§ MR. FIELDEN
asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, If the pensions of £6,500 referred to in the Minute of the 26th June last are to be restricted to Teachers appointed before 9th May 1862, or if it is intended that this is to be the introduction of a system by which all Teachers in Elementary Schools shall in future be entitled to pensions or superannuation allowances?
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
Sir, as my hon. Friend supposes, the proposed pensions are limited to those who became teachers before May 9, 1862. For many years the teachers have complained of the withdrawal, by the Revised Code of 1862, of the offers under which, they assert, they were induced to enter the profession, and a deep sense of wrong has long existed. Though, on careful examination of the matter, we agreed with the Report of the Committee of this House, which, in fact, decided that the teachers have no vested right to a pension, still we came to the conclusion that those who became teachers before that date had a moral claim upon the Government under the former Minutes to expect that their applications for a pension would under certain limitations be considered by the Department on the grounds of incapacity, from age or infirmity, to continue teaching with advantage to the country, together with a deficiency of other resources. We felt that, though their claims might not be strictly legal, it was the duty of the Government, acting on behalf of the country, to deal with the teachers in the same spirit of scrupulous honour and adherence to honourable engagements which it expects them to show in their schools and to impress upon their scholars; and upon these grounds alone we decided to set apart, to meet this special case, the sum of £6,500 per annum, the sum proposed in 1851 by the late Lord Lansdowne—the same Lord President that passed the original Pension Minute of 1846. The 1001 general question of pensions is in no way touched hereby; and I desire, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, to state definitely that by this action we must be understood to express no opinion whatever in favour of a general system of Government pensions, to teachers. Perhaps I may be allowed to take this opportunity of stating that the Lord President and I, for reasons which the House will appreciate, have decided to receive no private applications whatever for these pensions, and that applications will only be received from managers and trustees of schools. We rely upon Parliament to support us in this course.