HC Deb 04 August 1875 vol 226 cc526-30

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £ 505, to complete the sum for Commissioners of Education, Ireland.

(2.) £ 1,739, to complete the sum for the National Gallery, Ireland, &c.

(3.) £ 1,550, to complete the sum for the Royal Irish Academy.

(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £ 3,648, 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 1876, for the Queen's University in Ireland.


, in moving to reduce the Vote by a sum of £ 1,261, said, he had no desire to do anything which would tend to prevent the advance of learning and education in Ireland, or indeed in any part of the United Kingdom; but he was afraid there was a general feeling in passing the Vote that they were doing all they could to promote higher education. This was, however, not the case, for the system of education adopted in the Queen's University was entirely opposed to the religious principles of the mass of the Irish people, and they, feeling that proper facilities were not given to all classes, would not avail themselves of the present system of public education. It was admitted that some persons obtained an excellent secular education in the Queen's College; but the class of the Irish people who stood most in need of it did not. He did not pretend to say whether they were wise or not in the course they adopted, but that great difficulties existed would not be denied, and he hoped next year some step would be taken to remove them. He gave Notice that unless someone more qualified than himself took the initiative he should at the earliest possible moment next year call attention to the subject of University education in Ireland in the most thorough and complete way in which he could raise the question.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £ 2,387, he 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 1876, for the Queen's University in Ireland."—(Mr. Errington.)


regretted that an attempt should be made to raise a debate upon the question at that stage of it, and at that late period of the Session. He, however, took it that his hon. Friend the Member for Longford was simply entering a protest against the existing state of affairs. The present condition of the subject could not be regarded as one which could be allowed to rest, because University education in Ireland was upon anything but a satis- factory footing. The money which had from time to time been voted had not fulfilled the objects for which it had been granted, and, instead of giving University education to the entire middle class, practically the Catholics had been debarred from participating in it. A certain duty had been discharged under the system admirably, so far as providing education for professional men—so far as turning out competent doctors, competent engineers, and competent lawyers. The system so far had been a success, and it had also brought into a position of respectability and independence, by giving them Government and Civil Service employment, men who belonged to Catholic families, but a wider question than this was involved. The intention originally was not that the money should be devoted to training that class of people, but that education should be open to the great body of the population, and in that respect the system had not been a success. This was a most interesting matter for Ireland, because every day the people of Ireland were beginning to see more clearly that they were intellectually, commercially, politically, and to a certain extent morally deteriorating for the want of education. The people would be able to govern themselves better and be able to manage their own affairs if they were better educated than they now were. It was a foolish idea to suppose that this was merely a clerical question, and that none but the clergy took any interest in it. There never was a greater mistake. He hoped his hon. Friend would not press his Amendment, but rest content with having entered his protest against the supposition that the system for which the Vote was intended in any way satisfied either the wants or the wishes of the people of Ireland.


was of opinion that the system adopted of having as many scholarships and exhibitions as there were students in the College had the effect of deteriorating higher class education in Ireland. He wished to point out that, although three Queen's Colleges were kept up in Ireland, the result of their working for the past year showed only 131 art students, and this arose from the fact that the Catholics were unjustly treated, the Professors miserably underpaid, and the system itself almost incredibly defective. The grammar schools were going down, except perhaps in Belfast, and that arose because Queen's Colleges had enticed away the scholars, and turned mere school hoys into University students. The standard of University education in Ireland had been considerably lowered, and it was about the coolest proposition he ever heard to ask Parliament to contribute to the support of such a system as that carried on at the Queen's University and the Queen's Colleges—a system which the people of Ireland did not want, and which, if they had the power, they would reject to-morrow. He did not, however, object to the increase of the Vote, which was simply for the increase of the pay of the Professors.


said, he understood the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Errington) not seriously to wish that the Vote should be reduced, but merely to desire to record his protest against the existing system of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. He would not, on that occasion, enter into the important question of University education in Ireland, for it would be better if any objection to that system were brought under the notice of the House in the form of a distinct Resolution rather than that of a mere Motion to reduce the amount of a Vote. The remarks of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) were characterized by his usual moderation and good sense. He understood the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Ward) to complain that the regulations as to the Arts Faculty at that College were not satisfactory in any way. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) would admit that the Faculty was not largely attended, but the arts were taught, and those who did attend really devoted themselves heartily to the work. Therefore, he could not agree with the hon. Member, because in his opinion, taking into consideration the strong opposition it had to encounter, the Queen's University in Ireland did fulfil a great and an important work with reference to the education of the Irish people, and, in proportion to its annual expenditure, the work it did was perhaps greater than that of the older Universities of England. The fact was that the Queen's University did for Ireland very much what the Scotch Universities did for Scotland.


said, he agreed that a good education was given; but he main- tained that they were mere professional schools.


thought that it should be remembered that very few persons in the country desired an Art education.


said, that the Cork Queen's College was conducted in a manner which fully justified the remarks of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Ward). The people of Ireland would not have the system of education which was being forced upon them, because it was against their traditions and their religious principles. The students were not educated in general literature or in any degree beyond the speciality for which they went there, to be, as it were, veneered. There was no active ecclesiastical antagonism to these Colleges; but it was contrary to the feelings of the people to attend schools or Colleges where there was no religious teaching.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(5.) £ 4,926, to complete the sum for Queen's Colleges, Ireland.