§ SUPPLY considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £236,016, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1864, for Public Education in Ireland, under the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
Sir, in moving the Vote for Public Education in Ireland it is usual to make a few observations; but the subject has been so much discussed during last year and the year previous, that I presume it will not be desirable for me to detain the Committee with any lengthened remarks, and I shall therefore follow the example of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council, confining myself simply to the increase or decrease in the Vote of the present year compared with the past. No one will be disposed to contend that the system of national education in Ireland has failed in answering the end for which it was instituted, or will deny that since the Earl of Derby first introduced it in 1831, up to the present time, immense advantages have flowed from it, particularly to the poorer classes. We educate annually about 800,000 children, and this fact alone will make it sufficiently manifest that the public benefits from the system cannot be easily over-estimated. For the year ending March 31, 1863–4, the total sum asked for is £306,016, showing an increase of £15,112, over the total Vote taken for the year ending 1862–3, which amounted to £290,904. The increase is consequent upon the natural increment which takes place in the salaries of those who are engaged in teaching in the 6,000 schools in Ireland, and also upon the increase 1089 in the number of schools. Thus, in 1860 there were 5,632 schools, whereas in 1861 there were 5,830, and in 1862 6,010, showing an increase of 180 in favour of 1862–3 as compared with the previous year; and the average daily attendance in 1862–3 shows an increase of 320—that is to say, in 1861 there were 284,726, while in 1862 we had an average daily attendance in the schools of 285,055. In the Votes which are submitted to the Committee, the national education is included under thirteen items, in seven of which there is an increase, and in four a decrease, as compared with 1862–3. Let me explain the particular items upon which the increase takes place. In the metropolitan model schools there is a small increase, to the amount of £306; in the district model schools an increase of £970; and in the minor model schools one of £900, as compared with 1862–3; so that the total increase in the cost of these model schools amounts to about £2,000. The total sum asked for this year under these three heads is £27,647. Two or three years ago, my right hon. Friend who preceded me in this office stated that an engagement was entered into that the number of these schools should be limited to twenty-six; and that number has now very nearly been reached, for at present there are seventeen district and seven minor model schools in active operation, while two have not yet been completed—that at Cork, for which we took a Vote the other night, and another. When these schools are opened, we shall have reached the limit to which, according to the arrangement I have mentioned, the Government are at liberty to go. The model schools are part of the original system, of national education in Ireland. When the Earl of Derby introduced this system, he laid it down that the teachers should be educated at these model schools; and it is important to remember this, because I think that the hon. Member who has given notice of a Motion on this subject is not alive to the advantages which accrue from schools of this nature. In 1831, the Earl of Derby, then Mr. Stanley, wrote to the Duke of Leinster, stating the intentions of the Government with regard to teachers, and he stipulated that they should have received previous instruction in a model school, to be sanctioned by the Board. I am aware that these schools have recently met with some opposition from the Roman Catholic prelates; 1090 but they are closely wrapped up with our system of national education in Ireland. We train those whom we expect to maintain the standard of education in the 6,000 schools scattered over the country; and it is remarkable, that in 1840 the Roman Catholic prelates of Ireland were then entirely in favour of a system of education based upon the instruction of pupil teachers and monitors in model schools. The Roman Catholic prelates at that period passed a resolution—That it would be very desirable to have a model school in each of the four provinces when the funds of the National Board might be found sufficient for that purpose, as such an establishment would inspire the inhabitants of the province with greater confidence in the system of national education.Therefore, nine years after Mr. Stanley had declared that he adhered to the system of model schools the Roman Catholic prelates also assented to the system. From 1848, when the system may be said to have begun, these model schools have, in the opinion of those best able to judge, worked immense benefit to the country; and, notwithstanding the opposition of the Roman Catholic prelates, the attendance at them has not diminished, because, whereas in 1850 the number of pupils—Roman Catholics, Established Church, and Presbyterian—was 1,410, in 1855 it amounted to 2,949, in 1860 to 5,024, and in 1863 to 9,253; and I believe that in the quarter ending March last, more than 10,000 young persons were receiving in the model schools of Ireland a superior education. I cannot help thinking that that state of the case is extremely satisfactory. As regards the salaries of teachers, there is an increase of £13,610; but a considerable portion of this is owing to an error which was made last year, resulting in an absolute deficit of £4,500. The remaining increase is due to the establishment of additional schools during the year, but chiefly to the increment of the salaries of the principal and assistant teachers in the ordinary national schools.
For navigation schools the Vote is exactly the same as last year. The navigation schools have certainly not succeeded as much as we could have wished. They were established three or four years ago, in consequence of the extraordinary success attending a navigation school in the county of Antrim. That school was under the superintendence of a man who afterwards became a teacher in the Belfast National 1091 School, and in it somewhere about forty of the most distinguished captains in the merchant service received their education. Among them was, perhaps, the most distinguished captain in the merchant service—Captain Macdonald, who commanded the Marco Polo. It was owing to the remarkable success of the Antrim School that the attention of the Government was called to the subject; and now we have navigation schools in Dublin, Belfast, Londonderry, Carrickfergus, Waterford, and other places. In the Vote for the Albert Agricultural Establishment at Glasnevin, and the agricultural training schools throughout Ireland there is a diminution of about £1,500. It was with extreme reluctance that I entered into an engagement last year to reduce that Vote; but I have fulfilled the promise which I then gave in deference to a strong expression of opinion on the part of several influential Members of this House connected with Ireland. We have diminished the number of pupils in the Albert Institution from seventy-five to sixty; and if it be the wish of the Committee that a still further reduction should take place, it will be incumbent on us to adopt its recommendation. I would point out, however, that since the establishment of these agricultural model schools, and particularly since the establishment of the Albert Institution, we have expended upwards of £20,000; and I cannot help thinking that it would be a great calamity if that large sum of money, in addition to the annual Votes, were to be thrown away now, before we have derived from these schools the full advantages which, if maintained on an efficient footing, they would unquestionably produce, Having reduced the number of agricultural pupils, we have abolished the office of assistant agricultural steward, done away with three lectureships, and finally disposed of several items which appeared in the Vote last year. We have also let one of the agricultural model farms, thereby saving about £300, so that altogether there are now nine agricultural farms let to other parties. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen cheer that remark, as though they approved the diminution of agricultural schools; but I, for one, entirely deprecate a policy which is lessening the opportunities for a vast number of young persons obtaining a scientific knowledge of the art of agriculture. There are now about 500 pupils in these agricultural schools, which are established in different parts of Ireland. For example, there is one on the estate of my right hon. Friend 1092 the Member for Limerick, and I believe it has worked very efficiently.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I thought it worked admirably; at any rate, my right hon. Friend gave us the land very cheap.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I am sorry to hear it; but I can only repeat what my noble Friend at the head of the Government said last year, that though we gave way to what appeared to be the sense of the Committee, we view this reduction of the Vote for agricultural schools, I will not say with apprehension, but with considerable regret.
In the book department there is an increase of £1,000, consequent on the necessity for improving the books in use in the, national schools. It is necessary that these, books should be revised for the purpose of adapting them to the wants and requirements of the present time, and also for the purpose of introducing into them fuller particulars regarding Ireland itself. The Board of National Education recently appointed a Committee of Dine of their own number to revise the books, and the Committee may nest assured that the work will be done with proper care and circumspection as regards the different religious creeds in Ireland, with a view to put the book department in a more efficient condition than heretofore In the central establishment there will be a small increase, in consequence of some salaries in the clerks departments having undergone a natural increase. On the whole, then, there is a change in eleven items this year as compared with last. In seven items there is a total increase of £17,162, and in four there is a total decrease of £2,005. There is, consequently, a net increase on the whole Vote of £15,112. The hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) has given notice of a Motion relative to the model schools. I shall be glad to bear his remarks, but I hope the Committee will agree with the Government and the National Board that no system of national education in Ireland can work satisfactorily without model schools. At this moment there are 1,300 children educated in the Belfast model school alone, of whom 613 are Presbyterians, and 330 are Roman Catholics. In Belfast the system works most harmoniously. We never hear of the children quarrelling, though in Belfast, as the Committee knows, religious feeling is as strong as in any other part of 1093 Ireland. There is no such thing as an accusation of proselytism; in fact, not only in Belfast, but in Londonderry, Dublin, and other places, the model schools are the admiration of every one who takes the trouble to visit them. Reference has been made to the expensiveness of these schools, The total cost does not exceed £28,000 per annum. It is a fact that the children receive an education infinitely superior to that obtained in the national schools in England, and yet the cost per head is not more, exclusive of the normal department, than 34s. a year. The number of children are increasing year by year. The hon. Member near him wished to diminish the Vote for national schools. [Mr. O'REILLY: My Motion does not mean that.] I am glad to hear it. I saw at Galway and at Limerick the effect of the opposition to these institutions. I would, however, remind those hon. Members who oppose the model schools because they are distasteful to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, that if Roman Catholics object to the system of model schools, they are not excrescences of recent growth, but were part and parcel of the original system, and that Protestants might equally object to the grants to common schools in Ireland, which I should be sorry to see in any way diminished. In those common schools about 60,000 young girls are receiving an education—secular, religious, and industrial. I trust the Committee will maintain the grants to both classes of schools. I am not aware that I have anything more to add at present, but I shall be ready, of course, to give any further explanations that may be required. I will only remark, that the principal reduction is in the agricultural department, which has been made not by my desire, but in obedience to a pledge given last year to the House which I have felt bound to carry out.
§ MR. O'REILLY
said, there were three descriptions of schools in Ireland—the ordinary schools, the government and management of which were vested in local bodies; the training schools in Dublin, which were essentially for teachers; and the district model schools. But he wished particularly to call the attention of the Committee to the district model schools of Ireland. He did not intend to discuss the whole system of national education, which had, no doubt, been founded with the best intentions, and which had been productive of much good, but had also done some harm. Neither did he object to the training 1094 schools in Dublin, as he admitted the teachers should be well trained. But, when he turned to the district model schools and the minor model schools, he took a different view. It was true that some pupil teachers were trained in these schools; but out of 5,000 pupil teachers only about 136 were supposed to be educating for teachers in after life. He objected to these schools, because they were a distinct addition to and a violation of the original principle on which the national system was based; because they gave education at the public expense to the children of those who could afford to pay for it; because they were extravagantly costly; because they were unnecessary; because they introduced an unfair competition with other schools; and—this particularly—because they tended towards one great centralized system of State education. The Chief Secretary had said that those schools were an essential portion of the scheme of national education, and had been contemplated from the beginning; but that was not the case, as one fact would distinctly prove. The national system was inaugurated in 1831, and it was not until 1849 that these schools were established. The right hon. Gentleman, to prove that these schools had been contemplated front the commencement of the system, had referred to the letter of Lord Stanley, in which it was laid down that it was desirable that teachers should be educated in a model school, sanctioned by the Board; but that would not apply to schools established in the country. The cardinal principle of the system was, that it was to be in aid of voluntary efforts, and not to establish a system of State education. The letter of Lord Stanley laid it down that no application for aid should be granted unless it was joined in by the clergy of both religions. But in Enniscorthy and other places, model schools had been established in defiance of protests from the Protestant rector and the Roman Catholic priest. The letter of Lord Stanley also stated that the Commissioners would invariably require that local funds should be raised upon which the grant of public money would be dependent. But, in the instances to which he had referred, not one farthing had been raised from the localities in aid of the model schools. By the Report of the Commissioners in 1844, it appeared that the control over teachers in these schools was vested primarily in the local patrons; but in the cases alluded to there were no 1095 local patrons, and the whole controlling functions were absorbed in the Commissioners. The Reports of the Commissioners of 1825 and 1827, upon which were based the recommendations of 1831, showed that the principle laid down then was that public grants for education should be distributed through a Board in aid of local contributions for the foundation and support of schools; but now there were many schools founded against the wishes of local authorities, and dependent entirely upon the Commissioners' grants.
Then, again, those schools gave education to those who could afford to pay for it. The principle of giving education to those who could afford to pay for it, had been over and over again repudiated in England, and ought to be repudiated with regard to Ireland. To give the Committee an idea of the class of children attending these schools, he would mention a few facts. At Londonderry Model School in 1862, the children of the Mayor were receiving a gratuitous education. Another model school was attended by the sons of a barrister. At Galway, he found that out of an average attendance of 200 scholars 57 were the children of persons who could afford to pay. Among the parents were two architects in good practice, one builder, two solicitors, two millowners, two apothecaries, one shipowner, one Independent minister, one commander of a revenue cutter, one Custom House officer, one Excise officer, three clerks in public offices, two merchants' clerks with good salaries, and twenty-seven manufacturers and tradesmen. Was that the class for which public grants of money should be made? The cost of the Galway school was £5 14s. per head. The Enniscorthy school was a very remarkable one. The average attendance of pupils last year was thirty-one. The cost of the school was £268 a year, or£8 13s. per head. Among these thirty-one pupils he found children of the following:—A wine merchant, a rich miller, a gentleman, a chief clerk in an old mercantile house, a clerk of a gas company at £100 a year, a respectable haberdasher, a watchmaker, a gentle-man possessed of large house property, a considerable farmer, a rich shopkeeper, a respectable grocer, and a number of others. Was this, he again asked, the class for which the State should provide education? He would not characterize such a system by words of his own; but he might quote the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night, when he said, "I 1096 deny that such people are, for one moment entitled to call on Parliament for a Vote of money in aid of the education of their children." Those words applied to Ireland as well as to England, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman who used them, having commenced equality of taxation in Ireland, would see the necessity of giving equality in other things. What was the cost of the education provided by the public for the children of those who could afford to pay fur it themselves? He could not follow with accuracy the calculations of the right hon. Gentleman. He said the cost of educating each child was 35s. per annum; but that did not include the payment of teachers. By a law of our nature the cost of such institutions must grow. The cost of model schools had considerably exceeded the estimate. The annual cost of maintenance for each was very slightly under £1,000 instead of £400. In England the annual cost of each child on the Privy Council grant, including all expenses of tuition and inspection, was 16s. In the schools of the Christian Brothers in Dublin, where there were 1,371 children, with an average daily attendance of 1,000, and of which the Commissioners of Endowed Schools in Ireland gave the most favourable account, the annual cost was little more than 6s. per head, and the education was at least equal, if not superior, to that received at the model schools. In Belfast model school the average attendance was 1,100, and the cost per head £3 7s.; in Galway, £3 per head for salaries alone; in Enniscorthy, as he had already said, the cost per head was £8 13s., and of the thirty-one pupils, eleven were infants and two paid monitors. Of the 10,000 pupils on the roll of these schools, the average attendance being 5,000, there were 2,000 learning the first book of lessons, beginning with the letters and never going beyond words of one syllable; of the remainder, 3,000 were learning the second book, consisting of words of one syllable. There were 2,000 more in the sequel to the third book, and who had got so far as easy words of three syllable.
But great stress was laid on the fact that these schools educated teachers. Now, it appeared that only 136 teachers were in process of training, and the schools were hardly necessary for such a purpose. One fact was worth a hundred assertions. A few years ago he wanted 1097 a trained teacher for school upon his estate in the west of Ireland. It was a poor district, and the school fees amounted to nothing. As remuneration he offered a house and a small piece of land, not estimated in money value at more than £10 a year. He advertised for a teacher, and he had twenty applicants—conclusively proving that there was a superabundance of teachers in Ireland. If the schools were not wanted for training teachers, were they wanted for the supply of a superior class of education? A few facts would dispose of that argument. In Enniscorthy, where there was a model school with thirty one pupils, including the eleven infants, there were two Christian Brothers schools with 700 pupils, a classical and commercial school for Roman Catholic boys with 80 pupils, and several schools for Roman Catholic girls with 800 pupils. The members of the Church of England, though small in number, were not without schools. There was an endowed Erasmus Smith school, an excellent classical and commercial school, for the clergymen of the Church of England did not approve of the model schools, and an excellent middle-class Protestant seminary for girls. In Galway, where there was the much-vaunted model school with 600 pupils, but only 314 attendants, including a large proportion of infants, the Roman Catholics had a Jesuit college with 50 pupils, an intermediate school of the brothers of St. Patrick, with 125 pupils, a large monks' school attended by 1,100 boys, and for girls a Sisters of Mercy school, a school of Presentation nuns, and other schools, attended altogether by 1,800 pupils. The Protestants had an endowed Erasmus Smith school, and private schools with 4,000 pupils. A model school for 300 infants was therefore not needed in Galway. In Kilkenny, where the model school had 175 children, the Roman Catholics had a boarding and day college connected with the Catholic University and the University of London. A Christian Brothers' school with 1,200 pupils, four ordinary national schools, a Sisters of Mercy school with 800 girls, and a Presentation nuns school with 1,000 girls attending it. The Protestants had a classical college and a large classical and middle class day school. The model schools were not created to supply any real want, but to fulfil the crotchet of the Commissioners and to absorb the education of the country.
1098 Another objection has been very ably stated by the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), who said a large number of private schools of a superior description intended for the middle classes, suffered considerably from competition with schools receiving the Government grant. What was true with regard to England was equally true with regard to Ireland, and proofs were not wanting that schools supported by voluntary contributions in Ireland suffered from unfair competition with schools which were supported out of the public funds. Fortunately, a spirit of resistance had been roused, and the free schools had not been crushed, but that was an accident upon which they ought not to count. It was no recommendation that the Government schools had alienated from them the confidence of the great mass of the population of Ireland; and he maintained, that if they were to be supported out of the public funds, they ought to be so organized as to respect the religious feelings, or, if they liked to call them, the religious prejudices of the Roman Catholics.
He opposed these schools on the ground that they gave only a secular education, but more strongly for the reasons which he had stated, that it was a step towards contralization, and placing in the hands of the Government the whole system of education. The principle had been repudiated in England, and had never answered in any country where it had been tried. Eminent statesmen, including Sir James Graham, had pointed out the impossibility of such a system being successful. Then Lord Stanley, the founder of the national system in Ireland, of which that to which he was referring was an excrescence, speaking in the debate on English education in 1839, said that he rose to grapple with the Ministerial proposition, and to oppose any measure which would give direct control over the moral and religious education of the people of this country to any Board. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks had fully endorsed that sentiment with respect to England, and he now appealed to him for support in the view which he was advocating with regard to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said he was an advocate of national education, but that it did not therefore follow he should be an advocate of State education, and that, believing the system which was sought to be established by the Government was alien to the habits and contrary to the 1099 genius of the English people, he should oppose, to the utmost of his power, the rash attempt at centralization. The Chancellor of the Exchequer took a similar view; and, with those authorities on his side, he had no hesitation in appealing to the House to repudiate a system to which he, for one, should deem it to be his duty strenuously to object. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, he might add, had confirmed by an instance which he gave, the justice of the course which he took; for in the case in which he alleged a school of navigation had succeeded in Ireland, he had admitted that the Government had been led to establish it because of the great success of the free schools in the county of Antrim. The Roman Catholics of Ireland were, he might further observe, opposed to those model schools, upon the ground that they were State schools, as much as any other members of the community; but they were opposed to them also because they were founded on the absence of religious teaching. In the case of the ordinary National schools, the children when they returned home learnt their prayers at their mothers' knees; and besides, there was always exercised over those schools the control of the local patrons. But in the schools which were solely the property of the Government, and in which many of the pupils resided, and were thus removed from home influence, the objection to the want of religious teaching applied with double force. To recapitulate his objections to these schools, they were foreign to the original system; they gave an education to those who could afford to pay for it; they were extravagantly costly; they were unnecessary; they competed unfairly with other schools; they were fatal to free education; and, above all, they were a step towards the system of centralized State schools which had been repudiated in England. As it would be impracticable to move the rejection of the whole Vote, he moved the reduction of the Vote by £268, the cost of the Enniscorthy schools, which were attended by thirty-one pupils, in order to afford the Committee an opportunity of expressing an opinion that steps ought to be taken for the gradual abolition of these schools. The hon. and gallant Gentleman concluded by moving that the Vote should be reduced by £268.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, the hon. Member had made a speech which might be just, but it was not generous. He (Mr. Bagwell) was of opinion that the model schools were 1100 originally established with a sincere wish to benefit the people of Ireland. He could not help thinking that the hon. Gentleman was actuated not so much by an objection to the cost of these schools as by a desire to establish a denominational system of education in Ireland. In the south and west, where the bulk of the property belonged to Protestants, while the majority of the population were Roman Catholics, such a system, which depended upon voluntary subscriptions aided by proportionate Government grants, could never be successful. If the model schools were abolished, the National system would go with them. And if that system was destroyed, he did not believe that from Clonmel to Cork there would be any education at all. He said that because before the introduction of the National system there was no education. Thirty years ago there were nothing but hedge schools, which were carried on in shanties by the side of the roads, and each child carried with it a piece of turf to warm it during the day, as its contribution to the support of the school. In the towns the Roman Catholics of Ireland could and did educate their children admirably, but in the country they could not. Even the excellent schools which they had in the towns they owed to the model schools, but for which they would never have had them. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had said that these model schools had annihilated the private ones. That was true enough, but the abolition of the model schools would not bring back the private schools. In Clonmel there used to be half a dozen good schools, but they had all vanished, and their place had been supplied by the model school. If that was done away with, the people would look in vain for the resuscitation of the private schools which it had supplanted. The abolition of the model schools would involve the destruction of the National system of education, and the check of that gradual improvement which had for many years been going on in Ireland.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell) had answered himself. He denied that the National system depended upon the model schools, or that those who were in favour of a denominational system had any desire to arrest the progress of education in Ireland. They saw that that system flourished in England, and they were convinced that it would be equally successful in their own country. No one desired to go back 1101 to hedge schools. No one was anxious to destroy the National system, or to interfere with the existence of a Board in Dublin of Inspectors who should afford a guarantee to the State that the money which was voted for education was properly expended. Let his hon. Friend the Member for Clonmel banish from his mind the idea that Irish Catholics were such foes to progress, and such lovers of retrogression, as to wish to go back to the days of hedge schools. He would ask, did not the fact that, even in these days of penal laws, men were found willing to educate, and children anxious to be taught, speak volumes for the Irish thirst for learning? The hon. Member opposite admitted, that if the model schools were abolished, Catholic children would still find the means of education in towns. Surely it was not in wild rural districts that he would place these model schools. The fact that there was some-thing wrong in the National system was shown by the Returns relatively of children in the National schools and in those of the Christian Brothers. He was credibly informed that in Cork the Christian Brothers had actually seven-eighths of the children in the schools whose names were on the roll; while the proportion of the National schools was only one-half. These model schools had destroyed the free schools, the commercial, and the classical schools; they gave education to the very class which was able to pay for it, to the detriment of the humbler classes, whose means of instruction they lessened. He opposed the system further, on the ground that it was not right to place in the hands of the Government a monopoly of education. An effort had been recently made to get up one of those model schools in Cork. A memorial was hawked about, and persons by false representations and cunning distortions of fact were bamboozled into giving their signatures; but many who had done so afterwards repudiated the memorial, and sought to have their names erased. His hon. Friend (Mr. O'Reilly) had proved his case beyond all doubt, and the hon. Member for Clonmel, instead of shaking it, had strengthened it considerably. Some respect was surely due to the solemn expression of opinion by the Catholic heirarchy. For his own part he thought it an outrage upon Ireland to have a mongrel and godless system foisted upon the country under the name of a mixed system; and he believed the day would yet come when English Members would insist on the extension to 1102 Ireland of the denominational system. Practically, the mixed system had failed in three provinces, and in the fourth its success was by no means unqualified. In maintaining its existence the Government were really perpetuating a delusion.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, he should support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Longford, as he believed the model schools to be a mischievous excresence on the National system.
§ COLONEL GREVILLE
said, he considered that a system which was condemned by the Protestant clergy on the one hand, and by the Roman Catholic clergy on the other, could not be perfect, and was not suited to Ireland. It had been introduced as a compromise, and he was not disposed to Underrate the good conferred on Ireland by it, but it, had lost the great safeguard against tampering with the religions faith of the children, which was its great recommendation. When they saw the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary attending a meeting in London, and publicly stating his opinion, that the Irish Church was a missionary Church for the conversion of Roman Catholics, the Government could not be surprised at a want of confidence in the National system of education and in those who administered it.
§ MR. O'HAGAN
said, that as a Commissioner of National Education in Ireland, be should not shrink from stating the opinions which he had deliberately formed, and had always openly asserted, although he entertained the highest respect for those Gentlemen in the House and the many out of it, who did not concur in his views. He felt, that in acting as a Commissioner and in sustaining the national system, he had acted for the real good of Ireland. Thirty years ago that system was introduced in Ireland by the letter of the Earl of Derby, then Mr. Stanley, which would be one of the highest titles of that nobleman to a foremost place in the history of his country. The letter was written under these circumstances:—The people of Ireland were at the time in a lamentable condition in reference to their educational institutions. When the Catholic Emancipation Act passed, and the great principle of civil and religious liberty was established, there had been a slight change for the better; but although the Catholic schoolmaster was no longer forbidden to teach his co-religionists, and the Catholic parent was no longer forbidden to teach his own sons, a spirit of ascendancy still 1103 prevailed, and every experiment had failed because the perversion of the pupil's faith wag made the condition of the pupil's progress. The letter of Mr. Stanley promised a system from which every suspicion of proselytism should be excluded, and which should give secular instruction to all, with-out interfering with the religious principles of any one. A Board was established, comprising among its members many of the most eminent men of Ireland; and, although altered more or less in its constitution, the Board had continued through the changes and chances of thirty years, encountering very various and violent opposition, and never pretending to give a perfect system, yet on the whole believing that it was working substantial benefit to the whole people of Ireland. What had occurred demonstrated that the system was accepted by the Irish people as one of the greatest blessings ever conferred upon them. In 1833 there were 789 schools and 107,000 pupils. In 1843 there were 2,912 schools and 355,000 pupils. In 1853 there were 5,023 schools and 550,000 pupils; and in the year ending with 1862 there were 6,010 schools and 811,973 children attending them. It was too strong a thing for any hon. Member to say, in the face of those figures, that the system had been rejected by the Irish people. It was not true either that the Roman Catholics repudiated the system. The number of schools put in connection with the Board since the 1st of January 1861, down to the present time, was 520, of which 287 were Roman Catholic, 106 Established Church, 32 Methodist, 91 Presbyterian, and 4 other denominations. The application for building grants, induced by the concession of the late Chief Secretary from the 1st of January 1861, had been 136. These were the facts in reference to the acceptance of the system by the people of Ireland. Some thirty years had passed, and the national system of education had dotted the country with school-houses from the centre to the sea, and had pervaded every hamlet and every hovel of the land with its far-reaching influence; and during that time not one single instance of proselytism had been established, or even brought forward, with reference to any one of those schools. Was he wrong, then, in asserting that these schools had been a blessing and a benefit to Ireland?
It was, however, argued, that because model schools were alleged to be an excrescence, the whole system ought to be rejected, He would not controvert the 1104 general principle that a system of education, supported and controlled by the people, was to be preferred to a system under the trammels of the State. But that principle must be considered in reference to the particular circumstances of the case. What was the condition of Ireland when the model schools were introduced? In the first place, it was not denied that some model schools, to train the teachers and serve as examples of good instruction, were necessary. No great system of education, either on the Continent or elsewhere, was considered complete without model schools. Any one who knew the state of Ireland thirty years ago would admit, that if they were to be established at all, it could only be by the aid of the State. The Earl of Derby accordingly proposed that a model school should be established in Ireland. In 1834 the Education Commissioners proposed to the Irish1 Government that there should be a division of Ireland into districts, each of which should have a a model school. In 1835 the Marquess of Nor-manby came to Ireland, and in reply to his inquiry as to what the Commissioners recommended, they published a Report proposing that there should be thirty-two model schools of preparatory training for the model school in Dublin. In 1837 the system of pupil teachers and of boarders in the institution was suggested by the Commissioners. Previously, in 1831, Dr. Doyle had suggested the training of pupil teachers and the establishment of model schools, and the accuracy of his opinion had been confirmed by subsequent events. In 1840, high authorities in the Roman Catholic Church had recommended the establishment of a model school in each of the four provinces, in connection with its existing system. In 1858, when as yet there had been no formal objections by any body of prelates, all the schools now existing or in progress had either been built or arranged for, so that the Government were committed; and, at the same time, there had been on the part of the Government an undertaking that no further schools should be built without the express assent of Parliament. The question, therefore for reasonable men to consider was, whether, without consideration or preparation, those schools which had been growing up for thirty years, and on which large sums of money had been spent, should be all at once abandoned. It might be matter for consideration how far those model schools could be maintained, and what modifications 1105 were necessary, and his right hon. Friend had not concealed his willingness to entertain any reasonable suggestions. But he said that from 1831 down to 1858, when the schools were contracted for, there was no report made by anybody in Ireland which ought to have checked the Government in its determination to complete them. The hon. and gallant Member who proposed the Amendment, said, there had been a departure from the original understanding that these schools should have local support. But the Commissioners had found it impossible to obtain any amount of local support worth speaking of, and was it to be said that they should have waited before establishing these schools to get that support which would never have been given? He agreed with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that these model schools were not intended for the better classes; but if the better classes in various districts of Ireland, which were denuded of proper machinery for middle education, chose to send their children to these schools, the Government could not prevent them. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had not taken an exactly fair mode of calculating the expenses of these schools. They had been established with peculiar views, and necessarily with a peculiar constitution. They had not only to educate pupils, but to educate teachers, and they were therefore obliged to expend large sums of money, and to take expenses upon themselves which were not necessary in ordinary schools. It had been asserted by his hon. and gallant Friend that the teaching power of Ireland was quite sufficient for its necessities; but that was a lamentable mistake. At that moment, out of the 7,000 teachers in connection with the National schools who ought to be trained, there were only 3,300 who really were trained; and instead of there being an excess of teaching power, there was, in fact, a deficiency. It had also been objected that there was no religious training in the schools, but the fact was that the time obliged to be given in the model schools to religious training was longer than in the ordinary schools, while the clergy of all denominations were invited to come and give religious instruction to the children belonging to their respective persuasions. One word with respect to the system of education which hon. Members thought ought to be substituted—for, after all, that was the great question. The question of model schools was absolutely 1106 nothing in comparison. The great question was, whether or not the system of education which had been established for thirty years in Ireland was to be maintained, or a totally different system substituted. On the one side there were about 800,000 children educated in the ordinary schools, and 10,000 children, whether of the rich or poor, in the model schools. The question was, whether the principle of Mr. Stanley's letter was to be maintained, or whether a denominational system was to be imported into Ireland. Anything more injurious to the people of Ireland, or to the Church of which be was a member, than such a change he could not conceive. The Christian Brothers' schools, admirable as they were, and stamped as they had been by the approval of the Endowed School Commissioners, could not possibly supply the great and gigantic want of education in Ireland. The alternative, then, was a denominational or separate system. But the essential principle of the denominational system was that the contributions of the State must depend on the contributions of the people; and did any one who knew the condition of Ireland, impoverished as it was, believe that such a system could be worked there? It might be said, "Introduce the separate system." He was sorry his right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside), the Corypheus of the Church Education Society, was not in his place to take part in the discussion. That society proposed that there should be a money grant from the State. But before the Catholic people of Ireland could come to terms with the Church Education Society, although that society professed to have the same object, two questions should be asked. First, was that society prepared to concede to the Catholics a proportion of the State funds corresponding with their numbers—would they give 70 or 80 per cent to the Roman Catholics of Ireland? No; their view was that the rich man who contributed a certain amount of money should be aided by the State, but that those who were poor and could not contribute should not receive that aid. And the next question was this, "Was the Church Education Society willing that every Roman Catholic child should be excluded from every Protestant school, and vice versâ?" The answer to that would be, that such a thing would be an interference with Christian liberty. What then would be the result? It would be this:— 1107 The Protestants of Ireland, who had the wealth of the country in their hands, would receive largely from the State; and in every parish in Ireland there would be planted a proselytising school superior in the means of education, with ample attractions for the poor, and every Catholic child who entered it would receive ail exclusively Protestant education. He believed such a change would operate most injuriously to the peace of the country, and that its effect would be to evoke the spirit of proselytism which had been so long the curse of the country, and which, under the disguise of religion, had been the means of spreading throughout the land ill-feeling, malice, and all uncharitableness. Considering the matter, then, in the double light of an Irishman anxious for the peace, the union, and the prosperity of the country, and of a Roman Catholic, anxious to maintain in its integrity the faith which he professed, he believed that the preservation of the system as it existed, with such changes as upon full consideration ought to be made, was, both for religion and for the country, at this moment the best. They were still in a transition state in Ireland, and in the very infancy of her social progress. For twenty-five short years only they had been free from the withering blight of sectarian ascendancy and religious disability. He devoutly hoped that there was a good and fair future still in store for Ireland. That it might be realized, it appeared to him essential that there should be cultivation, sound intelligence, social harmony, and mutual trust among all the people of Ireland; and, in his humble judgment, those results would be best secured, maintained, and perpetuated by the operation of the national system of education.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he would not follow the right hon. and learned Member into all the topics he had alluded to, but would address himself only to the particular and distinct question before the Committee. He was surprised to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman maintain that the model schools were an essential and necessary portion of the system of education in Ireland, when it was the fact that not a single model school was instituted until eighteen years after the education system had been in full work in Ireland. Regarding the model schools as training colleges, he observed that they had been entirely unsuccessful, for out of 5,000 students only about 167 were trained as teachers. He was unable to discover, 1108 in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, anything exceptional in the state of Ireland to justify them in maintaining, at their present enormous cost, these model schools, which gate an education of a character too high to be suitable for the position in life of the children of the labouring classes, and fit only for the better classes, who were able themselves to provide the means of instruction for their own children. If meant to be training colleges, these model schools were far too numerous. In England the training schools were conducted on the denominational system, and there was no good reason why the same should not be the case With respect to the model schools in Ireland. There might be a sufficient number for each of the three religious denominations, in Ireland, and they might be maintained at a far less expense than that incurred in the maintenance of those institutions, which had failed to give satisfaction in Ireland, and were open to those objections, financial and otherwise, which had been so clearly stated in the speech of his hon. Friend. He could assure hon. Members that the subject was regarded in Ireland as one of great importance, and he submitted that it was well worthy the consideration of the Government and the House of Commons.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, that in the eloquent speech of the Attorney General for Ireland, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had gone considerably beyond the question which the Committee had to deal with. Nor had he noticed the fact that the majority of the children were educated not in the vested but in the non-vested schools, which were not under the control of the Education Board. For himself, he must say, that while admitting the National system had been productive of much good, it was one to Which he had been unable to give a cordial support. It had not been conducted in accordance with the rules on which it had been established. Throughout its existence there had been a systematic deviation from those rules. Archbishop Whately, one of the most learned and sincere advocates of the system, found it had been so tampered with in practice that he felt obliged to withdraw from his position as Commissioner. The public mind in England had been deluded with respect to the working of the system by the magnificent school in Dublin, which was shown to strangers as a model of those which were to be found through-out 1109 the country. Strangers were told that it was a model of what so many of the bishops and clergy and the landed gentry had set their faces against. But the school in Dublin must not he regarded as in the slightest degree a model of the National schools of Ireland. Some time ago the Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford requested that a model school should be established in his diocese; but on examination of the rules he would not sanction it, for he said, that while in the National schools there was in reality no mixed education, and the clergy had a control over them, that was not at all allowed in the model schools, and there the Commissioners of Education were the sole patrons. He (Lord C. Hamilton) highly approved these model schools, in which a sound education was given, and all denominations were admitted. On former occasions he had called attention to the necessity of enlarging the grant, so as to give greater scope and development to the system; but, while he bore this testimony to the excellence of the model schools, he protested against the supposition that they were a fair type of the working of the National system.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, that in the case alluded to by the noble Lord, the Bishop of Waterford thought that he would have as much control over the model school as he had over the other National schools within the diocese; but on finding that that was not the case, and that he would have no power over the appointment of teachers or the selection of books, he rescinded his petition. So far as the Roman Catholics of Waterford were concerned, the model school there was a complete failure, and such would continue to be the case throughout the country. Considering the distressed circumstances of Ireland, a State subsidy for education in the country would always be a great boon, but to be effective the system must be denominational.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that between the model schools and the general schools of the country, there was a total divergence of principle, and his desire was that the former should be placed in harmony with those schools which he admitted had conferred enormous benefits on Ireland. Out of 5,500 schools existing two years ago, 4,000 were non-vested, and 1,500 vested, the 4,000 being almost entirely in accord with the Report of the English Education Commissioners—namely, schools in which there was separate religious instruction, with a conscience clause, the patron of 1110 the school having the sole direction of the religious instruction, but not being allowed to enforce it upon those who disapproved it. That was the system which ought to prevail in Ireland, but it did not prevail in the model schools. No one could defend the principle of these schools in England or Scotland. The National school in Limerick was established at a cost of £5,513, and the annual outlay amounted to £1,143. There was an average attendance of 167 scholars, besides 82 infants. Among the parents of the children were architects, rich shopkeepers, doctors, and other persons perfectly able to pay for the education of their offspring as any hon. Member of that House. One of the first names he observed on the list was that of a gentleman who, to his certain knowledge, possessed an income of £1,000 a year. Now, the other schools in Limerick, chiefly Roman Catholic, contained 4,500 children, and their cost was only £630. So, with respect to the convent schools in Ireland, it was universally admitted that their secular instruction was perfect, and when the Earl of Derby was Chief Secretary he put them on an equality with the other schools; but from that day to this the grant to them had not been increased, whereas the pay of the rest had been raised 400 per cent. He did not think that was equal justice, and he hoped the Attorney General, at the next meeting of the National Board, would endeavour to transfer to the convent schools some of that enormous wealth which was at present lavished so uselessly on the education of the children of rich people.
§ MR. LEFROY
described, in language borrowed from a public journal, the extent to which crime and outrage prevailed in Ireland, and expressed his belief that the only remedy for the existing state of things was to be found in sound religious instruction. On that ground he had always protested, and would always continue to protest, against the National system of education. If be had any prospect of success, he should not hesitate to submit a Motion on the subject; but, as it was, he did not think he could do better than abstain from voting on the question now before the Committee. The Church Education Society thought they had a right to some part of the grant for public education, as they sought to afford instruction to all who desired it at their hands, but upon whom they did not force it. The society did not desire to monopolize the 1111 education of Ireland, but they did think they had a claim to a share of a grant that was professedly made for public education in Ireland.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Item of £19,180, for District Model Schools, be reduced by the sum of £268."—(Mr. O'Reilly.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 122: Majority 84.
§ Original Question again proposed.
said, he wished to know whether the reduction in the agricultural establishment was to be progressive and continuous?
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, the reduction that year upon these establishments was about £1,500. As a sum of about £20,000 had, at various times, been expended in erecting buildings for these establishments, he was indisposed to lose all the benefits of the outlay; but if the Committee should desire the reduction to be continuous, he should not resist that decision.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he hoped that after the division that had just taken place, the Committee would be allowed to come to a decision on the Vote.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he would remind the noble Lord that the last division was only upon a sum of £20,000 out of a total of £300,000.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, he trusted, at all events, that that Vote would be disposed of, as the whole evening had been devoted to its discussion.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Hennessy.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 115: Majority 79.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he would appeal to the noble Lord at the head of the Government not to go on with the Vote after half past twelve o'clock, especially as the House would sit again that day at twelve o'clock.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, he hoped the Vote would be agreed to. He was quite ready to give any explanation that was required.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he could not agree to report progress at that hour. They had been discussing the subject for six hours, and might now decide upon it.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Hennessy.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 110: Majority 79.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ COLONEL GREVILLE
said, it was nothing short of tyranny for the Government to force the Committee to go on at that hour with the Vote, which contained many important items that had not been touched upon. He begged, therefore, to move that the Chairman now report Progress.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he should support the Motion. It was contrary to established practice to proceed with Supply after midnight when objection was taken to it.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the argument of the hon. Member for Norfolk would be perfectly sound if the Government were then proposing a new Vote. All, however, that they asked was that the Committee should come to a decision upon a Vote which had been under discussion for the last six or seven hours.
§ MR. DOULTON
said, he hoped that the Committee would come to a decision that night. Irish Members seemed anxious to keep the question open, in order that they might go home and refresh themselves, and then commence the discussion de novo.
§ MR. MORE O'FERRALL
said, the question involved a large expenditure of public money, and could not be settled satisfactorily that night.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he did not know whether the hon. Member for Lambeth's (Mr. Doulton's) constituents would regard the matter as a trifling one. It was a question of only £305,000, and it was almost the universal opinion of the Irish Members that the Vote was a waste of public money. He could tell the noble Lord that he would hear a great deal more about the Vote before it passed. The hour (one o'clock) was too late for continuing the discussion.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, he had been there continuously since half past seven o'clock, and was therefore more likely to be fatigued than the hon. Member for the 1113 King's County (Mr. Hennessy), who had not come in till twelve. He also had to be present at the morning sitting, and therefore he had a greater right to complain than the hon. Gentleman, if there was really any ground for complaint. If, however, the Committee insisted on a postponement, the Government would not press the Vote that night.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, the hon. Member for Lambeth had charged the Irish Members with wishing to go home to refresh themselves; but from the manner in which that hon. Gentleman had spoken it did not appear that he himself needed to be refreshed.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Colonel Greville,)—put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.