HC Deb 19 April 1861 vol 162 cc854-6

, in rising to make a Motion on the subject of national education in Ireland, stated that five years ago the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole) exposed in a most able and temperate speech, and in an equally temperate Resolution, the grievances under which the Protestant population of Ireland laboured in relation to the national system of education. The right hon. Gentleman succeeded in carrying his Resolution for an Address to the Crown, but though both he and the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside) had subsequently filled high posts in the Government of the Earl of Derby, nothing had since been done to remedy the grievances of the Irish Protestants. But the Roman Catholics of Ireland also complained of the national system of education, and he, for one, would never ask for any one class of his countrymen a freedom of conscience which was not extended to all. He had endeavoured to frame a Resolution upon that principle; hut he was afraid, coupling a notice which bad been given by the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University with a circular which had been issued by the Church Education Society, that the members and friends of that association, holding peculiar views in which he did not concur, had determined to make a separate demonstration of their own. He reserved to himself the right of perfect freedom of action when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin brought forward his Motion; and before he sat down he now wished to refer to a statement made by the Secretary for Ireland when the subject was last under discussion. That right hon. Gentleman boasted of the success of the system as one of united education, and stated that out of 5,400 schools, nearly 3,000 were schools of united education. The Returns, however, proved that as a system of united education it had entirely failed. In some of the schools there was scarcely more than a single representative of the religious class which happened to be in a minority in the particular districts. He would mention two instances. There would be found five schools, containing each 2,000 Roman Catholic children, with only one Protestant; and, on the other hand, five other schools, each containing 1,200 Protestant children, with only one Roman Catholic; and yet they were called schools of united education. To all intents and purposes, therefore, the system had separated the education of Protestants and Catholics, and mutilated and maimed the religious instruction of both. He was for perfect and entire freedom of religious education, both for Protestant and Roman Catholic. Though he did not intend to press his Motion, he would beg leave, in order to enable any hon. Gentleman to address the House, to move pro formâ the Motion of which he had given notice.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee, to consider of an humble Address to be presented to Her Majesty, representing that the rules now adopted to regulate the distribution of the sum voted by this House for the promotion of National Education in Ireland have caused dissatisfaction among a large proportion of the people of that country, and that this dissatisfaction has interfered with the complete accomplishment of the objects contemplated by that Grant; and praying that Her Majesty may direct inquiry to be made whether the rules may not be so modified as to remove all causes of just dissatisfaction, and thereby promote the more general diffusion of the advantages which this House intends for all classes of the Irish people.


said, it was not fair to charge the right hon. Member for Cambridge University with having carried a Motion upon this subject, and then doing nothing when he was a Member of the Government. Unfortunately for the interests of the country, the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged had not been in power daring five years. The Earl of Eglinton, however, when in Ireland, had investigated the subject, and arrived at the conclusion that some changes and modifications must be introduced into the system. He (Mr. Whiteside) had supported the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite when he made a similar Motion last year, but having himself given notice of a Motion, to be discussed a few days hence, he could not support the hon. and learned Gentleman on the present occasion, but hoped for his support when the subject again came under discussion.


said, there seemed so great a desire to kill the monster—national education—that there was a rivalry between hon. Members as to who should be the one to slay it; and as a Motion that would accomplish all that the one before them proposed was to be moved in a few days, he would suggest that the time of the House should not now be consumed in a discussion which could have no practical effect.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.