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Riiridecanal Conference. THE EDUCATION BILL. A conference of the Rural Deanery of Usk was held at the Three Salmon's Hotel, Usk. on Thursday afternoon, when the Rev H. A. Williams. R.D presided, and amongst others present were the Rev Canon Bartlett [Brisbane], Rev P. L. C. Nash [Usk], Rev W. W. Jones [Xlantrissent], Rev W. M, Willett, Rev. E. M. Prothero [LIan. gwm], Rev J. Blower, Messrs. H. Humphreys, J.P., Harold A. William*, J.P., James Davies, Joseph Davies, L. S. Duvies, \V. H. Kenuett, A. G. Graham, &c., and a number of ladies. THB EDUCATION BILL. The Rev H. A. Williams. in the course of an able address, said he proposed to consider the two great objects of the Education Bill and some of the objections that had bell urged against it. The first great object was avowedly to consolidate and simplify the educational authority, and the second was to save the voluntary schools in school board areas. With regard to the first point the rev gentleman pointed out the present complex nature of the supervision of education in its various branches, and that there was great need for more systematised education, so that overlapping of authorities should not occur. Unfortunately for all, voluntary and board schools had not worked very well together. When the Education Bill of 1870 was passed it was understood that the supporters of voluntary schools would keep up their subscriptions although board schools were going to be established. If the school board rate had been kept down to 3d in the £ that could have been done, but when that rate became one of from Is to 2s 6d in, the £ it was a different matter altogether. A heavy burden was thrown upon Churchpeople in school board areas, yet they were anxious because they had no guarantee what the religious education in school board districts would be. In many board schools the religious instruction was excellent, and left nothing to be desired, save in one respect, the sneer, not expressed possibly, but still implied, against their religion. Coming to questions financial, the rev gentleman pointed out that in Newport the school board rate had gone up od in the £ after the voluntary schools had been closed. Again, in Abergavenny, where the ratepayers would not pay a voluntary rate of 9d in the £ to keep the voluntary schools going, upon the formation of a school board they were called upon to pay Is 3d in the X. That shewed that pre- viously the voluntary schools were saving the ratepsyers a considerable sum cf money annually. [Hear, bear.] The Education Bill would give voluntary schools a chance to live, and would unify the educational authority throughout the country. Many objections had been raised to it, some of which were very plausible but which would not hold water. The rev gentleman proceeded to adversely criticise the observations of Mr Bryce upon the measure, in the course of his remarks denying that the clergy would have the control of the schools, and pointing out that in the last 30 years the voluntary schools had been carried on with very great success as was proved by the reports of H.M. Inspectors. It was absolutely untrue that their schools were cheap and nasty; they were as thoiough and genuine as schools under the boards. The new managers, in his opinion, would be practically the same as the old. Voluntary schools had been main- tained at practically half the cost of the board j schools. He denied that sohool boards had brought all the improvements in elementary education during the last thirty years, and urged that those trained in the colleges of the Church of England had, to the greatest extent, favourably influenced the work, together, to some extent, with H.M. Inspectors and the Board of Education. The rev gentleman then turned his attention to remarks in the Contemporary Review by the Hon E. Lyulph Stanley, a member of the London School Board, and refuted arguments as to the transfer of power which would follow the clauses as to the suggested mode of election of managers. He also ridiculed the statement that the schoolmaster under clerical control would have to perform extraneous duties or lose his position. Alluding to finance again, and taking school board figures, Mr Williams argued that the honorary correspondents and workers of voluntary schools saved ratepayers at least the equivalent of paid officers of board schools—-about A;343,000 a year— and contended further that voluntary school managers should be credited -vith the value of their school buildings, which, at from 2 to 3 per cent per annum on the original outlay, meant an annual amount of something like half-a-million pounds a year. (Applause.) Tn dealing with the question of the Bill adversely affecting tithe-owning clergy, &c., he urged that they should have gratitude for the Government that bad helped to lighten their burdens, as they had helped the farmers by the Agricultural Rates Act, and expressed the opinion that the Government had shown themselves willing to do justice to all so far as it lay in their power. (Applause.) Mr H. Humphreys, J.P., proposed That this meeting of the Rural Deanery of Usk welcomes the introduction of a Bill which co-ordinates elementary and secondary education, substantially remedies the injustice under which the Church has so long suffered, by at length giving to denominational schools, so far as they are eiffcient, the same support from public funds in respect of their secular instruc- tion as has hitherto been accorded to board schools alone, strongly urges that the adoption of the Bill should be made compulsory upon the various local authorities concerned, and prays that the measure may be passed before the close of the present Session." The Rev E. M. Prothero seconded. The Rev Canon Bartlett gave an interesting little speech on the subject cf religious instruction in Schools in Australia, where-in Queensland— recently, public opinion was tested by the Premier, with the result that 97 per cent of the parents bad expressed themselves in favour of religious instruc- tion being given in schools. The Rev W. W. Jones also supported, and said he would challenge anyone to say that their teachers we-re put to do any other than their school woike Considering the means at their disposal he held that voluntary irchools had done quite as well as toard schools. Hm hoped the Government would pass the Bill and as soon as possible. Mr F. W. Harding moved an amendment in order to provide that it should be obligatory that the local authorities under the Bill shall provide one half (instead of one third) of the managers of the denominational schools; also that the cost of elementary education should be entirely borne out of the Imperial exchequer. The amendment found no seconder, and the motion was agreed to, and ordered to be forwarded to IMr A. J. Balfour, Mr Joseph Lawrence, M.P, and Col the Hon F. O. Morgan, M.P. The Rev Canon Bartlett then gave an interesting address on the work of the Society for the Promo- tion of Christian Knowledge, and was given a vote of thanks therpfor. The conference concluded with afternoon tea.

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