HC Deb 25 July 1859 vol 155 cc419-30

House in Committee. Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £169,468, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Public Education in Ireland, under the charge of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, to the 31st day Of March, 1860.


said, he wished to call attention to several items in this Vote, which, it was understood last year, should not again appear in the Estimates for Irish Education. There were several of those items to which he objected, amongst which were the following:—Salaries of teachers of navigation, and purchase of nautical instruments; salaries of teachers of drawing and music; salaries of work mistresses in the ordinary National Schools, AMP; c. There was a long list under the head of model farms, class 11, which some of the Irish newspapers themselves had stated was as gross a piece of jobbery as ever was perpetrated, amounting in the whole to £4,274. There were also ninety agricultural schools maintained at a most extrava- gant cost. He submitted that the landlords of Ireland ought to maintain their own agricultural schools, as was done in Scotland and in England by the landlords of those countries. There were sixty-four schools belonging to workhouses in Ireland, to which he made no objection. The whole of the items to which he had referred as most objectionable amounted to £22,689, which sum he would move should be deducted from the Vote, unless he received an assurance from the Government that they would never again appear in this Vote. He thought the best application of this money would be to promote the extensi on of education amongst the people.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £146,779, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Public Education in Ireland, under the charge of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland to the 31st day of March, 1860.


said, he thought the House ought to look at both sides of the question, and he must express his surprise that the hon. Gentleman should have passed over the Vote for English Education, amounting to £826,000 for the education of 800,000 children, in silence, and yet should grudge this comparatively small sum of £246,000 for the education of 500,000 children in Ireland. If justice were done, the English and Scotch taxpayers would have to put their hands in their pockets to the tune of £300,000 more. There could be no more legitimate expense than that incurred in teaching the people agriculture —the pursuit by which the majority of them had to gain their livelihood. As for singing, if he had his will it should be obligatory on every school to teach the children this most civilizing accomplishment. He could scarcely think the hon. Member serious in his opposition to instruction in sewing.


said, he hoped the hon. Member for Lambeth would be satisfied with his assurance that no new expenditure with reference to the Model Agricultural Schools was now contemplated. The hon. Gentleman might not be aware how that system of agricultural teaching originated. It was considered desirable by the Devon Commission, and by all persons who had paid attention to the condition of Ireland, that industrial education should be combined with merely literary education, in order that the children, whether male or female, might receive a training which would enable them to obtain a livelihood. The question arose, however, how the teachers for the agricultural schools in which these children were to be educated should themselves be trained? The most economical course was evidently to give them an efficient training, and on this ground the Model Agricultural School near Dublin and that under the control of the Commissioners had been established. His hon. Friend also objected to the expense incurred for the instruction in needlework afforded in the female industrial schools. It appeared from returns presented by the Board of Trade that an extraordinary increase had taken place of late years in articles of needlework manufactured in Ireland which were imported into this country. These imports were principally owing to the employment provided by capitalists in Scotland for Irish women, thus affording to the young women of the sister kingdom the invaluable advantage of gaining a subsistence by their industry. He thought the Government would have neglected their duty if they had not provided for their industrial education in both these establishments. If his hon. Friend would refer to the report of the Commissioners of Education, he would find that very high authorities among Irishmen, and also Mr. Chambers, an eminent Scotchman, who had visited the school of Glasnevin, had expressed a strong opinion as to the importance of maintaining that establishment, even if it were not profitable, as a mere farm. He (Mr. Cardwell) did not mean to say that these items would not appear in future Estimates, but the charge for the higher branch of the agricultural schools had been discontinued as a matter of new expenditure.


contended that it was against the principle which had been repeatedly acknowledged in the House to grant any particular class of Her Majesty's subjects sums of money in order to their being educated in any particular industrial branch. They did not, for example, vote away money to teach the people to spin wool in Yorkshire or to make knives in Sheffield. Ireland was never more prosperous or contented than at the present moment. And he rejoiced at the fact; but he certainly thought it most absurd that the people of the United Kingdom should be called upon to pay for teaching the childern of Ireland music and needlework. He should certainly divide with the hon. Member for Lambeth against this Vote.


said, he thought it was a mistake to give stewards and gardeners such a training as was afforded in these schools, but he would recommend the hon. Member for Lambeth not to divide the Committee.


said, as the hon. Member for Lambeth had allowed the Votes for industrial teaching in England to pass without the slightest comment, he could hardly be serious in his threat to divide the Committee on this Vote.


said, he was glad to hear from the Chief Secretary for Ireland that these items were in course of diminution. He could not understand on what principle any English, Irish, or Scotch Member could support this Vote; but as he feared that he should not succeed in his opposition to it he would withdraw his Motion.


said, some observations were made that morning as to the payment of the national schoolmasters in Ireland. He thought it was highly expedient to increase their salaries, and also perhaps to reduce their number. The right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere) bad spoken on the subject of education in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman advised the people of Ireland to preserve the national system, but there were 2,200,000 or 2,300,000 Protestants in Ireland, and nineteen-twentieths of them were of opinion that the Scriptures ought not to be excluded by a peremptory rule from their schools. The province of Ulster afforded a test of the feelings of Irish Protestants on this subject. They were unanimously of opinion that some concession should be made to satisfy the scruples and convictions of their church and people. The Church of Rome, the Church of England, and the Presbyterian Synod complained of that system. The right hon. Member for Taunton asked the Irish Members why they did not approve it, but would the English Members agree to the establishment of that system in England? They certainly would not. There were at present what were called revivals in Ulster, and he had read an account of 30,000 people worshipping there the other day in the open air. Those people would tell you that they clung to the Scriptures, that they pinned their faith upon the Scriptures, and upon nothing else. You might say that that was Puritanical, but that was not the question. The question was, did they bold that opinion? They did. On what principle, then, did the House propose to tax them for the support of a system to which they objected? That system would never prevail among a Protestant population, and it was therefore incumbent upon the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was a man of ability and, he believed, of sense, to ascertain what were the opinions of all classes of the people, and to make the system conformable to their opinions, and it would thereby become more national than ever. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Fermoy) had misunderstood what was said about the national schoolmasters. It was never intended to attack the whole body of schoolmasters. The great bulk of them were most respectable men, and in charity he was willing to believe it was their miserable pay which induced four or five of them to implicate themselves in treason. On returning from the late trials for conspiracy in Ireland he mentioned to Lord Eglinton what he had discovered in reference to the conduct and moral principles of certain of the national schoolmasters. Lord Eglinton said, the moment the trials were over he would cause a strict inquiry to be made by the National Board into the conduct of these rebellious schoolmasters, and endeavour to secure for the country teachers who would not deprave the morals of their scholars. It had been said that the Protestants were an extreme and intolerant party; but the Protestants had never yet been convinced that it was an intolerant opinion to be in favour of the reading of the New Testament in schools, and against the exclusion of any good book. At the same time they did not wish to force their system of instruction upon any one, but to leave the school doors open, that all who entered might do so with a full knowledge that they would [hear the truth. The success of the schools in Connaught and Munster, where there was little mixed education given had been vaunted. But surely in Ulster, where the system of mixed education actually existed, encouragement ought not to be withheld from those who sought to carry its principles into practical operation. A gentleman who formed one of a deputation to the late Government in Dublin said that if the national system was allowed to exist as at present the education of the better class would be extinguished in Ireland; and on being asked for an explanation of his opinion, he said that it had had the effect of destroying all the intermediate schools, which formerly educated a better class of the people than the peasants merely. Un- der the existing system education was not provided for those classes who were immediately above the poor, and he expected soon that a grant would be moved for out of the public purse to provide for their education. The hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Maguire) complained that the Roman Catholics were very much restricted under the National system, and he cited as an example an instance where the Commissioners refused to make a grant because the emblem of the cross appeared on the ground to be built on. He (Mr. Whiteside) thought that was a very narrow objection. But he went further, and said there was an extreme difficulty in applying this system in its stringency to all cases of religious manifestation. His complaint was that this country (Great Britain) was in the habit of legislating without consideration for the quiet, peaceable, retired, and, if he might say it without offence, the loyal people of Ireland. It was precisely because they were quiet that their opinions were disregarded; if they had been troublesome, their grievances would have been redressed. There had not been a single Orange procession in Ulster this year, but great discontent was felt on this subject of education. The right hon. Member for Taunton said they ought to be satisfied with a theory of his, with which, however, they were not satisfied. Let him mention three examples of the difficulty of working the system in its present form. Some time ago a number of ladies connected with the Established Church and with the Dissenting bodies united together in founding a ragged school in Belfast, where certain miserable and outcast children were fed, clothed, and taught something of the existence of a God, of which they had never heard before. The National Board was applied to for assistance, which was granted after examination of the rules of the school; but after a time representations were made to the Board that something had been taught savouring of religion —he knew not whether it) was the Lord's Prayer or a hymn. Straightway an offensive inquiry was instituted on the spot to discover not merely whether the Btrict orders of the Board in regard to religious instruction had not been exceeded by these benevolent ladies, but into their own opinions and conduct as to religious teaching. In another case an inspector found a religious book in a school conducted by some nuns, and it appearing that a Protestant child had been taught an Ave Maria from it, the Board wrote an admonition to the teachers condemning what they had done. What did this prove but that those ladies, being bound together by a higher obligation than any that the Board could enforce, could not fail to be brought into collision with its administrators, and did that despite the rules which the rules of the Board were formed to prevent? It would be far better to give to the members of different religious persuasions such aid as they were fairly entitled to secure, and enforce under inspection a good secular education, and then leave the patrons to give religious instruction in accordance with their own conscientious belief to those scholars who chose to attend their schools. The third instance that he would quote was one in which an inspector visited a school in Tyrone and found the school closed during school hours to enable the Redemptorist Fathers to hold a meeting within its walls. As the Board would allow no religious teaching within the school, their rules were brought into direct conflict with the opinions of, no doubt, the great bulk of the pupils. The schools could not be opened in the morning with a recognition of the existence of the Almighty; a priest would violate the system if he gave the children his blessing; and the scholars would, in their turn, be censurable if they crossed themselves in the school. What was that but attempting to govern the people of a free country by the drum-head principles of the Prussian system? He believed the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton) had once a favourable impression of the National system, but on examining its working he came over to our opinion, and that is to maintain the secular system in all its utility, leaving the patron to give the religious instruction which he notifies. Sir F. Head also, who in a pamphlet stated that he had been charmed by the spectacle of a model school in which several hundred children were taught, after further reflection said the sight of such a school inspired a sentiment of awe, because those hundreds of children commenced and concluded their day without any acknowldegment in the school of the existence of a Divine Being. He also became of our opinion. No answer had ever been given to the case of the Wesleyan Methodists. In their schools, by the system of teaching established by John Wesley, religious instruction was made obligatory; the trustees of Methodist schools could not deviate from their trusts, and their system was in direct conflict with that of the Nation-al Board. The Earl of Eglinton had at one time entertained an opinion that the Board ought not to be meddled with; but, after investigating the practical working of the system, and consulting the dignitaries of the Church upon it, he came to the conclusion that it was absolutely impossible to maintain it as it at present existed, and that such modifications ought to be introduced into it as, without affecting the conscientious scruples of any man, and rendering the system more national, would enable this House which voted away the money, to include within the operations of the Society those who now conscientiously differed from it. When they reflected upon what was the nature of the population of Ireland, and that there were fifty Members from that country who would probably vote for a modification, he thought that whatever their opinions or prejudices this House was bound to reconsider the stringent rules of the National Board of Education. He (Mr. Whiteside) spoke not to the Roman Catholics, but he spoke on behalf of the Church, which would not change with the changing politics of the day, and of the University for which he was a Member; but he could not help expressing his admiration of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), because he thought it was tolerant, courteous to those who differed from the right hon. Gentleman, and yet expressive of his own views. He would, however, warn the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant that he would never be able to change the opinion of the Church on this question. The Church of England rested on the Scriptures, and it would always insist that the Scriptures should be taught. The Protestants in Ireland were part of the nation as well as the Roman Catholics, and neither party could now well exist without the other. The country, however, was wide enough for both, and the best advice he could give them was to respect each other, and endeavour to settle this dispute in an amicable spirit, and put an end to almost the only question that now provoked a difference of opinion in Ireland.


said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, that although Roman Catholic children attended many of the Protestant schools in Ireland, they never heard of any of them being perverted or converted to the Protestant faith, But why did the Roman Catholic children go to the Protestant schools? Was it not a notorious fact, that in ninety-nine eases out of 100 they were coerced in doing so? He was stating what he knew to be the truth. He knew from experience, that when work was scarce, labourers were refused employment and turned away, De-cause their children did not go to the Protestant schools. The Secretary for Ireland had proved to him that he knew how to take a correct measure of certain gentlemen who came from Ireland and spoke mildly and quietly in this House, but who had got up this game of opposition with a view of moving the Government to accede to the wishes of the Church party. If the Roman Catholics held the same proportion of property in Ireland as the Protestants, he should be ready to support the proposition of the hon. Member for Sheffield. He agreed almost entirely with what had fallen from the hon. Secretary for Ireland. No matter what defects might be imputed to the National system of education, it had conferred greater benefits on Ireland and done more to raise the character of the people than anything effected by legislation within his memory.


agreed that it was of the utmost importance, that the schools in the south of Ireland especially should be raised to a higher standard, and that the only mode of raising them was by increasing the salaries of the masters. The real test, in his opinion, of a good system of National education was, that it should evoke the largest possible amount of local and personal effort; but tried by that test, he confessed he thought that the Irish system of education had in some measure failed. He trusted that the Government would use their best endeavours to make the system succeed in those points where it had failed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes.

(2.) £665, Office of Commissioners of Education, Ireland.

(3.) £3,650, University of London.

(4.) £7,650, Grants to Scottish Universities.

(5.) £1,297, Queen's University, Ireland.

(6.) £2,800, Queen's Colleges, Ireland.


called attention to the fact that this Vote was required on account of the practical failure of the system of mixed academical education in Ireland. A note in the Estimate stated that the Vote was necessary to meet certain incidental expenses formerly defrayed from fees which had been reduced. The total sum derived from such fees, however, before the reduction, was only £759 for the three colleges. When the matriculation fee was reduced from £3 to 10s., the aggregate reduction amounted to about £700. The House was now asked to vote £800 to make up for the loss of £700. If the number of students had been as large as the promoters of the colleges anticipated, no necessity whatever would have arisen for this Vote. He would not oppose the Vote this year for reasons he had formerly adverted to.


said, the whole of the items which formed this Vote were given in a complete state in the Estimates, and he had no hesitation in saying that the colleges had not met with the success which was originally expected by the founders.

Vote agreed to, as was also

(7.) £500, Royal Irish Academy.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £1,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to pay the Salaries of the Theological Professors and the Incidental Expenses of the General Assembly's College at Belfast, and Retired Allowances to Professors of the Belfast Academical Institution, to the 31st day of March, 1860.


said, that as a Protestant Dissenter he always felt ashamed when he saw this Vote upon the Estimates. He would appeal to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire for his support, for it was his belief that if the House could be induced to refuse the Vote the path would be cleared, to some extent, for getting rid of Maynooth. There was no reason on earth why this large denomination of Christians should not pay their own theological professors. Among the disbursements was a sum of £250 a year to Dr. Cook, for filling the office of professor of sacred rhetoric— an office, he believed, which had never been heard of in any other country. He should therefore move to reduce the Vote to the sum of £450 being the amount of the retiring allowances.


inquired if it was not an understood thing at the establishment of the Belfast College that the institution was to merge into it.


explained that the fusion had taken place, but that such of the then existing professors as were en-titled to a retiring allowance were provided for out of the Vote.


complained that the Irish Presbyterians were the only Nonconformist body in the United Kingdom who received a single farthing from the Exchequer. He objected to such gentle-men as Drs. Montgomery, Scott, and Cooke, enjoying professorships when they had chapels for the administration of the duties of which they were likewise paid. It was now quite time that the Presbyterians should be put on the same healthy footing as other Nonconformists. They were most grudging in the support of their clergy, and he believed no greater service could be done to the denomination than by the withdrawal of this grant. Let them in future pay their own ministers and their own professors.


said, hon. Gentlemen must remember that the retiring allowances comprised in this Vote were made to professors who were got rid of when the Parliamentary grant for the Belfast Academical Institution ceased. The Irish Presbyterians were not Nonconformists, they formed, in fact, a National Church, holding the same opinions with the Church of Scotland. With regard to the conduct of the rev. Gentlemen mentioned by the last speaker, it was ridiculous that a salary of £150 per annum was to prohibit them from turning their talents to the best account, so long as their doing so did not interfere with their professional duties. A salary of £150 to Dr. Cooke for teaching the young men of his own creed—the equal of Chalmers in oratory—was not apiece of extravagance of which the Committee could complain. He must remind the hon. Gentleman who spoke of these Presbyterians in Ireland in the way he did that they contributed largely to the taxation of the country, and that it was a very impolitic course for any hon. Member to take, when £30,000 was voted for the College of Maynooth, by turning round on some of the most useful men in Ireland who were engaged in teaching a large body of people the principles of their religion.


said, that the Presbyterians were at present in connection with the Free Church of Scotland.


said, he could bear testimony to the deserving character and services of the Presbyterian clergy of Ulster, whose incomes were by no means too large.


said, the principle of this Vote was radically bad; for this money was given not to a university, but to the theological hall of a small body of Dissenters; and if such Votes of public money as these were given, it would be occasion of great extravagance, because other demands of a similar nature would be made on the public purse. He, therefore, objected to it altogether.

Motion made, and Question put,— That a sum, not exceeding £450, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to pay the Salaries of the Theological Professors and the Incidental Expenses of the General Assembly's College at Belfast, and Retired Allowances to Professors of the Belfast Academical Institution, to the 31st day of March, 1860.

The Committee divided: —Ayes 38; Noes 145: Majority 107.

Original Question put, and agreed to.