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Outfitrd object to Lord Elury's propositions—The Earl of Shaftesbury and Earl Russell recommend the postponement of the measures, which are accordingly withdrawn. Marriages of Affinity—Mr. Monckton Milnes again introduces a Bill to legalize Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister—It is opposed by Mr. Lugon, Lord R. Cecil, Mr. Walpole, Mr. Buxton and Mr. Kinnaird, and supported by Mr. Collier, Sir George Grey, Mr. Headlam and other Members—The second reading is carried by 144 to 133—The committal of the Bill is opposed by Mr. Hunt and Mr. Monsell and after a short debate the Bill is lost by 148 to 116. Maynooth College Endowment—Mr. Whalley opposes the Grant—Sir Robert Peel, Secretary for Ireland, defends it, and the Motion is negatived by 193 to 111. National Education In Ireland—The O'Connor Don enters upon tlte subject of Public Education in that country, and slates objections to the institution of the Queen's Colleges—He is answered by Sir Robert Peel—Observations of Mr. Maguire, Mr. Whiteside, Mr. Monsell, Mr. Hennessy and other Members.
ON the 11th of March, Mr.Walpole laid on the table of the House of Commons a series of Resolutions, eleven in number, which he proposed to move in reference to the Revised Code of Education, framed by the Committee of the Privy Council. These Resolutions went far to condemn all the alterations in the system which had been announced on the part of the Government. Mr. Walpole's propositions declined the individual examination of the pupils in reading, writing, and arithmetic to be inexpedient. They condemned the principle of paying exclusively according to "results." The system of grouping by age was pronounced to be inadequate, and specially disadvantageous for children whose early education had been neglected. The new Code, it was declared, would increase the difficulty of providing education for poor districts, and its regulations with respect to pupil-teachers were condemned as impolitic and unjust. The arrangements proposed for night schools were likewise objected to. Finally, Mr.
Walpole asked the House to resolve that no future change in the system should be adopted until it had been submitted to Parliament for one month before the time of its operation. So large an array of objections to the measure of the Government appeared to threaten the rejection of the whole scheme, and to render any terms of compromise inadmissible. It was necessary, however, that the opinions of the House of Commons should be elicited upon the measure in detail, and on the 24 th of March a general discussion upon the Revised Code was commenced. Mr. Walpole himself introduced the debate, by moving that the House resolve itself into a Committee to consider the best mode of distributing the Parliamentary grants for education. He began by observing that, had the Government, when they proposed to make so great an alteration in the system of education, brought the matter, as he thought they should have done, distinctly before the House, it would have been a more convenient mode of proceeding than
the course they had adopted. He did not think the House could come to a sound conclusion, except by assimilating the present proceeding to what it would have been in the case of a Government Bill; and he should consider the statement of Mr. Lowe, on the 13th of February, as a Government measure, and his own motion as an amendment upon the second reading of the Bill. He understood the main principles of the Revised Code to be two: first, that, before these large grants for education were made. Parliament was bound to test the results of that education; second, to simplify the machinery employed under the Committee of Council for the purpose of administering the grants made by the House. To both these main objects he was prepared to assent; but in regard to the mode in which they were sought to be accomplished by the Revised Code, he entirely and completely dissented from it. He did not, therefore, propose to reject the scheme, but to urge upon the House that the Revised Code would require very considerable modifications before it could be palatable to Parliament or the country. In the system established by the original Code, two principles were kept in view: first, to enlist and stimulate private flTorU to extend education as far as possible throughout the country; secondly, never to forget that, unle«s education was placed upon a religious basis, it would not fulfil the purpose for which education wis intended. By adhering to these principles the plan had l>een hitherto successful; and he would now, he said, inquire into the system proposed
to be substituted by the Revised Code. The Report of the Royal Commissioners pointed out certain specific advantages and certain specific defects of the original Code. The advantages were four in number, and every one of them, he contended, would be imperilled by the Revised Code. The two main defects related to the test of results, and to the cumbersomo and costly machinery, and to these points he addressed himself. With respect to tests, what, he asked, were the results it was meant to test? The result which Parliumcnt and the country required was a good education. What was a good education? It was so training children as to enable them to fulfil the after duties of life. The Commissioners reported in favour of the discipline of the elementary schools, and, as to tests, a very imperfect mode was proposed by the Revised Code, which did not test results fully and fairly, and in some cases not at all. With regard to the first change, therefore, in a system which had hitherto worked admirably in training and disciplining the children of this country, to a vast extent, so as to become good men and citizens, he entreated the Government to rc-consider the matter, so as not to make their whole plan to depend upon the separate examination of each child in reading, writing, and arithmetic. With respect to the other portion of the subject, the machinery of the system, he agreed with many of the observations of Mr. Lowe, and that it was high time for the House to look into the expenditure with a view to economy; and he was
prepared to say that success must be sought through local agency. But, in the endeavour to effect economy, they should beware of striking a blow at the system which might subvert it altogether. Upon the subject of the pupil-teacher system, he enforced the positions contained in his Resolutions, contending that the proposed scheme was unjust to the pupil-teachers; that it would ultimately destroy that system, and make it necessary to go back to the monitorial system. After expounding the nature and object of the 11 Resolutions he proposed to move in the Committee, he condemned the assumption of legislative authority by the Committee of Privy Council —an authority not inherent in it —and the adoption of a measure of legislative importance without first submitting it to the consideration of Parliament; and he concluded by moving "that the Speaker do leave the chair."
Sir G. Grey said the Government had been perfectly ready to accede to the motion, and if Mr. Walpole had made on a former night the statement he had then made, the Government would at once have avowed their willingness to go into Committee. Mr. Walpole, however, had not stated in his Resolutions, in positive terms, the course he would advise the House to adopt, beyond rejecting the alterations embodied in the Revised Code. Sir G. Grey hoped that in Committee he would do something more, and offer some definiteproposition. Deferringtill the Committee a detailed consideration of Mr. Walpole's objections, he confined himself chiefly to a defence of the course taken
by the Government in dealing with this difficult question. The principle they had adopted in the Revised Code was, that the grants for education ought to depend, as far as possible, upon the success of the machinery employed, tested by results. He bore testimony to the value of voluntary efforts in the cause of education, but he did not see how those efforts could be affected by the changes proposed in a system, the fruits of which he was not disposed to undervalue. The object of the Revised Code was to retain all the advantages of the existing Code, and to remove or mitigate the evils and inconveniences discovered in it. In conclusion, he said the Government would be prepared to consider in the Committee all suggestions with fairness and impartiality.
Mr. Stanhope strongly objected to that part of the proposed plan which made the amount of Government aid to elementary schools dependent upon the examination of each individual child. He commented upon the unsatisfactory and conflicting evidence as to the results of education in the schools under the existing system, and upon the injustice of attributing the effects arising from irregularity of school attendance to faults of system. The irregularity of attendance, the withdrawal of children from school to be employed in rural labour, and other evils, were, he insisted, incurable under any system. He was willing to agree to a certain extent, in the recommendations of the Commissioners, even that each child should be examined; but the Commissioners nowhere said that the whole payment should depend upon the proficiency of each child in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He pointed out the mischievous results, in certain coses, likely to attend tho working of the Revised Code, and he maintained that it was not fair to teachers to make their emoluments depend upon the individual examination of the pupils.
Mr. Buxton said that the real way of grappling with the question was to ask—first, whether the Revised Code would tend to check religious teaching? and secondly, would it stimulate secular teaching? He did not understand how any apprehensions could be entertained on the first point. As to the other, the question was, whether the system was doing its work'? If it was, the other objections to it were not of material importance. If it was not doing what it was wanted to do, the Government were bound to endeavour to modify and improve the system, and the IIouso ought to support them, so that the taxpayers of the country might have quid pro quo for their money. It appeared to him, from an examination of tho evidence, that there was a preponderance of proof that the existing system, under which the Commissioners said not more than one-fourth of the children received a good education, was not doing its work ; and he should gi\e his hearty support to the Revised Code, which would apply an invi^ >r»litig stimulus to the education of the poor.
Lord R. Cecil objected to the Revised Code, because it wotdd not only not remedy the evils of tho existing system, but would introduce evils of its own ten times more extensive. On the
ground of economy, the new system possessed, he said, no recommendation; for he contended that the cost would be much greater than that of the old. One of the evils of the new system was, that it treated the managers of tho schools, not as equals, but as slaves, and inflicted upon them — many of them poor clergymen —a heavy pecuniary loss. The effect would be to drive tho managers from the schools. Ho accused the Government of rashness and want of information in a matter in which it was most unwise to incur any risk. They were about to destroy and pulverize a fabric which had been built up with much care, labour, and expense.
Mr. W. Forster observed that, although it was impossible to deny that the system of education did require reform, the Revised Code would not be so much a reform as a destruction of the existing system; it would aggravate its evils, and add others, especially in the treatment of managers, whom it fettered and embarrassed by harsh and unfair conditions, — managers being in reality copartners with the State, which could not justly throw off its share of the expenditure of the concern. Ho agreed with Mr. Walpole that the grouping of children by age for examination would furnish an unfair test of results. He suggested what, in his opinion, would be the practical effects of the working of the new system, which would, he said, afford aid in inverse proportion to the need of the schools.
Mr. Puller regretted that more time had not been given to the country, before the promulgation of the Revised Code, to digest the Report of the Commissioners, and to test their conclusions. He thought the inspectors, who were trustworthy men, ought to have had an opportunity to answer the charges against them. He vindicated the accuracy and consistency of the reports of the inspectors, who agreed that the schools were on the whole doing good work, and that they were gradually improving. With regard to the pupil-teachers, all allowed, he remarked, that their case was a hard one; but, if public documents could bind the Government, he did not know a clearer case of a claim founded upon moral obligation. He urged objections to the revised scheme of capitation grants, to the operation of the new system upon managers, and in poor districts, and asked, how the Code was to be worked with the managers adverse to it? Would not the parents of children be tempted to make a bargain with managers? It had been said that the old Code was only tentative, and that the time had now come to put the system upon a more permanent footing; but he believed that the new Code would not be more final than the old, and that it was not meant to be final.
Mr. Leatham observed that the main objection to the Revised Code was, that the religious education of the people would be injuriously affected by its operation. He thought there was no ground for this objection; that religious instruction was not a commodity that had a money value. Nor did he think that secular education was injuriously affected. This objection arose from a misconception of the objects of the framers of the new
Code, their principle being that there should be no payment where there were no results.
Mr. Whiteside, after some remarks upon the importance of this question, affecting a great system of national education, which had been long fostered by the liberality of Parliament, observed that Mr. Lowe, in announcing, last Session, the Revised Code, had declared that the existing system was only experimental and temporary, and put the House in possession of a plan that was to be permanent. Mr. Whiteside admitted that the expenditure had been large, and that it might be justly asked what had been the results of the system. In reply, he referred to the evidence contained in the Reports of the moral as well as the intellectual results, and to the remarkable declaration of the Commissioners that the most important function of the schools was that which was best performed. The Commissioners, having borne testimony to the morals, industry, habits of life, and general efficiency of the children, recommend an increased expenditure out of the national funds for the higher purposes of education in regard to training, discipline, habits of order, and religion; and what had been done by tho Committee of Council? The Reports of the inspectors had been rejected, and the recommendations of the Commissioners disregarded or perverted. What, then, was the ground for the proposed change of system? There was sufficient evidence derived from facts, distinguished from subtle criticism, of the amount and the quality of the education given under the existing Code.