The Blue Books Reports

In 1846 William Williams, the Welsh Member of Parliament for Coventry, introduced a motion that would eventually lead to an inquiry into the state of education in Wales. In the eyes of Williams, and the British Government in general, the Welsh people were becoming an increasingly unruly and riotous population and therefore threatened the foundations of society. Government officials were convinced that these seditious events were coordinated and held in the Welsh language. Kay-Suttleworth, the Secretary of the Council of Education noted that the commission would hold “an inquiry into the state of education in Wales, especially into the means afforded to the labouring classes of acquiring a knowledge of the English language”, that is, the language of commerce, higher education, government and law. Three deputies were appointed as educational investigators; R.R. W. Lingen, J. C. Symons and H. V. Johnson; their conclusions were later published in a report. With regards to education, many aspects were criticized by all deputies, including the poor quality of education provided by unqualified teachers, schools’ unsuitable locations and lack of facilities. Due to the ignorance and prejudices of the deputies these faults were over exaggerated slightly, in fact, education of the lower classes in England did not fare any better. Their comments concerning the immorality of Welsh women were also highly controversial. Only six pages of the reports were devoted to these criticisms; however such remarks were discussed extensively by the national press, particularly the London papers. The reports were also seen as an attack on the Welsh language due to the deputies’ comments regarding its inferior status and that its use restricted the masses in terms of their social prospects.