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Looked at from the bystander's point of view, these two methods -Rate aid and State aid—are but instances of the two great centrifugal and centripetal forces which we see everywhere at work in our social system. On the one side, the system of local self-government, county, district, and parish councils, with all the tendencies of modern legislation; on the other, the substitution of the agency of the State for individual effort, this latter being the Socialistic ideal. Which of these two will prove itself the stronger force in the school policy of the future remains to be seen.
But as the object of this paper is not so much to forecast the future as to 'take stock' of the present, I wish now to point out the many common elements in all the three schemes. • Equality before the Law,' to use the French expression, is the tone of them all. Claim for relief from unfair burdens is common to all. Chief among these unfair burdens is the payment of rates by voluntary public elementary schools. It is often supposed that because rates are levied on Board as well as voluntary schools, therefore both classes of school pay them equally; but it is forgotten that the Board School recoups itself out of the rates, while the voluntary school has no such resource. There is, besides, an actual loss in the present system, the same sum being collected twice-in the first place, for the rates on the Board school; and in the second, for the additional amount of School Board rate raised to pay the first rate. In each case a percentage is paid to the collector.
Liberty to build voluntary schools where the circumstances of the locality require it is another point common to all. Again, all would give power to voluntary public elementary schools to borrow money, on the same terms as Board schools, for structural additions or improvements ordered by the Education Department, on the security of the school buildings or other property. The grant of such demands as the above, which are all of an enabling and not of a restrictive nature, would go far to set voluntary schools free to continue and improve their present beneficent work, and to diffuse that feeling of equal justice all round to which I have above alluded.
It is to be regretted that the National Society did not put in the forefront of their Draft Bill these 'weightier' matters, all of which may be summed up under the general heading of Equality of Treatment for Board and Denominational Schools, and leave the method of attaining this great end in the alternative. Sections 12, 13, 14, and 15 contain the principles we contend for. The question of Rate aid or State aid is rather a matter of policy and convenience—the means, not the end.
But to return to a point which I passed by earlier. The work of those who have at heart the maintenance of definite religious instruction for all children whose parents wish for it would be incomplete without some better provision than now exists in this regard for
the large number of children now attending Board schools whose parents desire for them definite teaching in their own religion. In all large towns, at any rate, there must be a considerable number of such children. In London, for instance, it has been estimated that there are twice as many children of Church parents in the Board schools as there are in all the Church schools put together.
It was natural that the Roman Catholic Bishops should confine their attention to their own schools and children of their own faith, as they do not willingly allow any of their own flocks to attend Board schools; but it is to be regretted that the authorities of the Church of England should have passed by such an opportunity of embracing within the scope of their proposals so large a portion of the children under their care. It may, of course, be said that the religious instruction in Board schools appears to be satisfactory to many Church parents. It may be to some; but I should prefer to put it in this way: that it is tacitly submitted to by many who would gladly see it improved. The whole of the London School Board controversy shows that in Board schools there is not, and cannot be, much heart'in the teaching of Christianity. To many that religion seems rather tolerated than inculcated; and, good as the instruction may be (and often is) so far as it goes, it cannot be given by a Board, neutral on the subject, with that energy of conviction which a religious body may be supposed to possess.
The National Society's Bill is not yet brought into Parliament, nor has it as yet run the gauntlet of public criticism, and many improvements may be made in it before it comes within the sphere of practical politics. It is much to be hoped that when that period arrives some provision for definite instruction of Board-school children in the religion of their parents may be found to have been included within its scope.
The consideration of the large amount of common material contained in all the three schemes reviewed above will, I trust, stimulate public thought in the direction of common action. If they all wish substantially the same thing, why cannot the leaders of the Anglican and Roman Churches, and of such Protestant dissenters as care for religious education, meet at a 'Round Table,' or in whatever way they think they may best consult together, agree upon a common platform, show a united front, and at the first reasonable opportunity present a common Bill for the settlement of this long-standing grievance—a Bill which such a united force as is here suggested could carry triumphantly through Parliament ?
GEORGE A. SPOTTISWOODE.
'THE SOCIETY OF COMPARATIVE
In a paper read before the Imperial Institute last November I made some suggestions as to the expediency of taking steps towards arranging, organising, and completing our stock of knowledge about the course of legislation in different parts of the British Empire and in the United States of America. The suggestions were favourably received, and have resulted in the formation of a Society of Comparative Legislation, with the object of promoting knowledge of the subject thus indicated. As the society appeals for its support not merely to professional lawyers, but to all those who are concerned in the manifold political and social problems which Englishmen, and those who speak the English tongue, are endeavouring to solve throughout the world, perhaps some account of its aims and objects may be of interest to the readers of this Review.
The marvel is that such a society has not long been in existence. The British Empire presents an unrivalled field of observation to students of comparative legislation and comparative law. No monarch has ever formed a constituent part of so many Legislatures as the Queen of England; no court has ever administered so many different systems of law as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Some sixty Legislatures are at work in the British Empire. If we extend our survey to the whole of Greater Britain, we shall find in the United States some fifty more. They offer the greatest variety of constitutions. There are federations with the residuum of sovereignty in the individual States, as in the United States ; federations with the residuum of sovereignty in the central Government, as in Canada ; States on the verge of federation, as in Australia. We find in the different British colonies Legislatures with two Houses-the usual form ; Legislatures with a single House, as in Ontario and elsewhere ; L'pper Houses which are nominative; Upper Houses which are elective; Upper Houses partly nominative and partly elective; two
· The Lord Chancellor (Lord Herschell, G.C.B.) is the President of the Society. On the council are the ambassadors of France and the United States, the Lord Chief Justice of England and other leading members of the English Bench and Bar, and several ex-Governors, Agents-General, and other representatives of the principal colonies.
Houses based on a franchise which is substantially identical or substantially different; conflicts and collisions between the two Houses, with varying results; ingenious devices for removing or minimising such conflicts. In some colonies the principle of responsible government is fully adopted; in others the official element maintains partial, predominant, or absolute control. At one end of the scale there is a popular assembly, based on universal or almost universal suffrage, and dealing with the social problems of an advanced industrial democracy. At the other an autocratic administrator is sketching out such simple codes as are required for maintaining order among barbarians, or for regulating the relations between the trader and the savage. Aristotle is said to have collected and compared the constitutions of 150 different States. The father of political science would have found within the British Empire, not quite as many States, but a greater wealth of material and a greater variety of experiments, experiences, and conditions.
As to the subjects of legislation, their number bears relation, not, as the Roman historian would have it, to the degeneracy of each State, but to the variety and complexity of its needs. And thus in all the more advanced communities the statute-book increases steadily in volume, and grows to dimensions which tend to make its contents perplexing both to the administrator and to the student.
If we pass from the sphere of legislation and statute law to that of common or customary law, the variety of the systems which have to be interpreted and applied by the Imperial Court of Appeal is equally remarkable. In Australia and New Zealand, where there are no historical complications, the common law, as in the greater part of the United States, is that common law of England which was developed in Westminster Hall. But elsewhere history and conquest have left their traces in the law of the land. In that remnant of the Duchy of Normandy which is constituted by the Channel Islands the ancient customs of the Duchy are still observed, and for the purpose of a recent case it was necessary to investigate the constitution of the Duchy at the time when its Duke William became King of England. In Canada there is the old French law anterior to the Revolution, the law embodied in the great Ordonnances of Louis the Fourteenth and Louis the Fifteenth, or, as they may more worthily be called, of Colbert and d’Aguesseau, as well as an improved version of the Code Napoléon. At the Cape and elsewhere there is Roman-Dutch law. And for litigants from India the Judicial Committee have to expound Manu and the Koran, to weigh the religious efficacy of offerings to the dead in its bearing on the law of inheritance, to reconcile inspired treatises with local customs, to adapt the teaching and theories of the second century to the facts of the nineteenth, to find a common measure between the traditions and usages of the East and the practice of the West.
On a first survey this multitude of Legislatures and of laws is apt to produce a bewildering effect. But on closer examination elements of order and similarity speedily present themselves. The different Constitutions fall into a limited number of easily recognisable groups or classes, explicable by the circumstances out of which they have arisen or with which they have to deal. Then, again, there is a striking similarity between the subjects of legislation in different countries. The problems of what Sir Charles Dilke calls Greater Britain'are, with few exceptions, identical with the problems of the United Kingdom. The constitutional and administrative experiments which are being tried in England are those which are on trial in the British colonies, and there is hardly a colonial debate which does not find an echo within the halls of Westminster. Everywhere various solutions are being attempted of similar problems. Our colonies present specimens of almost every form of legislation on such subjects as education, the regulation of labour, the relief of the poor, the control of the liquor traffic. In one colony education is strictly denominational, in another it is rigidly secular; it is compulsory here, it is optional there; the expenses are defrayed in some cases out of central taxes, in some cases out of local rates. Attempts are being made, with more or less success, to enforce the eight hours day in the Australasian colonies. In most colonies boards of conciliation or arbitration in labour disputes have been established, with or without compulsory powers for enforcing their decisions. The factory legislation of Australia is said to be in some respects in advance of our own. Poor-laws, under that name, are, for honourable reasons, unpopular in the colonies, but ample and various provision is made by colonial Legislatures for the relief of indigent persons, and for the care of destitute and neglected children. And as to the liquor laws, so infinite is the variety of colonial legislation, so abundant and so conflicting is the evidence as to the measure of success by which the various experiments have been attended, that our colonies will supply an inexhaustible store of precedents, arguments, and warnings for the advocates and opponents of every conceivable plan.
It may be said that this various treatment of similar problems may be predicated not only of the British Empire, or the more extensive sphere of Greater Britain,' but of the whole civilised world. This is true, and no legislator or administrator can afford to disregard the legislative and administrative experiments which are being tried on the continent of Europe. But it is important to observe-and the observation cannot fail to have been made by anyone who has compared British or American legislation on the one hand, with French or German legislation on the other--how the laws and institutions of the English-speaking world are differentiated by a characteristic mode of approaching the problems with which they have to deal. Throughout that vast portion of the earth's surface which is occupied or ruled by the English-speaking race we see members of that race approach