HC Deb 22 July 1879 vol 248 cc1090-5

Order for Second Reading read.


asked the House to read the Bill a second time, with the view that at a later stage a fuller discussion should take place. The Bill was introduced in order to redeem the pledge made repeatedly in the House to deal with the question of pensions to National School Teachers, and it proposed to allocate a sum for that purpose, which it was hoped would meet their requirements. It also made provision for enabling the difficulties respecting residences to be overcome. It was also the intention of the Government to place an Estimate on the subject of salaries before the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. J. Lowther.)


thought they could hardly be expected to read, a Bill of this importance at that hour of the night on the very slender information which had been given to them. He listened very carefully to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman; but unless he had had an opportunity of looking at the Bill beforehand he would not have gathered anything from it. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell them that this Bill proposed to take £1,300,000 from the Irish Church surplus. That, of course, might be a very proper thing to do; but it ought not to be proposed at 2 o'clock in the morning without any explanation, and the right hon. Gentleman ought not to ask the House to read the Bill a second time proposing to deal with such a sum as that. He thought it was impossible to work at this Bill at once without further discussion. Therefore, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Courtney.)


hoped the Motion would not be pressed. This Bill was the redemption of a pledge which was given some time ago. More than 12 months since, he brought forward a Motion on the subject of the National Teachers' pensions, which had been before the House since 1875, and upon that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary gave a pledge that the Government would deal with the matter and indicate how it would be done. There was then considerable discussion on the matter. He had since this twitted the Government with not having carried out their pledges; but they had now introduced this Bill, and at the very late period of the Session at which they had now arrived, he hoped they might be allowed to read the Bill a second time that night, on the distinct understanding that there should be a discussion on going into Committee. This course was often followed when they had arrived at a late part of the Session.


said, that this Bill had not yet reached his hands, and he had heard with the utmost amazement that it proposed to take over £1,250,000 out of the surplus of the Irish Church. The right hon. Gentleman did not inform the House that it proposed to take this sum for a purpose which was not intended when the Irish Church was disestablished. It might be very true that he gave a pledge to certain Members in regard to this matter; but he was quite certain the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich would not have gone away if they had been aware that a Bill of this importance was to be brought forward. He must ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to take the second reading without further notice. It would be necessary to discuss the matter, and to learn from the Government on what grounds they thought it right to ask Parliament, at this period of the Session, to grant a sum of this magnitude for the school teachers in Ireland. As far as he was aware, the surplus of the Church funds had already been disposed of; but it was useless to attempt the discussion of the matter without having the Bill in their hands. It had not been delivered to him, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would not press this measure at 2 o'clock in the morning on a reluctant House.


hoped that the Motion for adjournment would be withdrawn. The Bill had been a good deal discussed. They had paid much attention to it. They had unanimously decided to reserve any discussion till a further stage. As far as he knew, the Bill was not in the slightest degree denominational, and they had now every opportunity of discussing its merits at a later stage. It was the only measure proposed by the Government affecting Ireland which hon. Members had had for the last 15 months in which they could take any interest; and, therefore, he hoped the Bill would be allowed to go through this formal stage.


appealed to the hon. Member opposite to withdraw his Motion for adjournment, on the ground that full opportunity would be given for discussing it later on.


made the same appeal. This subject excited the deepest interest in Ireland. It had been discussed for a series of years, and a distinct understanding was come to that the Bill should be introduced exactly on the lines of that now under consideration. It was true the second stage had been reached some- what quickly; but the lines of the Bill were well known. It was, of course, quite in the power of a single Member to stop a Bill of this kind at that period of the Session; but he would have the same power at a later stage. He would, therefore, appeal to the hon. Member to allow the present stage to pass.


thought it was very delightful to see a reconciliation between the Ministers and hon. Members from Ireland, remembering the difference which existed between them on the previous night. This, however, appeared to him a very extraordinary Bill to be pushed forward at that hour of the morning. The hon. Gentleman had said it was not denominational. Nobody said it was; that made him suspicious. There was something in it. He should certainly, therefore, join in opposing it. Hon. Members talked about the lateness of the Session; but they heard nothing of that on the previous night.


entirely demurred to calling the second reading a formal stage. That was a stage at which they ought to discuss the principle of the measure; and he thought they ought not to take that stage on a Bill presented at that hour in the morning when the House could not have an opportunity of considering, and especially when they none of them knew what the Bill was, because they had not had an opportunity of seeing it. They were getting very lax in their Rules, and hon. Members did not guarantee that the Rules and customs of the House would be adhered to in these matters. It was an ordinary understanding, when Bills had not been presented in time to be in the hands of hon. Members, that they should not be taken that night.


said, as he understood the Bill, it proposed to pension the Irish National School teachers out of the surplus funds of the Disestablished Irish Church, and that seemed to him a very proper method of disposing of those surplus funds. Besides, he was sure they would never have any peace in that House till those surplus funds had been disposed of.


quite agreed that it was not their practice to read a Bill a second time so soon after it was introduced; but, on the other hand, towards the close of the Session, when Business was in a very congested state, they did sometimes adopt a more rapid mode of proceeding. If there were anything in this Bill which could be considered a surprise to the House, of course, he should not ask the House to go on; but, as had been stated by an hon. Member opposite, this was a matter on which the House had been informed for a very considerable time. Two or three years ago, the Government announced that they recognized the force of the application made for the Irish teachers, and some important suggestions were made as to the mode in which funds should be provided for them. A pledge was given that the matter should be seriously considered in order to see how it would work out. It had been mentioned more than once. He did not think, therefore, that the proposal could be considered as a surprise. He thought the suggestion that they should take a discussion on the Motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair was a very reasonable one. He quite agreed that if they were earlier in the Session it would be better to take a discussion on the second reading; but, under the circumstances, he thought they would not be wrong in accepting the suggestion made that the Government would not fix the day for some little time, so as to give ample opportunity to hon. Members to consider the Bill.


thought the very liberal mode in which the Government were going to aid Irish teachers should be a great encouragement to make the same gifts to English teachers. After 10 years' work, he managed to get £2,000 a-year for them; and this large grant would, of course, be a great encouragement to him to ask the Government for more money.


looked at this matter from the English point of view. He thought a most dangerous precedent was about to be established. The Superannuation Vote was already very heavy. Schoolmasters were very well paid already. A feeling was spreading in the country that the Education Vote had been increasing too rapidly; yet, if this precedent were established, he had no doubt strong pressure would be made to get something for English teachers on the Superannuation Fund. Under these circumstances, he thought it was most desirable the Bill should be thoroughly discussed.


ventured to join in the appeal to hon. Members to accept the offer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was unfortunate that an endeavour had been made to pass this Bill without a thorough explanation of it; but, under all the circumstances, at that period of the Session, it did seem to him that the second reading might be agreed to with a distinct understanding that there should be an interval and an opportunity for debate before proceeding with the clauses in Committee.


said, the hon. Member had suggested that an attempt was being made to pass the Bill without thoroughly explaining it. He had not the least idea of leading the House astray. He told the House, a year ago, almost as broadly as he could, what the source was from which the money was to be drawn. He repeated that later on in the Session; and as the Bill was in the hands of Members he was desirous to economize time. He thought there was no need for him to go fully through it in minute detail at that stage of the measure, though he would be prepared to satisfy any desire for information in Committee.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 4; Noes 43: Majority 39.—(Div.List. No. 191.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Tuesday next.