§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD O'HAGAN, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the object of the Bill was to confer certain powers for the purpose of having suitable sites provided for schools in Ireland. The necessity for such a provision was very great, and it arose in this way. The National Board in Ireland had about 7,000 schools, some of which were what were called vested schools and the others non-vested. The vested schools were those to which the Commissioners gave State aid. It gave two-thirds of the money necessary to build the schools, the balance being subscribed by the localities. The non-vested schools were built entirely by the localities. There were about 2,000 vested schools, and 5,500 non-vested. The vested schools generally were very good buildings, properly equipped and with suitable accommodation; the non-vested schools were, generally speaking, in a very poor and miserable condition—not properly equipped or arranged. The people had a difficulty in obtaining sites for schools, and were, to a large extent, deprived of the benefit of schools for their children. In past times that had somewhat arisen from the feelings with reference to the form of education given by the National Board; but they had long ceased, and the difficulty now arose not from sectarianism of any kind, but from the want of power in the people of the country to give proper leases. The condition on which the National Board supplied to the vested schools two-thirds of the money necessary to erect buildings was that it should have a lease of 60 years, or a lease of three lives and 31 years. These leases, of course, were necessary in order that the public money, which was expended to the extent of several thousands a-year, should not be laid out except on a proper title, and a proper title could not be had. Provisions similar to those contained in the present Bill had been contained in several previous statutes. The Bill would reach not merely to the National Board, but to people of all denominations in the country, giving them all the same ad- 1373 vantages. The tenure it was proposed to confer on the schools was a tenure of 900 years at the most and 99 years at the least, with proper powers of inspection and powers of resuming the premises if, for three years, they failed to be devoted to the purposes of the grants. Under these circumstances, it appeared to him that their Lordships would have no objection to the proposal. He had received a letter from a clergyman in Ireland, who stated that he had been to considerable expense in getting together the necessary materials for a school in the hope of being recognized by the National Board; but all his labour and expense had been thrown away, since the owner was only tenant for life, and could not execute for more than 21 years, which would not satisfy the Board. The owner was willing to grant a lease so far as he could; the National Board were willing to grant aid so far as they could; and the clergyman was willing to make any sacrifice and build if he could. The necessity of a new school was admitted, and yet the whole thing was stopped by the state of the law, which the Bill sought to remedy. In conclusion, he begged to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord O'Hagan.)
§ THE EARL OF REDESDALE (CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES)
said, he had no objection to the second reading, but could not see why there should be power to grant a lease for so long as 900 years. The landowners might as well grant freehold sites at once as give very long leases.
§ LORD O'HAGAN
said, it was proposed that there should be a nominal rent, but he thought that might be left over for Committee.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
asked whether, if a garden were attached to a school, the property would come under the operation of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill?
§ LORD O'HAGAN
said, it would not. Only those persons who possessed full leasing powers would be able to grant sites for schools.
§ After a few words from the Earl of LONGFORD,
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursdaynext.