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but he did not think that their interference ought to be carried farther.
Sir S. Northcote expressed a general approval of the Budget, but exhorted the Government to proceed cautiously in its railway schemes. Taking a sanguine view of the future of India, he maintained that when a loan was raised for extraordinary expenditure, even on reproductive works, the necessity became greater for securing a working surplus on the ordinary expenditure, and he impressed on the Indian Government the importance of not overworking its departments, and not overstraining its finances.
Sir C. Wingfield commented on the large amount of the expenditure for barracks, and suggested the adoption of two reforms, viz. the separation of judicial from executive and fiscal functions, and the establishment of native consultative bodies.
Mr. Fowler and Sir W. Lawson joined in reprobation of the opium traffic, and Colonel Sykes protested against the maintenance of an unnecessarily large European force in India. Mr. J. B. Smith, Mr. Bazeley, and Mr. Pratt urged strongly on the Government the importance of encouraging artificial irrigation and the production of cotton.
A subject of interesting speculation was touched upon just before the close of the Session, but was rather started for discussion than actually discussed, which indeed the state of parliamentary business at that time would not have permitted. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer intimated his wish that the matter should be brought under the test of public opinion, and the question having been thus raised formed the topic of much exposition and controversy by the public press after the Session closed. It related to the National Coinage, and originated in some remarks made in the House of Commons by Mr. J. B. Smith, who called attention to the recent Report of the Master of the Mint upon the Gold Coinage, and inquired whether the Government was disposed to recommend the adoption of any measure extending to this country the advantages of the International Coinage Convention of December, 1865.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that the gold coinage of the country was in a most unsatisfactory condition, and that the waste occurring under our present system was enormous, for of 98,000,000 sovereigns coined since 1850, according to Mr. Jevons's calculation, 44,000,000 had disappeared altogether from circulation. Unlike almost every other country in the world, we charged nothing for coining bullion; we gave back the manufactured article, in exchange for the raw material brought to the Mint, without imposing a “mintage” or “seignorage." As a result of this a regular trade had been established (the chief seat of which was at Brussels) of picking out the heaviest sovereigns and melting them down, and they were also largely exported as bullion. Moreover, although after eighteen years' wear, on an average, a sovereign became so reduced in weight as to be no longer a legal tender, we took no pains to call in our light coinage, and the consequence was that 313 per cent. of our sovereigns, and 40 per cent. of our half-sovereigns, were not of the legal weight. This evil was a practical one of some importance, because it would shortly be necessary to repair this waste in our coinage, which would cost the country no less than 400,0002. The remedy for this prodigality was to charge a "seignorage” for coinage, for which Mr. Lowe quoted the authority of Sir Dudley North, Adam Smith, and M‘Culloch, as well as of the present Master of the Mint and Colonel Smith. This, to cover the expense of coinage and recoinage and wear and tear, he calculated at a trifle over 1 per cent. The great argument against it was that if the Mint charged more for the sovereign its value would be increased, and the general transactions of the country would be disturbed. After discussing the various modes of meeting the difficulty, Mr. Lowe's opinion inclined in favour of reducing the value of the sovereign by 1 per cent., as a return for the trouble and expense of coinage. As to the question of international coinage, Mr. Lowe said that the French Government had recently written to him, but at present he had gone no farther than to point out to them that it would be impossible as long as France retained both a gold and silver standard ; and he believed the French Government was favourable to adhering to a gold standard. There must also be an identity of weight, fineness, and alloy. Mr. Lowe did not agree with those who saw great difficulties in the establishment of an international coinage. For instance, the French Mint was about to coin a 25f. gold piece, which would be about 22c. less in value than our sovereign, and if we were to take 1 per cent. out of the value of our sovereign for mintage, the value of the two would about correspond. France now charged per cent. for mintage, but it would be necessary for her to charge at the same rate as we did ; and, considering that the Spanish doubloon, the American eagle, and the Prussian Frederick would be nearly identical with this 25f. piece, the way would be cleared for a general European coinage. Mr. Lowe concluded by remarking that he had nothing now to propose, but wished the subject to be ventilated in the country during the recess.
The challenge thus offered to public discussion was speedily taken up, but the correspondence which took place in various public channels brought to light a great diversity of opinion among eminent and well-informed persons on the much-controverted doctrines of
EDUCATION—The Endowed Schools Bill, brought in by Mr. W. E. Forster on behalf introduced by the Solicitor-General, Sir J. D. Coleridge-It is opposed by Conservative Members—Sir Roundell Palmer moves Amendments, which are afterwards withdrawn- The Third Reading is carried by 116 to 65— In the Lords it is unfavourably received, and rejected by 91 to 54, the previous Question being moved by Lord Carnarvon-Trinity College Dublin-Mr. Fawcett moves a Resolution condemnatory of Restrictions on Fellowships and Scholarships-Dr. Ball announces that the authorities of the College will not oppose the change—Remarks of Mr. Chichester Fortescue and other Members—The Annual Education Vote for Great Britain—The Vote is moved and Statement made by Mr. W. E. Forster-Debates in both Houses of Parliament on the subject of National Education-Earl Russell introduces the subject in the House of Lords, and Mr. Melly moves for a Select Committee in the House of Commons-Debates on these Motions, which are withdrawn
of the Government-Objects and character of the Measure-Discussed in the House of Commons, and modified in a Select Coinmittee-Debates on the Measure in the House of Lords—The Bill passed - University Tests Abolition Bill
- The Scotch Education Bill, brought in by the Duke of Argyll, and passed by the House of Lords with important Amendments—Taken up by the House of Commons late in the Session-Again much discussed and amended — Returned, with Amend. ments, to the Lords, who decline to entertain the Bill at that period, and it is lostState of the Episcopal Bench in England-Large Proportion of Bishops disabled by age and infirmity-Lord Lyttelton's Bill for Increase of the Episcopate-It meets with much objection in the House of Lords, and is rejected by a large majority – The Archbishop of Canterbury's Bill for providing for the retirement of incapacitated holders of Sees-Discussions on the Measure in both Houses—It is passed, but limited to two years—Resignation of two English Bishops, and removal
of a third by Death before the end of the year-Serious illness of the Primate. ALTHOUGH the Government found itself unable to deal with the large subject of National Education during the present year, in consequence of the pre-engagement of the time of Parliament by the Irish Church Bill, yet the Session was not wholly barren of educational legislation ; nor were the great interests involved in the subject lost sight of, but formed the topic of many discussions in both Houses. The principal step taken, and by no means an unimportant one in this direction, was the passing of an Act for turning to advantageous account the funds of the numerous endowed schools scattered throughout the country, whose revenues, either in consequence of the restrictions with which they were fettered, or the apathy and negligence of trustees, had long been wasted or misused. An inquiry into the administration of these schools had recently taken place, by means of a Royal Commission, whose Report threw much light on the mismanagement and neglect into which those institutions had fallen, and showed the urgent need that there was of remodelling the schools, and making more profitable use of their large revenues. On the basis of this Report the Government now resolved to legislate, and Mr. W. E. Forster, as the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education, was commissioned to bring in a Bill for the reconstruction and regulation of the endowed schools. This measure he introduced to the House of Commons on the 18th of February in an able speech, which he commenced by referring to the labours of the School Inquiry Commission, of which he had been himself a member, and wished to be considered responsible for the whole of its Report. It was a Commission composed of gentlemen of different politics and different religious persuasions, and they had the satisfaction of presenting an entirely unanimous Report. The object of the Commission was to inquire into the condition of all endowed schools in England and Wales that had not been inquired into by two previous Commissions,—the one, presided over by the Duke of Newcastle, to consider elementary schools assisted by votes of Parliament,-and the other, presided over by Lord Clarendon, which was appointed to inquire into public schools, respecting which a Bill was passed last year by the member for the University of Cambridge, Mr. Walpole. Not only was the present Bill brought forward in consequence of the Report of the Commission, but to a very great extent the Bill carried out its recommendations. Its principal object was the reform and reorganization of the Endowed Schools of England and Wales. But there was one important difference between the Bill and the Report of the Commission. The Report recommended not merely that the Endowed Schools should be put on an improved footing, but that a power should be taken of inspecting, and, he might say, of managing, them; not merely that there should be power given to make fresh trusts, but that there should be power given to see that the trustees did their duty. For this purpose the Commission recommended the appointment of provincial boards throughout the country, under the control of the central authority. He was still of the opinion that very much might be said in favour of this machinery, but on full consideration the Government had come to the conclusion of not recommending the House to adopt it at present, but to confine the scope of their Bill to the reform and reorganization of Endowed Schools, not taking any power for their inspection and management beyond the power which was at present in the hands of the Charity Commissioners. Therefore they proposed that the Bill should be a temporary Bill. They asked for power for three or four years, to make fresh trust-deeds for Endowed Schools, which should after approval by Government be laid before Parliament, but should not become law if objected to by either House of Parliament. They had, however, seen no difficulty in providing a plan for the examination of schools and for giving certifrcates of competence to schoolmasters, and in this they had followed the recommendations of the Commissioners. The Commissioners recommended an examining council, which would consist of twelve members, and as it was thought there would be more confidence in this body if it were not nominated entirely by Government, six of the members would be appointed by the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and London, and six by the Crown. This Educational Council would have power to examine the scholars of all endowed schools, and to give certificates. There was no wish to interfere with schoolmasters who carried on schools of their own, but he believed it would not be considered any interference, but a boon, by private schoolmasters, if the examination, which was compulsory on the endowed schools, might be taken advantage of by the private schoolmasters on their fulfilling the same conditions that were fulfilled by the endowed schools. The Bill also made provision for offering to some extent exhibitions to scholars of private schools. It was desirable that the Bill should pass this Session, and, as important business of another character would come on soon, he would ask the House to allow him to take the second reading on an early day; but as there might be some difference of opinion with regard to the special provisions of the Bill, full time would be given for consideration of them before going into Committee. The Bill provided for the appointment of a small Commission, which would prepare the schemes and give notice to all the parties interested, and, after the schemes were
settled, would submit them to the Educational Department of the Privy Council, and that department would, on its own responsibility, after approval, lay them before Parliament.
Little discussion took place on the first stage of the Bill. The members who spoke on it desired to have further time to consider its details. In answer to various inquiries, Mr. Forster said he did not propose inspection, but only examination of schools and masters; and it was not intended that the Bill should apply to any school which already received a Government grant. As to the representations which had been made, that it would be better to allow more time before taking the second reading, he thought it right to yield to the wishes that had been expressed. To be sure, if the effect of the Bill should be to improve the character of the people, it would be desirable to pass it as soon as possible. There was, however, no desire to press the Bill with undue haste.
After the lapse of a month, Mr. Forster moved the second reading of the Bill,and then fully explained its provisions. The Commissioners had reported that the worst education in this country was that provided in the schools between the upper and middle class, the elementary schools inspected by Government. The Bill dealt with 3000 schools, viz. 782 grammar schools and 2175 foundations, mostly elementary, with a gross income of 592,0001., and a net income for education of 340,0001., a sum which, if well applied, would have done much; but these sums were to a great extent wasted. Mr. Forster gave startling instances of this fact. His object was now chiefly to open the benefits of these endowments, not only to the lower middle classes, on whose claims Mr. Forster strongly insisted, but also to the working classes, carrying out in this, he contended, the intentions of the founders; and he explained how he would do this, by making the admissions to the endowed schools depend, not on favour, but on competitive examination. He also shadowed out a scheme by which the clever child of a working man might rise step by step from the lowest elementary school to the highest education in the country. To prevent the rich seizing on the fruits of these reforms, the Bill would give power to classify these schools, and to fix the age at which the boys should leave. Among other objects of the Bill he mentioned the promotion of girls' education, and the multiplication of day schools. The powers of the Court of Chancery and the Charity Commissioners would not suffice for these objects, and a special Commission would be necessary.
The Commissioners would have