§ CLASS IV.—EDUCATION, SCIENCE, AND ART.—VOTE 1.—PUBLIC EDUCATION.
§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £1,107,055, to complete the sum for Public Education in England and Wales.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, that hon. Members had heard so much about education this Session that he would not trespass upon the time of the Committee by going into the general question of education. He had, in fact, on bringing in the Education Bill, given a review of the condition of education in this country. He would, therefore, only trouble the House with a few figures in order to explain the Vote. The Committee would see that the Education Estimate for England for 1876–7—namely, the year ending April, 1877—was £158,492 in excess of that for 1875–6. The Vote for the present year was £1,707,055, while that for last year was £1,548,563. With regard to the 261 cause of the excess, the real increase had been in the annual grants to day and evening schools, which amounted to £166,976. On the other hand, there had been a decrease in the building grants of £24,000, and these grants, he was happy to say, were very rapidly coming to an end. There had been an important increase in the number of Her Majesty's Inspectors; but he was certain the Committee would share the satisfaction he felt at provision having been made for 15 additional Inspectors and 15 Inspectors' assistants. It was important that the inspection of our schools should be well done, and the country now possessed a very remarkable staff of Inspectors—men of great intellectual power and high capacity. He was most anxious that the character of the Inspectors should be kept up, and that there should be a sufficient number, so that they might not hurry over their inspection, and might give the schools the benefit of their oversight and experience. He was also anxious that in all cases, if possible, a second visit in the year should be paid to each school. This visit was made without notice, so that the Inspector might see the school in its normal state, and it was to be regarded as a visit of encouragement, and not undertaken for the purpose of routing out irregularities. The teachers themselves highly appreciated this second visit in the year, because it enabled them to talk over matters with the Inspector, and the increase in the number of Inspectors would enable many more of these second visits to be paid. The grants were estimated to be paid upon 2,071,997 children, being 109,000 more than last year, or 5.5 per cent increase above last year. The rate of grant for 1875–6 was 12s. 9d. per head; the estimated grant for 1876–7 was 13s. 8d., being an increase of 11d., which would accrue partly from general progress and partly from changes in the Code. The Committee might feel interested in knowing the rate of progress—During the five years up to the 31st of August, 1870, the scholars' register had increased 36.5 per cent, or 453,000, while for the five years up to August 31, 1875, it had increased 62 per cent, or 1,051,000. This was a very satisfactory increase so far as the register went. He now came to the average attendance—For the five years ending August 31,1870, the average 262 attendance had increased 35.9 per cent, or 304,000, while for the five years up to August 31, 1875, it had increased 59.4 per cent, or 684,000. The ratio of average attendance to the numbers on the register was in 1870 68.06 per cent; in 1875 it was 66.9 per cent, being a decrease in 1875 of 1.16 per cent. That was accounted for by the number of rough children who were swept into the schools by the action of the school boards. The number of day schools inspected for annual grants was in 1870 8,279; in 1875, 13,217, being an increase in five years of 4,938 schools, while the increase in the five years preceding 1870 was only 1,912. That was certainly a very satisfactory result. There were now 17,323 voluntary schools, being an increase of 966 over last year, and they afforded accommodation for over 2,772,000 children, being an increase of 145,000 over last year. Of board schools they had 1,922, being an increase of 663 over last year, and they afforded accommodation for 387,000 children, being an increase over last year of 141,000. Altogether the general advance was as much as they could possibly hope for, and he trusted that next year they would have a still greater advance to show. With respect to teachers, they had now got 20,940, being an increase of 2,226 as compared with last year, and the pupil-teachers numbered 29,940, being an increase of 2,636. With respect to evening schools, he regretted to say there was a slight falling off in their number. He could not account for the decrease in schools to which personally he attached very great importance, more especially as he had hoped by a relaxation of the number of days they were obliged to be open, and allowing another class of teachers to come in, to secure an increase in their number. He assured the Committee that he would watch the matter with anxiety, and he trusted they would have a better account to give in the coming year. The work, he thought, was now in a satisfactory position, and by keeping everyone up to the mark—teachers, Inspectors, and scholars—he hoped that each year would show increasingly good results. In conclusion, he would be happy to answer any questions that might be asked of him.
§ Vote agreed to.263
§ (2.) £226,673, to complete the sum for the Science and Art Department.
§ In reply to MR. BERESFORD HOPE,
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, that it was proposed to remove some of the temporary bindings at South Kensington and to erect buildings which would cost about £80,000, thus enabling them to provide an Art Library and Art Reading Room.
§ Vote agreed, to.
§ (3.) £80,447, to complete the sum for the British Museum (including Furniture, &c).
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, it had hitherto been customary for one of the Trustees of the Museum to move the Vote, which had always appeared in a separate item on the Estimates, and in the absence of his right hon. Colleague (MR. Walpole) he wished to call the attention of the Committee to one or two points. There was a long-standing grievance on the part of the officials of the British Museum which had now been under consideration since the year 1836. In that year a Resolution was passed by the Trustees to the effect that the salaries of the officers were miserably inadequate for the remuneration of eminent men, and in 1859 a statement was made that it was necessary to increase the number of attendants, and the number had been increased three-fold. Everything had been increased but the amount of remuneration. In 1873 a sub-committee of finance was appointed by the Trustees, and the result was the recommendation of an immediate increase in the amount of the salaries. The Lords of the Treasury, however, stated that they did not feel justified in acceding to the increase recommended. Since that time an inquiry into the subject, amongst others, had been made by the Civil Service Commissioners, who stated that the salaries of the staff appointed were very small in comparison with the importance of the work performed, and that such a scale of remuneration ought to be fixed as would attract the services of men of eminence. Up to the present time, however, nothing had been done, and he trusted that this year would be the last of the existence of such a scandal.
§ LORD ELCHO
complained that the salaries of the officials in the British Museum had not been increased during 264 the last 40 years, notwithstanding the fact that the work had increased considerably, and that the necessary expenditure of persons engaged in the occupation had been largely enhanced. He hoped that before the Estimate for next year was laid before Parliament, the matter would be carefully considered by the Treasury, in the interest alike of the individuals concerned, of art, and of the British Museum.
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
expressed his regret that he had not been able to arrive in sufficient time to move the Vote. He observed that when the Report was made by the Commissioners of which the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (MR. Lyon Playfair) was Chairman, the Treasury in the case of the British Museum reserved to itself the power of considering in what way the officers and assistants in that institution should be appointed and paid under the new regulations. It was represented to the Treasury that the Museum officers ought not to be paid in the same way as the clerks in other Departments, seeing that special qualifications of a peculiar character would necessarily be required for such officers and assistants. The Trustees recommended that an inquiry should be instituted by the Treasury officers, and that they should meet some of the officers of the British Museum to consider the question of the salaries to be awarded to the Staff, and if that inquiry were instituted he hoped that it would be completed during the autumn. He did not think there were any special circumstances to which it was necessary for him to call the attention of the Committee, except to state that in consequence of certain complaints of the delay which sometimes took place in the production of books. The Trustees had caused new arrangements to be made which would prevent such delays in future. The average time for the delivery of books did not now exceed 20 minutes.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, that after the strong expression of opinion in the House last year he was certainly disappointed that the matter remained in the same unsatisfactory state. Another strong point was the difference between the salaries of those gentlemen and gentlemen in other Departments. The country wanted the very best men that 265 could be had for the British Museum, and the present scale of salaries was certainly very low.
§ LORD ELCHO
expressed a hope that some effectual means would be taken to make the Museum fire-proof.
§ MR. WHITWELL
would be glad if the Secretary to the Treasury could give the Committee some assurance as to the salaries of the officials.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that any advance which would be made in the salaries of those officials would be of a discriminating character. The Treasury were at perfect accord with the Trustees on the subject. The Treasury desired to do justice to gentlemen than whom there was probably not a more able or better qualified staff in the world for the duties they discharged; but the Treasury were also conscious of the responsibility which rested upon them not to give greater salaries than the just claims of the officers might entitle them to receive. A most careful inquiry would be made into the claims of those gentlemen, the work they undertook, and the duties they performed, and it was proposed to adjust the salaries according to the information thus collected and submitted to the Treasury. The Trustees would appoint a Committee of their own Body to meet one or two gentlemen from the Treasury, and the whole case would be judged according to its merits.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £1,400, to complete the sum for the National Portrait Gallery.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
, as one of the Trustees, begged to express their sense of obligation to the Treasury for having granted them so much additional room. That additional room would be ample for the collection for many years to come. The new galleries were very good in many respects, but they were frightfully combustible. They were only shanties, having the faces of whited sepulchres, and though the Trustees would do their best not to burn the collections down, they were looking forward with confidence to the time when they would not be haunted any longer by a perpetual apprehension.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £7,610, to complete the sum for the University of London.266
§ (6.) £288,227, to complete the sum for Public Education in Scotland.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, the Education Estimates for Scotland up to April, 1877, were £438,227, or an excess of £81,817 over the Vote of last year, which was £356,410. That increase was principally caused by the increase of the annual grants to day and evening schools, which represented £44,723. There was also an increase in the building grants of £32,000, but these, he hoped, would soon come to an end, because, as hon. Gentlemen knew, there was a good deal of building to do before the supply was satisfactory. The increase in the average attendance was so far satisfactory, as it was 40,000 over the previous year—an encouraging result of the labours in Scotland in the cause of education. The Department had been happy to get two additional Inspectors and five additional assistant Inspectors. From that addition it was hoped there would be a considerable advantage to the schools. Grants were estimated, to be paid for 346,842 children, or 22,000 more than last year, an increase of 6.8 per cent. The rate of grant per child for 1875–6 was 13s. 1d.; it was estimated for 1876–7 at 14s. 6d., which he thought was encouraging, as showing that the Scotch schools were doing their very best to earn the Government grant, and also as telling a story of considerable intellectual advance over the previous year. He was sorry, for the sake of England, to see that the Scotch children, by their exertions, were able to get larger aid from the Treasury than English children. As to the rate of progress, in the three years up to August 31, 1872, the scholars on the register increased 17 per cent, or 38,800; in the three years up to August 31, 1875, they increased 50.8 per cent, or 135,600. The average attendance up to August 31, 1872, had increased 17.3 per cent, or 31,500; up to August, 1875, it had increased 42.2 per cent, or 90,000. In 1872, out of every 100 on the register, 79.9 were in average attendance; in 1875 only 75.3 were. That decreased percentage, of course, was to be accounted for by the extra pressure all over Scotland which had driven into the schools a number of unruly and unwilling children; but that would mend itself as time went on, and he did not think it should make them uneasy. 267 There was quite sufficient to show that there was a great deal of educational zeal still in Scotland, and he hoped it would not slacken. We were very much indebted to those who took the lead in Scotland; and by improving the standard and by the increased number of Inspectors, every year would, he hoped, bring us nearer to the conclusion of the great work in Scotland as well as in England—namely, getting the children into the schools, having them well taught there, and sending them out into the world better able to fight the battle of life.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he would point out that the provisions of the Elementary Education Bill which was before the House were in some respects more favourable to poor districts in England than were the corresponding provisions which were contained in the Education Code for Scotland, and he would ask the noble Lord whether there was any intention on his part to make the provisions of the Scottish Code equally favourable to the poor districts in Scotland as they were proposed to be made in regard to school districts in England? There could be no question that in many districts of Scotland the poverty was more intense than that to be found in any district of England; and he therefore trusted that the noble Lord might be willing to intimate that he would-be prepared in the course of next Session to make the provisions as regarded poor districts as favourable to the people of Scotland as the provisions of the Elementary Education Bill were to the people of England.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that he approved of what his hon. Friend said about the desirability of placing the two countries on terms of perfect equality; but he (MR. M'Laren) objected to wait for another year. He wanted to have it done this year, and he had therefore given Notice of a clause to be proposed on the Report of the English Education Bill, to the effect that Clause 47 of that Bill should be extended to Scotland so as to allow the children to earn 17s. 1d., and small parishes to obtain all the pecuniary benefits which similar parishes in England would enjoy under the Bill. The noble Lord had stated that the children in Scotland earned 13s. 1d. last year, and that he estimated they would earn 14s. 6d. during the next 268 year; but he had put down the English children to earn 17s. 6d., and he (MR. M'Laren) must object to the question of equal treatment to Scotland being postponed for another year.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
observed, that he was not in the House when the noble Lord made his statement, and therefore he did not know how far the noble Lord had taken notice of the points referred to by the Board of Education in Scotland. He was happy to be able to bear his testimony, so far as his experience went, to the generally satisfactory working of the school board, system; but there were two or three points in which the Act passed for Scotland might with advantage be amended. There were matters connected with the election of the school boards which were capable of improvement. There should be a means of gradual change. He trusted that the Government had the subject under their consideration, and that the Lord Advocate would be prepared to bring in a Bill next Session.
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
wished to ask his noble Friend the Vice President whether he could give the Committee any information as to the cost of the late school board elections throughout the whole of Scotland? He believed that the first school board elections cost the country £28,000, and it seemed to him that a great deal of this money was thrown away. He hoped that they might find that the elections had not cost near so much on the last occasion. Perhaps the noble Lord would be able to give them some information on that point. He cordially concurred with what had fallen from the hon. Baronet the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke). He (Sir Graham Montgomery) thought that the time had come when they might profitably have an amendment of the Scotch Education Act. The English Education Act was being amended in the present Session, and he thought that there were many important points in which the Scotch Education Act might also be amended. He would be glad to know if it was the intention of the Government to deal with that matter next Session?
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, that with regard to what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falkirk (MR. Ramsay) stated as to putting the two Codes on 269 the same footing, he need hardly assure him that when the matter was settled he would take care that Scotland was placed upon the same footing as England. It was obvious that in the matter of grants the two countries should run in the same groove. Of course, the hon. Member was aware that the proposals of the Government Education Bill would not come into operation until next April, so that there would be ample time to put into the Codes any provisions that were necessary to effect the object that he had in view. The hon. Baronet the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had alluded to the cost of school buildings in the small Scotch places. The Government had endeavoured since they had been in office to diminish, if possible, the cost of school buildings in some of those places by trying to adapt their plans in concert with hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House to the peculiar requirements of these remote districts. He did not know that they could do much more in that direction; but of course any suggestion which the hon. Baronet might make on the subject would receive their attention. As to the teachers, they had shown in the Code that they quite appreciated the difficulty of a supply of teachers for the poor districts, and provided that they were thoroughly good schools, they had made some relaxation in that direction. He might say as to the question which had been raised by his hon. Friend near him (Sir Graham Montgomery), in regard to the cost of school board elections, that he did not know at present what had been the cost of the Scotch elections. He did not think that he had any figures that would show it. He had no doubt that in time they would be able to get these figures, and they would then be at the service of the House.
§ Vote agreed to.
- (7.) £4,207, to complete the sum for the Board of Education for Scotland.
- (8.) £13,754, to complete the sum for Universities, &c, Scotland.
- (9.) £1,500, to complete the sum for the National Gallery, &c., Scotland.
- (10.) £420,949, to complete the sum for Public Education, Ireland.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
, in rising to move the Vote, said, that the 270 details of the present year's Estimates did not differ much from those of last year. There was an increase in the Estimate of £12,810for principal and assistant teachers, due mainly to the expansion of the system of assistant teachers, and to increased expenditure in the way of results for teaching. There was also an increase of £8,000 for paid monitors, which he thought would not be grudged by the Committee, these monitors being very useful in schools where the average attendance was just below the number which was necessary to obtain assistant teachers. There was another increase of £1,000 by way of retiring annuities to teachers. On the other hand, there were certain reductions in the Estimates as compared with last year. There was a reduction of £5,000 owing to the relinquishment of school farms. The subject had been carefully considered, and it was found that those school farms had been worked at considerable annual loss to the country, and that education in agriculture could practically be given equally well in other schools at comparatively little cost. It had therefore been decided to relinquish a certain number of these school farms. There was also a decrease of £5,000 in the amount voted for books and school apparatus, owing to the prices charged to parents for these articles having been raised, so as more nearly to cover the cost of their production. Under the head of Teachers' Residences there was a decrease of £4,250 as compared with the Supplementary Estimate of last year (£5,000), representing a moiety of the annuities payable for loans advanced for the erection of teachers' non-vested residences. The Estimate of £5,000 for grants towards the erection of residences for teachers of vested schools had been transferred to the Vote for the Board of Works. Attention had been already called this Session by the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) to the failure of the Act of last Session to improve the position of teachers in non-contributory Unions. Although their position was not worse, but was upon the whole slightly better than in the previous year, still he could not say that there had been any material improvement in it. It was suggested that the Act of 1875 might be made compulsory, on the basis of a limited national rate; but it was evident that this would 271 meet with so much opposition that even if the Government had thought it right make such a proposal, it could not have become law during the present Session. He had, therefore, undertaken to endeavour, as far as possible, to meet the difficulty without any recourse to legislation. The subject, he was bound to say, had been discussed by those who had spoken as representatives of the teachers, in a spirit which he did not think was likely to conduce to a settlement of the question. A considerable number of Irish Unions declined to avail themselves of the Act of 1875, and in those Unions the teachers were not in receipt of the contingent result fees. The question was, how to place them in the same position as their brethren in the contributory Unions without departing from the principle of the Act of 1875. He saw no mode in which it could be done, except by placing the managers of those schools in the same position as the Guardians of contributory Unions, and accepting voluntary payments by the managers in place of payment from the rates by the Guardians of contributory Unions. If managers of schools did not avail themselves of this proposal it would not be for want of ability to do so, for there were few places in the present circumstances of Ireland in which the managers of schools might not, if they chose, raise so small a sum as was required for this purpose. If these proposals were not accepted, and many Unions, as was very possible, became non-contributory before next spring, it might be necessary for the Government to propose that the National School Teachers Act of 1875 should be made compulsory on the basis of a limited national rate. Had the amount of £60,000 required by the Act of 1875 been universally voted by the Unions the position of the teachers, receiving £180,000 by way of results besides a considerable sum in addition to their salaries, would have been satisfactory, and so far as Parliament was concerned the national teachers of Ireland would have had no fairgrounds for application for increased payments from national funds. The subject of pensions had been for some time under consideration; it was surrounded with difficulties, and it must be considered with reference to the position and claims of teachers in England and Scotland. Teachers in Ireland were not Civil 272 Servants; they were appointed by the managers, and they were subject to dismissal by the managers at three months' notice. The teachers were prepared to submit to very small percentage deductions from their incomes in order to provide a superannuation fund, and yet their expectations of pensions were extremely high, including retirement on full pay at 55 and corresponding advantages at younger ages, which went far beyond the system of pensions enjoyed by Civil Servants. These expectations rendered it less possible than ever to make any proposal to Parliament on what must, in any event, be a very difficult subject. If the Act of 1875 were put in force throughout Ireland the teachers, so far as their incomes from Government were concerned, would have been in a satisfactory position; but he was bound to say that they had a fair claim to an increase of income from other resources. It appeared from the accounts of the National Board of Education that the total income of the teaching staff from all sources in the year had been £571,648 18s. 11d. Of this amount 19.7 per cent was locally provided, and 80.3 per cent was derived from funds placed at the disposal of the Commissioners by the State. These figures showed that if there was any deficiency in the incomes of the teachers, it was not due to Parliament, but to the failure of local contributions as compared with those of England and Scotland. That deficiency was not contemplated in the original theory of Irish Education. The late Lord Derby, in his well-known letter, laid down the principle that the National Board of Education before making grants were invariably to require that local funds should be raised, and that they were to refuse all applications in which a salary for the master was not locally provided. That rule had not been carried into effect, while the proportion of State aid had gradually increased until it now formed the main portion of the income of the Irish teachers. The Royal Commission on Primary Education in Ireland in 1870 recommended that the school fees of all children should either be paid for by themselves or out of local rates. In the rules of the National Board of Education it was laid down that before aid was granted the Commissioners were to be satisfied that some 273 provision, was made for the payment of the teacher's salary. So far as theory was concerned, it had always been supposed that the State payments were not to be in lieu of local contributions, but in aid of them. The practice had, however, been in the contrary direction, and there was now no rule which secured the payment of any definite amount from local sources or school fees. That was not a satisfactory condition of things. Looking back at the past state of Ireland, there might formerly have been sufficient reasons for not insisting upon a larger proportion of local aid. Circumstances had, however, greatly changed. The National system had spread throughout Ireland, and, in the opinion of the Government, the time had come when a definite effort should be made to secure that those locally interested should bear a certain share of the cost of Irish education. We could not expect the same amount of voluntary local contributions from Ireland as from England and Scotland, nor did he think it possible to require from the managers of an Irish school the same expenditure as in other parts of the Kingdom. The time had, however, come, for insisting on the payment of proper school fees. In the last Report of the Commissioners of National Education a statement was given of the average annual payment per pupil in the schools in various Irish counties, and the difference was somewhat remarkable. In the county of Cavan the average sum paid per pupil for the year was 2s. 6¾d., including subscriptions and local payments, while the sum paid in school fees was only 1s. 7½d. Was that a fair payment by pupils? Again, in Longford, 1s. 3¼d. was the average amount in school fees, and 10¾d. the average local contribution. And in Leitrim the amount of fees per scholar was 1s. 1d., and the local subscription 10¾d. An effort should be made to change this system, and the Government proposed to make an early communication to the Commissioners with regard to the payment of school fees by pupils in 1877. An increase of school fees would add to the income of teachers, but it would, he hoped, exercise a still better effect upon parents and the pupils themselves. There was at present a great discrepancy between the number of children on the rolls and the average attendance, and 274 there was reason to believe that this was due to an opinion on the part of the parents that the education for which they paid nothing could not be worth very much. And although an increase in the school fees might cause at first a considerable decrease in the number on the rolls, yet it was probable it would produce very little effect upon the average attendance, and might even increase it. It should be required of the manager of every school to find a certain proportion of the cost of the school from local sources, and that proportion should be not less a sum than would be produced by an annual payment of 1d. per week for each child. There were many cases of parents, principally in Ulster, who willingly paid a higher fee, but he thought 1d. ought to be the minimum; and if the manager declined to require that fee, then he should find the necessary contribution from some other source. He did not say that there could be no exception made to this rule. There were outlying districts so poor that they could not expect even this fee to be paid, as might be the case in the Western Islands; but the exception should in no case be made without local inquiry and the issuing of a special Minute by the National Education Board, showing the grounds upon which it was made; for it ought to be very rare. With respect to the payment of contingent result fees, his proposition, briefly stated, was this. The Government were willing so far to modify the operation of the National School Teachers Act of last year in favour of the teachers, as to allow for this year the payment of those fees to the teachers of schools in. non-contributory Unions where a sum was provided from any source by the managers of the school, amounting to not less than would be produced by a fee of 1d. per week per child, and equal to that which would have been voted by the Guardians for the benefit of such school if they had agreed to become contributory under the National School Teachers Act—in a word, they would accept a local contribution bonâ fide provided from any source in lieu of that from the rates. He might be told that the effect of the enforced payment of a minimum fee of 1d. per week would be to close a great many schools. He did not think such would be the case. For his part, he believed that it would do as much 275 to improve the condition of education in Ireland and the feeling of the people as to their responsibility towards their children as anything which had been attempted for the advancement of Irish education since the foundation of the system. The change ought doubtless to be worked with care and prudence and with the desire to avoid inflicting hardships; and if it were he had no doubt that it would be of the utmost benefit to all concerned—parents, children, and teachers. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Vote.
§ MR. MELDON
said, the course pursued by the Government had materially injured the teachers ever since 1874, and had also injuriously affected education. Many of the teachers were very much worse off than they were before the Government interfered. Attention had been called to these facts in the month of March last, and now they were at the end of the Session treated to a general disquisition instead of a practical plan for redressing what was a real grievance. As to a national rate for national purposes, the teachers had not expressed any opinion as to the source whence the funds should be drawn; but they did claim that as the Government had put them in a worse position than they were two years ago, they had a right to look to the Government for compensation. He hoped the Chief Secretary would explain his plan rather more fully as to the contributions.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he proposed that the Government should accept contributions from the managers, or any one locally interested in a school.
§ MR. MELDON
observed, that he understood that if the managers subscribed one-third the Government would then subscribe two-thirds. That might at first sight be a fair arrangement; but the case of Ireland was very different from that of England, because the Roman Catholics had been in many cases compelled to erect training schools for themselves, and a large proportion of the schools were entirely supported by voluntary contributions, without any aid whatever from the Government, yet at the same time the teachers were not liable to be dismissed by the managers, but were in fact the servants of the 276 National Board of Education. On the subject of pensions to teachers, he could not help thinking that scant justice had been done. Some little time back a deputation of Irish national school teachers waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask his favourable consideration of the whole subject of pensions to be granted to members of their body; but the Government had chosen to regard the representations made to them as a demand for more than could possibly be given, and had, therefore, declined to make any proposal on the subject. As to the question of residences, he gave the right hon. Gentleman credit for having redeemed his pledge, but he wished to see a further alteration of the rules with the view of conferring greater benefit on the teachers. He urged that no grants should be made to schools unless proper residences were provided, residences being, in his point of view, as important as school buildings. Another point in connection with the system of education was, he was informed, the abolition of the Roman Catholic Secretary to the Board of Education. That was a distinct breach of faith. The Roman Catholic Secretary of the Board was appointed because Roman Catholic managers could communicate more freely with that officer than with the Protestant Secretary, whose salary was now to be increased in consequence of the abolition of the other office. He wished also to observe that last year the Reports of Inspectors of National Education had been omitted from the Blue Book furnished to Members. In previous years the Reports were given, and as these afforded the only means by which hon. Gentlemen could judge of the efficiency of the teaching staffs, he hoped that next year these Reports would be printed, as they had been heretofore.
THE O'CONOR DON
gave his most hearty approval to the scheme of the right hon. Baronet to accept local contributions from any source in lieu of rates. There was no better way to improve education in Ireland than to exact certain payments from the parents, as thus they would be taught to value education more. If not only the school fees, but the amount of the Government grant, depended on the attendance of the children, the teachers would be induced to exert themselves, and before 277 long we should find not only that there would be greater regularity of attendance, but that the number of children in attendance would be increased. On the whole, the statement of the right hon. Baronet was one which should commend itself to the approval of Irish Members, and his only regret was that it had been made so late in the Session, because he believed, if made earlier, it would have given general satisfaction. He hoped there was no intention to abolish the Commissioners' second secretary ship in Dublin. He did not think it would be justifiable to keep up a larger number of officers than there was work for them to do, and he would not justify the retention of the two secretaries merely on the ground of religion; but the work of the Department was increasing every year, and the number of schools was being largely added to, and he believed two secretaries were required.
§ MR. ERRINGTON
felt grateful to the Chief Secretary for the statement he had made, and for the proposals he had placed before the Committee. Very much depended on raising the salaries and positions of the masters, and the improvement would depend on the manner in which these changes were to be made. The principles that ought to be followed were those raised by the right hon. Baronet—namely, payment by results fees and local contributions. He hoped, as was proposed in the Bill of last year, that the workhouse teachers would be allowed to share in the benefits of the results fees system.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
was sorry the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (MR. Butt) was not in his place, because the Motion in his name would have raised the question whether the Board system or the denominational system was best. The right hon. Baronet, he thought, was rather feeling for denominational education, because if schools were supported by local contributions it would lead to a denominational system eventually. He himself was decidedly for denominational education. He had been lately in Ceylon, where Roman Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, and Mahomedans had each schools of their own, and he went over them with the Governor, Sir William Gregory, who expressed great satisfaction with the working of the system. 278 He did not believe in the religious difficulty. He had no doubt that the Buddhist, the Mahomedan, the Protestant, and the Roman Catholic would all in the end go to the same "happy hunting-ground" if they did what they believed to be right.
§ MR. M. BROOKS
suggested that if compulsory payment was enforced it should be fixed at as low a rate as possible, because of the general poverty of the parents, many of whom could not afford to pay 1d. a-week.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
thought the plans proposed would press rather hardly; would scarcely remove the evils complained of, and would raise the salaries very little. He accepted the principle of a national rate for the support of education in Ireland. Indeed, that was one of the first things that he would vote for had the Irish the control of their own affairs; but he insisted upon this, that a majority of the Irish Members should settle what the national system of education should be. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would state whether he regarded the provision of residences as local contributions.
§ MR. GIBSON
hoped the Government would direct their attention to the system of local inspection before the commencement of the next Session. The duties of the Inspectors were most arduous and important. They were men of great ability, but were labouring under great disadvantages as compared with the Inspectors in England, whose salaries exceeded theirs by hundreds a-year. He thought as the duties of the Inspectors in both countries greatly resembled each other, there ought to be something like similarity in their position.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
entirely concurred in the remarks of the hon. Gentleman, and said he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take the matter into consideration.
said, that in his opinion a compulsory national rate, provided it were moderate in amount and not liable to vary, would not be unpopular with Boards of Guardians in Ireland. The cause of its unpopularity was that it was uneven in its pressure. 279 and that there seemed to be no possibility of fixing a limit to it.
§ MR. M'CARTHY
agreed with, the hon. Member for Dublin (MR. Brooks) that some provision should be made for remitting some portion of the fees required from parents with large families.
§ MR. SWANSTON
thought the Chief Secretary had gone the right way to work to stimulate national education in Ireland, because parents took a greater interest in the education of their children when they had to contribute something towards it.
§ MR. MELDON
complained of the disparity between the numbers of Catholic and Protestant Inspectors, and urged that teachers should be relieved from the enforcement of the payment of fees—a duty which made them unpopular, and which ought to be undertaken by the managers. He also desired to know whether it was the intention to abolish one of the secretaryships, and to appoint an assistant secretary, who would discharge the duties at a much lower salary?
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
contended that as the Roman Catholics were in a majority in Ireland they should, of course, have the majority of the official appointments, but beyond that they ought not to go, for it would be undoing all the heroic measures of the right hon. Member for Greenwich (MR. Gladstone), by which he thought that the question of a man's religion in these matters had been settled once and for ever.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
, in reply, said, the proposal of the hon. Member for Kildare (MR. Meldon) that the system of lending money for the building of teachers' residences to the managers of non-vested schools should be applied also to vested schools had been suggested to him a short time ago by the teachers. He thought it a matter well deserving of consideration, and hoped that next Session he might be able to propose the necessary change in the law. The manager, and not the teacher, would be responsible for the collection of the school fees, and precautions would be taken that the teacher should receive from the manager the proper amount of fees, according to the number of pupils. The reason the Reports of the Inspectors had not been included this year in the annual Report 280 of the Commissioners was that it had been decided, mainly on considerations of expense, to publish the Inspectors' Reports trienially instead of annually. The arrangement proposed by the Treasury respecting the Secretaryships to the Board was simply that the senior Secretary should retire and the junior Secretary become senior Secretary; that another officer should be appointed as Junior Secretary and Accountant, and the office of accountant be abolished. The position of the Inspectors of Irish national schools had been materially improved within the last two years, and any fair claim they might have in the future for any increase of salary would at the proper time receive due consideration. He thanked the Committee for the reception which they had given the proposal as to the enforcement of school fees.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
objected to the principle of making school managers responsible for the collection of school pence. The effect would be that clergymen who had two or three schools under their control would every year be let in for about £30 worth of bad debts, in addition to the cost of collection.
§ MR. MELDON
complained that a sum of £2,500 a-year had been spent in Post Office orders for the payment of the salaries of the teachers.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, the reason for this charge was that the system pursued in Ireland was different from that in England. In Ireland the Commissioners paid the salaries direct; but in England and Scotland the payments were made by grants to the managers of the schools, and were not given as salaries, but simply as the contribution of the State towards the total cost of the schools. He should cause inquiry to be made as to whether any other system than that of Post Office orders could be adopted by which the payment of the salaries with equal regularity would be secured.
§ Vote agreed to.
- (11.) £430, to complete the sum for the Commissioners of Education (Endowed Schools), Ireland.
- (12.) £1,739, to complete the sum for the National Gallery, Ireland.
- (13.) £1,731, to complete the sum for the Royal Irish Academy.
- (14.) £3,587, to complete the sum for the Queen's University, Ireland.
§ (15.) £8,822, to complete the sum for the Queen's Colleges, Ireland.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.