§ SUPPLY considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £128,635, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Advances for Greenwich Hospital and School, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1868.
§ MR. NORWOOD
rose, according to Notice, to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, what progress had been made towards appropriating a wing of the Hospital to the purposes of the Dreadnought Hospital ship? The hon. Gentleman said that in 1864 the Committee of the Dreadnought found that the ship was insufficient for their purpose; and, moreover, that large hulk caused great inconvenience to the navigation of the Thames. The Committee therefore felt it to be absolutely necessary that they should obtain a local habitation on land, and they took some steps for the purchase of a site on which they hoped to be able to build a hospital. It had since occurred to them, however, that, owing to the recent changes in the constitution of Greenwich Hospital, it was reasonable for them to apply to the Government for a portion of that large building. A deputation had accordingly waited on Lord Derby on the subject in the spring, and his Lordship in the most frank and ready manner acquiesced in the application then made. When Lord Derby acceded to their request, the President of the Board of Trade and the First Lord of the Admiralty were present; and it was understood that the expense of adapting the portion of Greenwich Hospital assigned to them for their purpose should be defrayed by the authorities of the Dreadnought. The portion of the Hospital which the Committee of the 899 Dreadnought were anxious to obtain was the Queen Anne's quarter; but when they communicated with the Admiralty on the subject, the Admiralty met them with the statement that it doubted very much whether the Queen Anne's quarter would be the one most desirable for their purpose; that some other portion of the Hospital would be preferable, and that a committee of medical men should decide which was the most suitable portion. That question had been on the tapis from the commencement of March up to the present time, and he was sorry to say it was not yet decided. He could not understand the difficulty which the Board of Admiralty raised on the subject. Greenwich Hospital was now nearly empty; and, as the Committee of the Dreadnought were to bear the expense of converting the part of the Hospital which might be assigned to them, he thought they ought to be allowed to select it for themselves. They wished to have the Queen Anne's quarter; but the Admiralty said that Queen Mary's quarter would be better for their purposes. Now, the Queen Anne's quarter was the one abutting upon the Thames; it had stairs from the River into the Hospital, so that accident cases, of which there were many on the River, could easily be taken into the Hospital; and it was also capable of being separated from the rest of the Hospital at a very small expense. Looking upon the Mercantile Marine as the nursery of the Royal Navy, remembering also how their sixpences had gone towards that institution, and considering likewise that Greenwich Hospital was not now occupied for other purposes, he thought there existed a strong claim on the part of the Committee of the Dreadnought to the portion of the Hospital to which he had referred. The hon. Member concluded by asking for explanations on that subject from the Secretary to the Admiralty.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had brought that subject before the House when the late Board of Admiralty introduced their measure for the reform of Greenwich Hospital, and they then promised to take it into their consideration, and as far as possible to meet the wishes of the Committee of Management of the Dreadnought Hospital. Since then that body and the Board of Admiralty had been in constant communication in regard to the carrying out of the pledge given by the late Board; but it was much to be regretted that up to this time neither of the parties had arrived 900 at a satisfactory adjustment. It was, perhaps, very natural that the Board of Admiralty should wish to relegate the authorities of the Dreadnought into the back part of the Hospital, instead of handing over to them the very front wing, which was the most conspicuous as well as the most agreeable part of the building; but it was unfortunate in a case like that, in which the interests of our crippled and maimed seamen were more concerned than anything else, that they should be left in a difficulty while a long contention was going on between the governing body of the Dreadnought and the Admiralty. It was clear that some day or other the Government would wish to appropriate Greenwich Hospital to some useful purpose. Such a building could hardly be left in a great degree untenanted; because, even after the authorities of the Dreadnought had obtained one part of it or another, the greater portion of it would still remain deserted. There was a building which had been used in connection with Greenwich Hospital, but which was entirely independent of it, and which had been erected expressly for the sick. He meant the infirmary, situate at the side of the high road leading to the landing-place at Greenwich, and he thought it would be much better, as an agreement could not be come to respecting the appropriation of the Queen Mary's or Queen Anne's wing, to consider the expediency of appropriating to the Dreadnought Hospital that infirmary, which possessed every convenience for such a purpose. For the sick persons now in the infirmary abundant accommodation could be provided in the body of Greenwich Hospital. That arrangement would be better than either of the other arrangements now proposed; and he thought it was most undesirable, where funds were not superabundant, that they should be wasted in contention or in the erection of unnecessary buildings. He trusted that the Admiralty, if they could not meet the views of the Governors of the Dreadnought, would consider the expediency of taking their own sick out of the infirmary, putting them in one of the wings of the Hospital, and giving up the infirmary to the Governors of the Dreadnought.
§ MR. CHILDERS
trusted that the Government would take the course he had recommended of clearing Greenwich Hospital altogether, retaining in other naval hospitals the few who had no friends to go to, and were on their backs, and giving 901 pensions to the rest, who would be much happier in their own homes if they received enongh to live upon. In this way the Hospital proper would be cleared at once; and only the infirmary occupied. He hoped that when the infirmary was also cleared, the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets would be adopted. That was an arrangement which would take some little time, but the Dreadnought authorities would be undoubtedly glad to wait if in the end the infirmary buildings were at their disposal. That would leave the four large blocks of Greenwich Hospital entirely separate from the infirmary to be dealt with as a whole. In answer to a Question which had been put to him at an earlier period by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Darby Griffith), he might say that several proposals have been made for the occupation of Greenwich Hospital. The four great buildings might be devoted in part to the extension of the school; and the establishment of a girl's school had been strongly urged, almost as a claim, on behalf of the seamen. He did not say that this would be a desirable arrangement, but there was another arrangement for which the Hospital was admirably adapted. Every one knew that the Admiralty and the War Office were at their wits' end to know how to get surgeons, the increased pay offered to them having failed to obtain the additional number required. Some better measures must therefore be taken to obtain the large number of medical men required for the army and navy. He would suggest to the authorities that if they wanted a steady supply of young medical men for the army and navy, they must tap the spring higher up, and establish a Medical College in which young men could be trained as surgeons for the two services. If it were found necessary to establish such a college, Greenwich Hospital would be the best place for it. If, however, it were occupied in some other way, a large expense would have to be incurred in building such a college either in London or elsewhere. He hoped that this would be well considered before the Hospital was appropriated to any other purpose.
§ SIR CHARLES BRIGHT
said, he saw very strong objections to the course proposed by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets. He had no doubt that neither of the two wings was at all fit for an infirmary. Queen Mary's wing 902 might be converted at a great expense, but, after all, it would be a most imperfect hospital, and the majority of medical and scientific testimony went to prove that Queen Anne's wing would be most unsuitable in regard to space, ventilation, and light.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
begged to say that the hon. Member for Hull had correctly described the negotiations which had taken place between the authorities of the Dreadnought and the Government with regard to the appropriation of a portion of the hospital to the purposes of the Dreadnought. The House was aware that the Government offered the authorities of the Dreadnought to hand over to them Queen Mary's wing and a portion of Queen Anne's wing for the accommodation of the officers. The authorities of the Dreadnought did not quite approve that offer, and they preferred to have Queen Anne's quarter. Hereupon a medium course was taken. A conference was appointed, entirely free from either an Admiralty, official, or political character, by the result of which the Dreadnought authorities agreed to abide. The conference was composed of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy, Mr. Alderman Salomons, and Sir Charles Bright, the Members for Greenwich, Colonel Clark, Director of Works to the Admiralty; several medical gentlemen of great eminence, the consulting physicians and surgeons of the Dreadnought Hospital, and, by the particular desire of the Dreadnought governors Mr. Tatham the consulting surgeon of St. George's Hospital. They reported unanimously that neither the Queen Mary's nor Queen Anne's quarter were suitable for the purposes of the Dreadnought Hospital, that they could not be made applicable without considerable expense; but that if one of the two was to be adopted, Queen Mary's was better adapted than Queen Anne's for the Dreadnought Hospital. Thus the Dreadnought authorities having challenged the decision of the conference found that it unanimously reported that neither quarter was available, and that the one they fancied was the least suitable for them. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, and the hon. Member for Pontefract had alluded to certain changes which would have the effect of emptying the present infirmary and sending the patients down to Haslar. Sometimes, however, Haslar Hospital was quite full, and, in time of war, it would be always full. As an inquiry was pending into the question 903 of Greenwich Hospital, he would say no more than that the suggestions of hon. Members should receive due consideration in the Committee. Until that Committee had reported the Admiralty would, of course, give no pledge that any one of the changes pressed upon them that evening should be adopted.
§ MR. CANDLISH
wished to know why it was that an inspector general of hospitals, with a salary of £821 had been appointed for the first time since the superannuation of the previous inspector general, after the Act of 1849? The cost of the medical staff had increased from £2,000 last year to £3,500, without any increase whatever in the number of inmates of the Establishment. He also wished to know why eighteen policemen were employed at the Hospital, when, as he believed, a couple of policemen would be ample for all the purposes of the Establishment?
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
asked what all the various people employed in and about the Hospital could find to do. There was a captain-superintendent, two lieutenants, a deputy inspector general of the hospital, four assistant-surgeons, steward, chief mate, and others to look after some 300 patients. He also wished to know how the item of £80 for clothing for policemen arose; and how it was that eighty-eight nurses were employed for 350 old people, not all bedridden? He suggested that the Vote might very well be reduced by the sum of £5,000.
§ MR. O'BEIRNE
said, it should be borne in mind that the managers of the Dreadnought were prepared at their own expense to convert the block of Greenwich Hospital, which they considered most appropriate for their purpose, so as to make it suitable for the reception of their patients. The managers were aware that there were some difficulties in giving them the block which they desired; but, at the same time, they were firmly of opinion that Queen Anne's quarter was the only one suitable, and that Queen Mary's quarter could not be made so, whatever expense might be expended upon it. Medical officers had, moreover, testified that Queen Anne's quarter was the only one that would answer the purpose, and if the Government would grant that quarter they were perfectly willing to incur any expense in its alteration.
said, the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) had adverted to the appointment, by the present Government, 904 of a medical inspector general to Greenwich Hospital. In answer to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman he had to state that that appointment was made in compliance with the requirements of an Order in Council, dated the 16th of February, 1866, which was before the present Government came into office. The existing Board of Admiralty had merely carried out the intentions of their predecessors. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk) had alluded to the question of the police in connection with the Hospital. He (Mr. Corry) had at a former period of the evening admitted that the police force was larger than was required, and he was in hopes that some reduction would be effected. The hon. Member for Cashel (Mr. O'Beirne) had touched upon the question of what quarter of the Hospital should be appropriated for the purposes of the Dreadnought Hospital. That matter had occupied the attention both of the public and the Government for some time past. When he entered upon the duties of his present office, he found that the subject of the desirability of giving one of the quarters to the managers of the Dreadnought had been under the notice of his right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty, and present Secretary for War, and that the official gentlemen to whom the matter was referred had advised the Admiralty to give Queen Mary's quarter for the purposes required. Upon intimation to this effect being made to the managers of the Dreadnought, a letter was written to the Admiralty in reply, containing the testimony of the consulting surgeon of the Dreadnought, to the effect that that quarter was completely unfitted for the purposes to which the managers of the Dreadnought proposed to devote it. The Admiralty, upon receiving this information, requested the Privy Council to appoint Mr. Simon, their medical officer, to investigate the matter; but as he could not spare the necessary time the inquiry was handed over to two other medical gentlemen, who were perfectly competent to undertake it. These gentlemen reported to the Admiralty, giving their decided preference for Queen Mary's quarter. The Admiralty then offered the use of this quarter, together with such adjoining portions of Queen Anne's as might be necessary for officer's quarters. Subsequently a conference took place between the Admiralty and the Dreadnought authorities. The Admiralty, in the course of their inquiries 905 found that the demand of the managers of the Dreadnought was unsupported by a single medical officer, and that, with the exception of two medical gentlemen connected with that ship, they had all reported in favour of Queen Mary's quarter. Under these circumstances the Admiralty could hardly have done otherwise than adhere to their decision, and place Queen Mary's quarter at the disposal of the authorities of the Dreadnought.
§ MR. NORWOOD
wished to say in explanation that he was not aware that the Committee that reported on Friday last were unanimous. He had understood that there was a division among them, one body ranging themselves on one side and one on the other.
§ MR. WHALLEY
agreed with the hon. Member for Finsbury that £41,000 of the revenues of Greenwich Hospital, which were invested in lands, caused a vast expenditure in management, and thought that it would be better to convert the estates into money.
§ MR. DU CANE
said, he had explained before that the question whether the estates of Greenwich Hospital should be sold was one which come under the consideration of the Committe now sitting to inquire into the whole subject of management. He had also said that the question was one of considerable difficulty, because when it was gone fully into by the Royal Commission of 1859 they reported that it was one of those subjects upon which a great deal might he said on both sides. If the whole landed and house property belonging to Greenwich Hospital was sold, and the proceeds of the sale invested in the funds or other good securities, they might get rid of the trouble and expense of management; but, on the other hand, they would lose any advantage which might arise in future years to the revenues of the Hospital, from a gradually improving property, which that of the Hospital undoubtedly was at the present time, and, according to good authorities on the subject, was likely so to continue. The Committee now sitting on the management of the Hospital had only met a few times, and being fully alive to the difficulty of the question, had naturally carefully avoided coming to any hasty decision upon the subject. With regard to the question put by the hon. Member for Finsbury as to the number of nurses and sick attendants employed in the Hospital, he had to explain that he believed the average of such nurses to each pensioner was one in five 906 as compared with one one in seven at Haslar and other naval hospitals. But this larger proportion was to be accounted for by the fact that the whole of Greenwich Hospital might now be regarded as an infirmary. There were no pensioners there who might not be looked upon as very infirm, and, in many cases, thoroughly imbecile and helpless; and besides he was given to understand that at Greenwich the nurses and attendants on the sick assisted in cleaning out the wards and doing other duties which were not required to be done by the same class of persons in other hospitals, but were performed partly by the convalescents, and partly by labourers appointed for the express purpose. With respect to the number of police employed, that was a question which would meet with full consideration. He admitted that the number at first sight appeared to be excessive and called for inquiry; but this conideration should not be overlooked—that whereas at most military and naval hospitals there was no admittance except on business, and the police had only one entrance to guard, Greenwich Hospital consisted of a large range of buildings, with several entrances, almost the whole of which were open to the inspection of the public during the day time, and not only on Sundays and holydays, but also on the week-days throughout the greater part of the year; there was a great influx of visitors, so that a greater number of police was required than at Haslar and other naval hospitals.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, with respect to the inspector general of Greenwich Hospital, it was quite true that the late Government had it in contemplation to appoint such an officer when the Establishment contained upwards of 600 inmates; but they did not fill up the appointment. The question therefore very properly arose why, when the number of inmates had so largely decreased, the Admiralty had appointed this officer? With regard to the sale of the Hospital lands, the Government might consider whether or not it was desirable to get rid of that property, and invest the proceeds in the funds. There would be no necessity, however, to take the Three per Cents for investment; there were other funds mentioned in the Act which would produce a very satisfactory income. But, before selling the land they ought to be satisfied that they would get buyers. When a portion of the lands was sold some time since, there were but few buyers; and the result was, as the 907 hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) knew, that the greater part of the lands fell into the hands of one man. The late Sir James Graham said he never regretted anything so much as the sale of those lands.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, that, when the lands referred to were sold, there was no want of competition; there was, however, no valuation beforehand. In the sale of land in these days it was usual to have a prospective valuation, which secured a higher price for the land. As there appeared to be a strong feeling in the minds of some hon. Members in favour of a sale of the Hospital lands, he would ask them to look at both sides of the question. Land in England was limited in quantity; but the demand for it was perfectly unlimited, and would go on increasing; but a time of war, when land rose in value, was precisely the period at which funded property fell. When once you invested in the public stocks you depended on a property of fluctuating value. But land would, no doubt, maintain a fixed value. Mr. Grey, a land valuer of great authority in the North of England, gave it as his opinion that land would advance in value, and, with good and efficient management, was better property than the funds. Such an opinion deserved consideration from the Government before they threw all this land into the market.
§ MR. CANDLISH
called attention to the increase in the expenses of the medical staff, and moved the reduction of the Vote by £821, the salary of the inspector general of hospitals.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £821, for the Salary of Inspector General of Hospitals, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Candlish.)
stated that the appointment had been made on the recommendation of the Inspector General of the Navy, and under the authority of an Order in Council of the date of 16th of February, 1866; but he would undertake that that point should be referred to the Committee which was considering the whole of the Greenwich Hospital question, and that the appointment should be rescinded if it should be found unnecessary.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that these were mere ordinary naval appointments, and the inspector general had no rights or privileges beyond those enjoyed by the inspector general at Haslar or Plymouth. He thought the appointment was ill-advised; 908 but the Admiralty had authorized an efficient Committee to inquire thoroughly into the matter.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he hoped it would be understood that no claim for compensation was to be created in case the office should be abolished. It was a common practice with public Boards to pension off one official, and then to appoint another in his place at the same salary.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £259,700, 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 1868, for Public Education in Ireland, under the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland.
said, he wished, with the indulgence of the Committee, to make a few observations on a subject of the greatest possible importance. He only regretted that he was called upon to do so at so late an hour (Eleven o'clock), but he hoped the Committee would extend to him its indulgence while he endeavoured to lay before it, as briefly as he could, the present state of National education in Ireland, while he, at the same time, offered a few general remarks upon the subject. All who took an interest in this great question must feel gratified, on perusing the Report which had been lately issued, to see that the system still retained its vitality, and was extending its position of usefulness. He found that on the 31st of December, 1865, there were 6,372 National schools in operation in Ireland—the number of children on the roll being 922,000. In December, 1866, there were 6,453 schools, and the number of children enrolled was 910,000, showing a small diminution as compared with the preceding year, still not a large one considering the decrease in the population. The average daily attendance for the year was 316,000. As compared with 1865, there was an increase of 81 in the number of schools in operation in 1866. The attendance was of a more fluctuating character than it had previously been. The Returns showed a decrease of 1.2 per cent in the number 909 of children enrolled, and of 1.5 per cent in the number in average daily attendance. Considering the general circumstances of the country, we might congratulate ourselves that there was not a greater falling off in the number of children at school, and upon the progressive increase that had taken place for a number of years. Taking decennial periods, the Returns showed extraordinary rapidity in the extension of the National system in Ireland. In 1836 there were 1,100 schools, attended by 153,000 children; in 1846 there were 3,600 schools, attended by 456,000 children; in 1856 there were 5,245 schools, attended by 560,000 children; and in 1866 there were 6,400 schools, attended by 910,000. It was well to remember the enormous proportion of the cost of the system which was borne by the Parliamentary Vote and the comparative smallness of the sum derived from local sources. In fact, it might be said that the cost of the system was defrayed almost entirely out of the Vote of that House. Excluding workhouse, prison, and asylum schools, the amount contributed locally to the salaries of teachers was £52,000, and the total amount received by the teaching staff was £309,000. Therefore, 17 per cent of the total sum was raised locally, while 83 per cent was thrown upon the Vote of that House. Still very considerable sums had been subscribed for, and great exertions made by private individuals, in the building of new schools and for the residences of schoolmasters. There was one circumstance which would have great interest for the Committee. We had often heard of there being great objection to the system on the part of a considerable body of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland. Now, however, a large number of National schools were under the direct patronage and management of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. The total number of patrons was 2,344, and of these 1,132, or nearly one-half, were Roman Catholic clergymen; and of the 6,000 schools, excluding workhouse and gaol schools, 4,000 were actually under the patronage of the Roman Catholic clergy. Thus it appeared that, however great and weighty might have been the objections urged against the system, these objections did not deter the Roman Catholic clergy from taking an active part in the management of the education given. Of the 159 schools added to the list in the course of last year, 94 were under the direct patronage and management of Roman Catholic priests, 910 and the list showed seventy-one new patrons among the Roman Catholic clergy. On the whole, there did not appear to be any falling off in the interest which the Roman Catholic clergy had for so many years shown in the system. Of all the difficulties connected with the system, none had exceeded that arising from the objections to mixed schools—that is, schools in which children of different religious persuasions are taught together; and if it had been possible to teach in one school children of one religions persuasion only, many objections that had been taken to the system would have entirely disappeared. There were now 3,720 mixed schools, and 2,630 unmixed schools, and in the mixed schools the minority was often small. In Munster, there were 546 schools taught by Roman Catholics, and there were only 3 per cent of Protestants in them; but even the smallness of that minority should not prevent their considering the great importance of the question, and the difficulty which would arise if the schools were made purely denominational schools and this minority were to a certain extent deprived of education. In Ulster, where the population was equally divided, there were also a great number of mixed schools; and 25 per cent of Roman Catholics were taught in Protestant schools. Therefore, although the smallest minority in the mixed schools was to be found in the province of Munster, yet a very large proportion of the education given was of a mixed character. He would not show what was the general effect of the education given by the National system upon the general population of the country. It was difficult to say, from the number of children actually upon the rolls, what was the exact amount of the education given; but by a very careful investigation made in 1861, in connection with the Census Returns, it was ascertained that on the 17th of May there were 443,000 children at poor schools, 304,000 at the National schools, and 139,000 at other schools; so that two-thirds of the children were educated at National schools, and one-third at other schools—Church education, Christian Brothers' Orphanages, and private schools. The number of children on the rolls in December, 1866, was returned by the Commissioners of National Education at 910,000. By the Census of 1861 it was ascertained that 73 per cent of the whole number on the books of all the schools attended more than six weeks in the year, so that it was fair to suppose that during last 911 year 664,300 children attended National schools for more than six weeks in the year. Therefore, taking the proportion of the other schools in the same manner, he found that the attendance was 318,000, making a, total of 983,000 attending school during that period. That gives a very fair view of the system of primary education given by these institutions in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Bruce) had said that an attendance of one-sixth of the population was a proportion which was only to be found in the most favourably situated districts of England; but, as the population of Ireland was now taken at 5,500,000, an attendance of 983,000 children exceeded that proportion by no less than 50,000. That of itself would, he thought, be sufficient to prove the great success and the great usefulness of the National system of education in Ireland; for though, as the Committee would see from the figures he had laid before them, it did not pretend to a monopoly of the education of the country, its effect upon other institutions had been exceedingly good, inasmuch as it had led to a feeling of rivalry which had been attended by very beneficial results. He hoped the short statement that he had made would put the Committee in possession of the general character of the National system in Ireland in regard to primary education. The results of that system had been much greater than its most sanguine supporters could have anticipated some years ago. He would, before going further, refer to some of the objections which had been urged against the system, but as the subject had been so often discussed in that House it would only be necessary to refer to a few of the most prominent. For many years, no doubt, the National system of education was seriously objected to by a large and influential portion of the population of Ireland. The Committee would doubtless recollect that many of the clergy and the members of the Established Church urged objections on the ground that they could not conscientiously support any system of education in which the daily use of the Scriptures was not enforced in the case of every child attending the school. Some years ago, in consequence of some changes made by the Board of Commissioners of National Education, the late Archbishop Whately and Mr. Blackburne, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, retired from that Board. As time were on, there was hardly a year in which some objections were not taken in some quarter to the system. Although, 912 in the early days of the system, the great body of the Roman Catholic population and their clergy expressed themselves most favourably towards it, yet that support was gradually withdrawn until about eight or nine years ago formal and serious objections were announced by the Roman Catholic Prelates in Ireland, and, in a letter which they addressed to Lord Carlisle in 1859, they stated their objections in the following strong terms:—Deeply impressed with a conviction of those dangers which must increase in proportion as education is placed beyond the rightful control of the Church, the Catholic Bishops deem it a solemn duty to convey to Her Majesty's Government the expression of the growing anxiety which naturally fills their minds on finding their authority so completely disowned in the various schemes for educating the Irish people which have been put in operation for several years.They then continued, after referring to their objections, at length—They, therefore, respectfully but earnestly request such a participation in Educational Grants for the separate instruction of Catholic children as the numbers and fidelity of the Catholic people, as well as their contributions to sustain the burdens of the State, amply entitle them.That was the first opposition put forward by the Roman Catholic Clergy. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), who at that time filled the office which he (Lord Naas) now had the honour of holding, in replying to that letter, in November, 1859, after saying that Her Majesty's Government desired in the first instance to express, in the plainest terms, their steadfast adherence to the principles on which the National system of education had been erected, proceeded to say—They have been repeatedly and deliberately considered in Parliament, and constitute the recognized conditions on which education in Ireland receives assistance from the State. Her Majesty's Government observe with regret that some of the demands preferred in the Memorial are wholly incompatible with the maintenance of these principles. If those demands were conceded, the National system would be overthrown; and a system of sectarian education substituted for it calculated to revive social divisions in Ireland, and to stimulate feelings which it is the object of every just and liberal Government to allay.That letter was written with great ability, and put in the strongest manner possible the objections which were to be urged against the proposal of the Bishops. A long rejoinder on the part of the Bishops followed, dated March, 1861, and for several years afterwards no active part seemed to have been taken by the Roman Catholic clergy. It was true that several Motions were made in that House, and the question 913 was discussed, but no very active symptoms of opposition were made on the part of the Prelates who signed the Memorial of 1859. In January of last year, however, a most important document was addressed to the Government by the Roman Catholic Prelates, in which they not only reiterated, but considerably amplified their former objections. They said—The schools under the National Board divide themselves into two classes—the ordinary National schools and the model schools; and, again, the ordinary schools may be sub-divided into such as are attended by pupils of one religious denomination only, and those attended by children of different denominations, the former exclusively Catholic or Protestant, the latter mixed. First, then, as to schools exclusively Catholic or Protestant, be they vested or non-vested, a change of great importance ought to be made, and can be made, without any difficulty. It is simply to remove all restrictions upon religious instruction, to permit the fulness of distinctive religious teaching to enter into the course of daily secular education, with full liberty for the performance of religious exercises and the use of religious emblems, and to recognize the right of the lawful pastors of the children in such schools to have access to them, to regulate the whole business of religious instruction in them, and to remove objectionable books, if any.They went on to say—Were the proposed change adopted, not only would the great majority of the schools now in connection with the Board assume a religious character, but many Catholic schools of nuns, monks, and others, could be taken into connection with the Board, which schools are now excluded from all participation in the Grants of money for Education, because their conductors will not accept aid from the Board on condition of observing the rules restricting the liberty of religious instruction. Under the proposed change, in exclusively Catholic schools the teachers should be Catholic; the books treating of religious, moral, or historical matters, Catholic; the inspectors Catholic, and if objectionable, subject to the veto of the Catholic Bishop in the diocese in which their duties would lie.With regard to the mixed schools their proposal was—To fix the time for religious instruction at the end of school hours, strictly requiring that it should not commence for the majority of the pupils, or any of them, till after the departure of every one of the minority professing a different creed, and, in any case of proved interference with the faith of any belonging to the minority, to strike the school oft the list of schools entitled to aid from the Board.Then, with regard to the model schools which formed an important portion of the system, they said—But one thing can be done with these schools—to do away with them altogether. Nothing else will satisfy the Catholic bishops, clergy, and people. A regard to public economy, too, calls for their suppression.The demand, therefore, that they made 914 was really and entirely to revolutionize the whole system of education. That letter was dated the 14th of January, 1866, and on the 30th of January the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), then the Secretary of State for the Home Department, wrote as follows:—I enclose a copy of the Memorial and of the answer given to it on the part of Her Majesty's Government by Mr. Cardwell, who then held the office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. To the opinions expressed in that answer Her Majesty's Government adhere, and they would regard with sincere regret any step tending to the overthrow of a system of education which they believe to be well adapted to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, and to have been the means of conferring very great advantages on that country. … Her Majesty's Government, however, think it right that this memorial should be communicated to the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, and that they should be invited to offer their observations upon it. Their attention should be particularly directed to the statements contained in the Memorial as to the model schools.The whole matter stood in that position at the beginning of last year. It appeared, as far as he could gather from those documents, that the late Government had then made up their minds to leave the system as it was, or that, at least, there was no intention on their part to propose any considerable change. But on the 19th of June his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) addressed to the Commissioners a communication which he thought must be taken as to a certain extent an answer to the demands of the Roman Catholic Bishops, and which stated the steps Government consented to take in order to comply as far as possible with those demands. His right hon. Friend, in the proposal which he made in that communication, appeared to direct his attention principally to the training of teachers, and to an alteration which he proposed to make by the composition of certain model schools which were intended to be established by him. His right hon. Friend stated—which he believed to be to a great extent the case—that there was a considerable want of trained teachers for the poor schools throughout the country. He said that out of 7,472 teachers, 4,309 were untrained; so that more than one-half of the teachers giving instruction in the National schools of Ireland had not received sufficient training. He therefore proposed, as a further stimulant to private enterprize, to establish model schools under local management. But the model schools thus proposed were of an essentially different character from 915 any before established under the National system. To each was to be connected a domestic establishment, containing boarding-house accommodation for fifteen resident pupils. The day schools in connection with the model schools were to be conducted in the ordinary manner, except as regarded a point to which he should hereafter call attention. It was intended—indeed, this was not denied—that the new model schools should be essentially of a denominational character; that the teachers in each school should, as far as possible, be members of one religious persuasion, and that they should be educated as such. It was also intended that the normal establishment in Dublin, where teachers were trained, should be altered to a considerable extent. Heretofore, in that normal establishment, all the teachers, no matter what the religious denomination to which they belonged, resided together; but it was proposed, in the plan of his right hon. Friend, that there should be a denominational separation; that the Protestant teachers should live in one house, and the Roman Catholic teachers in another house. This brought him to another portion of the proposal, which thoroughly and entirely stamped the whole plan as one of a denominational character. It was proposed that chaplains should be appointed not only to the normal establishment in Dublin, but to the new district model schools throughout the country; and it was quite clear that the duty of those chaplains was not to be restricted to the teachers who came to be trained, because they were to have an allowance of £1 for each teacher, and of 10s. for each pupil. It appeared to him therefore that the proposal was nothing more or less than to establish a new sort of model schools altogether, which should be entirely denominational, and entirely novel as regarded the existing system of National education in Ireland. They were to be founded with a particular object—that of meeting so far as possible the objections taken by the Roman Catholic clergy to the system of mixed education in that country. Well, he found that in consequence of the letter of his right hon. Friend, the Commissioners met several times. They adopted the scheme in the main, and submitted to the Government an Estimate amounting to £19,000, and requested the Government to bring it before Parliament, with the view of getting the funds necessary for giving effect to his right hon. Friend's plan. He had, however, to state that the Board was very much divided in opinion. 916 Of the nineteen Commissioners the opinions of only twelve were known, and of these seven were in favour of the proposition and five were against it. A great deal of discussion on the subject had taken place both in the National Board and also out of doors. There could be no doubt that the proposal had met with a great deal of objection and opposition on the part of a large portion of the population of Ireland. The Presbyterian body, almost to a man, had offered to it the most decided opposition. The Elementary Education Committee of the General Assembly state—Their decided conviction that if these changes, made and threatened, are permitted to be carried out the destruction of the present system of united education in Ireland is inevitable.The Belfast Presbytery expressed itself in a similar manner. The late Bishop of Derry, the only ecclesiastic of the Established Church who was at that time a Member of the Board, expressed himself publicly, and in letters to him, as decidedly opposed to the plan. It appeared, then, that whether the proposed alteration were good or whether it were bad it was likely to have been a fertile source of discussion and disunion among the best supporters of the National system of education in Ireland; and he did not find that it had been received with any particular enthusiasm on the part of the Roman Catholic body. While it was received with great dislike by one party it was viewed with coldness and evident want of favour by the other party. He thought the Committee must feel it would almost impossible that teachers trained on such a system as that which his right hon. Friend proposed should go forth with any friendly feeling towards a mixed system of education. Again, if the proposed plan were adopted, he wanted to know how it would be possible to maintain the model schools. The Commissioners, speaking of the latter, thus descibed them—The chief objects of model schools are to promote united education, to exhibit the most approved methods of literary and scientific instruction to the surrounding schools, and to train young persons for the office of teacher.It was quite clear that if the proposal of his right hon. Friend were adopted those new model schools would be established as rival institutions to the old ones. In fact, among the existing schools conducted on the national system there was a considerable amount of rivalry; but, if those new schools were established, he was afraid we should find them set up in towns as avowed 917 rivals of the old model schools, and that the supporters of the former would do all in their power to withdraw children from the latter. He must express his opinion that such a state of things would be very undesirable. For these reasons they had not thought it right to take on themselves the responsibility of proposing to Parliament the Estimate for carrying this plan into operation. Another Estimate had been submitted to them so lately as the 19th of June by the Commissioners, which had a different object — proposing that they should ask Parliament for a Vote of £1,200 for encouraging the study of the classics and modern languages in the National schools in Ireland. Now, so far as he was concerned, he was, to a certain extent, favourable to the plan; and, in the North of Ireland, he believed that there were many schools where these things might be conveniently learned; but he must remind the Committee that in taking such a step they would be departing a good deal from the principle of primary education, and making it more of an intermediate system. Therefore, without further consideration, they had also declined to adopt that suggestion. They were disinclined to submit to Parliament this year any of those new suggestions which had been made to them. Now, he thought he had said enough to show the Committee, that taking a general view of the state of affairs, it was not at all satisfactory. Great alterations had been made in the rules from time to time. No doubt some of them had been improvements and conduced to the better working of the system; but by these constant changes a spirit of opposition to a great extent was excited, and the result had been that from various quarters every year changes of an important character were constantly being pressed on their notice. These changes when made were always criticized by one party or another—in the most unfriendly manner, and generally in proportion as they most benefited their rivals. There seemed little hope that this system of National education would be accepted by the whole country at large; and he thought it most unfortunate that a subject on which, most of all, there ought to be friendly feeling among the people, should have been the fertile source of dissension, often of party strife and acrimonious discussion. He thought that a very great evil, and on the part of the Government he was unwilling to accept the responsibility of inviting Parliament to make any great change in 918 the system without more accurate information than they at present possessed. Looking back to the whole history of this matter and the great importance of the question, it was the intention of the Government to make one effort to terminate these unfortunate dissensions. They intended to issue a Royal Commission during the recess to inquire into the whole system of primary education in Ireland. Although the system had existed for a great many years, since 1823 there really never had been any positive inquiry into the working of the whole system on the spot. There had been no inquiry since that by the House of Lords in 1854, which terminated its labours without presenting any Report. It was the intention of the Government to endeavour as far as in them lay to constitute the Commission in the fairest possible way. They would endeavour to obtain the services of men who had given great attention to the whole subject of education both in this country and in Ireland, and as far as possible all classes and parties should be fairly represented on the Commission. He could not help thinking that great good might come out of it; and no time would be lost, because the opinions of the Commission would be laid on the table of the House early next Session. They proposed to refer to the consideration of the Commission, matters of the weightiest and most important character. They proposed to refer to them, first, the long-vexed question whether it would be possible, with regard to the safety of the system, to relax the rules under which religious education was given; secondly, the question of the model school system, its expense as compared with its results, its want of success in attracting a large number of scholars, and how far it could be advanced towards a system of intermediate; education; thirdly, the alleged want of trained teachers in the non-vested schools, and how the deficiency could be supplied. This objection—the want of trained teachers—was strongly urged by the right hon. Gentleman, and the question might fairly be settled by inquiry. If it turned out, as he believed it would, that a great many teachers in the National schools were not so proficient in ordinary knowledge as they ought to be, it would be a subject for consideration how they might provide more efficient teachers, and devise measures to draw them in greater numbers to the training schools. There was another question of very great importance which could not be decided satisfactorily without some inquiry. 919 He believed it would be of the greatest advantage to the National system of education in Ireland if some system of payment by results could be introduced. Great objection was taken to that, because it was believed that it would have the effect of diminishing the remuneration now enjoyed by some of the teachers in the schools. He regretted that a great number of those teachers were now inadequately paid; and in considering the adoption of any system of payment by results it should be also considered whether it should not be a supplemental payment added to their present salaries, because he would not like that the whole salary should depend upon the result of the teaching. Another very important point had reference to the constitution of the Board. He admitted that the present Board was composed of very eminent men, although he had the misfortune to differ in politics from every one of them; but nobody could read the minutes of the Board and their proceedings without seeing that their attendance was very irregular. The most important questions were decided very often in the absence of the most distinguished members, and those who had attended a discussion one day were absent when the matter came on for decision the next. It was, therefore, matter for consideration whether some alteration should not be made in the constitution of the Board, perhaps by reducing the number of its Members, so as to secure the attendance of those who were intrusted with the great responsibility of managing this great system, and that they devoted a great portion of their time to the subject. Another point which would be inquired into was the position of the large number of schools unconnected with the National Board. One-third of all the children receiving primary education were in such schools, and it was a matter for serious consideration whether the benefits of inspection at all events could not be extended to them. In considering this subject regard ought to be had to the wishes and opinions of the great majority of the Irish people, and he believed it would not be difficult to make such changes as would attract a great deal of additional support to the National system. In this country there were persons who contended that secular instruction only should be provided by the State; but in Ireland he believed that people of all denominations desired that religious instruction should form a large portion of the education given in these schools, and the time had come when 920 an effort should be made to harmonize this great system with the feelings of both the Protestant and Roman Catholic population. While concurring, however, in the principle that religion should form part of all the education given by the State, he did not desire to see the secular instruction subject to ecclesiastical control. This would be contrary to the spirit of the age, and he believed no portion of the laity would wish to give ecclesiastics of any denomination a control over the secular teaching of the people. In the appointment of the Commission the Government had only one object—to endeavour to harmonize the wishes and feelings of the Irish people with this great system of education; and he believed that by judicious inquiry, and by careful but not sweeping alterations, it was possible to make it what, with all its excellences and usefulness, it had never yet been—namely, a truely national system.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he had listened with much interest, but with some disappointment, to the speech of his noble Friend. One of the recommendations made by the Board of National Commissioners, but not adopted by the Government, was the introduction of higher teaching, including a certain amount of instruction in the classics and in modern languages, into some of the National schools. A Memorial, presented to the Commissioners from Ulster, had pointed out that the effect of the establishment of admirable National schools had been to shut up a great many private schools where a classical education used to be imparted, and, as there was no prospect of such schools being again started in face of the rivalry of the State schools, it deserved consideration whether some of the best of the latter might not be allowed to employ teachers capable of giving instruction in the classics and modern languages. Children receiving such instruction would, of course, pay a higher fee; but he would pronounce no opinion as to whether the State should vote the additional salaries of such teachers. The example of Scotland was encouraging. Many of the Scotch parish schools had long imparted a higher education to the children of the upper classes, and this had had a very beneficial effect on the advancement of Scotchmen in their own country, as well as all over the world. He agreed with much that had fallen from his noble Friend as to the ordinary primary schools under the National system. He believed these schools had had a very beneficial effect. The great 921 majority of them were now, however, constituted upon a system differing in some important respects from that sketched out by the founders of the system, for there were 4,771 non-vested schools, while the schools vested in the National Commissioners, or in local Trustees, according to the original design, numbered only about 1,150. He believed non-vested schools were admirably adapted to the circumstances of the country. They were schools in which the patron and manager, who was in most cases a clergyman, had the right of giving religious instruction in his own creed to the children of his own Church, who usually formed the majority, while they were freely open to all comers as far as secular instruction was concerned, the rights of the minority being carefully protected. They were, in fact, denominational schools with a stringent conscience clause, adapted to a country where the difficulty was not the mixture of children belonging to different Protestant sects, but of Protestants and Roman Catholics. He believed they were working with great success, and the National Commissioners had recently introduced an important improvement by laying down a rule that no child should receive religious instruction from a teacher of another creed, unless in the very exceptional case of a parent deliberately requesting the teacher by a written document to give such instruction. That was a change calculated to give increased confidence to large classes in Ireland, and he rejoiced to find that it had been adopted by the Commissioners. It would be in the recollection of many hon. Members that in May last year a Motion was made by his hon. Friend the Member for Longford (Major O'Reilly), who called upon the Government to make three important changes in the system of National education. In the first place, the hon. Member called upon them to remove the restrictions imposed on religious instruction in those schools in which at any particular time all the children should be of the same religious denomination. The hon. Member next asked for a better protection for the religion of the minority in mixed schools as a security against proselytism, and this object had been attained by the rule to which he had just referred. In the third place, the hon. Member dwelt very strongly in his speech on the objections raised against the training and model schools. It was his duty, on the part of the Government, to resist the first part of 922 the Motion, in the second part of which, however, he entirely agreed. Then, with respect to the third part, he admitted last year the extremely unsatisfactory condition of the training and model schools, which had not the hold they ought to possess on the Roman Catholic population, and that it was the duty of the Government to consider carefully whether some change could not be made in those schools. That admission was made in May, and he noticed the date particularly because his noble Friend seemed to imply that the changes proposed in his letter to the National Board last year had been put off to an unnecessarily late period. However, that might be, he might remark that from the time when he became Chief Secretary in the previous autumn his attention had been very seriously directed to the training and model schools, and upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Longford, he had given a pledge to the House which induced the hon. Member to withdraw that Motion. Of course, therefore, it was his duty to take care to fulfil the pledge, and he accordingly before resigning office made a communication to the National Board. The majority of the National Commissioners adopted those proposals and laid before the Government a plan for carrying them into effect. He was still of opinion that a most important distinction ought to be drawn between the condition and prospects of the primary and of the training and model schools. In 1861 there were 319 teachers in training schools, and of these 237 were Roman Catholics, whereas in 1866 the total number of teachers was 285, of whom only 137 were Roman Catholics. If such a decrease were allowed to go on, there was a prospect of the training schools becoming unavailable for the Roman Catholic body in Ireland. Then, again, it was found that of the 7,472 head and assistant teachers, 4,309, or considerably more than one-half, had not received any regular training at all. For the National Schools 700 new teachers were required yearly, of whom only 400 were prepared in the central training school. As to the model schools it was found that in 1856 the Roman Catholic children attending them were in the proportion of 68 per cent, while in 1866 the percentage of Roman Catholics had fallen from 63 to 24 per cent, while in some of the schools—as, for instance, at Deny and Sligo—there was practically no attendance of Roman Catholics at all. This being the state of the 923 case, the late Government thought it their duty to propose some change which would render these schools more generally useful and conciliate the confidence and goodwill of the Roman Catholic body in Ireland. He was aware that an objection was commonly raised that the decrease of the attendance at the schools was due to the influence of the Roman Catholic priesthood, but he maintained that this was in reality no answer at all. He protested against the attempts so constantly made in Ireland to separate the Roman Catholics from their ecclesiastical Government. It was necessary to take and act upon the facts as they were, including, of course, the influence of the priesthood among a Roman Catholic people. Well, the first proposal of the late Government, in order to make the existing model schools, and especially the great training establishment in Dublin, more acceptable to the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, was that chaplains of different religious denominations should be attached to those schools. Notwithstanding the efforts made to induce clergymen of different denominations to attend the schools to give religious instruction and look after the morals of their children, he knew of only one model school in the whole of Ireland where a Roman Catholic clergman attended for that purpose. The late Government also made the proposal referred to by his noble Friend, with reference to the boarding of teachers, giving teachers in training the option of boarding together in certified boarding-houses instead of within the school walls. Another change proposed was to encourage private enterprize in non-vested model schools in suitable places throughout the country, with a view to give larger scope for local authority, and more freedom as regards the religious character of the schools than could be maintained in the present model schools while under the exclusive control of the National Commissioners. His noble Friend had said that such schools would be totally different from all other schools; they would certainly be different from existing model schools, but not from the majority of ordinary schools, and there was no reason why the non-vested schools should not have their representatives among the model schools. It might be said that such schools, being connected with a particular denomination, would not be sufficiently open to pupils and pupil-teachers; but, admitting that they would not attract 924 members of other denominations as much as members of the one with which the school would be connected, he asked whether the present National schools bore the character of unattractiveness? And were there no National schools connected more closely with one denomination than another? It was notorious that there were numerous schools connected with particular Churches, which, although open to all comers, and never disturbing the religious faith of the scholars, were not likely to be resorted to by children differing in sect from those managing the schools. Thus there were, of course, convent schools giving most valuable teaching to the poor; but he did not speak of those only, nor only of schools under the patronage of Roman Catholic priests. He included those under the management of clergymen of the Established Church and of Presbyterian ministers, some of the latter being closely attached to Presbyterian chapels. Yet if these denominational schools had not been encouraged, there would have been no National system now in existence; at all events, if their number were subtracted from the total given by the noble Lord the result would be very different from his statement. Those in general, then, were the changes the late Government proposed last year in the hope that they would have led to conciliation; they were accepted by the majority of the Commissioners and by many of the best friends of Irish education; it was to be regretted that the present Government had not accepted them also. His noble Friend had said that a great outcry had been raised against them, and that it came almost exclusively from the Presbyterians; but those charges could have done no possible harm to Presbyterian interests, and the objections certainly had the appearance of arising not from the belief that the proposals threatened harm to the Presbyterians, but because they were concessions to the Roman Catholics. But as these questions were again to be inquired into by a Commission he would not further discuss them. He, however, must express the opinion that all the facts were sufficiently in the hands of the Government, and that, if his noble Friend wanted information, he could easily obtain it from the National Commissioners. Indeed the questions to be decided by the Commission seemed to be rather points of policy than fact, and points far more fit for the consideration of a Cabinet than a Comission. But as the labours of the Commission would 925 end before Parliament re-assembled—[Lord NAAS: Hear]—legislation, he presumed, would not be delayed by referring the question as intended. He had understood his noble Friend to shadow forth changes of a denominational kind as the probable result of the Commissioners' labours. But the noble Lord had condemned the proposal of last year because it had some tendency to introduce changes of that kind, so that there appeared to be some inconsistency between the commencement and the end of the noble Lord's speech. It would be of the greatest possible importance to the success and value of the inquiry that the Commissioners by whom it was to be conducted should be properly and carefully chosen. It would be useless, he knew, to offer any opposition to the appointment of the Commission, although he regarded it as an erroneous step on the part of the Government to delegate to such a body duties which they could and ought to perform themselves. He therefore confined himself to the expression of a hope that the inquiry would lead to the real improvement of Irish education.
§ MR. LEFROY
admitted, that success to a certain extent had attended the operations of the National Board. It would be most unnatural if, after the expenditure of enormous sums of money, some progress were not made and some advantages conferred by that institution. But be could not allow the observation of his noble Friend (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) to pass unnoticed, "that on the whole the national system had worked satifactorily." Strong objections were entertained to that system by the Roman Catholic clergy, and were expressed very determinedly in letters addressed to Sir George Grey by the Roman Catholic Bishops. On the other hand the principle which governed the action of the National Board was conscientiously opposed by the Protestant clergy, and as long as an Established Church was suffered to exist in that country the opinions of its members were surely entitled to some weight. Members on all sides of the House, however they might differ in other respects, agreed in this, that education, to be useful in Ireland, must be founded on religion; it must not be mere secular education divested of religion. Various systems had been tried in Ireland unsuccessfully, and by many it was now supposed that nothing but the denominational system remained. But on that point he shared the opinion expressed by a late distinguished 926 Archbishop of the Established Chuch, that he could not approve of giving to the heads of either religious denomination in the country the total care of the education of the children. An admirable speech was reported in that morning's paper as having been made by Earl Russell at a school in the country, in the course of which he told some anecdotes of great crimes having been committed by children who, upon being examined as to how they had been brought up, proved never to have heard of the Scriptures. His Lordship said it was much to be wished that all children could be brought up without sectarian feeling, but instructed in the Bible and in the preaching of the Apostles. Such teaching had his cordial approval; he wished it were general. There was one system capable of adoption to which he confessed that he was unable to see any objection, in a country, at least, where, differing as to forms of religion, they were yet unanimous in holding that religion should be the foundation of education. That system contemplated that grants should be made for progress in secular education alone, and that the religious teaching of the children should be left to the clergy of the several denominations. He thought also the Board ought to be wholly altered, and should consist of a responsible Board of paid members. Inspections ought to be held and Returns made, and the grants apportioned to the progress of the secular education. The religious teaching might safely be left to the clergy at either side, or to the responsible patrons. It was only through the adoption of some such system as this that great progress could be hoped for. Mere intellectual improvement, without grounding in the principles of morality and the truths of Scripture, he regarded as unprofitable and even dangerous; men so trained might become great scourges to the country. He could not see the necessity for a Royal Commission, and he regretted that the Government had not taken a different course.
§ MR. OSBORNE
, at that hour of the morning (One o'clock), and in the thin state of the House, would not attempt to enter on the religious question; but, having watched the National system in Ireland, and being himself connected with several schools, he believed that the system was a total failure. The sum asked for in the Vote, though large, he, for one, should never grudge for the purposes of education in Ireland. He thought it was incumbent 927 on the House of Commons, however, to see how that sum was disposed of, and what was the quality of the education which was supplied. His noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland had begun his speech by giving a very satisfactory account of the working of the present system. He stated that one-sixth of the population of the country were at school on a certain day in May. It nevertheless appeared from the last Census that 59 per cent of the population could neither read nor write. How, under those circumstances, could it be fairly said that the system of education in Ireland was satisfactory in its results? His experience convinced him that the system was far more showy than practical in its consequences. It was a system which it grieved him to be obliged to admit was far in advance of the national prosperity of the country, and which was not in accordance with the habits of an agricultural population. Indeed, he believed that much of the discontent which was prevalent in Ireland, and of the emigration from its shores, was promoted by the sort of education which was supplied to the people. And what was the nature of that education? Hon. Members had heard one right hon. Gentleman who had filled the office of Chief Secretary holding out the prospect that there would be another Vote for the purpose of teaching the population of Ireland the classics and French. An agricultural population classics and French! Again the Committee, if they turned to page 27 of the present Vote, would find that there was a sum of £2,000 over and above the grant made to the teachers of those agricultural labourers set down for the teaching of drawing, singing, and navigation. The effect of all that was that a gross imposition was practised on that House and the public. A stranger from this country visited the model schools in Ireland, and certain questions were put to the pupils, and they sung hymns, and the visitor returned home with the idea that the Irish National system of education was perfect. He should like, however, to ask whether any man who made any progress in those model schools ever remained in the country? The fact was that he went elsewhere. And what sort of men were the teachers? It was true that some of them were not adequately paid; but he had some knowledge of them, and he could state that many of them had been infected by Fenian principles. The system of education 928 in Ireland, he might add, was not in accordance with that which was understood to be primary education. As it at present stood it unfitted those who received it for their duties as agricultural labourers, and drove them away from Ireland. He felt confident that some day or other a stricter scrutiny must be applied to the disposition of the Vote to which the Committee was asked to assent. He would next briefly advert to what he looked upon as a very curious point in connection with the subject. There was an Albert agricultural training department in Ireland for the maintenance of agricultural pupils and teachers, the grant for which was £1,280. He found that there were at that school fifty-six agricultural pupils, but he had never seen any one who had been brought up there become a bailiff or a steward on a gentleman's farm. There was a loss on the school of, he believed, £1,250, and that was the way in which the Albert training department was conducted. Nobody could travel through Ireland and see those model schools without admiring their architecture. £28,500 was spent upon them, but what, he should like to know, was the use of them? He was as favourable to education as any man in that House. He could not, however, understand the expenditure of such large sums in education as was now done among a population which must depend upon the spade. As to the proposal which had been made by his noble Friend the Chief Secretary for the issue of a Commission, he could only say that he had no great faith in the result of their labours. Everybody knew the whole of the facts connected with Irish education as matters stood, and the Commission would simply compile a large blue book just as had been done by the Devon Commission, which had collected together more information with respect to Ireland than perhaps any other body of men. To give satisfaction to both parties in Ireland on the subject of education he believed to be impossible. He had the highest respect for the honesty and ability of his noble Friend the Chief Secretary; but he must entreat him not to insist upon teaching the classics and French, drawing, singing, and navigation; and to legislate upon the question without having recourse to a Commission.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Sir John Gray.)929
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the subject was one of great importance, and that he did not feel surprised hon. Members from Ireland were anxious to discuss it at some length. He must at the same time remind them that the 6th of August had arrived, and that there was such a ceremony as the closing of the Session still to be gone through. He hoped, therefore, that if he assented to the proposal for reporting Progress, hon. Gentlemen would exercise their influence with their friends not to obstruct going into Supply another night; it being absolutely necessary to get through the Votes before the Appropriation Bill could be brought in.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock;
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.