§ (1.)£23,400, Public Education, Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the sum now asked for by the Government on account of Public Education in Ireland was £23,400. He did not propose to call in question the amount of the Vote; but in looking into the details he found that £3,000 of the sum was to go towards the salaries of the principal and assistant teachers, and that a considerable portion of the remaining sum of £20,400 was for an increase in the payments for result fees to the Irish National school teachers. He need scarely say that this was a Department in which he was glad to see an increased expenditure; and he was sure that the hon. Members with whom he had the honour to act would always be glad to see a satisfactory increment in the result fees. It was also satisfactory to find that there had not only been a larger number of pupils presented for examination, but that the rate of payment to the teachers for each pupil had been increased. Therefore he had no desire to contest the amount of the Vote; but he desired to take this opportunity of warning the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who was responsible for this Department, that upon the consideration of the Vote on Account, or else upon the regular Estimates for the year, the Irish Members 895 would feel obliged to take a full view of the constitution and conduct of this important Department of the State in Ireland. In its constitution the Board of National Education in Ireland was, perhaps, the most objectionable of any Department connected with the Public Service. It was composed, with few exceptions, of men in official positions who approached their duties with an official bias, who had not sufficient time to devote to the duties of the Board, who enjoyed no share whatever of the public confidence, and who left the duties connected with the position to be discharged by a paid Commissioner, who had neither the confidence of the teachers, of the people, nor of the Irish Members in that House. He desired to ask the Chief Secretary, or the Secretary to the Treasury, what was the explanation of the course lately pursued by the Government towards gentlemen who held the position of Inspectors of the Board. He observed that these Inspectors recently met with a check from the Board of Commissioners, and a stinging rebuke from the Lord Lieutenant, for no better reason than that they had endeavoured to better their condition. Why should not Civil servants be allowed in Ireland the same freedom of representation and agitation to improve their lot as was allowed to Civil servants in England and Scotland? For these Inspectors the highest standard of education was required. They had to pass a difficult examination, and were called upon to discharge very onerous and difficult duties; and it was, therefore, with surprise and regret that he had noticed, in the attempt they had made to improve their condition, the check which the Board of Commissioners sitting in Marlborough Street had attempted to impose upon them. He could assure the Committee that if Sir Patrick Keenan in Marlborough Street, or Earl Spencer at Dublin Castle, took upon themselves to rebuke the School Inspectors for the only reason that they were desirous of getting better terms for themselves, the difficulties of the Irish Question would not be lessened, nor the discharge of duties by the public officials of Ireland rendered more easy or efficient. He certainly thought the policy pursued by the Board at Marlborough Street, in endeavouring to gag the National school teachers and to stifle their representations 896 by terror, deserved the attention of Parliament. He had been present on the occasion when the course pursued by the teachers provoked the despotic action of the Commissioners, and had led to the issue of a Circular warning the National school teachers that if they admitted to their confidence persons outside their own body, so dangerous as Members of Parliament, and allowed them to be present at their conferences, the teachers themselves would be held individually and collectively responsible for the language used. He had never heard of any attempt to make English Civil servants responsible for the language used by Members of Parliament at any of their meetings; but the teachers in the National schools in Ireland were told, in the most arbitrary and tyrannical manner, that they must be prepared to lose their miserable situations or discountenance the attendance of Members of Parliament at their meetings and disavow their utterances. Last year his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) and himself happened to attend a public congress of the teachers, and afterwards a public dinner in the City of Dublin. He was aware that the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan and himself did not always use the kind of language which was acceptable to Her Majesty's Government. On that occasion the teachers drank the health of Her Majesty the Queen, but they did not drink the health of Earl Spencer, nor were they any more called upon to drink the health of Earl Spencer than that of the insubordinate usher who had been recently distinguishing himself in Dublin Castle. The teachers thought that to drink the health of Her Majesty the Queen was enough; and although the omission of the health of the Lord Lieutenant was not owing to any action of his hon. and learned Friend or himself, he confessed that if the health of Earl Spencer had been drunk by the teachers, both his hon. and learned Friend and himself would have been obliged to leave the hall. In consequence of the teachers having limited themselves in their loyalty to drinking the health of the Queen a Circular of the most despotic and cowardly character was issued, which would have the effect of bringing the influence of terror to bear upon the proceedings of the teachers. He wished to ask whether or not the 897 teachers were to be allowed to communicate freely with their Parliamentary friends, and to hear their addresses when in public meeting assembled, without being threatened with the severe penalty of dismissal at the hands of the Commissioners? He wished also to refer to the conditions under which teachers were examined for promotion. The only communication made to the teacher by the Commissioners was the result of the examination; and that communication was made, not to the teacher himself, but to the manager. It was a simple intimation that the teacher had failed to pass the examination, and was not to be promoted on account of his answers to the questions put to him not having displayed sufficient merit. This was the vague and general communication made to the manager; and the Commissioners thus enjoyed the power of depriving the teacher of promotion, and rendering the results of his examination nugatory, upon no rule of reason or conceivable maxim of fair play. Many of the teachers who went up for examination with a view to promotion wished to know, for their own guidance, how they stood in relation to the subjects upon which they were examined—in how many they had passed, and in what they had failed. This information was certainly most essential for their future guidance, in the event of their desiring to present themselves for future examination. How was it possible that a man would ever be able to pass if he was not informed as to the particular subjects in which the examination had shown him to be defective? It was an act of unreasonable and wanton despotism to refuse to give him this information except through the manager. In a case which had been brought under his (Mr. Sexton's) notice the teacher who went up for examination received nearly all the marks which would have entitled him to pass; the examination was very close indeed; but although he passed in 58 per cent of the subjects, the simple intimation he received from the Commissioners was that his answers were not of sufficient merit to entitle him to promotion. Although he was only an infinitesimal percentage under that which would have enabled him to pass, for all he knew from the Commissioners he might have failed to answer satisfactorily even 10 per cent of the questions. The rules adopted were 898 absurd and ridiculous, and by the course pursued the Commissioners placed the most able teachers on a level with the most ignorant and stupid dullard in the whole Service. He contended that the teacher should be supplied with information as to the marks which he had received in every branch. This would be a means of enabling the teacher to qualify himself for the next trial. No intellectual teacher who presented himself for examination ought to be subjected to the ill opinion which would be engendered in the mind of the manager against him by a simple communication that he had failed. There was no rule of the Service which required a teacher to present himself for examination. And as he did so, simply as a volunteer, he was entitled to have the result of the examination supplied to him directly and confidentially. [Mr. CAMPBELL-BAN-NERMAN dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made a gesture of dissent. Would the right Gentleman answer this plain question, How was the teacher, in the event of desiring to go up for a further examination, to qualify himself for success, if the examiners refused to tell him in what particular branches he had failed? That was a plain question, and he desired a plain answer. In all other examinations the result was communicated to the candidate. He should certainly press the right hon. Gentleman for a reply to this question, and he should ask for the withdrawal of the rule which now operated so injuriously upon candidates for promotion. He might, in conclusion, say that the time was approaching fast when the Irish Party would invite the attention of the House to the consideration of the whole subject, and endeavour to effect a thorough and radical remodelling of this Department, which was the most meddlesome and the most despotic in Ireland.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he was accustomed to the use of strong language, and also to the statement of cases by what he did not wish to characterize more strongly than terms of exaggeration. If, however, the state of things in this case was as represented by the hon. Member—namely, that when a candidate went in for a voluntary examination in a number of subjects and did not pass, he certainly thought he was entitled, if he desired, to know the 899 number of subjects in which he had passed, and the number of marks he had obtained. That he believed to be a very-fair and reasonable request. He could not agree, however, with the hon. Member that the candidate was entitled to have that information directly without the knowledge of his manager; because he believed that the manager was perfectly entitled to know what was the nature of the examination, and in what manner the candidate had acquitted himself.
§ MR. SEXTON
remarked, that that was not his contention. Let the managers know if they would; but let the teacher be informed of the number of marks he received in each subject.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, this was a mere matter of form. It was only reasonable that a teacher who wished to know how he had gone through an examination should receive the information; but it was necessary that he should apply to the manager, and that the information should go through the manager. That, he understood, was what actually took place now. The hon. Member had asked a good many questions in reference to the teachers, and had varied them with great ingenuity; but in spite of this ingenuity, and all the ingenuity which he could exercise, in his inquiries as to the Commissioners of the Board in Dublin, he could not find out that there was any reason for saying that a teacher was debarred from ascertaining the result of his examination. If it were so, he certainly would say that he would at once look into the matter with a strong disposition to apply a remedy; but he could not conceive that anything of that kind occurred. He differed from the hon. Member in the opinion that there should be direct communication with the teacher behind the back of the manager of the school. The hon. Member talked of the rules laid down by the Commissioners as being the exercise of unreasonable despotism; but so far as he was able to judge of the proceedings of the Board there was nothing arbitrary, harsh, or despotic in them at all. He did not understand the hon. Member to make a grievance of the case he had referred to, in which, owing to some infinitesimal percentage below the necessary standard, one particular teacher had failed to pass. With regard to the Cir- 900 cular to which the hon. Member had called attention, that was, no doubt, a very delicate subject; and he might say at once that he was not disposed to think that the issue of Circulars from the Education Department interfering with the discretion of the teachers in matters such as that to which this Circular had reference was very desirable. In his opinion, such things as those had better be left to the good taste and feeling of the teachers themselves; but, at the same time, he did think that in a country like Ireland, where political feeling ran so high, it was peculiarly undesirable that the teachers, who had under their charge the children of parents of all classes and denominations, should take a prominent and public character as violent partizans either on one side or the other. As he understood the matter, the Circular was issued simply with the desire to prevent the teachers assuming such an attitude in regard to politics as might have a tendency to do harm to the cause of education, a result which was not unlikely to follow if they were found associating themselves with the views of a particular Party, and thus causing a feeling of discontent. There was, he felt sure, no intention to prohibit the teachers from carrying out in the ordinary way their own views on political matters; but he thought the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) would agree with him that it was not a desirable thing, à priori, that a person in the position of a teacher should publicly identify himself with Party politics. Although the object of the Circular had been what he had just stated, he would not say whether it was the most judicious way of effecting that object; but it was certainly not issued with a desire to prevent the legitimate exercise of the teachers' rights as citizens. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the claims raised by the School Inspectors for additional pay, and in reply to the contention of the hon. Member he had to say that there was no objection to the servants of the Education Department putting forward a statement of their case, although there was a strong objection to the creation of an organized agitation in any Department, and it was in consequence of such an organization being undertaken by that class of employés under the Education Board that 901 the step had been taken of which the hon. Gentleman complained. With regard to the Vote itself, he felt quite sure that the Committee generally, and the hon. Member himself, would agree with him that it indicated an exceedingly satisfactory state of things. It was considered that under the circumstances a very liberal estimate was made at this time last year as to the amount that would be required in Ireland, and it had turned out that that estimate had been more than justified. He was glad to say that there had been a far better attendance of the children in the schools, and that there was also evidence of increased prosperity in the country. The result was very satisfactory, especially as it added to the emoluments of that very hard-worked and deserving class of public servants, the school teachers of Ireland.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
desired to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant if he could inform the Committee whether there was any prospect of dealing with the question of education in Ireland by means of a Government measure this Session? There could be no doubt that the teachers in Ireland did not get their due proportion of emolument, owing partly to the irregular attendance of the children, and partly to the failure of so many Unions—indeed, he might say, of almost all the Unions, to make the contributions which he, for one, thought they were bound in honesty and in honour to pay. Still, there was the fact that they did not do so, and the consequence was that the teachers, through no fault of their own, were mulct of a portion of the remuneration to which they were undoubtedly entitled, and which they ought to receive. He hoped his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary would be enabled to hold out some hope that the measure, which he had every reason to believe had been drafted, and which was intended to deal with various pressing points in connection with the subject of Irish education, would be brought forward during the present Session, and that it would not, as was the case last year, be postponed in favour of some Sunday Closing Bill, or other measure, of not nearly so much importance. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) with respect to the compo- 902 sition of the National Board of Education, he felt quite sure that no one who might be called upon to constitute such a body on any future occasion would constitute it exactly as it was now. Still, that Board had had to deal for a number of years with the question of National Education; and it had, upon the whole, achieved a considerable amount of success, owing mainly to the action of Sir Alexander Macdonald and Sir Patrick Keenan, both of whom he believed possessed the confidence of the clergy and teachers generally throughout the country. He believed that although every individual act of theirs might not have commanded general approval, still that all interested in Education owed them a deep debt of gratitude.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had stated that he was accustomed to the violent language of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton); and in answer to that remark he (Mr. Healy) could only say that they on those Benches were accustomed to the fogginess of the replies of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had made, as far as he (Mr. Healy) could understand him, no defence as to the allegation of his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton), that the marks obtained by the teachers at the different examinations were not made known, and he had not stated that he would insist in future that they should be given. The reason was that the right hon. Gentleman dared not assume any independence in that House, either on this or on any other subject in connection with Ireland, the fact being that he had no more independence than the Mace at the Table; and on any question with reference to Irish education he would have to refer to Sir Patrick Keenan as to whether that gentleman thought this or that course desirable. If Sir Patrick Keenan said he thought such a course ought to be taken, the answer given was his, and not that of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. He would inform the right hon. Gentleman, if he were not already aware of the fact, that in every other class of examination the marks obtained by the candidate were given. They were given in the case of all students in other public examinations; and even in the case of the cadets of the Royal 903 Irish Constabulary the number of marks gained at an examination was made known. In England the number of marks in every examination was published, both in the case of the successful and unsuccessful candidates; but for the purpose of putting a stumbling block in the way of the Irish National teachers this small amount of information was refused, and the result was that the candidates were put to the unnecessary trouble of grinding up in the whole of the 13 subjects over and over again for want of knowing the particular elements in which they had failed. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary of a question he had put in connection with this subject on the 20th of June, 1884. He would read the Question and answer as reported in Hansard's Debates, vol. 289, page 991. He had asked—Whether it is a fact that the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland conceal from the public the names of the examiners appointed by them to conduct the annual examination of teachers; whether, as a consequence, questions, or perhaps whole pages of questions, have frequently been given, outside the prescribed course, on the teachers' programme; whether the Commissioners of National Education will for the future, like the "Universities, South Kensington Department, and the Intermediate Education Board, place upon each set of questions the name of the examiner on that subject; and, whether the names of the examiners appointed to conduct the next July examinations will be given; and, if not, would he explain the reason?To this the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) replied—The Commissioners of National Education inform me that there is no concealment whatever in the matter, and that it would be impossible to put the names of the examiners on the examination paper, as their preparation, as well as the examination of the candidates' answers, is a joint work, and not done exclusively by individuals. The Commissioners have furnished me with a memorandum of the system of examination adopted, which seems both efficient and fair. I should be glad to show it to any hon. Member who wishes to see it.He (Mr. Healy) asked—"Will it be laid on the Table?" and the right hon. Gentleman replied—"I have no objection to that." And, of course, it was never laid on the Table, as far as he (Mr. Healy) was aware; and he might state that he had examined the Papers which had been presented in 1884–5, with the assistance of the Librarian, and could not ascertain that the promise 904 made by the right hon. Gentleman had ever been complied with. He certainly thought that this was a matter on which even an Irish Chief Secretary might be supposed to have an opinion of his own, and in regard to which he might act without the aid of Sir Patrick Keenan, especially when he found that both in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and in England, in the case of all examinations for the Universities, for the Bar, and in other cases, the custom was that the number of marks should be published. Surely this ought to be sufficient for the Chief Secretary, if he really were a man of any independence, and he ought to be able to say that what was done elsewhere should be done also in Ireland. It certainly seemed to him that this, at least, was a matter in which the right hon. Gentleman might exercise a little personal judgment, without thinking it necessary to refer it to Sir Patrick Keenan. With regard to the Circular that had been issued to the teachers in Ireland by the Board of Education, there could be little doubt that it was intended to prohibit those men from attending National meetings, or from indulging themselves in any way with matters of a political character. The right hon. Gentleman had explained that its object was to prevent the teachers from taking an over-prominent part in politics; but he had not explained to the Committee that by the terms of that Circular the teachers were held directly responsible for any proceedings that might take place at meetings attended by them. The Circular was issued last August, and in it the teachers were informed that they would be held individually and collectively responsible for the opinions of any person who happened to address them. This was practically the substance of it; and if any hon. Gentleman opposite could refine upon the words used in the Circular he would give him the benefit of any distinction he might be able to draw. There could be little doubt, however, as to what was the real meaning and intention of the Circular. In his opinion, that Circular was distinctly drawn up to prevent any Representative of the National Party from attending the meetings of the National teachers. It might be said, and of course it would be said, that this was not the case; but he asked the Committee to consider what were the facts? The 905 Circular was issued immediately after the National teachers had been addressed by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) and himself (Mr. Healy). At the dinner of that body they ventured to make remarks, some of which had reference to Sir Patrick Keenan. These speeches were reported, and immediately after the report had appeared this Circular was issued. What, he asked, was the effect of that Circular? It was evidently intended to debar the National teachers of Ireland from receiving any aid and assistance from the National Party. In it they were praetically told that if their Representatives happened to use any language which Sir Patrick Keenan and Co. considered ought not to be used, or might think unjustifiable, unless the teachers present immediately got up and dissociated themselves from those who used that language, they would be held responsible for it. This was really not intended as a muzzle upon the teachers; it was rather a muzzle which the Government desired to put upon the Representatives of the National Party under the impression that they would not jeopardize the interests of the teachers by using language that might get them into a scrape. For his own part, he (Mr. Healy) need hardly say that, although the Speaker might put the clôture on him in that House, Sir Patrick Keenan should never subject him to such a process. He had, however, yet to learn that the Government of Ireland would ever dare to call any teacher over the coals for not dissociating himself from any remarks he (Mr. Healy) might make. He extremely regretted his inability to attend the last meeting of the teachers in Ireland, his absence being due to his being in Glasgow. Had he been present, he should have made comments on the question in general, and Sir Patrick Keenan in particular, as would, he thought, have set the whole body of teachers in Ireland in revolt against that Board. As the matter now stood, either the obnoxious Circular must be withdrawn or discredited, or the National teachers, as a body, must be induced to set themselves against it. He repeated that the Government dared not carry out the threat the Circular contained. Even as bad a Government as the Irish Government would not care in such a matter to put themselves so 906 grievously in the wrong as to hold 16,000 educated men and women responsible for the language of the independent Representatives of the Irish people. For his own part, he cared about as much for the Government or Sir Patrick Keenan as he did for the Tycoon of Japan. With regard to another matter, he must take exception to the Circular issued by the National Board to the Inspectors of Schools, censuring them for seeking to improve their position by approaching the Government without the intervention of the Board. This was a proceeding which seemed to him to savour very much of bureaucratic tyranny. He must say that he could see no reason why the Inspectors of National Schools should be debarred, any more than Civil servants generally were, from seeking the aid and influence of Members of Parliament to help in redressing their grievances. As a matter of fact, there was no other body of men to whom they could look for redress. They had for years been pressing their case upon the School Department in Marlborough Street, and no attention had been paid to them; and he thought that to attempt to divorce these gentlemen from their Representatives now was nothing less than an act of the most high-handed character. [The hon. Gentleman here quoted from that part of the Circular addressed by the Education Department to the School Inspectors, expressing regret at the action they had taken.] The statement here made was a very vague one; and he should like to know what it was that the Government complained of in the conduct of the Inspectors of Schools? These gentlemen surely had as much right and title to endeavour, by any means in their power, to better their position, as had any other class of men; and he should like to know what was the construction the Government placed upon these rules? His experience was that the Government drew up very careful Minutes and instructions, which were so framed that they could put upon them any interpretation they thought proper. When the rules appeared to be most liberal, they interpreted them in the narrowest spirit; and when they were narrowly framed, they gave them the widest and most liberal interpretation as against the individuals with whom they dealt. Almost 907 every incident was construed by some latitudinarian interpretation of the rules to be an act against the rules themselves. A rule might bear a very innocent look; but it would be found that the interpretation placed upon it by the Government was generally of such a character as to make it a tyrannical and arbitrary regulation. He would ask the Government when did they intend to bring in the Bill of which the House had heard for a considerable time, but which had hitherto been kept in the background? With regard to the Estimate before the Committee, it was one against which he had nothing to say, and which he thought the Committee would be very glad to vote. It was satisfactory, inasmuch as it provided for increased, payments by results to the body of the Irish teachers. He was extremely glad that they had been able to deserve this, and to recognize the fact that the Government had introduced this Vote. It was but a few days ago that they had heard that the Government had a scheme for generally improving the position of teachers in Ireland, and they had promised to bring forward a Bill on the subject. Promises in regard to this had for some time been made by Sir Patrick Keenan; but up to the present moment they had nothing but vague hints on the matter. He supposed the Government intended, as usual, to try and put the Irish Representatives in a corner by the well-known device of promising a scheme for an improvement in the pay and pensions of the teachers, and perhaps in regard to their residences and some other matters, and that they meant to embody in the same measure other proposals that would not be acceptable. Considerable anxiety was felt on this subject, and the Bill ought to be introduced at the earliest possible moment, so that the Irish Representatives might know what it was the Government really intended to do. There was another matter also which the Government could not avoid discussing, and that was the Circular or Minute which had been drawn by Sir Patrick Keenan, a gentleman who appeared to favour the retention of the Maltese dialect in Malta. This Circular had reference to the education in Gaelic of Gaelic-speaking children; but this was a matter which he (Mr. Healy) should have something to say about at a later period, when he 908 should take occasion to comment on the manner in which Sir Patrick Keenan was posturing in Malta as the patron of the Maltese dialect, while, apparently for professional purposes, he was doing everything he could in Ireland to extinguish the native language of the Irish people. Sir Patrick Keenan's apparent love of the Maltese dialect would seem to be due to the fact that there was a patois spoken in Malta which the English Government were anxious to favour at the expense of the Italian language, which most of the Maltese people preferred to the patois the English Government were trying to force upon them.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, the Bill about which questions had been put to him, and of which he had given Notice, would appear on the Paper for next Monday, when he should move for leave to introduce the measure if the Motion could be reached before too late an hour. He did not know, however, whether that would be the case as the Navy Estimates, had to be taken that evening, and would probably last until late; and if that were so, he should hold the Motion over until Tuesday.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
expressed a hope that when the Bill that had been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the Government was introduced, it would be found to be one in which whatever benefits it might propose to confer would not be wrapped up with conditions which would destroy their value. He hoped that care would be taken to prevent children being compelled to attend schools where the religion taught was contrary to that held by their parents. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) had last year intimated, when the question was brought before the House, that he thought the power of obtaining sites for schools in Ireland was needed; and he further declared that probably sites for teachers' residences might in some cases be required. Although he made no distinct promise on the latter point, he had, however, spoken very strongly as to the necessity of sites for schools in certain parts of Ireland, particularly in the North. He hoped the Chief Secretary would be able to tell them that the Bill he had promised would deal with this subject. He (Colonel Nolan) had se- 909 cured a day—next Tuesday week—for discussing this question.
The hon. and gallant Member seems to be discussing the provisions of a Bill of which Notice has been given, but which is not at present before the Committee. It is not, therefore, in Order for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to discuss that matter in connection with the present Estimates.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he would not, after the intimation he had received from the Chair, make further reference to the Bill. He might have put it in a rather more roundabout shape, which, however, would have come to the same thing. He might have congratulated the Chief Secretary on the fact that another £20,000 was to be given to the teachers in Ireland, and have pointed out that this was a fact reflected great credit on the teachers who had earned the money, but that, although the sum was considerable, it was quite inadequate to the wants of the teachers. And then he might have pointed out that, inasmuch as the teachers were in receipt of inadequate salaries, they could not afford to pay for improved residence?
MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he did not think that anything could show more clearly the contrast between the way in which the people were treated in England and in Ireland than the facts which had been brought out in the course of the debate. If an Irish teacher or Inspector were to find fault with the Government, or if he happened to be present at a meeting at which an Irish Member of Parliament, who might be totally unknown to him, found fault with the Government, he would be held responsible for the utterances of that Member, and be liable to dismissal. Now, in this country there was a very eminent gentleman, famous in the world of letters—Mr. Matthew Arnold, who held the office of Inspector of Schools. Mr. Matthew Arnold, writing in The Nineteenth Century, and speaking of certain trials in Ireland, said that the government of Ireland, and especially the Castle system in the Metropolis of Ireland, was not only unnatural, but anti-natural. When an English Inspector made such a statement, no one ventured to rebuke him; but if an Irish National school teacher happened merely to listen to anything of the kind he became liable 910 to censure from the authorities, and even to dismissal. He did not think there could be a more curious illustration of the difference between the treatment of people in this country and in Ireland. He was glad that something was now being done to improve the condition of the Irish National school teachers. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce his Bill as soon as possible, and that when it was brought in it might be printed and circulated at once, so that the public might have an opportunity of forming an opinion upon it. He could assure the Government that they would not be content with any half-hearted measure.
§ MR. PICTON
said, he had no intention of occupying the time of the Committee; but he wished to express a word of sympathy with the Irish teachers. Hon. Members opposite had spoken of the threatening Circular which had been addressed to the teachers by the Board of Commissioners. Now, they all agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had stated as to the un-desirability of elementary teachers, or any other school teachers, mixing Party politics up with the lessons it was their duty to give; but when a difficulty arose on that score, surely a kindly and polite intimation might have been addressed to the school managers, who would have known how to deal with the matter. A Circular, such as that which had been issued by the Department in Dublin, was only calculated to create irritation in the minds of the teachers, and to produce opposite results from those which were desired. He could only say that if the teachers of Ireland were treated in that way, it afforded a very marked contrast indeed to the enormous amount of liberty and latitude accorded to hon. Members from Ireland in that House.
§ MR. MOLLOY
wished to know if he understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary rightly that the marks obtained by the teachers were communicated to them through the manager? [Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN: Yes.] The answer of the right hon. Gentleman afforded another example of the extraordinary replies received in that House by Irish Members who were interested in Irish affairs. As a matter of fact, nothing of the kind took place. He had it on the best authority that what took 911 place was this. A school teacher went up for examination, and after the lapse of a certain time a communication was made to his manager to the effect that he had not passed his examination; but that was the total amount of information afforded. The point raised by his hon. Friends was, whether or not a teacher was entitled to such information as would enable him to know what were the subjects in which he had or had not passed. That was the information for which his hon. Friends asked; and it was certainly most desirable that every teacher should know how it was he had failed. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that, in his opinion, the school teacher was entitled to certain information; and would the right hon. Gentleman, as Chief Secretary, undertake that in future he got that information. If not, and it was a mere question of referring backwards and forwards to different Departments in Ireland, he, for one, was unable to see what the use of a Chief Secretary in that House was. They might just as well communicate, by means of an ordinary penny postage-stamp, with Dublin. He (Mr. Molloy) would not say that this grievance existed; but if it did exist, it ought to be remedied; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would undertake that it should be remedied?
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, that he had answered various questions upon the subject during the last half-hour. What he had stated was that he quite agreed that the fullest information should be given in regard to the details of the examination, which was usually afforded in all such examinations. At the same time, he thought that it ought to be given through the managers, and not to the teachers direct. The claim was that there should be a direct communication between the teachers and the examiners upon the subject. [Mr. SEXTON: No.] All the hon. Member could insist upon, and he thought it was quite fair, was that the communication should be made through the manager. He was not intimately acquainted with the rules which applied to other competitive examinations; but he believed that in regard to many of them the details given were very limited indeed. He was distinctly of opinion, however, that all the information usually given in such examinations should be 912 afforded to candidates from among the school teachers through the managers of the schools with which they were connected.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had made himself very clear. For his part, although he had listened very attentively to the discussion since it commenced, he confessed that he was still in a state of uncertainty whether the right hon. Gentleman had given any undertaking that he would see that the complaint of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) was remedied, and that this objectionable practice should be no longer allowed to prevail in Dublin. It would appear from the last few remarks of the right hon. Gentleman that he thought the information upon the subjects in which the teachers had failed to pass should be given to the school managers. [Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN: No.] He (Mr. William Redmond) had certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was making an application for knowledge, as to the subjects on which the school teacher had not satisfied the requirements of the examination by the managers, the condition on which the information was conveyed to the school teacher himself.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
No; I only stated that the information would not go direct, but would be conveyed to the teacher through the manager.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the information would only be given in case the manager applied for it; whereas, in many cases, the manager would have no personal interest in making the inquiry, although in all cases the teacher would be very much interested in obtaining the information. He thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to say plainly, "yes" or "no," whether he would give the information that was required to be given to the teacher on the teacher applying for it. That was what the Irish Members wanted to know; and to that question he did not think the right hon. Gentleman had, as yet, given a distinct answer, nor did he expect that they would succeed in getting a definite answer either. There was another point in reference to this matter which he 913 should like to emphasize, and it was the insult which had been put upon the Irish National Members by the Circular issued by the Commissioners to the school teachers. He believed that before there was an Irish National Party in that House the school teachers often got the advice of the Irish Members, and constantly consulted with them as to the manner in which it would be best to forward their interests. Nor did he know that the Government had ever interfered with such consultations between the school teachers and the Irish Members. And why was that? It was because, at that time, the Irish Members, unfortunately for Ireland, were either all Whigs or all Tories. Things had very much changed since; and now the action of the Commissioners, who issued the Circular, amounted to this—that the school teachers were to understand that as long as they only consulted, in regard to their interests, with Whig or Tory Irish Members no fault would be found with them; but directly they showed a disposition to put their claims and their interests in the hands of the Irish National Party the Government would come down upon them at once and say—"No; that must not be done." The Bishops of Ireland had considered that it was appropriate they should place the question of education in the hands of the Irish National Members; and in view of that action on the part of the Bishops he wanted to know why the Government should commit an act of gross insult to the Irish Members by issuing a Circular practically forbidding the Irish school teachers from consulting with them? He thought the conduct of the Government ought not to be allowed to pass without a strong protest. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had just entered the House, and he would ask him if he thought it was proper conduct on the part of the Commissioners to issue a Circular to the school teachers stating that they should not consult with the Irish Members of Parliament with reference to their interests? If they were not to consult with the Irish Members of Parliament, with whom were they to consult? Were they to consult with the English and Scotch Members? He was afraid, if they did, they would obtain very little satisfactory result from the consultation. If they were not to consult with the 914 Irish Members, were they to go upon their knees to Earl Spencer, and his surroundings in Dublin Castle, and implore them to look into their case? It was simply infamous that such a body as the National school teachers of Ireland should be ordered by the Government not to hold communication with the Irish Members of Parliament. It was difficult to conceive how the Government could possibly consent to the issue of such a Circular. There was only one explanation to be given, and it was the same explanation that was given in regard to almost every act of the Irish Government—namely, that through the school teachers, and through every other channel, the primary wish of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and the Government generally in Ireland was to do everything in their power to weaken the hands of the Irish Party, led by his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and to shake the confidence of the Irish people in that Party. He thought the Committee was entitled to know from the Chief Secretary why Her Majesty's Government had thought fit to prohibit the Irish National school teachers from soliciting the interference and support of the Irish Members in their case. He did not see of what use an Irish Member was, at all, to the people of the country he represented if they could not confide their interests to his hands for explanation in that House. It appeared to him to be the most natural thing in the world to expect that the school teachers, if they had a grievance—and Her Majesty's Government admitted that they had—to make that grievance known to Parliament through their elected Members. What they were told by the Government was that the school teachers must not make use of their elected Representatives at all. Did the Government require that the National school teachers should burn down houses, or shoot some landlord, or do some other desperate act before they could insure attention being paid to their wrongs? Did they wish to drive them into illegal courses, and, if not, why did they prohibit their making use of the Irish Members of Parliament unless the real reason was their desire to weaken the hands of the Irish Party? When the long-promised Bill was introduced, as it would be soon, the National school 915 teachers would recognize that they owed it to the Irish Members generally in spite of the Circular issued by the Government prohibiting the Irish teachers from consulting with their Representatives. He thought that if hon. Members on the other side of the House, and especially below the Gangway, had the spirit which ought to exist in them, they would strongly protest against the action of the Government in directing the school teachers notto consult with their Members. Such an act was a gross infringement of the rights of the school teachers, and a gross insult to the Representatives of the people. Why should not the Irish Members do everything they could for the National school teachers? Why should they not communicate with them and give expression to their grievances on the floor of that House? There was no reason whatever for the prohibition, and there could be no explanation except that it was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Government to discredit the Irish Members, and weaken the confidence of the Irish people in them. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to put an end to the difficulty, both in the House and in the country outside, by declaring distinctly what objections there could be to a consultation between the National school teachers and their Representatives, as to grievances. It was a simple question, and he thought he had a right to expect an answer to it.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
desired to point out that the Poor Law Guardians of Ireland, as a body, were in favour of education; but they could not expect the Boards of Guardians to contribute largely out of the rates in order to assist the work of education so long as it was in the hands of a class of which they disapproved, and so long as the Irish people had no control over the system of education. He was satisfied that if Parliament would establish any system of education in Ireland that would be truly National, the different Unions would be delighted to become contributors to it; but so long as they had a Board which was in every sense anti-National they could not expect the Irish people to stultify themselves by approving of a system which 916 they, as Irishmen, most strongly condemned. He would also point out to the Committee, in connection with this subject, that, as in many other instances, the information derived from Dublin Castle was altogether unreliable. Two years ago the Union which he had the honour to preside over was foolish enough to become a contributor to the educational expenses. They were told that if they became contributors the contributions they would be called upon to make would be about £255. With that understanding, the Union unfortunately consented to become a contributor, and then they received an order from the officials in Dublin Castle directing them to pay £500, or double the sum they were first told would be required from them. He wished to call attention to that fact as an example of the unreliability of the information which was received from Dublin Castle. If the Government would make the system truly National the Guardians would be found ready to support them.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, they very often in that House heard allusions made to Dublin Castle; but he presumed that as long as they had a Government there must be some centre from which that Government should act. Let it be called the "National Port" if they liked, and he would not differ from hon. Members as to the propriety of the nomenclature. He did not suppose, as sensible men, that they could comprehend the existence of a Government without some central place from which such Government would have to express its opinions and issue its instructions. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond), who had spoken with his usual animation and ability, had stated that the Government carried on the work of education in Ireland from Dublin Castle. The hon. Member was altogether in error in speaking of the National Board as a Government, seeing that it was simply a Department. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had been for years a Member of that House, and it had not been upon one occasion, but upon hundreds, that he had had communication with those hard-worked officials—the National school teachers. They were persons to whom the country owed a deep debt of gratitude; and, whoever was responsible for the recent arrangements, it was quite certain that an 917 opportunity should be afforded to the school teachers for making their grievances known. He had never grudged the sums paid out of the public funds for educational purposes in Ireland. He believed they made many of their own grievances, and added many grievances unnecessarily to those which really existed. But the one point which it was desirable to keep in the foreground was how the people of Ireland were to be taught, and trained, and brought up in knowledge, not only literary, but moral. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think that he ought to go a good deal further, and to use the word "National"—a word often heard in debates in that House. If he had the acute and logical intellect of the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), he was quite sure, if he could have the advantage of a conversation with the hon. and learned Member on the subject, so that he could derive from the hon. and learned Member the instruction which the hon. and learned Member was so well able to impart; if he could have that advantage, he would, no doubt, be told that a great deal in the use of the word "National" depended upon its definition. Assuming that to be correct, was he wrong in saying that the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond) was begging the whole question. The meaning of the word "National" was this. It was generally associated with attempts on the part of a people who had been struggling under penal laws, persecution, and confiscation to make themselves free, their progenitors having been engaged in a similar undertaking before them. [A laugh.] This was no laughing matter. Of course, the modern Plutarch who wrote for The Freeman's Journal, and who said that he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) was generally unintelligible—of course a modern Plutarch—might he say a £10 Plutarch?—was far superior to the Greek Plutarch, and was bound to be correct.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
rose to Order. He wished to know whether the hon. Baronet, whose speech, no doubt, was most interesting, was in Order in bringing Plutarch into the debate?
I think the hon. Baronet should address himself more 918 directly to the Question before the Committee.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he knew that it was the desire of the Chairman to prevent any difference in that House; and there was no one more indisposed than he was, in the few observations that he proposed to make, to produce such a state of circumstances. If, for a moment, humble animal that he was, he were to take up the position of a lion, he would say that his jackal in that House would be the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond), for the hon. Member always rose to a question of Order on every occasion when he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) ventured to address the House. The hon. Member was a philosopher by his manner, style, and mode of address.
Order, order! I must remind the hon. Baronet again that the subject now before the Committee is a Supplementary Vote of £23,400 for Education in Ireland.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he knew from experience that it was the Chairman's sense of fairness that induced him to treat him (Sir Patrick O'Brien) differently from hon. Members opposite, because he agreed with the hon. Gentleman in politics; but as they were talking on this question he had no desire to shrink from it. One word as to the question of the National school teachers. It had always been his opinion, during the long time he had sat in the House, that the teachers verbally communicated with Members; and he himself had frequently done for them what no hon. Member opposite had done, notwithstanding their "lip" sympathy. He was one of the few men in the House who had endeavoured to induce the Government to do justice to this important class, and to make use of the legislative power of Parliament in compelling the Boards of Guardians in Ireland to do their duty to the teachers. Hon. Members opposite might talk as much as they pleased; but why they did not make better use of their words and power his unintelligible intellect was unable to comprehend. The teachers, however, fully comprehended one thing. They knew that hon. Members opposite were repeatedly making declarations in their favour, and asserting their readiness to do justice to the teachers in every possible way. They were constantly 919 vaunting all that the teachers and the country owed to them; but they invariably declined to put their precepts into practice, and never attempted to use legislative means for furthering the interest of the teachers and compelling the Boards of Guardians to do justice to them. He trusted that what he said now, if unintelligible to hon. Gentlemen opposite, would be intelligible to the people of Ireland, and that the Irish people would realize the difference between the "lip" sympathy of their professed friends and a determined effort to secure that their grievances should be remedied and full justice done to them. The statement of his hon. Colleague (Mr. Molloy) as to the treatment the teachers received from the Board of Commissioners he entirely confirmed. He could not understand why, when a man devoted his time and labour and the midnight oil to the advancement of himself in the world by hard study, and was then told that he had failed in his examination, that he should not be fully informed as to the cause of his failure. That was a legitimate matter for the consideration of the House, or of any other deliberative assembly. It was said they were not to be free to speak their minds openly, although they naturally desired to ventilate their grievances with their Representatives, if they had the opportunity. He maintained that it was for the House to declare what the conduct of the Board ought to be in this respect. It was an educational question, and he should have thought that with reference to such a question all Party politics might have been laid aside, and that the Orangemen, Moderate Liberals, Nationalists, and the still larger number who in Ireland were waiters upon Providence, wishing to see in what direction the wind would blow—whether it blew across the Atlantic as it did for nine months out of the 12 in Ireland—would all meet on a common ground. As to the wind, he warned hon. Members opposite that the day might come when they would find it blowing across the Atlantic in a way that would be anything but pleasant for them—for there were other things blown across the Atlantic besides steamers; and in his humble opinion the hesitating class in Ireland, men without the strong and grand vertebræ which used to be a characteristic of the 920 Irish race, who regarded the whole political atmosphere of Great Britain as un wholesome, and would willingly accede to the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) that they might with advantage be towed 2,000 miles away from the British Isles, who were not adventurers like Cromwell and Raleigh and the pirates of the old Spanish Main, not men who were ready to write one thing one day and another the next—not men who would praise people in a religious journal to-day and denounce them in a journal of free thought to morrow——
I must again ask the hon. Baronet to confine himself to the Question before the Committee, which is the Vote for Education in Ireland.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
apologized for having transgressed the ruling of the Chair. He should have confined himself to the Question from the first, were it not that the speeches he had heard had led him into a digression. He had come down to the House that day to support his hon. Colleague (Mr. Molloy), with whom he had never had a difference, except a political one. He had come there to say a few words upon a social Irish question; but he had found himself surrounded with an atmosphere of Nationalism, and he had to ask the pardon of the Chair if, when suffocated by it, he had used an expression he should apologize for. He knew hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he knew what was said of them in Ireland. In that country, if they had the mob with them, they said, "Go it, Jem," and if they had not the mob with them they said, "Laugh him down." There was nothing like laughing a man down when they were unable to answer him. But that was not the question. The question was whether there had been an improper interference with the National school teachers of Ireland. If there had been, no hon. Member in that House would be stronger in his denunciation of so abominable a principle than he would; and he had no doubt that he would receive the support of every hon. Gentleman sitting around him; but if it was not so, and the question was simply how these teachers were to have their grievances remedied, let them come to the point at once, and not spend their 921 time in talk without arriving at a legislative remedy. He assumed that hon. Members opposite would give British power in Ireland some two or three years to last; and, assuming that that was so, were they to allow a deep sense of injustice to sink into the hearts of these men maltreated by the Government—maltreated by the Boards of Guardians, and maltreated by everyone in Ireland who had the right to interfere with them. If hon. Members were really anxious to do something for this class he would ask them, and especially the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond) and the hon. Member for the County of Waterford (Mr. P. J. Power), to restrain their Nationalistic influences until they found themselves in the possession of full power. In the meantime, it was not desirable to allow these men to starve, or to exist in a state of semistarvation; but by the action of the House of Commons, irrespective of the fact that there were elected Guardians, or ex officio Guardians, the time had arrived for requiring the Poor Law Unions to act upon some compulsory system.
§ MR. DEASY
said, he begged the hon. Baronet's pardon. Every one of them must be very much obliged to the hon. Baronet for his very learned speech; and they must feel indebted to the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond) for having afforded him an opportunity of making it. They had been told for some time that there was no prospect of the hon. Baronet ever being returned again for King's County; but, after the speech they had just listened to, he trusted that some of the Universities whose claim to representation was under discussion the other night would recognize the hon. Baronet's genius. If they would only do so, he did not think the House would any longer be charged with not having a fit Representative of learning among its Members. He now wished to put one or two questions to the Chief Secretary. The first had reference to a point which had been raised by the hon. 922 Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) in regard to the teachers who went up for examination not receiving from the Board of National Education any information as to the particular subjects in which they had failed. He was of opinion that, whether the managers applied for it or not, it ought to be readily supplied to the teachers who presented themselves for examination. He did not think that a more reasonable proposition could be made, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would accede to it. In many places the manager might have no curiosity to see such a Return; but whether he had or not, he did not see why the manager should be supplied with information as to the particular subject in which the teacher had failed. There was another point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway County (Colonel Nolan) which had not been answered, and it had reference to the compulsory provision of residences for the teachers at the schools. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman, in any Bill he was about to introduce on the subject, would make it compulsory upon the owners of land to give a site for the teachers' dwellings. It was impossible for a teacher who had to walk three or four miles in the morning to the schoolhouse, after having spent the night in a wretched and miserable hovel, to give that attention to his duties which he would be able to give if he resided in a comfortable house beside the school. It was equally necessary that good schoolhouses should be provided for the children, because it could not be expected that children would attend to the instructions of their teachers, no matter how competent those teachers might be, if their schoolroom was uncomfortable, and not suitable for the purpose for which it was used. He was afraid it was impossible, unless some such provisions were made, for the children to obtain that complete advantage from the services of the teacher to which they were entitled.
§ MR. KENNY
said, there was another question of a somewhat similar nature which he would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. Before putting it, he would say a word upon the teacher's grievance in being refused all information as to the subjects in which he had failed in his examination. He thought 923 the refusal was somewhat unfair to the teacher. No similar system was carried out in England, or even in Ireland, in regard to any other public examination. The candidates in all the examinations he was aware of who passed in two or three subjects and failed in others were informed as to the subjects in which they passed; and if it became necessary to present themselves again they were not examined in those subjects. The question he wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to was one which, some time ago, he brought under the notice of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), when Secretary to the Treasury—namely, the curious anomaly which existed in Ireland with regard to the cost of repairs of non-National schools. The Commissioners of National Education in Ireland were always repairing the schools vested in them at the public expense; but schools vested in local Trustees—who were generally the parish priests in the South of Ireland, although probably in the North they were Presbyterian ministers—had to be repaired either by local contributions or by the Trustees themselves. In the South of Ireland nearly all the Bishops set their faces against vesting the local schools in the Commissioners, but preferred to vest them in local Trustees, who had to repair them at their own expense. They were placed by that circumstance at an unfair disadvantage compared with the vested public schools. He was acquainted with instances in which the local Trustees had spent as much as £100—perhaps a small sum in itself, but a good deal for a small local parish in Ireland—in repairs, because, being a non-vested school, it must have fallen into disrepair if an expenditure had not been incurred. This was a grievance which was keenly felt in many parts of Ireland, especially in the Southern Provinces. If the right hon. Gentleman would give an assurance that the subject would be taken into consideration, and steps taken to remedy what was an unquestionable grievance, it would be gladly accepted.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that he had on more than one occasion endeavoured to direct the attention of the Government to the character of the school books given out by the Board of Education. He had been kindly sup- 924 plied with the latest edition of the Books issued. He was sorry that he had not had time to examine them closely, and he was consequently unable to pronounce an opinion upon their literary or educational merits; but from a cursory examination they appeared to him to be very defective in one respect, inasmuch as they contained nothing whatever in connection with the National history. He thought the time was rapidly passing away when it would be considered good policy, even on the part of the Government, to deprive the children of the opportunity of knowing anything of the National history. If a fairly-educated Irishman who was accustomed to writing were asked to write the history of England, he would be able at once to obtain books which would enable him to write such a history; but if he were asked to write the history of Ireland, even if he were an Irishman of considerable education, it would take him at least six years before he could collect the history together.
§ MR. WARTON
rose to Order. He wished to know whether, under the present Vote, which was confined to the salaries of school teachers, it was competent for the hon. Member to discuss the question of the books supplied to the National schools?
said, that hon. Members ought to address themselves directly to the items contained in the Vote; but he understood that the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was about to put a question to the Chief Secretary with regard to the importance of affording to the school teachers certain information contained in certain books. If that was the object of the hon. Gentleman's question, he would not be out of Order.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the hon. Gentleman had stated with perfect accuracy the object he had in view; and he wished to make a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary with regard to the question. If the right hon. Gentleman were dealing with a Scotch question, he would, no doubt, see the utter absurdity of depriving the children of all means of studying Scotch history. By a parity of reasoning, it was absurd for the Government to deprive Irish children of the opportunity of reading and studying Irish history. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman had 925 already laid down the doctrine that they ought, as far as the Imperial interests of the country would allow, to govern Ireland in accordance with Irish ideas; and the necessary corollary of that position was that the Irish people should be allowed an opportunity of learning Irish history. There had been a work recently published called The History of the Kingdom of Ireland. It was not written by an Irishman, nor even by an Irish Liberal, nor an English Liberal; but the name of the gentleman who was the author of it—Mr. Walpole—suggested at once that he was the son of a distinguished Conservative statesman. Therefore, he presumed that the work was written by an English Conservative. It gave, however, a readable account of Irish history, and it was certain that it was free from anything in the nature of Nationalist bias. It gave a very impartial and readable view of Irish history; and he thought it would be of great advantage indeed if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would distribute a few copies, as an experiment, among the Irish schools, or any other work that might commend itself to his own judgment. The great object was that the new generation of Irish people now growing up should not, like preceding generations, be left without any knowledge of the history of their own country, while they were supplied with that of every other country.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
confessed that it did appear to him somewhat extraordinary that the history of Ireland should be excluded; but, at the same time, they were all aware of the reason of that extraordinary anomaly. The difficulty was to obtain an impartial work upon a subject on which opinions were so greatly at variance. The hon. Member asked him whether in the Scotch schools the history of Scotland was not taught. He might tell the hon. Member that his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) had experienced great difficulty in regard to the school books used in the Scotch schools. It appeared that some of the school books in Scotland gave different versions of great historical facts. That was the sole reason for the absence of Irish history from Irish schools; but he might say that if any means could be invented for getting 926 over the anomaly no one would be more delighted than himself. The hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny) had put a question to him about the vested and non-vested schools. He was aware that there was a difficulty; but his attention had not been specially directed to the grievance, and he could only promise the hon. Member that he would look into it carefully. With regard to the question of sites, and various other subjects to be dealt with in the Bill about to be introduced by the Government, he thought it would hardly be in accord with the ordinary rules, nor would it be convenient, that he should forestall, by any declaration on the subject, the contents of that Bill. He would, therefore, prefer to say nothing at all upon the subject; but he would rather that the hon. Member should wait until next week until the Bill itself would be introduced.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the late Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) had promised to introduce a Bill, and was asked to lay it upon the Table. He said that he had no objection to give a certain Return relating to it; but the undertaking had never, as yet, been redeemed, although the promise was given on the 20th of January, 1884.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
apprehended that, in the case referred to, the Return had not been moved for. When his right hon. Friend said he had no objection to give it, he probably expected that it would be moved for, although it subsequently happened that it was not. He would look into the matter and see if the Return could not be given. He thought there would be no objection to produce it. The only other point to which it was necessary he should allude had reference to a subject which had been brought before the Committee during the discussion of the Vote—namely, the question of the amount of information to be given to teachers who went up for examination as to their success or failure. He did not think that there was any practical difference between himself and hon. Members opposite. There was a difference at first sight, because the claim put forward was that the information should be furnished directly to the teachers, and not through the intervention of the managers. He had stated that that was objectionable, because the managers were 927 entitled to know everything that related to the professional qualifications of the teachers, and it was desirable that the teachers should not be communicated with directly by the Board on such subjects. But he quite agreed with hon. Members, and he would go so far as to say that he would see that the information was given—that was to say, all the information as to the details of the examination which were usually given should be communicated to the teachers.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, that he referred to what happened in connection with other examinations. He could not say that any particular detail, or all the details, would be supplied; but whatever details were usually communicated to those who passed an examination, or who failed to pass one, such information should be given to the managers of the National schools to be communicated to the teachers themselves.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the promise of the right hon. Gentleman held out some prospect of improvement; but he did not know what the information was that was usually given. At any rate, any information was better than no information at all. He admitted that if the manager desired information he ought to get it; but, on the other hand, if the teacher communicated direct to the Board, lie ought to receive a reply direct; and, whether the teacher or the manager applied, the information ought not to be withheld. At a future time they would bring before the House the whole question of the constitution of the Board; and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would by that time have inquired into the matter, and made up his mind.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he had only a few words to address to the Committee in regard to the subject referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had made a very important statement—a statement which Irish Members would recollect. He believed it was the first time that the right hon. Gentleman had had the courage to make a statement of 928 the kind, which was to the effect that he was surprised, and that it was not right, that Irish history should be excluded from the schools in Ireland.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that, but for one circumstance, Irish history would be taught in the schools, and that was, because it was difficult to get a history setting forth facts in a sufficiently impartial manner. Certainly, that was the tenour of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. And they had to consider this. The only reason, according to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, why Irish history was not taught was, that there was no sufficiently impartial history; he would pledge himself that there was not to be found a sufficiently impartial history. But hon. Members on those Benches wished the people of Ireland to have a knowledge of the history of their country. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that the rising generation ought to be taught Irish history; he appeared to be sorry that they were not taught Irish history; and he (Mr. W. Redmond) thought that, under the circumstances, he should cause a proper history of Ireland to be written for the use of the National schools. A very impartial history might be written setting forth material facts; but Irish Members would not ask the right hon. Gentleman for a history setting forth very fairly the atrocities committed by the English Government in Ireland. The broader facts might be taught, and Irish Members would keep to themselves the duty of teaching the rising generation in certain respects what the history of Ireland had been—that was to say, the Government might teach them the broader outlines of history, and Irish Members would teach them the rest, such as the massacres at Wexford and other places.
§ Vote agreed to.