then was to be a real control. I do not know what happened in the inner workings of the heart of his Majesty's Government, but I remember very well a Member rising in another place and complaining that this would never do—if this gentleman received no salary how were they to move to reduce it? Where was his responsibility to Parliament and how were they to touch him? Perhaps those arguments prevailed and accounted for that very curious Minister's disappearance two days afterwards. Now we come to number three. On Report the Minister disappeared and in place this Amendment was carried without one word of discussion, without one syllable of explanation of any sort or kind—I think I am correct in that—Any money which may be placed at the disposal of the Council of Wales by Parliament for the purpose of education in Wales on Estimates submitted to Parliament for the purpose by the Treasury shall be administered by that Council subject to the control of the Treasury.My Lords, how is the Treasury to control the expenditure of the money by a council extended over all Wales for educational purposes? There is no means of doing so. They have no inspectors and there is no office for the purpose of taking up these things. They would have to accept everything the Council in Wales told them, and what becomes under 1282 this Amendment of your promised control? What becomes of the responsibility of a Minister or Department for the control of this Council? Can any one tell which of these proposals is going to hold good to-morrow—any of them or none of them? If the noble Lords would take my advice they would purge their Bill of this muddled arrangement altogether. No one knows what they mean. It is clear the Government have no definite idea themselves or they could not have changed their minds three times in a week. If they do not know their own minds surely they had better take time to consider and see if they cannot come to some better form of Home Rule for Wales by degrees. These are the positions. Position 1: A Council with all the powers of an Educational Department and with £800,000 of Imperial I funds without control. Position 2: I Complete control and responsibility by a Minister to Parliament for every farthing spent and every act done. Position 3: The Minister disappears and the Treasury, which is perfectly useless for the purpose of control of any sort or kind, steps in. And this, my Lords, is said to be the scheme upon which Wales is unanimous. Which scheme? In Heaven's name, which scheme is it? Are they in favour of the scheme that is going to give absolute control of £800,000 in Wales? I can conceive of that being an attractive scheme, though not from the point of view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the ratepayers of this country. Or are they in favour of making it what it would be under the control of a Department and a Minister— nothing but an advisory board? Is it that about which there has been such a blowing of trumpets in Wales? Or are we going to drop that and start with Treasury control and are we to be shown that the Treasury control is a real, definite, and effective control? I think we have a right to ask His Majesty's Government under which of these three interesting schemes they propose to continue discussions on this subject, because it leads to a little awkwardness when we have three at once and when there is no knowing whether we may not have three or four more in the course of the next week. I think my 1283 noble friend Lord Crewe rather intimated that he thought there was unanimity in Wales. I will read his words—In Wales there was general agreement as to the creation of some central council of education. It was agreed that if Wales wanted a council, the admirable manner in which the Welsh Intermediate Education Act had been carried out by the Joint Committee and the Central Board made it almost imperative that the wishes of Wales must be met. Wales desired that certain powers now vested in the Board of Education should be transferred to the Treasury. This was the first time in his experience that he had found any body of persons nestling up to the Treasury.I deny entirely that Wales is nestling up to the Treasury. Wales had never heard of the suggestion of the Treasury. Others have been nestling, but do not put it down to Wales that they were nestling up to the Treasury when we never heard, until the thing appeared in print on Report, that there was any suggestion of the Treasury having anything to do with the matter at all. I can assure the noble Lord that the information furnished him as to the unanimity of Wales in reference to this Council is utterly incorrect. I do not know where he gets his information, but there are one or two reasons why I think that information is not to be relied on. A great deal has been said about the Cardiff Conference. That Conference took place in March last. Many people were invited and there was a large attendance, and it is said that there was unanimity at that Conference. I wish to tell your Lordships exactly what took place. There was one resolution carried unanimously and one alone. I will read it to your Lordships—That this Conference is of opinion that it is expedient to create a Council of Wales, representing Welsh education authorities, which shall have powers to supply or to aid the supply of education of all kinds in Wales and Monmouthshire.That was the only resolution carried with unanimity at that meeting, and there was no word in that resolution as to the transfer of powers of any Government Department. There was another resolution. It was also carried, but many did not vote upon it and some voted against it, and certainly no one can allege, I do not think it is alleged, that it was carried unanimously. It was—That this Conference is of opinion that to such council shall be delegated certain of the 1284 powers of the Board of Education in regard to public, education in Wales and Monmouthshire, and other powers relating to education now exercised by the Home Office and the Board of Agriculture, together with the powers of the Central Welsh Board as to intermediate education, and to which may be granted such incidental powers as may be necessary for the discharge of its functions.This, I believe, was carried, but, as I said, not by any means with unanimity. A good many opposed it, a certain number did not vote, and I can vouch that the representatives of one county council present were absolutely opposed to it and were sent by their county council in order that they should oppose it. I have sat on that county council myself and speak with knowledge.
And now, as to this unanimity, may I note how far it is really stated to have gone. Of course I know that that unanimity has been put before the Government—put strongly by some of their own followers. The President of the Board of Trade, speaking at Cardiff at the time of this meeting, used these words, and if they mean unanimity I can only say that my ideas of unanimity and his do not agree. He said—So long as they talked on general principles, talked in the air, it was wonderful how they agreed.We have often seen that, my Lords—It was when they came to reduce their dreams to some practical plan that criticism came from every point of view.And after that we are told that at this meeting there was unanimity as to the carrying out of such a scheme as is laid before your Lordships' House to-day. One other quotation I think I must make to show what was said with regard to unanimity. The President of the Board of Trade on the Second Reading of the Education Bill, after stating that the Bishops came to the Cardiff Conference, said—Every Conservative candidate for a Welsh seat was summoned, and most of them attended.There were two of them present, my Lords—I can give names if necessary— and I am afraid there were more Unionist candidates than that who lost seats at the last General Election. And yet the same right hon. Gentleman said that at this Conference, so representative, a resolution was passed unanimously in 1285 favour of asking the Government to set up this Central Council for the control and direction, of education in Wales. I ask if that can fairly and properly be described as unanimity? There are other powers which perchance may have escaped some of your Lordships' attention. For the ordinary purpose of a consolidation of local authorities there is power under the Act of 1902, and nothing but unanimity was necessary to bring it into force. There has been an effort to bring about an arrangement under the Act of 1902. I do not know what has happened to it within the last few months. I know what happened at the close of last year. Then there had been a failure by the authorities applying to show there was unanimity among the County Councils of Wales which would entitle the Education Department to allow such a scheme to be carried through. Where is their unanimity now? If they could not get unanimity to carry out that clause of the Act of 1902, are they now going to come to Parliament to get powers to make those join who would not join willingly? I want to say something as to what was in the mind of the noble Earl who moved the Second Reading of the Bill. I thought from what fell from him that he was under the impression that there was some precedent for this proposal in the Welsh Central Board. May I explain in a few words what the Welsh Central Board is, what it does, what its powers are, and how vitally they differ from the proposals we are discussing here? The Welsh Central Board is a consultative body; it is largely composed of experts, not merely appointed by county councils, because some are appointed by colleges and some, I believe, by the Education Department. They exercise none of the powers of the Central Board and none of the powers of a public department. They did have the power of inspection delegated to them by the Board of Education, but the Board of Education still kept their hands on the pulse of every school and college, and I am informed that, as a matter of fact, out of ninety-five schools which come under the purview of the Central Board, no less than eighty-nine have been inspected by the Board of Education 1286 themselves. The Treasury fix the conditions of the grants, and the Central Board have nothing to say to them but to accept them. They make their references to the Treasury, but the Treasury is the authority which fixes the conditions of the grants. There is no resemblance between the suggestions, the one in practice and the other made to-day. The grant made to the Welsh Central Board amounts to £25,000, and there are ninety-five schools with 10,000 children in them, but the Board has no real authority as a department over them at all. The proposed Council, under the original proposal, would have been absolutely free from all Departmental control of any sort or kind. They would have 8,000 schools and 400,000 children under their control, and ££800,000 a year from Imperial Funds, which they could allocate and deal with exactly as they liked. Therefore it is idle to contend that there is the slightest precedent in what the Welsh Central Boards doing. There is not a shred of foothold in the Welsh Central Board to lead up to this extremely curious suggestion of a Welsh National Council. The Welsh Central Board has done its work extremely well and has carried on its functions admirably, but I repudiate the suggestion that it affords anything in the nature of a precedent. We cannot forget that this Council if it came into operation would be a simple and representative body of the local authorities, the whole of them elected by the county councils. They would be their constituents, and their interests would be the rate. How are they going to check the grant to any incompetent schools and the expenditure of Imperial funds? The whole of their interests are in the other direction, because every penny they cut off the grant they will have to put on to the rates. Therefore, so far as its Imperial aspect as to finance was concerned, the thing is as rotten as in every other respect. This agitation for a National Council for Wales is not merely an. educational matter. It goes far wider in its intentions than that. I will not give your Lordships my idea, I will give you the idea of a Member of the Cabinet. Speaking of this Council 1287 at Carnarvon in January this year the President of the Board of Trade used these words:—Once the Board in set up, delegation will follow, but I am in hope that the powers to be delegated will not stop with the Board of Education. There are powers under the Local Government Board which I hope to see delegated, and also powers under the Board of Trade and the Home Office.He had not left out much except the Army, the Navy, and the Foreign Office. This shows pretty clearly what the ideas of the President of the Board of Trade were when he tried to get the first step taken in this most unwise suggestion of a Council for Wales. He said:—I am looking forward to the time when a Bill is introduced providing the same powers given to local authorities shall be delegated to the Council for Wales. I should like to see certain control every time given to such a Welsh authority, and I have great hope that we shall see all this realised in the course of the next four or five years.I hope that whatever else your Lordships may have to do with regard to the Bill you will not give way to any authority which comes to you and lays before the country that programme and asks you to go one step in the direction of Home Rule for Wales.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
said that, not being a member of the Government, but only an ordinary Member of their Lordships' House,he should not embark on the drafting and interpretations of the clauses and considerations which had occupied so much of the eloquent time of the noble Earl. Speaking generally, wherever in the Bill they had "may" he would like to put "shall," and wherever they had "shall" he would like to put "may." For the same reason he intended to leave Part III. severely alone. Plucky little Wales could, he felt certain, take excellent care of itself. From what the noble. Lord told them the Minister for Wales would be a very poor place, and he certainly should not apply for it. After listening carefully to the noble Earl, he saw no reason for reconsidering the carefully prepared words which he had proposed to intervene in the debate. He would say what he meant to say at first; namely, that he was glad of the opportunity of doing his best to prosper the progress and passage of the Bill. He did 1288 not pretend that it was an ideal Bill or that it was based upon counsels of perfection, but he believed it would commend itself not to the political, Parliamentary, and platform sense, but to the political sense in the way in which the Archbishop used the word "political" the previous night; the political sense and the utilitarian instincts of a large majority of the people of the country. To put it broadly, they relied upon common-sense and that unromantic, common-sense, practical aptitude which resided in our fellow countrymen and women to work out the Bill. The noble Earl talked a great deal about the political exigencies in which the Government found itself at the time it had to draft the Bill. He quite admitted that the Government was in a strait. He might with truth say to Mr. Birrell and his colleagues: Delicta majorum immeritus lues; they had to pay for the criminal mistakes of their predecessors. The noble Lords opposite would do well to remember, though perhaps they would very much prefer to forget, that it was when they passed the Bill of 1902 that they made the Bill of 1906 inevitable. He might perhaps here avow something more than a platonic affection for Lord Malmesbury's proposals. He thought they must all admit that he did very well in a rather uncomfortable position. In one of the scraps of talk which he had had with the Archbishop of Canterbury and which he valued extremely, he told him that he had a sneaking liking for Mr. Chamberlain's proposals, and the Archbishop said they were ideal in theory but quite unworkable in practice. On that he would say a word or two presently. Nobody would be surprised to hear that he was now coming to the religious difficulty. Mr. Gibbon, who would have greatly relished this debate, laid it down somewhere or other that all religions were equally true to the people, false to the philosopher, and useful to the magistrate. He believed Mr. Birrell and Lord Crewe would substitute for the word "useful" "perplexing and unintelligible." the Bishop of St. Asaph once described the religious difficulty as "gaunt and emaciating." It had lost none of its old characteristics, and it was becoming exceedingly irritating. They could not do with it in the West 1289 Riding. It had tired them all out irrespective of creeds and camps. He must avow a certain amount of church-ness or denominationalism. He attended the other night the great Churchmen's meeting in the Albert Hall. He listened to eloquent speeches from the Bishop of London and Dr. Wace, but it was not the speeches which took such hold of him as the opening prayer and the familiar hymns, the wave of a "sursum corda" tendency and emotion, and which at such times convinced him that we could not live by bread alone. To come to more practical and less sentimental considerations in this grave matter of national education, he was gradually being driven to the conclusion that churchness and denominationalism, whether of the Established Church or of Nonconformity, was a mistake, and that Mr. Chamberlain and the Bishop of Birmingham might be right, when, by very different roads, they arrived at the same result; and when they told them that the only way of putting an end to all this was by having no State-assisted or State-taught religious education, but by special facilities—which he (the noble Lord) understood to be bricks, mortar, better drainage, times, and teachers— being granted to religion and irreligion alike, everybody having the right to freely teach their own dogmas. That was, he believed, the view they held as to the only way of freeing education from this parasite—the religious difficulty. He felt that anyone intervening in the debate at this period was gleaning after the gleaners. But as he had always found that other people's ideas were embarrassing to his own originality, he must try and make the best of it. He would spare their Lordships any comments on the backbone of the Bill, Clause 1. He would not go into its obedience to the great principle of public control and the abolition of tests, and its acquiescence in that new and terrible portent, the mandate. Nor would he go into the practical difficulties of Lord Malmesbury's plan, which parties on both sides told him were insuperable, although he was confident that those difficulties would have to be faced in certain eventualities. He believed most people would agree with The Times newspaper that the speeches of the Archbishop of 1290 Canterbury and of the Duke of Norfolk held the field as regarded the debate so far as it had gone. They were very cogent and very remarkable. He would take that of the Duke of Norfolk first; and he believed that secularism would have to be faced if full effect was given to the able and constitutional speech which they heard the previous night from the noble Duke. The speech was penetrated and informed by a high constitutional spirit and argument, and he delighted in listening to it. He listened to it with the greatest possible envy. The noble Duke declared in that English of which he was a master what he and his friends meant to do with the Bill in Committee. He had no doubt that the noble Duke would stand by what he said, and he had no doubt that he would get a considerable amount of support from what he might call the independent franctireurs opposite. What would be the alternative if the Bill was wrecked in Committee and lost? He believed it would be secularism and the secularisation of education. He would now turn to the cogent, eloquent and remarkable speech of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A great portion of his argument was rested on what seemed to him a very shaky proposition. It was that Parliamentary encouragement at one time and in one set of circumstances carried with it Parliamentary encouragement for all time and in a totally different set of circumstances. Holding this view the right rev. Primate appeared to have advised his friends to make very considerable gifts to the Church, and he also appeared to have given them a sort of personal guarantee that Parliamentary action and encouragement which was taken and given in 1870 was an indefeasible security for any action which might be taken in 1902 and 1906. His friends appeared to him to have been ingenuous enough to have taken him at his word; and he (the noble Lord) only hoped the right rev. Primate did not implement the guarantee in any way. Instances abounded to show how impossible it was. There was the example of the Encumbered Estates Act established to encourage by Parliamentary assistance ownership of land in Ireland; since then Parliament had devoted itself to discouraging such ownership; 1291 and there was the parallel of the Guards. They were told only a fortnight ago that Parliament was going to reduce the battalions of the Coldstream and Scots Guards, whereas it had only recently raised those battalions and the Irish Guards. These cases showed that the proposition on which the Archbishop rested the first part of his speech was not only remarkable but exceedingly shaky. He was also very grateful to the Archbishop for bringing them face to face with a real live Rousseau-cum-Voltaire teacher in the national school. He told them of a Gentleman who administered, he believed skilfully, a most generous religious syllabus when professionally occupied, and who in his leisure moments devoted himself to writing articles and leaderettes discrediting the Resurrection and subjects of a kindred kind. He confessed he had often heard of this type of teacher, but he never knew he could actually be brought before them as he was brought before them the previous night. He also told them about the anti-religious ways which seemed to be most regrettably of the local authority at Huddersfield. He did not say that the Primate drew conclusions from those exceptional cases. So far from that he had guarded himself very carefully from any ex uno disce omnes argument, but he said with perfect truth that these cases had happened and that they could happen again under the Bill; and they all knew the spell of such suggestion which could be exercised by a wielder of words of the calibre and authority of the Primate, especially when that suggestion was addressed to noble Lords who were hearing exactly what they wanted to hear. He agreed there was one very strong point which the Archbishop made and on which he should like to say a word. It was where he argued that the Bill gave full control to local authorities, but limited powers wherever it was concerned with religion. He admitted that with regard to religion, which was the Archbishop's point; but let them compare it with the Act of 1902. That Act reserved in stringent and explicit terms— they all remembered the adamantine front the noble Duke presented to every arugment they used on that side when in Committee—the important function 1292 of choosing teachers to denominational managers, and, seeing that this restriction of popular control and its inevitable partnership with strict tests for teaching posts and appointments had caused a lot of unpleasantness up and down the country, it was quite clear that the present Government had no alternative in their Bill, but were bound as far as possible to give full control to that authority. He did not pretend that the Bill would "tune discords to angelic harmonies." there was a, great deal of what Mr. Kinglake, when speaking of the then Czar of Russia, who, he had no doubt, was a strict denominationalist, called "ferocious Christianity" about. It always had come gallantly and noisily to the front on these occasions, and he believed it always would. He did not think it was altogether a bad thing. Friction was the concomitant of motion and activity. What was more, he did not know what divines, different in kind but not perhaps in degree, like Dr. Clifford and the Bishop of Manchester, would do if a permanent atmosphere of "peace, perfect peace" were to brood over this stimulating, controversial and intellectual area. He thought they enjoyed rather than disliked it. The House were not going to a division, but if they had been he would have given his vote cordially in favour of the Bill, and he should do all in his power to see the Bill through the House in as near the form as it had come into the House as possible.
said he proposed to violate what appeared to be the conventions of this debate and make a brief speech. He should address himself to two subjects, which he thought were not irrelevant to a. Second Reading debate. He should consider concurrently what was the occasion for the Bill and what were the gist and substance of it. When His Majesty's Government faced the question, they were confronted with one palpable fact, and that was the existence of a vast number of voluntary schools, recognised by the public Education Department as being efficient and doing good work in the country. They were unquestionably private property, 1293 governed only by the conditions annexed to the receipt of public money. What were the suggested reasons for the interference of those schools, embodied in the Bill? He took the House to witness that it had never once been suggested in all the various speeches that the schools were to be confiscated upon the ground that they were not rendering adequate and efficient service to the community. The contrary was palpable, and fortunately they did not require to go back upon vague generalises about which one man might contradict another. All those schools were under the inspection of the Privy Council and anyone who knew anything about the community in which he lived knew perfectly well that, excellent as the board schools were, they were not the same in ethos or characteristics as the Church schools. The Government were face to face with this large fabric of schools, and if there was no allegation against them in point of efficiency, why was the transference made? He was not going into any minute details, although he must own that he had been surprised, he world not say at the levity, but at the facility, with which noble Lords on the other side of the House had glided from the arguments and had never come to close quarters with them. The whole object of the Bill was to extinguish Church of England teaching in the schools of the country. No other reason had been suggested for dealing with the question at all, and, when he turned to the clauses, he found one thing consistent, and that was that the one aim was to put down Church of England teaching. Clause 1, in a sense, was the Bill, because it said that there should be no independent schools, but that they should be public schools after a certain time, though there might be restrictions and modifications enabling religious education to be given. Clause 4 had comparatively little application to the Church of England. It was manifestly intended for the Roman Catholics, though possibly it was also intended for the Jews. He did not grudge it, and he thought it was merely a small portion of what they were entitled to. He mentioned Clause 4 to exclude it from the main question he was considering, viz., the exclusion of the Church of England. Clause 3, which 1294 was really intended for the Church of England, wanted to be clearly stated. It would be observed that the owners of voluntary schools had to enter into negotiations with the local authority. They were to come to an agreement with the local authority, but they knew already that the agreement was very much at the point of the bayonet. Then came the question as to whether there should be any stipulation about religious instruction. Here the Act did two things, and they were most important. The very best which could be done for the Church under the Bill was to give two mornings in the week. That was the optimum maximum of the Bill. Apparently they negotiated on equal terms, but really it was not so. Let them suppose that the local authority said that they would not give the facilities; they were entitled to do so. The Bill, curiously enough, in the circuitous methods which were adopted, expressed: it as follows:—
Nothing in this section shall prevent the granting or requiring of facilities for special religious instruction.
§ The reader had got to keep in mind that it was equally true that nothing in the section would prevent the refusing of the facilities. He would therefore, and he was entitled to do so, take the case of a hostile local authority. That authority might perfectly well say they would not grant the facilities, and no one could force them, because, they would observe, that when they turned to Clause 3, which was the charter of the rights of the Church for ordinary facilities, it was only if the agreement had been come to that it came into operation at all. He was quite certain that in the country a great deal of play had been made of the appointment of impartial, highminded commissioners, to deal with the Bill, but the country had not been told that these impartial, highminded commissioners never came into play unless the local authority pleased, and therefore the Church of England, which was concerned with Section 3 of the Bill, was at the mercy of the local authority. If the local authority refused the facilities, there would be none. If that were the outcome of negotiations, for an agreement, then they got Cowper-Templeism substituted for Church of England teaching in the schools. He 1295 should imitate the noble reserve which had been exercised by persons very much more entitled to speak upon the subject than himself, but he thought it right in his place in Parliament that he should say that Cowper-Templeism was something totally different from the teaching of the Church of England. The Church of England was a religion with definite dogmas and beliefs; it taught children through the Catechism, a religion which was personal and supernatural. It began by asking the child its name. It went on to ask how it got that name and then it dwelt upon the fact that, when it got that name the child was made a member of the mystic Body of our Lord, and it deduced its responsibilities from that supreme fact. Therefore, to tell him a teacher had a perfect right under Cowper-Templeism to read passages from the Bible to the child, but that he could not tell him that our Lord was Divine seemed to him the most idle of all teaching of religion. He resented the arrogating to themselves by the Dissenters or their political friends the words "Bible-teaching." the mere reading of the Bible was one thing, but they had no right on that account to claim to teach simple Bible truth. What was done was simply to read passages from the Bible as they might from Marcus Aurelius, or from many of the admirable writers of philosophy. It would leave the child entirely ignorant of everything essential which was taught in the Church Catechism. He had spoken of the Church Catechism for this reason. One of the things which the Government had unconsciously done under the Bill was to bring together Churchmen who were a little alienated before, upon the common ground of the Church Catechism. He had dwelt upon this clause because the result of their legislative enactments was to wipe out Church of England teaching and set up Cowper-Templeism. He was understating the case, because there was no obligation upon the local authority to teach even Cowper-Templeism. On the contrary, they had got the option of teaching no religion at all. The Bishop of London had mentioned that Cowper-Templeism had declined in quality during past years, but he would venture to point out that now, 1296 by the choice of the noble Lords opposite and their friends, questions had been raised and consequently increased attention would be drawn to the lower option of no religion at all. He could quite understand that with local authorities a compromise might be come to. Some might propose no religion at all and others might propose Cowper-Templeism, and on that there might be a compromise arrived at—not formally upon expressed Resolutions, but by way of producing harmony— that Cowper-Templeism should be as remote from dogmatic religion as it possibly could be. He had one further word to say upon the subject, which he hoped he had treated without indelicacy and without presumption. He objected altogether to people supposing that they left unimpaired the churches while they were capturing their schools. In pronouncing what religion their children were to receive in the schools the inevitable result would be to diminish the authority of what was afterwards taught in the church. If the children were brought up in this diluted and unauthoratative religion they would not readily submit themselves to the yoke of dogma and authority. If children up to fourteen years of age thought that they had got options from existing religions, was it likely they would be so amenable to the authority of the Church when the time came for their confirmation? He hoped he had made good his promise to prove that the facilities professed to be offered to the Church of England under Clause 3 were illusory because they were entirely optional.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
But the noble Lord did not say so; if he will pardon me, he said something entirely different.
said he was not able to say all the various points which completed his argument at once. He 1297 was going to say that in all this talk about Commissioners and what not there had been an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the public and to persuade them that all was well because there were Commissioners appointed in the Bill. Let them see what they could do. He had dealt hitherto with the case of an agreement not being come to; but, when they came to an agreement, what took place? Could the owners of the Church schools apply to the Commissioners? They could not. The initiative was solely with the local authority. There was no access to the Commissioners except through the local authority. Perhaps he was anticipating the question of the Bishop of London to the Lord Chancellor, which the Lord Chancellor was best qualified to answer, but let them suppose that the proprietors of a school were suddenly deprived of the Government grant and less suddenly of the rates and found themselves unable to carry on the school. Then the local authority would go to the Commissioners and say the Church people could not carry on the school and accordingly ask that it should be handed over to them. That was the course of affairs. If the noble Lord meant to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Church could raise the money by her own unaided efforts, then it was quite true they could go on and nobody, as he understood, could prevent it, but there would be no Government grant.
said he believed it was accurate, and he did not think it was reasonable to expect him, of all people, to try to evade a difficult question. He now turned to the question of the extended facilities. He found in Section 5 exactly what he found in the previous section, and that was a manifest intention to keep the Church out of the facilities. Apart from the limitation of area and of population they had all sorts of fences to take; they had to go through the ballot or inquiry, or this and that, and then finally the thing could be gone back 1298 upon as soon as the figures adjusted themselves, or were adjusted, so as to enable the local authority to withdraw this power. He had treated this of such importance because he wished to concentrate attention upon the position of the Church of England in the matter. He noticed, as a very curious result, that the Government had been afraid to put in a direct appeal from the local authority with the effect that the superior power could order the thing to-be done. What happened when the appeal was found to be just? The school remained a State-aided school; and accordingly the whole scheme was upset in favour of the Roman Catholic schools. They were, when they could satisfy the Commissioners, to revert to the position before 1902, and they would therefore have a set of Roman Catholic schools on the old system before 1902 while everybody else was elsewhere. He asked the House to permit him to call its attention to the very grave question that this was private property, private in the best sense of the term, because it was charitable property. The noble Lords opposite had—he did not say unfairly—very fully developed the point that the State had met the givers of those gifts in a handsome way. Sometimes, however, as the most rev. Prelate had pointed out, the contributions from the State had been so small that they were nothing more than an imprimatur of the effort made by voluntary contributions. This was the taking over of those large properties in order to divert them to purposes substantially different, to Cowper-Templeism from the Church of England. What was the reason of it? Was it that the principle was wrong; was it that it was impossible for this country at this time of day to sanction the giving of public money where doctrinal or dogmatic religion was being taught? If it was not that, what was it? He would tell them what it was in a moment, but he would ask them to solve the problem for themselves by an easy test. He was quite certain they had received eager and unswerving support from the Liberal Members for Scotland, and, if they asked them or their own Education Department, they would learn that dogmatic teaching of a most absolute kind was common in the board schools. 1299 They taught the Shorter Catechism, in which Predestination and all the mysteries of that scheme of religion were found, to children, and yet he had never heard that it had shocked the consciences of noble Lords opposite. He knew, having been a dissenter from this doctrine himself, that he had paid rates and taxes for the support of that form of religion, but he had never yet been in prison. If the desire of the conscience, or whatever was the proper name for it, to have satisfaction was acute upon this question, surely they were entitled to ask whether a Bill would be brought in for Scotland to prevent the teaching of dogmatism. He had promised to say what he thought was the real reason for the Bill, but he had reserved his opinion until he had heard the speeches of the three Cabinet Ministers, to which he had listened with the most profound attention. He acknowledged the graceful and literary diction of the President of the Council, but he was involved in the details of a very complicated measure, and he could not say he obtained a very clear insight into the necessity or scope or the gist of the measure. He must not, however, omit the Minister for Agriculture. He could not say with great respect to him that he gathered more information from him on the subject, but he certainly learned much of his own heroic virtues and intentions. He heard also the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and again he must take leave to remark that he derived great satisfaction from the conclusive evidence the speech afforded that so little of his time was abstracted from the affairs of the Admiralty and devoted to these miscellaneous topics. He mentioned those speeches because they afforded a glimpse of the proceedings of the Cabinet Council. What coherent or intelligent policy was represented by these utterances? The great Liberal Party, with all its mandates, had felt itself unable to cope with the disestablishment of the Church of England, but, deprived of that eager spoil, it had thought that that deficiency in their programme might be made up by setting up Nonconformity in the schools. That and nothing else was the explanation of this measure. It was idle to say that the Cowper-Temple clause, which was merely.negative and 1300 prohibitive of definite creed, represented in terms Nonconformity, but, when they found that those who were unanimously agreed and eager in support of the measure were the Nonconformists, and that all the dogmatic religions were against them, he thought it was legitimate to say that they were the people who were welcoming, if not inspiring, it. If that was so, he thought the Party on his side of the House had good reason to congratulate themselves on the position in which they stood. One of the pristine traditions of the Conservative Party had been its attachment and support to the Church of England, and that not merely in the old days when there was privilege and the prejudice which attached to privilege, but in the modern days when the Church of England had struck deep root into the democracy of the country, and when the future of the Church of England was bound up, not with the privileged classes, but with the whole population. The Liberal Party had done this for them: they had united the Church which formerly upon some subjects had been a little divided; and they had put into their hands a momentous weapon of political warfare. The people of the country had a warm feeling towards the Church of England and towards fair play, and when they saw that the Opposition were identifying themselves, in the defence of the Church, with the cause of fair play, he did not doubt, in the utter barrenness of argument in support of the Bill, that it would be ultimately defeated.
§ *LORD REAY
said he admitted that the point of view from which he looked at the Bill was very different from that of the noble and learned Lord who had just spoken. In his impressive speech yesterday the most rev. Prelate seemed to him to acknowledge the merits of the Act of 1870 and to regret it was no longer the educational code. To a great extent he shared that regret, but the Act of 1902 had undoubtedly made a return to the Act of 1870 impossible. He always considered that the principles of the Act of 1870 were based upon a solid foundation. He thought they might assume that the exclusion of religion from the school was not desired 1301 by any large section of the community, and that experiments in secularism would be very likely to break down as they had broken down in Birmingham and elsewhere. There was a difference of opinion as to the method of the recognition of religion. He was pleased to hear the admissions of a noble Lord opposite—Lord Ampthill—that a Bill had to be introduced establishing public control and also a national system of education. That was the origin of the Bill. There should be in every parish in the country a school to which parents could send their children without fear of their hearing anything which was opposed to their own principles; but the great majority of parents wished to have the Scriptures taught to their children in accordance with Christian principles, in accordance with the Apostles' Creed. That was what the Cowper-Temple clause allowed. It did not introduce a new religion. It accepted Christianity in the form which was common to all the Churches, which divided them least. It excluded formularies, it did not exclude dogma. It could be given by teachers to whatever denomination they belonged. It was the foundation on which the Churches could build their own specific doctrinal views. It was neither Nonconformist nor Church of England. Presbyterians had a distinct creed and distinct formularies—and the noble and learned Lord would not deny that they were dogmatic — but they did not insist that they should be taught, not because they were indifferent, but because they recognised the impossibility of insisting on denominational teaching south of the Tweed in public elementary schools. That applied to other Nonconformist bodies. No distinctive Nonconformist principles were taught, and the children of parents who were attached to the Church of England would not hear anything opposed to the creed of the Church; and experience showed that a great number of parents belonging to the Church of England were satisfied with the religious instruction given in provided schools by the teachers. He had no hesitation in stating that the religious instruction given in the London Council schools had been in the highest degree beneficial to thousands of children and that hardly any difficulty 1302 had been experienced in carrying out the syllabus of instruction. He had been informed by those who were concerned in the management of board and of voluntary schools that there was hardly any difference between the method of Bible instruction, and that the only difference was that in the voluntary schools the Catechism was taught. If facilities were given in the transferred schools for the Catechism — and he did not anticipate the difficulties on which the noble and learned Lord laid so much stress — the difference would not be perceptible. The transfer of Church schools to the local education authority was inevitable as soon as the voluntary element almost entirely disappeared. It was foreseen. They must never forget to render to the Church of England their gratitude for its erection and maintenance of schools in former days, but the Act of 1902 was an admission that the State alone could grapple with the educational needs of the country. The answer to the noble and learned Lord's question why this Bill was inevitable was a very simple one, viz., that the Act of 1902 transferred the voluntary schools to the rates. The Church of England claimed to be the national Church. As such it was comprehensive, and various schools of theology were represented in it. Much hostility had been displayed to this Bill, but he had seen no assertion that the Church was prepared to undertake what had been transferred to the State. It would be well if so great and so influential a body as the Church of England accepted, as a national Church, a national solution of the educational problem and cooperated with the State in preserving the Christian character of the schools. Many eminent men in the Church, and the Bishop of Ripon, in his eloquent speech yesterday, had clearly pointed out the danger of an irreconcilable attitude. The argument that no religious education was of value which was not conducted on denominational lines and not directed to the aim of attaching the children to a particular denomination struck him as a negation of the transcendent efficacy and power of Christianity. Christian teaching could be given to the children of Christian parents by Christian teachers. That teaching was given in 9,000 schools 1303 to 3,000,000 scholars, and no serious difficulty had arisen. It was not intended to detach the children from the denomination to which they belonged, and he had not heard that it had had that effect. No one had ever contended that it was injurious, only that it was insufficient. In as far as it was insufficient in transferred schools, there would be the two hours a week, the whole of Saturday and the Sunday school to fill the gaps. Apart from the special facilities schools, if the direct influence of the Church of England was not to be the same in the future as in the past its indirect influence was not threatened. In the training of teachers, in the drawing up of the syllabus, in watching the effect given to the syllabus, in controlling the facilities for denominational instruction it would have a field of operations in which it could co-operate with all those who desired to uphold the Christian character of the schools. There need not be any antagonism between the Church of England and Nonconformists. On the essential truths of Christianity there was no difference of opinion. The Cowper-Temple clause did not offer any impediment to instruction in those truths. It was an injustice to the children not to teach them the truths on which all Christians were agreed because at a certain point differences arose. These were not vague aspirations. His experience of the London School Board enabled him to state with confidence that Christian teaching could be given in public elementary schools which was approved by parents who were members of the Church of England as well as by those who were Nonconformists, although no tests were applied to the teachers. As regarded their knowledge of the Scriptures, the children of the London County Council schools were not inferior to those of any other schools. He did not believe that anyone acquainted with the facts would desire to alter the system, and he was convinced that the adoption of what was called the right of entry would not give such good results and that it would injure the religious teaching and the discipline of the schools. The London syllabus had been generally approved and deserved the praise which had been bestowed on it. It was undoubtedly desirable that the teachers 1304 should be well qualified to give the religious instruction. The University of London had provided at their Training College for instruction in Scripture teaching, and the Senate of the University of London was undoubtedly a body representative of very diverse opinions. Religious instruction was the salt of our educational system. It was given by the teacher in accordance with his convictions, and tests, if they were applied, would not give any security for the reality of the instruction. They had to rely on the teacher and to trust him. He could not conceive a teacher undertaking to teach truths in which he did not believe. That was a sufficient safeguard. No tests were imposed on the teachers at public schools, and Mr. Page, at a recent meeting, over which Lord Jersey presided, had said that nine-tenths of the religious teaching in those schools was simple and un-sectarian. There was no provision in the Bill to ascertain whether a teacher who was willing to give religious instruction was fit to give it. The local authority would be able to ascertain it. He would remind the House of the interpretation given by Mr. Gladstone to the Cowper-Temple clause on June 30th, 1870. Mr. Gladstone said the object was—To provide for the reading of the Scriptures and to exclude the use of Catechisms and distinctive formularies, but not beyond that to impose limitations upon the freedom of teaching. If we are to have teachers who are really to teach religion, that religion must spring out of their own hearts and consciences, and it will not submit to be confined by definitions so artificial and unreal as these [proposed in an Amendment]. "He must, when he finds occasion, refer to the motive of fear, to the motive of hope, and above all, to the motive of love.… It does not impose upon religious teaching that kind of restriction which would reduce it to a formality.The local authority was not forced to give religious teaching, and Mr. Forster stated, on June 30th, 1870, that—the forcing of religious teaching on the local boards would have given strength and power to the small minority who now disapproved it, and an opposition to religious teaching would have been created in quarters where no such feeling at present existed.In giving the local authority a limited discretion with regard to the adoption of religious instruction and unlimited discretion with regard to its exclusion, the 1305 Bill simply continued the powers conferred in 1870—and it should be noticed—not interfered with by the Act of 1902. Leading Nonconformists in a recent declaration had declared in favour of instruction in Bible truth as an essential factor in the education of the young and that such instruction should not be inconsistent with the Apostles' Creed which represented the general consent of Christendom on the fundamental facts of the Christian religion. The Bishop of Ripon yesterday considered that declaration satisfactory, and he (the noble Lord) had no doubt that the large body of opinion in the Church of England represented by the right rev. Prelate could co-operate with the Nonconformists who held those views. In education continuity was desirable. Constant changes of system were undesirable. Those who were engaged in the schools were entitled to consideration. The local authorities who would have to carry out the provisions of the Bill would have to take into account the wishes of the parents of the children in the various localities. They might trust them, he thought, and the guidance they would receive from the Board of Education. The Bill is a compromise which was imperative if public control of the schools is to be adopted with a minimum of friction. But if we are to advance along the line of least resistance, if the children are to be educated in the fear of God, if the schools are to be in the real sense National, this Bill contains a practical solution of a very delicate problem. He would conclude with Mr. Gladstone's view of the Cowper-Temple clause—We think it is the best mode in which we can recognise the prevailing and very general desire and conviction of the people for including religion in the career of education, within rate-founded schools, and that it is the most equitable manner in which, while imposing a certain limitation upon the discretion of local boards, we can on the one hand bring together the conflicting opinions of various parties and, on the other, if not wholly get rid of what may be called denominational controversies, yet in a very great degree abate their acrimony and diminish their range, besides in a large number of cases, abrogating them altogether.It was certainly the ardent wish of those interested in educational progress 1306 that there should be less denominational friction and acrimony and more unity of purpose.
§ Further debate adjourned till tomorrow.