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HOUSE OF COMMONS. THE MUSCAT INCIDENT. In answer to Sir C. Dilke, who asked a question 1 with reference to the recent lease of a coal-depot to France by the Sultan of Muscat, Mr. Brod- i rick explained the circumstances under which ( the Sultan was required to cancel the > lease. He stated, amid cheers, that the action of the British Agent was taken under the instructions ] of the Government, and that Lord Salisbury had < informed the French Ambassador more than once 1 that it was impossible for the Government to recede < from the position which it had taken up. He also said that there was nothing to prevent France from having a coal-store at Muscat, provided there was ] no concession of territory. The action of the British t Agent the Government held to have been absolutely ] right. Replying to Mr. Yerburgh, who wanted informa- tion on the subject of the Northern Railway exten- < sion contract in China, t Mr. Brodrick said it appeared that the Russian t Minister objected to the employment of an English i engineer and of a European railway accountant, and I to the charge given on the freights and earnings of ( the lines outside the Great Wall of China as being i cont rary to the agreement between Russia and China, j He stated that Sir Claude MacDonald had been in- 1 structed to point out that none of these points con- < stituted foreign control of the railways, or involved < possession or control of the lines in the event of de- j fault on the loan. He repeated that the Government j regarded the contract as binding on the Chinese < Government. PARLIAMENTARY PERMANENT STABIP. I The constitution of the Committee to consider i jointly with a Committee of the Lords the position of the permanent staff of both Houses was again dis- cussed, and to the motion for appointing Mr. J. W. Lowther a member of the Committee Mr. MacNeill objected, his reason being that it was not proposed to name an Irish member to serve on the Committee. A division was taken and the motion was carried by 214 to 63. Mr. Pirie made a similar protest on behalf of the Scotch members, when Mr. Wharton's name was proposed, but the motion for nominating the hon. gentleman was agreed to by 220 to 69. The next question put was that the committee should have power to send for persons, papers, and records, and upon this Dr. Clark and other members chal- lenged a division. The motion was carried by 230 votes to 63. PRIMARY EDUCATION. Mr. Lloyd George called attention to the question of primary education in England and Wales and moved a resolution affirming that the present system inflicted upon a large portion of the people grievances which called for the immediate attention of Parliament. Enumerating the defects of the system, he mentioned the early age at which children left school and the insufficient accommodation and unsatisfactory condition of many voluntary schools. He deprecated the existenee of two rival and incompatible systems. The policy of the supporters of voluntary schools was to prevent the establishment of Board schools. These contained better accommodation, and in them the education imparted was superior. He held that it was wrong to use funds to which men of all creeds and classes contributed for the purpose of propagating the dogmas of one sect; yet in voluntary schools the dogmas of the Church of England were taught to Nonconformists at the expense of the community, and very strange doctrines were being introduced into schools at the present time, for the priesthood were again putting forward old sacerdotal claims. One injustice to Nonconformists was that in many voluntary schools their children were not allowed to become pupil teachers. Another injustice was that the accommodation in training colleges was in the hands of sectarian managers, with the result that Nonconformists were excluded. Nonconformists asked that there should be popular control over voluntary schools, and that every post which was subsidised by the State should be open to any child, whatever his creed might be. Mr. A. Hutton, who seconded the resolution, insisted that steps ought to be taken to terminate the denominational strife and jealousy now pre- vailing. Mr. Cecil hoped that means might be devised for supplying definite religious teaching in elementary schools to children of different denominations. A system of that kind would prevent the unhappy disputes which arose now. Mr. H. S. Foster proposed an amendment express- ing disapprobation of our educational system because Board schools received a larger grant of public money than voluntary schools, and because local burdens for national primary education were un- equally distributed. Mr. Gray, in seconding the amendment, reminded the supporters of the resolution that Schdol Boards were not created for the purpose of crushing volun- tary schools out of existence. These schools did not deserve wholesale condemnation, and as to the grievances of Nonconformists he believed that in the main they were unsubstantial. Mr. Wallace (Edinburgh, E.), in an amusing speech, advocated the complete severance of secular from theological teaching, believing that the latter should be imparted out of school. Mr. S. Smith, who was called to order more than once for travelling beyond the scope of the resolu- tion, complained that much of the religious education given in voluntary schools was tainted with the Romanising doctrines of the ritualistic clergy. Lord Cran borne declared that the Church of Eng- land party were anxious that other denominations should have the same opportunities as they had of doing useful educational work, and were quite ready to consult the feelings and susceptibilities of Non- conformists. Mr. Yoxall thought that, with good will on both sides, the disputants in this controversy could easily come to an agreement. Mr. Cripps urged those who were interested in this subject to effect a settlement of the supposed religious difficulty, and Mr. Spicer deplored the apathy prevalent in rural districts with regard to education. Mr. Abel Thomas having spoken in support of the motion. Sir J. Gorst threw doubts upon the existence of the religious grievance, asserting that most agricul- tural labourers were indifferent upon the subject of education, religious or secular, given to their chil- dren. He explained that the people in villages would not have Board schools because they disliked the idea of paying school rates. The conscience clause was the remedy for the religious difficulty that Parliament had provided, and it was a fair one; but the conscience clause was very seldom used except when parents were instigated to use it by representations from the outside. In rural districts the children in Church schools generally received the religious instruction which, their parents approved. Only on one day in the week was the catechism taught, and then only to children whose parents acquiesced in that course. Dealing with the allegation that Nonconformist children were de- barred from becoming pupil teachers in rural schools, he denied that this grievance existed, adding that young people in the country were very unwilling to become pupil teachers. Touching on the subject of trainii.g colleges, he admitted that the existing accommodation was much too limited, and observed that Noncomformists had established fewer such colleges than the Church of England. He trusted that the resolution would be negatived, and advised the withdrawal of the amendment, to which, however, he had no objection on general grounds. Sir H. Fowler charged the right hon. gentle- man with being profoundly ignorant of the views of the non conforming inhabitants of rural parishes. He found fault with the administration of the Education Department which, he alleged, was not impartial because it favoured voluntary schools. He described our system of elementary education as most expensive and inefficient, and urged that decentralisation was desirable, because the Department could not manage satisfactorily 20,000 schools. He also asserted that the religious difficulty was not a figment of the imagination, especially in these days when the doctrine of the mass was being taught and the practice of confession was extending. Mr. Balfour, remarking that no one pretended that our system of education was perfect, asked -lie, House to reject the resolution because it attacked the voluntary school system which the majority of members wished to maintain. The amentment was withdrawn, and thin the resolution was negatived by 204 votes to 81.



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