Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the Duties of Customs now chargeable on Tea shall continue to be levied and charged on and after the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-one, until the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two, on the importation thereof into Great Britain or Ireland (that is to say) on—
Tea . . the pound . . Four Pence.—
(The Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ (6.55.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not know what course the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take with regard to the method of proceeding. After his long and able statement, showing that no change of taxation is about to be made, it is not probably that any serious draft will have to be made on the time of the House for securing assent to the financial arrangements of the year. Of course no practical steps will be taken at the present stage, and I will ask what time the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take for the practical consideration of the subject.
§ (6.56.) MR. GOSCHEN
If it will meet the general view, the Government will put down the further consideration of the question for Monday.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Undoubtedly that is a very short period. I have no doubt the Government make the proposal from its consideration of what is most convenient for public business, but, considering that there is no question of new taxation, and that the very important subject to which my right hon. Friend has adverted -must necessarily stand over for discussion till positive proposals are made, I really think the Committee will be indisposed to go forward with the consideration of the subject on Monday.
§ (6.57.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do with regard to the proportion of the surplus that will go to Scotland and Ireland?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am not prepared to state the exact form which the contribution to Scotland will take. Under the ordinary distribution of Revenue between England, Scotland, and Ireland, she will be entitled to a fair share which will represent the increase in the expenditure due to free education.
§ (6.59.) SIR R. FOWLER (London)
There was one remark of my right hon. Friend's to which I listened with great pleasure, and that was the remark about light gold. I think the commercial community will hear with very great pleasure that it is intended to withdraw the Light gold from circulation. I wish to ask my right hon. Friend whether he will be in a position on Monday to make a statement as to what he is likely to do on that question?
§ (7.0.) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
Having regard to the very important statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as the First Lord of the Treasury is aware, I have asked him two or three times during the Session when we may expect to have the scheme of the Government relating to free education laid before the House, I rise to ask whether he can now state when the scheme will be in the possession of the House? All parties in the country are most anxious to see what the scheme is. We have heard with pleasure from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the question is not to be dealt with in any niggardly spirit; there is really to be free education, by which we suppose that all the standards from top to bottom will be free. As every section of the community is most interested in this very important measure, I am quite sure we shall all be glad to hear when we may expect to have the measure placed in our hands.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give us an assurance that the grant made to Ireland is to be devoted to the payment of the childrens' school pence. There are many ways in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer could distribute the money. The system of education in Ireland is some What different to that in England and Scotland, and, therefore, I hope he will make it plain that the grant is intended to be applied in lieu of the school pence.
§ (7.2.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I think both sides of the House are extremely rejoiced to hear of the speedy advent of free schools; an ideal for which many of us have so long contended. Of course, we trust that the enlargement of public grants will be accompanied by 1216 an equitable extension of public representation upon the management. But while I feel the Chancellor of the Exchequer could scarcely have devoted his surplus to a better or nobler purpose, I cannot but regret he has not endeavoured by means of economies also to make, provision for a free breakfast table as well. Free schools are all very Well, but a free breakfast is a very substantial advantage likewise. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken of the sudden increase in the consumption of tea. Last year but one he had to tell us that tea made no progress; last year again he told us that the Revenue from tea had actually fallen off. During the past 12 months the amount of tea consumed has very considerably increased. What does this mean? It means that through the imposition of a 6d. duty on tea a very large number of very poor people were deprived of tea that they would otherwise have consumed. It is clear that if the whole tax were taken off a large number of people would be able to procure a great addition to their daily comfort in the use of tea.
§ (7.5.) SIR R. PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
I desire to refer to that portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in which he dealt with the action of the County Councils in respect to technical education. I hope I am right in my estimation of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, namely, that the County Councils may now go forward with a free hand and deal effectually with the important matter of technical education. In other words, I trust we may with certainty reckon that the sum which has been placed at our disposal during the past year will be paid to us in future years for the purposes of technical education. The matter is a little urgent, because at this moment County Councils in every part of the country are engaged in consideration of the circumstances. They are endeavouring to frame schemes to give effect to a complete system of technical education, and it is of the greatest moment to them that they should be informed whether they may rely upon this revenue, and thus be enabled to enter into definite engagements. I cannot refrain from expressing the belief that great satisfaction will 1217 be felt at the conclusion at which the right hon. Gentleman has arrived; that satisfaction will be considerably enhanced if he can assure the County Councils that they may regard the Grant as of a definite and permanent character.
§ (7.7.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
I desire to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now lay on the Table of the House a Return of the estimated military expenditure for the present year, showing also the various ways in which it is proposed to deal with the money?
§ (7.8.) MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
As an humble agricultural Member, I wish to express my gratification at the redemption by the Government of their promise with regard to assisted education. With bread at 6d. a quartern loaf, and wages at 13s. a week, as they are in Essex, the boon the Government are about to give can hardly be adequately described. I am certain my constituents and the inhabitants of East Anglia generally will never regret the support they have given Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
I did not quite catch what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said about the withdrawal of the light 'gold in circulation. Does he intend to accompany that withdrawal by other measures connected with the statements which have been attributed to him?
§ (7.9.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I trust the Chancellor of die Exchequer will be able to inform hon. Members that in his statement just now, he meant that the duty of 3d. a barrel of beer and 6d. a gallon of spirits will be continued as a permanent tax, because with regard to technical education many of the County Councils are in great difficulty. They do not know whether to treat the amount they receive as capital or as interest. I think the right hon. Gentleman gave good reasons why it should be a permanent tax. I am afraid I can hardly share the sanguine anticipations of the hon. Gentleman in regard to assisted education, and I am afraid that when the measure is introduced it will hardly satisfy the desires which we 1218 entertain in regard to it. The right hon. Gentleman has said he intends to deal with the question in no niggard spirit, and certainly some of us who are in favour of free education desire to see it dealt with, from top to bottom, in a thorough manner, and hot merely in the way of further remission of fees. I think the Bill will receive cordial support from all quarters of the House, if it is found to be thorough and workable, and if it provides, as we hope, for further control over those bodies which are. at present non-representative, and which we are to provide with these further large sums. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, not only on the fact that he is able to introduce this system of free schools, but on the generally satisfactory results shown in the Budget. I think his proposal to practically keep over the £1,000,000 until next year for free schools is a very sensible and satisfactory one, and 1 think we may very well be satisfied with the present financial condition of the country.
§ (7.13.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I join in the congratulations of Members on both sides of the House on the resolution of the Government not to with draw the Special Excise Tax, but to let it remain available for the promotion of technical education. I concur in what has been said with regard to the growing and increasing interest which the provision of this money has excited on the subject of technical education. In Scotland, the application of the grant has been somewhat impeded by the deficiencies of the existing law in regard to technical education. I commend to the Government the desirability, now that we are assured that this source of income will be permanent, of considering whether they could not amend the Act in this respect. I think that in Scotland the object we are most entitled to consider in dealing with grants of this kind is the promotion of technical education. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has lately heard that the grant to the Scotch Universities has also proved inadequate, and that the desired reforms cannot be carried out without an additional contribution from the Treasury. I think the Government 1219 would do well to regards the needs universal education to consider them as to which the Scotch should be devoted.
§ (7.16.) MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
I am glad my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been able to hold out the prospect of a permanent grant for the work of technical education. The different localities will require some time to consider the whole subject, and to ascertain their own wants in regard to it. I do not wish to be drawn on this occasion into a Debate on free or assisted education. I rely upon the declaration made by the Prime Minister elsewhere that, under a system of assisted education, the voluntary schools are to be kept intact; but I hear with some apprehension and alarm from the other side, that there is to he a change in their management. I believe that change in that direction would he met with sharp resistance. Hon. Members opposite seem .to think that a because there is to be larger grant from the Consolidated Fund the voluntary schools should be subjected to an extension of public local control. I can see no connection between the two conditions. f you have a grant from the rates you must have ratepayer's control; and it is because I do not wish to see any control by the ratepayers that I have always declined to receive money from the rates.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
I am sorry I have gone beyond the Rules of the House, but some allasion was made to the subject, and all I desired to do was to make a protest, and so far to cover the ground.
(7.19.) SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
I only wish to ask a question as to the time when we may expect to have the Education Bill before the House. Hon. Members anticipate that the Bill will contain provisions altering the system of management of voluntary schools. The measure ought to be before the House in ample time to be properly considered by the 1220 country. We are already far advanced in the Session. If the Bill were introduced late in the month of May, there would not be time for its proper consideration, and I hope we shall have it presented to us in the smallest number of days, so that our constituents may have time to consider it before it is brought on for Second Reading.
§ (7.21.) MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer give some information as to his views about £1 and 10s. notes in relation to the currency? A very important and interesting speech on this question was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at Leeds, and I hope we shall have a little more light on the subject. With regard to technical education, I think it is necessary to have legislation to secure that the money shall be applied in the way intended by the State. In some cases the County Councils have not so applied the money, but have used it in reduction of rates. As to the proportion of the money to which Scotland is entitled, she has for some time past provided out of her own funds for elementary education, and I trust it will be found that the higher education and secondary education grants will be provided for out of money she will become entitled to under the right hon. Gentleman's proposals.
§ (7.23.) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I should like to say one word on what may be called the Education Budget. I believe you, Sir, ruled it out of order to allude to the effect of free education on the voluntary schools; therefore, I will not touch upon that point. I may say, however, that any system of free schools which in any way injures the voluntary schools will certainly meet with very strong opposition. I must say I do look with some apprehension on this very large subject which has been sprung on us at this period of the Session. It almost reminds me of the large question sprung on us in the last Budget, and which led to so great difficulty; and though the question of free education is one which, in theory, all sections of the House hold to be popularly attractive, yet, when you come to work out the matter in detail you will find that you are entering on a 1221 matter that will involve great difficulty. We have had some indication of that already. I can say, having devoted 20 years of my life to dealing with education and having been connected with the Education Department during the whole of that period, I have yet to learn that the Educational Authorities, from the late Professor Fawcett downwards, are agreed as to the advisability of free education. I am not going into the matter fully, but I would state emphatically, that unless precautions are taken in the Bill to protect voluntary schools, determined opposition will be offered on this side of the House.
§ (7.27) MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
I observe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer maintains a strict reserve as to the application of the money that will belong to Scotland corresponding to the sum to be granted for free education in England. I am pleased to observe that. I hope that means that the right hon. Gentleman contemplates inviting the opinion of the bulk of the Scotch inviting as to the application of the money. The hon. Member behind me says he wishes to see the money devoted to secondary education. I do not want to say a word against that, but it is possible that different parts of Scotland may desire to see the money disposed of in different ways. Therefore, I trust the right hon. Gentleman will consult the Scotch Members.
§ (7.29.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
I do not altogether agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say to-night, that he is now going to take the course he followed three years ago when a third of the Probate Duty was given in aid of local taxation, and when the application of the amount which was to go to Scotland was not decided in the Budget but put off to the end of the Session, in order that representations might be received from the Scotch Members and Local Authorities on the subject. I think it will be in the recollection of the House, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow that the distribution of the money in the first instance was not very satisfactory, and that it had to be re-distributed subsequently in a more effective manner.
1222 What I would press on the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that the apportionment should not be put off to a remote date, and that the responsibility for the distribution should rest with the Government. For my own part, I think the first object which it should be sought to attain, is the completion of the scheme of free elementary education in Scotland. I will not elaborate the point, but it is acknowledged by all Scotch Members here that the money has not been quite sufficient for the total freeing of elementary education in the Scotch schools.
§ (7.30.) MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is to be congratulated on having faced, at any rate, if not over- come, the prejudices of the entire Party on the other side of the House, as well as of those whom they represent in the country, against the principle of free education, and on having ventured to make provision for carrying out such a scheme. Liberals have been favourable to the principle for a long time past, and it is some consolation to know that part of the proceeds of the right hon. Gentleman's overflowing Budget is going to provide free education. The Government should go further, and make the boon worthy of the acceptance of the people of this country. They are proposing to appropriate the taxpayers' money, and they should see that the control of the taxpayers is associated with that great boon. It is, I hold, an elementary principle that along with this grant there should be associated popular educational control.
§ (7.32.) MR. J. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
I rise to express a hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he rises to answer the questions which have been put to him, will give us some information as to when the Bill he has referred to with respect to education will come on, because it is clear that the interest of the right hon. Gentleman's Budget is concentrated on that point. It is natural that it should be so. It is a point of great national importance, and we shall look forward to the grant of free education in the country with great satisfaction. But the Bill may be of a very one-sided character, consequently the House and the country will be on the tip-toe of expectation to know what 1223 its provisions are—to know whether there is to be a great and real solution of this important question, or whether only a small portion of it is to be dealt with. Therefore, I trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to undertake to let us have his proposals before us in the course of a very few days.
§ (7.33.) SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I only rise to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government on the proposal they have made in reference to free education, and to repudiate the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bradford that there are prejudices to any great extent to be removed on this side of the House. The country will welcome the announcement which has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening. We have long felt free education to be a corollorary of compulsory education, and we feel satisfied that when the details are made known the Government will know how to appreciate the past services of, and deal justly with, the voluntary schools, which have done so much for the education of the country, and the loss of which might produce a reaction dangerous to all education.
§ (7.34.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
If the proposal for free education in England is received in the spirit of the remarks of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and not in that of the hon. Member who spoke a little time ago from that side of the House, I think the Government will succeed in solving the difficult problem they have taken in hand, so far as Scotland is concerned. It may be more difficult in England, but, at any rate, I hope he will be successful so far as Scotland is concerned. I would support the appeal of the hon. Member for Edinburgh that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take care to settle in due time how the money is to be spent in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman has done Scotland justice in arranging to give her a share of this money, but I am afraid that unless he is very careful it will become a bone of contention. I have already heard different opinions expressed from different parts of Scotland, as to how the money should be appropriated; and I, 1224 therefore, hope the question will be settled in time, and will not be held over to be dealt with hurriedly at the end of the Session. I should object to the money being spent on secondary education, if that education means the teaching of Greek and Latin to the higher classes, but if it is to be devoted to teaching useful information I should be satisfied. If the Government take upon themselves the responsibility of producing a plan I hope they will be able to settle the matter satisfactorily.
§ (7.36.) MR. C S. PARKER (Perth)
I think the Scotch Members are quite capable of discussing the application of funds of this description in a different spirit to that of dogs quarrelling over a bone. But I rise to put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish to know how far the granting of this money to Scotland is to be contingent on the passing of the Bill conferring free education on England? Is Scotland to wait until the English Bill has been discussed and disposed of? I do not quite see how it can be otherwise; still I think we should have early information so that we may have an opportunity of discussing what proportion of the money should go to education and what to other things.
§ (7.37.) SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
I have heard with regret some of the remarks made on both sides of the House with reference to free education. No doubt the question is full of difficulty, but I hope that when we come to consider it we shall do so with a desire for conciliation rather than to conjure up points of difference. I join in the congratulations addressed to my right hon. Friend for having introduced a simple Budget, and am glad that he has taken a prudent course in his Estimates. The announcement with reference to the rehabilitation of the gold coinage will, I am sure, be received with general satisfaction among those engaged in business; but I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in addition to restoring the gold coinage, he proposes, as I hope will be the case, also to take steps to prevent it from falling again into the present unsatisfactory condition?
§ (7.39.) MR. GOSCHEN
I have to express my thanks for the kind way in 1225 which hon. Members have spoken of my proposals. In briefly answering the questions which have been put, I will say that I quite foresaw—and I have had no reason to change my mind—that the fact that a certain sum of money is to be devoted to Scotland will deprive me of any peace of mind for the next few weeks. In reply to the natural curiosity of Scotch Members, I would point out that I have not said that the Government have determined the matter, but that we are not prepared to disclose the matter; at the same time, we shall be anxious to ascertain and know the views of the Scotch people on the subject, and. not only of the Scotch Members. I believe, I am sorry to say, that there is no degree of unanimity. If there had been, our case would soon come to an end. In this connection I would suggest that it is not precisely the Chancellor of the Exchequer who will have to deal with the matter, but rather the Scotch Office, through whom such inquiries ought to filter. With regard to a question as to what will be the fate of Scotland if the money does not finally go to England, all I can say is that hon. Members opposite should do their best to pass the English Free Education Bill in order that Scotland may have her share afterwards. As to when we expect to be able to introduce the Bill, that depends to a certain extent upon the House itself. The Government will see what progress is made with the Land Bill. I feel confident that we shall have no reason to complain of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench with regard to delay in connection with that Bill; and I am sure that all sides of the House will feel that, while every clause ought to be adequately discussed in the case of an important measure which all the country wishes to see passed, we should further the business of the House as much as possible. There will be no delay on the part of the Government in introducing the Bill. I may say that it is not only the object, but the intense desire of the Government not to injure any schools; and I think that any alarm that may be felt on this side of the House as to the result of the measure is entirely premature, and I hope will be entirely allayed when hon. Members see 1226 the measure. With regard to what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London, I most fervently hope that the House of Commons will rise superior to any rivalry or jealousy with regard to the question of free education. I have been asked a question with reference to the probability of the continuance of the grant of money set aside by the County Councils for technical education. Hon. Members wish to know whether they may count upon the continuance of the grant. I think they can count upon the continuance of the receipt of that grant in the same way as they can count on the continuance of the Probate Grant. Of course, no grants of the kind can be declared to be permanent, because some Government may think that altogether different arrangements ought to be made with respect to local taxation. It would, therefore, be unwise for the present or any other Government to pledge itself to the continuance of any particular form of taxation. At the same time, I think the County Councils may continue to apply this money with the same degree of confidence with which they apply other sums placed at their disposal. In answer to another question which I have been asked, I have to say that it certainly would be my wish, if time can be found, to place the gold circulation of the country upon a satisfactory footing. I have measures in preparation which will put both our coinage and currency upon a firmer basis. I will take an early opportunity, if one occurs, to make further declarations as to my views on the currency question. I think now I have answered all the questions that have been asked.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Does the hon. Member mean that Ireland should stand on the same footing with England and Scotland. with regard to free education? The consequence, I fear, is only too manifest in the large number of illiterate voters. I am not prepared to disclose any particular proposals; but I trust when they are disclosed they will be satisfactory.
§ (7.50.) MR. MUNDELLA
Sir, I should be very sorry, after the benefit which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has conferred on the community, to express anything like dissatisfaction, but I submit to him that to tie up the Education Bill with the Irish Land Bill is disappointing. To-morrow there will not be a schoolmaster or manager throughout the country but will be anxious to know what are the Government proposals. It is important that there should be ample time for their discussion; and I have no doubt that if the Bill is not in the right hon. Gentleman's pocket now, it is in some red box in his office. I know it was ready three weeks ago. There will be the greatest anxiety to know on what principle education is to be given to the people of this country, and I press upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should give us ample opportunity to consider the proposals before they are discussed.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincoln-.shire, Spalding)
I rise for the purpose of joining with my right hon. Friend in urging upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer the desirability of printing; the Bill and having it read a first time. We have no desire to hurry the Second Reading stage, but the formal stage might be taken, and thus give the House and the country an opportunity of knowing what the proposals are.
§ (7.57.) THE FIRST LORD OFF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I think my right hon. Friend ,has misapprehended my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no desire whatever to tie up the Education Bill with the Land Bill. ".But it is necessary to make progress with one set of measures before entering upon another. I, however, give the House assurance that ample time will be given for the Second Reading of the Bill, before the Second Reading. We have no desire to take the country by surprise with a measure of this great importance. We shall introduce. it at -the earliest possible moment consistently with the progress of other business, and we shall give full information long before the Second Reading.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said very little about Ireland. All I wish to ask is whether he will put school fees in Ireland on the same footing as they are to be put in England?
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
The right hon. Gentleman received some weeks ago a deputation from English University Colleges asking for an increased grant. Can the right hon. Gentleman inform us what conclusion the Government have arrived at?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am scarcely in a position to state; but I will communicate with my right hon Friend.
§ (8.0.) MR. PICTON
I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it is only a question of printing the Bill, and to tie it up with the Land Bill is a sort of threat that we shall not have any information unless we do what the Government tell us. I do not think it is fair to the House or the country. Surely it is only reasonable that the Education Bill should be read a first time and printed.
§ (8.1.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
Sir, if the Government are going to give free education in England, in the amplest manner, a sum exceeding £1,900,000 would be required for England alone, while a proportionate sum would be required for Scotland—which would bring the sum far above £2,000,000, which is the amount at his disposal. The Chancellor of the Exchequer must not be misled by the somewhat artificial demonstration which has been set up in Scotland—I know not by whom—with reference to the feeling of the Scotch people on this subject. The first claim upon the money given to Scotland will be to complete the system of free education. The sum of £40,000 a year is still required for that purpose. I warn the right hon. Gentleman that we shall not listen to any proposal which does not in the first place give free education up to the Fifth and even Sixth Standards in the elementary schools The people of Scotland, too, are unanimously agreed that something must be done for secondary and technical education, and perhaps the most urgent 1229 demand is for continuation schools in the evening. It is also absolutely necessary, if the deficiency in connection with the Scotch Universities is to be met, to say nothing of their development and growth, that some provision should be made for them. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman when he comes to deal with that part of the surplus which is to be distributed in Scotland, will remember that the Scotch people have these subjects very much at heart. He must not be deluded by these deputations from Parochial Bodies, and some Town Councils, which in no sense represent the real feeling of the electors of Scotland.
§ (8.3.) MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
Will the right hon. Gentleman state that he will do for Ireland, in respect of abolishing school fees, what he is going to do for England? Will he undertake definitely to abolish school fees in Ireland?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I do not know that I could pledge myself distinctly, but there is no purpose to which I would more gladly assign a portion of the surplus than for the remission of school fees in Ireland. I am scarcely in a position to say whall will be done; but the subject will, at all events, have the most benevolent consideration of the Government.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
If it is the general wish of the great bulk of the Irish Members, I shall endeavour to consider the subject this Session.
§ MR. A. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
I listened with great satisfaction to what the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to County councils and grants to education, but as lie quite truly observed, some future Government may alter the destination of the money; and in some further scheme for intermediate and technical education those County Councils which do nothing, may have a claim made upon them by the Government to organise some scheme.
§ (8.5.) MR. ROWNTREE (Scarborough)
I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Government cannot see their way to prevent any district being denied the benefits of technical and secondary education. It happens, I am sorry to say in many parts of the country, that towns with very considerable populations are anxious to promote further education, but have no means supplied to them for doing so under the present system. There is much dissatisfaction and disappointment in very many parts of the country on this acccount. The President of the Local Government Board introduced an Amendment into last year's Bill empowering County Councils to devote their portion of the Imperial Grant to these purposes, but I regret that many of those bodies have not availed themselves of the power, and do not intend to do so; hence it is that many of our towns have received nothing at all under these grants, and feel themselves exceedingly prejudiced by the withholding of the money. Now, the town which I represent has contributed from , £6OO to £800 to the fund which the County Council has received, but so far, it has not received a penny back, and apparently it will get nothing for educational purposes. I respectfully ask the Government to consider whether some Amendment may not be made in the application of this money of the coming year by which the grievances to which 1 have referred can be remedied.
§ (8.8.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
We shall have to press for some specific information as to the intentions of the Government with regard to Ireland, so far as this New Educational Grant is concerned, before a decision is come to on Clause 3 of the Land Purchase Bill. Clause 3 provides that the moneys granted by the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of primary education in Ireland shall be technically seized and impounded for the purpose of guaranteeing the fulfilment of contracts made under the Bill—contracts in which the mass of the people of Ireland have no concern whatever. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see the reasonableness of 1231 what I am urging. We want to make our position clear. We want to know before we assent to the hypothecation of the Primary Education Grant what chance we have of the improvement of our position in the new aspect of affairs. I may remind the hon. Gentleman of what I said last year. We, in our judgment, in Ireland, contribute double our share to the Imperial purse. The Secretary to the Treasury laughs at that. Does he think he knows more about it than Mr. Giffen, the expert? Mr. Giffen tells us that while our contribution to the Imperial purse is one-twelfth of your Revenue, our capacity to pay should be judged by the amount of amassed capital in Ireland, and in that case we ought only to contribute one-twenty-fifth. In this position we contribute one-sixth of our earnings — we, the poorest country in the world—whereas you only contribute one- twelfth Surely that gives us a powerful claim for relief. We fared very badly indeed in connection with the surplus of last year. That surplus amounted to £3,500,000, for the right hon. Gentleman was in a more prosperous position than he now is. That surplus arose mainly for the Spirit Duty, of which we contribute one-sixth. Well, we ought at least to have received £450,000 out of last year's surplus. We got, as a fact, a benefit of perhaps £100,000 by the reduction of the Tea Duty, and we had £4,000 or £5,000 from the reduction of the duty on currants; the truth is, we got one thirty-fifth instead of a twelfth, which it is admitted we were entitled to, although we claim we ought to have had one-sixth—of course the right hon. Gentleman will ride off on the question of light railways and relief works. But we assert that that question ought not to be taken into consideration in connection with the finance of any particular year. It belongs rather to an historical examination of the connection of Ireland with England, and such an examination would show that we are entitled to a good deal more than we have yet received, I now ask what is to be our fate this year? The Revenue of the year arises in great measure from the consumption of an article in respect of which we contribute a large share of the Imperial Revenue, and I do trust the 1232 Chancellor of the Exchequer will do us justice in this matter.
§ (8.14.) MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, I assure the hon. Member this matter shall receive my most careful consideration. I thought I had conveyed that in my speech. I do not think he has made a very fair statement as to. what has been done for Ireland, for my surpluses of last year and this year have been very largely diminished by the money granted—and cheerfully granted— to Ireland for relief works. If Ireland contributes, as the hon. Member thinks, more than her share to the Imperial Revenue, she also receives back largely in excess of what she is entitled to.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I think that if the-figures are investigated, the hon. Member will see that this does not apply to. one special year merely. I have always, endeavoured to treat Ireland with perfect fairness. May I point out that England was responsible for more of the excess revenue on spirits than either Scotland or Ireland?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
England 9 per cent_ and Ireland 7½ per cent. I can only assure hon. Gentlemen that Ireland shall receive her fair share out of the surplus, and from that position I do not intend to budge one iota.
§ (8.17.) Motion made, and Question,. " That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Jackson,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.