City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Wednesday, 21st June 1882.
The Lord Chancellor and Sir F. Bramwell, F.R.S. Mr. Watney, Clerk of the Mercers' Company; Mr. Sawyer, Clerk of the Drapers' Company; and Mr. Roberts, Clerk of the Clothworkers' Company, Honorary Secretaries to the Institute.
1673. (Chairman to the Lord Chancellor.) We understand that you and the gentlemen who come with you, have done us the honour of appearing here, with a view to making a representation on behalf of the City and Guilds Technical Institute ?—Yes, that is so.
1674. Then probably it will be convenient if you will kindly make the statement you wish to put before us in the form that you prefer ?—I may first mention that the Royal Society is one of the different bodies who are represented on the government of this institution, and that Mr. Spottiswoode, the President of that Society, who has been associated with us, has unfortunately been prevented from being present here to-day. It was thought possible that the Commissioners might wish to have some skilled opinion as to the work which is being undertaken, and the results likely to flow from it when seen from a scientific point of view, and we trusted to him to give the Commissioners that information; and perhaps, if you should think it desirable, you would receive it from him on a future day on which he might be able to attend.
1675. We shall be very happy to do so?—Then with respect to those of us who are present, Sir Frederick Bramwell and myself, I propose, with the permission of the Commissioners, to make a general statement upon such matters, as I presume you would wish to be particularly informed about; and Sir Frederick Bramwell, who is more conversant than I am with the working of the Institution in detail, will be prepared to supply further matter. Perhaps I may be allowed at starting just to say how it is that I myself have the connexion which I happen to have with this institute. I am a member of the Mercers' Company by hereditary right. My great grandfather (who was the younger son of a Leicestershire gentleman) having come to London to go into business at the beginning of the last century, and then having been apprenticed, I rather think, to a member of a collateral branch of the same family, who was a mercer, the effect of that was to give all his male descendants a right at the age of 21 to take up the freedom of the company, which I believe they have none of them failed to do. I did it in my turn, and was in the course of time put upon the court of assistants of the company, though practically I was never able to attend there during the time of my professional practice. When I ceased to be Lord Chancellor after my former term of office the company was so good as to pay me the compliment of asking me to become their master, and free as I then was from public engagements, I willingly accepted that offer and served during the year when this scheme of technical instruction first became matured in its present form. That was the cause of my being honoured with the position I now hold of one of its governing body. The beginning of the scheme may be carried back to the beginning of the year 1873, when the Clothworkers' Company who, perhaps, of all those deserving praise in this matter, deserve the most,—initiated a practical movement and began to incur very considerable cost for the promotion of it. They founded at that time, in the year 1873, a school for the promotion of textile industries on scientific principles in connexion with the Yorkshire College at Leeds, and their expenditure and engagements on that undertaking, and in connexion with the institute from that time to this, I am told is not much short of 90,000l. I think it is due to the Clothworkers' Company to state this at the outset, not only because they were the beginners in the work, but also because of their most liberal contributions to it. The next thing which I notice without any knowledge of the degree of influence which it may have had upon other people's minds, (I mention it because it had certainly some influence upon mine) was an invitation which the present Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone, held out to the companies to undertake a work of this description, in his address upon education, when he presented prizes to the science and art students at Greenwich in 1875. I have here an extract of what he said in that speech. He said it was especially desirable that efforts should be made to give instruction in science so as to improve the knowledge of the British artist and workman, and enable him to hold his position in the markets of the world. That result (he added) could only be attained in the main through the agency of the individual mind and will, and then he said this: All that others can do is to offer assistance, and who should offer that assistance ? I confess that I should like to see a great deal of this work done by the London companies. I have not been consulted by the London companies, but if so, I would have besought and entreated them to consider whether it was not in their power to make themselves that which they certainly are not now, illustrious in the country by endeavouring resolutely and boldly to fulfil the purposes for which they were founded." And he went on to say that he understood the companies to have been founded generally for the purpose of developing the crafts, trades, or misteries, so-called, in the country. As I have said, I rather speak of my own attention having been directed by that speech to the matter, and I do not know at all to what extent, or in how many cases, the minds of other men may have been moved in the same direction by that invitation. However, in the next year, through the agency of the Clothworkers' Company, and I think the Drapers' Company also (in the year 1877 it was that it came to maturity) those companies proposed to the other companies to combine for this purpose, and an executive committee was accordingly formed. That, I think, was done in January 1877. The first step that was taken after the executive committee was formed was to endeavour to obtain the best scientific and practical advice possible, with reference to what was wanted, and what could be done; and they sent a circular paper (which I hold in my hand) to five gentlemen, of whom three even tually gave them reports, and two others were kind enough to take the places of those whose engagements prevented them from doing so. The gentlemen in the first instance consulted were Mr. Lyon Playfair, Mr. Lowthian Bell, Captain Douglas Galton, Major Donneliy (The Director of the Science Department at South Kensington), and Mr. Wood, the Assistant Secretary at the Society of Arts. I will not trouble the Commissioners by reading the detail of this, but it is right to mention that it was placed before those gentlemen in such a manner as to leave their judgment entirely unfettered by any foregone conclusions as to the subjects on which they were consulted on the part of the executive committee. Two of those gentlemen, Mr. Lyon Playfair and Mr. Lowthian Bell, I think, were unable to give the assistance that was desired; but instead of them we obtained the assistance of Professor Huxley and Sir William Armstrong, and they gave their reports to the executive committee in the autumn and winter of 1877; that is, the same year. We have been favoured with a communication of the evidence, or some evidence already given before the Commission; and I observe that two of the witnesses who have been examined here seem to imagine that the scheme has been started upon an unsound basis, and that in particular Professor Huxley's judgment was not in the direction which the scheme has taken. I saw that with surprise. I am sure I do not know upon what ground anyone could have formed that opinion; but I have here Professor Huxley's report, and I venture to mention some passages (not troubling the Commissioners with extracts from any other) in which he both speaks most strongly of the want, and indicates those modes of supplying it, which it has been endeavoured to adopt. He says that a complete system of technical education should be directed towards these objects: "First, the diffusion among artisans and others occupied in trades and manufactures, of sound instruction in those kinds of theoretical and practical knowledge which bear upon the different branches of industry, whether manufactures or arts. Secondly, adequate provision for the training and supply of teachers qualified to give such instruction, and for the establishment of schools or isolated classes to which the industrial population may have ready access, and further for a proper system of examinations, whereby the work done in the schools and classes may be tested." Well, I could not in so few words have better summed up the work which has actually been undertaken, and which is now going on. Later on, at page 9, he speaks strongly of the importance of the system of instruction and examination which had been already begun in the Science and Art Department, with which he is himself familiar. He says: "That system has already effected an immense amount of good year by year; it is steadily Avidening the sphere of its operations, and I conceive that the livery companies could not employ a portion of their funds better than in aiding the extension and perfection of the system independently of, but in harmony with, the action of the Science and Art Department." And then, at page 11, he speaks of the great importance of the establishment of a central institution for the training and supply of teachers, and for the advanced instruction of students of exceptional capacity. "The withdrawal of such persons from the centres of industry will not affect the supply of labour, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a sufficient number of instructors of a higher order to equip training colleges in every considerable manufacturing district. The more closely the matter is examined the more clearly it will appear that the question of technical education turns mainly on the supply of teachers good enough, but not too good, for the purpose. And I am of opinion that the greatest service which at the present time could be rendered to the cause of technical education in this country would be the establishment in London of a training college for technical teachers, fitted with the requisite laboratories, lecture rooms, and other appliances, and provided with a proper staff of professors and other instructors." Then he goes on to say in what branches of knowledge instruction should be given there, and that the building ought not to be too ambitious in its architecture, but should be constructed for practical objects; and he thinks, at page 15, that the current expense of such a college as he has suggested would probably amount to from 5,000l. to 6,000l. a year in salaries, wages, and material. "The number of students," he says, "would not make much difference, except in the greater or less demand for assistant teachers," and so on. I need not read more, but I think the Commissioners who are acquainted with what has been done will be of opinion that it is not at least to any want of an honest endeavour to act upon those suggestions that, if we have failed or are likely to fail (which I do not think), the failure will be due. Having got these reports, the executive committee set to work, and their first operations consisted in negotiations with the Cowper Street middle class schools in Finsbury, for the purpose of having temporary accommodation there to begin the work of a technical school there; and at the same time they negotiated with the Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851 for a site for the central institution. I see that doubt has been thrown upon the prudence of the selection of the site at South Kensington; but the Commissioners will understand that the class of students who are to be trained for masters and teachers, and superior foremen, and so on, will not be those who are carrying on handicraft industries in London at the time, so as to make the difference between the West End and the East End of material importance to them; while, on the other hand, the immediate neighbourhood of the great scientific museums and other institutions which are in the neigbourhood of South Kensington made that neighbourhood apparently very desirable : in addition to which, I do not know that anywhere else, certainly upon such terms, a site so advantageous could possibly have been obtained. Those negotiations proceeded, and they ended in a lease upon very beneficial terms being obtained from the Commissioners of a very large and convenient site, where the building can be erected, and where there may be room for developing it, the rent being almost nominal, the term long, and the only stipulations such as the Commissioners most properly would make, namely, that the buildings should be erected and maintained, and that there should be a proper repre sentation of certain scientific institutions upon the governing body. That lease was settled, not, I believe, actually granted, in August 1880. In the meantime (on the 9th July 1880) the institute was incorporated, not by special charter, but under the general powers given by the Companies Act, the 23rd section of which abolishes the name "limited" where it is not a commercial undertaking. Perhaps I ought now to state what is the government. It might seem at first sight that, if looked at in detail, it was a cumbrous system of government. It does not work so, and I daresay those who are acquainted with the practical working of things can easily see why There is a large body of governors. The actual number at the end of last year or the beginning of the present year was 169, and they are constituted chiefly by a proportionate representation of the contributors to the undertaking, according to the amounts of their contributions. The city of London and the companies nominate governors upon this principle, and I believe any one who subscribes 100l. can nominate a governor. That is a sort of general meeting of the whole undertaking. Then under them is a council of 55. They are also chosen with some proportionate reference to the supply of the funds. Under that council there is an executive committee of 40, and that acts by four sub-committees, one for the central institution, one for finance, one for the Finsbury College (of which I shall presently speak), and one for the South Lambeth School of Art (of which I shall also speak), and for the technological examinations. The general body meets once a year, I think, not oftener, though it can be called together at any time. The whole council is summoned once a quarter, and it would be summoned at any time, if necessary; the practical work is of course done by the executive committee (of which Sir Frederick Bramwell is the real working chairman,) and by the sub-committees under it. Then on all these bodies are the ex officio governors, of whom one is the Lord Mayor, and the other four were introduced upon the wise and valuable suggestion of the Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851. They are the President of the Royal Society, the President of the Chemical Society, the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the Chairman of the Council of the Society of Arts, whether they are or are not in any way connected with the subscribing companies. The Commissioners are now in possession of the objects and the constitution of the institute, and I will proceed to state what has been done. The first undertaking was to establish a college of applied science and art in the city, in immediate proximity to the Cowper Street Middle Class Schools, where temporary accommodation was originally given, and the first stone of that college was laid (Prince Leopold did us the honour to come for that purpose) on the 10th of May 1881, (that is, last year,) and I am happy to say that in the present year it is expected to be opened for work. In the meantime, under the accommodation which has been obtained from the middle class schools, the classes have been temporarily going on as well as they could. The object of that college is to provide systematic evening instruction for those who are actually engaged in the staple industries of the district, including cabinet-making and the application of chemistry and physics to special trades. The classes which have been perhaps the most popular and the most largely attended, are those which relate to electric lighting, and some manufacturing operations of very great importance. That has been going on, and before I end I will give the numerical results of the work that has been hitherto done. The first stone of the Central Institution was laid by the Prince of Wales (who graciously accepted the office of President of the Institute) on the 18th July 1881, at South Kensington, the Princess of Wales being also present. Contracts have been made for that undertaking; considerable progress has been made in it, and the year after next we expect it to be opened. The whole cost of those buildings is estimated at, for Finsbury College 27,000l., for the Central Institution (including fittings), 80,000l., making 107,000l. altogether. Now I ought, perhaps, to mention the funds. The Corporation of the City of London has contributed, not to the building fund, but to the fund arising from annual subscriptions, and 28 companies have done so. Towards the building fund special contributions have been made of 42,250l. in the whole, by four companies giving 10,000l. each, two 1,000l. each, and one 250l. The annual subscriptions in the first year, 1878, were 12,102l. odd; in the second year (1879), 12,862l. odd; in the third, 12,965l. odd; and in the last year, 24,000l. The funds for meeting the buildings are, therefore, provided to a very great extent, by savings (of course there has been some expenditure in the work that has been going on) out of the annual subscriptions during those years, and by means of the funds specially contributed for buildings; and it is hoped that whatever deficiency there may be will be supplied by the liberality of the contributing companies, and others. I stated to the Commissioners that I would give them some numerical results of the work which has already been done, and first of all I will give them the figures applicable to the technological examinations which have been carried on in every year since 1879. I think they were taken over from the Society of Arts, which before conducted them. In 1879, the number examined was 202 at 23 centres, all in the provinces, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and so on, in seven subjects. In the next year, 1880, 816 were examined at 85 centres, and in 24 subjects. In the third year 1881, 1,563 were examined at 115 centres, and in 28 subjects; and in 1882, 1,961 were examined at 146 centres, and in 38 subjects. I am surprised if the Commissioners do not think that that is evidence that there was a real want, and that the supply meets an increasing demand. With regard to the students receiving instruction more directly from the different schools and colleges of the institute, in the Technical College, Finsbury, in its present provisional state, there are now receiving instruction in the evening classes 500 students; at the South London School of Technical Art, which is intended for those artizans who are engaged in kinds of industry which require knowledge of, or aptitude for, art, there are now receiving instruction 158 students; that is in a building in the Kennington Park Road. Then there are two small numbers which I may mention in addition. In themselves they are insignificant, but they may develope. In the Horological Institute, which I presume is connected with the business of clock and watch making, there are 26 students, and in the School of Art for wood-carving there are at present 42. That gives 726 in the institutions which are under the management of the institute itself, even in its present half-developed state. In the provinces, the number of students in the provincial classes in connexion with the institute for the purpose of its examinations is at present 3,300. I do not know that I have myself anything that I need add in order to put the Commissioners fully in possession of the character and objects of the scheme, and of what has been done towards it, and what are its prospects of success. I think the Commissioners understand that the Central Institute mainly aims at the education of those who shall be teachers of technical knowledge all over the country, like the great institutions in Paris, in Zurich, and other places, but it is not confined to those who would be teachers; any who are desirous, with a view to being foremen or superintendents of works, or masters, or managers, of receiving a high technical education, will be welcome there, and as funds increase it is hoped that exhibitions may be founded in aid of the poorer students. I think I have now stated to the Commissioners the facts of the case, and any detail Sir Frederick Bramwell will now supply better than I can.
1676. (To Sir Frederick Bramwell.) May we ask you if you have anything to add to the statement which we have heard with so much interest from your chairman ?—Very little indeed. There are one or two points, however, upon which I should like to make a few observations. The Lord Chancellor, in telling you the nature of the governing body of the institute, said quite correctly that the representation was to a certain extent based upon the amount of the contributions, but the Lord Chancellor omitted a point, which I think should be made known to you, which is, that with the object of having on the council and on the executive committee representatives of companies not contributing sufficient sums of money to entitle them to nominate persons on the council and on the executive committee, the governors elect a certain number of their own body to be councillors, and at least a moiety of those persons must be representatives of companies not contributing a sufficient sum to entitle them to nominate councillors. Similarly on the executive committee the council elect a certain number of their own body to the executive committee, one fourth of whom at least must be representatives of companies not contributing enough to entitle them to nominate a representative on the executive committee, and in that way we have been enabled to ensure that all those who have aided us, and who are men willing and able to work should come upon every grade, if I may so call it, of the government of the institute. The Lord Chancellor further said that a certain portion of the funds required for the buildings would come out of the savings. That is so, but I wish to put before the Commissioners how it is that these savings arise, because I know that an impression has prevailed which has prompted the question, "Why do you want these funds if you are not spending them, but are making savings?" The answer to that is found in the letter which was written by the Lord Chancellor and signed by myself also, to the Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851, a letter which I think is worthy the attention of the Commission, because it so well puts forward our views upon the matter. In that letter we were compelled to tell the Commissioners what it was that we were prepared to do in the event of their according to us the piece of ground for which we asked. We had therefore, in stating the objects we had in view, to say that we were willing to undertake to spend a minimum sum upon the building, that the building should be made reasonably in accordance with the wishes of the Commissioners, and our willingness to undertake that when the building was completed there should be devoted at least a certain sum (5,000l. a year) to the maintenance of that building for the purposes of the institute. That being our undertaking it obliged us to set apart from our funds the sum of 5,000l. a year until the building was completed, because it was quite evident if we appropriated that 5,000l. a year, pending the completion of the building, to some other purposes, we should not be able, when the building was completed, to withdraw it from those purposes, and we should be left without the means of fulfilling our obligation; and not only without the means of fulfilling our obligation, but without the means of utilising the building we had constructed. It is in that manner that the savings of income accrue. The Lord Chancellor also did not say, that which it may interest the Commission to know, that among the students in the applied art schools there are a very considerable number of female students who are learning the art of wood engraving, and doing that very successfully. I cannot add anything to that which the Lord Chancellor has said as regards the way in which the institute came into existence, and as to what was done, except this, by-the-by,—a step that was omitted—which is that after the preliminary committee had obtained the advice of the gentlemen whose names you have heard (and also of Mr. Bartley, whose name was not referred to), a report was drawn up by the Committee and was submitted to the 11 companies who had sent their representatives to the preliminary committee; and I may say that in every instance that report was received and adopted by the company who had sent its representative, and that thereupon the institute came into existence having for for its members the 11 original companies. The Corporation also from the outset sent representatives, but it was some time before they contributed. However, they sent such a number of representatives as upon our scale they would have been entitled to send had they contributed 2,000l. per annum, the contribution they eventually gave, guarding themselves, however, by saying that they only gave it certainly for five years. When the institute was established, it was determined that there were four main heads of work it might forthwith be engaged in; and I think it will be found, as you have been told, that these heads agree very closely indeed with those set out in the advice which was given us by Professor Huxley. The four heads were the establishment in London of a central institution for the instruction of teachers, principals, managers, foremen, and leading workmen; the establishment in one or more places in London of schools where the application of science and art to the industries could be taught; the aiding pecuniarily of other institutions in London or the provinces, providing exhibitions, apprentices' fees, and matters of that kind; and the taking over from the Society of Arts and the developing their technological examinations. You have been told fully what has been done with respect to the central institution; but I may mention that Mr. Waterhouse was the architect selected, and that the design he has produced is one which, while not of a meagre and improper character for the neighbourhood, or for the land which we have had given to us, is by no means ostentatious, and by no means extravagant, and that the greatest possible attention has been paid to internal accommodation for the work of the building, much more attention than to the mere decoration of the outside. With respect to the school at the Finsbury College, I may mention in addition to that which the Lord Chancellor has told you, that it has taken over the work of the Artizans' Institute, which is now being carried on in that college; and also quite recently it has taken over the work, or is about to take it over, of the City School of Art, an old established school of art, which will have to be accommodated in that building likewise. Then as regards the pecuniary aid to other institutions, we give 200l. a year to the Chair of Engineering at University College, London; 200l. a year to applied chemistry at that college; 200l. a year to applied art at King's College, and 200l. a year to a metallurgical professorship there; and we have given very large sums indeed for the establishment of the laboratory and works at King's College. Also in the country we are subsidising, although not to so large an extent, certain institutions. At Nottingham, for example, we have recently endowed a chair in the new university to the extent of 300l. a year; and I may say that one of the companies, the Drapers', who have contributed very largely indeed, have added to their contributions quite recently a sum of 500l. a year, on the condition that it shall be devoted entirely to the purpose of aiding provincial institutions. With respect to technological examinations, the Lord Chancellor has told you of their great development; but I wish to point out to the Commission that in truth these are not mere examinations to ascertain that which is known by the person who comes up to be examined, but that as we pay the teachers by the results they are the means of joining and of assisting to support classes for institution, but I wish to add we do not make it a necessity that the person examined should have been instructed in any particular class or school. We examine him and give him a certificate, whether he has been taught in class or is self taught, but we do not give him his full certificate unless he has passed in two science subjects as well. Reverting to the Central Institution, I wish to say that the site was selected for a variety of reasons. As the Lord Chancellor has said, having regard to the fact that the education which was to be given there could not be given to persons who were at the time engaged in industrial pursuits, as their whole time must be devoted to the education; it was thought that it was not important the Central Institution should be in the neighbourhood where the artizan classes principally dwell. We did think it was important that it should be in a place readily accessible to persons living in comparatively cheap houses or lodgings in the outskirts of London (and almost any site that was within easy reach of a station upon the Metropolitan Railway or the Metropolitan District Railway, having regard to their extent and ramifications, would fulfil that condition), but then the special reasons for selecting South Kensington from among all the places in the neighbourhood of stations on these railways was that our school of applied science and art would be established close to the science schools where there are hundreds of persons being educated in science and in art who, after having passed a portion of their time there, might come over to our school as (if I may use the term) "half-timers," and eventually come to our school altogether when they had completed their studies on the other side of the way. Those were reasons, therefore, for selecting that place. Then again, I will not conceal from you that there was the pecuniary reason that we did not want to spend money for land if we could get it for nothing. If the letter to which I have referred were read, you would see we pointed out to the Commissioners that we thought there could be nothing more germane to the original objects of the Exhibition of 1851, the Exhibition which brought the commissioners into existence, and that there could be no better following out of the views of the late Prince Consort, and of those who initiated the Exhibition, than the devotion of this land at an absolutely nominal rent—a peppercorn rent—to the purposes of the City and Guilds Technical Institute, and that by so doing that would be really following the views which initiated the original Exhibition.
1677. May I ask you just as a matter of explanation whether your work in London is now, or is to be in the future, concentrated at South Kensington ?—No, certainly not. On the contrary we have got Finsbury College where we have 500 pupils at the present time, and we have got our school of applied art at Kennington.
1678. That was the object of my question; to ascertain that those were not swallowed up ?—Clearly not. We hope that that Finsbury College will be a typical college, representing the kind of establishment we should like to see throughout the kingdom in manufacturing places. I further desire to say that in the outset the work of the institution was done entirely by the three honorary secretaries who sit behind us, Mr. Watney, the clerk of the Mercers' Company, Mr. Sawyer, the clerk of the Drapers' Company, and Mr. Owen Roberts, the clerk of the Clothworkers' Company; then we obtained temporary aid from Mr. Truman-Wood, who was at that time assistant secretary of the Society of Arts by the permission of the council of that society, but as the work developed it was impossible to carry it on in this manner, and it therefore became necessary to find some gentleman of competence who would devote his whole time to it. That was done, and I am happy to say that by the appointment of Mr. Philip Magnus as director and secretary, I think the institute has been very greatly benefited. I am reminded that Mr. Magnus is a member of the Royal Commission on Technical Education which is now considering the whole subject.
1679. (To the Lord Chancellor.) I suppose we may take it that the object of this deputation is twofold, that in the first place you wish to bear witness to what has already been done by the companies and by the Corporation in aid of technical education, and in the next place that you wish to indicate a purpose to which the funds of the city companies might be more largely applied in the event of there being any interference with their distribution by the State?—I do not think that I can say yes to that question. I do not think our views have extended in the least degree whatever to that second object. We of course are totally ignorant of what the Commission may think it their duty to do or to recommend, but we have had no object whatever in coming here to-day except to inform the Commission of what has been done, in compliance, as we understood, with the wish of the Commissioners.
1680. Then I will put my question in another way. I presume that one of your objects in coming here is to show what has been done for technical education, and to guard against the possibility of less being done in the event of any re-distribution of the city companies funds?—I rather decline to contemplate anything which may be done in the way of re-distribution of the city companies' funds. It is not at all for me to anticipate any opinion or judgment which may be formed on that subject. If I am permitted to say so, I see that a gentleman who has appeared before this Commission has referred to a speech which I made in the House of Lords about the Inns of Court, as if it were to be inferred from that that I thought the Inns of Courts and the city companies were in pari conditione. I do not think so at all. The reasons that lead me to think the Inns of Court a public institution have no application whatever to any company, or at all events to the only company I know, that is the Mercers' Company, not the slightest. Therefore I decline to enter into any question of re-distribution at all. It is not for me to say whether the Commission may or may not think that there are grounds upon which any such thing may be right; I prefer not to go into that question.
1682. I think we may take it from what you have said, that when this movement among the companies in favour of technical education was begun, it was a purely voluntary one on their part, and absolutely unconnected with any apprehension of interference from outside?—I think the dates I have given will show that that is so. Nobody can possibly speak as to other peoples' minds, but the fact that the Clothworkers' Company began this movement (on their part at all events) in the year 1873, will show, I think, that it was begun at a time when no propositions were before the public affecting the status of the city companies. It is impossible for me to say that that was so at the time that the institute was formed, because, in point of fact, a motion was made in the House of Commons at that time, or about that time, upon the subject. My own judgment was not influenced in the least degree whatever by that circumstance. I have always thought that the city companies, assuming them to be (as I believe them to be in law) absolute and perfect masters of their own property, as distinct from that which they held on trust, could do nothing better with their property than promote objects which were for the public interest, and my judgment in co-operating with this undertaking was entirely uninfluenced by anything which was suggested in the way of interference.
1684. Are we to take it from you that the city companies are entitled to their property in the same manner and as fully as a private owner would be ?— In point of law they are in my opinion absolutely entitled to it, and under no trust whatever. It will, of course, be understood that I do not speak of estates which have been given to them on any special trusts. Morally, I do not think that I, as a member of a city company, should choose to be a party to using it in exactly the same way as I should use what was my own as an individual.
1685. You acknowledge a greater moral responsibility to the public than in the case of private property, but not any greater legal right ?—That is my impression. I do not know that I can express it much better. They are ancient institutions; the funds which I call their own property were derived, as far as my knowledge extends, from their own subscriptions, and gifts by their own members and others, intended to be for their absolute use; and although I do not think the present generation ought to put those gifts into their pockets, yet, on the other hand, I cannot admit for a moment that they are upon the footing of public trusts.
1686. (Lord Coleridge.) I should like to ask the Lord Chancellor whether he draws any distinction between an ordinary natural person and a person like a corporation created by law ?—There is that distinction, undoubtedly, and it is not very easy to measure precisely the influence it might have upon one's judgment; but I assume that Lord Coleridge would not be of opinion that if a club, for example, were incorporated, its nature would be substantially changed; or (I should think) that a joint stock company is to be regarded as public because it is incorporated.
1688. That is a short answer. Will you give it me in any one of those 38 subjects that the Lord Chancellor has referred to ?—I will begin with the first one, they are in alphabetical order —alkali manufacture.
1690. Would you mind taking it in the concrete. An alkali pupil comes up and submits himself to an alkali examiner—what is the process, or what happens?—He has to answer the questions that are put to him in papers that are set by the examiners.
1691. On the nature of alkalies ?—The papers are set by competent persons upon various matters in alkali manufacture. Here is the examination paper for 1880 divided into elementary, advanced, and honours. (The same was handed to his Lordship.)
1692. (Sir N. M. de Rothschild.) For examination, I suppose, you select subjects which are kindred or useful for trades. You say you do not examine in wood-carving, but you would examine in subjects which relate to or bear upon wood-carving eventually. Alkali is a very elementary manufacture, is it not ?— It strikes me that it is a very vast industry; there is too, a certain town called Widnes, which the noble chairman knows a good deal of, which would not look upon alkali manufacture as an unimportant branch.
(The Lord Chancellor.) I am afraid I cannot answer that without a knowledge of the circumstances of all who have not. I think the Merchant Taylors' is the most important of those who have not, and I am hardly at liberty to speak for them, but I believe they have spent a very large sum upon the schools with which they are connected, and that probably is the reason why their names do not appear in the list of subscribers. I am not sure that more than one other very important company is absent. Twenty-eight is the whole number of companies which have now joined, and I think the Commission will find that, with the exceptions which I have mentioned, the others are small and poor companies. I do not despair of all or most of them doing what they can hereafter.
(Sir F. Bramwell.) I may say that 10 out of the 12 principal companies have joined; the Merchant Taylors' and Haberdashers' are the only two of the 12 companies who have not; the other 10 companies have joined, and 18 of the minor companies.
1695. (Mr. Pell to the Lord Chancellor.) I think you said that with respect to the Corporation property it was not subject to any trust, and that the control of each company over that property was absolute, is that so?—I know no legal limit to it, or equitable limit in the legal sense of the word equitable; but they have never, to my knowledge, used it except for their hospitalities or for their own management expenses, and for the relief of the wants of their poorer members, and for various charitable and useful public purposes. What I mean is this, that I have never heard of a dividend being made of the property of the company; it may be so in some cases for anything I know, but I never have heard of it, and certainly it is not so in the only company with which I am well acquainted.
1696. Although no dividend is made in the case of the company with which the Lord Chancellor himself is so intimately connected, namely, the Mercers' Company, has there not been some very large distribution out of their income among the members of the company to the extent of something between 8,000l. and 9,000l.
(The Lord Chancellor.) What I think the Commissioner refers to probably, is this, that the attendance fees which they allow are paid to all the members of their general courts who attend the general courts, and to all the members of the courts of assistants who attend the courts of assistants, which are numerous, and in that way there can be no doubt that a very considerable sum is consumed, but it is manifest that it is upon the footing of attendance fees, and not upon the footing of dividend; whether or no such numerous courts are necessary, or whether or no it is necessary that the members should all go to them, is a question which I will not enter into, but judging from what I myself have seen in the court of assistants of the Mercers' Company, I am bound to say that the gentlemen there attend in the way of business, do the business, are attentive to the business, understand it, and take an active part, both in promoting good objects, and, if there is a difference of opinion, in checking those which they do not approve of, so that it is not by any means, according to my experience there, a case of nominal attendances and payments for them. It is real attendance and real attention to the business.
1697. And that the sum granted is commensurate with the services rendered ?—That is a matter of opinion. If they are at liberty to use their money by doing anything they please with it, giving it away in any manner they like, the allowance of attendance fees (which do not certainly exceed those allowed to directors of a great number of companies) does not seem to me a thing with which they are to be reproached. Whether they might manage their affairs more economically or not is another question.
1698. (Mr. Firth.) I should like to ask your Lordship one question upon that which is not perhaps exactly the object of this deputation; could you tell us how this sum of 8,765l., which you have returned, was divided amongst the court of assistants ?—Really I did not come for the purpose of answering questions upon that subject, but all I can say is that I never heard of its being divided in any other manner than by attendance fees for actual attendances to those who are present, and take part in the meetings and in the business; and I do not believe that 1s. of it was ever otherwise used.
1699. I did not intend to introduce any subject, except so far as it had been introduced. I should like to ask you this question, if I might; the charters of the earlier companies confer powers of holding land in mortmain; many of them express that the incomes of those lands are for the purposes of sustaining the poor; would you say that those lands are not now impressed with the charitable trust?—I really should not like to answer a question of law as to a matter with respect to which I do not know the facts. The charters of the Mercers' Company, which I have seen, show that the company was formed for the purpose of mutual benefit, and, no doubt, for the purpose (which I believe they have always carefully attended to) of assisting their poorer members when they fall into necessitous circumstances, but any general trust upon those charters for charitable purposes I am quite satisfied does not exist. I cannot speak of other companies, of which I know nothing.
1701. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) I do not know whether the Lord Chancellor would like to answer the question, but I have been rather led on to this by the questions which have preceded my opportunity of asking any. Do you think there could be a better or more honourable system of management of the property of the guilds than that by which they they are now managed by the courts of the companies?—I really think I ought not to answer that question. First of all, I know nothing of any but my own company; and, secondly, I do not think that I should take upon myself to enter upon any such comparative judgment at all. As regards their being honourable, I must say, as far as my knowledge goes, I can most easily answer that they are perfectly honourable, in my judgment, and to the extent of my knowledge.
1702. Do you think that the companies would make a proper use of their funds in promoting education in all its branches, and in promoting other objects and schemes for the public good?—I am sure that they do a great deal of good in that way; as to whether they might do still more is another question.
1703. (Viscount Sherbrooke.) Can you tell us at all what sum has been spent upon this good work?—It is not all spent. The total amount of the annual subscriptions down to the present time I may say is 63,000l. in round numbers, and the sum subscribed for the building funds, 42,250l.; that makes 105,000l. That is for the Institute alone. The Clothworkers' Company have done something beyond that.
1704. Do you see any prospect of any great increase in this work, or do you think it has reached the limit ? —My impression is that when it is well started and the two colleges are fully at work, that whatever funds are wanted to keep them going on are pretty sure to be supplied.
1705. You could not go further than that?—No. I have read a passage from Professor Huxley's report, in which he estimates the probable cost of the Central Institution at 5,000l. to 6,000l. a year. I daresay it would be more.
1707. (Chairman to Sir F. Bramwell.) Is there anything you wish to add to the evidence you have already given ?—Yes, I think I should like to say, as bearing upon the question of whether this work is likely to develop, that undoubtedly the advantages to be derived from it will largely develop when the Central Institution is opened. We have funds sufficient to carry it on to more than the extent stipulated with the Commissioners. I have already explained that the savings from income which will go towards the building fund are the portions of that income which, when the building is open, will be applied to its work, and there will be then a very large development of the useful work done by the institute. And further, as far as my opinion goes, I have no doubt whatever if the companies are left in the control of their funds, that they will not neglect that which they have begun, and that they will find such funds as can usefully be applied to the purpose. I have not the slightest doubt about it. I speak of one company with very great confidence, and, should like to give the Commission an instance of what they thought fit to do when they doubled their subscription, as they did a short time ago, and raised it from 2,000l. to 4,000l. a year. The raising of that subscription entitled them to send two more members to the executive committee. They had previously sent Mr. George Matthey, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a most scientific metallurgist, and myself as their representatives. They were then entitled to two more. They had plenty of members of their own court, well qualified men, but they thought they could do better than send any man from their own court, and accordingly they made Dr. Siemens a liveryman by special grant, with the express object of being able to send him as one of their representatives to the executive committee, in the belief that that would be for the benefit of the institute.
1708. (Viscount Sherbrooke.) Do you consider that there is no risk, that you may not overstock the market in this manner; how are you to judge ?—I do not think you can overstock the market in this manner, because really that which we are doing is instructing men how to carry on their business with knowledge instead of without knowledge, and I cannot for one moment contemplate that our efforts, however great they may be, can ever exceed the extent of the manufacturing industry of the kingdom.
1709. Is it not also attracting people into a line of business that they would not, except for this inducement, have ever thought of going into ?—It does appear to me to be so. What it does appear to me to be is this, that persons being engaged in business, or having a taste for business, will be enabled to undertake that business with a knowledge of what they are doing instead of being compelled to undertake it upon the sort of rough practical teaching, that they otherwise would have gained, and which they would alone have gained.
1710. Is not the demand of the public for all things a surer guide than the speculations of any number of gentlemen who wish to set a thing of this kind on foot ?—I do not know that I follow you. I do not know that there was a demand for technical education a few years ago. It was a thing comparatively unknown in England, and we were being beaten by foreigners. When we examined into it we found that they had institutions of this kind throughout their countries, and we believed it to be mainly owing to those institutions which they had got, but which we had not, that we had been put into the position we occupied in manufactures.
1712. You do not mean to interfere with that at all, but to enable a person who goes to the factory or workshop, to go there with superior knowledge and to put it into use there?—Precisely so. I should very much like to refer you on that to the original report. We do not profess to teach the business, we only profess to teach the application of the science or the art that underlies those businesses. The report to which I refer was the original report of the preliminary committee to the companies, who had appointed it to investigate the subject. It was called an executive committee then, although that is not to be confounded with the present executive committee of the Guilds Institute, as incorporated. Paragraph 6 of that report says :—" It appears to your executive committee that, except in some very special instances, such as the introduction of a new industry, or the revival of an old one, the companies should not endeavour to effect this improvement by teaching the workman to be more expert in his handicraft; as in their judgment this form of improvement is one which must be derived from greater assiduity in the workshop, and from longer practice therein, and they therefore are of opinion that, except in special cases, it would be unwise to establish any place for teaching the actual carrying out of the different trades; that is to say, a place in the nature of a model manufactory or workshop, or to provide instructors, for instance, in sawing and planing, and in chipping and filing; but they advise that the direction to be pursued in improving technical education should be one which will give to those employed in manufactures the knowledge of the scientific or artistic principles upon which the particular manufacture may depend. As illustrative of these views they would refer to two great industries, iron and textile fabrics. With respect to iron, it is believed it would be unwise to endeavour to improve that manufacture by instructing a puddler how to handle his tools in a superior manner, or the blast furnaceman how to manipulate his furnace; but on the other hand, your executive committee think it would be of great utility to give to such men (and especially to the managers of iron works) the scientific instruction which will enable them to know why it is that occasionally, in spite of manual dexterity, and in spite of attention, the puddle-bar is bad, or the pig iron is unsaleable, except at a reduced price. The application of the science of chemistry to the manufacture of iron affords this knowledge. Instructed in such application, the ironmaster, his manager, his foreman, and even his workmen will know how, when varying fuel, or varying mineral or fluxes, are brought under treatment, to alter that treatment to suit the particular foreign (and commonly noxious) matters which are found accompanying the fuel, the flux, or the ore, and how, notwithstanding these admixtures, to succeed in producing an excellent quality of iron." I should like to break off there to remind the Commission of what has been done in the enormous improvement in the manufacture of Bessemer steel by the introduction of an entirely new chemical process which has enabled the phosphoric iron ores of the Cleveland district to be successfully used for Bessemer steel in substitution of the hematite ores, which alone had been found fit for that purpose previously. "Similarly, as regards the manufacture of textile fabrics. While in the opinion of your executive committee it would be unwise to follow the plan which has been pursued in some places upon the Continent of endeavouring to give extra dexterity to the operative by establishing model manufactories or workshops, it would be most wise to give the chemical knowledge and the artistic instruction which would enable the worker to grapple with differences in the quality of water, differences in the quality of dyes and of the materials to be dyed, and would likewise secure the designer from violations of the canons of good taste, and your executive committee are glad to say that in the foregoing views they are, without exception, fully supported by the reports of those who have kindly assisted them with their advice."
1713. (Viscount Sherbrooke.) How do you estimate the number of persons who are to be taught. Do you take as many as choose to come ?—I think we may safely for a long while take as many as choose to come, and that we have funds for.
1714. How do you know that there will be employment for all those people ?—I am sorry to say that they must take their chance of that I presume as they would have had to have taken it if they had been less well educated, but I should think they would have a better chance when they are well educated.
1715. Do you think that that necessarily follows ? —I think so. I do not think we are about to add directly to the number of the persons who will go into an industry, but that we are about to enable those persons who do go into any business to carry on that business with better knowledge.
1716. Suppose you were to educate a number of persons in any particular trade, do you think that would at all make it certain that there would be employment for those people ?—I do not think it would make it certain, but I think they would stand a better chance, because I think if we so educate them we shall bring trade to England which would otherwise go elsewhere where the people are educated; and I think that they will stand a better chance because there will be more trade to do, and because employers would rather have them than others who are not so educated.
1717. Do you not think that by throwing aside the ordinary safeguard of supply and demand, you run very great risk of bringing up people to employments that they may not be able to find means of fulfilling in a lucrative manner?—I cannot agree with you, to begin with, that we are bringing up people to follow employments at all. My view of the matter is that persons having contemplated following certain employments, we are simply aiding them in learning the business they had already intended to follow.
1718. You do not think that your aiding them has any effect in increasing the number ?—I do not think it has immediately, although it might remotely, in this way, it may increase the trade by reason of the work being better done, and therefore a greater number may go into it.
(The Lord Chancellor.) I cannot help thinking that Lord Sherbrooke's view, as indicated by the questions he has put, is to a great extent met by the experience of foreign countries, because both at Paris and Zurich, and at other places there are very much larger institutions of this kind, than we can for some considerable time hope to establish here, and I believe there is not the least doubt entertained that they are found very beneficial to the arts and manufactures of those countries.
1719. (Mr Alderman Cotton, to Sir F. Bramwell.) I should like to ask you one question; do you not think that the building at South Kensington, upon which you are going to spend the bulk of your funds, and have spent the largest amount of your money is badly situated for the use of the artizan and labouring population ?—I have endeavoured to explain that we do not expect that at that building persons who are engaged at the time in labour will be instructed. We intend that for the higher class of teaching, and for such teaching as will involve the persons who are taught not being at that time engaged in labour at all; and if, therefore, the building is accessible to those living in the cheap parts of the outskirts of London, we think it is a thoroughly suitable site. I have given the reasons why on other grounds we thought it an extremely suitable site. I may say if we had the matter to do over again, with all the experience we have got upon it, I think we should be doing rightly to do as we did before, and to approach the Commissioners to give us this piece of land.
1721. I should like to know whether, in the case of any of the pupils who have presented themselves to your college, you have found that their general education has been so deficient that the endeavour to engraft technical education upon that deficient general education, has been of no use ?—I do not think we have, up to the present time, at all suffered from that. I think there has been a sufficient amount of general education to enable them to appreciate the instruction which has been given. It may be that some have been debarred from coming, because they had not got this general education to begin with, but all those who have come, so far as I know, have been able to profit by it.
1722. The distinctions between classes in this country are not very closely drawn, but I imagine that your pupils are drawn from the class of those who might be termed the middle class rather than from the distinctly working class ?—I doubt if that is so; at all events it is not so at the Finsbury College. The other is not open yet, and the Finsbury College we have put in the very heart of a large artizan population.
1723. Of course the distinction between the two is one that is very difficult to define ?—And I may say that the technological examination shows that the persons who come to those classes are distinctly the working class.
1724. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Are you not going to teach at South Kensington precisely what is taught in the building opposite, that is, in the Science and Art School of the Museum ?—No, on the contrary, we hope that after persons have been taught there, they may come to us to learn the application, to actual manufacture, of that which they have been taught over the way.
1725. (Viscount Sherbrooke.) You are then inviting people to enter upon a particular kind of industry that they would not otherwise have entered into but for your invitation ?—I again regret to have to say I cannot agree with you. To my mind, if a man opens a general shop, he cannot be said to invite anyone to buy candles at that shop any more than he invites him to buy soap. We are going to open an institution where we shall give instruction as to the application of science and art to various industries. That does not seem to me to be an invitation to people to follow a particular business.
1727. (Lord Coleridge.) I understand you to say that indirectly only, trade might be increased; and, therefore, as there would be more trade to do, there would be more people required to do it ?—That is so.