§ MR. MELDON
, in rising to call attention to the condition of the Irish National School Teachers; and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, 'The National School Teachers (Ireland) Act, 1875,' having failed to satisfy the just demands of the Teachers, particularly of those in non-contributory unions, the claims of the Irish National School Teachers deserve the immediate attention of Parliament, with a view of substantially and permanently increasing their salaries, and securing to them pensions upon retirement from old age or ill health,said: Sir, I am sure the House will think I am perfectly justified if I trespass on its time to call attention to this subject. I will recall to the recollection of the House the circumstances under which I first brought the case of the teachers before it, and to the steps which had been taken to ameliorate their condition. On the 9th June, 1874, I had the honour of submitting to this House a Motion very similar to the present. I gave on that occasion expression to the grievances of the teachers. For instance, I complained that in the first place their salaries were inadequate, and that they had to teach the youth of Ireland without having sufficient residences provided for them. The latter was a grievance on which I laid particular stress, and I am glad to say that it has to a very great extent been remedied, and I hope before the end of the year it will be altogether remedied. The other grievance was, that the teachers complained that, no matter how long a teacher served his country as a teacher, when he became incapacitated from ill-health or sickness he had no retiring pension, and nothing was open to him except the workhouse or the pauper's grave. On that occasion my Motion was, by permission of the House, withdrawn under circumstances which I will mention. The Government was represented by the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Baronet stated that I hadShown that the present position of the National teachers was not only unjust to the teachers but was injurious to the interests of education.He also stated that if I would withdraw 226 my Motion he would promise, on behalf of the Government, to meet the demands of the teachers. The Secretary for War stated that "undoubtedly there did exist grievances which ought to be remedied." Therefore I did not press my Motion, but left the Government to redeem their pledges. From that time until the 25th June, 1875, no step of any kind was made to redeem these promises. On that occasion the National School Teachers (Ireland) Bill, which has now become an Act, was introduced into this House. Its object was, not to offer any relief at all to the teachers, but was simply to cause the Guardians of the Poor to contribute to the payment of the school teachers; the proposition being that the amount of payment for results was to be divided into three portions—one-third to be taken out of the funds provided by Parliament, and on condition that one-third was to be subscribed by the Guardians the Government would pay the additional third. On the 31st July a Bill was introduced dealing with the question of residences, and with reference to that matter I have nothing to say, except, on behalf of the teachers, to thank the Government for the attention they paid to the subject, and for the great boon that Bill will eventually give them. The first complaint which I have to make to-night is that so far from the Government having redeemed the pledges which they gave on the 9th June, 1874, the teachers are, in the great majority of instances, in a worse position than they were before they agitated in 1874 for the removal of their grievances. It is true that last Session the class salaries of the teachers were increased to a certain extent, but it was really paying the teachers out of their own pockets, for up to last Session £120,000 was paid to them by way of payment of results, and the only thing that the Government did with respect to this subject was to divide it into two portions—to give £60,000 for results and the other £60,000 to increasing the class salaries. I shall be able to show that this process has produced no benefit to the vast majority of the teachers, but that it has injured them. Two-thirds of the results which were to be allocated amongst the teachers were only to be allocated to them conditionally—that is to say, in the event of a Union becoming contributory under the 227 National School Teachers' Act, the full amount earned by the teachers must be paid to them, but in the event of the Union not becoming contributory, then only one-third of the work which had been done was to be paid for. I should like to call attention to what really was the grievance, so far as salaries were concerned, that the teachers complained of in 1874. The average payment to teachers in Ireland of all classes amounted to £43 6s. 9d., including class salaries, payments by results, and local fees; in England the average amount paid to male teachers was £103 10s., and to female teachers, £62 9s.; in Scotland the amount was £110 7s. 10d., and £58 14s. 4d., respectively. I find, as a result of the legislation that has taken place, that in the Unions which have become contributory every teacher is in receipt now of a much smaller salary than he was in 1874. I will refer to a table given in the 41st Report of the National Commissioners of Education, though I do not accept the table as true and authentic, because it is not. From that I find that the Commissioners have taken and take the principal teachers—that is, 5,000 out of 10,000, in the receipt of the largest amount of pay, and from that data they show the salaries which the teachers get. They show that the first class were in receipt, from every source, of £116 17s. 1d. That was based on the salary—£52 a-year—and on the supposition that the teachers were paid the highest of the results fees. The amount of the results fees in these cases was about £26, but in non-contributory Unions for the last year the teachers only received one-third of that amount. I find by reference to the details that the entire amount receivable in non-contributory Unions for teachers of the first class is £114 5s. 7d., instead of £116 17s. 10d., which they were in receipt of in 1874; that in the second of the first class they were in receipt of £88 6s. 7d. in 1874, and now the amount is £79 5s. 5d.; that the second class teachers in 1874 were in receipt of £62 2s. 4d., and now they get £58 10s. 6d., and that in the third class of teachers there is a difference in the salaries of 6s. 7d. between now and 1874. The first of the first class of female teachers received £82 2s. 1d. now, and £93 2s. 5d. in 1874; the second class, £62 1s. 6d., against £69 5s. 3d.; and so on with the other classes in 228 proportion. Therefore, in the great majority of instances the result of legislation has been seriously to diminish the salaries of the teachers, because at present there are 73 contributory and 93 non-contributory Unions. In other words, the large majority get nothing at all for the same amount of work done by the minority. That is one great objection to the system; but what is the other? It is a most important one; because no legislation has ever taken place in the House that has caused so much injury to education in Ireland as has the Bill of the last Session. It has tended to make the teachers unpopular, for it has led the poor people to believe that it is the teachers who are making them pay the school fees for the education of their children. More, the Bill has stirred up an agitation from North to South against the National system of education. Further, it has kindled religious dissension—it has set class against class, and one religious denomination against another. For seven years the teachers have been agitating for an increase to their salaries, and nothing could have been worse than that they should have had to go through the length and breadth of the land to continue their agitation before the Guardians. In September, 1875, the teachers made a direct appeal to the Unions, and 65 out of 163 were induced to become contributory, but not one of them had the slightest idea they were becoming contributory for more than one year, whereas the Act made them contributory for two years. Ninety-eight remained non-contributory, 31 of which were unanimous in their decision, and seven had only one vote for becoming contributory. At the beginning of this year, when another vote could be taken, out of 65 Unions which became contributory, nine took the earliest steps they could to become non-contributory, 19 which had voted themselves non-contributory by majorities became unanimous, so that out of 93 Unions which again voted themselves non-contributory 62 were unanimous in deciding that they would not contribute. Other figures showed the great objection of the Poor Law Guardians to become contributory. The great question involved is not a merely local one. It is a question for Parliament. It is urged that the expenses of education ought to 229 be provided by the Imperial Parliament, and that the Guardians ought not to be allowed to legislate on the subject as they like. The difference between the amounts which the various Unions are called upon to pay ranges from 6d. to ½d., and the Poor Law Guardians say if there is to be a rate, it should be national, levied equally all over the country. They also urge that it is an odious thing for them to tax ratepayers for purposes which really do not fall within the operation of the Poor Law at all. Besides, I really do not think that it is constitutional or right that the Government should thus shrink from the task which is undoubtedly theirs. The "National" system is not national—it is a State system, and it is perfectly open to the Government to make this paltry grant of £60,000 out of the Imperial Exchequer. It is said Ireland does not contribute towards the support of education as does England and Scotland; but I contend if you take into account the voluntary agencies of education at work in Ireland that she does contribute to education equally with England and Scotland. What will be the operation of this Bill, under which a Union may be contributory one year and non-contributory the next? When you employ a clerk you employ him at a fixed salary, and on certain terms; but here the Government are employing these teachers under an agreement that one year they shall have £84 8s. 10d., and the next year, through no fault of their own, it may be reduced to £63 16s. 5d. Is not that, of necessity, a fatal objection to the scheme? The teacher will never know what his income at the end of the year is to be, and such a system—even if all the Unions were contributory—must fail. I will not dwell further on that point, as I know that I shall be followed by hon. Members who understand the subject better than I do. I have shown that the Government undertook, in the most solemn way, to remedy what they admitted to be a grievance of which the teachers complained, and they ought not to shrink from doing their duty. They ought to carry out the pledge which was given two years ago—namely, in 1874. It is only a small sum of £60,000 a-year which is required for the purpose of placing the teachers' salaries on a sound footing. There are three or four 230 different courses which the Government may follow in the matter. They may make this paltry grant of £60,000 a grant out of the Imperial Exchequer, since they will not give what the Irish people really want—a denominational system. They may make the Bill compulsory, or they may make the rate a national rate, and not throw the burden altogether on one class only of the community. If the Government wish to re-open the question of national education in Ireland they will find no better way of doing it than by the Bill of last year, which has set class against class, Protestant against Catholic, and one part of the country against another. I do not find fault with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for what he has done. I admit that he has done—and the teachers give him credit for having done—his best, and no blame lies at his door; but I do say this is a question which should be thoroughly dealt with by the Government. It is a question for the Government whether they are not strong enough to come down to this House and propose some scheme to remedy what they have admitted to be a serious grievance. The Government have no business to try to throw their responsibilities on others. The duty is theirs. All my Motion asks is, that the attention of Parliament shall be given to a grievance which two years ago was unanimously admitted to exist, but which no attempt whatever has been made to remedy. There is only one other point to which I desire to direct attention. It is a very difficult one, respecting which I hope we will hear some satisfactory statement from the Government to-night. It is the question of pensions. That is regarded by the teachers as of the utmost importance—indeed, so serious do they consider it that at a meeting which they recently held they came to a determination that even out of their miserable salaries they would constitute something towards establishing a pension fund, or something of the kind; but they thought the Government in dealing with the subject should follow the recommendations of the Royal Commission. This is not merely a question of doing justice to the teachers, it is one that vitally affects National education in Ireland. It is perfectly well known that at present there are many incapacitated teachers whom the school managers naturally will 231 not throw on the world to go to the workhouse or to a pauper grave. Now that there are so many attractions for educated men in the Civil Service and elsewhere, how could they expect to find good men for National school teachers unless this question of pensions is settled? Everybody must admit the paramount importance of securing for the instruction of the youth of Ireland men of ability and respectability. It is well known that for many years the teachers have been holding on in the belief that every year they were on the eve of obtaining the boon of a pension. It was admitted in 1874, and again last year, that the system of pensions ought to be introduced; and in answer to a Question which I put to him this Session the Chief Secretary said it was still under consideration. The establishment of pensions was recommended by the Commission which sat on the subject of Primary Education; and what is the use of having Royal Commissions, if from year to year their recommendations are to be put aside? The consequences of the matter being left unsettled have already been very serious, and unless a solution of the question is arrived at, it will be impossible in future to get men who can be safely intrusted with the education of the children of Ireland. I cannot conclude without expressing my obligations for the very courteous hearing which has been accorded me, and I beg now to move my Resolution.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, 'The National School Teachers (Ireland) Act, 1875,'having failed to satisfy the just demands of the Teachers, particularly of those in non-contributory unions, the claims of the Irish National School Teachers deserve the immediate attention of Parliament, with a view of substantially and permanently increasing their salaries, and securing to them pensions upon retirement from old age or ill health,"—(MR. Meldon,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CHARLES LEWIS
, in presenting a Petition on the subject from the National Teachers of Derry, said, that in the main he cordially assented to the terms of the Motion, though he regretted some of the observations that had fallen from 232 the hon. and learned Member as to the Bill of last year having been one of the worst blows the system of National education had received. He had no hesitation in saying that ever since the present Government had been in office the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland had shown himself most anxious, not only to give his individual attention to this subject, but in the most discreet, proper, and efficient manner, to try and get over those internal difficulties by which they all knew this question was surrounded. At the same time, it must be allowed that there was a great difference between the Irish system and that of England, verging very nearly in the case of the former of going on that dangerous principle known as taxation without representation. The view he had always taken of the question was that they had a right to insist that in initiating and maintaining a system of National education they should comply with the primary requisite, without which any system was a sham, that those who were called on to teach in their schools should have as the basis of their salary a sufficient sum for their maintenance and comfort. The absence of that basis existed to a certain degree when the system was first introduced 40 years ago, but it existed now in a much more aggravated form, owing to the increase which had taken place in Ireland, as well as England, in the cost of living. The real root-evil of the present system was that the salary of the National school teachers in Ireland was a mere mockery; indeed, they could not expect a system to be successful when the State dealt with its servants in such a way, saying to them—"We will present you with what we call a salary, but which is a miserable pittance, with the chance that by the fleeting will and opinions of Guardians, elected periodically, you may possibly at the end of the year receive some wretched supplement to it to help to fill your empty cupboards." He admitted cum animo that the Act of last year was passed with a good intention, and that in some cases it had affected a partial remedy; but, unfortunately, it must be remembered that at present even the contributory Unions had had no opportunity of becoming non-contributory, and it was a significant fact that of the Unions which a year ago passed the contributory resolutions, several had already shown a desire to become non- 233 contributory. No fewer than nine Unions had taken up that position, and nothing could be more degrading to the National school teachers than in such an arbitrary and fickle manner to be deprived of the small supplement to their salary which they had been taught to expect. Those Unions kept the word of promise to the ear and broke it to the hope. Legislation could not be allowed to remain as it was. Either they must take the bull by the horns, and make the Act compulsory, or the Government must be more free-handed, and make a great addition to the present contribution of £60,000. It would be a far less evil that the people should submit to a compulsory Act without representation than that the present wretched system should go on. Under any circumstances they must not keep the National school teachers in their present destitute position. He did not see how they could expect to get or to keep efficient teachers if they gave them such miserable salaries, and no pensions to look forward to. It was no wonder that during the 40 years the system had been in operation 6,000 of the National school teachers should have deserted the service. Men would be always on the watch to obtain better employment elsewhere, and even if they remained it was but sluggish service that would be obtained from them. The most efficient system might be rendered most inefficient on account of such a mode of remuneration, which was hardly consistent with common honesty, and which no private individual would, adopt towards his own servants. The workhouse school teachers, whose salaries were below those of the other teachers, complained that, through the abolition of gratuities since the Act of 1875, they received barely the same pay as before, even in contributory Unions; while in non-contributory Unions the Act had resulted in a positive loss to them. In conclusion, he would ask that the teachers generally should be elevated from the degradation in which they had been involved by such a grievously inadequate system of payment.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he was one of a deputation which waited on the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland to represent this matter to him. The right hon. Gentleman received them very courteously; but he regretted to find that the case was now where it 234 was then, no decided step having been, taken on the subject. He thought the teachers had great reason to complain of the inadequacy of their remuneration. Unless we paid men adequately for the duties they had to perform we could not expect those duties to be performed efficiently. Besides, when a teacher became incapacitated, he ought to be properly, though not extravagantly, provided for. Unless this were done we could not expect men to become school teachers, as so many other modes of employment were open to them in the present day. He hoped and felt confident that this matter would receive the favourable consideration of the Government, and that before six months had elapsed something would be done which would prove satisfactory to the people of Ireland and to those meritorious public servants, the National school teachers.
§ MR. KAVANAGH
said, although he concurred in many of the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Kildare (MR. Meldon), he could not fully agree with the terms used in the first part of the Resolution. He could not concur with those who were advising the Government to make the Act of 1875 compulsory as regarded the non-contributory Unions, and as the Resolution seemed to point that way he could not support it. As he himself took some part in endeavouring to get the Unions in which he had influence to become contributory, he thought it right to state that when doing so he pressed the matter upon the guardians on the grounds that they were only asked to agree to a provision of a temporary character, and he was therefore bound to protest against its being made compulsory. There could be no doubt that the education of the young was a question of the highest national importance, and therefore the funds for its support should be levied off all kinds and sorts of property, and not thrown upon the poor rate which was levied off land alone, and was far too heavily burdened already.
§ MR. LAW
said, it was of great importance that the salary and status of the National school teachers in Ireland should be improved. It had been well said, "Such as the schoolmaster is such will be the school." To secure and retain the services of really good men better pay was necessary, and it was worthy of consideration whether so large 235 a portion of their salary should be left dependent upon fees, a casual source of income quite beyond their control. Two-thirds of the Unions of Ireland had refused to act upon the permissive measure on that subject passed last year, and the result was that there existed a gross inequality in the remuneration of this class of public servants which was justified by no substantial difference in the work they did, but depended merely on the accidental whims of the Boards of Guardians. The Act, in short, could not be deemed successful, since its practical effect was to leave two-thirds of the National schoolmasters of Ireland, as had been said, "shamefully underpaid." He understood that something would be done by the Government for the teachers in the matter of residences, and also in regard to pensions; but the question of their salaries still remained to be dealt with, and he thought that a small amount of local taxation for that purpose would not only be unobjectionable in itself, but would have the effect of making the people more anxious to send their children to school than they were now, as they would feel that they had in any case to pay something towards its support. A rate of about 1d. in the pound all over Ireland, half being paid by the landlord and half by the tenant, was hardly a matter about which it was worth while to raise the question of taxation and representation. He thought this Act could not be left as it was. He looked upon the National system of education in Ireland as a decided success, and he was sure the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland desired that the system should be maintained with still greater efficiency, but that could not be done until this Act was amended.
§ MR. H. A. HERBERT
said, he was certain that no class in Ireland would hesitate to be taxed for the purpose of raising funds to enable these National school teachers to occupy that respectable position in society to which their merits and the very important work in which they were engaged entitled them, and he therefore urged that the Government should propose a measure which would put taxation equally on all classes to raise funds for that purpose.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, he cordially agreed with that part of the Resolution which related to the necessity for increasing the salaries of the teachers and securing 236 pensions for them on retirement, and would express a hope that it would receive the attention of the Government. He could not go so far as to say that the Act of last Session had failed in any respect, because it had only been in operation for seven months. As to the former part of the Resolution, he did not think that the basis of taxation which was established by it was fair and just, for that one Union should pay ¾d. in the pound and another 6d. was a thing which no official Member of the House could have foreseen when the Bill was passed. In that respect there was no doubt it had been unsatisfactory. He considered that the result fees were diverted from the purpose for which they were originally intended and went to pay for the education of children whose parents were perfectly able to pay for them. He believed that by a recurrence to the 1d. a-week fees from parents who could afford to pay for the education of their children, a large sum would be realized, which would enable the Government to pay adequate salaries to the teachers; and the possession of a staff of really good masters would greatly assist in getting over the difficulties which would be encountered when the compulsory system was introduced into Ireland, for the children would always be attracted to schools in which a good education was given. That the salaries of the teachers were insufficient was admitted over and over again, and a comparison with the other parts of the United Kingdom was instructive. In England the amount of the Government grant was £772,768, and the school fees £697,773; in Scotland the grant was £100,370, and the fees £115,706; but in Ireland the grant was £408,129, and the school fees only £53,966. The average paid in fees in England was 8s. per head, in Scotland 10s., and in Ireland 2s. 9d. That showed that the idea of supporting the schools in Ireland by fees was a failure. It had frequently been said that the contributions to education in Ireland were very small, being as low, according to some, as 13 or 14 per cent. The Report, however, of the Commissioners on Primary Education in Ireland showed that in 1868 the voluntary contributions outside the National system amounted to £108,000, and inside the National system to £101,000—in all to £209,000, or more than 55 per cent. 237 Since that year, the voluntary contributions in Ireland had increased. The landowners in Ireland would not be found backward when they were called on to assist in promoting the education of the people, but they ought not to be the only persons to bear the burden.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
said, it seemed clear that they were all agreed upon the point that the salaries of the National school teachers, considering what an excellent body of men they were, were wretchedly low, and that it was in the interest of the Empire that they should be raised; therefore the question might be put out of any contention in future in that House. How it was to be done was another and a difficult question. When the proposal to permit the Unions to contribute towards the salaries of the teachers was last year before the House, he pointed out to the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland the difficulties that would stand in its way. Even those Boards of Guardians which had refused to contribute acknowledged that the salaries were too low, and their objection to contribute was based on several grounds, some of which, he thought, were well founded. He contended that, in consequence of peculiar circumstances, the people of Ireland were asked to contribute much more towards the education rates than the people of England. In England, in 1874, the amount raised by rates for school purposes was £197,000, and in Ireland £35,000, about the same proportion, according to population; but if the comparative wealth of the two countries were considered the Irish contribution should not be more than £11,000. Unfortunately, the voluntary contributions to schools in Ireland were given in a form which the Government did not recognize. There had latterly been a large increase of rateśin Ireland, the great bulk of which, in the shape of county cess, fell on the tenants, and they were therefore naturally averse to any additional increase. They were the more unwilling to pay augmented education rates because the National system as at present worked in Ireland did not secure that religious and denominational education which Protestants and Catholics alike desired. If the Guardians contributed to the expenses of a school, they would naturally seek to have control over it; and as in most of the Unions 238 the majority of the Guardians differed in religion with the great mass of the people, the latter would strenuously object to placing the control of the schools in the hands of the Guardians, and would justly raise the cry of persecution. He objected to the proposal to levy a, 1d. rate on the whole of Ireland, for that would simply amount to an additional tax of £20,000, besides the school rate of £35,000 now raised. The Government could easily solve the difficulty by raising the payment for the Irish National schools to the same rate as that given to the Scotch. Scotland, with a population of 3,360,000, received £464,000 a-year, while Ireland, with a population of 5,400,000, received only £628,000; in other words, Scotland got 2s. 9¼d. per head and Ireland 2s. 3d. He was disappointed with the way in which the Conservative Government had dealt with this question. He had been told before he became a Member of that House that he should find the Conservatives much more in accord than the Liberals with the views of the Irish people on the subject of denominational education; but, in his opinion, the present Government had dealt the most insidious and dangerous blow to denominational education in Ireland that it had received for the last 30 years by the attempt to place the schools under the control of the Boards of Guardians. The scheme to which the Irish people so strongly objected was in effect a school board system in disguise, and without the protection which popular elections afforded.
§ Dr. WARD
said, that the Government, when they came into office, gave the teachers an increase of salary, but they coupled it with conditions which deprived two-thirds of the entire number of the increase. They had, in fact, increased the grievance they had endeavoured to settle. The truth was the country was not satisfied with the present system, and that was the reason the Boards of Guardians would not contribute funds. The present system was bad in principle, bad in practice, and it must eventually be given up, and the sooner that was done the better it would be for both Irish and English interests. He charged the Government, in respect of the National Board, with having broken their bargain in placing, within the last two years, Sir Robert Cane and 239 Sir Dominic Corrigan on the Board as the representatives of the Catholic opinion of Ireland.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, the question which his hon. Friend who had just sat down had referred to was a large one—namely, whether they should abrogate the great National system and institute another, but he would not venture upon a bye-question of the character of that before the House to discuss whether denominationalism should be substituted for the National system in Ireland, as he did not think that the Resolution of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kildare pointed in that direction. He believed that the question before the House was one which the Government should solve. It was an admitted grievance, and it should be remedied. It was now quite clear that unless something was done to meet the wishes of the teachers, education in Ireland would suffer. At present they received miserable pittances, and the system which now existed ought not to be tolerated in any civilized country.
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for King's County that the most useful course to adopt would be to consider what might be said against the Resolution—what, in fact, would be said by the Scotch and English constituencies when they found an application of this sort coming before the House—that was, the Irish Members asking that a scheme more just towards these teachers should be secured for improving their salaries. There could be no doubt it was the duty of the Government to release the impoverished people of Ireland from the state of suffering and degradation to which the existing system exposed them, and he hoped they would take such a course as would secure for the National school teachers in Ireland a better salary, and in all respects due consideration. The Chief Secretary for Ireland would tell them that the state in which the National school teachers in Ireland were kept, so far as salary was concerned, was disgraceful. Their pay was a reproach to Ireland, and a reproach to the age. How did that arise? Here they had the fact that the local gentry of Ireland were not embodied in any feeling of sympathy with the masses of the people of Ireland; and although the masses of the people were now re- 240 moved from the time when it was made felony to educate them, they yet were exposed to sufferings in connection with it such as had that evening been described. It was frequently said in that House, and he felt bound to repeat it with sorrow, that the gentry of Ireland had so completely failed in sympathy with education in Ireland that there was no comparison between them and the gentry of England and Scotland. There was the blot. The failure was not in the State assistance. He would go further, and say that the middle classes in the large towns had not come forward to aid the schools as the same class had done in England. It would be false patriotism to deny that if the pennies which went every Saturday to other tills went elsewhere there would be no call to apply to the national Exchequer. There was no question of that truth. He did not want on that occasion to present Ireland in the position of asking a fresh dole. The failure arose out of the non-recognition of the national schools in Ireland which had been accorded to England and Scotland, and the consequence was that the gentry and middle classes were alienated, and had no sympathy with a system which had no relation to the wants and especially to the religious feelings of the whole people. It had been said, in fact, that the education given was seditious in itself, and it had been discouraged as much as possible. Patriotism and religion were banished from the Irish schools. He stated as a fact that everything breathing of patriotism was as a consequence frowned upon and was banished from the school books, and he challenged contradiction. They had made the Irish school books barren of every attraction, and could they wonder that it was decaying and dying all over Ireland? Why, in the 22 school books of the National schools of Ireland, the name of their own country was only twice mentioned. If that was the case, how could it be expected but that there should have been a deficit in local subscriptions? The pith of the case was that the National school teacher was pinched between the State and the neglect of the people, who wanted a system of education according to their own wants and tastes. The people had left the schools, and that was the reason why this great failure had occurred. And 241 yet they called this a national system. Why, it was an insult to the people. But why should the national schoolmaster be the victim of this unhappy state of things? He appealed to the Government to take some steps—he did not say what they should be—but he did ask that the Irish teacher should not be crushed between two millstones, or crushed and humiliated. He did not ask that they should be made independent, but he did ask that some decent provision should be afforded them. Evil would be the day when they entered the school-room without being actuated by a feeling of sympathy which would make them more useful, because more heartily in accord with the feelings of those who were to be instructed, and of those who must, in order to make any system effective, co-operate in making it so.
§ MR. O'REILLY
believed that the present inadequate remuneration was driving away the best class of teachers into other paths of life, and that was in itself a great national loss. With respect to residences for the teachers, he thought that pressure ought to be brought to bear by the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland upon the localities to provide them, and this would prove to be a welcome boon. But the real difficulty existed in connection with the question of salaries and pension, and it was one which on many grounds deserved the earnest attention of Her Majesty's Government. It had been said that Ireland did not contribute as largely towards the cost of primary education as England did; but it should be remembered that Ireland was a poor and England a rich country, and that the system of education to which the people of Ireland were expected to contribute was one with which they were not satisfied. Still, he thought the Irish Members would perform a patriotic duty, if they insisted on a greater amount of aid being rendered by those who were able to afford it. The provision made by the right hon. Baronet that the salaries of the teachers might be supplemented by contributions from Boards of Guardians had failed, though he readily admitted that the intention out of which it arose was good. In conclusion, he wished it to be understood that if his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kildare 242 had proposed to make that system compulsory he should not have supported the Motion before the House; but he had his hon. and learned Friend's permission to say his Motion did not imply any such intention.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Kildare involved questions of so much importance and difficulty that he was sure the House would excuse him from entering into many of the topics which had been touched upon in the course of the discussion. In attempting to deal with the subject-matter of the Motion he had steadily kept two points in view. He had not so much thought it necessary to put additional money into the pockets of more or less deserving teachers, as to do what he could to insure that a more efficient staff should be provided for giving education in Irish schools; and in considering the means available for the purpose he had not lost sight of the disproportion which existed in Ireland between the amount of money contributed for educational purposes from Imperial and local sources. The hon. and learned Member for Kildare had not included the question of teachers' residences in his Motion, although he had referred to it in his speech. He supposed from this that the hon. and learned Member approved the way in which the Government dealt with this branch of the question in their Bill of last year, by undertaking in the case of vested and non-vested schools to supplement contributions from local sources for the purpose of providing teachers' residences. Her Majesty's Government had acted in a similar spirit in reference to incomes by adding to the amount voted by the guardians by way of result fees earned by the teachers. The scarcity of local contributors in Ireland, as compared with England and Scotland, had been attributed to the system of education supported by the Government not being acceptable to the public; and that system was denounced by the hon. Member for Louth (MR. Sullivan) as one that banished from the schools the slightest recognition of religion. In answer to that, he could only say that from his experience, he believed the religious idea was as much represented in the system of education in Ireland as in the system which now prevailed in England. In 1874 there were 1,789 clerical managers, of whom 243 1,252 were Roman Catholics, as against 989 lay managers. Would those clerical managers act if the slightest recognition of religion were banished from the schools? When 1,000,000 Irish children of all denominations were on the rolls of those schools the system had a fair claim to be considered national, and when the parents accepted for their children the education given in those schools, could they fairly urge their dislike of the system as a reason for declining to contribute a small portion of its cost? He thought it would be admitted there was no longer any force in the claim on the part of Ireland to be exempted from local contributions on the ground that the system was not a national one. Nor did it seem that such a view was now taken in Ireland to any great extent: for it appeared from a Return just presented to the House that out of 163 Unions, it was in four only that they objected to vote money upon the ground that the system was not national. When speaking on this subject in 1874, while admitting that some measures ought to be taken to improve the position of the national teachers, he pointed out the necessity of looking to local contributions for this purpose: and by the measure of last Session he had attempted to evoke such local contributions. No doubt, such a policy was now even more urgently required than when his predecessor in office (the Marquess of Hartington) had recommended it: for while the local contributions amounted only to some £56,000 in 1868 as compared with State aid to the amount of £270,000, they were but some £70,000 in 1874, as compared with State aid to the amount of £448,000. Referring to the effect of the Act of 1875, he found that it had been adopted in about 70 Unions, including those of Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Belfast; the total valuation of the contributory Unions being over £7,000,000, as against the valuation of £6,000,000 of the non-contributory Unions. What was the position of the teachers under the Act in the schools of contributory Unions? They had obtained £32,000 from the Unions as payment for results, £64,000 from the Treasury for the same purpose, and £32,000 increase in the salaries, making a total of £128,000 as against £64,000 that they might have earned by way of results fees under the system in force last year. That, he thought, would be 244 admitted to be a very satisfactory improvement in the position of the teachers in contributory Unions. Coming to the non-contributory Unions, he would admit that the condition of the teachers in them was very different from that of teachers in contributory Unions; but their position, as a whole, was better than it was in 1874–5. The increase of salaries was a special boon to the teachers of the smaller schools, who were the class to which the hon. and learned Member for Kildare had always referred as being peculiarly in need of better pay: and they were able to earn a certain sum in addition by result fees. The total incomes of the whole body of teachers in non-contributory Unions during the current year might be taken approximately at £3,500 more than in 1874. It must not be considered, however, that the whole time of the teacher, particularly in these small schools, was entirely devoted to the work of the school. It was obvious that he had, and must have, other means of obtaining a livelihood. ["No, no!"] There was no doubt whatever that beyond the income from the school, he earned not unfrequently much more in the way of payment from pupils, which was never heard of by the Commissioners of Education. The losers by the new system in non-contributory Unions had mainly been large schools and the convent schools; but he would remind hon. Members from Ireland that, according to the Revised Code of the Education Department in Great Britain, schools now lost a portion of the Government Grant earned by them for results, if there was a failure of local aid. He could say on behalf of the Act that he thought, in spite of what had been said, that it had in many ways even in non-contributory Unions done no little good, and he knew, as a matter of fact, that among the strongest supporters of the Act almost invariably had been found the Irish landlords, on whom the hon. Member for Louth had made some observations which seemed to him hardly fair: for in this way many of them had shown that they were not indifferent, but ready to tax themselves for the purposes of national education. He was bound to admit that the success of the Act had not been all that he had hoped; on the other hand, it had been more successful than many of his hon. Friends in Ireland had predicted. It had done 245 this—it had added to local contributions, which before were very scanty, an annual sum of £32,000 for two years; but more than that, it had initiated a better system of local contribution in Ireland, and done something to induce the wealthier classes to take more interest in the education of the people. When he proposed it last year, he said it was merely a tentative measure. It might fail, and if it did it would rest with the House, at a future period, to amend it. He confessed, however, he still looked forward with great hopes to its ultimate success, without the necessity of fresh legislation. Yet he admitted that something required to be done to meet the case of teachers in non-contributory Unions. To decide what that should be was not easy: and looking to the recent date of the Act which had been under discussion, he thought the House would readily allow him time to consider how this difficulty might best be met. He could hold out no hope that the entire sum requisite should come from the Imperial Exchequer. That would be not only a mistake in itself, but it would be a more fatal mistake now than at any former period, when they had endeavoured to obtain, and had been so largely successful in obtaining, local contributions for Irish education. Nor was he prepared to propose that the voluntary rate should be changed into a compulsory rate for the whole of Ireland. Another suggestion had been made by the hon. Member for Longford (MR. O'Reilly), which was something akin to what had been recommended by the Royal Commission—that the grant should bear a fixed proportion to local contributions. That suggestion, on the whole, commended itself to his mind as the best, but he could not express any definite opinion on the part of the Government as to the course which ought to be pursued. As to securing to Irish National school teachers pensions upon retirement from old age or ill health, he might say that he had communicated with his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject; but it was right to add that this was perhaps the most difficult part of the question brought forward, because it must be borne in mind that the teacher was more the servant of the school managers than of the Government, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might, if pensions of any kind were conceded to Irish 246 teachers, be called upon to meet a similar demand from Great Britain. It was asked why they did not bring the teacher more under the control of the Government; but if such a thing were attempted, there were thousands of schools in Ireland which might be withdrawn from educational purposes by their managers, and the Government would then be compelled to provide not only fresh teachers, but fresh schools too. The only feasible solution of this question that had been suggested, appeared to be that the teacher should obtain a certain annuity from the Government on showing that he had provided a Post Office annuity, or something of the kind, for himself. He could assure the hon. and learned Member for Kildare that the whole subject had by no means escaped his attention, and he was anxiously endeavouring to arrive at some satisfactory solution of it. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. and learned Member would not force a division on his Motion.
§ MR. MELDON
After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, which, I think, means something will be done this Session, I shall, with the leave of the House, withdraw my Motion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.