HC Deb 27 March 1908 vol 186 cc1708-9

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state how many lay Catholics have been educated in Maynooth, and how many of such within the last 80 years; when and by whose or what authority were the lay Catholics of Ireland excluded from the benefits of the Maynooth College education, and by what Act of Parliament or other provision were the funds devoted by the original Act to the education of Irish Roman Catholics diverted and applied entirely to such members of that denomination as were intended for the Roman Catholic priesthood alone; what guarantee is it proposed shall be given that any further sum devoted to the better education of the Roman Catholics of Ireland shall not be diverted and applied to the same sole purpose.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Government have no information as to the number of lay Catholics educated in Maynooth. The college was founded in 1795, under an Act of the Irish Parliament, as a place of education for persons professing the Roman Catholic Religion. It appears from the evidence given before the Royal Commission on University Education in Ireland, 1902 (Appendix to Third Report, page 284), that a lay college was founded in 1801, and, owing to the intervention of the Government, was closed in 1817. In the debate on Maynooth College on 18th April, 1845 (Hansard, Third Series, vol. 79, page 1032), Sir Robert Peel, speaking on behalf of the Government, indicated that the British Government, and not the Roman Catholics themselves, were responsible for the exclusively clerical character which Maynooth had assumed. I have already informed the hon. and gallant Member that for the details of the Government's proposed measure he must await the introduction of the Bill. The question raised in his concluding inquiry will then be open to full discussion.