§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if, since the settlement arrived at in 1890 in connection with the training colleges in Ireland, that settlement has been sot aside by the action of the Government in granting a sum of £50,000 for buildings for the Government College in Marl-borough Street, Dublin; whether he is aware that since 1890 three colleges have been established, one at Waterford, one at Belfast, and one at Limerick, with the assent of the Treasury, on the recommendation of the Commissioners of National Education, who considered them necessary in order to provide a sufficient supply of trained teachers; whether he is aware that under the present system these colleges at Belfast, Limerick, and Waterford have to pay interest on their loan and sinking fund out of their annual earning, thus reviving in their cases the grievances which were removed in the case of the colleges which were in existence in 1890; will he say if the Treasury have refused to redress these grievances on the ground that they have not been pressed to do so by the Irish Office; and whether, in view of the hardship which is being inflicted on the managers of these colleges, and the detri- 758 mental effect the present policy is having upon the education and training of hundreds of teachers, he will take steps to impress on the Treasury the urgent necessity of acceding to the request which has been made to them for a free home grant.
The Board of National Education did make representations in favour of what is called a "free home grant" to the Limerick College, but do not appear to have made any similar representations in respect of the colleges at Belfast and Waterford. These provincial colleges have all been opened since 1890, with the full knowledge on the part of the promoters that a building grant would not be given to them, and I am informed that the Irish Government and the Treasury have consistently refused subsequent applications on behalf of these colleges for a grant to clear off the loans taken up for building purposes. The grant of £50,000 for new buildings, in connection with the Marlborough Street Training College, was made by the late Government two years ago out of the Irish Development Grant. It cannot be admitted that the making of that grant re-opened the settlement arrived at in 1890. The intention of that settlement was then stated to he to place the three denominational training colleges in Dublin on an equality of treatment as to building grants, with that previously accorded to the undenominational training college at Marl-borough Street under the control of the Commissioners. The reasons for making the grant in 1904 were fully stated in this House by the right hon. Member for Dover, 16th March, 1904, † and His Majesty's present Government have had nothing whatever to do with that matter. The question of grants for these colleges has not been the subject of discussion between the present Irish Government and the Treasury since we came into office, inasmuch as there was no reason to think that the attitude of the Treasury, who in November, 1905, positively refused to entertain a similar proposal, would be at all modified. The managers of two of these colleges, however, appealed directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose reply—it cannot have been accurately conveyed to the hon. and† See (4)Debates, cxxxi., 1259, 1260, 1313.759 learned Member—was not that which might be gathered from the Question, because while stating that, he could not properly take any action upon the matter, except upon the recommendation of the Chief Secretary, my right hon. friend added that he had looked into the history of the subject and did not think it likely that the previous decisions would be modified. There are so many questions connected with Irish Education in its various branches on which the Irish Government are constantly pressing the Treasury for further expenditure, some of which engage a public attention that extends over the whole of Ireland, that I am not prepared to give a prominent and exceptional place to the Question of further expenditure on any training college. The question of the training of teachers is no doubt one of great importance, but it must be dealt with as a whole; and, as I have said, there are other branches of education in Ireland, expenditure on which is a matter of more importance and greater urgency.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
Has the right hon. Gentleman any objection to publishing the correspondence as a Parliamentary Paper or allowing me to have a copy of it?