The Education Act Tax Resistance Campaign: December 1905

We’re now on and the tax resistance struggle against the Education Act continues.

The Bedsfordshire Advertiser and Luton Times of covered the meeting of the Luton Passive Resistance League. Excerpts:

Mr. Murray Barford said that the new demand note for 1s. 6d. in the £ “poor rate” only contained items amounting to 3d. really for the poor. One item said “5¾d., for borough education,” and of that 3¾d. in the £ would be administered by their local authorities, and 2d. by the respective Vicars and their nominees. That 2d. meant that in the aggregate £2,600 would be handed over to the church people to teach what the Passive Resisters disagreed with, and the Committee recommended that 2d. in the £ be deducted by all Resisters when they paid the rate. He understood the summonses would be much the same as last year, and would come in , and he hoped the magistrates would not be Nonconformists. They would be ready. (Applause).

The Rev. J.W. Mayo, in remarking on the progress of the movement, said that enthusiasm in Leighton was fairly keen. Bedford gaol could hold 130, and he thought the Passive Resisters in the county ought to crowd it out.…

Alderman O’Connor… Referring to his imprisonment for 14 days, he told his incidents humorously. He spent a happy time in prison, though the plank bed was too hard to sleep on and the place was very insanitary, and the food so wretched that he ate very litle during the fortnight. He did not think these things were happening by chance, or that God was calling them to something useless.

In a curious turn of events, a reverend from the establishment Church of England threatened a passive resistance campaign on the Church’s part if religious education in the schools were watered down. From the Nottingham Evening Post:

Church Schools.

Suggested Passive Resistance.

Among the resolutions to be submitted at the Manchester Conference of the Church Schools Emergency League, to be held on , is one which will be moved by the Rev. F.E. Allen, rector of Hardwicke, as follows:–

That in the event of a policy of destruction of voluntary schools by out-numbering foundation managers, or so-called abolition of tests for head teachers, being carried out, it will become the duty of Churchmen to meet it by “passive resistance.”

Another resolution asks the members of the league to oppose, denounce, and refuse submission to any legislation which has for its object the setting up by the authority of Parliament in the schools of any form of so-called “simple Christian religion” or “religious instruction” which omits the cardinal doctrines of Christianity as set forth in the Apostle’s Creed, and which the people may be called on to support compulsorily out of rates and taxes, or in any other way.

The Church Schools Emergency League was formed in to oppose attempts by Nonconformists and secularists to end Church of England control over its school staffing and religious curriculum choices. It would represent Church hardliners in the fight against attempted reforms of the Education Act by the subsequent Liberal government.