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ADVANCING BACKWARDS.

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ADVANCING BACKWARDS. SiR JOIIX GOUST'S Education Bill which has been read in the House of Commons for the first time is a curious mixture of Progressive and Retrogressive elements— in fact, a perfect reilex of tho Cabinet whence it takes its being-. If the objects of the Bill were not so clearly in the nature of an attempt on Constitutional Governmeut, some of its proposals would be regarded by Ivadieals as distinct blessings. It would be well to have a little more Local Government in Educational matters as in other things. The modification of the Code in order to suit the requirements of different localities is a step which was in many cases impera- tively called for it is obviously absurd that a pupil of the London School Board should be tested by the same standard as a pupil of a school in a thoroughly rural district. A man cannot, however, be expected to go into raptures over the fino workmanship of the guillotine, if he knows that it is to bo used for cutting his throat. All the fine plans of the Government end up in the proposal that the county authority shall bo authorised to pay four shillings per head as a special aid grant to necessitous schools." The necessitous schools may be Board Schools or Voluntary Schools; as, however, it is the Voluntary Schools which complain of the "intolerable strain," it requires no spirit of divination to discern the object of the clause. Schools are to be exempted from rates but the Vicar may use them as before for Primrose League Meetings. The county authority can lend the Vicar public money on the security of the School Buildings; but the Vicar will be as independent of popular control as ever. The public have at present to pay 16s in the £ towards the support of the schools in the hands of private individuals. The Government pro- posals simply mean that the British Public will now have the still greater felicity of paying about 20s in the £ An extension of tho conscience clause is provided; but when one considers how inoperative is the present clause, this looks very like an attempt to cajole the public into paying for a shadow. Sir John Gorst thought he had found an unanswerable objection to the pro- posal to replace sectarian schools by Board Schools when he stated that such a change would cost 125,000,000 or thereabouts. Even granting that this is the case it would not moan much more than an expenditure of X5,30,000 annually; the fanatical supporters of the clergy are apparently unaware that 21 per cent. Consols are quoted 4 at 1. 101- and that they will bo converted into 21 per cent. stock in 1905. And how much better would th3 now schools be than the present makeshifts The least truculent of the clericals would however stand aghast at the idea of being put off with a cool half million for besides the extra 4s per head to "necessitous" schools—what sectarian school is not necessitous—the 17s 6d limit is to be abolished. The whole bill is drafted with a Keen eye to the interests of the clericals and an utter disregard of those principles of Constitutional Governments which have been so slowly and surely built up since the days of the Stuarts. A more unblushing attempt to barter popular liberties for the priestly mess of potage could not well bo conceived on the borders of the twentieth century-

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