HC Deb 28 May 1847 vol 92 cc1282-4

On the vote of 100,000l. for Public Education in Ireland,


inquired whether the Commissioners of National Education for that country had presented any report this year?


replied, that a draught report was in his possession, and that it would be laid upon the Table of the House in a few days.


was satisfied, from what he saw last year in Ireland, that the national system of education was working most satisfactorily; and he wished to know why a similar system should not be adopted in this country?


felt no hesitation in saying that the experiment which had1 been made in Ireland with regard to education, had been completely successful. There were, at present, little short of half a million of Protestants and Catholics educated together under the system which had been adopted in that country. He would not, on this occasion, enter into any of those details which were contained in the report of the Commissioners, and which would show the satisfactory operation of the system. He might, however, be allowed to read a short extract from a letter he had received from Ireland on this subject. The writer said— We have at present 3,637 schools in operation, attended by 456,410 children. The increase of children within the year is 23,506, and of schools 211. We consider, but have no actual returns on the subject, that fully one-seventh of the children attending our schools are Protestants. Of the schools on our roll, amounting to 3,986, there are in Ulster alone 1,601. We train about 300 teachers each year, and of these nearly one-fifth are usually Protestants. They are educated together without any distinction as to creed, and live together while in our training establishment in perfect harmony. He thought this brief statement was sufficient to show the House how admirably the system was working.


expressed his gratification at the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that the system of national education established in Ireland should be extended to this country, he begged to say that it had been introduced most successfully by the corporation of Liverpool three years ago.


thought that, in addition to the course of education at present afforded in the National schools of Ireland, it was most advisable to give the poorer classes in that country some instruction in practical agriculture.


was glad to be enabled to inform the hon. Gentleman that that object had not been lost sight of. During the last year, the Commissioners of Education had turned their attention to the manner in which they could most effec- tually promote agricultural knowledge in Ireland; and in the report which they had drawn up, and which would shortly be laid before the House, they afforded every information on the subject. The report stated that they were perfectly alive to the importance of diffusing agricultural instruction in that country; and that, as the result of their efforts, there were now in operation five agricultural model schools, in addition to other schools of an inferior description. This was exceedingly satisfactory; and to offer every inducement to the class through whom the instruction must be imparted, the highest remuneration would be given to teachers conversant with the elements of agricultural science. A practical acquaintance with that science was of consequence at all times, and was especially important at this moment; and he could assure the hon. Gentleman that no exertion would be spared to extend the advantage conferred by agricultural schools throughout the country.


found that in this vote for this year, there was an increase of 25,000l. as compared with 1845. It was desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should explain if the increase resulted from the adoption of an improved mode of instruction, or from the necessary extension of the number of schools.


stated, that the increase had been occasioned partly by the gradual extension of the system, and partly by the carrying out of an improved mode of instruction, suggested by the Commissioners. There were a greater number of teachers employed, and they were paid at a much higher rate than had formerly been the case.


said, he had heard much of the harmonious working of the joint system of education; but he was at a loss to know what proof of it was to be found in the fact, as stated by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, that 1,600 Protestant schools were established in Ulster alone.


admitted, that, while the system of joint instruction did prevail to a considerable extent, it was not so extensive as he could wish, and as he yet hoped to see it.

Vote agreed to.