HC Deb 12 June 1840 vol 54 cc1156-63

On the vote for National Education in Ireland,

Mr. Plumptre

said, he should divide the House against this grant. It was not a vote for national education in Ireland, for the system carried on under it was such that Protestants could not avail themselves of it.

Viscount Morpeth

said, that at least some of the Protestants gave the system their sanction, for there were, at the present moment, no fewer than sixty-two applications before die board, from congregations connected with the Presbyterian body in Ireland.

Lord Teignmouth

said, that the original purposes of those who framed the system had been departed from, and the present state of the case was simply this—that while the system conferred no benefit whatever on members of the Established Church, the Roman Catholics, the Presbyterians, and other sectarians looked upon Government merely as treasury agents, bound to supply them with the means of carrying on an exclusive system of education, each according to its own particular views. Throughout the whole of Ireland it was not one combined system of education, but separate systems carried on in an exclusive manner in separate schools. He hoped, that before next year, the whole subject would undergo thorough investigation.

Mr. H. Grattan

could state from experience that the system of education had succeeded in Ireland, although the noble Lord upon hearsay ventured to say that it had failed. The noble Lord knew nothing of the country, nor of those upon whom the burthen of education was thrown. It obliged him (Mr. H. Grattan) to be a schoolmaster, for he educated the children of the Duke of Buckingham in Ireland—he educated, too, the children of Mr. Lefroy, and he did not receive a shilling from either of those landlords for the children of their tenants. In the schools he referred to, the Protestant children were educated in their own tenets, and their parents continued to send them, notwithstanding the efforts that had been made to withdraw them. But then the noble Lord said, that the Board of Education was tire mere treasury for Catholics. If they were a treasury all he could say was, that it was the most niggardly treasury that had ever existed. What was the result of the present system in Ireland? They had 2,000 schools, in which were educated 192,971 boys, and 63,000 females—making a total of 255,000 males and females educated in Ireland; and yet there was on an average allowed not more than 10l. for each school, and the landlords had to make up the difference to 30l., he meant the land lords who took upon them the duties of schoolmasters. That was the liberality of which the noble Lord complained. When the noble Lord and other Gentlemen opposite interfered in Irish business, they ought at least to take the trouble of informing themselves of the matter about which they were going to talk. But, in fact, they knew nothing of the country, and they took their evidence from sources which were not always reckoned the most pure. On such evidence it was, that Gentlemen opposite wished to put down the present system, and to leave the children of the Irish poor, dependent upon something which was yet to be born—some illegitimate offspring not yet in existence—which was to be got between the county of Kent and the parish of Marylebone. He saw that the hon. Baronet was meditating a speech. [Sir G. Sinclair: No, no, I am not indeed.] The Protestant clergy in his county offered him some opposition, but he kept his temper, and they lost theirs, so that in the end he had the advantage. And he would continue to teach the Protestant children as well as the Roman Catholic. He believed that the education of those children would produce a revolution, and put down not only ignorance but party, and the party of Gentlemen opposite in particular. Children were instructed in the most important parts of political economy, but the whole Bible was certainly not given to them. [Cheers.] The noble Lord cheered. Would the noble Lord give the whole Bible to any of his sons or daughters to read? Did he read it himself? The Bible was never given to children to turn over and read as they liked. The great objection after all to this society was, that it was not a proselytising society. When the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire was in the Ministry he supported the system—but he was not in his place now. The gallant Sergeant also was not in his place. Yes, he said the gallant Sergeant, because the hon. and learned Member for Bandon had been the champion of the proselytising society, and had fought all their battles. He was never more surprised at any statement—much as he was accustomed to surprise at statements from the other side—than when he heard it asserted that the national system had failed. What, did they call it a failure to educate 255,000 children on large and liberal principles at an expense to the Government of no more than 10l. He would not say, that he was peculiarly religious, and he hoped to steer through life with his 500 children without giving scandal either to Marylebone or Kent. If the noble Lord or the hon. Member would take the trouble of going lo Ireland, they might visit the schools, and they would see that their fears were unfounded, and they would join him not in taxing the people of England, but in educating the unprotected sons and daughters of the pool-peasantry of Ireland.

Sir R. Bateson

was not of opinion that the system deserved the name of a system of national education. He maintained it was a failure in Ireland. The children of the Protestants did not attend the schools in the part of the country with which he was connected. The system carried on under the Kildare-place Society gave perfect satisfaction to that part of the country. He contended that no system of national education could be useful which was not based upon the Holy Scriptures. Mere literary education without the Scriptures, would do more harm than good to the peasantry of Ireland. He had seen the present system at work for some years in his part of the country, and certainly he was prepared to say, that it had not worked well. He had always expressed himself in opposition to this grant, as he thought, that the money might be more usefully employed; and he saw no reason to change the opinions he had many years ago expressed on this subject. He would not yield to any Member in a sincere desire to educate the people of Ireland. He only differed as to the mode of doing so.

Major Cumming Bruce

said, the hon. Member for Meath seemed to be dissatisfied that the State did not allow more than 10l. a year to the Irish schoolmaster. But in his (Major C. Bruce's) country (Scotland) they had themselves to pay their schoolmasters. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) seemed to lay stress, on the adhesion of the Presbyterians of Ireland to this system, but he would remind the noble Lord, that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had strongly and almost unanimously expressed their condemnation of the system of national education in Ireland. The hon. Member for Meath had asked whether there was any instance of the Bible being used as a school book, hut he might appeal to the experience of any Scotch Member, to say that the Bible was used as a school book in all the schools of that country. He would vote against the grant.

Mr. Redington

remarked, that the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken was in that House in 1835, when the right hon. Baronet proposed a large grant for the support of the present system, which he now so much abused, and yet the hon. Member, with all his zeal, did not then oppose the grant.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

said, in rising to offer a few observations on this subject, he did not mean to say, that he would oppose the passing of this grant. He did not think it would be right, when a public establishment had entered into engagements on the faith of a grant from Parliament, to leave them without the means of fulfilling those engagements. He thought it right that the House should know the nature of this grant, and on the part of the Protestants, he felt bound to say, that this was a grant from which the Protestants of Ireland received no benefit. By the mode in which this grant was applied in Ireland, the whole body of the members of the Established Church were excluded from any benefit from it. It was customary to speak of the people of Ireland, as if the people of that country were all Roman Catholics; but it should be recollected, that there was also a large body of Presbyterians and Protestants in that country. He believed, that the Protestants of that country amounted to two millions. The Kildare-place Society had worked well, and in a report which had been made, the advantages of that society had been much underrated, and the number of schools that they had established in various parts of the country had been very much understated. He thought, that when the House was about lo vote 60.000l. for national education in Ireland, they should know, that this did not succeed as a system of national education. Under the operation of this system, the only book that was excluded from the schools was the Bible. Could any Protestant give his adhesion to that system which excluded the Scriptures from the schools? No Protestant minister could submit to a system which excluded the Scriptures from the schools; nor was it to be supposed, that the Protestant laity could submit to such a system. The Protestants of Ireland venerated the Bible, and would not send their children to schools from which the Bible was excluded? Was that, he would ask, a national system from which the whole of the Protestants of Ireland were excluded? He had heard it boasted that the Synod of Ulster had given their adhesion to this system. No person could more respect that venerable body than he did. But it should be recollected, that the Presbyterian body of Ulster was part and parcel of the Church of Scotland. He had heard, that measures had been taken to conciliate the Synod of Ulster, but he (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) would venture to predict, that the Government would soon find, that the Synod of Ulster were dissatisfied with their system. The chief objection made by the Synod of Ulster was, that there were certain queries sent which were required to be answered, and the Synod thought, that this gave a control to the board to which the Synod would not submit. The Government stated, on the part of the board, that they would send no more queries. But he would ask the noble Lord whether those queries were not now sent to those who managed the schools, and they were required to answer those queries, before they were paid their salaries. He defied the noble Lord to maintain, that this system of education deserved to be called a national system of education. He denied, that this was anything deserving to be called a national system of education. There were only 1,017 Protestants of all denominations connected with these schools in three provinces in Ireland. In Munster, where there were 115,925 Protestants, only 146 of them were connected with these schools. In the county of Limerick, where there were eighteen schools, not a single Protestant attended them. In Leinster there were 183,609 Protestants, but only 598 attended the schools. In Connaught only 227 Protestants attended them. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam had openly stated, that he had banished the system from his province, and would not tolerate it, because it was anti-Catholic. He hoped that some means might be adopted which would enable the Protestants of Ireland to obtain some benefit, and be enabled to make education accessible to the humbler classes. He contended that this, which was called a national system, was, in reality, a separate system. He would not oppose this grant on the present occasion, but he hoped the objections to this system would obtain due consideration in a future Session.

Colonel Rawdon

felt it his duty as representative of Armagh, to make a few remarks on the subject before the House, He had heard much of Protestantism, but very little of Christianity during the evening. The hon. and learned Member for Bandon had expressed a wish to see children grow up together and friendships formed, and in his (Colonel Rawdon's) opinion, that object could not be better promoted than by the present system of national education. That system he was determined to support, and he was encouraged in his determination by the fact of the Synod of Ulster having given in its adhesion to it. He looked forward to the day when, through the operation of that system, the youth of Ireland would be made to forget sectarian differences, and to live and learn in harmony together. The hon. and learned Member for Bandon had also alluded to the small number of Protestant children who attended the schools, but he should recollect the small proportion those children bore to those of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and also the means which had for a long time been taken by the Protestant landowners to keep the children of their tenants from the national schools. He should vote for the grant because he thought that the system for the support of which it was intended, was effecting great benefit for his country.

Mr. Gisborne

said, that the House was placed in the singular position of discussing a question in the absence of the persons principally interested. Neither the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, nor the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, thought it worth their while to be present at a discussion on the propriety of a grant which they themselves had originated. However, the learned Sergeant the Member for Bandon, had supplied their place, and had taken upon himself to explain their intentions. He (Mr. Gisborne) thought it would be peculiarly ungracious if Parliament, which, without hesitation, voted such large sums for colonial education, should refuse this small sum for Ireland. He should give his vote for the grant, because he thought it had fully answered the expectations of those who had originally supported it.

Mr. Gladstone

thought it would be unfair to resist this vote on account of partial objections, which did not touch the real principle of it. He should support the grant, because, though there were valid objections to it in detail, yet he thought that it was analogous in principle to the vote which they had for many years unanimously agreed to for education in England.

Mr. Colquhoun

differed with regret from his hon. Friend, but if the principles of the system of Irish educat on were correctly laid down by his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) they had been much departed from since. In 1835, in 1836, and in 1837, they had been departed from, and they were departed from in the altered regulations of the commissioners now on the table. The first of those altered regulations was the fraudulent attempt to entrap the Synod of Ulster into agreeing in them, by representing that the system was still the same as that originally propounded by the noble Lord. He did not agree with the system of the noble Lord, but, at least, it was intelligible. The main feature of that system was, that religious opinions should not be inculcated to colour the instruction given at the schools. But now the formularies and catechisms which the noble Lord would have excluded, were allowed to be introduced. He should be able fully to prove, that the present system had no trace of the original plan when the question came fairly before them, but he would not, however, enter upon such a subject on a motion like the present, abruptly to withhold the grant.

Viscount Morpeth

said, the hon. Gentleman had distinctly charged the Government with a fraudulent attempt to entrap the Synod of Ulster. Whatever imputation came from the hon. Gentleman on that head, he was fully able to bear. Everything concerning the regulations and rules of the board which had been conceded to the Synod was matter of record.

The House divided on the question that the vote be agreed to: Ayes 147; Noes 23: Majority 124.

List of the AYES.
Abercromby, hn. G. R. Blackburne, I.
Acland, Sir T. D. Blackett, C.
Acland, T. D. Blake, M. J.
Adam, Admiral Blake, W. J.
Aglionby, H. A. Bodkin, J. J.
Aglionby, Major Bowes, J.
Ainsworth, P. Brabazon, Lord
Alston, R, Bridgeman, H.
Baines, E. Brocklehurst, J.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Brotherton, J.
Beamish, F. B. Bruges, W. H. L.
Bellew, R. M. Buller, E.
Berkeley, hon. C. Busfield, W.
Bernal, R. Campbell, Sir J.
Bewes, T. Chalmers, P.
Clay, W. Murray, A.
Collins, W. Norreys Sir D. J.
Corbally, M. A. O'Brien, C.
Cowper, hon. W. F. O'Brien, W. S.
Craig, W. G. O'Connell, M.
D'Eyncourt, r. h. C.T. Ord, W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Packe, C. W.
Dundas, C. W. D. Palmerston, Viscount
Dundas, D. Pechell, Captain
Elliot, hon. J. E. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Evans, W. Philips, M.
Fielden, W. Pigot, D. R.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Power, J.
Finch, F. Price, Sir R.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. Pryme, G.
French, F. Rawdon, Col. J. D.
Gillon, W. D. Redington, T. N.
Gisborne, T. Roche, Sir D.
Gladstone, W. E. Rumbold, C. E.
Goddard, A. Rundle, J.
Gordon, R. Russell, Lord J.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Grattan, H. Salwey, Colonel
Greg, R. H. Sanford, E. A.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Scholefield, J.
Hawes, B. Seymour, Lord
Healhcoat, J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Hector, C. J. Smith, R. V.
Heron, Sir R. Somers, J. P.
Hill, Lord A. M. C. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Hinde, J. H. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Hindley, C. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Steuart, R.
Hobhouse, T. B. Stock, Dr.
Hodges, T. L. Strutt, E.
Hodgson, R. Style, Sir C.
Hoskins, K. Talbot, C. R. M.
Houldsworth, T. Talbot, J. H.
Howard, hon. E.G.G. Tancred, H. W.
Howard, F. J. Thornely, T.
Howard, P. H. Tollemache, F. J.
Hughes, W. B. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Hume, J. Tufnell, H
Hint, W. Vigors, N. A.
Hutton, R. Wakley, T.
Ingham, R. Wallace, R.
Knight, H. G. Warburton, H.
Lambton, H. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Lemon, Sir C. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Lister, E. C. White, A.
Loch, J. Williams, W.
Lockhart, A. M. Williams, W. A.
Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B. Wilmington, H. J.
Maher, J. Wood, G. W.
Marshall, W. Wood, B.
Marsland, H. Worsley, Lord
Maule, hon. F. Wyse, T.
Morpeth, Viscount TELLERS.
Morris, D. Parker, J.
Muntz, G. F. O'Ferrall, M.
List of the NOES.
Archdall, M. Burr, H.
Bagge, W. Cole, hon. A. H.
Blackstone, W. S. Darby, G.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Duffield, T.
Bruce, C. L. C. Duncombe, hon. W.
Egerton, Sir P. Perceval, hon. G. J.
Farnharn, E. B. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Glynne, Sir S. R. Sibthorp, Colonel
Ingestrie, Lord Smyth, Sir G. H.
Mackenzie, T. Waddington, H. S.
Mackenzie, W. F. TELLERS.
Palmer, G. Kemble, S.
Parker, R. T. Plumptre, J.