(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £466,303, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come
in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he thought it was a matter of regret that the Government had not seen their way to the introduction of a Supplementary Estimate in order to eke out the miserable incomes of the National School teachers of Ireland; and he hoped it might not yet be quite too late for them to reconsider the matter. The National School teachers of Ireland had a powerful claim upon the Government, no matter what Party was in power; but he thought they had a specially powerful claim upon the present Government, for reasons which he would briefly state. Ten years had now elapsed since the right hon. Baronet the Loader of the House procured the passing of a Bill under the provisions of which the Boards of Poor Law Guardians in Ireland were enabled to contribute to the incomes of the National teachers. At the time of the passing of the Bill the right hon. Baronet declared that if the measure were found to be ineffective for this purpose the Government would see that the losses of the teachers were made good in some other way. It was notorious that the Act turned out to be a complete failure. There were 165 Poor Law Unions in Ireland, and he did not suppose that one of thorn contributed now to the incomes of the National School teachers. In fact, the failure of the Act was so complete that three years after it was passed into law, the Members of the present Government being then in Office, the House of Commons adopted a unanimous Resolution declaring that the condition of the Irish National teachers demanded the immediate attention of the Government. Later on a sum, equal on the average to £4 a-year, was added to the incomes of the teachers; but when they considered the failure—the very natural and justifiable failure—of the Board of Guardians to contribute to the expense of a system over which they had no control, and when they considered also the demands that were made on the incomes of the teachers by the requirements of the pension scheme, he thought it would be admitted by everyone who had paid the least attention to the subject that the condition of the National School teachers in Ireland was, practically, no 387 better now than it was a few years ago, when the House of Commons declared that their condition demanded immediate attention. No doubt, in consequence of the failure of the Board of Guardians, a provision had been adopted whereby a contingent contribution from the result fees was made payable in case of a contribution from any local source. But he was sorry to say that he believed this had turned out to be also a fictitious contribution, and not a substantial provision, because, in many cases, the teachers had been driven to inflate the local contributions, and to represent them to be in excess of what they were, as they had no other way of obtaining contingent contributions. On the whole, the teachers were in the same position as they were when the House declared that their condition required immediate attention. Indeed, the additional contribution to their salaries amounted in 1878 to only 1s. 6d. per week, and made no material alteration in their position. The National School teachers claimed that their incomes were inadequate to the decent requirements of their condition of life; and they asserted that they were performing work similar to that which was done by teachers in England and Scotland, and done quite as well, while they were receiving not much more than one-half of the remuneration. If they would take the male and female teachers of England, it would be found that the average income was more than £100 a-year. The average income of teachers in Scotland was considerably higher than £100 a-year; while the Irish National School teachers claimed that the average amount of their incomes, from all sources, was not more than £60 a-year. He knew that the Board of National Education had issued a Table of averages which placed the figures higher than that amount; but he would observe that the frequent Tables of averages issued by the Board of National Education on the subject all differed from one another, and only resembled each other in putting the emoluments of the teachers much higher than they actually were. The chief officials of the National Board of Education were very dexterous indeed in the manipulation of figures, and having excellent salaries of their own they were well content to use figures for the purpose of showing, or endeavouring to 388 show, that their humbler subordinates had higher salaries than they really had. Although the middle class schools and others were better cared for, the majority of the principal teachers in Ireland were not getting more for class subjects than 2s. 6d. a-day, and the assistant teachers derived from the same source about 2s. a-day. When he put a Question a few days ago to the right hon. Baronet the Leader of the House, the reply he received was that the Government could not introduce a Supplementary Estimate, because if they were to do so they would prejudice the case. He (Mr. Sexton) failed to see how it would prejudice the case. The case, as far as it regarded the incomes of the teachers, had already been considered by all parties, and he thought that the teachers had a fair right to be judged by the common feeling. Would anyone say that the incomes of the National School teachers were sufficient for the important functions discharged by the teachers, or for the due maintenance of their position in life? He was at a loss to understand what could possibly be meant by prejudicing the case. The late Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Trevelyan) had a Bill in his pocket last year which had for its object the augmentation of the incomes of the teachers, and the late Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) introduced a Bill which he stated would make a considerable addition; and the only reason why that Bill had not been carried forward was the catastrophe which happened to the late Government. Now, it was very hard if a great political event was to be assigned as a reason why a poor, hard-working, and deserving class of public servants were to be left in a position of starvation, and it would only have been generous for the Government to have included in a Supplementary Estimate some special addition to the incomes of the National School teachers which might appease their demands, and deal with the most urgent part of their claim until the whole question could be reconsidered. He was not without hope that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way even now to shadowing forth some better prospect of dealing with the subject than the answer he had given the other day. Not only was there deep discontent throughout Ireland upon this sub- 389 ject, but he thought the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) would confirm him in the observation that the class of National School teachers in Ireland was daily deteriorating in consequence of the neglect of their demands. Within the last 10 years the Civil Service and other Departments of the Public Service had opened themselves out to the National School teachers; and it was acknowledged by the most experienced Inspectors of the Board of Education that it was difficult, even in a largo city like Dublin, to secure proper teachers. Indeed, one Inspector had asserted that the National teachers in his district were more like agricultural labourers than teachers. It was certainly a sad omen for the future that the school teachers were obliged to take to shops and to work small farms, or to go cattle jobbing for the purpose of picking up a living. Every hon. Member would agree with him that pursuits like those, occupying the attention and time of the National School teachers, and drawing them away from their regular pursuits, would tend to the injury of education, and prevent the teachers from, resorting to that study and use of their time which would enable them to improve their classification in the service, and thereby tend to promote the general interests of the people This was an urgent matter. But there was another matter which, in his opinion, was also urgent, and that was that there should be an entire reform in the constitution of the Board of National Education in Ireland. He did not think that there could be found a worse administration in the world. He did not think it possible to organize or imagine a worse administration. It was composed of two elements. The first was the Board itself. The Board was a showy institution, composed of 20 persons of considerable pomp and dignity, most of them officials who had plenty of work to do elsewhere, and who very seldom attended the meetings of the Board. On the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) a Return was obtained last year which was of a very instructive character. It showed the attendance, up to a certain period, at the meetings of the Board. That Return applied to 20 Commissioners appointed to administer £750,000 of the public money annually for the education of Irish children, and it would be seen that 390 many of those gentlemen very seldom took the trouble to concern themselves with the affairs of the institution. Out of the entire 20 there were only four or five who habitually attended the meetings of the Board. Of course the paid Commissioner was always there, and the paid Commissioner was the soul and essence of the authority of the entire Board. He thought it was highly desirable that the Commissioners should have continued to give information as to the attendance at the meetings of the Board; and he claimed on behalf of the public a right to be informed what Commissioners attended to their duty and what Commissioners neglected it. But this year he was informed that the Commissioners refused any longer to give that information. What right had those gentlemen to apply the principles of the Star Chamber to the administration of education in Ireland? What right had they to go into a room in Marlborough Street and transact their business in the dark? It was necessary that light should be thrown upon their administration, and that the public should receive more satisfaction than the mere whim of the Commissioners for spending £750,000 without affording information as to who took part in the administration. There was something worse behind, because it was not merely the Board who administered the money; but there was within the Board a sort of inner secret junta, whose proceedings were never made public. The Board was composed of a paid Commissioner and four subordinates—two secretaries and two chiefs of inspection, and those five gentlemen sat in secret. In regard to their proceedings there was no efficient responsibility whatever, although they had the whole power of the system in their own hands. How had they exercised it? They exercised it in a spirit of petty despotism. Very lately the Inspectors of the National Board had the temerity to bring their grievances under the notice of the House of Commons, whereupon what was called the Commission rebuked them harshly; and, not satisfied with abusing the Inspectors themselves, they got the Lord Lieutenant to do so also. The men had been simple enough to think that it was the right of any citizen, if he thought he was suffering a grievance, to bring the knowledge of it under the notice of Parliament; but, in the opi- 391 nion of those five well-paid gentlemen who transacted their business in the dark in Marlborough Street, it was a misdemeanour for the Inspectors of the National Board to attempt to instruct the Representatives of the people as to the nature of the grievances they suffered. A still more scandalous and contemptible exercise of authority occurred in the case of the teachers. A couple of years ago, at their annual dinner, the teachers omitted the health of Earl Spencer. They drunk the health of the Queen, and were simple enough to think that, having paid homage to Royalty, they ought not to extend Royal honours even to so exalted a person as the Lord Lieutenant. It appeared that Sir Patrick Keenan conceived in his own brain that there had been an intentional insult to Earl Spencer in omitting to drink the health of the Viceroy, and the result was that a Circular of the most unprecedented character was issued to the teachers. They were warned that penalties of a drastic character would follow any attempt on their part to criticize the proceedings of the Board of Commissioners, and that they would be held responsible personally—which he presumed to mean the loss of their situations—for any language which might be used at any meetings of theirs by Members of the House. He challenged history to furnish a parallel for this act of audacity on the part of the junta which sat in secret in Marlborough Street. Not only did they endeavour to chain the minds and curb the tongues of those in their own employment, but they even attempted to impose conditions on Members of the House of Commons, and other persons. But the Irish Members intended to pursue an independent course, altogether regardless of the views of the Commissioners in Marlborough Street, or of any other Public Board in Ireland. He claimed that the Government should consider this question with the view of the Irish Members being told whether the Representatives of the people were to be allowed to confer freely with the National teachers of Ireland, or whether it was seriously intended that those humble men should labour under heavy grievances, and should be debarred from receiving the aid of the advocacy of their Parliamentary Friends by the exercise of cowardly threats thrown out by the Commissioners. There was this curious epi- 392 sode in recent Irish history. Sir Patrick Keenan, the head Commissioner, having congratulated Earl Spencer on the result of his labours in Ireland, was made by the Lord Lieutenant, on the last day he spent in Ireland, a Privy Councillor. So that, as Sir Patrick Keenan had hitherto been enabled to work his will in secret upon the unfortunate National teachers, so henceforth, as a Privy Councillor, he might be at liberty to operate upon the rights and freedom of his countrymen at large. He (Mr. Sexton) had also to complain, with regard to the relations of the Board towards the National teachers, that not only had the Board not exerted itself to improve their condition, but it had actually done all in its power to prevent them from improving that condition by their own industry. The Commissioners had thrown every obstacle in their power in the way of the teachers who endeavoured to obtain employment in other branches of the Public Service. In this connection he had mentioned, the other night, the case of an unfortunate man who was trained in the Marlborough School, but who, relinquishing the teaching profession, took the situation of a prison warder. But what did the Commissioners do? They made an arrangement by which the whole of the £45 which had been spent in his training as a teacher should be deducted from the man's wages at the rate of 5s. a-week from the 17s. a week which he received as prison warder. This arbitrary course was pursued simply because the man had gone into another service to find employment, having been unable to obtain it in the profession for which he had been trained. In England no obstacle was interposed in the way of a teacher pursuing any avocation he thought fit out of schools hours; but in Ireland, if a teacher endeavoured to establish a Science and Art class out of school hours, the Commissioners interposed, and the effect was to keep a man who was suffering very extreme poverty idle in the evening when he was willing to use his abilities in the service of the public if he were allowed to do so. What was the meaning of that absurd and cruel restriction? The only way in Ireland in which a teacher could improve his position was by improving his classification, and to do that he must be examined. But before he could be exa- 393 mined the head Inspector and the local Inspector must concur in his application, and must report upon the condition of his school. He did not see why such obstacles should be put in the teacher's way. No doubt, the teacher was not obliged to go up for examination; but if he did, of his own free will, and failed, what was the consequence? The Commissioners reported the fact of the failure to his manager. They did not report the details, nor said what branches of learning he had not succeeded in; but they only said that the answers of the candidate were not of sufficient merit to secure his promotion. So that the consequence of a man presenting himself for examination in order to improve his miserable income was reported to the managers of the school with which he was connected as practically incompetent, and his means of living were placed in jeopardy. He also objected strongly to the system of confidential Reports adopted by the National Board of Ireland. The National Board refused to produce and to lay upon the Table the Reports made by their own Inspectors. The practice of the Star Chamber in the days of Charles I., and the peculiar devices of the Council of Ten in Mediaeval Venice, were revived in this Board of to-day. An Inspector reported a teacher for incompetency. The first the teacher heard about it was in a letter from the manager, rebuking him, disrating him, or dismissing him; but he was never allowed to see the Report of the Inspector. The case against him was heard in his absence, and he was condemned in the dark. Even when a Member of the House of Commons moved for such documents his demand was refused on the ground that the Report was confidential. Confidential! A class of officials in the service of the State were allowed to ruin another class at their pleasure, and the injured men were not allowed to see the Reports which had been made against them, because, forsooth, those Reports were held to be confidential! Ten years ago that was not the system in vogue. The Reports were produced then; and he remembered the case of a man named Morris, in which a Report was laid upon the Table. But since the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) went to Ireland, Sir Patrick Keenan and the Commissioners of the 394 National Board appeared to have adopted the worst practices of the right bon. Gentleman. Whenever the right hon. Gentleman threw a man into prison without accusation or trial—whenever he threw a National School teacher into prison, as be had done in some cases—Sir Patrick Keenan and the Commissioners of the National Board immediately dismissed that man from the service of the Board. He knew that in one case a man was dismissed solely on the ground that be had been arrested on suspicion by the hon. Member for Bradford. [Mr. ILLINGWORTH: The right hon. Member for Bradford.] He could understand that the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) was anxious to relieve himself of the imputation. Of course, it was the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). Not only was the teacher dismissed from the service of the National Board, but every one of his relatives. The whole family was thrown into a state of penury and destitution; and if that w-as not unjustifiable and arbitrary tyranny, he did not know what course of proceeding could be properly so described. Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the Committee whether this system of confidential Reports was to be continued, or whether the National teachers in Ireland, who were threatened with the loss of salary and of living, would in future have some opportunity of meeting the charges made against them, just as the worst and basest criminal had in a public Court of Justice? He claimed also that when a teacher failed in his examination his failure should be communicated to himself; and, unless the school manager was anxious to hear about it, the Commissioners should not volunteer information for which the manager did not ask, and which must exercise a damaging influence upon the future position of the man. Until recently—and he was not quite sure that it did not exist at the present moment—the Commissioners prevented a man from obtaining a degree in the University. Some of the members of their own body had obtained degrees; but the Commissioners debarred the teachers from doing so. Why was that? It was because if a man obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts in a University it would afford evidence of the injustice of the Commissioners if they refused to allow him, 395 on examination, to go into the firs class. They did not want any collateral criticism to be brought to bear upon their case; and, therefore, they were anxious to prevent any National School teacher from obtaining a University degree. He knew the case of a teacher who had the misfortune to write a prize essay in The Freeman's Journal some time ago on the grievances of the National teachers. It was a most able and temperate paper. He knew the writer to be an able man, and a man of exceptional attainments in classics as well as English; but, because he ventured to criticize the system and expose the grievances of the teachers, what was the fate of that man? He underwent six examinations in order to improve his classification; but he never succeeded in passing beyond the lowest grade of a National teacher, although he was a man who had proved himself to be of a capacity far higher than was requisite to enable him to obtain the highest grade. After many years of fruitless exertions to improve his position, he was at length, by a series of persecutions, driven out of the service of the Board. The Commissioners were not willing that the teachers should obtain University degrees; but they were not unwilling that one of the higher officials of their own body should claim a degree which he had never obtained at all. There was a book called a Primer of Grammar, by "Lionel Edwards, Master of Arts." Some of the Inspectors would not allow questions upon grammar to be answered out of any other book, yet would it be believed that that book, which purported to be written by Lionel Edwards, M.A., was written by John Sherer, the Secretary' of the Board, who was too modest to give his real name, but tacked to his pseudonym a degree he had never obtained? In the county of Sligo, recently, a teacher named Doyle, an able man whom he had the pleasure of knowing, wished to go to London for the purpose of increasing his efficiency by attending a course of scientific instruction at South Kensington. He wished the Committee to mark the intelligence of the Commissioners. This man wanted to go away for a few months, and he asked for leave to appoint a substitute. Their answer was—"No, you cannot appoint a substitute; but a teacher must resign, if he wants to go to London, and 396 a new teacher must be appointed in his place." The teacher gave way and resigned, and a new teacher was appointed. The new teacher resigned very soon afterwards, and the manager was placed in this position—he had either to close the school altogether, to the great loss of the children, or else to appoint a monitor. He appointed a monitor, who discharged the duties well; but when the principal teacher returned from London be was allowed to resume charge of the school; but the Commissioners actually refused to recognize as part of the school time of the year the period during which the monitor was in charge. The Commissioners said that the manager had no right to appoint a monitor, and that there was a rule that a manager should not dismiss a teacher without three months' notice. It was alleged that this clause was intended for the protection of the teacher, and that it was a reason why the time during which the school was in charge of a monitor should not be allowed. He was informed that the Commissioners had retreated from the position they took up on that question; but he would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether, in future, a teacher who wished to come to London in order to obtain instruction in science would be allowed to do so without any impediment being thrown in his way? He also wished to inquire whether the time in an English school during which a monitor occupied the position of principal teacher would be allowed in the school-time of the year, because the children would otherwise be prevented from obtaining the results of the examination, and the income of the year would be diminished. Another great objection, and, indeed, his principal objection, to the system, was that the Board had a strict monopoly in the preparation and sale of school books. They compiled an edition, published it, and sold it; they kept shops and a depôt for the sale of their school books; and, in point of fact, instead of allowing free trade, they exercised a strict monopoly against the rights of private enter-prize, and also against the interests of education. The result was that the Commissioners issued an antiquated set of class books in which they completely ignored the history, biography, and literature of Ireland. Their geography and history extended only to Palestine 397 and the Old Testament, and they would not allow any reference in their books to famous scenes of Irish, history, because they might, perhaps, include something that was not in accordance with the sentiments of the English Government. He should have supposed that in all civilized nations the history of the country itself would furnish one of the landmarks of education. Even Sir Patrick Keenan himself had reported formerly in favour of incorporating Irish history in the National school books; but he said nothing about that now. Sir Patrick Keenan, in the interests of education, visited various countries in order to make inquiries, and he had reported upon the propriety of teaching the native language in the schools of Malta and Trinidad. For one of his Reports he was made a C.B., and for another he was knighted. All references to the National religion were studiously avoided in the class books. Perhaps that was accounted for by the fact that one of the members of the Board of Education of Ireland was a gentleman who was formerly a street preacher against Catholicity, and who was in the habit of disturbing the public peace at the Custom House of Dublin by occupying the public pathway. He had said that the Board ignored the language and literature of Ireland; but what would the Committee think of this? About 20 years ago the Board revised one of their books, and in the new edition printed an account of the death of Queen Philippa from Froissarl's Chronicles. Somebody, however, took exception to it, and thereupon it was cut out. So also in regard to the beautiful poem written by one of the Irish National poets, Samuel Lover. Because a fisherman's wife saw a baby smiling, and said that an angel was whispering to it, the sentiment was considered intolerable, as also was another which spoke of the woman "numbering her beads." The Commissioners cut out also the Canadian boat song of Thomas Moore because it contained a prayer to St. Anne. Why should not the sale of those books be thrown open to national competition? If a veto was to be exercised let it be exercised by some sensible person. The books now in use were as suitable to Kamschatka as to Ireland. They contained nothing of the genius, or the nature, or the soul of the people. All the gems of Irish literature 398 were left out because they happened to contain reference to some famous Irish personage; and, as he had intimated, all reference to scenes that were famous in Irish history were ignored, because it was suspected they might not be quite agreeable to the sentiments of the English Government. If the preparation of those books was thrown open to public competition the publishers in Ireland would have a fair chance, and their ingenuity would be brought to bear in providing books more suitable to the present times, and to the requirements of the present age; and if a veto were lodged in the hands of some sensible person there would be no danger that any unsuitable facts would be allowed to creep into such books. Before he sat down he was desirous of making an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of the Irish language. The Commissioners of National Education had done no worse turn to Ireland than in their treatment of the Irish language. There were at the present moment in Ireland about 300,000 persons, or nearly one-third of a million, either of school-going age, or coming up to it, whose native tongue and language were Irish. Sir Patrick Keenan had pointed out, in former days, that the only intelligent way of teaching English to an Irish-speaking person was to teach him first the grammar of the Irish tongue, and then, by the use of that tongue, to teach him the grammar and meaning of English. Some time ago, in a school in the county of Donegal most of the pupils lived in a bog, and every morning when they went to school they carried sods of turf to light the school fire. They read the English lessons glibly; but having examined them personally in order to ascertain what they really knew he found that they did not know what the meaning of the word "bog" was. What was the use of teaching children anything in that parrot light when a few mouths spent in teaching them Irish would give them the grip of corresponding words in the English language? Hitherto the Irish children had never received those advantages, and he held that the Commissioners of the National Board of Education had done great wrong to the children by excluding the teaching of the Irish tongue. Within the last generation 3,000,000 of poor people had emigrated from Ireland. 399 Most of them had passed through the National Schools of the country. Of those 3,000,000 he could say, with regard to 1,000,000 of them, at least, that Irish was the language of their homes; and if a rational method had been adopted of teaching them first the grammar of Irish, and then having the English language explained to them through the native tongue, they would have gone to a foreign land with something like a knowledge of their native tongue, and a practical knowledge of English. But in consequence of the stupidity of the National Board of Education those unfortunate persons would pass their lives and go down to their graves after a struggle in a foreign country without either a literary command of their own vernacular or a practical knowledge of English. They were compelled to go through life heavily handicapped in consequence of that fundamental defect in their education; and it was owing to that vicious system that the unfortunate Irish emigrants to other countries had been condemned to become hewers of wood, and drawers of water, earning the lowest wages, and suffering the extremest poverty. It was not too late to remedy all that. He claimed that in the Training College now existing in Marlborough Street, and in any extension which the Government carried out of the system of Training Colleges in the various Provinces of Ireland, there should be established a Chair of Irish; that the teachers should be taught the native tongue, and that the native tongue should be made part of the Irish curriculum, so that teachers who went to teach in parts of the country where Irish was the language spoken should be competent to give instruction in that tongue. He was able to say, from his own experience, that large numbers of the people of Ireland still spoke the native language. In his native county of Waterford 38 per cent of the people, and in the county of Clare, in which the constituency he represented was placed, 54 per cent of the people spoke the Irish language. On the West Coast of Ireland four-fifths of 1,000,000 spoke Irish. It was not yet too late to make some provision for the children of those people. Let them be taught rationally as children were taught at Malta and Trinidad. Give them a fair modicum of the grammar of their own tongue, and as they acquired knowledge of that 400 tongue explain and fasten in their minds the meaning of English. They would never arrive at a satisfactory conclusion otherwise, and they would never make the teaching of the National Board as valuable as it ought to be for the instruction of that class of the Irish people. He felt so strongly upon the question of the monopoly now existing in regard to the preparation and sale of class-books that were utterly unsuitable in Ireland, and marred by every conceivable defect which it was possible for class-books to have, that he would move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £37,150, that being the amount of the Vote for the Book Department. The time had come when that monopoly must be discontinued. The preparation and sale of school books must be thrown open in Ireland, as they were at that moment in Great Britain, to the skill and literary culture of men who desired to be employed in that branch of literature. The trade must be no longer hampered by retaining that monopoly in the hands of the National Board. He thought he had now outlined several matters in which reform was urgently needed; but he would con-chide his remarks by saying that no adequate reform would be carried into effect so long as the present system of retaining an irresponsible junta was allowed to exist in Ireland. When the Irish Party had a controlling influence in Irish affairs, and when her Press had fair play, they would soon see the substitution of a Board of Education of a really representative character, instead of one which was mainly distinguished by its irresponsibility and partizanship.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the item of £37,150 he omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ MR. MELDON
said, he wished to offer a few observations on a subject connected with the educational interests of Ireland—he referred to the condition of the teachers in the primary schools. That question had been brought under the attention of the House as far back as 1875. He know that the subject was a large one, and that in the interval many matters had crept up which had 401 rendered the settlement of the question then offered totally unacceptable now as a final settlement. But he did not propose to deal now with the larger state of affairs. The position he took up at the present time—which he thought was a most opportune time—was this—that the pledges given by the Conservative Government at that date—pledges given by the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the House—should be fulfilled, and not allowed, as they had been, to remain in abeyance. What was the state of affairs in 1875? A complaint was made on the part of those interested in education in Ireland that the condition of the teachers of the National Schools was such as not only to be a disgrace to the country, but unjust to the people who were called on to teach. There were three grievances brought forward—first, that the salaries paid were totally insufficient; secondly, that they were called on to do their work without any residences being provided for them, and it was pointed out that many of the teachers had to walk from six to 12 miles a-day, coming and going——
§ THE CHAIRMAN
wished to point out to the hon. and learned Member that he would have to connect his speech with the item now before the Committee, or to wait until the Amendment was disposed of, when he would be able to speak upon the general question. It would not be in Order to discuss the general question of education on the Motion now before the Committee for the omission of a certain item.
§ MR. MELDON
asked if he was to understand that the discussion must be confined to the item for the preparation and sale of books?
§ THE CHAIRMAN
Yes. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will connect his speech to that item he will be quite in Order. Strictly speaking, the Committee are now discussing the item for books.
§ MR. MELDON
said, he did not propose to trouble the Committee with any observations solely confined to the question of books; and, therefore, he would take another opportunity for discussing the Vote.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he would withdraw his Motion for the present, so as to allow the general question to be discussed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. MELDON
said, he had been remarking that there were three questions brought under the consideration of the House in 1875; the first was the salaries of the teachers; secondly, their having no residences, for it was proved that 80 per cent had no residence provided for them from any source except their own; and, thirdly, that there was no system of retiring pensions for the teachers, when old age or infirmity obliged the teachers to give up their teaching duties. Upon those three heads the then Chief Secretary for Ireland and the present Leader of the House distinctly admitted that the grievance was proved; and he must take the opportunity of saying that the right hon. Gentleman met that demand then made in the fairest and most open way he could do. As long as the right hon. Gentleman remained in Office he did the utmost in his power to apply such remedies as he was permitted to avail himself of. There was but one feeling among the body of teachers in Ireland, and also among the people generally—that the right hon. Gentleman deserved every credit that could possibly be given to him for his action in the matter. He (Mr. Meldon) had no wish to detain the Committee at any length, and therefore he would pass over many of the details; but the matter culminated in an admission that those three grievances had been proved, and an undertaking was given that a remedy would forthwith be applied. In accordance with that undertaking the right hon. Baronet introduced a Bill called the "Teachers Bill," in 1875. He introduced another Bill which dealt with the question of residences, and a substantial increase was made to the Estimates of 1875 in order to fulfil the promises he had given. Now, what were the remedies of the right hon. Gentleman? In the first place, he added a sum of something like £60,000 a-year to the class salaries of the teachers, which amounted to an average of £75 per head unconditionally added to the salaries of the teachers, male and female. He also took a Vote for an additional £60,000 to be added to the remunera- 403 tion of the teachers by way of result fees. When the National Teachers' Bill was brought in it provided that the Boards of Guardians should be at liberty, if they thought fit, to provide a further sum of £60,000 to be applied towards the payment of one-third of the result fees to be earned by the tenants. An additional sum of £60,000 was therefore taken in the Estimates to be paid to those teachers who could induce the Boards of Guardians to contribute to the results fees. The way, therefore, in which the matter stood was this—£60,000 were added to the class salaries unconditionally out of the Estimates; £60,000 estimated to pay one-third of the results fees the teachers might earn were also given unconditionally; and another £60,000 were taken in the Estimates conditionally, in order that that amount might be applied in paying another third of the results fees in case the Boards of Guardians were willing to contribute the remaining third. It was pointed out at the time in the House of Commons by those who advocated the claims of the teachers that the Bill would be practically inoperative, and really no solution of the question whatever. The then Chief Secretary stated that the Bill was only a tentative one, and in the concluding part of his speech he pledged the Government to a reconsideration of the case in the next Session of Parliament if the Bill did not work in the way in which it was expected to work. That pledge was given most distinctly, and was reiterated over and over again, and in the year 1875 the then Conservative Government and the House were pledged, if that Bill failed, to make some other provision to secure to the teachers the remuneration they were entitled to. From that time down to the present the pledge remained entirely unfulfilled, notwithstanding that every effort had been made to induce not only the last Government, but the Government which preceded it, to fulfil it. What had taken place? The National Teachers' Act of 1875 having failed, the matter was brought again under the notice of the House, and the Chief Secretary stated that he fully admitted that the Act had failed, and that a remedy ought immediately to be applied. That was in 1876. But still nothing whatever was done. The Government were pressed year after year to fulfil the pledges given 404 by them in 1875 and 1876; but for some reason or other they neglected to do so, and what had been the result? In 1878, as those pledges remained unfulfilled, it became, unfortunately, his duty to call the attention of the House, in a more hostile spirit than he cared to do, to those repeated breaches of faith—not only the Government, but the House being pledged to redeem the promise. The Resolution which was moved on the 7th of May, 1878, was to the following effect:—That 'The National School Teachers (Ireland) Act (1875)' and the other means adopted by the Government having failed to satisfy the just demands of the Irish National School Teachers, this House is of opinion that the present position of the Irish National School Teachers, and the discontent which prevails amongst that important body of public servants, calls for the immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government, with a view to a satisfactory adjustment of their claims.That was the Resolution which he had moved, and which was directed against the Conservative Government of that day. And what was the result? The then Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Lowther) objected to that Resolution, although the case brought forward was overwhelming, and took on himself to move an Amendment to leave out the words referring to the discontent which prevailed, in order to insert the words "calls for the immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government." With the unanimous assent of the House the following Resolution was passed:—That 'The National School Teachers (Ireland) Act, 1875,' and the other means adopted by the Government, having failed to satisfy the just demands of the Irish National School Teachers, this House is of opinion that the present position of the Irish National School Teachers calls for the immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government, with a view to a satisfactory adjustment of their claims.Since that day, up to the present time, not a single step had been taken to increase the salaries of the National School teachers, or to improve their position in respect of their salaries, except granting one sum to them, to which he proposed to call attention presently. What was their position with respect to salary at the present moment? All he asked for was that the pledge given in 1876 upon this question of salary should be carried out. He had no wish to go into the general question at all; but he merely desired now to ask that the pledge given 405 in 1875 by the then Conservative Government, repeated in 1876, and affirmed by the Resolution passed by the House in 1878, should be carried out. The result had been that the Act of 1875 had become practically useless and inoperative. Boards of Guardians in a few instances had become contributors; but the great body of teachers had lost a third of the result fees intended to be provided by the scheme of 1875. They were, indeed, also very nearly losing another third intended to be provided for them; but by an arrangement that local contributions should be counted as contributions by the Guardians, this second part was, to a great extent, secured. There had, however, been an absolute loss to them from 1875 to the present of one-third of the result fees earned by them from year to year. What an overwhelming case, then, had the teachers in favour of their claims. The statements he had made could not be controverted; it had been admitted all through, and never denied, that what the teachers were seeking they should have; but they had been put off from day to day. The question now was, could anything practical be done to give them temporary relief? That could be done in two ways. First, it might be done in the manner suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), by a Supplementary Estimate being now brought in to meet the difficulty in the present year, so that teachers should not suffer further loss from the indisposition to redeem pledges made so long ago. That was a simple way of doing it; but there was another way quite as easy, and one that, if the Treasury would not come to the assistance of the cause of education in Ireland, ought to be adopted. Not only did the last Conservative Government give promises, but the late Government, over and over again, promised to introduce a Bill to carry out the compact of 1875. For some reason he did not care to inquire into at the present time, their pledges remained unfulfilled until the present Session, when the late Government introduced a Bill which, according to their ideas, did carry out the pledge given by their Predecessors and by themselves on several occasions. One part of that Bill proposed to make it compulsory on Unions to make the contributions it was intended they should make in 1875. If 406 that had been done seven years ago, so far as the salaries were concerned, the pledges of 1875 would have been redeemed. In 1875 it was suggested that instead of the Bill being voluntary on Unions it should be made compulsory; and it was suggested to the then Chief Secretary for Ireland that if a rate of a National character were imposed by the Bill, teachers would have been secured to the full extent, not to what they were entitled, but to what they were promised in 1875. But for some reason or other the idea was not adoptod, nor was the Bill made compulsory upon Unions. The late Government did introduce in their Bill a provision making it compulsory upon Unions to make contributions, and they provided for the raising of such by a National rate. Unfortunately, the Bill however did not, in his opinion, carry out the pledges of 1875, and for this reason—it introduced many provisions of a controversial character; it contained many matter which were mixed up with the promises made in 1875. But now what could be done? The Bill introduced by the late Government might be taken up by the present Government and passed into law this Session, omitting everything from it save that the contributions of the Unions promised in 1875 should be made compulsory. He could see no difficulty in that course, and it would carry out the promise of 1875. There were then two different ways of fulfilling those pledges—by the Treasury coming forward with a Supplementary grant, or by carrying on the Bill cut down to the proposal to make contributions from the rates compulsory. He did not see why this last course should not be followed, for he observed that the Bill introduced by the late Government had no hostile Notices against it, and, so far as he knew, it was not opposed on that side of the House. He did not wish to occupy the time of the Committee further. He had pointed out how pledges were made, how Parliament was pledged and successive Governments were pledged, and how those pledges, up to the present, remained unfulfilled. One other matter he should call attention to, for it might be said that, subsequent to the Resolution of 1878 of the House of Commons, something had been done, for £40,000 a-year had been added to the salaries 407 of class teachers since thon. But the object of that was not to increase the salaries of the teachers, but it was part and parcel of the pension scheme by which a nucleus was to be formed, the teachers being required to make contributions to entitle them to pensions. It was pointed out how impossible it was for them to do so from their miserable meagre salaries, so this sum of £40,000 was allowed as part of the pension scheme, however not in redemption of the pledges of 1875. He contended that the full results fees promised in 1875 should be secured to the teachers for this year, leaving the larger question open for settlement hereafter. That should be done either by a grant or by a rate, general, or imposed by each Union. The pension scheme he had mentioned was of this nature—a large sum from the Church Surplus was allocated as a nucleus to form a Pension Fund, and teachers were required to make annual contributions to that Fund until they received a pension. The age at which a teacher was entitled to a pension was 65, and they usually entered the service at an early age—17 or 18; and that meant that the vast majority obtained no pensions at all; and those who reached the age of 65 enjoyed their pensions for a very short time. It had turned out that the sum allocated to form the nucleus for the Fund was far more than sufficient, according to actuarial calculations, to afford pensions at a much earlier age. Of course, he would not now enter fully into that point; but he would direct the attention of the Chief Secretary to it, and the gross injustice of fixing the pension age at 65. No matter how long teachers had been in the service—40 years, or 20 years, or less—they all received exactly the same pension, which depended not upon length of service, but upon the ability of a man or woman to live for a certain time. Nothing more absurd in relation to a pension scheme could be found. The scheme was worthless. A great number of teachers dropped off, unable to keep in the service to the age fixed; and if the scheme were not amended it would be of little or no use. It should be remembered that the teachers were themselves giving large contributions towards pensions. He would suggest that the retiring age for men be fixed at 55, and 408 of women at 50, length of service being taken into account. Another question was that of residences. The gross injustice in not providing teachers' residences was admitted in 1875. Every speaker who addressed the House in the debate on that occasion admitted the hardship to teachers and injury to the cause of education by not having teachers properly housed. It was pointed out that no grant was made unless the school house was in good condition and well fitted; and it was maintained that suitable teachers' residences were equally necessary; and it was calculated that £5,000 would be required. A scheme was then prepared by which loans should be granted for the erection of teachers' residences; that the money to build should be advanced at the rate of 5 per cent, repayable, principal and interest, in 25 years, half of the interest to be paid by money voted by Parliament. The sum of £5,000, for one year, was voted in 1875. It was a very fair, a liberal offer, and had the plan been properly worked would hare been satisfactory; but, in the result, not a single farthing of the £5,000 voted by the House for the erection of dwellings for teachers had been expended. The next year £2,500 was voted, and none of that expended, and so it dwindled down to £500 being taken for the purpose. In the result, now, a little over £1,000 a-year was annually paid in annuities after the Act had been in work for 10 years. In point of fact, the entire Act had been inoperative. Something, he thought, should be done. The original scheme was a good one, and he would suggest that the Board of Education should be empowered to make it compulsory that residences should be provided, except in very exceptional cases, just as they insisted on a proper school house and fittings being provided. Unless something of that kind were done teachers would be left precisely in the same position they were in in 1875 so far as residences were concerned. He had omitted details in connection with this subject; he had merely pointed out the circumstances; he had shown that promises remained unfulfilled—promises not only of successive Governments, but of the House. And what had been going on these 10 years? He would venture to say, an enormous amount of mischief had been done to the cause of 409 education by reason of the grievances of the National teachers being left so long in abeyance. They had been forced to agitate year after year. A more exemplary body of men, who conducted their agitation for years with the utmost moderation, could not be found; and it had been productive of the utmost mischief, that it had been proved to those men that they might agitate as long as they liked, in a moderate manner, without having their just and admitted grievances redressed. The class of teachers entering the service was much inferior to what it was; they had lost hope in having anything done for them after these repeated breaches of faith. The agitation of 10 years had done more to injure education than anything else in the period. He hoped he had put forward these views with moderation. He complained of a breach of faith; he had called attention to the fact that the last Conservative Government deserved a large amount of credit for what they had done and what they promised, and their promises they were bound in honour to carry out. He had pointed out two ways in which that could be done without the slightest difficulty, or the necessity for lengthened consideration; the question had been fully considered; and he now asked that effect should be given to the decision arrived at. He wished to guard himself by saying that he did not consider that the fulfilment of the pledges given would be a final settlement of the entire question. He abstained from going into the general question; he confined himself to the pledges given to himself personally and publicly in the House; and upon those points it was fair to press, leaving others to press for a final settlement of the larger question that must undoubtedly be dealt with without very much delay.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, the cause of the National teachers in Ireland had not only the sympathy and the support of every Irish Member in that House; but speaking at that moment, and even at that stage of the Session, he thought that it was due to Irish Members, considering the progress that had been made, that a practical solution of the question ought to be brought about within the short time before them. The hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) had proposed to 410 the Committee two remedies for the grievances of the National teachers. The first was a Supplementary Estimate; and the second was that the Government should proceed with the Bill brought in by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under the late Government. Now, he thought that if the hon. and learned Member for Kildare was aware of the state of public opinion, and he (Mr. Synan) had a share in that public opinion, he would have arrived at the conclusion that this second remedy would be of a contentious character, and, as such, that it would be likely to occupy the time of the House for a longer period than was now at the disposal of hon. Members; and therefore he looked upon the suggestion, coming at that stage of the Session, as not a practicable remedy for the grievances of the Irish National teachers. Now, with the first proposed remedy, that of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) that the Government should bring in a Supplementary Estimate, he quite agreed. It altogether rested with Her Majesty's Government to say yes or no to that proposal. Would they bring in a Supplementary Estimate to meet the grievance of the deficiency in the salaries of the Irish National teachers, and to carry out in practice the promise made in 1875, the Resolution of 1878, and, in fact, to offer another remedy for that offered by the late Government? Now, it certainly appeared to him that if Her Majesty's Government was as anxious to serve the Irish National teachers as they professed to be in the years 1875 and 1878, and as the late Government promised when they brought in the Bill of last Session, they would meet with no real opposition in carrying out the proposal. He did not think that the Government would meet with opposition from any section of hon. Members, whether Irish or English, to the introduction of a Supplementary Estimate; and if they were to adopt that course they could then leave it to the new constituencies to apply a permanent remedy to the lamentable state of things which was admitted to exist with respect to the Irish National teachers. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) made himself acquainted with the condition of public opinion in Ireland, and with the condition of the Irish National teachers, he apprehended that the right hon. Gen- 411 tleman would find no difficulty in bringing in a Supplementary Estimate for £40,000 for the purpose of increasing the salaries of that deserving class of persons. What was the condition of affairs that had resulted from the position in which the Irish National teachers were placed with regard to their salaries? Why, the truth was that the service was being starved. Teachers of the first and second class were disappearing; and the teachers of the present day were men of the third class. The salary of those teachers was only £35 a-year, supplemented by some results fees; in other words, their salary was about equal to the income of an agricultural labourer in Ireland. If it were true that that state of things existed, and it had been admitted, he did not see that there was any practical difficulty in the way of setting it right temporarily by the introduction of a Supplementary Estimate; but to talk of carrying through Parliament a contentious Bill at that stage of the Session was, to his mind, to suggest a means of dealing with a pressing grievance both clumsy and impracticable. There were other matters connected with the subject before the Committee which were also capable of explanation and of a remedy being applied to them. The hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) had referred to the question of residence. Why was it that the measure that proposed to deal with that subject had proved impracticable? To his mind, for no other reason than that the interest on the loans was not low enough, and that the time fixed for the repayment of the money was not long enough. If the rate of interest were reduced, and the time for repayment extended, he was convinced that there would be no necessity for the compulsory Bill suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Kildare. To make every manager in Ireland provide not only a schoolhouse, but a residence for the teacher also, was a thing that could not be done; because if a manager were obliged to pay the present rate of interest demanded by the Government for the money advanced for the purpose, he would not build any schoolhouse or residence at all, and the cause of education would suffer on that account. Managers were of two classes. A manager might be a proprietor who built a schoolhouse for the benefit of 412 the locality; but generally managers were clergymen of parishes, who built schoolhouses out of the doles of their poor parishioners; and would hon. Members think of making it compulsory upon those persons who built schoolhouses to build residences also with money borrowed at the high rate of interest charged by the Government? The teacher himself could not pay the rent of his residence, considering the miser able salary which he at present received. He would now turn to the teachers themselves. How many National teachers were there? The Report said there were of the first class 115, of the second first class 319, of the second class 1,611, and of the third class 1,747. That statement disclosed the fact that the education of the people of Ireland at that moment was committed to teachers almost entirely of the third class, whose salaries were £35 a-year, supplemented, as he had said before, by fees which brought them up to £50 or £60 a-year. He appealed, to the Committee to say whether for that money it was possible to get men properly to superintend the education of the people in Ireland? What was the reason why the Irish National teachers were not placed as nearly as possible on the same footing as the English teachers? They did not want to be placed on as high a level; but he contended that they ought to be placed on a level approximating to that of the English teachers. The Government said that the people would not pay for the purpose of supplementing the salary and results fees; but the answer of the Boards of Guardians to that statement was—"We will not pay as long as the system remains as it is; we have no voice in the matter, and no superintendence is allowed us." He (Mr. Synan) failed to find any answer to that complaint on the part of the Boards of Guardians in Ireland; and if the system were altered, if the Guardians were allowed a voice in the administration of the schools, what would become of the Education Board in Ireland, against which complaint was made by the hon. Member for Sligo? Why, that must be altered too. The system must be made a popular system; and if they did not wish to make it a popular system, the Government must take the whole responsibility on their own shoulders. He told the Irish Government that they must 413 make the salaries of the Irish. National teachers sufficient for the purpose, and that neither the Irish people nor their Representatives would tolerate that those teachers should be starved in order to serve the ideas of the Government. He said it was for the Irish Government, through the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, to tell the Committee whether they meant to apply to the present state of things the only remedy at hand—namely, to introduce a Supplementary Estimate. He did not say that the present Government was more responsible for the state of things than their Predecessors in Office; but, connecting them with the Government of 1874–80, they were responsible for it; and he said that the Government which came into Office in 1880, and which remained in Office until recently, had their share of the responsibility also, because they had not provided any remedy. There were other matters connected with this question of a subsidiary character, to which it was the duty of Irish Members to draw the attention of the Government. A set of schools existed in Ireland called Model Schools. They were schools of a secular character, which, like the Queen's Colleges, the Catholic population avoided. Upon those Model Schools the Government spent £40,000 a-year; and, under the circumstances described, he asked why those schools should not be closed and the money applied to increase the salaries of the National School teachers in Ireland? That appeared to him to be a most practical remedy. The Government ought to have made up their minds on this question long ago, for it was a burning question, and had been so during the 20 years he had been in that House; and yet the Government, just as in the case of the Queen's Colleges, insisted on retaining a system at variance with the national wish—a system which seemed to be established for the purpose of proselytism. He gave no opinion upon that; but he asked why the Irish people should not have their children taught at public schools and at the public expense, and why the Government should keep up the present system, and, at the same time, impose on the people of Ireland a class of teachers utterly unfitted for the work to be done by reason of the miserable salaries that were given? What an- 414 swer had the Government given, and what answer would it give, to the question—"How can the work of public education be conducted on such principles as these?" He was sorry not to see the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in his place, for he hoped he would answer those points fully and sufficiently. He trusted that, as soon as might be convenient to him, and as soon as he had made up his mind, he would give Irish Members an answer to the question — "Are these miserable salaries to be increased by means of a Supplementary Estimate or not? "To look for any other remedy at that stage of the Session was useless. It would be for a future Parliament to propose a permanent remedy; but he asked Her Majesty's Government, in the meantime, to introduce, for temporary purposes, a Supplementary Estimate, which he felt convinced would pass without opposition or objection.
§ MR. MARUM
said, he would not again go over the ground so ably traversed by his hon. Friends who had spoken on this subject. He wished, however, to allude to some points in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon). He would not now enter into the question of the Bill to which his hon. and learned Friend had referred, because it was impossible that it could now be passed through Parliament; but he would touch upon, two points in connection with it, as it had been said that he and some hon. Friends had not acquiesced in it. It was not that they objected to compulsory attendance; but if the present Government remained in Office they would have to take into consideration what he was about to say. The first point he wished to refer to had reference to compulsory attendance. The present condition of matters with regard to the schools was this—that the managers were really absolute in their authority at present, and their position was so far absolute that they could dispense with a school if they were not satisfied with the regulations. Now, the Government proposed to make it compulsory that there should be attendance. They were going to deprive them of their power, and give them an equivalent to the extent of having a one-third voice in the regulations, the Local Government Board having power, in case of dispute, of taking the matter 415 into their own hands. He believed that the view taken by the managers was that the Government ought not to have any undue power over the education of the country—that was what he believed they most distinctly objected to. They did not object merely from an ecclesiastical point of view; but they objected also on the authority of two laymen, whose authority he believed would not be questioned in that House. Edmund Burke expressed himself to the effect that—If you consent to put the national education, or any part of it, under the control of the Government, then you will have sold your religion.And Mr. John Stuart Mill also wrote to the effect that it was not right that the Government should have control of the education of the people, because, in that case, they could do whatever they pleased. He wished Her Majesty's Government to bear in mind the views of those men in dealing with compulsory attendance. The next point was the system of payment by results. It was assumed that it would be satisfactory to the people of Ireland, the teachers, and the ratepayers, to make the Unions contributory under the results system. He begged leave to contradict that idea. In support of that he referred to the Resolution passed at the meeting of teachers at Norwich, and the result of the meeting, which had caused considerable interest in this country as well as in Ireland. The system of payment by results was condemned at that meeting. And then Max Midler said that examinations were the means of ascertaining how the teachers had taught; but they should never be allowed to become the means by which pupils were taught, and that the proper rewards at examinations should be honours, not pounds, shillings, and pence. It would be seen that those authorities were altogether against the system of payment by results. Now, the position of the Bishops in this matter was that they would not submit to the dictation of the laity. The whole truth with regard to the support which the Bishops had given to the results system was that they wished to get rid of denominational endowments, and if it were not for that they would have agreed with the views of Max Midler. The views of Cardinal Moran were that the result system was designed as a 416 subterfuge, and in order to get rid of the objection there was to denominational endowments. Now, with regard to making the payment for results compulsory, that must unquestionably be opposed to the feeling of the ratepayers and to that of the people of Ireland. In his own county (Kilkenny) the Boards of Guardians had expressed views hostile to making the Unions contributory; and not only that, but they had referred to the strong agitation which would arise, if the Unions were made contributory, on the ground of increased taxation and the depressed state of trade. He mentioned those facts lest there should be any misapprehension in the minds of the Government with regard to the opinion of the people of Ireland being in favour of the system of payment by results, and he could assure them that the system was neither in accordance with the wishes of the people nor with the wishes of the teachers themselves. Finally, he urged on Her Majesty's Government to take into consideration what had been urged on those Benches—namely, the proposal that they should introduce a Supplementary Estimate for the present, leaving the matters which had been alluded to for future discussion in a new Parliament.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was present to have his attention directed to one of the great blots on the educational system in Ireland. It was in that sense that the hon. Member for the County of Limerick (Mr. Synan) had alluded to the Model Schools. Now, of all the serious blots on the Irish educational system the erection and continuance of Model Schools was perhaps the most flagrant. The Committee would be aware that the entire educational system of Ireland was denominational. The National Schools were under the management of clergymen of various denominations, and the National Schools of Ireland, which represented all the Catholic population, were without exception denominational. And yet the Government persisted in establishing a number of unnecessary schools or Model Schools which were not put under the management of the clergy of any Church, but under the authority of an Irish Board called an Education Board. The position of those schools was that Catho- 417 lie priests could not enter their doors. The schools had cost, as he was informed, £168,000 for their construction, and besides that they cost the country every year £36,000, and that too at a time when, as last night, Irish Members were asking for a miserable sum in aid of a popular Irish University which was refused. The Government, with wonderful inconsistency, continued to force upon the Irish people this enormous yearly grant. Of the population of Ireland, 75 per cent was Catholic, and 25 per cent belonged to other denominations. What was the state of things with regard to the attendance at the model schools? For five consecutive years he had endeavoured to point out this blot in the Irish educational system. Those schools, which cost £168,000 to build, and an enormous sum annually to maintain, had only 11,000 pupils, and out of that number there were only 3,198 Catholics, so that while 75 per cent of the people of Ireland were Catholics, only about 25 per cent of the pupils at the model schools were Catholics. The matter, however, did not end there, as hon. Members would see when he told them for what class of the people those schools were provided. He had moved for a Return of the profession and calling of the parents of the few children who attended the model schools, and he found that out of the 11,000 pupils, 4,500 were the sons of agents, grocers, apothecaries, Civil Service employés, merchants, attorneys, and others. So that in addition to the schools being forced upon the people against their will, in addition to the miserable attendance of Catholics, there were 4,000 or 5,000 pupils receiving gratuitous education whose parents were perfectly well able to pay for it themselves. Then, in addition to those extraordinary statistics with regard to the model schools, he would refer to the Report of a Commission which was appointed to inquire into the work that was done in them. If it could be maintained that they were extensively used, if it could be proved that the children of the Catholic population generally went to them, and if it could be shown that they had achieved anything in the way of results, the case would be different. However, lest it should be said that they were doing splendidly in the matter of education, he would inform the Committee that the Commission he; had alluded 418 to, after taking a considerable amount of evidence, reported that not only did the schools cost at the rate of £5 per head of the pupils, but that their literary teaching was not up to the mark. It was proved before the Commission that carriages drove up to the doors of the schools. Sir Patrick Keenan gave evidence against them, and the Commission reported that they ought to be shut up; but, notwithstanding that, for 20 years the Government had continued to force on the people of Ireland £30,000 a-year for those schools, which, after costing £168,000 to build, were doing nothing whatever. Now, the question had boon asked as to what could be done with the schools? The hon. Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. Synan) had suggested that the funds spent upon them should be handed over in aid of the salaries of the National teachers. He (Mr. Dawson) had in the year 1880 proposed that those useless model schools should be turned into schools for the technical education of teachers. He laid that proposal before the present Government, and asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to look at the uselessness of those schools, their utter inadequacy and incompetency, and to say that they should be turned into normal schools for the technical instruction of teachers. There was one of those schools in Limerick perfectly empty, with a large and expensive staff, and his advice was that it should be turned into an institution for the purpose he had described, particularly as in Limerick there was great need of competent teachers. The figures he had laid before the Committee showed how small a number of pupils were instructed for this enormons outlay, and that out of that money a vast proportion went for the education of a class who were never intended to take advantage of the grant. He would ask that this blot which had been pointed out should be removed, and he asked the Committee, the English people, and the House of Commons to apply the moral to be learnt from the discussion of last night and to-day. Let not the Government continue to force upon the Irish people an institution opposed to their wishes. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman was alive to the extraordinary anomaly of those model schools, to the fact that they could not be sustained by argument, and that the subject 419 should be inquired into, with the view of the system being put un end to.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, there was no doubt that the model schools were almost universally condemned in Ireland, except in one or two places in the North, where the majority of the population, or at least a very large proportion of the population, were Protestant, and made use of the model schools. But the case was quite different in the South of Ireland. Take the City of Cork, for instance; the model school there was used by the class which the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) had described—that was to say, by people who were not really entitled to have free education for their children. At another place in the county of Cork the model school was attended by a good many of the Catholic population for the reason that they could not help it, its appliances being superior to those of the parish school, with which, in consequence, it entered into unfair rivalry. In most particulars the description given by his hon. Friend the Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) was absolutely correct. He (Colonel Colthurst) hoped the Government would give effect to the recommendation of the Committee, and he joined his hon. Friend in asking that the schools should be made centres of technical instruction for teachers. He would like to say a few words as to the position of the Irish National teachers. He believed that they were entitled to, that they required, and that they should obtain what the present Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to give them by the Act of 1875—that was to say, that the remuneration fairly earned should not be taken away from them by extraneous causes. This was a matter in which he had always taken a good deal of interest, and he foresaw clearly when the right hon. Baronet introduced that scheme what was likely to happen. He knew that the Boards of Guardians, although they might take up the scheme, would afterwards get tired of it, and that the teachers would be left in the lurch. But even if the Boards of Guardians had taken up the scheme fairly, it 420 would not have met the case, because there was the greatest possible difference between one Union and another, and the Union rate would have been most heavy on those Unions which were least able to afford it. Therefore, speaking for himself, he fully approved of the plan suggested in the Bill for a general compulsory rate. He did not believe that the people of Ireland, if the matter were properly put before them, would object in the least. It would mean a rate of 1d. in the pound. It was necessary to take into consideration the condition of society in the two countries. In England, large contributions were received from the people on account of education, not only from the rich with regard to the Government schools, but the poor had also to contribute largely to their maintenance, and, he imagined, to the maintenance of the voluntary schools also. But in Ireland, for 50 years, the State had provided education, and the people had not been called upon to contribute; and, therefore, there seemed to be no alternative, if it was desired to better their condition, but to have a general rate. He believed, also, that compulsory education, properly applied, met with the approval of the great majority of the managers of schools in Ireland, and he believed also that it would meet with the approval of the public. In England there was a provision enabling Boards of Guardians to pay the school fees in the ease of voluntary schools for those scholars who they thought were not able to pay for themselves; and, of course, in respect of board schools, which he believed they would never have in Ireland, the School Board paid. He was, of course, speaking of voluntary schools when he said he did not think there would be any difficulty in applying this principle, because the people who could not pay were ratepayers, and were divided by a slender line from those who would be asked to pay for them. He did not see how the education of the country could be carried on without some provision of the kind. He regretted that Her Majesty's Government did not see their way to giving a temporary grant this year without prejudice to the question of the National teachers; but he respectfully protested against a permanent increase in the shape of class salaries. No doubt, some managers of schools 421 were opposed to the payment of teachers by results; but it was known that three-fourths of the managers of schools looked upon payment by results as the only way of protecting the interest of the children. Hon. Members had not to look in this matter to the interest of the teachers; they must look to the interest of those they taught, and, at the same time, they must have regard to the feelings, prejudices, and opinions of the managers of schools. He did not wish to detain the Committee; but, before he sat down, he should like to call the attention of his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Tresury to one point. He asked the hon. Baronet to consider the possibility of modifying the Rules with respect to pensions and allowances to the widows of deceased National teachers in Ireland. He had the particulars of a case just submitted to him; but he would not trouble the Committee with them at that moment. No blame attached in this case to the teacher or to the Treasury; but he hoped to be allowed to submit that the Rules in respect of pensions and allowances ought to be somewhat modified.
MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he could not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Cork County (Colonel Colthurst) that a measure for compulsory payment would be accepted in Ireland. He failed to see how it could be accepted. Let it be remembered that there would be no control whatever over the way the money would be disposed of. Why, then, should the Unions be compelled to give away the money of the ratepayers? At the same time, something should be done for the teachers. He did not remember any case in which a serious attempt had been made to remedy their grievance. There was absolutely no difference of opinion as to the grievance which existed, and yet they went on year after year admitting the grievance without making any attempt to remove it. He had more hope in the present Government than he had in the late Government, and he trusted they would be able to apply a remedy; and he did not see why, even in this Session, they might not by the introduction of a Supplementary Estimate endeavour to do something in that direction. Another point to which he wished to refer was the want of technical training in Ireland, They had had an im- 422 portant Committee sitting to consider the condition of Irish industries, and one of the most eminent men who came before that Committee assigned three capital reasons for the depression of Irish industries. One of them was historical, another legislative, but the third was the total absence of proper technical education in Ireland. He said that the people were not taught to use their fingers and hands, and that there was an abundance of manufacturing resources all around them if their fingers, hands, and minds were able to make use of them. A number of imperfections had been revealed in this National system of education, which he hoped the Government would not allow to pass without an attempt being made to remove them.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, he wanted the support of hon. Members in saying, with regard to the vast number of subjects to which attention had been called during this discussion, which had lasted for three hours, that they were subjects with which he could not adequately deal. He might also remark that, during the last three weeks, he had to go through all the Estimates connected with Ireland, and with regard to them he had received no assistance whatever from those who prepared them. Further, he would say that if all the time he mentioned had been devoted to the matters brought forward in Committee that afternoon, he should not have been able to deal with them in the way he would desire to deal with them. It was perfectly obvious to any man attempting in that House to deal with those subjects, and having an interest in Ireland, and in the future of that country, that the chief point was not only the adequate and proper education of its population, but also that the huge Department which supervised that education should be properly and efficiently conducted. He would endeavour to answer the various points which had been raised in the course of the discussion on this Vote. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), in the speech which he delivered at the commencement of the discussion, had brought forward some complaints with reference to the attitude of the Government towards the position of the Irish National teachers, inasmuch as they had not proposed to make now an amendment in that regard. Well, 423 he would say that he was not there to contend that the teachers were overpaid. Although the hon. Member had taken a few of the statistics put forward by the Board of Education, yet he (the Chief Secretary) thought it due to that Department to read the Table which he had before him showing the present scale of payment to teachers as compared with the scale in 1854. As regarded the male teachers, the highest average payment from the Parliamentary grant to teachers of the highest and lowest class respectively, was in 1854—highest, £36; lowest, £15; while in 1883 it was—highest, £99; lowest, £48. As regarded female teachers, in 1854 the highest average payment from the Parliamentary grant was, in the highest class, £25, and in the lowest, £13; whereas in 1883 the highest was £85 7s. 10d., and the lowest, £40 10s.
§ MR. SEXTON
What do those figures mean? Do they mean the highest and lowest sums allocated by Parliament for any individual teacher by way of salary or results fees?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
These figures are quoted to show that Parliament has from time to time made great improvement in the position of teachers. With regard to the Education Board, he understood that it contained many eminent men; and what they had to consider was the efficiency of the Board. The hon. Member for Sligo had brought forward a number of matters with regard to which he (the Chief Secretary) did not think that he had any special explanation to give; he did not think that the hon. Member, considering that the matters he had brought forward were of great importance, could expect him at that moment to go into them. The hon. Member had brought forward some complaints as to teachers being restricted with regard to their future in life, with regard to which he would say, without knowing anything personally of the individual cases of the teachers, that it certainly seemed to him hard that because a man was a teacher his future success and eminence in life should be barred by the fact that he had been a teacher. There were one or two other cases alluded to by the hon. Member for Sligo of hardship in respect of certain teachers, with regard to which all he could say was that they must 424 have regard to the special circumstances which surrounded each case; and as he did not know what those circumstances were, he did not think he could proceed any further on that subject. The hon. Member had referred to the teaching of the Irish language and the supply of books. His own opinion was that the matter of the supply of books should be dealt with in a spirit of strict impartiality, and he believed that the hon. Member had every right to make that demand. With regard more particularly to the cultivation of the Irish language, to which the hon. Member had alluded, it was undoubtedly the fact that up to 1878 the language was not recognized at all in the programme of the Irish Education Board, except with reference to certain instructions to teachers. But at that time, on a representation of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language, the Commissioners put the teaching of that language on the same footing as Greek and other languages. Later on, with the view of encouraging the study of the language, the Commissioners made a rule that no extra fee should be paid for learning the language. The hon. Member might think that that was not a very gigantic stride; but he believed he would admit that it was a step in the direction he desired. The hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) had made a proposal with regard to teachers, and their general position as to pay and pensions. Of course, he was aware that the hon. and learned Member had for many years brought forward Motions on this subject. The hon. and learned Member had referred to the pledges made by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1875 with regard to this matter. He could not, of course, in the absence of his right hon. Friend, enter fully into that question. It was impossible for him to deal specifically with the matter; but he thought that, in justice to his right hon. Friend, he ought to say that although pledges might have been given, yet he believed that the scale he had quoted with reference to the position of the teachers showed that up to 1883 a material improvement had taken place in respect of the amounts paid to them. But there was one point, with reference to the Bill of the present year introduced by the late Government, to which the hon. and learned Member had par- 425 ticularly referred. It would be impossible to deal with that Bill, because there were points in it relating to compulsory education and other matters which would give rise to contention—at least, so he was informed. Of course, it was not to be expected that, at the end I of July, Her Majesty's Government could take up a scheme of this kind. In the first statement which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) made in the House with reference to Public; Business, he stated he did not propose to take any contentious Business. Now, the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kildare had been met by something very like the unanimous disapprobation of hon. Members sitting below the Gangway opposite. With his limited information, he did not say whether the scheme was a right one or not; but he was bound to take the fact as he found it. He certainly did not think he would be justified in attempting to deal with the scheme in the last days of July. Now, with reference to the question of the Irish school teachers, and all the other subjects which had been mentioned, he admitted frankly that he was standing there that day rather as a learner than as a teacher. Of course, it was utterly impossible, with the information he had at hand, to give pledges with regard to what should in future be done concerning the teachers; but he did acknowledge the claim the teachers had with respect to pensions. The subject had been alluded to, and he thought very properly, in the course of the discussion. In a certain sense there was a substantial grievance existing which ought, if possible, to be remedied, particularly as he believed a considerable grant had ceased to be made in respect to the question. He acknowledged, too, that the fund which it was now proposed to make use of was essentially of an Irish character, and did not come under any English Exchequer. He had been in communication with his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) upon this question, and the hon. Gentleman, and those with whom he was in concert at the Treasury, had examined the circumstances of the fund very carefully in the endeavour to see how far they could meet the claims of the Irish teachers in reference to pen- 426 sions. It had been calculated that the surplus of the Pension Fund now available for this purpose was £200,000, and it was proposed to dispose of that sum as follows:—At present, when a teacher was dismissed, it was usual that he should be repaid the yearly premium he had paid to come under the scheme. It was proposed to extend that principle, and that in a case where a teacher died there should be a repayment to his representatives. It was calculated that that would dispose of the sum of £34,700. Then it was proposed that for pension purposes certain former divisions in the senior classes of teachers should be recognized, and that would take up £3,518. The cost of the two arrangements would be £38,218, so that there would still be £158,369 to dispose of. The other chief change was with reference to the actual pensions themselves. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kildare had urged that the age at which retirement was granted should be reduced from 65 to 58. The Treasury found it was utterly impossible with the fund at their command to sanction such a scheme. It was proposed to deal with the matter in another way, but still in a way which it was considered would afford some relief. It was proposed to keep the age of compulsory retirement as at present, but to provide that a man or woman should be allowed to retire on a full pension after completing 40 years' service from the ages of 21 and 18 respectively. Assuming, as the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Meldon) had stated, that most of the teachers commenced their duties at an early age, it was obvious that if, after 40 years' service, they could retire on full pension, it would be a certain relief to them. The question of teachers' residences had also been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kildare. It was proposed, by the Bill of the late Government, to which he had already alluded, to deal with that question. It was a very important question, and one on which he did not think he ought to be pressed at that moment. He promised hon. Gentlemen that the matter should receive his consideration. Then, again, something had been said with regard to the model schools. Broadly speaking, it was proposed that the model schools should be abolished, and that the fund which sustained them 427 should be handed over for the benefit of technical education. That was a new proposal to him, and one which he was sure was not to be hastily accepted. The condition of the four Dublin schools had been referred to, and reasons had been given why the model schools were not attended by any considerable number of Roman Catholics. He found, however, that in the four Dublin schools, there were 1,810 Roman Catholics and 947 Protestants. In a model school in County Cork there were 332 Roman Catholics and 32 Protestants. Of course, he was perfectly aware that in the case of model schools in the North of Ireland the same results would not be found. He was bound to say that, with the knowledge he at present possessed, he could not assent to the suggestion to abolish those schools. He now desired to make a few remarks of a general nature. No one knew better than he did, even with his limited acquaintance of the country, that there were vast difficulties to contend with in regard to education in Ireland as compared with the difficulties attending education in this country. He assured hon. Members that, whether he remained in Office months or years, he should not shirk the difficulties. He was already aware of their existence, and therefore he ought not to approach Irish educational subjects in a light-hearted spirit. There was one fact to which he desired to call the attention of the Committee, and it was that although there were great difficulties to contend with in reference to all educational questions in Ireland, the Exchequer had not been stationary in the matter of educational grants. He found that, according to the Appropriation Account for the year 1880, the amount granted for educational purposes in Ireland was £631,520. He was reminded by his hon. Friend (Sir Henry Holland) that that was not the expenditure of that year, but the average yearly expenditure for five years. The amount now granted annually was £786,300. He merely mentioned that to show that the English Exchequer had not been altogether indifferent to the claims of Irish education. He thanked the Committee for the patience with which they had received his remarks. If his observations had indicated any ignorance of the question with which he had had to deal, he could not complain if he was reminded of it at once. He assured hon. Members from 428 Ireland that he had thrown himself heart and soul not only into the question of Irish education, but into all the entangled and difficult matters with which in the last few weeks he had had to deal. Of course, if he had failed to indicate anything like a policy, or to indicate anything like firmness in dealing with those vast problems, he assured hon. Members that it was not because he had any indisposition to grapple with those difficult questions. If, in future, he was called upon to deal with Irish educational and other matters in a practical way, and to supervise the different Departments which came within the cognizance of the Chief Secretary, he hoped that he would not be found wanting.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary might rest assured that in this matter he would receive from the Irish Members nothing but kindly and proper treatment. They were quite prepared to give kindness for kindness, as he thought they had proved they were ready to give blow for blow. They appreciated fully the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken; and even if he had spoken in a different spirit, they would not come whining to the House, as the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition (the Marquess of Hartington) had insinuated they were apt to do. Now, he was glad to observe that on the question of Irish education an enormous advance had been made in the public opinion of this country. They had had various schemes of local self-government offered by different Gentlemen representing different Parties; but on one point of local government the authors of those schemes seemed to agree, and that was that the education of Ireland should be removed from the control of a central, irresponsible, and Governmentally-appointed Board to that of a Board elected by the people and responsible to the people. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had just said that, considering his short official experience, he could not be expected to deal exhaustively with this question. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was convinced the Irish Members would much prefer that the settlement of this question should be postponed than that it should be taken up in a tinkering manner. The settlement of the question of elementary education in Ireland must be a settle- 429 ment of a broad and, as far as possible, I of a final character. Now, with regard ' to the question of the treatment of the National teachers. He entirely agreed I with the survey of that part of the question presented so ably by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). His hon. Friend was more acquainted with the working of the system than any I other Member of the House; but he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had received letters from National School teachers— whose names for obvious reasons he could not give—in which they entirely corroborated the picture of their condition and of their grievances which was drawn by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton). He had a letter from a teacher who had been 35 years in the service of the Board. That teacher had never once received the slightest rebuke for neglect or misconduct, and yet for eight years he had been trying, without success, to get permission to go from the second division of the first class to the first division. It was monstrous that a teacher who imagined himself competent to be appointed to the first division of the first class should not have immediate opportunity of obtaining the promotion. His hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) told him that out of the whole body of 11,000 teachers in Ireland only 200 had been allowed to go in for this examination. That was altogether contrary to the principle on which teachers were treated in any other country in the world. There were several other grievances of the National teachers into which he might go; but he would abstain from doing so, because the ground had been so well covered by his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton). There was a question, to which he had called attention on more than one occasion, and to which he would call attention again, and that was the character of the books which were supplied to the school children in Ireland. By taking up that question, he had exposed himself to a certain amount of not very friendly criticism. When he first raised the question a gentleman wrote to the London Times to say that he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) did not know what he was talking about. Of course, he accepted very gratefully such a rebuke from an enlightened Englishman. He believed the essence of the charge against him was that the quotations he had made were from editions that had ceased to be used in the Na- 430 tional schools of Ireland. If he did make that mistake on a former occasion he was fortunately in a position not to repeat it, for he had in his hand the most recent editions, sent to him by a gentleman connected with the Education Department in Dublin—a social friend of his own for whom he had the greatest respect. That gentleman was under the impression that he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had been rather hard on the literature of the Department, and in order that he might enlighten his (Mr. T. P. O'Connor's) darkness and soften his animosity to the institution, he sent to him the series of books used in the schools. Accordingly, he came armed out of the official armoury on this question. What his friend wanted to impress on his mind was that the school books had been greatly improved, especially in the direction in which he had said improvement was wanted. Now, his first charge against the books was that as literature they were contemptible. He was sure that any Member of the Committee, whether he agreed with his (Mr. T. P. O'Connor's) political principles or not, would agree with him in this—that good literature ought to be given in the school books which children had to read. His complaint of the inferiority of the literature was applied to the original writings—they were very original indeed—which appeared in the books. The second charge he made was with regard to the extracts. Now, the extracts were taken from the works of some of the most eminent poetical and prose writers of the century, and were models of good style; but though they appeared in books under a system of education called National, they were entirely anti-National in their character. He put it to any candid man in the Committee, or outside of the Committee, whether anything could be imagined more preposterous than that the whole childhood of a nation should be brought up without an opportunity of learning even the elements of the history of the nation to which they belonged. That, however, was the tendency of the books supplied to the National schools of Ireland. So far as the books were calculated to give an idea of the early history of the country to which the reader belonged, they might as well be given to the children of France, or Germany, or Timbuctoo. His friend who sent him 431 the books said that the charge was net correct; that though the previous editions might have been wanting in the direction pointed out, the new editions contained a large number of quotations from the works of Irish National writers. He found his friend was perfectly right in one sense; a large number of quotations from the writings of Irish National poets had boon inserted, but the quotations were not of a distinctively National character. An answer to his charge would be to put in the books some of the National poems of Thomas Moore. Several quotations from the works of National poets had been given. For instance, he found, several quotations from Deirdrè, written by B. D. Joyce. Deirdrè was a poem which might take its place amongst the prominent poetical literature of Ireland; but to what period of Irish history did it allude to? The poem, which was given on page 24 of the Fifth Beading Book, was entitled, The Flight, of the Sons of Usna from Ulster to Scotland, and there was a note to the effect—The sons of Usna, three young heroes, renowned in Gaelic traditional story, who were unjustly put to death by Conor Mac Nessa, King of Ulster, about the beginning of the Christian era.And all the history of Ireland which was to be found in those books, whether in the shape of poetry or prose, ended with the beginning of the Christian era, and before any era which was not altogether Christian. He found also that there was a quotation from Moore—Silent, oh Moyle, it was called, being a story of a swan which wandered over the lakes and rivers of Ireland before the coming of Christianity. Well, he maintained that his charge was rather proved than disproved by the poems of a so-called National character which had been put in the books. They wanted the children of Ireland to know something about the history of their country after the beginning as well as before the Christian era. There was a little about the scenery of Ireland—very badly done. There was a good deal of the biography of Edmund Burke. Of course, the name of Edmund Burke was dear to every Irishman; but, curiously enough, in the biography of Burke there was not a syllable about the splendid and noble part he took in regard to the wrongs of his own people, though there was some 432 reference to the part he took respecting the War of Independence. There was nothing about Irish battles subsequent to the beginning of the Christian era, but there was a good deal about English battles. He did not care much about the battle pieces of any country; but if there were to be accounts of battles in books used in the Irish National schools surely the accounts ought to be of Irish battles where Irish valour was displayed to advantage. He found nothing whatever about the Battle of Clontarf, but there was given Campbell's well-known poem about the Battle of the Baltic. In the preface to the poem it was said—By hugging the Swedish shore our ships passed the Sound out of range of the Danish forts.But the ships were not Irish ships, they were English ships. Now, with regard to Kings. He had told the Committee that in those school books there was something about English battles, but nothing about Irish battles; and, in the same way, there was something about English Kings, but nothing whatever about Irish Kings. He did not think there was an Irishman who was not familiar with the name and exploits of Brian Boroihue. There was no mention, however, of that Irish King in these school books; but there was an article upon Alfred the Great. Here was the beginning of it—Our own Alfred sheds a much brighter glory over the ninth century than Charlemagne and the Caliph Haroun do over the eighth."Our own Alfred!" That might be said to belong to what was called the "too-too" literature. However, they had a little modern history; he was wrong in saying there was no modern history. Strange to say, that in an Irish school book, there was an essay on "Liberty," and the author of it was Earl Russell. The author naturally spoke on behalf of his cause; but he had to remember Earl Russell, the statesman, and to remember also that he himself had suspended the Habeas Corpus Act. According, they had the Habeas Corpus thus described—Since the Revolution, however, the Act of Habeas Corpus, when in operation, has always been found of power to protect the subject. The very suspensions of this Act prove its practical efficacy when in force, as much as the renewals of Magna Charta prove the practical inefficacy of that great compact.Therefore, the oftener a man was put 433 in prison, under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the more the practical efficacy of the measure was proved. They were also favoured in those books with some quotations from Archbishop Whately's writings on political economy. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) remembered that some years ago an agitation was raised in this country—he thought by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst)—with regard to some quotations which appeared in some of the English school books on the work or action of Trades' Unions. Archbishop Whately was an economist of the old school; he was bitterly opposed to Trades' Unions, and he made some very strong remarks with regard to the action of those bodies. Some of his writings found their way into English school books, and the hon. Member for Stoke called the attention of the House to the matter. The result was that the condemnatory remarks were removed from the books, on the ground that the children of Trades' Unionists ought not to be prejudiced against the institutions to which their parents belonged. Now, in the Irish school books there was a specimen of the political economy of Archbishop Whately; it dealt with letting and hiring, and the question of rent—a question of some delicacy in Ireland. This was what Archbishop Whately said—Suppose all landlords were to agree to lower their rents one-half, the number of acres of land and the quantity of corn raised would remain the same, and so would the number of mouths that want corn. The farmer, therefore, would get the same price for his corn as he does now; the only difference would be that he would be so much the richer, and the landlord so much the poorer; the labourers and the rest of the people would be no better off than before.Again—If you were to make a law for lowering rents, so that the land should still remain the property of those to whom it now belongs, but that they should not be allowed to receive more than so much an acre for it; the only effect of this would he, that the landlord would no longer let his land to a farmer, but would take it into his own hands and employ a bailiff to look after it for him.So, in order that the political economy of Archbishop Whately should be proved to be correct, every farm on which a judicial rent had been fixed by the Land Act of 1881 should at present be unoccupied by the landlord, and unfilled by the tenant, and a bailiff put in to take 434 care of it—a thing which had not taken place, and which he (Mr. T.P. O'Connor) ventured to prophecy would not take place. There were other quotations in those books. He supposed it was regarded as a concession to Ireland that there should be quotations from the writings of Cardinal Newman. He should be glad to see more quotations from Cardinal Newman's works, because Cardinal Newman was one of the greatest masters of writing that any country or any century had produced. There was no doubt that as regarded i style of writing the quotation given was I one of the best examples which could be given—namely, his marvellous description of locusts. But why did not the compilers of the book quote Cardinal Newman's beautiful and eloquent testimony with regard to Irish character, and the past and future of the Irish people? There was a quotation from the writings of Cardinal Wiseman; but it was a quotation with regard to nothing Irish, but had reference to the catacombs of Rome. There was a quotation from Aubrey De Vere, but not a word from his noble poem of Innisfail; there were certain quotations from Moore, but they were of an entirely non-national character; there was a quotation from James Clarence Mangan, but there were no quotations from his splendid poems on Irish character and history—the quotation had reference to; his poem, Charlemagne and the Bridge of Moonbeams. There were several long quotations from the books of Sir Walter Scott; there was one which covered three pages on the sports in the Highlands of Scotland. There was nothing I with regard to the sports of Irishmen. There was one quotation with respect to Irish patriots, but the last Irish patriot mentioned in the National school books I was Grattan—O'Connell and the other patriots of more modern days were unnoticed. There was a quotation with regard to the industrial resources of Ireland; but care was taken to omit the expression of opinion in the very book—The Industries of Ireland—from which the quotation was made, that Ireland was capable of nourishing a population of 16,000,000. There was a quotation from Denis Florence M'Carthy, but it was not a quotation from his National poems. In fact, these school books, instead of doing everything to encourage, 435 did everything to discourage, National literature. Just one word more. It was well great stress should be laid upon the necessity of Irish history being taught in Irish schools. He knew a great many educated Irishmen—he did not know whether he could venture to put himself in that category — who knew less of the history of Ireland than of any other country. If a publisher were to come to any Irishman on these Benches—save perhaps to the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Sullivan) and the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who had devoted a great portion of their time to the study of Irish history—and asked him to write a history of Ireland, it was doubtful whether he would undertake the task, no matter what amount of money was offered as an inducement, because he would, first of all, have to spend 10 years in learning the elements of Irish history which he ought to have learnt in his youth. That was a perfectly intolerable and shameful state of things. It was all nonsense to say they could not get an impartial history of Ireland. To a man who was well acquainted with the history of Ireland, it was the easiest thing in the world to write an impartial history of that country. It would not, however, be an impartial history of Ireland, if it was said that penal laws meant toleration laws, or that the massacre of Drogheda was a proper act of warfare. Were the English afraid of having Irish history written in Ireland? Did they think their rule in Ireland would shake under a knowledge of their past misdeeds?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made rather too many apologies for his want of knowledge on Irish affairs. The Irish Members were quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman had not only had the Educational Estimates to deal with, but the whole of the Irish Estimates, and they were ready to grant that in some matters he had shown considerable knowledge of detail. Still, on every point, he had not been able to make up his mind; indeed, he (Colonel Nolan) thought the right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself rather too far in regard to pensions and to model schools, and that on reconsideration he would be inclined to modify the pledges he had given. Unfortunately, the want of information on 436 the part of the right hon. Gentleman was a very serious matter, because, in consequence, the case of the National teachers in Ireland was left in precisely the same state it was found at the commencement of the debate. He (Colonel Nolan) quite admitted that this was not a subject which was purely within the Chief Secretary's exclusive purview. It was a question which the Cabinet and the Chancellor of the Exchequer must, to a considerable extent, consider, because it might possibly involve legislation and the expenditure of a large sum of money. He hoped that before the debate closed they would receive from the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who was one of the best-informed men in the House on the question of Irish education, some intimation with regard to the grievances of the National teachers. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary read some extracts with the object of showing that the National teachers of Ireland received more money now than they did in 1854. Certainly, 1854 was a long time ago, and a time when education was not regarded as a matter which should be highly paid for. In 1854 the Educational Estimates for England and Wales were very small—he believed they did not amount to more than £500,000 sterling. Since then, however, they had gradually increased until now, when they were over £3,000,000. The rate of advance in the Educational Estimates for England and Wales was very remarkable, having been something like £300,000 a-year for the last 10 or 12 years. But there had not been a corresponding increase in the Irish Estimates for education; there was a rise this year, but there had not been one every year. The extraordinary increase of late years in the English Estimates had completely changed the aspects of the educational question. It was said that, in proportion, as large a grant was made to Ireland as to England. He believed the sum granted per head of the population was this year, for the first time, very much the same in the two countries. It would be found, however, that the administration in Ireland was much worse than that in England. What was desired in Ireland was that the teachers should be well paid. Of course, Ireland received a grant for the model schools; but that ought not to be credited 437 against them. The Irish people did not want the model-school system; they would rather not have it. Well, as he had already said, the English and Irish population received almost exactly the same amount per head. If, however, the question of education was to be taken in its broader aspects, and Science and Art were to be included, more money was given per head of the population to England than to Ireland. The amount of population was not the only point to be taken into consideration. He found that the Government was always very ready to ignore the fact that in Ireland the population was distributed much more thinly than in England, and that the consequence was that the schools were much more thinly scattered over the country than in England. In England the population congregated in large towns, and was handled much more economically than in. Ireland. It was quite clear, judging from the debates on English education, that in the public schools of England something more than an elementary education was given—a really good education was given. So his case was this—that the Government gave the same amount per head of the population, but they did not take into consideration the fact that the Irish schools were so much more thinly scattered, and that the Irish schoolmasters only received about half the salaries English schoolmasters were paid. It would be found, on inquiry, that instead of there being five times as many schoolmasters in England as in Ireland—as there should be, according to the population—there were only 11,437, as against 4,488 in Ireland. Although Ireland received the same amount per head, the money had to be spread over a larger area. The schoolmasters of Ireland got very little money indeed in comparison with their English confrères. A good many figures had been put before the Committee; but no one had referred to the Return presented last March. That Return showed that only 10 per cent of the schoolmasters in Ireland got over £100 a-year, and that the bulk of them were paid from £02 to £80 a-year. Now, 70 per cent of the schoolmasters in England got over £100 a-year. The discrepancy in this matter between England and Ireland was, therefore, enormous. A schoolmaster in Ireland must be remarkably clever to be in- 438 cluded in the 10 per cent; 135 Irish schoolmasters got over £100 a-year, while in England there were 1,700 who I received from £150 to £200 a-year; 700 who received from £200 to £250; 290 I who received from £250 to £300; and a certain number got over £300. This under-payment produced most grave discontent amongst the National School teachers in Ireland. The grievance was one which the Government ought to remedy without a day's delay. If he were asked how it should be remedied, he should say that, in addition to the provision for pensions, the salaries should be increased out of the National Exchequer, and free sites for the schools obtained. If sites were obtained, he did not anticipate much difficulty in building schools. He did not want the Government to find sites, but to find legislation by which cheap and easy means of finding sites would be provided. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) admitted that, in regard to the question of school sites, there was an undoubted grievance; and he (Colonel Nolan) thought the present Government I might fairly give an assurance that they would remedy the grievance. He acknowledged that one of the evils in Ireland at the present moment was that there were too many competing schools. The consequence was that the schools were badly attended, and that the salaries of the teachers were unduly lowered. What was the reason of the existence of so many schools? It was that the Government would never map out the country and say—"There must be a school here, and another here." The sites were taken which could be got, no regard being had to their advantages. There were too many schoolmasters, and they were badly paid. Nothing would make the Irish schoolmasters satisfied, nothing would make them think they were not suffering great injustice, while they only got half the pay of men in a similar position in England.
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Sir ARTHUR OTWAY)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has, within the last quarter of an hour, very often repeated the same arguments with regard to the payment of Irish schoolmasters. I must point out that, though it might not be out of Order if every point and branch of an 439 Estimate were discussed in the manner in which the lion, and gallant Gentleman is discussing this subject, it would be perfectly impossible to got through the Business of Supply in a much longer Session than one of six months.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
apologized if he had repeated himself. He was so impressed with the necessity of remedying the grievance which existed in regard I to the inequality between the school-masters in the two countries that he wished to do everything to attract the attention of the Government to the subject. Up to the present scarcely a word I had proceeded from the Treasury Bench as to the increase of the schoolmasters' salaries. It had been pointed out that there was an extravagant discrepancy between the salaries of the two classes. Well, he wished to discuss some of the remedies which had been suggested in the course of this debate. There was one which had been proposed by two or three hon. Gentlemen. Now, he had a great respect for all except that one—namely, that of the hon. and gallant Member for Cork County (Colonel Colthurst), and it seemed to him that the hon. and gallant Member would like to put as much as possible on the rates. The hon. and gallant Gentleman's remedy was to put the schoolmaster's salary upon the rates; and that seemed to him (Colonel Nolan) a very bad remedy. In the first place, the poor rates were altogether too heavy at the present moment in Ireland; and, in the next place, a school rate was not the kind of rate which should be imposed upon the people in this matter, because they excluded from the Poor Law Unions in Ireland the very class of people who ought to manage the schools—namely, the clergy. Hon. Members were perfectly well aware that clergymen were excluded from the Boards of Guardians in Ireland. If there was any Board of any kind instituted for the management of those schools, he should like to say, in passing, that he would wish to see ladies appointed upon it, as was the case in England. Ladies, he believed, were ineligible in Ireland; at any rate, they did not sit on the Boards; and, to his mind, it would be very judicious indeed to hand over the management of the Poor Law Unions to a body which would not exclude the two useful classes to which he had referred—namely, the 440 clergy and ladies—two classes which ought to be closely connected with the management of schools.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
What I said was, that I wanted the schools to be managed exactly as they are now, but upon contributions from the whole of Ireland.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, that a proposition that those schools should be handed over to other Boards in Ireland, and to the Poor Law Unions to a certain extent, had come from the Benches upon which he himself was sitting in the course of the debate. He did not himself object very much to the system of National schools. He believed it to be a good one, and one which suited the country. Unless they had an Irish Parliament, which could frame Rules upon those questions, and which would be subject only to the veto of the Crown, he did not think they would be likely to have any change, owing to the division of Parties in this country. He did not thick they could catch the High Church in England, or please the I Low Church. He did not think that any set of Rules that they could form would be likely to be better than those I in force. The National system, when first introduced, was a bad one, and was used, to a certain extent, for the purposes of proselytizing; but now that it had been 20 or 30 years at work, as it did not interfere with the consciences of the children, he was inclined to think, from his knowledge of it in the West of Ireland, that it was a good one. Their real difficulty was a financial one, including the matter of the low payment of the school teachers. That was the question which, at the present moment, most immediately pressed upon them. Though he did not see the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House, nor any other Member of the Cabinet who formerly interested himself in the question of Irish education, he sincerely hoped that before the debate closed some Member of the Government would hold out some hope to the National School teachers in regard to an increase of pay, for up to the present moment there had been nothing said in the debate which would at all lead them to suppose that the Government had seriously determined how they could get rid of this grievance. He was entirely in favour of free education—that 441 was to say, the whole cost of elementary education coming out of the National Exchequer. So long as it was elementary, the State and the nation should pay the whole sum, because it was to the interests of the country that every child should have a moderate amount of education. He held it to be absolutely dangerous to leave the children of poor people without education; and if they gave it to the children of the poor, he did not see how in equity they could refuse it to the children of the rich, seeing that it was the rich people who had to pay the taxes. If, however, they had schools which taught more than elementary education, it was quite proper and right that the districts should bear their own rate; but he thought it ought to be the duty of the Government to see that all children received an elementary education, and in order to secure that they ought to see that the teachers were properly paid. His contention was that, at the present moment, the teachers were not properly paid—in fact, that they were wretchedly paid—and that it was the duty of the Government to do something to improve their position. He thought they might start with the proposition that National School teachers should be paid properly, that the Chief Secretary should adopt that proposition, and have the remedy left to himself and his Colleagues. He (Colonel Nolan) merely pointed out, as a suggestion, that the necessary amount of money should come out of the National Exchequer. It was only fair that the matter should be taken in hand. It would be grossly unfair to say that those teachers should remain in their present condition of wretchedness while the Government was making up its mind as to what course should be taken. The Chief Secretary had not a seat in the Cabinet; but he (Colonel Nolan) thought that in this matter some other Member of the Government who was in the Cabinet was bound to come forward and give them his views as to the money part of the question.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he wished to point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that in dealing with the amounts paid to the teachers in Ireland he had stated that they ranged from £48 to £99.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that was so; and I if the right hon. Gentleman would look into the matter he would find that that was correct. The right hon. Gentleman had read the figures from a paper which I had been supplied to him from the Education Department in Ireland—they were read in opposition to some figures stated from those Benches. It was stated that payments ranged from a minimum of £48 to a maximum of £99. He was speaking of the school teachers, and he was quite certain of the figures, because he had taken them down at the time they were read. Well, those figures were not by any means correct. If they added £99 and £48 together, that would make £147 or £150, which would produce an average of £75 per head per teacher in Ireland. Now, the actual facts were that a teacher in that country got nothing like that sum. At the outside, he did not got more than £61 or £62 a-year.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETAEY (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
I find the hon. Member is correct. £99 is the highest, and £48 is the lowest.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that that would give an average of £75; but those figures, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman, were entirely incorrect. He had no doubt they were made up by adding together the salaries of the teachers and a number of items which should not be added together. As a matter of fact, as he had stated, the average amount received by the teachers in Ireland was only £61 or £62. What he would ask the right hon. Gentleman on this point was whether he would lay on the Table a statement as to how those figures were made up? Because, of course, it was all very well for him to give the figures handed to him on the one side, and for hon. Members to deny them on the other; but what they wanted to get at was the actual amount paid. Would the right hon. Gentleman consent to lay on the Table the figures that made up the items he had given as the amounts paid to the teachers? The matter was one of considerable importance, and one upon which he was sure they all desired to be accurate. Another point was the teaching of the Irish language in National schools. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Irish language was taught at the present time in Irish National schools, and that encourage- 443 ment was given in that branch of study; and he (the Chief Secretary) had gone on to state that Irish was placed in the some list as Latin and Greek. Well, he (Mr. Molloy) did not think that among the peasant population in Ireland or any other country to place a language on the same list as Latin and Greek was calculated to give them a fair opportuity of studying it. This matter was one of the highest importance in some of the Irish-speaking parts of Ireland. In many places the people spoke only the Irish language. He would, therefore, press upon the right hon. Gentleman the desirability of putting Irish on a lower level, and of removing it from the level of the extras to which he had alluded. Now, with regard to these model schools in Ireland. While the rig-lit hon. Gentleman had been speaking with reference to them he (Mr. Molloy) had made a calculation. He had come to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman's observations were not in accord with the views of the people; and he had made a calculation as to the cost of each pupil in the schools. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that the Royal Commission which had reported on the efficiency of those schools had condemned them in strong terms as being inefficient, and had stated that the standard of education was far below what it ought to be, The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he did not like figures very much. Well, he would not give the right hon. Gentleman any large number of figures; but he would just mention the result of his calculation, and it was this—that the cost of each pupil in those model schools which had been condemned by the Royal Commission was £5 10s. per annum. Those schools had been proved to be far below the regular standard of education in the National Schools. The cost of children educated in the National Schools' amounted to something under 30s. per head, so that, as a matter of fact, they were paying nearly three times the amount per child for education in the model schools that they were paying in the National Schools. He put that fact before the right hon. Gentleman as a further reason why he should devote his attention as soon as possible to the subject of those model schools. There was another item in the Estimates to which he wished to call attention. The hon. Gentleman the Member for 444 Kilkenny (Mr. Marum) had stated that the model school at Kilkenny had been closed. He (Mr. Molloy) did not know whether that was the fact or not, or whether the Chief Secretary or the Irish Law Officers were in a position to make a statement on the point. Still, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny, who ought to be well acquainted with the subject, had stated that the school was closed; and yet if they turned to the Estimates, they found that it was included in it, and that a very large stun of money was asked for. He would point that out to the attention of the Chief Secretary. Of course, he was well aware that it was impossible to go through all these details. The complaints the right hon. Gentleman had made were well founded. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that, although the Estimates were prepared by the late Government, he had received no assistance from any Member of that Government in dealing with them. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that to-day publicly—that those responsible for the Estimates had deliberately abstained from coming to the House, and from offering himself or his Colleagues any assistance in explaining the Estimates. It was especially worthy of remark that during the whole time the Estimates had been under discussion, the Front Opposition Bench, on which the Members of the late Government now sat, had been empty from the beginning even to the end. Of course, one of the reasons or explanations for that was to be found in the fact that some exceedingly awkward questions were to be asked. Those who should have faced those questions had escaped from the responsibility of the Estimates, and when all these complaints were to have been brought forward, had calmly and quietly laid the whole burden on the present Chief Secretary, in order that any odium which might attach to anything which had been done, or had been left undone, might attach to the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues. The escape attempted in this matter by Members of the late Administration was one of those electioneering tricks practised by Members of opposing Parties.
§ MR. MELDON
said, he did not wish to continue the discussion in a controversial spirit; but he rose to inquire 445 what was proposed to be done with the Pension Fund mentioned by the Chief Secretary? He should be glad to know whether the impression on his mind was a correct idea of the condition of affairs. He took it that it was proposed to make a pension scheme by enabling teachers who had been 40 years in the service, whether male or female, to obtain the maximum amount of pension. He did not know whether he was correct in anticipating that the distinction between male and female, as it at present existed, was about to be abolished. That was the first and, he thought, the most material point. In the next place, he understood that it was proposed that in the event of a teacher being dismissed the service, that all premiums which he might have paid to the Pension Fund should be returned to him. [The CHIEF SECRETARY: They are now.] Yes, they were at the present time. He understood that a similar rule was to be applied to the representatives of teachers who might die in the service without having received any pension. In those respects the pension scheme was to be amended, and in those respects only. Then he wished for some further information as to what the fund of £196,000 I was, and as to where the matter stood. A sum had been appropriated from the Church Surplus Fund to the creation of pensions, and yet it was said that that fund did not make up the pensions. On the other hand, it was said by many who had some knowledge on the subject that the amount of interest on the principal sum, and the contributions made by the teachers, was much more than was necessary to pay the pensions according to the fixed scale. He did not know that there was any other fund except this principal sum and the contributions of teachers. He should like to have some information, therefore, as to what this sum of £196,000 was. Was it a saving? Where did it come from? Was it only a surplus that it might be anticipated would be realized hereafter? Those were the points on which he thought some information ought to be given, so that hon. Members might thoroughly understand them. He would also ask that Papers should be laid on the Table of the House showing how those figures were arrived at, and what the changes were which were proposed to be made in the pension scheme. He 446 wished to remove a misapprehension which seemed to exist in the minds of hon. Members as to his original suggestion that the Government should proceed with the Bill introduced by their Predecessors. His suggestion was that they should eliminate all matter out of the Bill save the matter of dealing with the compulsory rate and the National rate. He had stated, and he would repeat, that the National rate was proposed by him in 1875, and was now adopted for the purpose of removing a number of difficulties which a compulsory rate would bring about. If the Guardians of the Unions were to subscribe for the carrying on of education, he thought it only fair that they should make a claim to have a voice in the distribution of the money. Without hesitation he would say—whatever might be said to the contrary—that nine-tenths of the people of Ireland would refuse to enter into the difficult question of school boards.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, the Report which he thought had been laid on the Table, and which would be circulated amongst hon. Members, was the Report of the quinquennial valuation of the Teachers' Pension Fund. That fund was made up of £1,300,000 and the compulsory stoppages from teachers' emoluments. He would not now go through the details of the Report; but it was calculated—the value of future premiums being considered and the gross liabilities being deducted—that there would be a surplus of £196,587. The question, then, was how to deal with that surplus. Two of the grievances that the teachers felt had been removed— or, rather, it was proposed to remove them. Premiums which had been paid by teachers, together with interest at 3 per cent, were to be returned to the representatives of teachers who had died in the service without having received pensions. There was another point of a somewhat more technical character. There were two classes of teachers upon special footing, serving in obsolete classes, and the grievance long felt by them in respect of their pensions would be removed in their favour. The other points, he thought, had been correctly stated by the hon. Member except on one matter. It was proposed to keep the ago of compulsory retire- 447 ment as it at present stood—namely, at 65 for men and 63 for women. Male and female teachers, however, would be allowed to retire on their maximum pensions after completing 40 years service, on full-pay from the ages of 21 and 18 respectively. He would again repeat that in considering this scheme great attention had been paid to the question of length of service; and it would be observed that service was now made an element in determining when a teacher might retire voluntarily. Thus they met, to a certain extent, the views of those who had so long urged that service, instead of age, should be made the basis of the grant of pension. He hoped this explanation would be satisfactory.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
It appears from the Estimate that it is not. These accounts, however, were prepared some months ago, and it is just possible that the school may have been closed after their preparation. I will obtain information on the subject.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I think the school has been closed for a considerable time, and if that is the case this Estimate has no right to appear here at all.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he had listened to the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary with very great interest; in fact, with a feeling of surprise to a certain extent. This feeling of surprise was caused by the candour and honesty with which the subject had been treated from the Front Ministerial Bench. The right hon. Gentleman had fairly said that, having been but a few months in Office, he had not been able to master the details of the question, and had not been able to struggle with the difficult and complex questions which had come before him connected with the government of Ireland. It was quite a novelty to the Irish Members to hear anything of that kind from that quarter. The usual thing, whoever occupied that position—however long or however short a time they had been connected with the administration of Irish affairs—was to profess to know all about Ireland, and to be able to correct the views and figures and statements of Irish Members on every subject connected with their country. As a rule, those right 448 hon. and hon. Gentlemen spoke with the utmost confidence from the briefs supplied to them by the various Departments in Ireland; and when once they had delivered themselves from their places in that House, it was considered that "Sir Oracle" had spoken, and the statements of the Irish Members all round seemed to go for very little. He considered that the right hon. Gentleman had dons well and befittingly on this occasion, and, he was sure, had recommended himself to the consideration and kindly feeling of the Irish Members. But he wondered whether it struck the right hon. Gentleman, or anyone else in this Committee, how odd a thing it was that on every change of Government in England officials unacquainted with these matters were thrust into the Government of Ireland, and were expected forthwith to learn their lesson, and to be able to contradict and controvert every statement made by Irishmen who had been conversant with these subjects and had had to deal with them all their lives. Did it not occur to the right hon. Gentleman and to his Government that all these complicated and difficult matters could be settled quite as well by Irishmen in Ireland as by people who were complete strangers to the business? The right hon. Gentleman had told them that there had been within a period of, he did not know how many years, but for a very long period indeed, a considerable amelioration of the position of the National school teachers in Ireland. It was true there had been; but that statement amounted only to this—that poorly and badly off as the teachers were today, there was a time when they were much worse off. He would make the British Government a present of that argument. A more rapid and substantial increase in the cost of education and in the payment of those engaged in it had been made in England, and that fact should not be left out of mind when they considered the question of increasing the emoluments of the Irish teachers as was proposed. He had been struck from time to time, when they came to discuss questions of this kind, with the fact that the Government of this country, in dealing with Ireland, was very liberal when the question before it was that of paying the police, or the soldier, or the informer. They thought 449 very little then of a few thousands of pounds; but once ask them to spend anything on the wise work of education, on the enlightenment of the young, and on the training of the children of the country, and they found that the hand was closed and the heart was hard. The amelioration of the condition of the Irish teachers had been slow. This was said to be an age of progress; but the progress made in this direction had really been very slight—it had been the progress of the snail, and was truly unworthy of a Government calling itself liberal and enlightened—a Government which, however, had so large an arrear of justice to pay to the Irish people in this matter of education as well as on other subjects. Almost every class in Ireland which had to deal with the Government, except the police and the lawyers, found itself treated in a niggardly and unjust spirit in that House, and the only result was discontent on every hand. He would ask the Government what they could gain by fixing in the minds of the National teachers, who were a very important class in Ireland, a feeling of discontent? What could they gain by allowing their grievance—an acknowledged grievance, a pressing one—to remain so long unredressed? They had heard just now from the right hon. Gentleman that some improvement was to be made in the matter of pensions to these teachers. That was all very well so far; but he thought they would prefer increased pay rather than increased pensions. A pension was a long way off from many of these men. Many of them would never get a pension at all; and, in the meantime, they were all living upon starvation salaries. He believed it would be very much more to the advantage of these people, and very much more agreeable to them, if some increase and advantage in the way of pay were given to them rather than that the boon of those pensions, after a service of 40 years, should be held out to them; for, as he had said, many of them could not hope to obtain the pension, and many of them never would. Irish Members asked for these people simply that a measure of justice should be dealt out to them. It was acknowledged that they were not treated justly—that they were placed at a disadvantage as compared with their brothers and sisters in 450 the same profession in England; and the natural consequence of that state of things was that this important class of people in Ireland were discontented, and he might almost say disaffected. If they were disaffected he should think that they had very good reason to show for their state of mind. The question of school books, which had already been treated by the hon. Member for the City of Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), he would not go into. He would only say in one sentence that he thought the contents of some of those books might with great advantage be less of a literary and more of a utilitarian character. There was a quantity of general literature in those books, a quantity of matter about birds and beasts, and one thing and another, which might very well be left out, and its place supplied with matter of a practical value to young children in Ireland who had their way to make in the world. They were told that there was a great lack in Ireland of technical education; that was perfectly true; and he thought that a good deal of it might be imparted in the second and third school books, and so on up to the sixth. Information of various kinds—information, for instance, bearing upon agriculture—might be imparted in those school books, instead of some of the poetry they were found to contain. The right hon. Gentleman had held out some hope that this question would be dealt with in the near future—that it would be taken into consideration in a somewhat more generous and liberal spirit. It was well to have that promise; but there were promises on the same subject which were made long since, and which were yet unfulfilled. Apparently it mattered very little to the House of Commons or to the Government whether those promises were fulfilled or not; but it was a great matter to the National teachers of Ireland, who were in such a miserable condition, and he thought the Government could hardly do a wiser thing than to fulfil their promises in a large and liberal spirit if it should happen that the power of doing so should be in their hands after the General Election.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he would impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that he ought to look more closely into the Model (Schools than he had given the Committee any reason to hope he was likely to do. The Irish 451 Members had put forward the case that the Model Schools only contained 1–20th of Catholic pupils, whereas they ought to have contained 77 per cent. They had put it to the right hon. Gentleman that those schools had cost £160,000 to build, and that they cost £76,000 a-year to maintain. They had put it the Government that the Royal Commission issued by their Predecessors had declared that the teaching in those schools was inefficient; that the institutions were below the standard, and ought to be abolished. In the absence of the hon. Gentleman who sat on the opposite side of the House (Sir Eardley Wilmot), who was presiding over the Committee for the promotion of Irish Industries, he would put it to the Government whether all the evidence that had been brought before that Committee had not shown the necessity of technical education in Ireland, and had not demonstrated that technical education could not be carried out unless they had technical classes and technical teachers? He had met a lot of teachers in Ireland lately who had said—"Oh! we could teach shoemaking, we could teach carpentering, we could teach anything if you would only pay us for it." They made that declaration notwithstanding that they had no more idea of the subject they professed to be able to teach than they had of legislation. But he would suggest to the Government that they now had an admirable opportunity of establishing technical schools. Let them devote those Model Schools to the purpose. They had them in every county, and the buildings, with their fittings and everything necessary, would serve admirably the purpose of enabling teachers to teach technical education. They could make them normal schools for the teaching of technical subjects. The right hon. Gentleman, in connection with those matters, had shown a kindly spirit and a spirit of inquiry; and he (Mr. Dawson) would urge him to look into the question of those particular Model Schools, and see whether the money spent upon them could not be more usefully applied.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, with regard to the scale of payments which had been alluded to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy), he should have no objection to show the figures on which the Returns 452 he had quoted were arrived at. He should be glad to give hon. Members opposite who might apply for it every information on this subject in his power. With regard to Model Schools, he could assure hon. Gentlemen that he would give their suggestions every possible consideration. The discussion had now travelled over a very large radius; and considering the period of the Session at which they had arrived, and their position altogether, he appealed to hon. Gentlemen to allow the Vote to be taken without further debate.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he would renew the Motion he had made at an earlier stage of the day's proceedings to reduce the Vote as a protest against the monopoly in the purchase and sale of books, his contention being that the trade should no longer be hampered by the keeping up of that monoply.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £37,150 for Books and School Apparatus he omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ MR. LYNCH
said, that, incompliance with the expressed wish of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, he certainly would not detain the Committee. The subject, though a very important one, had occupied a considerable amount of time—though not more than it deserved—and had been thoroughly well discussed. He certainly felt that the subject of the grievances of the National School teachers of Ireland was one of the most important questions which could be brought forward. He wished to say that he, accompanied by the senior Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), had recently received a deputation—a deputation presided over by Canon MacDermott, on which occasion the teachers put forward their case most clearly. He had promised them, and he was now fulfilling his pledge, to join with his hon. Colleague in protesting against the conduct of the Government in refusing or delaying to remedy the grievances which the teachers had been labouring under so long and so painfully. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would comply with the wishes so unanimously expressed by the Irish teachers. Having said that, he would not detain the Committee any longer.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that before the Vote was put he should like to say just 453 a word or two. He had listened with great attention to the speeches which had been made in the course of the discussion, and also to the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman had been very cautious, and properly so perhaps, in not committing himself to any opinion. He (Mr. Biggar) would draw attention to complaints which had been made with regard to one or two points. One was with reference to the compulsory taxation of the Irish ratepayers for technical purposes. He believed that when the School Board system was introduced into Great Britain it was understood that the rate would never reach more than 3d. in the pound.
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Sir ARTHUR OTWAY)
said, he did not wish to ask the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) to repeat the process he had gone through earlier in the day, when he had withdrawn his Amendment in order to enable hon. Members to speak on the general question. He would point out, however, that the remarks of the hon. Member (Mr. Biggar) were not germane to the Amendment. If the Committee desired the hon. Member to continue he (the Chairman) should not object.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that it would be open to the hon. Member to continue his remarks if a division were taken upon the Amendment with regard to the item for books.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that if the Committee would bear with him, he would not detain them more than a moment or two. He had been saying that when the School Board system was first introduced into this country assurances were given that the rate would not be more 3d. in the pound; but the result had shown that that calculation was altogether erroneous, the rate having been, in some cases, as much as 10d. in the pound, the tendency being still to increase year after year. It would be seen, therefore, that it would be extremely dangerous to introduce a scheme of such elastic taxation in Ireland. If such a scheme were introduced the Local Authorities would be continually urged to give increased salaries, and the result would be a serious burden upon the ratepayers. As to these Model Schools, he would repeat what he had said before, and what he believed to be the case—namely, that the great misfor- 454 tune with regard to English grants was that the Government for the time being always insisted upon the money being foolishly spent. Something like £40,000 a-year was spent on the Model Schools. That money was almost thrown away, and yet if that amount had been given to the masters and devoted to the cause of education generally the result would have been most beneficial. Such an expenditure as that he suggested would have been satisfactory not only to the masters, but to the whole of the Irish people. If he might offer a suggestion to the Government as to a means of utilizing the Model Schools he would propose that they should be disestablished and disendowed as educational institutions, and should be used for the future as police barracks. A large amount was spent upon the building of police barracks in Ireland, and he thought it would be a wise and economical and highly satisfactory arrangement to devote the money spent on those barracks to the purposes of education, and to hand over to the police the Model Schools. There was a system now in vogue by which the grants made by Parliament were increased in proportion to the amount of what were called local payments. The schoolmasters, as a matter of course, puffed up their statements with regard to the amount of local assistance they got in order to obtain as large a grant from the public Exchequer as they could. The system was a very objectionable one, as it not only demoralized the schoolmasters, but placed a burden upon the Imperial Exchequer which it was not entitled to bear. If the Exchequer was to give money it should know exactly what it was giving it for, and money should not be granted under a subterfurge of this kind. Besides, the system was objectionable from the master's point of view, in this way—that by large amounts being put down as local payments it caused the Government and the public to imagine that the masters were much better paid than was really the case. The masters reported that they got from outside sources much more than they really did receive, and that amount and the Imperial grant were put together, and it was supposed to be the sum the masters received as payment for their services. The amount so arrived at, as a matter of fact, was much more than the masters put into 455 their pockets. The system was a vicious one, and it seemed to him to require remedy. Take it for all in all, he thought that the increased grant should depend upon result fees, and the payments should be made in this way, irrespective of what was received from the localities. Under the present system, in the districts where the people were comparatively well off, schoolmasters would be likely to get a much larger sum than they would in poor districts. In districts where the people were poor the master could never get a large sum from the children, nor could he expect to get large subscriptions from the outside public. In this way, therefore, it was just in those districts where the money was most required that the smallest grant was obtained. The system, altogether, was a most objectionable one; and it would be well for the Government, in any new scheme that was formulated, to effect a remedy.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 126: Majority 100.—(Div. List, No. 255.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.